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Trade Minister under fire over N1bn budget for trip to Geneva



Minister of Trade, Industry and Investment, Doris Nkiruka-Anite Uzoka, on Tuesday, came under fire during her defence of the ministry’s 2024 Budget before the Senate Committee on Trade, when it was discovered that a whopping sum of N1 billion was allocated for a trip to Geneva.

The Senators who frowned at the budgetary provisions in a document from the ministry, dismissed the estimate as humongous and a waste of public funds and told her to shelve the Geneva trip when she could not give a convincing reason for the trip as she said that her ministry had no record of balance of trade with other nations.

In his reaction, former Edo State Governor and Senator representing Edo North, Adams Oshiomhole who is a member of the Committee who drilled the Minister, was vociferous in his criticism.

“I see that you intend to travel to Geneva next year and you have budgeted over one billion Naira for that. We can’t keep going on with over-bloated teams on abroad trips. Use the experts we have in your offices in the country to save cost,” he said.

Oshiomhole further accused the Minister of always abandoning her desk on permanent visits to the Bank of Industry.

“Madam, sit in your office and work for Nigerians. I have gone there twice. You are always in the BOI. If you preferred BOI, you should have declined the President’s nomination to be Minister.

“What is our balance of trade? Especially with China. Those countries importing things to Nigeria are expected to build factories in Nigeria. We have to take advantage of our population to grow our industries,” he queried.

In her response, Uzoka said her ministry had no record of balance of trade with other nations.

“Sir, I regret to say that we seem to have no record of our balance of trade. Or at least, it doesn’t exist in the Ministry and that is why we initiated a new unit called Trade Intelligence Unit to ensure that such data are generated and stored.

“Ministry is currently implementing strategic policies, plans and programmes targeted towards economic recovery and growth for employment generation and wealth creation for the generality of Nigerians”.

In his final rreaction,Oshiomole disagreed with her.

“No, Madam, I don’t agree that there is no data. Such data exists with the CBN, Customs and other agencies,” Oshiomhole insisted, noting that there was data at the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) and other agencies, which the Ministry has failed to access.

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