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2013 budget ready in Sept, Okonjo-Iweala promises

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By Abdulwahab Isa

Next year’s federal budget will be ready in September, this year, four months away, Coordinating Minister for the Economy/Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, announced yesterday in Abuja.
She explained that was a demonstration of the federal government’s “firm commitment to a timely submission of the budget to avoid a stand-off with the National Assembly.”
The minister spoke at an interactive with members of House of Representatives Committee on Finance that visited the ministry in exercise of its oversight powers. Giving a glimpse of next year’s budget that has internally generated revenue (IGR) forecast of over N400 billion, the minister said it would be prudent and there would be no project duplication.
She said her ministry was “already working with Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) and the Nigeria Customs Service”, and solicited the cooperation of National Assembly to accelerate the $7.9 billion external loan request forwarded to it by the executive arm. 
She described the loan plan as a soft credit line with 3 per cent interest and a   long gestation period to be provided by the multilateral agencies such as Islamic Development bank, Africa Development Bank, and the World Bank to, aid Nigeria in financing its agriculture, education, power and other key sectors.
Commenting on the global economy and its impact on Nigeria’s domestic economy, the minister alluded to fact the current euro-zone crisis will have indirect impact on Nigeria economy because 60 percent of the nation’s products are consumed in the zone.
She expressed confidence on the Nigeria economy which she says is doing well as her GDP had risen from 5 per cent in the last two years to 7.3 per cent in 2011, a scenario   driven by the non-oil sector. However, the minister regretted   the growth was yet to translate to an inclusive growth as it’s yet to create jobs that would jump starts the economy.
Responding, Committee Chairman on finance, Hon. Abdulmumin Jibril said the biggest work confronting the committee was budget and the issue of revenue.  He observed that most MDAs declared bogus revenue only to remit smaller fractions to the treasury.
He urged government to pursue the revenue diversification adding “it’s high time to look outside of oil and gas sector and focus on tax and other non-oil sources.

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