The Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, has assured Nigerians that the current economic recession the nation is experiencing would not be prolonged because the Federal Government’s strategic plan would put Nigeria back on track.
Adeosun said, “We have a strategic plan that will take us out of the recession we have found ourselves in; we want to make sure the recession is as short as possible because we do not want a prolonged recession.
“From what we are looking at, we do not think that it will be a prolonged recession; we think that some of the initiatives that we are working on will now begin to bear fruits.
“We are on course and are confident that the plan we have put together will work and put the economy back on track.
“It is a long term plan that would re-position the economy so that we do not go into this boom and burst circles that are driven by the oil price.
“The economy has to be more resilient than that so that we do not find ourselves back where we are,” she said.
The minister stated that since the budget was released in May, over N420 billion had been released and cash-backed for capital projects, adding that the largest sector that the money was spent on was power, works and housing.
Adeosun also revealed that a lot had been done in the defence sector to rebuild the capability of the Army, especially on efforts in the North East.
“Agriculture has received significant funding because of the time-sensitivity of agriculture and because of the fact that food prices were rising, we needed to intervene so that we could get food prices down.
“There is activity resuming on roads, power projects and health projects and we have released money to water resources and solid minerals,'” she said.
The finance minister added that there was a cash plan to release another N350billion, which would go into the various MDAs.
”The focus is going to be similar. However, there would also be funding of about N60billion for the Special Intervention Programme and that is very important in putting money into people’s pockets.
“The school feeding programme and the N-Power Teachers Corps we will cash back today as part of the N350 billion additional release which would take our total capital spending to about N700 billion,” she said.
Adeosun explained that the present recruitment exercise by the police and some other government agencies was possible by the reduction in the number of ghost workers, adding that the savings that were made from the exercise would enable funding for the new recruitment.
She said, “Sometime in January, personnel cost was N165 billion along with pension cost, but so far so good; we have reduced, through the removal of about 40,000 ghost workers, the personnel cost by around N10 billion per month.
“Now we have saved about N100 billion this year.”
She reassured the nation that though the times were tough, there was hope for Nigerians, adding that issues around infrastructure were the biggest problems of Nigeria, resulting in high cost of living.
“The biggest problem we have is not wages but the cost of living, which is too high. So, it is not how much money you have but it is what it costs you to live,” the minister said.