Nigeria’s Finance Minister, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed has reassured the citizens that the country will soon exit recession just as he insisted that there are no issues with federal workers’ salary because of the current economic situation in the country.
The Minister who spoke to State House Correspondents after the weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting presided over by President Muhammadu at State House, Abuja on Wednesday said the federal government has put machinery in motion to mitigate the effect of the recession which Nigeria plunged into few days ago.
According to her, some of the steps that were taken by the federal government to ensure that Nigeria exits the recession soonest was a vigorous implementation of the Economic Sustainability Plan (ESP).
“You will recall that the ESP was designed to be a 12 months plan, to act as a bridge between the ERGP and its successor plan, but also it was designed specifically to help us quickly exit recession, which we had projected was going to happen.
“So the ESP implementation is really on course, it’s focused and also the implementation of the 2020 Budget is really on course and is very focused. We have been able to release a large volume of capital funding into ministries, departments and agencies, enabling a lot of public works going on simultaneously all over the country.
“So how we will maintain this is to make sure we continue to implement the ESP as it is planned. It will help us exit recession, it will help us reset back on the path of growth and on a road that is sustainable”, Mrs. Ahmed said.
The Minister also argued that the federal government is capable of meeting its obligations as it concerns the payment of workers salaries as at and when due.
“On the issue of federal workers’ salary, there’s no issue with federal workers’ salary. We have paid salaries for November and we shall pay salaries for December so there’s no issue at all with federal workers’ salary.
“If you hear about any issue, it is for agencies whose budgets funding on the GIFMIS (Government Integrated Financial Management and Information System) system was exhausted and we are about to make an adjustment to them. When we were doing the 2020 Budget, we made estimates of the consequential adjustment that is required as a result of the minimum wage and we had sent the budget before a decision and approval was taken on the consequential adjustment, so it is anticipated that some agencies might run short and we made a block provision in the service-wide vote of the budget.
“So when we have such a situation, what we simply do is remove fund from the service-wide vote to the agency so that they pay their budget, so there’s no problem of payment of salaries at all”.
The Minister also spoke on the 2021 Budget, saying “we are not planning to retrieve the budget or to reverse the budget beyond the work of appropriation that the National Assembly is currently doing in consultation with us”.
On the lingering issue of border closure, she said “Mr. President has set up a committee that I chair, alongside the Minister of Foreign Affairs and other ministers, including Interior, Customs, Immigration, the security services, to review and advise him on the issue of border closure. The committee has just completed its work and we’ll be submitting our report, I’ve signed my copy, I gave everybody to sign between today and tomorrow so that we submit the report to Mr. President”.