National Economic Council (NEC)

NEC Approves Injection Of $250m‎ Into Sovereign Wealth Fund

By Teddy Nwanunobi

Abuja (Sundiata Post) –  Rising from its first meeting for the year, the National Economic Council (NEC), on Thursday, approved the injection of a fresh $250 million into the Sovereign Wealth Fund‎ (SWF).

The above sum is to be sourced from the Excess Crude Account (ECA).‎‎

This is even as it has expressed concern ‎over the current situation of the exchange rate, and called for an urgent review of the current Forex Policy by ‎the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)‎.

The Interbank exchange rate, as at Thursday, February 16, stood at N315 to a dollar, that of the parallel market stood at N510,‎ while that of the CBN is at N305.

The meeting was presided over by the Acting President, Yemi Osinbajo.

Briefing State House correspondents, after the meeting, Nassarawa State Deputy Governor, Silas Ali Agara, spoke more on the review of the forext policy.

He said that the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, after an extensive discussion on the foreign exchange policy, appealed to council members to be patient as the situation was being managed.

“After a brief presentation on forex policy options by the CBN Governor, council members generally expressed concern over the current situation of the exchange rate and called for an urgent review of the current Forex Policy, especially the gap between interbank and the parallel market rates.

“The CBN Governor sued for patience and understanding, assuring that the situation is being closely managed,” he said.

Agara was accompanied by his Rivers State counterpart, Ipalibo Banigo; Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun; and the Minister of Agriculture, Audu Ogbeh.

Adeosun said she reported to the Council that a member each from the nation’s six geo-political zones had been nominated into the board of the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority.

She listed the nominees as: North-East – Halima Buba (Non Executive Director); North West – Bello Maccido (Non Executive Director); North Central – Lois Laraba Machunga-Disu (Non Executive Director); South West – Babajide Zetilin (Non Executive Director); South East – Urum Kalu Eze (Non Executive Director); and South-South – Abue Ighodalo.

The minister said council members unanimously adopted the nominations for onward consideration by President Muhammadu Buhari for his final approval.

She added that the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Uche Orji, presented a report to the Council on the National Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) annual reports and accounts for the year ended 2015, and update on 2016 activities.

She said council members were informed that Nigeria Sovereign Wealth Fund has the highest ranking in Africa in terms of performance and capitalisation.

“Council while adopting the report of the NSIA decided to inject a fresh $250 million into the SWF sourced from the Excess Crude Account,” she said.

According to Adeosun, the report’s highlights included the financial performance 2014 to Q3 2016; update and investment strategy on the NSIA Future Generation Fund; NSIA infrastructure strategy and Agriculture Fund; NSIA – Old Mutual Real Estate Co-Investment Vehicle, among others.

She gave the NSIA outlook to include the NSIA’s plan to increase domestic infrastructure investment in 2017 as there are compelling opportunities in the environment and the NSIA’s focus on “Social Infrastructure”, including investments in the form of affordable housing and healthcare through the development of specialist hospitals.

Adeosun added that she reported to the council that the balance in ECA stood at $2.45 billion as at February 15, 2017.

The Minister said she also told the council that eight accounting firms have been appointed to start the verification process of the monthly Budget Support Loan Facility based on the approved Fiscal Sustainability Plan by the states.

She said the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Udo Udoma, assured the council members that Federal Government has a recovery plan that will take Nigeria out of the woods.

“Consultations on the plan are ongoing to firm-up the plan with clear roles for all the stakeholders and the states.

“He told the Council that the plan addresses agriculture and food security; energy sufficiency-power and petroleum availability; improving transportation infrastructure; industrialisation, SMEs, and manufacturing, as well as a stabilisation of the macro-economic environment,” she added.

Ogbeh said the Council was informed of the massive wheat production in the Jigawa, Kano, Kebbi and Zamfara States among others.

He said that states, however, appealed to the Federal Government to make plans for the purchase of excess wheat to ensure price stability and sustainable production.

He said the council agreed to discuss and make adequate buy-back arrangements in order to support price stability.

The minister added that efforts were being put in place to forestall the kind of draught currently being experienced in Central and East Africa.

Agara added that Council held a valedictory session for the Ondo State Governor, Olusegun Mimiko, who was attending the meeting for the last time as his tenure expires.

“Council members eulogised Mimiko’s contributions to the council and commended him for facilitating a smooth transition in the state. Ondo State Governor-elect, Rotimi Akeredolu, was also attended the meeting in observer status,” he added. ‎

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