By Racheal Ishaya
Abuja – The Federal Government’s capital budget would be strictly deployed to fund infrastructural projects across the country, Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun has said.
In a statement by her Special Adviser, Media and Communications, Mr Oluyinka Akintunde, Adeosun said that the Federal Government would retain the capital budget despite forthcoming elections in the country.
Adeosun said this while representing Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, at a lecture delivered to Course 26 participants at the National Defence College (NDC) in Abuja.
The title of the lecture is “Economic Dimensions of National Security: The Nigerian Experience”.
Responding to suggestions that the capital budget would be used for the general elections, Adeosun said that the present Administration would not divert capital project funds for the forthcoming elections.
“The Administration remains committed to infrastructure spending at the high levels of the past two years and the completion of major ongoing projects.” she said.
She reiterated the commitment of the Administration to its programme of transformation, jobs and wealth creation across the country.
President Muhammadu Buhari had on November 7, 2017 presented a budget of N8.612 trillion to the National Assembly, with focus on massive infrastructure development which includes: key strategic roads, rail and power projects, among others.
Earlier in the lecture, Osinbajo said improvement in economic security was vital to Nigeria’s economic growth, human security and realisation of national defence and security requirements.
He assured that the Federal Government would continue to play a key role in ensuring national cohesion by promoting social inclusion as a key state objective.
“Economic development is a springboard for improved national security because it comes with growth which enables more resources for a growing population.
“National economic development means that a country can meet its national security needs without depending on outsiders for the provision of its defence and security needs.
“Depending on food and energy imports makes a nation vulnerable to external pressure,” he said.
Osinbajo said that the administration adopted the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) as a response to the recession toward restoring growth and reducing Nigeria’s vulnerability to external shocks.
He explained that the ERGP was initiated to address macroeconomic balance, increase contribution of agriculture, manufacturing, mining and high value services to the economy.
On the Social Investment Programme, Vice President Osinbajo revealed that about 200,000 N-Power Jobs had been created under the programme while 250 million meals had been served under the Home Grown School Feeding Programme.
He added that 300,000 micro loans had been issued under the Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme.
Osinbajo expressed optimism about Nigeria’s economic outlook for 2018, noting that the Federal Government expects the economy to grow by 3.5 per cent.
“The inflation projection of 15.74 per cent by end of 2017 was achieved and there is good reason to believe that the EGRP target of 12.42 per cent by the end of 2018 can be achieved.
“With regard to foreign exchange reserves, the level of 40.3 billion dollars achieved by end January is already quite close to the amount of 43.53 billion dollars projected in the ERGP for the end of this year.
“Given the current state of the oil market, this is a target that can readily be achieved,” he said.