Abuja — The National Economic Council, yesterday, called for the boosting of the Excess Crude Account, ECA, from $5.3 billion to $10 billion to provide a buffer for the economy for at least three months as a means of protecting the country from the mounting uncertainty in the global economy.
Briefing State House correspondents at the end of the council meeting at the Presidential Villa, Abuja,Governor Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State, said the decision was arrived at following a briefing by the Minister of Finance and the Coordinating Minister for the Economy, Dr Ngozi Okonjo Iweala.
He said the council noted that the economy was in good standing but pointed out the need for more judicious borrowing and application of funds by different levels of government.
According to him, the meeting also resolved to support the President in his plan to appoint members of the Board of Directors of the Sovereign Wealth Funds, including the MD/CEO as well as the executive and non-executive directors, after a painstaking and credible recruitment process.
He said the council also deliberated on other issues at the meeting such as the consideration of the Report of the Inter-Ministerial Teams on the recent Nation-wide inspection of 111 Federal Ministry of Water Resources Projects across the country by the Minister of Water Resources, Mrs Sarah Ochekpe which noted that the projects which are at various stages of completion require about N191.7 billion for completion.
Governor Amaechi said the Council recommended that there is the need for all ongoing projects to be completed to achieve meaningful development and avail Nigerians the opportunity of benefitting from the intended gains of the projects.
The council also recommended that the federal government and State Governments should partner to ensure that the various water, irrigation and dam projects are completed in a more beneficial and sustainable manner while directing the various Directorates of the Federal Ministry of Water Resources in the states and the State Governments to jointly review the details of the projects to enable the Government work out the funding arrangements and prepare a framework for completion of the projects.
The Federal Government and the States are to collaborate in the budgetary processes of some strategic ministries including Water Resources, Health, Education and works going forward, to promote synergy in projects implementation he said.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on MDGs Dr (Mrs) Precious Gbeneol, briefed the Council on the N20.5 billion and N15 billion MDGs Fund for 2012 available to the States and LGAs respectively to fund development projects upon fulfilment of specified conditions including providing matching funds and bank guarantee bond.
The Council advised the States to take advantage of the programme by meeting the required conditions which would enable them to access as much as N550 million per state.
The Council also mandated the MDGs office to provide a quarterly report on the progress made by the States as a means of gauging the overall progress made towards 2015.
On the status of Trafficking in persons in Nigeria, the National Agency for the Prohibition of traffic in Persons (NAPTIP) made a presentation to the Council on the growing incidence of trafficking and child labour and the danger they pose to the country's growth and development.
Governor Ameachi said the Council noted the worsening development and backed the range of measures recommended by NAPTIP to check trafficking including deepening public enlightenment, rehabilitation and reintegrating of victims, establishing vocational centres for youths training, effective prosecution of traffickers and functional policing of our borders while recommending greater collaboration with the State and LGAs to address the push factors of trafficking and child labour.