THE Federal Government has as part of an immediate plan to provide a buffer for the economy increased the Excess Crude Account (ECA) from N848 billioin ($5.3 billion) to N1.6 trillion ($10 billion).
This was part of the high points of the decision taken Monday by the National Economic Council (NEC) to protect the economy for at least three months from a possible global recession.
While expressing confidence in the economy, the National Economic Council stated, 'the economy is in good standing but pointed out the need for more judicious borrowing and application of funds by different levels of government.'
Other measures taken to protect the economy, according to Amaechi, include support for the President in his plans to appoint members of the Sovereign Wealth Funds Board of Directors including the Managing director, CEO as well as the executive and non- executive directors which is expected to come 'after a painstaking and credible recruitment process.'
The council's decision came following a presentation made by the Finance Minister and Co-ordinating Minister of the Economy (CME), Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala on the Implementation Update on the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Athority (NSIA) as well as the need to protect Nigeria's economy from the persisting global economic crisis.
Council also considered 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.
The report noted that the projects, which are at various stages of completion, require about N191.7 billion for completion, following which the Council recommended that all on-going projects should be completed to achieve meaningful development and avail Nigerians the opportunity of benefiting from the intended gains of the projects.
Both the Federal and State Governments will also partner to ensure that the various water, irrigation and dam projects are completed in a more beneficial and sustainable manner.
It directed 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.
Federal and the states are also 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
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on MDGs Dr (Mrs) Precious Gbeneol, also 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 fulfillment 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.
It 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.
Also speaking on Child Trafficking, the National Agency for the Prohibition of traffic in Persons (NAPTIP) also 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.
NEC said it 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.
The council therefore recommended greater collaboration with the State and LGAs to address the push factors of trafficking and child labour.