19 September 2013

Nigeria: Okonjo-Iweala - I Won't Resign, Our Economy Among the Best

Photo: Benedikt von Loebell/World Economic Forum
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.

Minister of Finance Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala yesterday said she won't resign her appointment because all indices show that the Nigerian economy is doing very well.

Speaking at a press briefing on the state of the economy in Abuja, the minister said indices on agriculture, power, infrastructure, petroleum and job creation are positive and that the Gross Domestic Product is at 6.18 percent which makes it one of the fastest growing in the world.

The minister, who said she didn't have time to reply those calling for her resignation, jokingly said,"did I look like somebody who will resign? I dey kampe."

On Tuesday, Chairman of Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) and Rivers State Governor, Rotimi Amaechi, had called on the minister to resign her position for what he said was her failure to manage the nation's economy well.

Okonjo-Iweala explained that the recent shortfall in revenue to government coffers is normal fluctuation that happens from time to time.

She said: "Our fundamentals are strong. When such things happen it is not new so, from time to time we have these fluctuations and we have been able to manage it, because we have reserve in the excess crude account. We have not felt the impact, salaries of September were being paid today by the way, and tomorrow we will pay the oil marketers for the subsidy.

"Despite the shortfall in revenue the budget is being implemented, although we experienced some shortfalls in the revenue and oil production but it is normal fluctuation."

The minister said the country's reserves stood at $46 billion and about N850 billion has so far been released for the execution of the capital projects in the 2013 budget.

On budget implementation, the minister said the ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) have utilised 76 percent so far from the amount received for capital projects, adding that some of the delays noticed in the release of funds were due to the commencement of the electronic platforms by government.

"Unlike in the past, during the 80s and 90s when such things happened we were not able to pay our bills, but now we are doing it because we have an account to draw from. That is helping us to manage the economy," she stated.

Okonjo-Iweala also said that confidence in the economy has been demonstrated even by some of the governors, by their applications to float bonds. "You can only float a bond in an economy that works. As at now we have nine of them that floated bonds in the Nigerian market and more applications are coming. If the economy is not working there will be no takers.

"There is no economy which is in trouble were you can do these bonds. So it is total mark of confidence and I want to say that we have good working relationship with them (governors) and we are working with them such that these monies they got will be managed in a very prudent manner."

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