Premium Times (Abuja)

6 November 2013

Nigeria: Excess Crude Account Intact, Says Okonjo-Iweala

Photo: Leadership
Corruption in Nigeria

The Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister for the Economy, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, on Wednesday dispelled allegations that about $1.03 billion (about N161.7 billion) was missing from the Excess Crude Account, ECA.

The Special Adviser to the Minister on Media, Paul Nwabuikwu, described the allegations as "totally inaccurate", saying the report was a misrepresentation of what actually transpired during the appearance of the Minister before the joint Finance Committees of the National Assembly.

"The Minister had responded forthrightly to questions on the current level of the ECA and there was no disagreement as such. The balance in the account as stated by the minister is $4.3 billion, and it's intact," Mr. Nwabuikwu said.

The Minister's rebuttal was coming, just as the management of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, denied involvement in the management of funds under the Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme, SURE-P.

The Senate Committee on SURE-P, had on Tuesday, raised alarm that more than half of the fuel subsidy savings raised by the Federal Government since 2012, totaling about N500 billion, may be missing.

The Committee said the money was part of the amount that should have accrued to the government as a result of the removal of fuel subsidy component of the fuel pricing mechanism between January 2012 and September 2013.

The Federal Government increased petrol pump price to N97 per litre from the former price of N65, thus saving N32 per litre that would have been paid as subsidy for each litre of petrol bought.

A member of the Senate committee, Kabiru Marafa (APC, Zamfara) had alleged that about N800 billion had been generated so far from the removal of subsidy, with only N300 billion released for the SURE-P, with the balance not accounted for by the NNPC.

The NNPC, in a statement by the Acting Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division, Tumini Green, described reports linking the corporation with the management the SURE-P budget as "comprehensive falsehood", as NNPC has nothing to do with the disbursement and appropriation of funds under the programme.

Mrs. Green said the SURE-P budget was managed by a Committee made up of eminent Nigerians, saying the NNPC was neither a member nor pays any money into the SURE-P account.

"The budget is the responsibility of other requisite statutory authority. The committee superintends over the disbursement and the execution of the various social welfare projects," Mrs. Green said.

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