Ahead detailed breakdown of the 2014 budget today at Transcorp Hilton Abuja by coordinating minister on economy and minister of finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala last night identified the main bottlenecks to full implementation of the 2013 budget and outlined remedial measures the government plans to implement this year for better budget performance.
A press release circulated to media houses last night by Mr. Paul Nwabuikwu, Special Adviser to the Finance Minister quoted the minister as stating that revenue shortfalls from first quarter of 2013 attributable to oil pipelines vandalism and crude oil theft led to a loss of about 300,000 to 400,000 barrels per day arising from production shutdown and theft. She also blamed low revenue collection in 2013 on policy measures designed to encourage domestic industries for reduced customs revenue. .
On what the government is doing to curb oil theft and mitigate the revenue shortfalls, the coordinating minister outlined the steps to include increased monitoring of pipelines leading to more arrests and prosecution of oil thieves. Another is the establishment of a high level committee chaired by Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan of Delta State which includes other governors and top military leaders. She claimed that the Uduaghan committee has already come up with effective strategies. Lastly, the finance minister said government will focus on fixing key pipelines like the Nembe and Trans-Niger which carry a lot of crude as an immediate measure to reduce losses.
The minister listed priorities of the 2014 budget tagged "A Budget for Jobs and Inclusive Growth" to include reducing the cost of governance. "In 2014, concrete steps will be taken to reduce cost of governance and stem the tide of corruption and leakages" the minister pledged. "In 2014, this department will now ensure pensioners still under the old scheme receive their pensions and gratuities, and are not subjected to fraud."