The Federal Government on Wednesday explained why it has not been able to release the N350 billion to meet contractual obligations in order to boost the economy as it had promised since April. Minister of Budget and National Planning, Udoma Udo Udoma said government had been hamstrung by the processes and requirements that should be met before releases could be effected.
He also stated that the current administration had no plan to retrench workers despite the precarious economic condition in the country. Briefing State House correspondents after the meeting of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) presided over by Acting President Yemi Osinbajo at the Council Chamber of the Presidential Villa, Abuja, Udoma stated that the money was available, but that the process has to be fast tracked so that release could be made.
According to the minister, who jointly addressed the press with his Information counterpart, Lai Mohammed, while it was expected that money would be released for existing project soon, new projects may have to wait much longer due to the statutory requirements of procurement. Udoma had announced during the breakdown of the 2016 budget on May 13th that the N350 billion would be released the next day so as to halt the ugly spate of downsizing of the workforce by especially the construction companies in the country.
He said: “As far as the N350 billion which was indicated, the money is available but there is a process and this is part of the reasons we briefed council and there is need to fast track those processes so that very soon most of those monies will be released. “We expect in the ministry of works, they should have quite substantial release in the next week or so. “It’s easier for us for existing projects but new projects are a bit more difficult because of the public procurement (process). The public procurement (process requires that) you have to advertise and you have to wait for six weeks and so on.