Talks are still ongoing between the Federal Government and the National Assembly to iron out grey areas in the 2016 Appropriation Bill, the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma has said. The Minister, who stated this on Wednesday while briefing State House Correspondents at the end of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting in company of three other Ministers, hinted that there was no date yet in sight for President Muhammadu Buhari to assent the 2016 Budget. According to him, talks on the grey areas in the budget were still in progress. He said:
“On the 2016 Budget, we are still talking.” He further stated that the federal government has approved a monitoring and evaluation mechanism for the successful implementation of the 2016 budget when finally signed into law. According to the Minister, a table time has also been approved by the council to ensure that 2017 budget is done on time. “In the expectation that we will soon have a budget, monitoring and evaluation mechanism to make sure that the budget delivers what it promises, that mechanism was looked at by the Federal Executive Council and approved.’’ The Minister stated that the Council also approved the National Policy on Food and Nutrition to address the problem of malnutrition in the country. “At the Council meeting today, there were three or four memos from the Ministry of Budget and National Planning. The most important one was the National Policy on Food and Nutrition. “As you may know in Nigeria, the situation on malnutrition is a serious problem and the Ministry of Budget and National is coordinating the policy to ensure that we reduce the incident of malnutrition in Nigeria, that will require the various ministries working together, liaising with the state governments, with local governments and the private sector.
“As you know one of the measures the Federal Government is taking is the school feeding programme which we intend to implement this year “So, the National Policy on Food and Nutrition was presented and accepted by the council.’’ Udoma also revealed that the recommendations of the 2015 Nigeria Economic Summit Group were presented and approved by the Federal Executive Council. Also at the briefing, Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola while speaking on the present power outages in the country explained that the problem has to do with gas supply as well as the on-going repairs on the damaged Focados Export pipelines in Delta State.
He explained that as a result of the damage, power production has dropped from 5,000 megawatt to about 3,000 megawatt depending on other collateral problems. “We are having increasing success with some of our transmission projects, so areas in the country that did not have power supply when we were at 5,000 now have transmission restored. Places like Maiduguri, Okada, Makurdi transmission projects have been completed there, they are now benefiting from what was difficult to share initially” “So is a mixed blessing in some places. We understand that people are going through a difficult time, is a bad time to have energy crisis and there is no good time to have one. But like we briefed council is temporary thing, we will go back to normal service when gas is fully restored”, Fashola said He disclosed that the government was working to make sure that such situations would better be addressed by increasing the opportunities for local gas allocation and local gas production from the non-associated lines.
The minister expressed confidence that government would be able to meet the target of 10,000 megawatts set by the President by 2019. Speaking on the issue of petroleum distribution and fuel scarcity, Minister of State for Petroleum, Ibe Kachikwu explained that unless government deals with the systemic issues, the problem would keep reoccurring.