Federal government uncovers priority projects of 2016 budget

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– The federal government has revealed 34 strategic priority projects for this year
– Economy, employment, security, oil and gas reforms, rails and road construction, social projects etc are among them
President Muhammadu Buhari will today receive the verified and probably final copy of the 2016 budget from the National Assembly. Meanwhile, the federal government has listed 34 strategic priority programmes for 2016 year. Speaking after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting Khadija Abba Ibrahim, the minister of state for foreign affairs, has disclosed the details of the 2016 budget projects and plans for their implementation.
She said: “On the 2016 budget, I must say the executive and legislature have worked very hard in putting things together, reviewing the details of the budget and it is at its final stage, So maybe between today (Wednesday) and tomorrow, the National Assembly will start the process of transmitting the details to the president.” According to Ms Ibrahim, the ministry of budget and national planning presented 34 strategic priority programmes to council for discussion.
The projects were grouped into four major objectives and were reportedly approved for implementation. – Policy, governance and security;
– Diversification of the economy;
– Creating support for the poor and the vulnerable;
– Reflecting the economy through investment.
The Ministry of Budget and National Planning will be responsible for monitoring and reporting on the performance of the key priority areas to the council on quarterly basis. She said: “The 34 priority areas that we need to implement in 2016 are categorized into six thematic areas.
There is policy, governance and security and one item from that is to achieve and maintain a capital spend minimum of 30 per cent on an annual basis starting from 2016. The objective of doing that is to reflect the economy and enhance employment generation capacity for the productive sector. Another area is to achieve an appropriate exchange regime; the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is leading this particular action.
The objective is to achieve a predictable exchange rate by the end of 2016. There is also a target for us to increase low interest lending to the real sector. The focus is to achieve an interest rate that is single digit, maybe nine per cent, and the purpose is to increase output and growth. Again the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment along with the CBN are taking action on this. We also have a target to maintain a stable debt management strategy so that we can optimise the local and foreign debts that we have and the Ministry of Finance and the Debt Management Office will be taking action on this.”
On the economy diversification “We plan to attain self-sufficiency in rice production by 2018, in tomato paste by 2016 and also increase local production of maize, soya beans, poultry and livestock. The deadline for these will be announced later in the year. The Ministry of Agriculture is still trying to work out details. It means we will stop importing and we will get to a point when we will start exporting.
We also have plans to expand the agro-allied sector to intensify local production of cassava, cocoa, cashew nuts, fruits and sesame seeds and the Agric Ministry is also leading in that area. There is also plan to make use of 5,000 hectares arable land in 12 River Basin Development Authorities and to utilise 22 dams for commercial farming by prospective investors and the objective is to extend farming so that it can become an all-year round activity and that there is productivity all-year round.” Tourism, sports, job creation, youth employment, power, rails and road issues are also priorities Besides, the government is planning to increase private sector investment in tourism and sports. “The objective is to increase investment in the service sector thereby increasing job creation and youth employment.
The power, rails and road are also very important priority area. There are a number of specific activities but one of them is to optimise up to 7,000 megawatts installed capacity and to ensure the associated infrastructure to ensure we transmit and distribute this capacity in the maximum operational level that is obtainable, and also to conclude the privatisation of NIPP plants and improve management and performance of TSA (Treasury Single Account).
The Ministry of Power, Works and Housing is leading in this regard. The target deliverables is to increase the availability of power, thereby enhancing investment, productivity and employment and business growth in our country.
The availability of gas is very key to the availability of power to the nation, so gas pricing is a priority and is currently being addressed and will be finalised and payment will be provided to the gas suppliers who are being owed significant amount of money. And also there is plan to conclude the road map of development, the objective of all of these is to increase investment, and gas peaks supply to the oil industry.”
On reviving rail transportation in Nigeria The minister explained: “There is also plan to complete the Kaduna-Abuja-Ajaokuta railway lines in 2016. We are also revising the National Rail Masterplan which is commencing construction of the Lagos-Kano standard Gauge Rail line and also to finalise the negotiation regarding the Calabar-Lagos rail line. Of course the objective of this is to increase availability of mass transit, to reduce pressure on road infrastructure.
The Federal Ministry of Transport is leading in this regard working in collaboration with Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Budget and Planning to ensure the required funding is availed for this project.” On oil sector development The minister said: “The fourth thematic area which is oil and gas reforms.
One of the key objective is to adopt and execute a comprehensive national oil and gas policy, which is supposed to be the road map for the petroleum industry development diversification as well as privation and also to adopt and execute a road map for the stoppage of gas flaring in our country.
We are setting a three-year deadline to achieve self-sufficiency in refined petroleum products and to become a net exporter of petroleum products. The objective of this is to increase domestic supply of refined products and to reduce demand on foreign exchange for importing refined products in our country. The Ministry of Petroleum is pushing this.
There is also a plan to push for the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) in conjunction with the National Assembly.” On entrepreneurship and social projects “We are going to do this by implementing a number of measures specifically targeted at fast-tracking business approvals, acquisition of land titles, and issuance of visas for persons seeking to come into our country and do business. The sixth area is the investment in the lives of our people by implementing various social projects covering health, education and the essence is to bring succour to the poor and vulnerable to achieve the targets set by the Social Protection Policy which is currently under production. Almost every ministry has a role to play in this.
You need to see the huge amount that has been saved On health sector, we plan to rehabilitate 5,000 primary health centres in 5,000 wards in 2016. The objective is to deliver affordable health care services to Nigerians as close as possible to their homes. Let me emphasis that when we say we want to move towards a predictable exchange rate in the country; we are not planning to devalue the naira.
The CBN and the money policy committee are working on this and will be concluded and made available to the country to enable users to be able to predict the exchange rate at any point in time.” Recall that President Muhammadu Buhari has reportedly returned the controversial 2016 budget to the National Assembly for further legislative work, as principal officers and members of the review committee from both legislative chambers met for about two hours on Tuesday evening.

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