by Lekan Olanrewaju
Calm down, everyone; Nigeria isn’t in any financial trouble. At least, not according to the Coordinating Minister of the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. During a House of Reps visit to the Ministry on an oversight function on Thursday, Okonjo-Iweala stated that talks of a financial crisis are exaggerations, and the only setbacks were due to crude oil theft and smuggling.
“There is no such thing as a financial crisis in the country.” she said. “We have been having some issues with delay in money being disbursed on time for the Federation Account Allocation Committee’s meeting to hold.”
“We have been having some issues with delay in monies being disbursed on time for FAAC.” she continued. “Nigeria is solvent. We have many assets, we are liquid.”
“Everybody experiences this kind of situation from time to time and when this happens what do you do? You either look for other sources of fund or you adjust and wait for the money to come, and that is what we have been doing” she said. ““The main challenge that we are facing is that of declining crude oil output as a result of theft and smuggling. This is what we need to tackle because that has a direct impact on what we earn. In April, production dropped by 17 per cent. We need to face this challenge square on.”
Minister of State for Finance, Dr. Yerima Ngama, also assured that the delay in disbursing federal allocations to states was only temporary.
“Last year, we used to hold FAAC on 18 and 19 of every month, then we set a higher target for ourselves to hold it earlier.” he said. “But that expectation could not be met; so, we have returned to the same date as before.”
“Employees of government ministries, departments and agencies should ordinarily get their salaries at least three days after FAAC. Now it sometimes gets delayed into the next month. The delay in paying salaries after FAAC is only temporary because we are changing the way we pay salaries.”