Missing N500bn SURE-P funds shared to states, LGAs, says Okonjo – Iweala

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BY JOHNBOSCO AGBAKWURU & JOSEPH ERUNKE
 ABUJA—MINISTER of Finance and Cordinating Minister of the Economy, Dr. ngozi Okonjo-Iweala yesterday said that the alleged missing N500 billion Subsidy Reinvestment and Empowerment Programme, SURE-P was not missing instead it was shared to the states and Local government Areas.
The Abudul Ningi Committee had described the programme as a fairlure and that N500 billion proceeds from the subsidy could not be accounted for accusing the finance ministry and that of the petroleum ministry of being responsible for the missing fund as well as the alleged mismanagement of the programme.
The minister who gave the explanation when she appeared before that Senate Ad-hoc Committee on SURE-P headed by the Deputy Senate Leader, Abdul Ningi also said that the $49.8 billion which the Central bank of Nigeria, CBN, Governor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusu claimed was not in the federation account was intact.
Dr. Okonjo-Iweala also stated that the total subsidy funds between February 2012 and September 2013, was N816bn.
And that N300bn out of the amount had been remitted to the SURE – P account at the federal level while N500bn was shared to the states and local government councils within the period.
But there was a sharp disagreement between the minister and the Senate SURE –P Committee over the formular used to arrive at the N15bn monthly remittances to the fund even as the committee queried the minister for remitting a flat rate every month to the  SURE – P account when proceeds from petroleum sales are not stable from one month to another.
The Committee faulted the minister’s disbursement of N500bn to states and local governments and attributed the development to the reason why the programme failed to meet the yearnings and aspiration of the masses.
Responding to the allegations on the management of the programme and the alleged secrecy in the disbursements of funds, the minister asked the committee to invite specific government agencies which had failed to effectively implement the aspect of the programme which the members of the public were said to be complaining about.
She maintained that the programme had achieved its purpose in the areas of quality healthcare provision to children, pregnant women and nursing mothers and that part of the resources had been used for rail rehabilitation,  road reconstruction,  and graduate employment, which had  2, 000 interns on its payroll.
The Coordinating Minister of the Economy noted that corporate firms were already partnering with her ministry on the scheme by requesting to employ about 600 beneficiaries.
She said, “The programme is achieving the desired results.There is no missing money and the balance of the N500bn had been shared to states and local governments.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the figure had already been published, we need to understand the basis with which the calculations were done.
“We are in a federation,  the states should answer questions on the N500bn already shared to them”
The senators nevertheless faulted the remittance of part of the SURE – P fund to the  stabilization account, and ecological funds which acvording to them were problematic
The minister disagreed with them and stated that the both accounts were not problematic because “every single naira of the fund was intact.”
She also promised to handover the graduate scheme to the Labour ministry as soon as the scheme matured and its working.
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