Cape Town – The Minister of Finance, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, has exonerated the executive and herself from the present budget impasse in the country.
Okonjo-Iweala Cape Town on Thursday, said that “the executive arm of government is not responsible for the budget impasse”.
“I want to be categorical that the executive is not responsible for the budget impasse and that I, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has definitely not done anything nor am I responsible for the present situation.
“I am very surprised and actually shocked to hear that the National Assembly has put the blame on the executive for the situation.
“Our honourable members of the National Assembly know that when the budget came back to the executive, so many things had been tampered with or altered.
“Money had been shifted from on-going project and put into other part of the budget, money had also been shifted from personnel cost and put into other part of the budget.
“ When we made this known to them, the National Assembly also presented other aspect of the personnel cost which we reconciled and said that they would deal with the other aspects of the funds movement which was making the budget implementation difficult later,’’ Okonjo-Iweala said.
She said that leaders of the National assembly agreed with President Goodluck Jonathan that he should sign the budget and send the corrections to the assembly to effect the necessary amendments.
“The National Assembly agreed that Mr President should to sign the budget and send the corrections back to the National Assembly so that it could reverse the areas of disagreement.
“What the executive has been done is to effect the correction as agreed in the identified area in the budget as agreed between the leaders of the national assembly and Mr President. That is what the ministry did.
“I really do not understand what they are saying and I want to say categorically that the executive, did not cause the present impasse and that Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala did not cause the impasse over the budget implementation, ’’ the minister said in the interview held on the sidelines of her book launch in Cape Town .
Okonjo-Iweala in her book titled: `Reforming the Unreformable-Lessons from Nigeria’’, said that Nigeria had been viewed by the international community since the early years of 2000s as a corrupt, mismanaged and seemly hopeless country.
“Nigeria has implemented a sweeping set of economic and political changes and started to reform an economy many thought was unreformable.
“This book tells the story of how a dedicated and politically committed team of reformers set out to fix a series of broken institutions, and in the process repositioned Nigeria’s economy.“The economy is being reformed in a way that helps to create a more diversified economy to ensure a steady long-term growth,’’ Okonjo-Iweala said.
She also said that President Jonathan had reduced domestic debt from about N 850 billion to N524 billion presently.
Okonjo-Iweala, stressed the need for technocrats in government to engage with the politicians to ensure the successful implementation of the country’s reforms for the good of the people. (NAN)