*Presents Budget 2017 details
*Tells Nigerians not to be discouraged
By Emma Ujah, Abuja Bureau Chief & Levinus Nwabughiogu
ABUJA— The Federal Government, yesterday, warned oil companies operating in the country to stop sacking their workers.
This came as the Minister of national Planning, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma, presented details of the 2017 Budget in Abuja, with a call on Nigerians not to despair over the current recession in the country.
Minister of State, Petroleum, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, who sounded the warning to the oil companies, said: “We are working to forestall closure of production. We hope to resolve it today (yesterday). The reality is that when you are in a recessed environment like we are, businesses are not too good. People will want to cut costs and one of those areas is employment costs.
“But we are hopeful that the recent effort we have launched on how JVs are being funded would increase the momentum in the oil sector and if it does, the incidences of people being made to lose their jobs will reduce.
“But I have told all the oil companies to suspend every action towards reduction of staffing until we have taken the first quarter analysis of what will be the impact of what we have done in the oil sector.”
FG presents Budget 2017 details
The Minister of National Planning, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma, while presenting the budget details, said it would put the nation back on the path of growth next year.
Accompanied by several cabinet members, Udoma assured that the Federal Government was bold and determined to rescue the people from the current economic challenges through next year’s budget, with infrastructure taking the bulk of capital allocations.
He said: “As a government, we are determined to bring succour to our people. The only way we can do this is by taking strong action to change in a fundamental way, the current trajectory of the Nigerian economy. This is not the time for a timid and cautious approach; this is a time for bold and focussed action.
“To get out of this recession and back on the path of growth, government must find the resources to spend on infrastructure, and to spend to reflate the economy. This spending will help to stimulate and attract private sector capital and private sector spending. This is what the 2017 budget proposals seek to do.
“We should not allow ourselves to be discouraged by those who say we can’t find the money to fund the spending required to implement this budget. We must, and we can, find the resources.
“We will challenge our revenue generating agencies, particularly the FIRS and Customs, to improve their efficiencies and broaden their reach so as to achieve the targets set for them in the 2017 budget.”
Social Intervention Projects
He said not much was achieved in the current budgetary provisions for Social Intervention Projects because the administration needed to widely consult and plan well to avoid leakages.
Udoma said the 2017 fiscal year would witness an accelerated implementation in that regard, since the planning was over.
He said: “2016 was a year of planning, because those projects, you just have to make sure that you get them right. So, extensive consultations, planning have gone into those projects because we don’t want any waste.
Nno recession in many farming communities —Ogbeh
The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, who also made clarifications on his sector, noted that things were looking up for Nigerian farmers, many of whom, he said, were experiencing boom, rather than recession.
His words: “Government takes agriculture very seriously and the immediate goal is to achieve self-sufficiency in grains and staples. I can tell you today that there is almost no recession. Recession is more of a feature in the cities now and the villagers are much happier because they confess to us that they have never had it so good.”
N289bn looted funds to fund 2017 budget
On his part, Director-General of Budget, Mr. Ben Akabueze, said about N288.6 billion of looted funds, comprising recoveries from Abacha loot, N72 billion recovered recently, as well as, about N90 billion to be recovered next year would form part of the funding resources for the 2017 budget.