By Emma Ujah, Abuja Bureau Chief
The federal government had established a Federal Gold Reserve Scheme, in pursuance of its economic diversification programme.
Disclosing this yesterday at the on-going National Economic Summit, the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Sen. Udoma Udoma, said the move was part of the implementation of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) with a view to strengthening the nation’s macro-economy.
He stated: “As an outcome of the ERGP focus labs, we have also been able to accelerate the development of a National Gold Development Policy and the establishment of a Federal Gold Reserve Scheme in Nigeria. Today, I am happy to report that the first gold refining license has been issued to a company called Kian Smith Limited, which was one of the companies that participated in the Labs.
“Indeed, the Federal Government is finalizing modalities to purchase gold from local refineries via a Federal Gold Reserve Scheme subject to international standards such as the London Bullion Market Association. This accelerated development of the National Gold Development Policy by the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development, and the progress recorded in implementing the Federal Gold Reserve Scheme by the Central Bank of Nigeria, are direct solutions to issues presented by investors at the ERGP Focus Labs.”
Udoma added that the during the Labs, investors interested in agriculture were assisted to obtain farming land from some State Governments, to boost the agricultural sector.
“Also arising from the Lab process, a local automobile assembly firm in Imo State, Autodex Limited, is being supported to double its capacity for the production of farm tractors. This is just to mention a few of the projects arising out of the Focus Labs.
“The ERGP Delivery Unit is working hard to advance progress on many other potential projects identified in the Labs. To keep the public informed of progress arising from the Focus Labs the ERGP Delivery Unit has started producing a monthly newsletter. The next one is scheduled for release within the next two weeks,” he said.
The minister said that the theme of this year’s Summit, “Poverty to Prosperity: Making Governance & Institutions Work,” provided another opportunity for to examine the progress made so far in achieving the programmes, policies and objectives of the ERGP.
According to him, “The ERGP specifically maps out strategies to improve governance by institutionalizing transparency, accountability, fighting corruption, improving security, reforming the public service, and strengthening coordination with sub-national governments.
“We, at the Federal level, are working closely with the States through the National Economic Council (NEC) to strengthen the coordination required for enhanced implementation of the governance components of the ERGP, including monitoring the progress of States’ implementation of the 22-point Fiscal Sustainability Plan (FSP).
“Furthermore, we have, amongst other reforms, introduced a 4-year strategic plan for Civil Service Reform which is being coordinated by the Head of Service. This aims to drive innovation in service and institutionalise a performance management system that is citizen oriented.”
Udoma also explained that the President’s Executive Orders were to improve service delivery and enhance transparency.
They included the Executive Order on Promoting Procurement by Government Agencies; an Executive Order on Improving Efficiency in the Business Environment; and an Executive Order on Promotion of Nigerian content in contracts in Science, Engineering and Technology.
The minister added that the government of President Muhammadu Buhari had invested in, and continued to invest in, several initiatives to improve the quality of governance, improve transparency and reduce corruption.
“We know we still need to do more – and we will continue to listen to suggestions. However, I can assure you that this is a Government that is committed to do whatever is necessary to move our people from ‘Poverty to Prosperity’. To achieve this, we will continue to invest in our people. We will continue with our social intervention and other programmes to ensure that no one is left behind. We will continue to fight corruption so as to ensure that resources meant for the development of our people are not diverted for selfish purposes.”
Under the ERGP, the government conducted Focus Labs in three work streams, namely Agriculture and Transportation; Manufacturing and Processing; and Power and Gas. We have set up an ERGP Delivery
“As part of the Lab process we were able to assist Brass Fertilizer and Petrochemical Development Company in obtaining expedited issuance of various approvals that were required by its financiers from multiple government agencies. Brass Fertilizer is a very large, multi-billion-dollar petrochemical plant positioned to be one of the largest consumers of gas in the country within the next 5 years. If this project succeeds it could create up to 20,000 direct and indirect jobs,” the minister disclosed.