By BLAISE UDUNZE
Minister of State for Finance, Dr. Yerima Ngama, said in Abuja, at the monthly Federation Accounts Allocation Committee (FAAC) meeting, that the government would not release the $1 billion Excess Crude-oil Account (ECA) funds, at least for now. Government, under President Goodluck Jonathan, rebuffed state governors who are demanding additional $1 billion from the Excess Crude-oil Account (ECA), a week after the three tiers of government shared about N567.70 billion from the same account.
However, he made a detour when he stated that the Federal administration ‘accessed’ one billion dollars from the account in December to offset the fuel subsidy claims of oil marketers. This was sequel to legislative approval of N161 billion supplementary budgets for fuel subsidy payments.
“We withdrew the amount (one billion dollars) to pay subsidy to oil marketers but not on the account of distribution to governors based on their request. Because of the withdrawal, we had a dip in the excess crude account, but yet we have credited the account (in December) with N91.70 billion and that will bring the total to 9.20 billion dollars,” said Ngama. The deputy finance minister noted that the President Jonathan administration met its’ “target of having to save 10 billion dollars in the ECA for the year 2012.”
He included the $1billion withdrawal for the fuel subsidy claims payments. He maintained that with over 42 billion-dollar foreign reserves, Nigeria has enough to pay for three months’ imports. “The finances of this country are in solid state and this is credit to the exemplary leadership style of President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration,” said Ngama.
A breakdown of the allocation to the various tiers of government showed the Federal Government received N217.42 billion (52.68 per cent), state governments N110.28 billion (26.72 per cent) and the local governments got N85.02 billion. Ngama said Value Added Tax (VAT) distributed for the period under review stood at N57.53 billion, compared with N62.7 billion in November. Oil producing ‘communities’ was also credited with receiving a total of N49.7 billion, representing about 13 per cent oil derivation fund.