“Nigeria is not as rich as you think” – Okonjo-Iweala

Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala: Tighten your belts.

by Isi Esene

Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the c-oordinating minister of the Economy and minister of Finance, during the weekend recommended a lean financial management policy for the government indicating the limited financial resources available to the Federal Government for the execution of developmental projects.

To address the situation, she said the government is taking steps to enlighten the citizens on the lean resources available to the government so as to understand the poor financial status of the federal government.

She reportedly said this over the weekend during the budget presentation and defense by the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory Authority (FCTA), Bala Mohammed, in Abuja.

She said:

“We have to do a bit of talking for Nigerians to realise the financial situation in this country. Nigeria relies solely on three sources of income: taxes collected by the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Customs and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).

“Nigerians must remember the quantity of what we earn is dependent on what we sell. Eighty per cent of the taxes we collect come from one revenue source and that’s oil.   Nigerians have forgotten that we depend on oil and there are sometimes delays and this leads to shortfalls. Our resources are never expansive. It’s the same thing we get.

“We need to understand the philosophy behind our budget. Priority should be given to critical areas since we have meagre resources. As part of the recommendations of the Steve Oronsaye Committee, President Goodluck Jonathan has ordered that all the Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) must find ways to streamline their 2013 expenditure in order to cut cost.”

While acknowledging the willingness of the FCT administration to pursue the execution of certain projects, Okonjo-Iweala hinted that the budget presented might have to be slashed due to the limited resources available to execute such projects.

It sounds like we have a bumpy road ahead.

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