ABUJA —The Federal Ministry of Finance has released the third quarter capital vote of N300 billion with a view to boosting the 2012 budget implementation.

Vehicles queuing for fuel at the central area of Abuja on Thursday NAN Photos

The Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala who disclosed this at a briefing, yesterday, also revealed that salaries of Federal Government workers were being paid between yesterday and today, to enable them enjoy the Eid- Id-Fitr holiday.

On the capital budget, Dr. Okonjo-Iweala said N704 billion has been released to date, while utilisation of the earlier N404 billion in first and second quarters stood at 65.4 per cent as at the end of July.According to her, the N704 billion so far released represents 53 per cent of the N1. 36 trillion capital budget for 2012 and that her team was “pressing on to make funds available for a successful implementation of the 2012 budget”.

Her words, “we are here to announce the release of the third quarter capital budget of N300 billion. This demonstrates government’s commitment to realising a significant level of implementation of the capital budget this year.

“In percentage term, with this release, we have released N704 billion. If you recall, we had earlier released N404 billion and with this additional N300 billion, it brings us to N704 billion, which is about 53 per cent of the annual capital budget of Ni1.36 trillion.

“We should note that based on what we had released before, which was N404 billion, the last time we spoke to you we said utilization of that had gone up to 56 per cent and that was as at the end of June, and we are now happy to tell you that as at the end of July, utilization of the previous N404 billion is now at 65.4 per cent and on top of that we are now releasing this additional N300 billion for the third quarter”.

Some marketers blackmail FG

Answering questions on emerging fuel queues in Abuja and other parts of the country occasioned by subsidy payment between the Federal Government and some fuel marketers, the minister said government has been paying verified claims and that there are no disagreements whatsoever with honest marketers.

Her words, “we have resumed payment to the marketers. “As you know these payments come in batches and since April we have been receiving these batches and paying.

“Recall that we had a period that we had to verify all the payments that were being  made. Nigerians have said why is it that we keep paying these marketers when we believe there is non-transparency in the way that subsidy is going.

“We set up a committee headed by Mr Aig Imoukhuede which has now become a presidential committee. The president has formally inaugurated them and was asked to verify all the payments that were being made. So for a period of time these investigations were going on, so that the Ministry of Finance will be sure of the people who really deserved to be paid.

“As the verification was rounding off in April, we resumed payment to marketers and I’m happy to say that between April and August we have been paying in respect of 2012 claims. We paid about N42.66 billion to marketers and the number of marketers that were paid was 31”.

According to her, fuel marketers who have questions to answer are the ones who paid unionists to blackmail the Federal Government with a view to stampeding President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration into paying claims without verifying them.

“Of course we said we will not pay those who have query as to whether the subsidy payment they were paying were really due to them. Those under investigation or have question mark from committee were not paid”, she said.

She insisted that the administration will not accept such an arrangement as Nigerians have continued to call for a transparent subsidy administration and that no association is bigger than the nation.

She added that, “What is happening is that those who have been told that they have a case to answer have organized and decided to hold the nation to ransom.  Nigerians have said we must do the right thing and we have decided to do the right thing and we are trying to do the right thing.

Some of them (marketers) not all of them have decided to embark on what we consider as cheap blackmail of the government to have this hold on the nation by saying they are not importing fuel and they are not going to sell. But we are not going to give in to that”, she insisted.

FG open to dialogue

The minister said what her team will do is to look into the cases of those who are not participating in this (blackmail) and who may have a slight infraction and talk to them, saying, “we are open to dialogue.”

Before the briefing ended, some marketers arrived the ministry for talks with the minister, particularly to reconcile their books, as according to Dr. Okonjo-Iweala, there would be a netting out between the Federal Government and the marketers with a view to ironing out all differences. Companies that came for the meeting included Oando, Falowiyo Energy, Sahara Energy and NIPCO.

 

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