The Nigerian government on Monday said it released N1.2 trillion to Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of government for implementation of capital projects contained in the 2017 budget.
The Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, gave the figure during a meeting with a delegation of about 30 investors from France in Abuja.
Mrs. Adeosun told the delegation that government had previously released N450 billion for capital projects, adding that with additional N750 billion, a total of N1.2 trillion would have been invested in infrastructure in the country.
The 2017 budget, tagged ‘Budget of Recovery and Growth’, was presented to the National Assembly in December 2016, and passed in May 2017. The document was later signed into law by then Acting President, Yemi Osinbajo, in June 2017.
The budget had a total expenditure of N7.44 trillion, out of which N2.99 trillion was for non-debt recurrent spending, while N2.36 trillion was budgeted for capital expenditure.
With the minister’s disclosure Monday, the government would have provided about 50 percent funding for execution of the capital projections in the budget.
The Muhammadu Buhari administration had been heavily criticized for its poor implementation of the 2017 budget. The government, however, attributed the development to decline in revenue generated, adding that it would ensure 50 percent implementation pf the budget and roll over the remaining 50 percent to the 2018 budget. The 2018 proposal was presented to the National Assembly in November.
Speaking further, Mrs. Adeosun, as quoted by the News Agency of Nigeria, told the delegation, who expressed readiness to invest in key sectors of the Nigerian economy, that “what the government is doing is to provide enabling infrastructure that will bring potential into reality.
“Last year (2016), we released N1.3 trillion of capital and so far this year we have released N450 billion and this week, we will release another N750 billion and this will take the release to N1.2 trillion by the end of the year.”
The Head of the French delegation, Philippe Labonne, said the investors had indicated interest in key sectors of the economy such as banking, infrastructure, renewable energy, agriculture and youth empowerment.
He said the decision of the companies to invest in Nigeria was taken following a directive by government of France for French companies to increase their investments in Nigeria.
He described the Nigerian economic environment as encouraging, following the recent stability in the country’s foreign exchange market.
To achieve their investment objective, Mr. Labonne said, most of the French companies would form strategic partnerships with their Nigerian counterparts.
“We are here to assess the investment environment in Nigeria to enable us to take advantage of the opportunities.
“We have about 30 companies in this delegation in sectors such as infrastructure, services, agriculture and banking and the purpose of this meeting is to identify key sectors where we can invest.
“We are interested in many areas such as energy, agriculture, services, especially toward youths and we will identify other areas subsequently,”he said.
Earlier, Yewande Sadiku, the Executive Secretary, Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission, told the delegation that Nigeria remained a top destination of capital inflows in the African continent.
She expressed delight over the interest of the investors in Nigeria, noting that France was one of the many countries that Nigeria was targeting in its investment strategy.