Although Nigeria is currently recovering some looted funds, it cannot rely on the loot to fund the budget, an official has said.
Speaking at an Abuja Town Hall meeting, Finance Minister Kemi Adeosun said the federal government was working to block wastage, increase GDP and embark on single window project execution.
On budget funding, the minister said that Nigeria would rather go on short term borrowing than rely on recovered loot to fund the annual budget.
“We cannot afford to rely on recovered loots to fund our budget, we have to go on short term borrowing,” she said. “What borrowing does for us is that it gives us flexibility because if we recover a lot from looted funds, we can always pay back.”
“It takes a long time to recover this looted money. Take a look at the Abacha loot, it has been with the Swiss government for 20 years and yet we still don’t have it back. Even on the funds recovered from government officials, we keep going to court to get them back.”
The National Assembly recently passed the 2017 Appropriations Bill, raising the budget from N7.28 trillion earlier proposed by President Muhammadu Buhari in December last year, to N7.44 trillion.
On the fight against corruption, Mrs. Adeosun said apart from the Treasury Single Account, TSA, the whistle blowing policy is a vital tool, which has made every Nigerian a detective.
“We have over 2,500 tips from various quarters in the country through the whistle blowing policy, not just the big ones but also the small money. Someone diverting the petty cash for the university, we are able to get in there and stop it. The fight against corruption is for everybody.”
Mrs. Adeosun said some of the whistle blowers were not seeking any financial reward but only exposing corruption out of patriotism.
She also said that the new Presidential Initiative on Continuous Audit was making tremendous efforts in tackling issues of ghost workers and dead pensioners.
“The Initiative focuses mainly on our payroll, making sure that everybody who are getting paid are legitimate staff workers and is been paid the right amount. Through this initiative, every week we are finding people who should not be on the payroll and we are removing them.
“We are going to continue with this process until we are sure that 99.9 per cent of our payroll is accurate. The era of one person collecting 20 salaries is over. When we remove all these ghost workers, it will now create more jobs”, Mrs. Adeosun said.
The minister had in a recent Facebook live session disclosed that about 53,000 ghost workers had been removed from the Federal Government payroll through The Presidential Initiative on Continuous Audit.
Mrs. Adeosun also said the Nigerian economy is gradually coming out of its worst recession in years.
“Nigeria is coming out of recession; we are beginning to see the signs and we will come out to become stronger,” the News Agency of Nigeria quotes her as saying.
Mrs. Adeosun was among nine ministers that participated in the town hall meeting held on Tuesday at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Abuja. The town hall meeting is a midterm review aimed at assessing the performance of various ministries in the country in the two years of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration.
Those in attendance include Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Audu Ogbeh; Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola; Budget and National Planning Minister, Udoma Udoma; and Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed.