Making this confession at the 2014 Budget Breakdown in Abuja, Co-ordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, said until the laws setting them up are repealed, the Federal Government cannot implement the report.
To this end, she called on the National Assembly to repeal the laws setting up the agencies so that they can be merged to reduce recurrent expenditure.
The minister lamented the burgeoning share of the recurrent expenditure, which is about 74 per cent of the budget, saying that the recurrent reduces the size of funds available for investments in capital projects.
According to her, it took the government several days of hard work to reduce the ratio from 74.4 per cent in 2011 to 71.5 per cent in 2012 and further to 67.5 per cent in 2013.
She, however, regretted that the ratio has risen again to 74 per cent in 2014 and there are also additional arrears, which needed to be incorporated in the recurrent budgets in the future. It is evident, she feared, the size of this year’s budget will increase further if no concrete action is taken.
“We need to strike a balance between a growing wage bill for the public sector and investing more of our resources in infrastructure projects. In 2013, we reviewed the recommendation of the Oronsaye Report.
“However, we have had difficulty in streamlining redundant agencies because most are underpinned by law. We are therefore looking to the National Assembly to assist us in reviewing and repealing these laws to enable us rationalise some of these duplicative agencies,” she lamented.
Taking a retrospective look at the performance of 2013 budget, she said the budget remained resilient with a robust growth. For instance, in the third quarter of 2013, the economy grew by 6.5 per cent, driven by a 7.4 per cent growth of non-oil sectors such as agriculture, housing and construction as well as wholesale and retail trade.
“Inflation has remained at single digits of 8.0 per cent as at December 2013, while the exchange rate has been relatively stable within the N155 to N160 to the dollar range. The increased confidence of the international community in our economy was recently manifested as our billion dollar eurobond was four times oversubscribed and the economy’s BB sovereign credit rating was reaffirmed by our rating agencies,” she noted, adding that a total of 1.6 million jobs were created in the past year.
Giving a breakdown of the jobs created, she said in agriculture, the Federal Government enabled over 250,000 farmers and youths to be engaged in dry season farming.
In manufacturing, the Onne and Gas Free Zone created an estimated 30,000 direct and indirect jobs and YouWiN programme has supported young entrepreneurs and created over 18,000 jobs while Subsidy Reinvestment Programme (SURE-P) created over 120,000 job opportunities across the country.