The Federal Executive Council (FEC) Wednesday, considered 34 strategic projects on the priority programmes list of the Federal Government as contained in the 2016 budget which will be implemented once the document is passed into law.
The meeting was presided over by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, for President Muhammadu Buhari.
Briefing State House Correspondents, after the meeting, Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, in company of Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed; Minister of State for Trade, Industry and Investment, Ms. Aisha Abubakar; Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Senator Khadijat Bukar Abba Ibrahim; said the areas targeted by the government were specifically 34 specific which have been grouped under four major objectives and six categories.
“The first is policy, governance and security, second diversification of the economy, the third is creating support for the poor and the vulnerable and the fourth is reflating our economy through investment.”
She said each of these programmes had very clear deliverables, targets and indicators, which would be measured to ensure that the respective ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) deliver on what they are committed to implement.
“On the 2016 budget, I must say the executive and legislature have worked very hard at putting things together, reviewing the details of the budget and is at its final stage, so maybe between today and tomorrow the National Assembly will start the process of transmitting the details to the president,” she added.
Continuing, Ahmed aid: “We discussed the strategic implementation plan for the budget. Our ministry’s presentation was introduced to council for discussion on priority economic activities that we need to undertake to ensure that the purpose for which the 2016 budget was made which is to stimulate the economy – to create jobs for our teeming youths and to extend support to the poor and very vulnerable – is realised.
“The paper was well received by council. We got some very positive comments and the 34 priority programmes were approved for implementation.”
She added that her ministry was given the responsibility of tracking and reporting on a quarterly basis to the council on the performance of these key priority areas.
While giving a further breakdown of the strategies, the minister said: “There is policy, governance and security and one item from that is to achieve and maintain a capital spend of a minimum of 30 per cent on an annual basis starting from 2016.
“The objective of doing that is to reflate the economy and enhance employment generation capacity for the productive sector.
“Another area is to achieve an appropriate exchange rate regime, so the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is leading this particular action. The objective is to achieve a predictable exchange rate by the end of 2016.
“Let me emphasise that when we say we want to move towards a predictable exchange rate in the country, we are not planning to devalue the naira.
“The CBN and the monetary policy committee are working on this and this will be concluded and made public to enable users to be able to predict the exchange rate at any point in time.
“There is also a target for us to achieve low interest rates for the real sector, so the focus is to achieve an interest rate that is single digit maybe nine per cent and the purpose is to increase output and growth.
“Again the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Investment along with CBN are taking action on this.
“We also have a target to maintain a stable debt management strategy so that we can optimise local and foreign debts that we have, and the Ministry of Finance and the Debt Management Office (DMO) will be taking action on this.
“On the thematic area of diversifying the economy, we plan to implement measures to achieve self sufficiency and become a net exporter of certain agricultural produce, the first one being rice. We plan to attain self-sufficiency in rice production by 2018, in tomato paste 2016 and also increase local production of maize, soya beans, poultry and livestock, and the deadline for these will be announced later in the year.
“The Ministry of Agriculture is still trying to work out details. It means we will stop importing and we will get to a point when we will start exporting.
“We also have plans to expand the agro-allied sector to intensify local production of cassava, cocoa, cashew nuts, fruits and sesame seeds and the agriculture ministry is also leading in that area.
“There is also a plan to make use of 5,000 hectares of arable land in the 12 River Basin Development Authorities and to utilise 22 dams for commercial farming by prospective investors and the objective is to extend farming so that it can become an all year round activity and that there is productivity all year round.
“There is also a plan to implement a roadmap to increase private sector investment in tourism and sports, and the objective is to increase investment in the services sector thereby increasing job creation and youth employment.
“The power, rail and road projects are also very important priority areas. There are a number of specific activities but one of them is to optimise up to 7,000MW of installed capacity and to ensure the associated infrastructure to ensure we transmit and distribute this capacity at the maximum operational level that is obtainable and also to conclude the privatisation of the NIPP plants and improve management and performance of the Treasury Single Account (TSA). The Ministries of Power, Works and Housing, as well as Finance are leading in this regard.
“The target deliverable is to increase the availability of power thereby enhancing investment, productivity and employment and business growth in our country.
“There is also the priority objective of resolving all issues that have to do with gas pricing. The availability of gas is very key to the availability of power, so gas pricing is a priority and is currently being addressed and will be finalised and payments will be made to the gas suppliers who are being owed significant amounts of money.
“Also, there is a plan to conclude the roadmap on development in gas production. The objective of this is to increase investment and gas supply by the oil industry.
“There is also a plan to complete the Kaduna-Abuja-Ajaokuta railway line in 2016. We are also revising the National Rail Master Plan which is commencing with the construction of the Lagos-Kano standard gauge line and also to finalise the negotiations regarding the Calabar-Lagos rail line.
“Of course, the objective of this is to increase the availability of mass transit transportation in order to relieve pressure on roads infrastructure. The Ministry of Transportation is leading in this regard, working in collaboration with Ministries of Finance and Budget and National Planning to ensure the required funding is available for this project.
“There is also a plan to undertake the rehabilitation and construction of 31 major projects and restore the degraded sections of some major highways and improve connectivity over a distance of 210,093 kilometres through public works maintenance, public-private partnerships (PPPs) and other interventions. The objective is to ease the movement of people and enhance road movement and connectivity.
“The fourth thematic area is oil and gas reforms. One of the key objectives is to adopt and execute a comprehensive national oil and gas policy, which is supposed to be the road map for the petroleum industry development diversification, as well as privatisation, and also to adopt and execute a roadmap for the stoppage of gas flaring in our country.
“We are setting a three-year deadline to achieve self-sufficiency in refined petroleum products and to become a net exporter of petroleum products. The objective of this is to increase domestic supply of refined products and to reduce demand on foreign exchange for importing refined products in our country. The Ministry of Petroleum Resources is pushing this.
“There is also a plan to push for the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) in conjunction with the National Assembly.
“Nigeria has been classified as one of the countries that is very poor in terms of ease of doing business, so we have a target to move 20 places up the ranking from 169 to 149.
“We are going to do this by implementing a number of measures specifically targeted at fast-tracking business approvals, acquisition of land titles, and the issuance of visas for persons seeking to come into our country and do business.
“The sixth area is in investment in the lives of our people by implementing various social projects covering health, education and the essence is to bring succour to the poor and vulnerable to achieve the targets set by the Social Protection Policy which is currently under production. Almost every ministry has a role to play in this.
“On the health sector, we plan to rehabilitate 5,000 primary health centres in 5,000 wards in 2016. The objective is to deliver affordable health care services to Nigerians as closely as possible to their homes.”
Also speaking, the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs presented notes on Buhari’s participation at the Nuclear Summit held in Washington D.C., United States.
The minister said: “The importance is to join world leaders in the fight against terrorism.”