The Federal Government has unveiled 34 priority projects to be accomplished this year.
The Federal Executive Council (FEC) met to approve the document presented by the Ministry of Budget and National Planning. Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo chaired the meeting.
Briefing State House correspondents at the end of the meeting, Minister of State for Budget and National Planning Zainab Ahmed, said the Executive was expecting the final copy of the 2016 budget from the National Assembly for the President’s assent “today or tomorrow”.
She was accompanied by Minister of Information Lai Mohammed; Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment Aisha Abubakar; and Minister of State (Foreign Affairs), Khadija Bukar Abba.
She said: “We presented 34 strategic priority programmes that need to be realised within 2016. Each of these projects has very clear deliverables and targets and indicators which will be measured to ensure that the respective Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) deliver on what we are committed to implement.
“These 34 specific areas are grouped into four major objectives. The first is policy, governance and security; second is diversification of the economy; the thirdý is creating support for the poor and the vulnerable and the forth is reflating our economy through investment.”
According to her, the 34 priority projects were approvedý for implementation by FEC.
The Ministry of Budget and National Planning will track and report to the Council on the performance of the key prority areas quarterly.
She added: “The 34 priority areas that we need to implement in 2016ý are categorized into six thematic areas.
“There is policy, governance and security and one item from that is to achieve and maintain a capital spending minimum of 30 per cent in 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 regime. 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.
“There is also a target for us to increase low interest lending to the real sector, 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 Industry, Trade 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 ýoptimise the local and foreign debts that we have and the Ministry of Finance and the Debt Management Office will be taking action on this.
“On the thematic ýarea of diversifying the economy, we plan to implement measures to achieve self-sufficiency and become a net exporter of certain number of 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. The deadline for these will be announced later in the year.”
She added: “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 sesemi seeds and the Agric Ministry is also leading in that area.
“There is also plan to make use of 5,000 hectares arable land ýin 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 and all-year round activity and that there is productivity all-year round.
“There is a plan to implement a road map to increase priývate sector investment in tourism, sports and the objective is to increase investment in the service sector, thereby increasing job creation and youth employment.
“The power, rails and road ýis also a very important priority area. There is a number of specific activities but one of them is to optimise up to 7,000 megawatts installed capacity and to ensure the associated infrastructure to ensure we transmit and distribute this capcity in the maximum operational level that is obtainable and also to conclude the privatisation of NIPP plants and improve management and performance of TSA.
“The Ministry of Power, Works and Housing is leading in this regard. The target deliverables 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 on ýgas pricing. The availability of gas is very key to the availability of power to the nation; so, gas pricing is a priority and is currently being addressed and will be finalized and payment will be provided to the gas suppliers who are being owed significant amount of money.
“And also there is a plan to conclude the road map development. The objective of all of these is to increase investment, and gas peaks supply to the oil industry.
“There are plans to complete the Kaduna-Abuja-Ajaokuta ýrailway lines in 2016. We are also revising the National Rail Masterplan, which is commencing construction of the Lagos – Kano standard Gauge Rail line and also to finalise the negotiation regarding the Calabar-Lagos rail line.
“Of course, the objective of this is to increase availability of mass transist, to relief pressure on road infrastructure.”
Mrs Ahmed said there was also a plan to rehabilitate and construct 31 major projects and restore the degraded sections of some major highways and improved connectivity over a distance of 210,093 kilometers through public works maintenance, Public Private Partnership (PPP) and other interventions.
The fourth thematic area, she said, includes oil and gas reforms.
She said: “One of the key objective 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 road map for the stoppage of gas flaring in our country.
“We are setting a three-year deadline to achieve self-sufficiency in refined petroleum productsý 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 is pushing for this. There is also a plan to push for the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) in conjuction with the National Assembly.
She added: “Nigeria has been classified as one of the countries that is very poor in terms of ease of doing business,ý 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, issuance of visas for persons seeking to come into our country and do business.
“The sixth area is the 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 ýcurrently under production. Almost every ministry has a role to play in this.
“On 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 closed as possible to their homes.”
“Let me emphasis that when we say we want to move towards a predictable exchange rate in the country, we are not planning to devalue the naria. The CBN and the money policy committee is working on this and will be concluded and made available to the country to enable users be able to predict the exchange rate at any point in time,” Mrs Ahmed said
She said: “On the 2016 budget, I must say the executive and legislature have worked very hard putting things together, reviewing the details of the budget and it 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.”
The Minister of State (Foreign Affairs), Mrs Ahmed said, presented the notes of the President’s visit to Washington DC for the Nuclear Summit to FEC.