The Finance Minister, Dr. Mansur Muhtar who disclosed this at the opening of the 10th National Council of Finance and Economic Development Conference (NACOFED) said the federal revenue generating ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) would not only be made to fully disclose their earnings but also payments and remittances to the Federation Account.
In the face of the global economic crisis, Dr. Muhtar said the government would protect most vulnerable groups through appropriate and targeted social safety nets. He emphasized that government would pursue and implement human-face policy measures to cushion the effects of the recession on Nigerians and business entities.
The minister listed the policy priorities of the government to include: building robust and resilient economy, improving public financial management, improving and enhancing the efficiency of government expenditure, eliminating inefficiencies, corruption, leakages and rent-seeking activities, including the downstream petroleum sector, and diversifying productive structures such as agriculture, small and medium enterprises, gas and solid minerals.
“Let me renew the Federal Government’s commitment to stay ahead of the curve, collaborate with sub-national governments, and do all we can to support growth that will help us weather the global crisis.
“We will continue steer the economy through the current global difficulties, while making sure that we don’t waste the opportunities for economic renewal they present. We all have a stake to build competitive and prosperous economies at all levels of government in the country to usher in a new era of economic growth base which citizens deserve for future,” said Muhtar.
He disclosed that the government would also enhance domestic resource mobilisation through expanding the non-oil tax base by means of appropriate tax policy and administration, making substantial progress in reforming Customs services and ports, and deepening reforms to tap into the domestic capital market.
He asserted that the global financial crisis and economic slowdown had changed the financial landscape with far reaching implication for African economies. African economies, according to him, have witnessed restriction in investment and trade finance while on-going and envisaged infrastructure and mining projects are being cancelled or scaled down considerably.
He added that African governments had adopted belt-tightening measures in view of sharp decline in budgetary revenues, falling remittances, and declining external reserves.
Also in his remarks at the occasion, the Finance Minister of State, Mr. Remi Babalola said concerted efforts were being made to restore confidence in the nation’s financial sector as the regulatory agencies in the sector were now required to meet monthly to ensure “they are on the same page”.
On the recent currency depreciation, he explained that it was a natural consequence of the fundamentals of the economy.
He urged banks to focus on their core banking functions rather than compete against one another in a destructive manner.
Vice-President Jonathan, who was represented by the Enugu State Governor, Dr. Sullivan Chime, admitted that Nigeria was already affected by the global crisis which, according to him, was responsible for the sharp drop in Federation Account allocations from N435.40 billion in January 2009 N285.58 billion in February 2009.
He restated the Federal Government’s commitment to assiduously lessen the effects of the present challenge on the economy and the citizens.
The annual conference was declared open by Vice President Goodluck Jonathan and attended by Benue State Governor, Rt. Hon. Gabriel Suswam; Minister of State for Finance and Chairman of the Federation Accounts Allocation Committee (FAAC), Mr. Remi Babalola; Director of Homes Finance in the Finance Ministry, Mr. Lexy Omoha; Accountant General of the Federation, Mallam Ibrahim Dankwambo; and 36 state commissioners for finance and accountants-general.
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