FG Disburses N130.7bn To Defence Sector In 4 Months – Finance Mnister

The Minister of Finance, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, on Friday said the Federal Government disbursed N130.7 billion to the defence sector from January to April.

Okonjo-Iweala made this known while briefing newsmen during breakdown of the 2014 budget signed by the President Goodluck Jonathan in Abuja.

She said: “Defence spending is top in everything; you know that military establishment need new things to assist them in their work and ours will not be different.

“No budget will be enough to meet their demands but for now, I think the sector takes almost a trillion of the budgets.

“To be specific, they have about N968.127 billion and we have disbursed N130.7 billion between January and April 2014,’’ she said

The minister explained that N85.9billion out of the amount disbursed was for personnel cost, saying that the military paid its personnel because it was yet to be integrated into the IPPIS.

Okonjo-Iweala said that N3.8 billion approved by the President was being processed and would soon be released, adding that there were other additional spending.

She said the delay in the passage of the budget would not hamper the running of the economy.

The minister said that the law gave the executive the power to spend up to 50 per cent of the budget pending its approval.

“That is exactly what we have done and you know we have disbursed N200 billion for the first quarter of the 2014 based on what the law allows us to do.

“So the effect of the delay may be relatively minimal’’, she said.

Okonjo-Iweala said the 2014 budget had focused on many policies that would be beneficial to the economy and would drive economic growth and development.

The policies, she said, included housing under the Nigeria Mortgage Refinancing Company, the sugar roadmap and the automobile.

She added that these policies would help drive positive growth in the economy, adding that the housing mortgage would take off by first week of June.

“From June, we will advertise for the people that will benefit in the initial 10, 000 housing scheme. This will give the young ones hope to live.

“Again, it also very important to hear that the concept of the Nigeria mortgage refinancing had received award and recognition at the just-concluded African Development Bank meeting.

“This is to show that we are going the right way’’, she said.

Okonjo-Iweala explained that the agriculture, aviation and solid mineral sectors would get support in form of duty to buy equipment.

The duty, she said, would be basically incentives at zero per cent.

Commenting on additional N53 billion to the budget, she said that the Federal Government would look for additional funding to handle it.

“If not, it will be added to the N571 billion proposed to be borrowed by the government in the budget’’, she said. [NAN]