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2016 Budget will reflate the economy – Lai Mohammed

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, says the economy will be reflated with the 2016 budget.

The miinister made the promise on Friday in Lagos when he paid a working visit to the headquarters of the Guardian Newspapers.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports the minister was received by the Executive Director of the Newspaper, Toke Ibru, the Editor-in-Chief, Emeka Izeze and other senior members of staff.

Mohammed said that with the signing of the budget, the economy would be reflated by increasing aggregate demand, increasing money supply and job opportunities

Mohammed said that against the N13 billion earmarked for roads in the 2015 budget, a whopping sum of N350 billion would be released to road contractors to get back to sites.

He said with this, millions of jobs would be created and there would be more money in circulation.

The minister reiterated government’s decision not to award new road contracts, stressing that efforts would be on completion of abandoned projects by the previous administrations.

He said that it would no longer be business as usual as government would ensure close supervision of projects as well as ensure probity and accountability in the disbursement of funds.

On power, Mohammed said that with the privatisation of the electricity generation and distribution companies, government had no absolute control over the sector.

He said that lots of things went wrong with the privatisation process with a misunderstanding of the sector as“cash cow’’ rather than a long- term investment project.

Mohammed said that the lack of a gas policy was also affecting the sector.

“Because there is no gas policy in place, the major oil players are laying claim to ownership of the gas on the ground that it is a by-product from crude they are refining.

“Besides, in the international market, gas is sold for four U.S dollars per cubic metre, but we are buying slightly above three U.S dollars, so you can understand their problem,’’ he said.

Mohammed said that with the activities of vandals on pipelines particularly in the Niger Delta region, government had been trucking gas to power stations, which was also affecting the sector.

The minister also gave reasons for the fuel scarcity that was experienced across the country in recent times.

He said that when government ended the corrupt subsidy regime, the independent marketers demanded payment for their outstandings before they could resume importation.

Mohammed said that after government had paid the marketers over N594 billion subsidy arrears, they reneged on their promise to be importing fuel thereby leaving the task for the NNPC only.

He also identified diversion of the petroleum products to neighbouring countries for sale at higher prices as one of the major reasons for the scarcity.

He said that in addition to preparing existing refineries for optimal usage, government would license new investors to bring in modular refineries that would be sited close to the existing ones for access to crude.

Mohammed also assured that when the refinery being built by the business mogul, Aliko Dangote, came on stream, the challenge of fuel scarcity would permanently end. (NAN)

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