Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister for the Economy, has said that the 2014 budget will address the demands of civilians’ pensions.
Okonjo-Iweala stated this in a statement issued by her Special Adviser on Media, Paul Nwabuikwu, in Abuja on Thursday.
She explained that the inclusion of the civilians’ pensions in the budget contributed to its high recurrent expenditure.
She noted that the country was yet to fully absorb pension’s implications of the 2010 wage increases, explaining that beginning with the 2013 budget, the Federal Government began tackling the payment of outstanding military pensions.
Okonjo-Iweala said: “Starting in 2013 budget, this administration commenced tackling the payment of outstanding military pensions, and Budget 2014 will further address civilian pensions.
“We have been under pressure from many quarters, including the Senate, to integrate the civilian component of pension, and doing so will further increase the recurrent budget.
“And, the 2014 budget will address the issue.”
On excessive borrowing, she said that the flow of domestic borrowing had reduced from N852 billion in 2011 to N588 billion in 2013, adding that a borrowing of N572 billion had been proposed in the 2014 budget.
She described allegations being made about the borrowing as “unfortunate”, saying that she ensured the repayment of N75 billion of the nation’s domestic bonds.
The statement added: “The minister further set up a sinking fund of N25 billion per annum to support the retirement of maturing bonds as above, rather than roll them over.
“This is directly contrary to the allegation that she is responsible for excessive borrowing within the economy.
“To also help the country lower the cost of debt service, DMO has made a minor switch in debt strategy to external borrowing from multilateral finance organisations like the African Development Bank, China EXIM Bank, and the World Bank at zero or very concessionary interest rates.”
Meanwhile, the minister has said that contrary to allegation by oil marketers of delays in payment of oil subsidy to them, the Federal Government paid the marketers in December 2013 and was processing their new claims.
She said: “We have been receiving enquiries regarding complaints by the Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria that there have been delays in fuel subsidy payments.
“For the avoidance of doubt, here are the facts: based on verified claims by Petroleum Products and Pricing Regulatory Agency, we approved the payment of N137.7 billion to marketers on December 17, 2013.
“This was in addition to other payments made in 2013.
“The details of these payments were subsequently published in various national newspapers.
“All verified claims by PPPRA as at that date were fully paid.
“Whatever payment that is outstanding was sent to the Federal Ministry of Finance after December 17, 2013.”
Okonjo-Iweala added that the Ministry of Finance would continue to ensure that marketers, who had successfully processed their documents, were paid and urged all qualified marketers to be patient with the process.