$1BN SWF TO BECOME OPERATIONAL BY MARCH - FG
The $1 billion Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF) will operate in accordance with the agenda set up for it, and will become operational by the end of next month, the federal government stated yesterday.
Minister of finance and the coordinating minister for the economy (CME) Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said, at the end of the second meeting of the National Executive Council (NEC) in 2013 at the presidential villa, Abuja, that the operation of the fund will be in three areas: Stabilization Fund, Infrastructure Fund and Future Generation Fund.
Briefing State House correspondents alongside national planning minister Dr. Shamsudeen Usman and Anambra State governor Mr. Peter Obi, the finance minister said these investment windows would be explored by the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA), a corporate governance system put in place to fast-track the use of the fund.
Chief executive officer of NSIA Mr. Uche Orji said the authority would employ hybrid strategy to run the SWF by trying to keep down the cost of running the organisation through employment of lean staff.
NEC also addressed issues of corruption: Governor Obi hinted that it was agreed that 'there should be a session where we will discuss the matter that there will be prudent management of resources available to government'.
Corroborating Obi's submission, Okonjo-Iweala noted that the federal government was working assiduously to stop corruption.
Citing instances with the N26 billion recovered from oil subsidy scam and the recent pension scam, Okonjo-Iweala said the administration quickly swung into action by freezing the accounts of the organisations so that additional money could not be stolen. Currently, efforts are being made to create a new pension office that will replace the old one where the subsisting problem emanated from.
On the signing of the budget, the minister said President Goodluck Jonathan and the leadership of the National Assembly (NASS) were both interested in having a budget that is responsive to the needs of the people.
According to her, the executive was having constructive engagement with the National Assembly because the president was passionate about having the budget signed.
On the report of the Presidential Committee on the Rehabilitation of Tertiary Education established last year, Governor Obi, who is the deputy chairman of the Nigeria Governors' Forum (NGF), said: 'The committee was further directed to look into the problems bedevilling primary and secondary education in the country.'
He added that the additional responsibility given to the committee was as a result of the observation that the two levels of education are the backbone of educational development in the country.
'Council is fully aware of the problems in the education sector but it has to find ways to mitigate many of these problems aggressively. It is just to say let us turn it around – have qualified teachers, instructional materials and others,' Obi said.
Dr Usman stressed that, prior to the setting up of the Presidential Committee, the minister of education had set up a Needs Assessment Committee headed by the former head of TETFUND, Prof Mahmoud Yakoub, which submitted its report to the Federal Executive Council (FEC) and later to the NEC.