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Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala Gets 7-days Ultimatum

Listen to article / can disclose that the audited report on government indebtedness to NNPC almost stalled the Senate public hearing on fuel subsidy, Thursday.The Senate had requested that the Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iwaela provides it with

relevant documents for it to peruse. But the minister was not willing to make a commitment on the exact day she will make the document available.

In her words, 'I have not read the report, and you know in auditing, you will have to read it, give the people being audited time to respond to issues raised in the audit report.

However, after about fifteen minutes of going back and forth, the ensuing deadlock was settled when the Senate informed the minister that the report in question was part of the documents she received when her predecessor handed over to her, and as such it is a public document.

Consequently, the committee adopted that the minister must produce the report within seven working days or the Senate will subpoena the report.

In the same vein, the House of Representatives has unanimously kicked against the planned removal of oil subsidy, which it described as 'premature'.

The House, in its Thursday sitting, noted that 'the proposal on fuel subsidy removal as contained in the revised Fiscal Strategy Paper is premature', adding that 'sources other than relying on savings from proposed subsidy removal, as part of financing items for expected deficit should be explored.'

The outright rejection followed the House' adoption of the report and recommendations presented by Hon. John Enoh led joint committee on finance, appropriation, legislative budget and research and national planning and economic development, on the 2012 -2015 medium term fiscal framework (MTFF) and Fiscal Strategy Paper (FSP) of the federal government. The 2012-2015 MTFF was laid on the floor of the House on November 2, 2011.

Recall that President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan had in a recent meeting with federal legislators at the Presidential Villa attempted to lobby the lawmakers to support the removal of subsidies on petroleum products.

President Jonathan was alleged to have explained to the legislators that the federal government could no longer sustain the measure expending over N1 trillion annually to subsidize petroleum products.

The House also directed the Ministry of Finance to provide comprehensive information on the volume of capital projects to be funded through the Public Private Partnership (PPP) to the National Assembly, before the submission of the 2012 appropriation proposal as well as provide indicative envelopes for the various sectors, as part of the main report, to enable the National Assembly assess the level of alignment with top line investment priority areas as indicated in the first National Implementation Plan (NIP).