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Subsidy: FG To Present SURE Budget To NASS

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ABUJA, January 19, (THEWILL) - The coordinating Minister for the economy and Finance Minister, Dr. (Mrs) Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala today disclosed that the executive arm would soon forward to the National Assembly a budget proposal for the management of the Subsidy Reinvestment Empowerment (SURE) programme.

She also announced that comprehensive changes that would culminate in the diversification of the country’s revenue base were being introduced to take the country out of its present economic challenge.

SURE is a Presidency programme set up by President Goodluck Jonathan that lists a framework on how savings from the removal of subsidy would be expended for the benefit of Nigerians.

Okonjo-Iweala, who made the revelation at the ongoing probe of subsidy management by the House of Representatives, said that the entire system required a total overhaul to save the nation from huge economic wastages that have hampered the rapid development of the country.

“We are going to be very aggressive in recovering money owed government, we will block all revenue leakages,” she stated.

The Minister expressed worry over the non-remittance of additional revenues generated by revenue generating agencies to the federation account, adding that measures were being taken to force those revenue generating agencies to obey the laws regarding full remittances to the Federation Account.

“We are investing in non-oil sectors like agriculture and solid minerals to achieve a solid revenue diversification for the country,” she said.

The coordinating minister who also denied knowledge of the approving authority for the NNPC to deduct subsidy payments from source explained that her ministry plays no role in the approval of any money for imported petroleum products.

According to her, “We have not been able to find out the authority that empowers the NNPC to deduct at source.”

She agreed with the submissions of Olisa Agbakoba, who had told the committee that Nigeria’s economic problems stemmed out from her inability to enforce its laws.

Also speaking at the investigation, the director general of the Budget office of the federation, Dr. Bright Okogu revealed that the much talked about Petroleum Subsidy Fund (PSF) only exists in principles.

He said, “The PSF is a virtual account which does not really exist. What usually happens is that subsidy monies are paid from the Federation Account before the rest is shared among the three tiers of government; any time such payments are made, records are kept and it is these records that are referred to as PSF.”

Making his submission, the director of the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), Augustine Olurunsola said his department was only involved in monitoring and has nothing to do with payment of subsidy funds.