Jonathan opens cash tap

THE NATION Newspaper-Yusuf Alli

WITH $2billion coming from the Excess Crude Account, the economy is expected to get more cash soon.

Acting President Goodluck Jonathan is believed to have okayed the release of the cash for states to execute some "intervention" projects.

There is $6billion in the account.

Besides, Dr Jonathan has summoned a meeting of the National Economic Management Team (NEMT) – the country’s economic think-tank – for Monday.

The meeting will hold at the Presidential Villa, Abuja. Invitations have been sent to members.

Governors were said to have asked for the money, although this could not be confirmed last night.

The Federation Accounts Allocation Committee (FAAC) will meet today in Abuja to ratify the decision.

A source said of NEMT meeting: "All members have been directed to attend the crucial stock taking meeting with the Acting President.

"Having assumed office, the Acting President has made it known that his main focus would be how to move the economy."

Some of the issues likely to be discussed are:

•deregulation of the downstream sector of the oil industry and the expectations of Nigerians;

•power generation and supply;

•the double-digit inflation rate; and

•performance of ministers.

Also on the agenda are: •management of depleting excess crude account;

•reforms in the banking sector; and

•recent observations of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund(IMF).

Others are how to fast-track the 2010 budget before the National Assembly; the nation’s industrial outlook, mass employment and agitation for wage increase.

Ahead of the meeting, the NEMT met yesterday at the office of the Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Finance to review the economy and present a common front to the Acting President.

But the outcome of the meeting was unknown at press time.

A member of NEMT, who spoke in confidence, said: "We have a mandate from the acting president to move the economy forward in the next few months."

The NEMT, being chaired by the Minister of Finance, Dr. Mansur Muhtar, was inaugurated on February 2, last year.

Members are the Minister of National Planning Commission, Dr. Shamsuddeen Usman; the Minister of Power, Dr. Rilwanu Babalola; the Minister of State for Finance, Mr. Remi Babalola; the Chief Economic Adviser to the President, Mr. Taminu Yakubu; and the Deputy Governor (Economic Policy) of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Dr. (Mrs.) Sarah Alade.

Others are the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Finance, Mr. Oche Achinibu; the Director-General of Budget Office of the Federation, Dr. Bright Okogu; a former Deputy Governor of CBN and Director, Centre for Policy and Economic Research, Dr. Obadiah Mailafia; and Chairman of Stanbic IBTC Bank PLc, Mr. Atedo Peterside; Dr. Doyin Salami of the Lagos Business School; the chairman of the National Economic Intelligence Committee; the president of the Nigerian Economic Society; and a representative of the Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources.

Only Usman, the past chairman, Babalola, Mrs. Alade and Okogu were part of the old NEMT.


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