The Federal Government said on Thursday that it would commence the release of the sum of N350bn set aside for capital projects contained in the 2016 budget on Friday.

The Minister for Budget and National Planning, Senator Udo Udoma disclosed this during the public presentation of the 2016 budget which was signed last Friday by President Muhammadu Buhari.

He said the fund, to be released by the Ministry of Finance would be made available to finance projects that are ready for execution.

The minister said, “We are ready to kick-start the implementation of the budget and by tomorrow (Friday), some releases will be made for capital projects that are ready for execution.”

He said while it was not possible for all the N350bn to be released at once as not all the projects would be ready for execution, the government would make sure that the process for the execution of projects is quickened.

Udoma explained that the need to ensure the speedy release of the fund for capital projects became imperative in order to stimulate economic activities and reposition the economy to the path of growth.

He said the Federal Government had put in place a strategic plan to ensure that the budget does not suffer any implementation challenge adding that despite its late passage, the budget would be implemented for one full year.

This, according to him, implies that the implementation of the fiscal document would end in May 2017.

He said the desire of the government is to ensure that the budget process is completed before the beginning of each year adding that in order to achieve that, the ministry had started working on the 2017 budget.

He said going forward, the ministry would involve in wider consultations with all stakeholders during the budget preparation process in order to guide against budget delays.

The minister explained that the government through the 2016 budget would be investing massively in infrastructure adding that huge funds have been made available for over 40 road and bridges projects spread across the federation.

Some of them are N13bn for dualization of Kano-Maiduguri road, N8.7bn for reconstruction and pavement strengthening of the Benin-Sagamu expressway and N14.2bm for the construction of Oju/Loko Oweto bridge.

Others are N13bn for concession of second Niger Bridge, N6bm for dualization of Ofukpani-Itu-Ikot Ekpene road in Cross River and Akwa Ibom states and N8.8bn for rehabilitation of Sokoto-Tambuwal Kotangora road.

For the housing sector, the minister said a total sum of N35.6bn had been approved for construction of 1,973 blocks of 7,069 housing units in six geo-political zones and the Federal Capital Territory.

In the agriculture sector, Udoma stated that in pursuit of the nation’s self sufficiency and food security program, several projects would be implemented.

They are rehabilitation of rural roads at a cost of N1.3bn, support to 187,500 farmers at a cost of N1.3bn and N940m for development of strategic grazing reserves.

For the diversification of the economy, the minister said the government would implement measures to achieve self sufficiency and become net exporter of rice by 2018, tomato paste by 2016 and wheat by 2019.

In the area of social protection, the minister said N500bn has been provided for intervention in five areas.

They are job creation where 500, 000 teachers and 100,000 artisans would be trained at a cost of N191.5bn; school feeding program where 5.5 million children would be fed for 200 school days at a cost of N93.1bn and N5,000 a month conditional cash transfer for one million beneficiaries at a total cost of N68.7bn.

Others are enterprise program to support one million market women, 460,000 artisans and 200,000 agriculture workers at a cost of N140.3bn; education grant for 100,000 students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics at a cost of N5.8bn.

He said, “We will revitalize and expand agro allied processing to intensify local production and processing of cassava, cocoa, cashew, fruits and sesame seed.

“We are going to adopt and implement a roadmap to stimulate investment into the solid minerals sector and plug revenue leakages in the sector and also implement that National Industrial Revolution Plan and launch the ‘made in Nigeria’ campaign.”

On the performance of the 2015 budget, the minister said out of the total sum of N5.06 trn budget, about N4.76trn or 94 per cent was spent as at the end of December 2015.

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