The federal government has released the sum of N285 billion for some selected critical infrastructural projects under the 2020 budget.
It has also released the sum of $220 million (about N67.1 billion) as its counterpart funding for railway projects.
Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, who disclosed this to State House correspondents, said the releases were made under transportation, Niger Delta, Works and Housing ministries.
She was speaking after her committee, the presidential committee to review the impact of coronavirus and crash of crude oil price on the economy, submitted its interim report to the President Muhammadu Buhari at the presidential villa, Abuja on Friday.
The committee is made of Ahmed as chairman, and members are Timipre Sylva, Minister of State Petroleum Resources; Clement Agba, Minister of State Budget and National Planning; Godwin Emefiele, Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and Mela Kyari, Group Managing Director, Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
Zainab said the release was made last Tuesday.
She revealed that the president has directed the committee to do more consultations and report back next week.
Reacting to questions on grumbling over delayed budget releases, she said: “So, as at Tuesday this week, we have released N285 billion to a number of agencies.
“We prioritize the releases to the critical infrastructure agencies. But we have also made the releases for education as well as health.
“So, the Ministry of Transport, the Ministry of Works and Housing, Niger Delta, a number of ministries and agencies that have important infrastructure projects have got their funds.
“Also, this week we have been able to release to the Ministry of Transport the counterpart funding provided for in our budget that is required for the important railway projects that are currently ongoing, the finances from the China EXIM Bank.
“So, they are the funds that have been released this week.
“So, in addition to the N285 billion, there is up to about $220 million that has been released this week for counterpart funding for railway projects.”
On the committee set up to review the impact of COVID-19 as well as the crash of crude oil price, she said it met with the president to file an interim report, saying that the president has directed that “we should consult and come back to him with an update next week.”
She added: “What we have been mandated to do is to ensure that the business of government continues to run as much as possible normally, that government agencies are funded, but there must be continuous investments in critical infrastructure that would ensure continuous growth and also concentrate on programmes and projects that will enhance employment of our people.
“We are looking at ways and means in which the revenue of government will be stabilized and that we are able to fund the states through the FAAC process at a level that is averagely expected and planned for both the federal as well as the National budget.
“So, as we finish our consultations next week, we will be expecting some approvals and then, we will be meeting with you to inform you of the specific approvals that we have been able to obtain from His Excellency the President.”
Also speaking, Sylva revealed that consultation was ongoing on the appropriate pricing of fuel pump price following the crash of crude oil price in the international market.
He, therefore, appealed for patience from Nigerians over the matter.
The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources said: “We are still consulting, we are still following it closely. Of course, usually, the product prices follow the crude oil price but we are still consulting, we’ll get back to you, please, be patient.”
The CBN governor, on his part, warned currency speculators, who he said caused the Naira to crash recently, that the security agencies were coming after them.
He stated: “We have also begun in collaboration with the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit as well as other security agencies. EFCC is also working with us to establish the people who are involved and I can tell you that we will find them because they use accounts. We will find them and I will like to advise those involved to desist from it.”