Our borders remain closed – FG

The federal government has said the country’s official border will remain closed until it is able to address the challenges that led to its initial closure.

The Minister of finance, budget and national planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, who said this at the Public Presentation of the FGN 2020 Budget Proposals on Monday in Abuja, added that the government is in talks with officials of Benin and Niger Republic to address the challenges.

“Nigeria is a country that has very porous borders. But the main borders that are manned by the Customs and other security services are the ones that are not. And we have seen the benefits of the pressures on this border. We understand that there’s some challenges related to it. And the Nigerian Customs is on the committee that is working on this. 

“We have to protect our own industry, because some of our neighbors have been secretly abusing commitments that were jointly signed into and Mr. President has said this is no longer acceptable,” she said.

Mrs Ahmed insisted that the ministry will implement the directive of President Buhari to only pay workers that on the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information (IPPIS).

Present Muhammadu Buhari during budget  presentation at the National Assembly had said that any worker that is not on the IPPIS platform will not get their salary.

The minister noted that some agencies of government had refused to be part of the IPPIS platform.

She said: “We have compelling agencies that have been dragging their feet from joining the IPPIS to turn that they join in November, they will get that together the journey remember they’ll get the seller will have some photos to show such as some federal and federal sector, college education specifically, we had a running battle with us because they felt the should be they shouldn’t be on. But they would have insisted on the presence of director that there will be no exception. But it is important for us to do this so that we understand that we’ll address those functionalities.”

With Nigeria joining other African countries to sign the agreement establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), there could be tremendous opportunities for the country in the medium term.

However, she noted that it could also create a nightmare situation for the country unless the right policies and actions are implemented expeditiously to improve Nigeria’s economic competitiveness.

Mrs. Ahmed, ho also doubles as budget and national planning minister gave an update on the 2019 budget implementation (January – June).

On expenditure performance, the minister explained that of the total appropriation of N8.92 trillion, N3.39 trillion had been spent by 30th June, 2019 against the prorated expenditure budget of N4.58 trillion which represents 76 per cent performance.

“Debt service and the implementation of non-debt recurrent expenditure, notably payment of workers’ salaries and pensions, are on track.

“Capital releases could only commence after the signing of the 2019 Budget on 27th May, 2019. As at 30th September 2019, a total of about N294.63 billion had been released for capital projects.

“Spending on capital has been prioritised in favour of critical ongoing infrastructural projects in the power, roads, rail and agriculture sectors,” she said.

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