Mrs. Kemi Adesoun, yesterday, said there are no quick solutions to the nation’s problems. This came on the day Minister of Solid Minerals, DR. Kayode Fayemi, said the federal government was set to revive the steel and mining sector and provide intervention fund.Adesoun was reacting to statements made by former Education Minister, Oby Esekwesili, that President Muhammadu Buhari’s economic policies were archaic.
Ezekwesili had a programme organised by The Covenant Christian Centre last Monday, advised the President to review his policies, saying they were not benefitting the masses. Speaking on the television programme, Adeosun dismissed Ezekwesili’s position, maintaining that the federal government had plans to revitalize the economy, noting, however, that there were no quick solutions to the nation’s current economic woes. Accusing previous administrations of failing to save when the country had massive revenue from high crude oil prices, the minister said things were currently tough because the federal government inherited an empty treasury and a high debt profile. She said: “I disagree with Mrs. Ezekwesili.The present government does not operate a command-and-control economic system as alleged by the former minister. What we are now trying to do is reset the economy so that we never end up in this situation again; and how do we do that? We have to have a more diversified economy, a more diversified revenue base.
“If you look at oil, its only 13% of our GDP but it represents 70% of government’s revenue, which means if anything happens to oil, it affects everybody. The question we are trying to now resolve is: The remaining 87% of GDP, why is it contributing so little to government’s revenue? If we are able to have those other revenues, which are much more stable, predictable and less volatile, then if the oil price goes down, we’ll be able to maintain some level of stability. We have looked at what government has been spending money on; only 10% was spent on capital, while 90% was spent on recurrent items as salaries, travelling, training and so on and those things don’t grow the economy; capital (expenditure) is what grows your economy. This budget that is being finalized has a 30% commitment to capital and we have said we want to maintain that commitment. There are no quick solutions to the current economic woes. We are going to pump N350 billion into the economy until we see growth. The job will be done painstakingly, and we will come out of it better.”
Speaking with the Newspapers Proprietors Association of Nigeria (NPAN) Adeosun said the N165 billion monthly salaries to federal civil servants could no longer be sustained by government. She said the N165 billion being paid to federal civil servants monthly represented 40 per cent of the total spending of government. The minister said the figure was too high and government was pursuing measures to detect and prosecute ghost workers and other saboteurs in the system. “We spend 165 billion every month on salaries and when I came in there was no checking. Now, we have created a unit assigned with the sole responsibility of checking the salaries and catching those behind the over bloated salaries,” she said.
Adeosun said that the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) introduced by the previous administration were faulty and sabotaged by the element benefitting from the salary fraud. She said that many Federal Government establishments including the Police were yet to be captured in the system. According to her, it is shocking that the Nigerian Railway Corporation which was not fully functioning still had 10,000 workers in its payroll serviced by government. The minister assured that government would weed out all ghost workers in the service. Adeosun said that the fiscal focus of the administration was to ensure an economic growth that would be measured on job creation and productive sectors. “The economy is not measured by how many private jet we have but how many jobs we create People must be productive for the economy to grow. We have been a consumer economy, but we want to be productive and stop buying everything from abroad. We have been borrowing to pay salaries for years and that has to stop because it is not sustainable. Last year, we spent N64 billion on travelling and only N90 billion on roads. Travelling does not grow the economy and this must also stop,” she said.