…Approves $250m for SWF as ECA stands at $2.45bn
From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
Rising from its first meeting for the year, the National Economic Council (NEC), Thursday, expressed concern over the current situation of the exchange rate and called for an urgent review of the current Forex Policy by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
As at yesterday, the interbank exchange rate stood at N315 to a dollar, with the parallel market rate at N510 while, the CBN charge is at N305. The NEC has also approved a fresh injection of $250 million into the Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF) to be sourced from the Excess Crude Account (ECA).
State House correspondents were briefed by Rivers State Deputy Governor, Ipalibo Banigo; Nassarawa State Deputy Governor, Silas Ali Agara; Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, and the Minister of Agriculture, Audu Ogbeh, after the meeting presided over by Acting President, Yemi Osinbajo.
Speaking on the review of the country’s forex policy, the Nasarawa State Deputy Governor said after an extensive discussion on the foreign exchange policy, the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, appealed to council members to be patient as the situation was being managed.
“After a brief presentation on forex policy options by the CBN Governor, council members generally expressed concern over the current situation of the exchange rate and called for an urgent review of the current Forex Policy, especially the gap between interbank and the parallel market rates.
“The CBN Governor sued for patience and understanding, assuring that the situation is being closely managed,” he said.
For her part, Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, said she reported to the council that a member each from the nation’s six geo-political zones had been nominated into the board of the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA).
She listed the nominees as North East – Mrs. Halima Buba (Non Executive Director); North West – Mr. Bello Maccido (Non Executive Director); North Central – Ms. Lois Laraba Machunga-Disu (Non Executive Director); South West – Mr. Babajide Zetilin (Non Executive Director); South East – Mr. Urum Kalu Eze (Non Executive Director); and South South – Mr. Abue Ighodalo.
The minister said council members unanimously adopted the nominations for onward consideration by President Muhammadu Buhari for his final approval.
She added that the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Uche Orji, presented a report to council on NSIA annual reports and accounts for the year ended 2015 and update on 2016 activities.
She said council members were informed that Nigeria’s SWF has the highest ranking in Africa in terms of performance and capitalisation.
“Council, while adopting the report of NSIA, decided to inject a fresh $250 million into the SWF sourced from the Excess Crude Account (ECA),” she said.
Adeosun added that she reported to the council that the balance in ECA stood at $2.45 billion as at February 15, 2017, saying she also told the council that eight accounting firms have been appointed to start the verification process of the monthly Budget Support Loan Facility based on the approved Fiscal Sustainability Plan by the states.
She said the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Udo Udoma, assured the council members that the Federal Government has a recovery plan that will take Nigeria out of the woods, adding that “consultations on the plan are ongoing to firm up plans with clear roles for all stakeholders and the states.
“He told the council that the plan addresses agriculture and food security; energy sufficiency-power and petroleum availability; improving transportation infrastructure; industrialisation, SMEs, and manufacturing as well as a stabilisation of the macro-economic environment,” she added.
Also speaking, the Minister of Agriculture, Audu Ogbeh, said the council was informed of the massive wheat production in Jigawa, Kano, Kebbi and Zamfara states, among others.
He said states, however, appealed to the Federal Government to make plans for the purchase of excess wheat to ensure price stability and sustainable production, adding that the council agreed to discuss and make adequate buy-back arrangements in order to support price stability.
The minister added that efforts were being put in place to forestall the kind of draught currently being experienced in Central and East Africa.
Agara added that council held a valedictory session for the Ondo State Governor, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko, who was attending the meeting for the last time as his tenure expires.
“Council members eulogised Mimiko’s contributions to the council and commended him for facilitating a smooth transition in the state. Ondo State Governor-elect, Rotimi Akeredolu, also attended the meeting in observer status,” he said.