By Ajogwu Jerry
The Minister of Finance and leader of the Nigerian Delegation at the World Bank/IMF Spring Meetings, Zainab Ahmed, has revealed that the federal government wants to invest money accrued in the Excess Crude Account, but in doing that governments at the states level need o cooperate.
Speaking at the side lines of the Spring Meetings, Zainab said a lot of times the federal government will make effort to save from the ECA and invest in the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority but the states will say they want funds to run their states.
“We declare every month the balance of the ECA to the National Economic Council; what has come in and what has gone out, so it’s open and transparent,” the minister said in response to the IMF claim that the ECA management is not transparent.
“We are supposed to be saving as a matter of routine, but we have not been able to do that. Now, we are trying to go back and save as routine. The National Sovereign Investment Authority is supposed to be funded from the excess crude account but because the build-up is very slow, we only increase our investment in NSIA periodically, so we want to change that.”
“We want to make it a matter of routine that any time we cross a certain threshold we save,” she said.
On the warning by the IMF of the risk of another possible global economic crisis, the minister said, Nigeria is aware of such risk and “that is why the government will continue to build fiscal buffers to be able to contain any crisis that is coming”.
According to available reports the balance in the ECA dropped significantly from $2.45 billion at the end of November 2018 to just $631 million at the end of December, a period of one month.
At the end of the Federation Accounts Allocation Committee (FAAC) meeting in February, the Accountant General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris, gave a new balance in the ECA as $249m, signalling further depletion.