FG CLEARS N54 BILLION PENSION BACKLOG
Concerned about the plight of pensioners who retired under the Contributory Pension Scheme without being paid, the Federal Government has cleared the inherited arrears of accrued pension benefit for the year 2014, 2015 and 2016 by releasing N41.5 billion to the National Pension Commission (PENCOM) for onward payment to the retirees, Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun has disclosed.
The Minister also announced that the sum of N12.5 billion being outstanding for January, February and March 2017 has been settled based on 2016 appropriation, bringing the tally to over N54 billion.
"Despite conflicting demands for available cash, President Muhammadu Buhari has always expressed concern about the plight of workers and pensioners. Consistent with this, we have released N41.5 billion which clears the arrears inherited from the previous administration relating to the period 2013-15 and underpayments in 2016. This will bring relief to thousands of our elders who have served and deserve to be paid their entitlements promptly and fully,” Mrs. Kemi Adeosun emphasised.
The N41, 566, 565, 184 released to PENCOM was the outstanding appropriated for the year 2014 and 2016 by the National Assembly for the settlement of the retirement benefits of Federal Government employees.
She explained further that “the amount we paid includes arrears and the impact is that those who retired as far back as 2013, who had been unable to access pension under the contributory scheme due to non-payment, will now be paid.”
To avoid future accumulation of pension arrears, Mrs. Adeosun assured that henceforth “the monthly allocation to the PENCOM based on the appropriation of 2017 will regularly be paid along with monthly salaries of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).”
ADEOSUN TAKES ECONOMIC REFORM AGENDA TO WORLD BANK SPRING MEETINGS
Calls for greater African and international collaboration on illicit financial flows to drive accelerated revenue growth and improved government efficiency.
The Honourable Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, is in Washington DC this week, attending the World Bank and IMF Spring Meetings. The Minister is participating in a range of events focused on different aspects of the Federal Government’s economic reform agenda. At her opening event on Monday, she gave an address to the Global Parliamentary Conference, alongside parliamentarians from around the world, focused on Nigeria’s economic reform agenda and the need for strong executive and legislative collaboration.
Addressing senior representatives from the World Bank and IMF, as well as over 150 parliamentarians the Minister called for greater focus on collaboration in illicit financial flows from Africa as a core pillar of the government’s strategy to significantly enhance domestic government revenue and deliver sustainable economic growth.
“The government is focused on resetting the Nigerian economy by addressing our traditional over-reliance on oil revenues and establishing the basis for sustainable non-oil revenue growth. To improve non-oil revenues, we have to address illicit capital flows. When stolen money is transferred from Nigeria, or other African countries, there are too few questions asked by those countries that receive the funds, but when we identify those funds as stolen and seek to recover them, there are too many questions being asked. There is money sitting in foreign bank accounts that we have spent over a decade trying to recover. That is money that could deliver significant value for Nigeria as we seek to increase spending on critical infrastructure and establish a basis for long term sustainable growth. I hope that the Automatic Exchange of Information scheme coming into force next year will be a step towards achieving greater transparency, but we need more collaboration amongst parliamentarians in Africa, and across the World to ensure that this situation improves and that recipient countries are held to account.”
Commenting on the domestic agenda to ensure significant reductions in ‘leakages’ of public funds, and improved efficiency in public expenditure, the Minister said:
“We are going after those who have stolen our money. We have put in place a very successful whistle blower programme that is delivering results, and allows those who report illicit activity to receive up to 5% of any funds that we recover. We are also significantly improving our financial management controls to ensure that it is considerably more difficult for public funds to be diverted. We have to do more though and that means collaboration with the legislature. We need tighter tax and financial reporting legislation and to ratify bilateral agreements so that our enforcement agencies are empowered to deliver the results that we need.”
The Minister will be attending a series of meetings over the coming days, including meetings with the World Bank to take forwards conversations about lending into strategic sectors of the economy as part of the administration’s focus on addressing Nigeria’s infrastructure deficit and accelerating implementation of critical projects.
“To create the basis for long term growth, we need to invest urgently in our infrastructure. Achieving energy sufficiency and achieving agriculture and food security are two of the execution priorities we have identified in the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan and we are looking forward to advancing our ongoing conversations with multilateral lenders on these priorities over the coming days as we look to accelerate implementation.”
The Minister will also speak at fora on how to improve Nutrition and how to close the Financing Gap for Water Resources.
MINISTER OF FINANCE CLARIFIES ACTIONS TAKEN ON ALLEGED FRAUD IN YOUWIN PROGRAMME
The attention of the management of the Federal Ministry of Finance has been drawn to a story in The Punch newspaper of Tuesday, March 28, 2017 entitled, “Probe Uncovers Massive Fraud in YouWin Programme.”
It will be recalled that the current administration inherited YouWin as an ongoing programme, which had made legally binding commitments of grants to 1, 500 entrepreneurs. The administration decided that those commitments should be honoured. It was in that regard that a batch of awardees under YouWin 3 was submitted to the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, for cash disbursement totaling N611,821,910.
Allegations were received from an anonymous whistleblower, which provided documentary evidence of irregularities in 10 cases out of the batch. The Minister immediately directed that an internal investigation be conducted to determine the veracity of the alleged fraud and report the findings to her for necessary action.
The substance of the allegations was that an awardee was the child of a former Director in the Ministry and there were a number of cases where married couples each benefitted. This raised concerns about the integrity of the original selection process, which took place in 2014.
The position of the Ministry is that investigations are ongoing under the Presidential Initiative on Continues Audit (PICA) who will review each suspected case to determine whether any irregularity occurred. In the interim, disbursements of this batch have been suspended.
It is on record that the original YouWin programme midwife 3,900 enterprises within four years, and was just one of the multiple intervention programmes to create jobs at the time.
This administration initiated a review of the YouWin programme with a view to ensuring sustainability. That review acknowledged the success of the original YouWin programme but also found among other limitations, that awardees were overly focused on the grant aspect of the programme and few had been able to secure other forms of funding to grow their businesses despite each receiving up to 10 million in grants. In that regard, the Ministry redesigned the programme and relaunched it as YouWinConnect to focus more on continuous enterprise education which will build the capacity of young entrepreneurs across range of disciplines.
By so doing, YouWinConnect expects to develop entrepreneurs who can attract funding from wide range of sources currently available and take advantage of new funding sources. The funding element of YouWinConnect will now take the form of a Venture Fund which will take equity stakes in new and growing businesses.
FINANCE MINISTRY UNVEILS MANAGEMENT AND BOARD MEMBERS OF DBN
The Federal Ministry of Finance on Thursday, announced details of members of the board and management of the newly licensed Development Bank of Nigeria (DBN).
The Management team is led by Mr. Tony Okpanachi, a banker and erstwhile Deputy Managing Director/Deputy CEO, Ecobank Nigeria Limited.
Before his appointment as Managing Director/ CEO of Development Bank of Nigeria, he was the Deputy Managing Director of Ecobank Nigeria Limited. Prior to that, he was the Managing Director, Ecobank Kenya and Cluster Managing Director for East Africa (comprising Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi, Rwanda, South Sudan and Ethiopia). He was also at various times Managing Director of Ecobank Malawi and Regional Coordinator for Lagos and South West of Ecobank Nigeria.
A seasoned Banker with over 26 years’ experience, He holds a Master degree in Business Administration (MBA) from Manchester Business School UK and a Master of Science degree in Economics from University of Lagos.
Mr Okpanachi will be supported by the Chief Financial Officer, Mrs. Ijeoma Ozulumba and Chief Risk Officer, Mr. Olu Adegbola.
The Board members include: Chairman, Dr. Shehu Yahaya (who was the interim MD of DBN and former Executive Director, AfDB); Managing Director/Chief Executive, Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority, Uche Orji and Mohammed Kalif, of the African Development Bank.
Independent Directors of the DBN are former Group Managing Director/CEO of United Bank for Africa (UBA), Mr. Philips Oduoza; President and CEO, African Finance Corporation, Mr. Andrew Alli; Chairman, FBN Merchant Bank, Alhaji Bello Maccido; Founder/Managing Director, JNC International Limited, Mrs Clare Omatseye and the Managing Director, CEO Excel Professional Service Limited, Mr. Oladimeji Alo.
The Finance Ministry had on Wednesday received notice from the regulator that it was free to commence operations of the Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprise (MSME) focused Development Bank of Nigeria.
Speaking at a recent strategy retreat with the management team, board members, and other key stakeholders of DBN in attendance, the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun reaffirmed the importance of the DBN’s mandate and assured them of the public sector support needed to ensure the DBN’s success. According to Adeosun, “despite limited access to financing, MSMEs contribute a significant 45% to the national economy. If these institutions could have reliable access to working and investment capital at low cost, the multiplier effect on economic growth and job creation would be significant”.