NEC eyes N2 trillion pension funds for roads, others

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The National Economic Council (NEC) said yesterday that it is considering utilizing about N2 trillion from the Contributory Pensions Fund for the repairs of roads and the development of infrastructure across the country.

Governor Abubakar Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi State, Atiku Bagudu, who disclosed this while briefing State House correspondents at the end of the monthly NEC meeting in Abuja, said utilization of the pension funds would be done through the Sovereign Investment Authority.
He said under the Pensions Reform Act, up to 20 percent of the fund is allowed to be invested on infrastructure.

He said government intends to follow the footsteps of other countries like South Africa and Saudi Arabia that have used a portion of their pension funds on infrastructure development.

The governor said the proposal was presented to NEC by its sub-committee which identified potential road infrastructure and rail sectors that can be funded through this mechanism.

He said the sub-committee observed that only N169 billion was provided for roads in the 2019 budget, an amount described as “grossly inadequate.”

“So, the committee, in its report, identified potential road infrastructure, infrastructure in the power, rail sectors that can be funded through this mechanism.

“They noted that this year’s budget for example has N169 billion for roads across the Federation, which is grossly inadequate.

“But with this mechanism, maybe up to N2 trillion can be accessed and leveraged upon.

“The NEC commended the committee for the interim report and the sub-committee promised that early next year, there will be a final report for the NEC to consider,” he said.

The governor said another sub-committee chaired by Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna state presented its report on the investigation of the ownership structure of power Distribution Companies in Nigeria.

“You will recall also that at the 99th NEC meeting, NEC discussed that since the privatization of the DisCos, that at least 40 percent that was meant to be for the state governments and federal government have not been so distributed.

“Therefore, a committee was set up to review the status/ownership of those shares that have not been distributed and report back to NEC. The committee is chaired by the governor of Kaduna State, Nasir El-Rufai, with six other governors, some ministers, including the minister of finance and some agencies.

“They presented an interim report that they are meeting soon to review the various information provided by the various agencies, then they will brief the council further,” he said.

The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning Mrs. Zainab Ahmed also briefed NEC on the balance in some government accounts.

“For the Excess Crude Account, as of 19th November 2019, we had a balance of $324,967,933.72. In the Stabilisation Account, as of 17th of December, 2019, we had a balance of N30, 479, 704,808.

“In the Natural Resource Fund, still on the same date, 17th of December, 2019, we had the balance of N88,283,218,114.40,” she said.

Also speaking, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos state said NEC reviewed the security situation in the country and concluded that security had improved across the country.

He said the NEC sub-committee on security presented the report on security situation to the session.

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