Okonjo-Iweala Replies House on 50 Questions
The document obtained by the Nigerian Tribune provided ,in extensive detail, including tables and graphs, answers to the committee’s well publicized questions.
The finance Commitee of the House of Representative had submitted fifty question for the minister to answer.
In her response, the Minister stressed that, in spite of many challenges which government has acknowledged, the Nigerian economy is showing real and measurable progress in many areas,adding that “this can be seen in the fact that more jobs are being created; roads, rail and other infrastructure are being improved; the country is saving for the future and planning better for the present.
“The Jonathan administration, contrary to the impression given by some critics, is making impact in the areas that, according to credible opinion polls, Nigerians are most passionate about. For instance, on job creation which is a central focus of the administration, a total of 1.6 million jobs were created last year, according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) of which 250,000 were seasonal jobs created in dry season farming in 10 northern states.
“In manufacturing, the Onne Oil and Gas Free zone created an estimated 30,000 direct and indirect jobs. The government special intervention programme YouWin supported young entrepreneurs, creating over 18,000 jobs. The SURE-P Community Services prgramme has also created 120,000 job opportunities, the minister said.
The minister stated that improvement in federal highways has been confirmed by many Nigerians who travelled over the Christmas and New Year holidays, stating that key highways which have witnessed significant progress include Kano-Maiduguri road, the Abuja-Lokoja road, the Apapa-Oshodi road, the Onitsha-Enugu-Port-Harcourt road and the Benin-Ore-Shagamu road. Preliminary work has commenced on Lagos-Ibadan road and the Second Niger Bridge.
The response further noted that “the Railway Modernisation Programme involving the construction of standard gauge lines is underway” explaining that “the 1,124 km Western line linking Lagos and Kano is now functional while work on the Eastern line linking Port Harcourt to Maiduguri is about 36% complete.
“The Abuja-Kaduna Standard Gauge line has attained 68% completion, and the Itakpe-Ajaokuta-Warri Line which is presently 77% completed, will be completed next year. The annual passenger traffic on our railways has increased steadily: rising from 1 million in 2011 to 5 million in 2013,” the minister said.
The minister further denied accusation that the country is racking up debts under Dr Okonjo-Iweala’s watch as Finance Minister affirming that there is no substance to charge and the the opposite is true.
“Right from her Senate confirmation hearing in 2011, the Minister identified rising debt as a major challenge which the country needs to confront. Under the leadership of President Jonathan and working with the Debt Management Office and the Budget Office of the Fedration,” the reaction noted ,emphasising that the Minister followed through with a robust approach which includes progressive reduction of borrowing, quick settlement of due debts and the retirement of N75 billion of maturing bonds via a Sinking Fund dedicated to paying off substantial bonds.
“These measures have produced clear results as shown in the reduction of borrowing from N852 billion in 2011 to N571.9 billion this year,” the statement signed by media adviser to the minister ,Paul Onwubilko noted.
“It is important to note that many of the 50 Questions had been adequately answered at various fora, including meetings and open hearings organized by the House Committee. The Minister’s detailed response in spite of this, is a reflection of her well-known high regard for the National Assembly as an institution,” the minister concluded in her reaction to the house Finance committee.
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