Missing $10.8bn audit report ready November — Okonjo-Iweala
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IMAGE: Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Minister of Finance »
The audit report on the alleged $10.8bn missing from the coffers of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation will be ready in November, the Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, has said.
The minister spoke at the Financial Times Africa Summit 2014 in London on Monday.
She said there had been ongoing discussions between the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Petroleum Resources on the matter, adding that the huge attention generated by the alleged unaccounted for fund necessitated the government to take steps, including the appointment of PriceWaterHouseCoopers to do a forensic audit of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation.
Okonjo-Iweala said, “Initially, it was $48bn, then $20bn; but the figure we have always had is $10.8bn. I am the Minister of Finance; if money is missing, I want it – to use it for good things for the country and that was why when we went to the Senate; we demanded for forensic audit. The President supported it and asked for it to be done.
“We engaged PwC with the Auditor General of the Federation taking the lead. They asked for 16 weeks to complete the work; they have spent 11 or 12 weeks so far and they will be done in a couple of weeks.”
The former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, who is now the Emir of Kano, Mallam Lamido Sanusi, had raised an alarm that the NNPC could not account for $48bn that should have gone into the Federation Account.
A committee established that the unaccounted fund was $10.8bn; Sanusi later said it was $20bn, but was suspended by President Goodluck Jonathan in the wake of the controversy, just months to the completion of his tenure.
On the Ebola Virus Disease, Okonjo-Iweala said Nigeria needed to be commended for the efforts it made in ensuring that the index case did not take the illness out of the country and also for containing it.
“We all want democracy, but how do you get it? It involves money. You must discuss issues relating to campaign funds. People who sponsor campaigns believe they must get something from the government when elections are won. These are the real elephant in the room and we need to deal with it.”She said, “Nigeria did a great service by stopping Patrick Sawyer, who was Minnesota bound. Ebola cannot be said to be the real elephant in the room as it has been hyped beyond proportion by the media.
Discussing on a panel on Focus Nigeria, the Director-General, Securities and Exchange Commission, Ms. Arunma Oteh, described wholesale and retail trade as the future of the country’s economy.
She said Nigeria was focusing more on Small and Medium Enterprises’ development as a way of creating more jobs and improving the standards of living of the citizens, because it recognised that SMEs were vehicles for wealth creation.
Oteh said, “I think first and foremost is the recognition globally about the importance of SMEs because they are the ones that create jobs. I think there is a greater focus on how SMEs can be supported.
“In our own country, President Goodluck Jonathan recently set up an SME council. He set up a job board; all of that is focused on how we can practically address the challenges we are facing with the SMEs.”
The SEC boss said to grow the SMEs, the capital market was absolutely important to source funds.
She added, “We need to provide funding at reasonable cost; capital that is patient so that people can grow their businesses and banking finance is not patient. What we need is capital that will be there for a long time; a market-based finance that is long-term and there is a global recognition of this fact.
Article Credit: Businessdayonline