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Resources Put In Critical Sectors Of Economy Not Yielding Desired Progress ― Finance Minister

The Federal Government has expressed worries that despite efforts and resources devoted to procuring development financing for critical sectors of the economy to boost development and improve infrastructure, the desired progress has not been made.

It explained that one of the critical sources of funds for the execution of key projects in Nigeria is through donor financing, especially, from multilateral bodies such as the World Bank and the African Development Bank.

The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, disclosed this while delivering her keynote address at a retreat for members of the National Assembly on the theme: “Process Optimization in Donor-Financed Projects in Nigeria”.

Mrs Ahmed said, “it is noteworthy at this juncture that one of the critical sources of funds for the execution of key projects in Nigeria is through donor financing, especially, from multilateral bodies such as the World Bank and the African Development Bank.

“However, notwithstanding the efforts and resources committed in procuring development financing for critical sectors of the economy to boost human capital development, improve infrastructure and service delivery as well as strengthen governance and institutions, the country appears not to have made the desired progress in this direction. Much still remains to be streamlined.”

She mentioned that when borrowed funds fail to be properly utilized, and to deliver on planned development objectives, growth is impaired and economic development is distorted.

Mrs Ahmed pointed out that “an in-depth review of the level of implementation of the entire development projects reveal that delays in the execution of donor-funded projects stem from factors including bureaucratic bottlenecks, capacity challenges, political interference and challenges associated with obtaining varied and misaligned approvals processes between our local authorities and development partners.”

The Finance Minister admitted that Nigeria ranks low compared to other nations of the world in terms of the level of implementation of World Bank-funded projects, and stressed that “it is public knowledge that there have been increased public agitations against rising foreign debts levels.”

This, she added, has put immense pressure on government to ensure prudent management of resources, and improve transparency and accountability in the utilisation of funds from donor agencies for maximum positive impact on the economy.

It is therefore against this backdrop, Mrs Ahmed stated that made her to constitute a taskforce on disbursement in donor-funded projects in Nigeria with the term of reference to “evaluate, review and chart a fresh course to significantly increase disbursement levels in donor-financed projects in the country.

“It is to also work with relevant stakeholders to facilitate various approval processes for donor-assisted projects before final approval from the National Assembly.”

She emphasised that the retreat is in furtherance of her Ministry’s efforts towards unraveling the challenges associated with the implementation of donor-financed projects with a view to evolving ways to improve execution levels for national growth and development.

Mrs Ahmed stressed that it is also a clear demonstration of the firm belief in the critical role and importance of the National Assembly to Nigeria’s development drive, noting that as critical stakeholders, “it is our hope that this retreat would provide a veritable platform for all to ex-ray the issues and resolve to tackle them headlong.”

She expressed expectation that the outcome of the meeting will “ultimately facilitate the elimination of avoidable delays in the implementation of donor-financed projects, increase levels of execution, improve effectiveness and efficiency in project implementation, management and contribute to meeting Nigeria’s development objectives.”

Tribune

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