25 July 2012, Sweetcrude, LAGOS — NIGERIA’s Coordinating Minister of the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okojo-Iweala, has disclosed that the Federal Government had resolved to rebuild Nigeria’s depleting Excess Crude Account, ECA, which recently went down to $3.6 billion to $10 billion by the end of this year.
She also disclosed that Nigerian economy remained vulnerable, and buffers needed to be built up, saying: “Foreign reserves have risen slightly from $32.9 billion at the end of 2011 to $37.7 billion (June 2012) but have declined recently on the back of global developments.”
She said the reserve stands at $36.37 billion, but government’s target is to move it up to $50 billion by the end of the year.
Okonjo-Iweala revealed that government was determined to recover subsidy money illegally collected by oil marketers and that the government would punish those who fraudulently defrauded the economy after its investigation is completed.
The Federal Government has discovered N422 billion as fraudulent payment to oil marketers from the N1.7 trillion total subsidy paid on fuel imports in 2011.
Speaking on the state of Nigeria’s economy in Lagos, Tuesday, at a dialogue with the Nigerian Economic Summit Group, NESG and Organised Private Sector, OPS, she said government would recover the money because it was a major leakage.
On the issue of JP Morgan account, she said, ” The NNPC owns the account and it is the CBN that operates the account for on behalf of government. So the issue that people should be interested is whether money accrued to Nigeria is being remitted and not necessarily who operates the account.”