Nigeria: Govt may use cash for oil investments to makeup budget shortfalls – Minister

*Kemi Adeosun, Nigeria's Minister of Finance.

*Kemi Adeosun, Nigeria’s Minister of Finance.

Oscarline Onwuemenyi,
with agency reports

10 April 2016, Sweetcrude, Abuja – The Federal Government has said it might use money set aside for funding joint venture projects with foreign and local oil firms to make up any shortfall in the 2016 budget if government revenue projections are not met.

The Finance Minister, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, who stated this on Saturday in an interview with a couple of foreign news organisations, said the funds saved for cash calls may be deployed as a last resort if efforts to raise revenues through other means fail.

She said the Federal Government has been trying to boost tax revenues and the non-oil income to fund a record N6.1 trillion 2016 budget aimed at reviving Africa’s biggest economy hit by the slump in oil prices.

“The Plan B is around the cash calls,” Adeosun told Reuters and the Financial Times in an interview when asked how the budget would be funded if revenue projections fell short.

Cash calls are the government’s financial obligations to joint venture projects between state oil firm, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and international and local oil companies.

“If the revenue doesn’t come in we have got 1 trillion (naira) in the budget for cash calls. We will not fund those cash calls from the budget,” the minister said.

“We will force those cash calls out into the modified carrier arrangement and we will release that money back into the federation account. That’s where the fiscal buffer sits,” she said.

Modified Carry Agreements are loans provided by oil majors to NNPC for investing in oil exploration and production projects.

Nigeria’s oil and gas output has been relatively stagnant as new projects have been held up by delays in government funding for its share of joint ventures with foreign and local firms.

The NNPC has been to trying to cut back debt owed to the oil firms, reducing it to $3 billion by December, down from $3.5-$4 billion, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu said last month.

The 2016 budget, which anticipates a deficit of 2.2 trillion Naira ($11 billion), would triple capital expenditure to invest in roads and power supply to diversify the economy away from oil, which accounts for 70 percent of national income.

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