The Federal Government on Thursday dismissed insinuation in some quarters that it would not be able to pay its workers’ monthly salaries from October due to current economic and financial challenges in the country.
The Minister of Budget and National Planning, Udoma Udo Udoma, stated this in Abuja while addressing State House correspondents after the monthly National Economic Council meeting.
The meeting was presided over by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo (SAN).
Udoma stated that though the country was facing economic challenges, the Federal Government would continue to pay its workers’ salaries as when due.
He said: “We have paid all salaries.
“Federal Government has always been paying its salaries and there is no risk whatsoever that there is going to be a situation where the Federal Government will not pay salaries.
“Let me also say that we are about to have FAAC this month.
“There is actually an increase in the amount that is going to be available in FAAC.
“I will let the Minister of Finance to talk about the exact amount.
“There is an increase because of FIRS.
“Our tax collection is going up.
“When I appeared before the Senate last week, I did inform Nigerians that indeed we are beginning to move up.
“Our revenue situation is actually improving this month already.
“Our tax collection is already improving.
“There is no doubt that we are actually going through a difficult time but things are improving.”
On the state of the nation’s economy, the Minister also dismissed the assertion that “the economy is in recession”.
Udoma said: “Recession is basically when you have two quarters of negative growth.
“We had a first quarter of negative growth and we are still waiting to get all the figures for the second quarter, which has just ended in June.
“The National Bureau of Statistics will be giving us all the figures but if as we suspect the second quarter is also negative, then of course technically you could say that we are in recession if those figures turned out to be so.
“But even if we are not, the situation in the economy right now is one that of course we are addressing.”
The minister, who described 2016 as the most challenging year to Nigeria, promised that government would not fail in fulfilling its promises to Nigerians.
Udoma said: “But this year has been a difficult year.
“We did not expect the disruptions in the Niger Delta and which led to the reduction in the amount of production of crude oil and also affected power supply because a lot of our power is supplied by gas.
“So, it affected the power supply.
“So that is basically it.
“We are expecting the economy to begin to grow again from the third quarter unto the fourth quarter.
“We are focusing on non-oil, we are focusing on agriculture, solid mineral and manufacturing.
“So, basically, we see what we are going through as an opportunity in some ways to finally move away from total dependence on the single commodity crude oil.
“We believe that Nigerians have the capacity to turn this thing around.
“It is the private sector that is going to do it.
“Our role as a government is to provide the enabling environment for that to happen.
“We are confident that that will happen