|Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala|
The Federal Government yesterday said it has so far recovered about N26 billion from the petroleum subsidy cabal which defrauded government of about N232billion last year.
Co-ordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala disclosed this yesterday while briefing State House Correspondents after the National Economic Council (NEC) meeting at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Iweala observed that the recovery followed President Goodluck Jonathan’s resolve to tackle corruption alongside other socio economic challenges facing the country.
Anambra governor, Peter Obi, who also doubles as deputy chairman of the Governors’ Forum, had disclosed that the National Economic Council (NEC) plans an anti- corruption session to brainstorm on how to tackle the malaise in the country.
Governor Obi had said that no government has been more vocal about the issue of corruption and mismanagement of resources that the current administration.
“Whether it is in pension or elsewhere , what is happening in pension and the issue of subsidy did not happen today. What we are talking about is the overall impact, whether it is the money we used to fund education, health, and any other sector, what we want is to make sure that the money is utilised in the manner that is effective and productive and lowering the effect of corruption.”
Okonjo-Iweala, contributing, reiterated government’s efforts at tackling corruption, describing the decision of the NEC as very “necessary.
“It is interesting that you now have members of the National Economic Council debating this issue. What can we do to make sure that in each and every sector, we have accountability, to ensure transparency. This is something that the president will very much want and those of us on the side of finance very much welcome”.
The minister also disclosed that efforts to clean up fuel subsidy fraud have been yielding fruit, as government has so far recovered about N26 billion of the N232b stolen.
“There was some clean up in the N1trillion worth of subsidy transactions when it was investigated by the Aig-Imoukhuede committee and he reported openly how N232 billion worth of transaction was found to be questionable.
“As a result, we identified 25 companies that were found to be guilty and we published their names in the newspapers for Nigerians to see, and we set about recovering the money and N26 billion is what we have been able to recover so far. This is part of the commitment of President Jonathan to ensure that the sector is properly cleaned up.”
She disclosed that the government has also acted quickly in freezing the account of the Pension Commission, when it was identified that there was fraud in the system.
“We are now building a new department to take over the pension fund, government is tightening up on the old pension” she said.
Okonjo-Iweala, who also spoke on the 2013 budget, said both the president and members of the National Assembly had been meeting to harmonise areas of differences in the best interest of Nigerians.
“We want the budget that can be well implemented, so to that extent, we have seen various talks with the National Assembly and it is still ongoing, trying to iron out the areas of differences in the budget. As you know, it is a give and take process, but at the end of the day I think we are having a constructive engagement on the issue.