NEC boosts Sovereign Wealth Fund with $250m …FG, states to share $150m LNG dividends
By; Sunday Ode, Abuja
The National Economic Council (NEC) on Thursday gave approval that $250m of the $400m dividends from Nigeria Liquidified Natural Gas (NLNG) be invested into the Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF).
This marks a tacit acceptance of the fund by the State Governors which was a source of a running battle between them and the Federal Government in the last political dispensation.
Osun State Governor, Rauf Aregbesola, who brief State House Correspondents after the council meeting held at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, also disclosed that the balance of $150m would be shared among the three tiers of government.
Aregbesola who was joined at the briefing by his counterpart from Enugu, Ifeanyi Oguanyi and the deputy Governor of Nasarawa State, Silas Agara, disclosed that the approval followed a presentation made to council by the Managing Director of Sovereign Wealth Fund Investment Authority.
He said: “The Managing Director of the Sovereign Wealth Fund Authority presented the status report on the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority to the council. After due deliberations on the report, the council agreed that $250m from the $400m LNG dividend be invested in the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority to increase its capital.
“Council directed the Minister of Finance to constitute an executive nomination committee and work in consultation with NEC to appoint appropriate persons to take over as board member of the NSIA of the current board is dissolved.
“Council resolved that the balance of $150m of the said $400m LNG fund be shared accordingly in the prescribed formulae at the Federation Account.”
According to the governor, the need to reconstitute the membership of the governing board of the Niger Delta Power Holding Company was discussed and the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo who presided at the meeting called for nomination of new board members based on the six geo political zones.
He also disclosed that the Accountant-General of the Federation reported that the balance of the Excess Crude Account stood at $2.257bn and that not much had changed since the last report.
On the report of government agencies generating revenues in foreign currency but remitting naira equivalent into the federation account, Aregbesola said NEC had mandated the Ministry of Finance to investigate and report back at its next meeting.
On other issues discussed at the meeting, the governor said: “The CBN was mandated to embark on sensitisation and public enlightenment on the forex policy and relevant laws and regulations so as to guide traders and some people who encounter challenges regarding the movement of foreign currency across the nation’s borders. We understood that some traders particularly in the East encounter challenges at the airports when they intend to go about their businesses.
“The DG of PENCOM briefed the council on the contributory pension scheme implementation effort and status of implementation by the states. Highlight of the briefing was on the sustainability of the pension arrangement, scorecards of the states in the implementation of the scheme, the challenges being faced by the states, opportunities and also the steps towards full implementation by the states.
“The briefing also highlighted the need for the states to provide legal frameworks such as enacting state pension laws by those who have not done so, establishment of states pension agencies, consistent remittance of both employees and employers contributions and also full compliance of all provisions of the pension scheme.”
He said a workshop on Treasury Single Account (TSA) was also held for the state governors as part of the meeting.
“The IMF Senior Resident Representative presented a paper on the TSA to the council. Presentations were made on the listed sub topics: implementation of TSA in states: lessons and experience; cash management and TSA reform: an overview of international practice; and budgeting reforms,” he stated.