$10.8bn missing oil money’s report ready in Nov – Okonjo-Iweala

Audit report on $10.8bn allegedly missing from the coffers
of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation will be
ready in November, Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-
Iweala, has said.
Okonjo-Iweala, who is also the Coordinating Minister for the
Economy spoke at the Financial Times Africa Summit 2014 in
London on Monday.
She said there had been ongoing discussions between the
Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Petroleum Resources
on the matter, adding that the huge attention generated by
the unaccounted fund necessitated the government to take
steps leading to the appointment of Price Water House
Coopers to do a forensic audit.
The minister said, “Initially it was $48bn, then $20bn; but the
figure we have always had is $10.8bn. I am Minister of
Finance; if money is missing I want it – to use it for good
things for the country and that was why when we went to the
Senate, we demanded for forensic audit. The president
supported it and asked for it to be done.
“We engaged PwC with the Auditor General taking the lead.
They asked for 16 weeks to complete the work; they have
spent 11 or 12 weeks so far and they will be done in a
couple of weeks.”
On Ebola, the minister said Nigeria needs to be commended
for the efforts it made in ensuring the index case did not
take the illness out of the country and also for containing it.
She said, “Nigeria did a great service by stopping Patrick
Sawyer who was Minnesota-bound. Ebola cannot be said to
be the real elephant in the room as it has been hyped
beyond proportion by the media.
“We all want democracy, but how do you get it? It involves
money. You must discuss issues relating to campaign funds.
People who sponsor campaigns believe they must get
something from the government when elections are won.
These are the real elephants in the room and we need to
deal with it.”
Discussing on a panel on Focus Nigeria, Director General of
the Securities and Exchange Commission, Arunma Oteh,
described wholesale and retail trade as the future of the
Nigerian economy.
Oteh said Nigeria was focusing more on Small and Medium
Enterprises development as a way of creating more jobs and
improving the standards of living of their citizens because it
recognises that SMEs are vehicles for wealth creation.
She said, “I think first and foremost is the recognition
globally about the importance of SMEs because they are the
ones who create jobs. I think there is a greater focus on how
SMEs can be supported.
“In our own country, President Goodluck Jonathan recently
set up an SME council. He set up a job board; all of that is
focused on how we can practically address the challenges
we are facing with SMEs.”
The SEC boss said to grow the SMEs the capital market was
absolutely important to source funds.
She added, “We need to provide funding at reasonable cost;
capital that is patient so that people can grow their
businesses and banking finance is not patient. What we need
is capital that would be there for a long time; a market
based finance that is long term and there is a global
recognition of this fact.
“Housing is big and government is definitely focusing on it.
This is because apart from providing housing for Nigerians
to bridge the housing deficit; the sector is also capable of
providing the much needed jobs to move the economy
forward.”
Oteh said in the process of building houses, different
workmen and manufacturers of building materials were
needed and would be empowered.

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