The Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, today said that government was committed to blocking leakages in key parastatals, including the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) as a strategic step towards promoting fiscal discipline and good governance in the public sector.

This is even as she restated optimism on the nation’s growth outlook and the determination of government to ensure sustainability of the economy’s current growth trajectory in the months ahead.

Adeosun made these disclosures at a joint press briefing she held with the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele at the end of the 2018 International Monetary Fund and World Bank Spring Meeting in Washington DC, United States.

In a statement issued by the minister’s Special Adviser (Media & Communications, Oluyinka Akintunde, the minister was quoted as saying that government would continue to efficiently and effectively manage their costs and plug leakages in the state-owned enterprises such as the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, in order to plug leakages.

The minister said: “We must make sure that every money that is earned comes in. We will drive the process of improving governance.”

Noting that the present growth outlook contrasts with the outlook in 2015 and that inflation rate is slowing down while the foreign reserves maintain upswing trend, the minister expressed optimism that the Federal Government would sustenance of the growth trajectory and for vigilance and focus for the country not to fall back into recession.

Adeosun explained: “We are confident that if we diligently implement our economic plan, we will grow the economy. We have room to grow but other countries do not have rooms to grow.

“By 2019, the growth will be far more robust than the present level in 2018. We are therefore very optimistic in sustaining Nigeria’s economic growth. We are going to use this opportunity to grow our fiscal buffers, particularly aggressively growing our revenue base.

“The Administration has succeeded in building macroeconomic resilience for Nigeria, particularly revising the funding mix, rebuilding fiscal buffers, enhancing foreign exchange reserves and focusing on import substitution strategies”, the minister added.

On the nation’s domestic debt, the she pointed that government would not aggressively grow the debt, adding that “we are refinancing our inherited debt portfolio from short term Treasury Bills to longer tenured debt which has resulted in huge savings and reduction in costs of funds for the Government.”

This is even as she disclosed that the implementation of the Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration Scheme (VAIDS) and other initiatives targeted at improving tax compliance rate in the country had helped to raise the tax payers’ base from 13 million in 2015 to 17 million as at 2018.

The Minister also confirmed that the recovered US$322,515,931.83 Abacha loot currently put into a special account in the CBN, had been earmarked for the National Social Safety Nets programme of the government.

Adeosun said: “The objective of the National Social Safety Nets Project for Nigeria is to provide access to targeted transfers to poor and vulnerable households under an expanded national social safety nets system.”

Commenting at the forum, the CBN Governor also reiterated Nigeria’s positive growth outlook with the recent growth projection of 2.5 per cent by the IMF and World Bank for the country in the current year.

According to him, the country’s foreign reserves has also risen to US$47.93 now.

Emefiele said: “There is need to save for the raining day and also continue to grow the foreign reserves. If we had enough reserves, we wouldn’t have suffered the recession shocks,” he explained.

He assured that concerted efforts were being made by the apex bank and other players in the banking system to ensure that the 80 per cent target for financial inclusion by 2020 was achieved.