By Ismaila Chafe
President Muhammadu Buhari has directed all Federal Government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to join the central pay system by May 2019.
The pay system is on the platform of the Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System (IPPS) platform by March, 2019.
President Buhari gave the directive President when he presented the N8.83 trn 2019 budget estimates at a joint session of the National Assembly in Abuja, on Wednesday.
He noted with delight that substantial savings had been made from wider use of the Integrated Personnel Payroll Information System platform.
He said: “I have directed that all MDAs must implement the IPPIS by March, 2019.
“We have made provisions for staff promotion arrears and recruitments by the armed forces, police and para-military agencies,” he said.
The President also gave an overview of the economic developments since the assumption of the present administration, stressing that the last three and a half years had been challenging both at home and abroad.
“Commodity prices, both oil and non-oil, have been volatile. Global trends, be it security, trade or politics have also been unpredictable. Here in Nigeria, we have had to cope with disruptions in oil production and exports, security challenges and devastating floods.
“Through hard work, and by the special grace of God, we have weathered these storms and made progress on many fronts which is why we have cause to be optimistic about the future,’’ he said.
According to the president, the country’s economy has recovered from recession while it has recorded six quarters of growth since then.
He stated that his administration had done more work with less resources in agriculture, infrastructure and social investments.
“We have built better understanding between the federal government and the states on non-partisan lines, in particular, intervening several times to support states to meet their obligations including the payment of salaries and pensions.
“Sustained development is difficult, if not impossible, in an atmosphere of insecurity and poor governance.
“ We have therefore made strenuous and successful efforts to overcome the insurgency in the North-East and to resolve inter-communal misunderstandings elsewhere,” he said.
The President, who spoke on the 2019 budget for over an hour, said the federal government and the National Economic Council had been working in a unified and patriotic manner to tackle the underlying causes of tension between pastoralists and sedentary farmers.
He said the farmers and herdsmen conflicts had a long-standing history caused mainly by competition for increasingly scarce resources occasioned by rising population and erratic weather conditions – a product of Climate Change.
According to the president, the federal government has also sustained its efforts to fight grand corruption and improve public financial management, and its efforts to improve public financial management through the comprehensive implementation of the Treasury Single Account, the Government Integrated Financial Management Information System and the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System.
“We also recorded several successes in economic management. Real Gross Domestic Product growth stood at 1.81 percent in the third quarter of 2018 compared to 1.17 percent in the third quarter of 2017.
“We have had a sustained accretion to foreign exchange reserves from a low of $28.57 billion in May 2015 to $42.92 billion by mid-December 2018.
“This has contributed to exchange rate stability and will provide a buffer against any unanticipated external shocks. Inflation has also declined from a peak of 18.72 per cent in January 2017 to 11.28 per cent in November this year.
“In the area of trade, Nigeria has moved from a deficit to surplus in our trade balance. As at the third quarter of 2018, the trade balance was a surplus of N681.27 billion representing a significant improvement from the deficit of N290.1 billion in 2016.
“This reflects the rebound in crude oil exports, increased non-oil exports and a reduction in the importation of food and items that can be produced locally,’’ he added.
President Buhari observed that foreign capital inflows including direct and portfolio investments also responded to improved economic management.
He noted that capital importation to Nigeria in the third quarter of 2018 stood at $2.86 billion, representing 56.7 percent increase if compared to the corresponding period in 2016.
On the oil and gas sector, the President said crude oil production had continued to increase steadily towards budgetary targets and would receive “a further boost when the 200,000 barrels per day Egina oil field starts operations.’’
On agriculture, the president noted that the country had witnessed an increase in investment across the entire value chain from agricultural inputs to farming and ultimately, food processing.
“Barely three years ago, Nigeria was spending five million dollars a day on rice importation.
“Today rice imports have virtually stopped. Indeed, we are on course to achieve food security in major staple foods in the not too distant future,” he said. (NAN)