Keynote Address By Zainab Shamsuna Ahmed, Honourable Minister Of Finance, Budget And National Planning At The Retreat For Members Of The National Assembly Organised By The Federal Minister Of Finance, Budget And National Planning On Process Optimization In Donor-Financed Projects In Nigeria
It gives me great pleasure to welcome you all to this Retreat on the theme: “Process Optimization in Donor-Financed Projects in Nigeria”. This occasion marks a significant milestone in our efforts to foster a new level of synergy and collaboration with the National Assembly to further accelerate the level of implementation of Donor Financed programmes and projects in Nigeria.
2. I would like to specially welcome the Chairmen, Distinguished and Honourable members of the Senate Committee on Local and Foreign Debts and the House Committee on Aids, Loans and Debt Management who have consistently been partnered with us in our quest to ensure effective and efficient delivery of targeted, coordinated reforms and infrastructural development funded through donor Agencies and Development Partners. I would also like to warmly welcome the representatives of the World Bank to this important event. I totally share the sentiments of the Premanent Secretary, regarding the strength of our partnership and the assistance you often provide to our various teams.
3. The need to organize this important retreat is predicated on our desire and strong conviction as a Ministry saddled with the responsibility of managing the country’s financial inflows and outflows to deliver planned projects for sustained growth and national development.
4. Distinguished Senators, Honourable Members, ladies and gentlemen, it is noteworthy at this juncture that, one of the critical sources of funds for the execution of key projects in Nigeria is through donor financing, especially, from multilateral bodies such as the World Bank and the African Development Bank. However, notwithstanding the efforts and resources committed in procuring development financing for critical sectors of the economy to boost human capital development, improve infrastructure and service delivery as well as strengthen governance and institutions, the country appears not to have made the desired progress in this direction. Much still remains to be streamlined.
5. It is important to mention that when borrowed funds fail to be properly utilized, and to deliver on planned development objectives, growth is impaired and economic development is distorted.
6. An in-depth review of the level of implementation of the entire development projects reveal that delays in the execution of donor-funded projects stems from factors including bureaucratic bottlenecks, capacity challenges, political interference and challenges associated with obtaining variedand misaligned approvals processes between our local authorities and development partners. Accordingly, Nigeria ranks low compared to other nations of the world in terms of the level of implementation of World Bank funded projects.
7. It is public knowledge that there have been increased public agitations against rising foreign debts levels. This has put immense pressure on government to ensure prudent management of resources, and improve transparency and accountability in the utilization of funds from Donor Agencies for maximum positive impact on the economy.
8. Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, it is therefore against this backdrop, that I constituted a Taskforce on Disbursement in Donor-Funded Projects in Nigeria. The Term of Reference (ToR) of the Taskforce is to evaluate, review and chart a fresh course to significantly increase disbursement levels in donor-financed projects in the country. It is to also work with relevant stakeholders to facilitate various approval processes for donor-assisted projects before final approval from the National Assembly.
9. This retreat organized by the Ministry for the Chairmen and members of the two relevant Committees of the National Assembly is in furtherance of our efforts towards unraveling the challenges associated with the implementation of donor-financed projects with a view to evolving ways to improve execution levels for national growth and development.
10. It is also a clear demonstration of our firm belief in the critical role and importance of the National Assembly to Nigeria’s development drive. As critical stakeholders, it is our hope that this retreat would provide a veritable platform for all to ex-ray the issues and resolve to tackle them headlong.
11. While welcoming everyone to this retreat once again, may I express my expectation that the outcome of this meeting will ultimately facilitate the elimination of avoidable delays in the implementation of donor-financed projects, increase levels of execution, improve effectiveness and efficiency in project implementation management and contribute to meeting Nigeria’s development objectives. As we settle into the business of the retreat proper therefore, I urge everyone to contribute freely to the discussions in all the sessions with every sense of patriotism for Nigeria’s common good.
12. I wish the Chairmen, Distinguished and Honourable members of the two relevant Committees of the National Assembly here present and all other participants robust and fruitful deliberations as the Ministry eagerly awaits the recommendations from this retreat.
13. Thank you all and God bless.