Economic Council approves additional $250m for Sovereign Investment Fund

Cyril Okonkwo, Abuja

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The National Economic Council, NEC, has resolved to invest additional US$250million into the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Fund, NSIA.

Managing Director of the NSIA, Uche Orji, stated this while briefing State House correspondents after Thursday’s NEC meeting presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.

Orji said the resolution to invest the additional fund followed the presentation of the NSIA 2018 Annual Report and the 2019 Performance Update to the council.

He said the summary of the report showed that the NSIA and its group made a total profit of N44.3billion in 2018, while the profit for the first six months of 2019, ending on the 30th of June, was N24billion.

“And this is in the face of what is a volatile international market environment driven by the trade dispute between the US and China as well as Brexit challenges,” Orji stated.

Infrastructure

Orji said that the review of the activities of the NSIA showed that it focused on the development of infrastructure in agriculture, roads, power, healthcare development as well as gas industrialization.

“Within the road sector, the NSIA, as the manager of the Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund, PIDF, is focused on deploying capital to ensure the completion of the 2nd Niger Bridge, the Abuja-Kano Highway and Lagos-Ibadan Expressway.

“Other projects under the PIDF include the Mambila Power Project and East-West Road.”

He added that the NSIA also planned to deploy capital in expanding its healthcare projects, following a successful implementation of the Cancer Treatment Project in a public, private partnership,PPP, arrangement with Lagos University Teaching Hospital, LUTH.

Orji said that other PPP projects undertaken by the NSIA were the diagnostic and radiology centre with Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital, which would be commissioned next month, and the Federal Medical Centre, Umuahia, which would be finished in the first quarter of next year.

“To facilitate this, the NSIA will create co-investment funds to bring other investors into this project to ensure that they get to completion and the revenue model will include tolling of the roads as well as other opportunities to ensure that these roads are viable,” he said.

Pension Fund

Mr. Orji said that NEC also resolved to set a committee headed by the Governor of Kaduna State, Nasir El-Rufai, to consider how a portion of the pension fund could be leveraged into investment for the NSIA.

He said this would be with possible implementation through the Pension Commission, PENCOM.

The committee will include the Finance Minister, the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, and the Managing Director of the NSIA.

Power ownership review

Governor Emeka Ihedioha of Imo State, who was also at the briefing, said the NEC resolved to set up an ad-hoc committee to review the ownership structure of power distribution companies in Nigeria.

He said the ad-hoc committee would also be headed by El-Rufai, who was Director-General Bureau of Public Enterprises, BPE.

Other members of the committee are the governors representing Nigeria’s six geo-political zones, who are currently serving on the board of the Niger Delta Power Holding Company, NDPHC.

Representatives of the National Council on Privatization, NCP, and the BPE, will also be in the ad-hoc committee.

Governor Ihedioha said that Vice President Osinbajo briefed the council on the Single Window Steering Committee and the Apapa Traffic Task Team.

He said the Accountant-General of the Federation reported to the Council, on behalf of the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, on the balances in Nigeria’s special accounts.

According to him, the balances in the accounts as at November 20, 2019 were as follows: Excess Crude Account, $324, 539,031. 51; Stabilization Account, N29, 480, 483.33 and Natural Resource Development Account, N79, 751, 649, 521. 54.

Ihedioha said the issue of the repayment of the Budget Support Fund given to states by the federal government was not discussed at the meeting.

Omolayo.A