The National Economic Council Thursday approved sharing of between $1billion and $2billion from the excess crude account amongst the federal, state and local governments.
Governor Godswill Akpabio of Akwa Ibom State, who disclosed this to state House Correspondents at the end of the National Economic Council meeting at State House, Abuja, said the money was to facilitate various development projects being executed by the different tiers of government across the country.
According to the governor, “an update on the status of the Excess Crude Account was presented by the Minister of State for Finance, Alh. Yerima Ngama, who showed that $7.82b was left in the account, after the sharing of between $1b and $2B by the three tiers of government earlier in the year and payment of fuel subsidy commitments.”
Governor Akpabio, who was flanked by Governors Ibrahim Shema of Katsina State; Ibrahim Dankwambo of Gombe State as well as Ministers of National Planning, Shamsudeen Usman, and Power, said President Goodluck Jonathan also briefed the council on the progress being made in the power sector, stating that many of the NIPPs will become active and functional by December 2013.
On the provision of Broad Band Infrastructure by telecoms companies in the country, Governor Dankwambo said NEC gave its blessing to the recommendations of Gombe State governor, Alhaji Ibrahim Dankwambo-led, Sub Committee, which reviewed a recent presentation by the Minister of Information Technology, Mrs. Mobolaji Johnson, on a proposed, improved, broadband roadmap for the country.
He said telecoms service providers were expected to partner with the federal and state governments to ensure proper harmonization and integration of development projects with ICT infrastructure in the country.
The committee recommended that “all identified impediments, such as multiple levies, charges, illegal taxes should be addressed to allow accelerated growth and development of ICT infrastructure.”
It also recommended the harmonisation of all right-of-way processes and administration between the states and Federal Ministry of Works’ guidelines for the granting of Federal Highway Right of Way, with agreed prescription by the ICT ministry.
It also called on telecoms operators to make additional commitment to the host communities/states with respect to Right-of-Way grant.
Other recommendations by the committee on the improvement in the Broad Band coverage in the state include the implementation of standardised fees payable in respect of agreed list of levies/charges, the creation of a proper template for the implementation of the recommendations to be designed by the National Planning Commission in conjunction with the relevant agencies.
On the issue of multiple taxation, the Council called for the Review and amendment of the taxes and levies outlawing the use of unorthodox means of collecting taxes and levies and automation of tax operations by relevant tax authorities to eliminate leakages and ensure ease of collection.
The council also called on tax authorities to respect the provisions of the law on the use of consultants for tax assessment and collection; and publish the approved list of taxes and levies within the states and local governments to educate the public and facilitate compliance.
It mandated the National Planning Commission to work with the proposed committee to work out a blueprint for implementation.
On the issue of power generation, the National Economic Council endorsed the recommendation for more investment in the sector to address the issue of transmission capacity needed for effective evacuation of generated power as well as harness the 20,000MW hydro power capacity which remains largely untapped.