Finance Minister Defends Public Asset Sales

The Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, on Friday, has reacted that the plans by the Federal Government to sell public assets will boost the economy and benefit Nigerians.

She started this on Friday, during her appearance on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily. She noted that some government assets are currently moribund and provide little or no value to Nigerians in their current state.

“There are some government assets that are dead that can be sold to the private sector to be reactivated and put to use for the benefit of Nigerians.”
“So we are looking at different categories of government assets that government has not been able to manage, that is lying down and in some cases even wholly rundown, to cede them off to the private sector.

“The intention is not just funding the budget; it is to reactivate these assets and hand it over and have them bring contributions to the growth in the economy.”
She added that the Bureau of Public Enterprises would begin to coordinate with other government arms on the asset sales in the first quarter of the year.

“. . . in the last week of December, we had a meeting of the National Council on Privatisation where we approved the annual work plan, the 2021 work plan, for that Bureau of Public Enterprises,” she said.
“And I guess it is in this first quarter that the BPE will now be engaging the Senate committee and other committees they work with to say this is our work plan for the year.”
Recall that on January 12, the minister had revealed the Federal government’s plan to sell public assets to finance the N13.58 trillion 2021 budget partly.

Nigerians had instantly criticized this, and calls were made to abort such plans. The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project SERAP, on its part, called on the National Assembly to stop the federal government from selling public assets to fund the 2021 budget, suggesting that government should instead look to identify areas in the budget to cut, such as salaries and allowances for public officials.

The group noted that the National Assembly should be responsible for spending in line with the Constitution. It emphasized the need for legislation to protect public properties. It urged Senate President Ahmad Lawan and Speaker of House of Representatives Femi Gbajabiamila to urgently review the 2021 appropriation legislation.

It added that selling valuable public properties to fund the 2021 budget would be counter-productive, as this would be vulnerable to corruption and mismanagement. It would undermine the social contract with Nigerians, leave the government worse off, and hurt the country in the long run. It is neither necessary nor in the public interest.

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