*Says Ministry Has No Data On Balance Of Trade

Senators on Tuesday faulted the Ministry of Trade and Investment’s allocation of a N1billion budget proposal for a trip to Geneva.

Minister of Trade, Industry and Investment, Doris Nkiruka-Anite Uzoka, had disclosed the budgetary provisions in a document submitted to the Senate Committee on Trade while defending her Ministry 2024 Budget before the Committee.

In his response, former Edo State Governor and Senator representing Edo North, Adams Oshiomhole however dismissed the estimate as humongous and waste of public fund.

Senator Oshiomhole tasked her to shelve the Geneva trip and make use of experts in her Ministry.

He said: “I see that you intend to travel to Geneva next year and you have budgeted over one billion Naira for that. We can’t keep going on with over bloated teams on abroad trips. Use the experts we have in your offices in those country to save cost.”

Oshiomhole also accused the Minister of always abandoning her desk and on permanent visit to the Bank of Industry.

He said: “Madam, sit in your office and work for Nigerians. I have gone there twice. You are always in the BOI. If you preferred BOI, you should have declined the President’s nomination to be Minister.

The former President of Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) also picked holes in Nigeria’s balance of trade with other countries.

“What is our balance of trade? Especially with China. Those countries importing things to Nigeria are expected to build factories in Nigeria. We have to take advantage of our population to grow our industries.”

She could however not give a convincing narrative as she said that her Ministry has no record of balance of trade with other nations.

“Sir, I regret to say that we seem to have no record of our balance of trade.

“Or at least, it doesn’t exist in the Ministry and that is why we initiated a new unit called trade intelligence Unit to ensure that such data are generated and stored.”

Oshiomhole insisted that there was data at the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) and other agencies, which the Ministry has failed to access.

“No, Madam, I don’t agree that there is no data. Such data exists with the CBN, Customs and other agencies.”

Earlier in her presentation, the Minister told the lawmakers that her Ministry “remains committed to achieving its vision of promoting economic growth, creating jobs and generating wealth as well as formulating and implementing policies and programmes that attract foreign direct investments, boost industrialization, increase trade and exports as well as encourage the development of enterprises.”

She further disclosed that the “Ministry is currently implementing strategic policies, plans and programmes targeted towards economic recovery and growth for employment generation and wealth creation for the generality of Nigerians.

“Some of these plans, programmes and policies are the Nigerian Industrial Revolution Plan (NIRP), the National Enterprise Development Programme (NEDEP), the Trade Policy of Nigeria (2023-2027) and the Nigerian Investment Policy (2023-2027). In addition, the Ministry has continued to play a vital role in facilitating the Ease of Doing Business which has led to a substantial increase in investments in the local economy and enhanced the industrialization efforts of government.”

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