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Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the Minister of Finance yesterday, put to rest fears of immediate removal of fuel subsidy, as she confirmed that N145.2 billion provision was made for it in 2015 budget.Barely four months into 2015 fiscal year, the Federal Government has already borrowed over N473 billion to close up deficit arising from the 50 per cent revenue loss from global oil crisis. This is even as it corrected the impression that the petroleum subsidy has been removed from the budget by the National Assembly, pointing out that a provision of N145.2 billion for oil subsidy (N100 billion provisions for PMS and N45.2 billion for kerosene subsidy) have been made. Addressing newsmen during the budget breakdown in Abuja, yesterday, the Coordinating Minister of the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, said that although the sum of N882 billion was earmarked as the borrowing limit in the budget, part of the borrowing needs were for salaries and overheads. The minister said the first part of the year witnessed low revenue inflows because tax receipts come in from the middle of the year. This has compounded the challenges caused by the steep drop in revenues due to the oil price fall. “As you know, I have been honest with you since the current economic problems started. I would like to repeat: we have serious challenges. Things have been tough since the beginning of the year and they are likely to remain so till the end of the year. We have serious challenges but we also have strengths and if we do the right things we can keep a steady course and emerge out of the current situation,” she said, adding that as a result of the 50 per cent decline in oil revenues, the country has faced a difficult cash crunch and the Federal Government has focused on keeping the economy stable and the government running through a series of measures. “We have front-loaded the borrowing programme to manage the cash crunch in the economy. “Out of the N882 billon budgetary provision for borrowing, the government has borrowed N473 billion to meet recurrent expenditure, including salaries and overheads.

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