The Nigerian government says it is putting measures in place to ensure that the solid minerals sector generates as much as N250 billion annually and help to realize its vision of diversifying the economy.
Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Dr. Kayode Fayemi stated this on Thursday when he led officials of the ministry, to defend the 2016 budget at the National Assembly in Abuja.
He said the ministry is currently positioning the sector to become an alternative revenue generating vehicle for the country, noting that President Muhammadu Buhari had gone ahead to offer the political will needed to drive the process.
Dr. Fayemi, however observed that, there must be a synergy among all the stakeholders operating in the sector including the federal government, state government, and the various private operators, in order to raise the revenue profile of the ministry accruing to the government.
According to the Minister, the present administration is taking steps to discourage miners who use the exploration license as mining lease, a practice he said, had hindered the development of the sector over the years.
“There is a lot that is being generated in the sector right now that is not even identified with the sector that goes directly to the FIRS, and because we are putting a lot more focus on automating the activities of our mining cadastral office, we would be able to also plug the leakages. We also have situations in which you have people operating in the sector even without license across the board but if we are able to achieve the kind of synergy I talked about, we would certainly raise the revenue profile of this sector.”
I like to say also, that what has been lacking in this sector before now is the political will on the part of leadership and Mr. President has been very clear that this sector has to live up to its billing, and we have reviewed the activities of the sector and understudied what obtains in other countries that have made a success of the sector and concluded that when we disaggregate, we can indeed raise the revenue profile.”
Some of the senators suggested that the Federal government consider the establishment of a solid minerals development bank to facilitate access to funding for mining activities The Minister informed them that his ministry had made reasonable progress in that regard.
“I informed them for example, that I have been speaking with the Governor of the Central Bank, I have been speaking with all the bank Managing Directors, about ensuring that the sector becomes more engaging and active within their own banks, and in principle they have all agreed to that. I have also suggested to them that we need an intervention fund for the mining sector like the agric bank in the CBN, and most of the financial institutions agree with this.
What we are not definitively pronouncing on is whether there should be a solid minerals development bank but we think that instead of replicating new institutions, is it possible for us to ensure that those institutions that exist now, can become practical vehicles for delivering on the objectives of funding the investors in the sector. If that is not possible, we would objectively look at what the distinguished Senators have proposed about the solid minerals development bank, and advise the President accordingly.”
Dr. Fayemi also defended the sum of N750m slated under the computer and software updating subhead, noting that the figure is needed to facilitate the ongoing digitization process in the ministry and ensure automated operation of all its activities.