According to Nigeria’s Minister for Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the nation has raised the savings in its Excess Crude Account (ECA) to some $9 billion, which is more than double what it was a year ago.
The Minister announced this at the ongoing annual Nigerian Economic Summit in the capital Abuja, where the themes for this year include fiscal prudence and reducing the high cost of governance in Africa’s top oil producer.
“The fact that (forex) reserves are climbing now is not a miracle. It happened because of proper fiscal management. We have about $9 billion in the excess crude account. Last year it was $4 billion, so it’s more than doubled,” the Minister said.
“We have introduced a measure of fiscal discipline. Before you can even look at the centres of the economy and trying to change them and create jobs, you must have macro-economic stability,” she added.
A N4.93 trillion ($31.35 billion) budget plan that President Goodluck Jonathan presented to parliament for 2013 cautiously assumes oil prices to be $75 a barrel, but many legislators want this increased. Oil earnings over the benchmark price get deposited into the ECA, which is used to save for future generations or cushion against oil price shocks.
Investors and rating agencies have welcomed Okonjo-Iweala’s austerity drive, with Standard & Poor’s being the latest to upgrade Nigeria’s debt to BB-, with a stable outlook.