The Minister of Trade, Industry, and Investment, Doris Uzoka-Anite, has denied claims that N1.6 billion in the ministry’s 2024 budget proposal was earmarked for a trip to Switzerland.
Recall that Uzoka-Anite was scrutinised on Tuesday when she appeared before the National Assembly Joint Committee on Trade and Investment to defend her ministry’s 2024 budget proposal.
After presenting the budget figures, a committee member and the Senator representing Edo North, Adams Oshiomhole, questioned a line item in the budget proposal, which provides N1 billion for a single trip to Geneva.
Clarifying the issue in a statement on Wednesday, the minister’s spokesman, Toluwase Moyan, stated that the proposed budget was earmarked for the maintenance of the country’s trade office in Geneva, Switzerland.
The minister said no line item in the ministry’s proposed budget refers to any foreign trip to Geneva and the general public to dismiss such claims, adding that her ministry is committed to prudence and accountability.
Uzoka-Anite added that as an active player in global trade, Nigeria needed to maintain an office in Geneva responsible for representing and defending the country’s multilateral trade interests.
The statement reads: “We wish to categorically state that there is no line item in the proposed budget of the federal ministry of industry, trade, and investment referring to ANY ‘Foreign Trip to Geneva’.
“Rather, the only mention of ‘Geneva’ in the proposed budget is with respect to the maintenance of the Nigerian Trade Office in Geneva, captured as ‘External Trade Sector, Geneva (WTO)’, which may have been misconstrued as ‘Foreign Trip to Geneva’.
“In fact, the total amount (for NIGERIA’S TRADE OFFICE IN GENEVA) in the appropriation for 2024 is N1,610,183,599 with the breakdown as follows: Personnel Cost, N805, 379, 820; Overhead, N204, 058, 434; Capital, N600, 745, 345.
“In fact, the current debt owed by the Nigeria Trade Office in Geneva as captured in the budget is N499,000,000.00, and it was deemed necessary to propose a budget that will service Nigeria’s outstanding debts in Geneva and maintain Nigeria’s respect and global standing amongst the comity of nations.”