FG Denies Banning Fish Importation
The Federal Government on Monday denied that it had completely banned the importation of fish as being speculated.
The Minister of Agriculture, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, made the clarification in Abuja during a 2014 budget defence session with the House of Representatives Committee on Agriculture.
The minister explained that the government merely discouraged about importation of fish, but did not place a total ban on it.
According to Adesina, about N125bn is being spent to import 16.3 million tonnes of fish into the country yearly.
He said there were forces working to frustrate government’s efforts to promote local fish production.
Despite this, he told the committee that 25 per cent was slashed from the allocation to imports in 2014 in a bid to focus more attention on local production.
The agricultural sector has a budget of N36.2bn this year.
However, members of the committee were unhappy that the allocation to the sector dropped from 1.7 per cent of the annual budget in 2013 to 1.4 per cent this year.
The Chairman of the committee, Mr. Muhammad Monguno, observed that by this trend, Nigeria was still far from meeting the global recommended 10 per cent provision for agriculture.
The lawmakers expressed their displeasure after the minister had told them that the drop in allocation meant that projected revenue would slide this year to N1.6bn as against the 2013 figure of N2.6bn.
He added that about $4bn of investment was attracted into the sector in 2013.
Meanwhile, the House gave a promise on Monday that the 2014 budget would be passed soon after the lawmakers resumed plenary on Tuesday (today).
The Chairman, House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Mr. Zakari Mohammed, said the report on the budget would be considered by the lawmakers as they resumed.
He promised the nation a “workable budget,” but gave no further explanations.
Members had suspended plenary two weeks ago to allow the standing committees to meet with government ministries and agencies to defend their proposals.
Mohammed added, “When we resume, we will tidy up on the budget. The various House committees would have completed their assignments by now; so, our major focus will be to take over from there.
“All I can tell you for now is that our major concern is the budget; we want to pass it on time.”