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Lawmakers Query Trade Minister Over N1bn Foreign Trip, Database


Dec 13, 2023

The minister of trade, industry, and investment, Doris Uzoka, has came under scrutiny when she appeared before some senators to defend her ministry’s budget.

Uzoka was answering questions from the national assembly joint committee on trade and investment about the 2024 budget proposal.

The minister told the joint panel that N905 million is earmarked for overhead costs while N8.1 billion is allocated to capital expenditure.
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After presenting the figures in the budget, Adams Oshiomhole, senator representing Edo north and a member of the committee, frowned at a line item which provides N1 billion for a single trip to Geneva, Switzerland.

“I see that you intend to travel to Geneva next year and you have budgeted over one billion for that,” Oshiomhole said.

“We cannot keep going on with over-bloated teams on foreign trips. Use the experts we have in your offices in those countries to save costs.”
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The lawmaker also asked the minister where the country’s balance of trade stood, especially with China.

“What is our balance of trade, especially with China? Those countries importing things to Nigeria are expected to build factories in Nigeria,” he said.

“We have to take advantage of our population to grow our industries.”

However, the minister told the joint panel that her ministry does not have such records.

“Sir, I regret to say that we seem to have no record of our balance of trade or at least it does not exist in the ministry and that is why we initiated a new unit called the trade intelligence unit to ensure that such data are generated and stored,” Uzoka said.

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Not satisfied with her response, Oshiomhole told the minister that he did not agree with her submission.

“No Madam, I do not agree that there is no data. Such data exists with the CBN, customs and other agencies,” the former governor said.

“Sit in your office and work for Nigerians.

“I have gone there twice. You are always in the BOI. If you preferred BOI, you should have declined the president’s nomination to be a minister.”

In response, she said her office is under renovation, adding “I assure you that I can work from anywhere and give Nigerians results”.

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