Govt targets $35bn ‘ídle’ Diaspora funds for housing development

Govt targets $35bn 'ídle' Diaspora funds for housing development

The Federal Government is hoping to channel about $35 billion remittances from Nigerians abroad into the country’s economy through its Housing scheme projects.

The amount said to have the potential of growing by 20 per cent, over the next two years, is said to have always layed idle within either the banking system or in private hands.

But an agreement has been reached to have such funds converted to bonds to be purchased by Nigerians in Diaspora, whose proceeds will be used to make up the deficit in the 2017 budget, specifically on housing.

Disclosing this at a Housing workshop in Abuja at the weekend, the ICPC Chairman, Mr. Ekpo Nta, said as part of the anti graft agency’s bid to reduce corruption in fund remittances into the country, a discovery was made on how such money could be better utilised in the interest of the economy, with the Federal Housing Authority (FHA) providing a platform for that purpose.

On the significance of using the Diaspora funds for housing development, Nta stated :”It is worrisome that a lot of Nigerians living abroad are often defrauded whenever they send money home for the construction of houses or for other forms of investment.

“So in an attempt to addressing this, ICPC has entered into partnership with the FHA to help Nigerians in Diaspora channel their funds to projects that could be guaranteed as that will also help in growing the economy as well as increasing the amount of forex coming into Nigeria annually.

“I want to state that I was invited by Nigerians in Diaspora Organisation sometime in 2015 to come to their meeting in Germany. At the end of that exercise, I came back home and did a lot more investigations and discovered that they had two main problems. First, in 2015, they sent back to Nigeria $25bn as remittance and not all reached their destinations.

“Now, when you break this down, it is generally to secure accommodation for themselves either by building through relations or developers; to give allowances to their parents; or to start up businesses. And in all three cases, the findings I had through my organisation were that their aspirations were not met.”

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Collaborating this, the FHA Managing Director,Prof. Mohammed Al-Amin, stated that over 15 million Nigerians in Diaspora and with individual remittances hitting above $21bn in 2013, and in 2016 about $35bn, the deficits in the current budget, as it relates to Housing, would be reduced, significantly.

He said the initiative of converting the funds into government housing programme, is now being spearheaded by the FH A, in collaboration with the ICPC.

Al-Amin added that when the programme is perfected, it will also further enhance the CBN programme, aimed at shoring up the forex inflow into the Nigerian economy.

On how the diaspora Nigerians will tap from the housing scheme, the FHA boss said it will be designed in such a way that those of them still interested in owning various forms of houses could utilise the FHA’s facilities to design and build their desired structures.

This would save them the agony they pass through in losing their projects through embezzlement and other fraudulent means adopted by unreliable persons they often fall into.

He said, “So, we have decided to do an MoU between the ICPC and Nigerians in Diaspora, starting from the German chapter. And with that MoU, if they wanted property and let the ICPC or FHA to know their developers, we could help do the land search and verification for free.

According to the FHA boss, banks can key into that by forming a consortium of banks to be working out the remittances.

For quicker result, FHA said it had already commissioned some consultants to facilitate the programme.

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