Doris Uzoka, the minister of trade, industry, and investment, faced scrutiny during her appearance before some senators to defend her ministry’s budget on Tuesday.

Uzoka was addressing questions from the joint committee on trade and investment of the National Assembly regarding the 2024 budget proposal.

The minister informed the joint panel that N905 million is allocated for overhead costs, while N8.1 billion is allocated to capital expenditure.

After presenting the figures in the budget, Adams Oshiomhole, a senator from Edo north, expressed disapproval of a line item in the budget that allocates 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,” he added

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. We have to take advantage of our population to grow our industries,” he said.

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.

Oshiomhole disagreed with the minister’s response, stating that data exists with the CBN, customs, and other agencies.

“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,” he said.

Uzoka confirmed that her office is currently under renovation and assures that she can work from anywhere and provide Nigerians with excellent results.

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