Power Sector: FG Secures $3bn World Bank Loan

 

Minister of Finance, Mrs Zainab Ahmed says the Federal Government has secured a $3bn loan from the World Bank.

According to the Finance Minister, the loan is to be used for reforming the nation’s power sector.

Mrs Ahmed who announced the approval of the loan at a news conference to wrap up the World Bank/IMF annual meetings in Washington DC explains that the loan is expected to improve power supply in the country.

READ ALSO: States, Communities Frustrating FG Projects – Presidency

She said the loan would be disbursed in four tranches of $750m each beginning from April 2020.

The loan, according to her would cover the funding gap as well as the current tariff which investors in the sector had described as very low compared to what is obtainable in other countries.

Finance Minister Breaks Down Proposed 2020 Budget, Puts Total Revenue At N8.15trn

 

The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, has broken down the proposed 2020 budget, putting the total revenue at 8.15trillion naira.

She said that the total expenditure for the proposed budget stands at 10.33 trillion naira.

The honorable minister made the disclosure on Monday during a presentation aimed at discussing the details of the 2020 budget proposal presented to the National Assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari.

 She said, “This is the first time in a long time that this presentation is done early in trying to get back to the Jan-Dec budget cycle. Another will be held after passage by NASS”

She announced that the Federal Government is planning several key reforms including the Strategic Revenue Growth Initiative.

According to her, the proposal is accompanied by a Finance Bill which has five Strategic Objectives, they are:

I. Promoting Fiscal Equity by mitigating instances of regressive taxation.

2. Reforming domestic tax laws to align with global best practices;

3. Introducing tax incentives 4 investments in infrastructure&capital markets.

4. Supporting micro,small&medium-sized businesses in line with Ease of Doing business reforms.

5. Raising revenues for the government.

Mrs. Ahmed explained that the 2020 Appropriation Bill is designed to be a budget of Fiscal consolidation to strengthen our macroeconomic environment; Investing in critical infrastructure, human capital development & enabling institutions especially key job-creating sectors.

And also Incentivising private sector investment essential to complement governments’ development plans, policies & programs; iv. Enhancing our social investment programs to further deepen their impact on marginalized/most vulnerable Nigerians.

In attendance at the presentation was the Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, Minister of State for Transportation, Gbemisola Saraki, Minister of State for Health, Adeleke Mamora, among other government officials.

See Photos Below: 

Below Is the Break Down

British Finance Minister Hammond Resigns

Britain’s Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond leaves 11 Downing street in London on July 24, 2019. Niklas HALLE’N / AFP

 

Philip Hammond’s resignation Wednesday as UK finance minister thrusts the understated political veteran into the frontlines of a brewing revolt against new Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Brexit strategy.

The 63-year-old Oxford University graduate is one of Britain’s most respected officials among European leaders and a champion of London’s strategically vital financial hub.

Both hope he finds a way to keep Johnson from pulling Britain out of the European Union without a divorce agreement on October 31 — the “no-deal” option that experts think will sink markets and cripple trade.

READ ALSO: Trade War: US, China To Hold Talks Next Week – Mnuchin

Former London mayor Johnson was sworn into office Wednesday after pledging not to seek any further Brexit extensions, “do or die, come what may”.

But Hammond — nicknamed “Spreadsheet Phil” for his dogged devotion to strict budgets — has been that nagging voice who has kept telling Johnson that his promises of a bright no-deal Brexit future are misguided and dangerous.

“I will do everything I can from the backbench to ensure that parliament blocks a no-deal,” Hammond said a few days before he formally quit.

  Swashbuckling spirit 

Hammond’s bookish looks and gentlemanly charm go along with an entrepreneurial spirit and a fervent belief in Britain’s ability to be a forceful voice on the world stage.

The Financial Times newspaper once called him “the product of Britain’s swashbuckling (Margaret) Thatcher era: a risk-taker whose business ventures sometimes did not pay off.”

Most of them initially did not — one venture to sell trips to Iran was thwarted by the 1979 Islamic revolution.

He eventually stumbled onto a profitable property development venture that reportedly made him into a millionaire with the confidence to enter politics.

There he excelled like few in his generation.

He was elected to parliament in 1997 and became transport minister when the Conservatives returned to government in 2010 under prime minister David Cameron.

Hammond later served as defence minister and then foreign secretary — a post that saw him cross paths with Iran again when Britain helped negotiate the 2015 accord with other world powers that limited Tehran’s nuclear ambitions.

But he leaves the halls of power for the backbenches of parliament with a feeling of mission not quite accomplished.

“There’s quite a sense of things that we wanted to do, things that I wanted to take further,” he told the BBC’s Political Thinking podcast earlier this month.

“I hope we’ve started them, but it would have been nice to have seen some of them finished,” he said.

“Yeah — a bit of sadness about that.”

Political gravitas 

Yet Hammond could still play a key role in deciding Britain’s future over the coming months.

A few dozen Conservative MPs are also openly trying to strip their own incoming party leader of the option of leaving with no-deal when the already twice-delayed Brexit deadline strikes next on October 31.

Hammond has the political gravitas and the ideological credentials to lead them.

He instinctively mistrusts European political institutions and their reams of red tape.

Hammond told the BBC he was once “quite happy to see the EU as something quite alien that was done to us”.

But he also argues that his nation of 66 million has become too “dependent” on the other 27 EU member states over the past 46 years to simply break away overnight.

Fears about losing access to the single European market of 500 million people saw Hammond vote “Remain” in the 2016 EU membership referendum.

Johnson fronted the “Leave” effort and now surrounds himself with fellow Brexit supporters who have spent weeks angling for Hammond’s coveted portfolio.

Hammond said with self-deprecating humour that losing ministerial privileges such as the chauffeured limousine might come as a slight shock.

“You know you are no longer a government minister when you get in the back of the car and it fails to move away from the kerb,” he joked in the BBC podcast.

“Probably just re-grounding yourself, in reality, is not a bad thing.”

Kenya’s Finance Minister, Others Arrested Amid Corruption Allegation

Finance Minister of Kenya, Henry Rotich speaks during a panel discussion on the State of the Africa Region at the World Bank IMF Spring Meetings in Washington, DC.  ZACH GIBSON / AFP

 

Kenya’s Finance Minister Henry Rotich and other treasury officials were arrested Monday on corruption and fraud charges over a multi-million dollar project to build two mega-dams, police said.

Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji had ordered the arrest and prosecution of Rotich and 27 other top officials on charges of fraud, abuse of office and financial misconduct in the latest scandal to rock graft-wracked Kenya.

Rotich, his principal secretary and the chief executive of Kenya’s environmental authority then presented themselves to the police.

“They are in custody now awaiting to be taken to court,” police chief George Kinoti told AFP.

“We are looking for (the) others and they will all go to court.”

Haji said the conception, procurement and payment processes for the dam project — part of a bid to improve water supply in the drought-prone country — was “riddled with irregularities”.

“Investigations established that government officials flouted all procurement rules and abused their oath of office to ensure the scheme went through,” said Haji.

He pointed to the awarding of the contract to Italian firm CMC di Ravenna in a manner that he said flouted proper procurement procedures, and despite financial woes that forced the company into liquidation and had led to it failing completely three other mega-dam projects.

According to the contract, the project was to cost a total of $450 million (401 million euros), but the treasury had increased this amount by $164 million “without regard to performance or works,” said Haji.

Some $180 million has already been paid out, with little construction to show for it.

Another $6 million was paid out for the resettlement of people living in areas that would be affected by the project, but there is no evidence of land being acquired for this, the chief prosecutor said.

“I am satisfied that economic crimes were committed and I have therefore approved their arrests and prosecutions,” said Haji.

‘Well-choreographed scheme’ 

“The persons we are charging today were mandated with safeguarding our public interest and deliberately breached this trust.

“Under the guise of carrying out legitimate commercial transactions, colossal amounts were unjustifiably and illegally paid out through a well-choreographed scheme by government officers in collusion with private individuals and institutions.”

Rotich has previously denied any wrongdoing in the scandal.

The dams scandal is one of several in the poverty-plagued country that has seen hundreds of millions of dollars of public money disappear due to fraud.

In 2017 Kenya fell to 143rd out of 180 countries in Transparency International’s annual corruption index.

In March 2018, a damning report from the auditor general showed the government could not account for $400 million in public funds.

A string of top officials have been charged since last year as President Uhuru Kenyatta vows to combat corruption — a refrain weary Kenyans have heard from multiple presidents.

AFP

Taxpayers In Nigeria Increased By 23 Million Within Three Years – Finance Minister

Minister of Finance Mrs Zainab Ahmed

 

The taxpayer’s base in Nigeria has, within the period of three years, increased by 23 million.

This was disclosed on Thursday by the Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, during a media briefing in Abuja.

Ahmed said the taxpayer’s base has increased from 12 million in 2015 to 35 million in 2018.

According to her, revenue generation remains important for the Federal Government. She added that a total of N2.7 billion has been released as part of capital releases for the first quarter of 2019.

More to follow…

Nigeria Signs $523,823 TA Agreement Grant With Islamic Devt Bank

Nigeria Signs $523,823 TA Agreement Grant With Islamic Devt Bank
A file photo of the Minister of Finance, Mrs Zainab Ahmed.

 

Nigeria has signed a $523,823 (N185,957,165 million) Technical Assistant Agreement grant with the Islamic Development Bank (ISDB) Group in Marrakesh, Morocco.

The Minister of Finance, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, disclosed this on Sunday in a statement by her Special Adviser on Media and Communications, Mr Paul Abechi.

According to the statement, the minister signed the agreement on behalf of the Nigerian Government while and President of the ISDB Group, Dr Bandar Hajjar, signed on behalf of the group.

READ ALSOKidnapping: Katsina Govt Sensitises Women On Peaceful Coexistence

The signing took place during the 44th ISDB Group Annual Meeting held in Marrakesh, with the theme, ‘Transformation In A Fast-Changing World: The Road To SDGs’.

Mrs Ahmed explained that the TA agreement grants would be used to address capacity building and equipment, as well as logistics upgrade in the Hajj Commission.

She added that it was also aimed at the improvement of cotton, textile and garment value chain in the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment.

The minister revealed that the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) would get $243,823.0, while the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment would receive $280,000.

“The Technical Assistant Agreement Grant of $243,823.0 to the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria is for capacity building/equipment and logistics upgrade,” she said.

“TA grant of $280,000 to the Federal Ministry of Industry Trade and Investment is for the improvement of cotton, textile and garment value chain.”

Mrs Ahmed told participants at the conference that the governments at the state level in Nigeria were doing their best to boost agriculture and food production.

She said, “State governments in Nigeria are adopting cluster farming which has eased access to funds by farmers, increased growth and allows access to facilities without collateral.”

UK Govt Open To Brexit Compromise With Opposition, Says Finance Minister

UK Parliament’s Parliamentary Recording Unit (PRU) shows Britain’s Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond (L) and Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May listen as Britain’s Secretary of State/ AFP

 

British finance minister Philip Hammond said on Saturday the government had “no red lines” in talks with the main opposition party to break the deadlock in parliament over Brexit.

“Our approach to these discussions with Labour is that we have no red lines,” he told reporters at a meeting of European finance ministers in Bucharest.

“We are expecting to exchange more texts with the Labour Party today, so this is an ongoing process and I expect we will reach some form of agreement,” Hammond added.

READ ALSOBoeing Must Do More Work On Proposed 737 Fix – US Regulator

Senior ministers are negotiating with Labour leaders in a bid to find a compromise to end months of political crisis and allow Britain to leave the European Union smoothly after 46 years of membership.

But after three days of discussions, Labour said Friday it was “disappointed” by the failure to offer “real change or compromise” to Prime Minister Theresa May’s unpopular Brexit divorce deal.

MPs have rejected her agreement finalised with European leaders last November three times, delaying Britain’s original March 29 exit date and throwing the process into chaos.

Ahead of an EU summit on Wednesday, May was forced to ask for another extension, until June 30, to prevent the country crashing out the bloc next Friday.

However with European leaders growing increasingly impatient at the paralysis in Westminster, they could offer just a shorter postponement — or a longer period of up to a year.

The other 27 EU nations must give unanimous backing to any deadline extension.

Hammond, who backed Remain in Britain’s 2016 referendum and is seen as favouring as soft a Brexit as possible, urged his divided Conservative colleagues to show flexibility.

“We should be open to listen to suggestions that others have made and some people in the Labour Party are making other suggestions,” he said.

Labour is pushing May to accept a much closer post-Brexit alliance with the EU that includes participation in a customs union.

The prime ministers has previously dismissed the idea because it bars Britain from striking its own trade deals with global giants such as China and the United States.

But after Brexit hardliners in her own party repeatedly refused to back her plan over fears it would keep the country too closely aligned with Europe, she last week turned to Labour — infuriating many Conservatives.

Labour’s home affairs spokeswoman Diane Abbott said her party was engaged in the talks “in good faith”, but May’s team appear unwilling to compromise.

“There is concern that the government doesn’t want to alter the political declaration,” she told the BBC, referring to the part of May’s deal outlining the future relationship with the EU.

“The government perhaps has to show a little more flexibility than it seems to have done so far.”

ERGP: FG Encourages Child Spacing To Reduce Population Growth

 

The Federal Government says it is engaging critical stakeholders such as traditional and religious leaders to advise their members on child spacing.

The Minister of Finance, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, said this on Tuesday at the Nigeria Economic Summit meeting which took place in Abuja.

According to her, the increase in the nation’s population was found to be one of the ‘great challenges’ in the Federal Government’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP), hence the need to curb the “exponential population growth”.

She said, “We have been engaging traditional rulers and other leaders. Specifically, we have found out that to be able to address one of the great challenges that we identified in the ERGP, which is the growth in our population, we need to engage these institutions”.

In a tweet on Wednesday, the minister also cleared the air on reports that the government had plans to implement a policy that limits the number of children a mother can have, saying, “We never said we are placing a cap on childbirth.”

“What is child spacing? This is a healthy practice of waiting between pregnancies”.

 

Ahmed also spoke about the government’s efforts in creating more jobs for youths.

She listed the attainment of 7,000 megawatts of electricity as a major milestone in empowering youths with small businesses.

Ukrainian Lawmakers Fire Finance Minister, Approve Anti-Corruption Courts

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko (right) shakes hands with parliament speaker Andriy Parubiy after voting on a law to establish an anticorruption court during a parliament session in Kyiv on June 7.

 

Ukrainian lawmakers on Thursday approved key legislation to create an anti-corruption court while also voting to dismiss the country’s finance minister, a respected reformer backed by the West.

A total of 254 lawmakers in the 450-seat parliament supported a motion submitted by Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman to sack Oleksandr Danylyuk.

The 42-year-old anti-corruption campaigner ruffled many feathers as he sought to clean up the former Soviet country’s fiscal and customs services.

Supported by global donors including the International Monetary Fund, his dismissal is expected to raise concern among Ukraine’s lenders and foreign governments.

In another crucial development, earlier on Thursday, the parliament approved in the second and final reading a draft law to create an anti-corruption court — a key IMF condition for it to distribute more aid to Ukraine.

President Petro Poroshenko hailed the move as a “victory for Ukraine” after 315 lawmakers supported the legislation, with just 25 voting against.

“I believe this is a historic day,” Poroshenko said in parliament.

Ukrainian lawmaker Sergiy Leshchenko expressed hope on Twitter that the creation of the anti-corruption court would “restore the confidence of international financial institutions and support the hryvnya,” the country’s currency.

Ukraine’s Western allies have long called on Kiev to reform the country’s kleptocratic system and create an independent court to handle corruption cases.

But the IMF and the World Bank have in the past criticised Ukraine’s draft legislation for the anti-corruption court, saying it was not in line with Western recommendations.

There was no immediate reaction from Kiev’s foreign allies on the adoption of the legislation.

“International partners of Ukraine will most likely need more time to scrutinise amendments to the bill adopted today,” a Kiev-based Western source told AFP.

Over the past years, global lenders have provided Ukraine — which is locked in a conflict with Russian-backed rebels — with billions of dollars of financing to allow its stricken economy to stay afloat.

AFP

Japan’s Minister Returns Salary After Scandal

 Japan’s Finance Minister, Taro Aso said on June 4 he was returning a year’s salary after his ministry scrubbed public documents related to a cronyism scandal that has dogged Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. JIJI PRESS / AFP

 

Japan’s Finance Minister, Taro Aso, said Monday he was returning a year’s salary after his ministry scrubbed public documents related to a cronyism scandal that has dogged Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

But he ruled out resigning after it emerged ministry officials had removed hundreds of references to Abe, his wife, and Aso from documents related to the sale of state land at below-market prices.

“I am voluntarily returning 12 months of my salary as a cabinet minister, as this problem has hurt public confidence in the finance ministry and the administration as a whole,” Taro Aso told reporters.

But he added, “I am not thinking about stepping down”, as he announced the findings of the ministry’s in-house probe.

Aso is the richest minister in Abe’s cabinet because of his family’s massive fortune made in the mining business. He also earns some 30 million yen ($274,000) a year as a cabinet minister.

Aso said the ministry had penalised around 20 officials, imposing pay cuts in some cases and issuing verbal reprimands to others.

“Officially approved administrative documents should never have been altered and submitted to parliament. I find this extremely regrettable,” he said.

Abe told reporters he wanted Aso to stay on to ensure lessons were learned from the scandal.

“We should conduct a thorough review of how to keep public documents and take measures to prevent a recurrence,” he said, adding that he wanted Aso “to take leadership in this and fulfil his responsibility.”

The scandal revolves around the 2016 cut-price sale of state-owned land to a nationalist school operator who claims ties to Abe and his wife Akie.

The penalised officials include Nobuhisa Sagawa, whose office helped alter key documents related to the controversial land sale. He has since resigned.

Giving sworn testimony in parliament soon after he quit the ministry in March, Sagawa denied any involvement by Abe or the prime minister’s office in falsifying the documents.

But the senior bureaucrat declined to answer detailed questioning about how and when documents were altered, saying he was under criminal investigation.

Prosecutors last week decided not to press charges against him.

Abe also faces a second cronyism scandal in which the opposition alleges he used his influence to help an old friend open a school in a special economic zone, bypassing cumbersome government regulations.

Abe, in power since late 2012, is in no imminent danger of losing his job, but the scandals have affected his popularity.

A new opinion poll released Monday showed voter support for his cabinet down 1.6 percentage points over the past month to 39 percent, the lowest level since he took office.

The finance ministry, considered the most powerful in Japan’s bureaucracy, has also been rocked by a sexual abuse scandal that forced the resignation of a senior official.

AFP

To Solve Problem Of Borrowing, Nigerians Must Pay Tax – Adeosun

The Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun has said the nation needs to generate more revenue through the payment of tax by Nigerians in order to solve the problem of borrowing.

Speaking during a press conference at the 2017 World Bank/International Monetary Fund Annual Meetings in Washington DC, United States, on Sunday, she said although the government has a role to play in being more efficient, Nigerians also have a role to play by paying taxes properly.

“The solution to borrowing in Nigeria is that we must pay taxes. If we pay the taxes properly, there’s no need to borrow. I am not suggesting that there isn’t a responsibility on the part of the government to be more responsible and more efficient, we are really focusing on this, we are trying to find a way to cut costs.

“Fundamentally, we must invest. We don’t have the power that we need, we don’t have the roads yet. We are a work in progress. There’s a lot of money to be spent to reposition this economy, and we need to generate much more by way of tax.”

READ ALSO: Akwa Ibom To Benefit From World Bank Assisted Project

Kemi Adeosun said the nation needs to tolerate more debts by borrowing because Nigeria currently has one of the lowest debt-to-Gross Domestic Product figures in the world adding that the current administration has no plan to go into massive borrowing which it would not be able to sustain.

“Nigeria’s debt-to-Gross Domestic Product ratio is one of the lowest actually. It is about 19 per cent. Most advanced countries have over 100 per cent. I am not saying we want to move to 100 per cent. But I’m saying we need to tolerate a little bit more debt in the short term to deliver roads, rail, and power.

“That, in itself, will generate economic activities and jobs, which will then generate revenue which will be used to pay back (the loans). It is a strategic decision that as a country we have to make.”

 

Explaining more on why the country had to borrow, Adeosun said, the nation is confronted with the challenge of either reducing public services or to begin to generate revenue.

“If we think back at the problem that we faced, it will be very important to put this in context. Our principal source of revenue plummeted by up to 85 per cent. So, we had two choices: You either reduce public services massively, which would have meant massive job losses or you borrow in the short term until you can begin to generate revenue.

“As the All Progressives Congress (the ruling party), we felt laying off thousands of people was not the way to stimulate the economy. Also, when we came into office, about 27 state governments could not pay salaries. If we had allowed that situation to persist, we would have been in depression now.

“So, we took the view that as a government the best for us to do was to stimulate the demand and spend our way out of trouble. Let the state government pay salaries, make sure the Federal Government can pay salary and invest in capital projects to get people back to work. Once growth is restored, you can now begin to systematically reduce short dependence on borrowing and increase revenue.”

I Think We Are Getting Out Of Recession – Finance Minister

The Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, has said she thinks Nigeria is getting out of recession and getting onto a path of growth that will be sustainable.

“I Think we are getting out of recession; all the statistics seem to suggest that but more importantly, we are getting on the path of growth that will be sustainable so we can see a future for Nigeria,” she said.

“So I think it is getting better.”

The Finance Minister, who was a guest on Channels Television’s breakfast show Sunrise Daily said that the Buhari administration inherited lots of issues from the previous administration and the economy needed to go through a radical surgery and fixes.

“We inherited a lot of problems, the Nigerian economy didn’t just need a little bit of fix here and there but needed radical surgery and to heal it will take a little bit longer”.

Infrastructure Development

On the development of infrastructure, the minister stated that the Federal Government is looking at the long-term, which is why it seems like the growth of the economy is slow.

Unemployment

She regretted that one of the issues affecting the economy is unemployment. “We have people that have been unemployed for about 10 years and the economy and job market cannot absorb them.

“We have people that have been unemployed for about 10 years and the economy and job market cannot absorb them,” she said.

According to her, the solution to the high rate of unemployment is getting the economy productive; for businesses to open up, employ people, among other things.

For instance, she said the clothing industry can provide employment for tailors, manufactures, lawyer, accountants and others.

She insisted that jobs must be created for the unemployed.

 Food Prices

The Minister blamed food price escalation on the high cost of transportation for taking farm produce from the rural areas to the urban locations.

She added that the government is proferring solutions to help reduce the cost of transportation by supporting the farmers through infrastructure.