Uncovered 50,000 Ghost Workers Saved FG 200bn Naira In 2016 – Presidency

Federal Government, Presidency, Ghost Workers, Garba ShehuThe Federal Government says it has rid its payroll of 50,000 ghost workers and saved Nigeria 200 billion Naira.

The government also disclosed that 13 billion Naira has been taken off the payroll monthly from February to December 2016.

The spokesman to the President, Mr Garba Shehu, made the announcement at an interactive meeting with reporters on Tuesday to mark the end the year.

Mr Garba revealed that 11 persons championing the syndicate of ghost workers have been handed over to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for interrogation.

Continuous Auditing

“The flagship programme of the Muhammadu Buhari administration to rid the system of fraud and instill good governance is on course. Through a notable initiative, the Efficiency Unit of the Federal Ministry of Finance, the government has embarked on the continuous auditing of the salaries and wages of government departments.

“When the committee was constituted in February 2016, the Federal Government monthly salary bill was 151 billion Naira, excluding pensions. Now the monthly salary warrant is 138 billion Naira, excluding pensions. Which means that the government is making a monthly saving of about 13 billion Naira (that is from February 2016 till date),” said the President’s spokesman.

Mr Shehu added that “the pension bill was 15.5 billion Naira monthly as at February. Now it is down to 14.4 billion Naira, which means average monthly saving made is of about 1.1 billion Naira”.

He said that the total number of ghost workers so far removed from the payroll was about 50,000, stressing that some of those allegedly championing the syndicate of the ghost workers were already undergoing trial.

Federal Government Adoptees

Mr Shehu further noted that the recently-released 21 Chibok girls were being treated as adoptees of the Federal Government, but revealed that there was a lot of local and international interest in the future plans of the girls.

“A black American billionaire, Mr Robert Smith, who is currently sponsoring the education of 24 girls from Chibok, among them the first set of escapees from Boko Haram at the American University of Nigeria, Yola has offered to pay for the education of the 21 released through negotiations and is offering to take responsibility for all the others who will hopefully be eventually set free. The Murtala Mohammed Foundation in the country is equally interested,” he said.

Shehu also responded to complaints by some of the parents of the 21 Chibok Girls that they did not have enough room for interaction with their daughters brought home for Christmas by the Department of State Services (DSS).

Buhari, three-day trip, Germany, Aisha Buhari, 21 Chibok girls

He admitted that there were some hitches arising from a lack of understanding of the objective of the trip on the part of some security operatives but that following the receipt of the complaint, a directive had been given from the headquarters for the access by the parents to be eased.

“If the situation persists, please let us know so that the higher authorities will make a further intercession,” he stated.

Issue Of Interest In APC

The President’s aide also addressed an issue of interest to a lot of the members of the ruling party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) concerning appointments into boards.

He assured the public that the process would be fully back on track at the beginning of the new year.

“You know that the reconstitution began methodically, from sector by sector. You should expect that to resume at the beginning of the New Year. The President has given directions on what to do,” he told reporters.

Favorable Environment For Diversification

On the agricultural programmes of the administration, Mr Shehu said that President Muhammadu Buhari’s persistent call for a return to farming was yielding good results.

“The talk about agriculture has driven people to the farm. This year, there is a huge boom in the rural economy. We have witnessed an excellent harvest. Farmers are getting value for their output. What has encouraged farmers the more is the increasing availability of extension services. New farming techniques are helping farmers to do their occupation better. The readiness of off takers to buy the produce is also a major boost.

Unemployment, kwara, 20,000 Jobs, Agriculture

“When you put all these together with the systematic move to curb importation, as they boost local production through the restriction of the available foreign exchange to critically important sectors of the economy, you have favorable environment for the diversification of the economy.

“As we speak, several of the country’s major manufacturing industries are actively backward-integrating- Nestle, Unilever, the breweries are using what we have as local materials, changing their formulations to maintain production levels and keep their share of the market.

“Manufacturers, who are hooked on import of raw materials, are advised to re-strategise and take full advantage of local raw materials. The future belongs to those who employ the use of local raw materials,” the spokesman added.

Nestle to buy Pfizer baby food unit for $11.85 billion

Swiss food group Nestle is to buy U.S. drugmaker Pfizer’s baby food business for $11.85 billion, beating out French rival Danone in the battle for dominance of fast-growing emerging markets.

A Nestle logo is pictured on a factory in Orbe

The world’s biggest food company had to dig deeper than expected into its ample pockets to win the high-stakes fight for Pfizer Nutrition, which makes 85 percent of its sales in emerging markets.

“The price tag is high, however Nestle is securing a high growth/margin business with high exposure in the emerging markets. China will become the number 3 market for Nestle overall,” said Vontobel analyst Jean-Philippe Bertschy.

Nestle said the deal would add to earnings per share from the first year, and would allow cost synergies of $160 million. Bertschy estimated the deal would add about 0.5 percent to earnings per share in the first year and 1.5 percent in the following years.

Nestle shares, which hit an all-time high of 57.50 francs ahead of solid first-quarter results last week, fell 2.19 percent to 55.85 francs at 1104 GMT, compared with a 0.96 percent weaker European food and beverage index. The shares were trading ex-dividend, but were down less than the 1.95 francs payout.

“Although the growth profile, attractive margins and emerging market exposure makes this a compelling asset, we believe that the multiples being some way ahead of market expectations may dampen near term enthusiasm for the deal,” said Citi analyst Robert Dickinson.

The deal price was well above the $10 billion which had been expected. Nestle said it was paying 19.8 times expected 2012 core earnings, above previous Nestle deals in the sector when it paid 15.7 times for Gerber and 17.6 times for Novartis Nutrition, according to Citi.

Danone shares rose 2.1 percent to 53.54 euros as investors expressed relief that the French group would not have to leverage up its balance sheet to pay a big price for Pfizer.

CHINESE MARKET KEY

The Pfizer unit is a high-growth business built on its top SMA Gold brand, which ranks number five globally in the infant milk formula market – the world’s fastest-growing packaged food category – after Nestle, Mead Johnson, Danone and Abbott Laboratories, with a quarter of sale in China.

Nestle said the Pfizer business should boost its margins and it forecast its sales at $2.4 billion this year, bringing revenue from the combined business to above $7 billion.

Chief Executive Paul Bulcke said it was premature to comment on regulatory issues, but analysts have speculated Nestle might have to sell 25 percent of the Pfizer unit by disposing of interests in Latin America, southeast Asia, Australia and South Africa, which could be bought by Danone or Heinz.

Chief Financial Officer Wan Ling Martello said the deal, to be paid for by a combination of cash and debt, could close at best in six months but it could take up to a year.

Kurt Schmidt, head of Nestle Nutrition and former chief executive of the U.S. baby food group Gerber that Nestle bought in a $5.5 billion deal in 2007, said the global infant nutrition market was worth $30 billion.

He said the market is growing 10 percent annually, with emerging markets accounting for 73 percent of sales and with a 13 percent growth rate due to increasing births and affluence there.

The $6 billion Chinese market is key as it is set to double to $12 billion by 2016 to feed 16 million new births a year. Mead leads the Chinese market followed by Danone. Pfizer is fifth with an 8 percent share, while Nestle has just 4 percent.

Nestle’s roots go back to the 1860s development by Henri Nestle, a pharmacist, of the first infant formula for babies whose mothers who could not breast feed.

Nestle, which expects emerging markets to account for half of total sales by 2020 from 41 percent last year, has been an active player in recent emerging markets merger activity, taking stakes in two Chinese food companies.

“The deal makes strategic sense, it really was Nestle’s deal to lose as it very much wanted to add to its Asian business and boost growth and margins,” said Kepler analyst Jon Cox, adding the price was almost as high as Danone’s 2007 buy of Numico.

Danone paid 12.3 billion euros in 2007 for Dutch food group Numico, at the time Europe’s largest baby food producer, paying a similar multiple, a price many analysts said was too high.

REUTERS