Federal Government Pledges To Clear Pension Arrears

Federal Government Pledges To Clear Pension ArrearsNigeria’s Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udo Udoma, says the government is committed to ensuring that every pensioner is paid their entitlement.

The minister gave this assurance while appearing before the House of Representatives accompanied by the Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun and other heads of agencies in the country’s pension sector.

The ministers said salaries and pensions are the government’s number one priority, adding that the administration would look for creative ways to raise the funds needed to settle the arrears.

Adeosun, who touched on some of the steps taken so far, noted that the sum of 42 billion Naira to clear all the arrears. “Everything that has been appropriated up to date has now been paid,” she said.

The National President of the Nigerian Union of Pensioners, Abel Afolayan, on his part, expressed appreciation over the efforts of the Federal Government.

The ministers are expected to complete their work on the total figures needed to pay the pension arrears as soon as possible after which they would work with the National Assembly to ensure that the 2017 budget captures the figures.

Osinbajo Inaugurates Road Safety Advisory Council

Yemi Osinbajo, Nigeria, MSMENigeria’s Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, has inaugurated the National Road Safety Advisory Council.

The advisory council created to offer advice to the Federal Road Safety Corp (FRSC) on what should be done to reduce carnage on Nigerian roads consists of six state governors drawn from each geopolitical zones of the country; the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal and some ministers.

The council’s inauguration took place on Thursday at the Council Chamber of the Presidential Villa in Abuja, shortly before the National Economic Council (NEC) meeting was held.

Statistics have indicated that over 4,000 lives were lost through road crashes in the country in 2012.

Such startling statistics have jolted the United Nations to declare the period 2011-2020 a decade of action for road safety.

The governors are: Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos (southwest), Willie Obiano of Anambra (southeast); Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta (south-south) Abdulfatah Ahmed of Kwara (north-central), Ibrahim Dankwabo of Gombe (northeast) and Ahmed El-Rufai of Kaduna (northwest).

The Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udo Udoma, explained that the council would be guided by the mandate for every member nation of the United Nations to put adequate measures in addressing the scourge of road accident by the year 2020.

Senator Udoma urged State governors to buy in and ensure adequate budgetary provision for maintenance of roads in their respective states.

The FRSC Corp Marshal, Boboye Oyeyemi, pointed out some of the challenges faced in tackling road accidents across the country.

He also highlighted some of the duties of the advisory council in order to achieve the FRSC’s vision of reducing road traffic fatalities by 35% by 2018.

FG Says No Plans To Increase Value Added Tax

FG Says No Plans To Increase Value Added TaxThe federal government has been explaining how it will fund the 2017 budget at a session in Abuja.

According to the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udo Udoma, 11% of government’s projected revenue will come from recoveries of looted funds, which stands at 258 billion.

He said that there are no plans of increasing the value-added tax which is currently at 5%.

Udoma Says No Plans To Increase Value Added Tax

Udo Udoma, Value Added Tax, Budget BreakdownThe Nigerian government says it has no plans to increase the Value Added Tax which stands at 5% in 2017.

The government, however, said 11% of its projected revenue would come from recoveries of looted and misappropriated funds which currently stand at 258 billion Naira.

The Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udo Udoma, on Monday allayed fears of possible tax increase, as the nation battles to recover from economic recession.

At a budget breakdown session in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital, Senator Udoma expressed optimism that the proposed revenues would help fund the 2017 budget.

The session follows the December 10 presentation of a budget proposal of 7.298 trillion Naira by President Muhammadu Buhari to a joint session of the National Assembly.

President Buhari proposed that the implementation of the budget be based on Nigeria’s economic recovery and growth strategy.

The 2017 budget is based on a crude oil benchmark price of $42.50 per barrel, with an output of 2.2 million barrels per day.

Government’s expenditure is to be funded with the sum of 4.94 trillion Naira while oil is to contribute 1.98 trillion Naira of the amount.

Greater Cooperation

Meanwhile, President Buhari, in a statement by his spokesman, Garba Shehu, solicited for greater cooperation between the executive and legislative arms of government.

He noted that the collaboration would ensure the smooth implementation of government policies and programmes.

The president said that despite the Principle of Separation of Powers, both arms of government should be united in the promotion of the common good of the people.

He added that whatever differences that might occasionally arise between the two arms of government should not be allowed to compromise their common goals of promoting the greater progress and development of Nigeria.

FG Reviews Parameters In MTEF

Medium Term Expenditure Framework, MTEFThe Federal Government has reviewed the parameters in the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF).

The Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udo Udoma, made this known at an interactive session with the Senate Committee on Finance.

Speaking on Tuesday in Abuja, Senator Udoma noted that the Federal Government set the benchmark price of crude at $42.5 per barrel.

He adds that the new deficit to GDP ratio is now at 2.18 while the official exchange rate is now 305 up from 290 to a dollar earlier set.

Economic growth rate has also been reduced from 3.02% to 2.5%.

Meanwhile, the Senate is to probe the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) over the failure of one of its subsidiaries, the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC) to remit over five billion dollars to the Federation Account.

Senator Dino Melaye, in a motion, alleged that since 2013 to date, the NPDC has continued to lift crude oil from divested oil wells OML 61, 62 and 63 worth over $3.487 billion without remitting to the Federation Account.

The Senate has mandated its committees of petroleum upstream and finance to investigate the level of the alleged corruption with a view to recovering every fund due to the Federation Account.

2016 Budget: F.G Persuades AFDB For Funds

AFDB, AbiaThe Federal Government is persuading the African Development Bank (AFDB) to speed up the delivery of the 1 billion Dollar facility promised, as support for the implementation of its 2016 budget.

In making the appeal, the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udo Udoma says the loan is expected to cover the 35 per cent shortfall in the budget.

He adds that government is relying on the credit facility to boost the economy and spend out of the current recession.

The economic recovery plan of the government has been in the areas of infrastructure development, processing of export zones and the restoration of oil production to 2.2 million barrels per day.

2016 Budget: FG Urges AfDB To Fast Track Loan Pledge

2016 budget, AfDBThe Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udo Udoma, has appealed to the African Development Bank(AfDB) to fast track the one billion dollars loan facility it promised the country as support for the 2016 budget.

The loan is expected to cover the 35 per cent shortfall in the 2016 budget.

Senator Udoma made this appeal on in Abuja during a meeting with an AfDB team over the weekend

The Minister said: “I want to thank you for the support. We value the relationship with AfDB and we appreciate the budget support. We want AfDB also to fastrack the loan facility”.

Senator Udoma while giving an overview of the government’s plan to reflate the economy and spend out of the recession, said that the government was trying to contain the militancy in the Niger Delta which had affected oil production in the country.

The government hopes to restore production to 2.2 million barrels per day at the end of the year.

“The government is committing money into infrastructure development, processing of export zones, and also providing loans through the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) at a single digit to support farming in Nigeria,” he stated.

According to the Minister, the Economic Recovery Plan is designed to consolidate and harmonise all the sectoral plans in a single document and set out in broad detail an integrated roadmap for the growth and sustainability of the country’s economy, and is also a part of the commitment the Federal Government made with Nigerians, whether there was a recession or not.

Also at the meeting was the Director General of the Budget Office, Mr Ben Akabueze and he said that what the government was doing differently concerning budget releases, was that it had shifted from the old practice of releasing monies quarterly but on specific request which are tied to projects.

Mr Akabueze said that so far over 750 billion had been released for capital projects.

He says hopes are high that revenue will improve in the second half of the year as the Federal Inland Revenue Service, (FIRS) and the Customs will do better, having overcome some of the challenges faced in the first half of the year.

The Acting Director for Governance and Reform, Mr Coulibaly, who spoke earlier said that the AfDB team came to seek further clarification on policy reforms, level of budget implementation, as it touches capital budget releases.

He also stated that they wanted the Minister to highlight if there was any new policy introduced in the 2017 budget and updates on the Social Protection Policy.

Nigeria Restates Commitment To Reducing Dependence On Oil

Udoma-UdomaThe Federal Government of Nigeria has reaffirmed its commitment to diversifying the nation’s economy to reduce its dependence on oil.

The Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udo Udoma, made the declaration on Wednesday at the end of the National Economic Summit Group (NESG).

He said the proposed shift from oil resources would help create jobs, reduce poverty and contribute to the nation’s socio economic development.

At the moment, the nation’s economy is in recession.

Mr Udoma explained that the government would achieve this through a synergy with members of the organised private sector.

He added that the government was eager towards diverting from its over dependence on petroleum resources to other sectors of the economy.

As the NESG meeting comes to an end, experts have been deliberating on how to improve the Nigerian economy through the patronage of locally produced goods.

Nigerian-Economic-Summit-Group

One of the participants, Lanre Akinbo, is hopeful that key recommendations identified at the gathering will serve as a starting point for the successful implementation of the Made in Nigeria campaign.

The 22nd edition of the NESG meeting opened on Monday in Abuja, with participants looking to come up with strategies that would spur economic growth through heightened patronage of made in Nigeria goods and services.

The theme for this year’s summit is ‘Made In Nigeria’ and the organisers of the summit say they are looking to re-emphasise the message that the productive capacity of the Nigerian economy has to be developed as much as possible.

Need For Diversification

In his opening address, President Muhammadu Buhari said Nigeria had no other choice at the moment than to diversify its economy to break its reliance on oil.

Buhari, NESG, Economy
President Buhari stresses need for diversification

He was happy with the theme of the summit, saying it “lies at the heart of so many of the efforts we are making to lead us through these troubled times and to lay a firm foundation for the future”.

The President stressed the need to diversify the economy, stating that it was to ensure Nigeria never have to rely on a commodity to survive as a country.

He added that there was apparently no other way to steer Nigeria out of its present economic predicament without building a strong economic foundation on Made-in-Nigeria goods and services.

On the sidelines of the summit, the Vice Chairman of the NESG, Sola David-Borha, told Channels Television that stakeholders would discuss issues affecting Nigeria’s economy and proffer solutions that will reflate the economy and subsequently bring growth.

Mrs David-Borha, who is also the CEO of Stanbic IBTC Holdings, said the group believes that patronising made in Nigeria goods and services will spur the growth of the economy that is already in recession.

Nigeria’s Senate Opposes Sale Of National Assets

Senate on Corruption FightFederal lawmakers in the Nigerian Senate at the beginning of legislative proceedings for the week passed a recommendation opposing the sale of government’s assets.

The Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, had last week in his address to lawmakers recommended that the executive should raise capital from the sale of the nation’s assets and other sources to shore up reserves.

He said the sale of assets would calm investors, discourage currency speculation and stabilise the economy that is in recession.

However, lawmakers are strongly opposed to this recommendation.

The lawmakers also approved a recommendation that the National Assembly should amend Section 162 of the Constitution to give legal backing to the executive to save money for times of economic slump?

It is a necessary law, some lawmakers believe, as previous administrations end up sharing excess crude oil sales money between states since there was no law to back its retention.

The proposed assets sale has drawn diverse reactions, with some against the decision saying revenue generated through the sales could be frittered away.

Nigeria has lost huge revenue to corruption and many fear corrupt officials could embezzle the funds. They are suggesting that the government should look at other means of generating funds or explore the right channel in the privatisation of assets.

Fiscal Stimulus Plan

Explaining the government’s fiscal stimulus plan earlier on Saturday, the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udo Udoma, said that the primary objective of the plan was not to sell off all major critical national assets but to source immediate funds to reflate the economy and implement capital projects in the 2016 budget.

Nigerian Goods
Udo Udoma said intention of the government was to source immediate funds to reflate the economy in recession

Senator Udoma gave the explanation in Lagos at the weekend while briefing reporters on the forthcoming Nigerian Economic Summit.

He said the intention of the government was just to get enough money to fund the 2016 budget and get the economy back on the path of recovery.

The government, he stated, needed to inject a large dose of funds into the system to get the economy back on track and to faithfully implement the provisions in the capital budget tailored at reflating the economy and aiding the diversification process.

Senator Udoma further explained that the country had lost almost half its expected revenue and would need to urgently source for the shortfall to enable the government faithfully implement the budget.

“This unfortunate scenario prompted the Economic Management Team to urgently work out a fiscal stimulus plan to generate immediate large injection of funds into the economy through asset sales, advance payment for license rounds, infrastructure concessioning, use of recovered funds, among others, to reduce the funding gap.

“The other option would have been to source for additional loans, beyond the level of borrowing already projected for in the 2016 Budget.

“This would not be a wise option as it would raise the level of debt service to an unsustainable level.” a statement by the Minister’s spokesman, Akpandem James, read.

On September 22, the National Economic Council approved President Muhammadu Buhari’s strategies to pull the economy out of recession.

This was done during its meeting in Abuja, chaired by the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo.

Adeosun, Governors
National Economic Council meeting

The council of ministers and governors debriefed the Finance Minister, Mrs Kemi Adeosun and the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Mr Udoma Udo Udoma as well as the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele on the strategies to take the country out of the woods.

Briefing State House correspondents after the closed-door meeting, the Deputy Governor of Ogun State, Yetunde Onanuga, said that the Central Bank would henceforth adopt best options to manage the situation.

Other areas of urgent intervention were also agreed upon by the council to immediately inject larger funds into the economy, including meaningful diversification and more stringent importation cuts.

Nigeria’s economy has slipped into recession with a 2.06% contract in Gross Domestic Product in the second quarter of 2016.

According to a report of the National Bureau of Statistics the decline has caused the Naira to get weaker while lower oil prices dragged the oil sector down.

The output shrunk by 0.36 in the first quarter.

During the quarter, nominal GDP was 2.73% higher at 23.48 million Naira at basic prices.

This growth was lower than the rate recorded in the second quarter of 2015 by 2.44% points.

Labour Union Kicks Against Proposed Sale Of Some National Assess

Issa Aremu on sale of National AssetsA National Executive member of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), Mr Issa Aremu, has kicked against the plan by the Federal Government to sell some national assets to finance the country out of economic recession.

Mr Aremu, in a press statement on Monday, cautioned President Muhammadu Buhari against what he called “feverish prescriptions of few economic hit men”.

He claimed that the ‘hit men’, contrary to the spirit and content of the 1999 constitution, deliberately undermine national development through recommendations that would strip the nation of its critical assets.

The labour leader argued that Nigeria was not short of resources, but only lacked “genuine resourceful leaders at all levels that were committed to nation building.

Mr Aremu pointed out that the country would further slide into underdevelopment if the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) Company which paid the sum of $1.289 billion as dividends for 2013 was sold to the highest bidder for another easy money.

He also commended the economic patriotism of the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission, Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) for rising in defence of retention of critical national assets such as NLNG.

While calling on the nation’s ruling and economic elite to enunciate big development plans and think outside the box of easy monies to spend, Mr Aremu, however, advocated a bipartisan approach on the economy to include labour and industry.

A leading union of oil workers had on Sunday threatened to shut down the country if the Federal Government carries out the plan to sell some national assets as a way out of the current economic recession.

The oil workers under the aegis of The Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN), described the plan to sell the national assets as a self-destructive move.

In a statement, PENGASSAN said that the plan, which would solve short term financial obligations, was really aimed at handing over Nigeria’s collective common wealth to a few individuals.

Fiscal Stimulus Plan

On Saturday, Nigeria’s Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udo Udoma, said that the primary objective of government’s fiscal stimulus plan was not to sell off all major critical national assets but to source immediate funds to reflate the economy and implement capital projects in the 2016 budget.

Senator Udoma gave the explanation in Lagos while briefing reporters on the forthcoming Nigerian Economic Summit.

He said the intention of the government was just to get enough money to fund the 2016 budget and get the economy back on the path of recovery.

According to him,  the government needed to inject a large dose of funds into the system to get the economy back on track and to faithfully implement the provisions in the capital budget tailored at reflating the economy and aiding the diversification process.

Senator Udoma further explained that Nigeria had lost almost half its expected revenue and would need to urgently source for the shortfall to enable the government faithfully implement the budget.

“This unfortunate scenario prompted the Economic Management Team to urgently work out a fiscal stimulus plan to generate immediate large injection of funds into the economy through asset sales, advance payment for license rounds, infrastructure concessioning, use of recovered funds, among others, to reduce the funding gap.

“The other option would have been to source for additional loans, beyond the level of borrowing already projected for in the 2016 Budget.

“This would not be a wise option as it would raise the level of debt service to an unsustainable level.” a statement by the Minister’s spokesman, Akpandem James, read.

Ekweremadu Asks Buhari To Reshuffle His Cabinet

SarakiThe Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, has asked President Muhammadu Buhari to reshuffle his cabinet.

Mr Ekeremadu is suggesting the redeployment of the Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun and the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udo Udoma, from their present ministries.

The Senator made the call as the Senate begins debate on the state of the economy.

Senator Ekweremadu claimed that he was not impressed with the performance of the Ministers of Finance and Budget and National Planning.

He believes they will perform better in other ministries.

Ban Of Food Items Importation

However, some other lawmakers are also calling for caution as regards the recommendation made by the Senate president on the sale of government assets.

Lawmakers are also asking the government to increase spending and look for how to expand the country’s sources of foreign exchange.

Few other lawmakers have also asked the government to ban the importation of food items such as milk, sugar, palm oil, frozen fish and clothing.

The Senate will for two days hold debate on the state of the economy and make recommendations to the executive on measures to solve the economic challenges confronting the country.

Bukola-Saraki
Senator Bukola Saraki is hopeful that sale of assets would calm investors and stabilise the economy

Nigeria’s economy slipped into recession few weeks ago, with a report of the National Bureau of Statistics showing that the Nation’s Gross domestic Product contracted by 2.06% in the second quarter of 2016.

According to the report, the decline has caused the Naira to get weaker while lower oil prices dragged the oil sector down.

The output shrunk by 0.36 in the first quarter.

During the quarter, nominal GDP was 2.73% higher at 23.48 million Naira at basic prices.

This growth was lower than the rate recorded in the second quarter of 2015 by 2.44% points.

The situation, has become glaring to Nigerians, with the cost of food items rising, has continued to draw attention from different sectors of the economy.

The Senate President had in a message to Nigerians during the Eid-el-Kabir celebration stressed the need for Nigerians to pray for peace and accelerated recovery of the nation’s economic.

He asked Nigerians to remain steadfast and committed to the cause of one, united and developed country.

He observed that despite the current economic challenges, the country and its people had all that was required to come out better and stronger.

On Monday, however, he suggested that the executive should raise capital from the sale of government assets and other sources to shore up reserves.

Senator Saraki made this recommendation as the Senate resumed plenary after a seven weeks’ recess.

Addressing lawmakers, Senator Saraki said that the sale of assets would calm investors, discourage currency speculation and stabilise the economy.

He recommended part sale of the NLNG Holdings, reduction of government share in upstream oil joint venture operations and sale of government stake in financial institutions.