West Africa Divided As Nigeria, Ghana, Others Reject Eco Common Currency


Six Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) countries have rejected the move by eight other francophone nations in the region to adopt the Eco common currency.

Nigeria, Gambia, Ghana, Liberia, Sierra Leone, all English-speaking countries and Guinea, the only francophone country, faulted the move by Benin, Burkina Faso, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Mali, Niger, Senegal, and Togo who had agreed to change the name of their common currency, CFA francs to Eco.

READ ALSO: VAT Increase Takes Effect From February 1, FG Tells Nigerians

At an extraordinary meeting of the Ministers of Finance and Economy, and the Governors of Central Banks in the West African Monetary Zone on Thursday, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed said that the declaration is not in line with the decisions of ECOWAS Heads of States.

“While the meeting applauds the decision of the francophone West African countries to the link, the meeting also noted with concern, the declaration by his Excellency, Alassane Ouattara, Chairman of the authority of the Heads of States and Governments of the West African Economy and Monetary Union on the 21st December 2019 to unilaterally rename the CFA francs as eco by the year 2020.

“WAMZ Convergence council wishes to emphasize that this action is not in line with the decision of the authorities of the heads of states and government of ECOWAS for the adoption of the eco as the name of an independent ECOWAS single currency.”



At the end of the meeting, delegates recommended that an extraordinary general meeting of ECOWAS heads of state and governments in the West African Monetary Zone be convened to discuss the matter.

“The council reiterates the importance for all ECOWAS member countries to adhere to the decisions of the ECOWAS authority heads of states and government towards the implementation of the revised roadmap of the ECOWAS single currency programme.

“The council recommends that an extraordinary summit of the authority of the heads of state and government of the WAMZ member state be convened soon to discuss this matter and other related issues.”

In December 2019, the adoption of Eco common currency by the eight francophone countries was lauded by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), showing readiness to engage with the regional authorities, owing to its proven track record in the conduct of monetary policy and external reserve management.

Ghana had in December, lauded the move and said that the country is determined to do whatever they can to join the Member States of UEMOA soon.

VAT Increase Takes Effect From February 1, FG Tells Nigerians


The Federal Government has said that the increase in Value Added Tax (VAT) from 5 to 7.5 percent will take effect from February 1, 2020.

This was disclosed by the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed on Thursday, during the inauguration of the Chairman and Board members of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) in Abuja.

READ ALSO: It’s Official! Nigerians To Pay 7.5 Percent Value Added Tax

Mrs. Ahmed stated that the Finance Act had made provisions support Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) and soften the effect of the VAT rate increase on companies in a bid to increase employment and boost the economy.

“I want to state that one of the key provisions in the finance act 2019 that have elicited a lot of interest is the increase in the VAT from 5% to 7.5%, and to remind us all, the finance bill has made copious provisions to improve the ease of doing business; so we have a category of companies that have turnover of 25% and below that will be paying no taxes at all, and also we have reduced tax rates for companies that have turnover from 25 million to 100 million from 30% to 30%.

“The essence of this is to encourage formalization of businesses from the informal sector and also to encourage businesses to grow and become more productive, thereby increasing employment and also meeting the commitment of Mr. President to remove 100 million Nigerians out of poverty over the next 10 years.

“The effective date for the VAT increase from 5-7.5% will be the 1st of February 2020,” she stated.

President Muhammadu Buhari last week, signed the 2020 Finance Bill into law after it had announced plans in September 2019, to review the VAT through consultations at various levels in the country.

FG Says Border Closure Is Reason For Rising Food Inflation


Nigeria’s recent border closure drill has been linked to the recent rise in headline inflation which is currently at 11.61 per cent as of October 2019.

The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, briefed State House Correspondents after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting in Abuja, that recent figures from the Nigeria Bureau of Statistics (NBS) were noticed since September.

She explained that the increase in food inflation witnessed in September and October is linked to the increase in prices of food, propelled by the border closure.

“Headline inflation declined for several months before we noticed an uptake in the last two months and now headline inflation is at 11.61 percent as at the end of October.

“The slight increase between September and October is due to increases in food inflation ascribed to increase in prices of cereals, rice, and fish.

“Part of the reason is the border closure; the closure is very short and temporary and the increase is just by 2 basis points,” she explained.

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Mrs. Ahmed pointed out that discussions with neighbouring countries on the border closure have advanced and the Federal Government is expecting every party to respect the protocols they are all committed to.

She stressed that the government is making sure that the economy does not suffer once the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA) comes into effect.

“The border closure is temporary; we have really advanced on the discussion between ourselves and our neighbours and we expect that the outcomes of those discussions and agreement are that each party will respect the protocols that we all committed to and then the borders will be open again.

“What we are doing is important for our economy as we signed on to the AfCFTA, we have to make sure that we put in place, checks to make sure that our economy is not overrun as a result of the coming into effect of the AfCFTA and that’s why we have this border closure to return to the discipline of respecting the protocols that we are all committed to.”

Nigeria Does Not Have A Debt Crisis – Finance Minister


The Minister of Finance, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, says Nigeria is not in any debt crisis as being speculated in many quarters.

Ahmed gave the assurance while speaking at a public hearing on the budget organised by the National Assembly on Wednesday.

She insists that the country’s debt profile is still within a reasonable limit.

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“Nigeria does not have a debt crisis”, she said.

“Our total borrowing today is just under 20% of our GDP while the multilateral institutions project for an economy our size to borrow up to 50-55% of our GDP. What we have is a revenue problem”.

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.

VAT Increase More Beneficial To States And LGs, Says Finance Minister

File photo of Mrs Zainab Ahmed, Minister of Finance


The Minister of Finance, Mrs Zainab Ahmed has said that the proposed increase in Value-Added Tax (VAT) from 5 to 7.5 per cent will be more beneficial to state governments and Local Government Areas (LGAs) in the country, many of which are already facing difficult conditions.

This was disclosed in a statement issued by the Minister’s SA on Media and Communication, Yunusa Abdullahi on Friday.

According to Mrs Ahmed, the proposal is subject to legislative intervention by the National Assembly who will have to amend the Revenue Act to reflect the proposed increase.

She added that the increase will exempt the basic necessities such as food, medicines and education.

“The benefit of an increase in VAT is, therefore, more beneficial to state governments and Local Government Areas (LGAs) in the country, many of which are already facing difficult conditions. The proposed increase in VAT is therefore expected to create additional fiscal space.

“The proposed increase is however subject to legislative intervention by the National Assembly who will have to amend the Revenue Act to reflect the proposed increase.

“The existing VAT Act exempts the basic necessities such as food, medicines and education which therefore minimises the impact on the poor and vulnerable segments of the Nigerian society from the burden thereof. It is expected that the exemptions will be maintained in the amended Act.”

RELATED: FG To Increase VAT From 5 To 7.5 Percent

Mrs Ahmed maintained that if the increase is correctly implemented, it could bring in huge revenues for the country and reduce fiscal deficit burden.

“It is gladdening that the VAT increase if correctly implemented, could bring in huge revenues, which would actually reduce the fiscal deficit burden.

“The government’s borrowing programme could then ease and certainly the financially affected states and local governments could later focus on issues like poverty reduction, healthcare and power generation and transmission.

“According to the industry experts, the VAT increase, if enforced properly, forms part of the fiscal consolidation strategy for the country. It could, in fact, help address the fiscal deficit problem and the revenues estimated to be collected could actually mean lowering of the fiscal deficit burden for the government across board.”

The Federal Government on Wednesday said that consultations will begin at all levels on the increase from 5 – 7.5 per cent.

$9.6bn Fine: Osinbajo Meets With Lai Mohammed, Zainab Ahmed, Other Ministers

Osinbajo Heads Audit Committee For FG Policies, Programmes And Projects
A file photo of Professor Yemi Osinbajo


The Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, has met with the Minister of Finance, Budget and National planning Minister, Zainab Ahmed; Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami; Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed and the Minister of State for Petroleum, Timipre Silva at the State House.

The meeting was focused on the latest development surrounding the 9.6 billion dollar judgment debt against Nigeria by a British court was over a botched gas contract.

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Others in attendance are the Minister of State for Niger Delta Affairs, Festus Keyamo; Group Managing Director of NNPC, Melee Kyari.

Also the Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Ibrahim Magu and the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele.

Nigerian Govt To Recover N614bn Budget Support From 35 States

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo with the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr Boss Mustapha, and Finance Minister, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, and others at the National Economic Council meeting in Abuja on August 22, 2019.



The Nigerian government has begun talks to finalise the modalities for repayment of N614 billion budget support facilities loaned to 35 states by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, disclosed this to State House correspondents on Thursday after the National Economic Council meeting in Abuja.

According to her, the Council has agreed to set up a team comprising representatives of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum, Ministry of Finance, and the CBN within a week to conclude the process.

READ ALSO: Two Nigerian Sisters Rescued From Suspected Traffickers In Mali

Mrs Ahmed explained that the N614 billion budget facility, which was introduced in 2016 amounting to 17.5 billion per state, was loaned to every state except Lagos.

Earlier, the minister made a presentation at the NEC meeting chaired by the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo.

She noted that the macro-economic environment of the country has shown significant growth and stability since after the recession.

According to Ahmed, there have been eight successive quarters of economic growth since the country emerged from recession.

She affirmed the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP), as the basis for the Medium-Term fiscal strategy.

The minister also said macro-economic stability has been achieved with growth in end Q3 of 2019 at 3.01 per cent with the continued increase in Real GDP from 1.89 per cent in Q2 of 2018 to 2.01 per cent in 2019.

She informed the council that there has been significant growth in the non-oil sector, while inflation has continually declined since 2017 from 18.72% to 11.08% in July 2019.

According to a statement from Mr Laolu Akande, the Vice President’s media aide, the minister said the contribution of the non-oil sector to the nation’s GDP has also increased 90.4% in Q1 of 2018 to 90.9% in Q1 of 2019.

Climate Change: FG Adequately Financing Environmental-Friendly Projects – Zainab Ahmed


Immediate past Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, has said that the Federal Government is taking into account, environmental and social governance by providing adequate financing for environmentally-friendly projects.

Mrs Ahmed, in an exclusive chat with Channels TV, said that since December 2017, FG has been able to issue two green bonds to fund projects relating to water, power, and environment.

“It is about being able to ensure we take into account, environmental and social governance when we are making decisions and also on the part of the government, to make sure that we raise adequate financing for environmentally-friendly projects.

“In Nigeria, we have been able to issue two green bonds in December 2017 and June 2019, which means we are aware of our responsibilities as a government; the green bonds are issued to fund projects that are in the national budget, relating to water, power as well as the environment and some projects in health.”

READ ALSO: Financial Autonomy: Buhari Promises To Stabilise State Legislature, Judiciary

The former Minister added that a lot of planning, with the right level of funding, is needed to tackle environmental issues.

“It is a reality that climate change presents a very high risk to the world globally and we are not isolated in Nigeria, we have seen clearly what climate change has done to the far North, there is a very high level of desertification and it is increasing.

“There is a huge cost to environmental issues if they are not planned for and financed and addressed adequately, it will affect the growth that we aspire to and if we don’t plan for them and get the right level of funding, it will affect the growth of the Nigerian economy.

“The green bond gives us an opportunity to be able to raise adequate financing to fund environmental-friendly projects that are already incorporated in our national budget.”

She added that the green bonds will create jobs and make small businesses and individuals partake in improving Nigeria’s environment.

“The output is that there are opportunities even in the challenge that exists in climate change. Climate-friendly projects have the potentials to create a large number of jobs; we also have an opportunity in raising green bonds to be able to crowdsource funding so that investors are not just large companies, but small businesses as well as individuals.

“I hope going forward that the Nigerian government will be able to issue green bonds to enable the average Nigerian invest small sums so that we all feel that we are contributing directly towards the improvement of our environment.”

FEC Approves 0.2 Percent Import Levies

Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed


The Federal Executive Council, FEC, on Monday approved a new import levy on Cost, Insurance, and Freight (CIF) that will be charged on imports coming into Nigeria.

The Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, disclosed this while briefing State House Correspondents at the end of the weekly FEC meeting presided over by the Vice president, Yemi Osinbajo at the Council Chamber, Presidential Villa, Abuja.

Ahmed said the FEC approved a rate of 0.2 per cent as the new import levy on imports coming into Nigeria from AU countries.

READ ALSO: Nigeria’s GDP Records Slow Growth In 2019 First Quarter

She explained that there were some exceptions on goods originating outside the territory of member countries.

“The council approved a rate of 0.2% as a new import levy on Cost, Insurance, and Freight (CIF) that will be charged on imports coming into Nigeria but with some exceptions.

“The exceptions include goods originating from outside the territory of member countries that are coming into the country for consumption. It also includes goods coming in for aid.”

States To Get N649.4bn Paris Club Refund Balance, Says Minister

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


The Federal Government is set to disburse the sum of N649.4billion to states as their balance of the Paris Club debts refunds.

The Supervising Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, said this on Thursday, in Abuja during a quarterly press conference on the activities of the Finance Ministry.

She said the funds have been verified and refund will be made to the states in due course.

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“For the final phase of the Paris Club debt refunds, the total sum of N649.434 billion was verified by the Ministry as the outstanding balance to be refunded to the state governments.

“The payments made by the CBN as at March 2019, is N691.560billion. The increase in CBN payments partly arose from the exchange rate differential at the point of payment. Although, some states still have outstanding balances, which will be refunded, in due course.”

The Minister also disclosed that a total of N603 billion has been saved through the Federal Governments initiative on Continuous Audit between 2016 to date.

Findings from the committee have led to the conviction of some ghost workers while others are currently undergoing trials.

“The Presidential Initiative on Continuous Audit (PICA) has saved the Federation N603.78billion from its inception in 2016 to date. Among this figure, is the savings of N8.30 billion during Q1 2019.

“As part of this administration’s zero tolerance on corruption, PICA’s findings on ghost workers has been acted on by convicting some civil servants and also there are some that are undergoing trial on the court while others are undergoing investigation by the EFCC,” she said.

Others officials present at the media briefing include the Comptroller-General of Customs, Hameed Ali; the Director-General, Debt Management Office, Patience Oniha; the Managing Director, Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria, and other officials of the ministry of finance.

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.

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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.”