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Economy

Buhari Signs N21.83 Trillion Budget into Law

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*says adequate provisions made for elections, others

President Muhammadu Buhari has signed the 2023 Budget of N21.83 trillion along with the 2022 Supplementary Appropriation Bill into law.

A statement from his office by Mr. Femi Adesina, his spokesman, the President said the aggregate expenditures of N21.83 trillion, is an increase of N1.32 trillion over the initial Executive Proposal for a total expenditure of N20.51 trillion.

He explained that the 2022 Supplementary Appropriation Act would enable the administration to respond to the havoc caused by the recent nationwide floods on infrastructure and agriculture sectors.

The statement reads further: As is customary, he said the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning will subsequently provide more details of the approved budget and the supporting 2022 Finance Act.

”We have examined the changes made by the National Assembly to the 2023 Executive Budget proposal.

”The amended fiscal framework for 2023 as approved by the National Assembly shows additional revenues of N765.79 billion, and an unfunded deficit of N553.46 billion.

”It is clear that the National Assembly and the executive need to capture some of the proposed additional revenue sources in the fiscal framework. This must be rectified.

”I have also noted that the National Assembly introduced new projects into the 2023 budget proposal for which it has appropriated N770.72 billion. The National Assembly also increased the provisions made by Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) by N58.55 billion.”

President Buhari said his decision to sign the 2023 Appropriation Bill into law as passed by the National Assembly was to enable its implementation commence without delay, considering the imminent transition process to another democratically elected government.

He, however, directed the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning to engage with the Legislature to revisit some of the changes made to the Executive budget proposal, expressing the hope that the National Assembly will cooperate with the Executive arm of Government in this regard.

He urged the National Assembly to reconsider its position on his proposal to securitize the Federal Government’s outstanding Ways and Means balance at the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

”As I stated, the balance has accumulated over several years and represents funding provided by the CBN as lender of last resort to the government to enable it to meet obligations to lenders, as well as cover budgetary shortfalls in projected revenues and/or borrowings.

”I have no intention to fetter the right of the National Assembly to interrogate the composition of this balance, which can still be done even after granting the requested approval.

”Failure to grant the securitization approval will however cost the government about N1.8 trillion in additional interest in 2023 given the differential between the applicable interest rates which is currently MPR plus 3% and the negotiated interest rate of 9% and a 40year repayment period on the securitised debt of the Ways and Means.”

To ensure more effective implementation of the 2022 capital Budget, President Buhari thanked the National Assembly for approving his request for an extension of its validity date to 31st March, 2023.

The President directed the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning to work towards early release of the 2023 capital votes to enable Ministries, Departments and Agencies commence the implementation of their capital projects in good time to support efforts to deliver key projects and public services as well as improve the living conditions of Nigerians.

Reiterating that the 2023 Budget was developed to promote fiscal sustainability, macroeconomic stability and ensure smooth transition to the incoming Administration, the President said it was also designed to promote social inclusion and strengthen the resilience of the economy.

He pledged that adequate provisions have been made in the Budget for the successful conduct of the forthcoming general elections and the transition programme.

On achieving revenue targets for the budget, the President directed MDAs and Government Owned Enterprises (GOEs) to intensify their revenue mobilization efforts, including ensuring that all taxable organizations and individuals pay taxes due.

To achieve the laudable objectives of the 2023 Budget, the President said relevant Agencies must sustain current efforts towards the realization of crude oil production and export targets.

”To augment available fiscal resources, MDAs are to accelerate the implementation of Public Private Partnership initiatives, especially those designed to fast-track the pace of our infrastructural development.

”This, being a deficit budget, the associated Borrowing Plan will be forwarded to the National Assembly shortly.

”I count on the cooperation of the National Assembly for a speedy consideration and approval of the Plan.”

On the Finance Bill 2022, the President expressed regret that its review as passed by the National Assembly is yet to be finalized.

”This is because some of the changes made by the National Assembly need to be reviewed by the relevant agencies of government. I urge that this should be done speedily to enable me to assent into law,” he said.

Those who witnessed the signing of the budget include Senate President Ahmad Lawan and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila.

The President thanked the Senate President, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and all the distinguished and honourable leaders and members of the National Assembly for the expeditious consideration and passage of the Appropriation Bill.

He also recognised the roles played by the Ministers of Finance, Budget and National Planning, the Budget Office of the Federation, the Senior Special Assistants to the President (Senate and House of Representatives), the Office of the Chief of Staff, as well as all who worked tirelessly and sacrificed so much towards producing the 2023 Appropriation Act.

”As I mentioned during the presentation of the 2023 Appropriation Bill, early passage of the budget proposal is critical to ensure effective delivery of our legacy projects, a smooth transition programme and effective take-off of the incoming Administration.

”I appreciate the firm commitment of the 9th National Assembly to the restoration of a predictable January to December fiscal year, as well as the mutual understanding, collaboration and engagements between officials of the Executive and the Legislative arms of government.

”These have made the quick consideration and passage of our Fiscal bills possible over the last four years.”

The President expressed the belief that the next Administration would sustain the early presentation of the annual appropriation bill to the National Assembly to ensure its passage before the beginning of the fiscal year.

”I firmly believe the next Administration will also sustain the current public financial management reform efforts, further improve the budgeting process, and particularly maintain the tradition of supporting its Appropriation Bills with Finance Bills designed to facilitate their implementation.

”To sustain and institutionalize the gains of the reforms, we must expedite action and conclude work on the Organic Budget Law for it to become operational before the end of this Administration.”

Acknowledging that ‘‘these are challenging times worldwide,’’ the President concluded his speech at the ceremony by expressing deep appreciation to Almighty God for His Grace, while commending the continuing resilience, understanding and sacrifice of Nigerians in the face of current economic challenges.

”As this Administration draws to a close, we will accelerate the implementation of critical measures aimed at further improving the Nigerian business environment, enhancing the welfare of our people and ensuring sustainable economic growth over the medium- to long-term,” he said.

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Economy

Nigeria Energy Dialogue, Ministry Partner on Methanol Fuel Technology

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By Dorcas Jonah

The Nigeria Energy Dialogue (NED) has partnered with the Federal Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation to unveil the Methanol Fuel Production Technology.

The Executive Director of NED, Frank Edozie said this at the ongoing 2023 Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation Expo on Tuesday in Abuja.

Edozie who said the partnership was a revolution simplified by technology, said it would also drive the country’s vision for a clean, safe and available energy.

He said methanol is a transportable energy that can be used to power industries, rural electrification and household energy with a multiplier effect on the economy through job creation.

“We will get our people to work as many people needed accessible energy. The beauty of it is we are talking about technology that is there.

“We will build on Brass Methanol and numerous methanol projects across the country.

“We don’t see this as an alternative; it will eventually become the main source of energy because it is green and accessible.

“The more it is deployed, the cheaper it becomes until it gets better current cost of energy,” he said.

Edozie said that the technology convert gas methanol to hydrogen fuel cells for multiple uses across the energy space in Nigeria.

The director this was coming at a time Nigeria was almost completing the construction of Brass Methanol plant, in partnership with Sun Hydro Energy Limited and Clean Energy Resources.

Also speaking, Dr Peter Ekweozoh, Director, implementation of Methanol value chain in Nigeria, said that Methanol Fuel technology implementation would assist Nigeria achieve its obligation under the Paris agreement.

Ekweozoh said that the project would reduce global warming in various sectors of the economy by reducing hydrocarbon emission footprints.

“This technology will help to improve our transportation system, because we are going to use hydrogen fuel cells or Methanol which has low carbon footprints to drive vehicles when fully adopted by Nigerians,” he said.

He said that 40 million jobs would be generated in two years from the methanol production value chain.

He said it would also generate cheap quality affordable clean and trusted energy to power the rural areas in Nigeria.

Dr Offiong Archibong Anyanwu, Programme Director for NED, said the project would create a platform for stakeholders in the energy sector to ensure that net zero was achieved.

“The objective of this partnership is to sustained focus on the momentum that has been made on methanol in Nigeria, and this will ensure cleaner source of fuel for cars, household applications and industries,” she said.

Anyanwu added that methanol was the future of energy, expressing hope that this achievement of the Buhari’s administration would not be swept under the carpet by the next administration.

She said this was because Methanol was already used across the system and since technology was not static, it was imperative that the current government build on the momentum methanol hence the slogan BOOMM.

Dr. Joy Ogaji, Chief Executive Officer, Association of Power Generating companies in Nigeria expressed confidence in the revolutionary move to possible cheaper fuel to power generation companies in Nigeria.

She said if methanol is properly packaged and implemented, power generation companies can have better access to cheaper fuel.

Joy also said it will at the long run bring about the climate change and draws closer to meeting our net zero 2060.(NAN)

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Economy

CBN Domestic Card Scheme Takes off

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The Central Bank of Nigeria, in line with its mandate to promote stability, inclusion and growth in the financial and payment system, has introduced a national domestic card scheme that becomes effective on January 16, 2023.

Although the bank is yet to disclose the procurement cost and operational charges, Nigerians will from Monday receive a new electronic card for local transactions that will be charged in Nigeria.

The card payment scheme processes payments using debit and credit cards.

The card is expected to compete with other debit cards, including Mastercard, Visa, and Verve cards operating in Nigeria.

The CBN, in conjunction with the Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System Plc and the Bankers’ Committee made the announcement of the new card scheme at a press briefing in October last year.

At the conference, the Managing Director of NIBSS, Premier Oiwoh, explained that the domestic card scheme would reduce the operating costs of cards in the country for both the issuers and users.

“The card would be optimised for local content solely for the Nigerian market and support micropayment and credit, e-government, identity management, transportation, health and agriculture regarding payment,” Owoh added.

The CBN’s Director, Corporate Communications Department, Mr Osita Nwanisobi, also corroborated Oiwoh’s position, explaining that Nigeria’s payment ecosystem has grown and can buoy a domestic card scheme.

“Considering the strength and breadth of its banking sector and the rapid growth and transformation of its payments system over the last decade, Nigeria is ideally positioned to successfully launch a national card scheme”, he said.

The new card, expected to unify payments across the banking landscape, is coming at a time Nigerians are fighting commercial banks over alleged dubious and duplicitous charges on their cards.

The card will be delivered through Nigeria’s central switch, the NIBSS, in conjunction with the Bankers Committee and other financial ecosystem stakeholders.

Today’s deployment will enlist Nigeria into the growing list of countries like India, Turkey, China, and Brazil that have launched similar cards for domestic use.

The CBN said, “The domestic card scheme will be an important game changer for financial inclusion in Nigeria.

“The plan is to deliver Africa’s first central bank-driven, domestic card scheme that combines a fully domestic infrastructure with international interoperability. Our plans will enable us to pivot into the largest card scheme in Africa, and amongst the biggest globally.”

However, it could not be ascertained yet if Nigerians would be able to use it for international transactions as its application is for now restricted to local shores.

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Economy

CBN Bows to Pressure, reviews Cash Withdrawal Limits

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The Central Bank of Nigeria has increased the maximum weekly limit for cash withdrawals across all channels by individuals and corporate organisations to N500,000 and N5 million, respectively.

The directive is contained in a circular issued by the bank on Wednesday and signed by the director of banking supervision department, Haruna Mustafa.

The development is coming two weeks after the CBN reduced the weekly over-the-counter cash withdrawal limit for individuals to N100,000 and that of corporate organisations to N500,000.

The PUNCH reports that the apex bank also reduced withdrawals at Automated Teller Machines and point-of-sale terminals to N20,000 daily.

The policy had generated mixed reactions among Nigerians, with the House of Representatives also wading into the matter.

In the Wednesday circular, the apex bank said it made the upward review based on feedback received from stakeholders.

“The CBN hereby makes the following reviews: (1) the maximum weekly limit for cash withdrawal across all channels by individuals and corporate organisations shall be N500,000.00 and N5,000,000.00 respectively.

“2. In compelling circumstances where cash withdrawal above the limits in (1) is required for legitimate purposes, such requests shall be subject to a processing fee of three per cent and five per cent for individuals and corporate organisations, respectively.

“Further to (2) above, the financial institution shall obtain the following information from the customer, at the minimum, and upload same on the CBN portal created for the purpose: valid means of identification of the payee (national ID, international passport, or driver’s license), bank verification number of the payee, tax identification number of both the payee and the payer, and an approval in writing by the MD/CEO of the financial institution authorising the withdrawal.

“Third party cheques above N100,000 shall not be eligible for payment over-the-counter, while the extant limit of N10 million on clearing cheques still subsist.”

The CBN also said monthly returns on cash withdrawal transactions above the specified limits should be rendered to the banking supervision department, other financial institutions supervision and payments system management departments.

It added, “Compliance with extant AML/CFT regulations relating to the KYC, ongoing customer due diligence and suspicious transaction reporting etc. is required in all circumstances.

“Customers should be encouraged to use alternative channels (internet banking, mobile banking apps, USSD, cards/POS, eNaira, etc.) to conduct their banking transactions.

The apex bank noted that it recognised the vital role that cash played in supporting underserved and rural communities and would ensure an inclusive approach as it implemented the transition to a more cashless society.

“All banks and OFls are to note that aiding and abetting the circumvention of this policy will attract severe sanctions,” CBN said.

“The above directives supersede that of December 6, 2022 and take effect nationwide from January 9, 2023,” the CBN said.

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