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CBN unveils N50b COVID-19 stimulus

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. A household can get N3m
N10b for Lagos
. Fed Govt’s N1b bailout for pharm firms
. Japan gives $18.2 million grant

A special package to cushion the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic was on Wednesday unveiled by the Federal Government.

They include: N1 billion bailout for pharmaceutical companies; release of N10 billion to the Lagos State Government to battle the virus – the state has the highest number of victims; and $18.2 million to strengthen the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC). This cash is a grant from the Japanese government.

Finance Minister Mr. Zainab Ahmed announced the package during a meeting of members of the Executive with the National Assembly leadership.

Mrs. Ahmed solicited the support of lawmakers for the cut in the Budget 2020 expenditure to reflect the present economic downturn caused mainly by the Coronavirus pandemic.

The minister was accompanied to the meeting by Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Prince Clem Agba, Minister of Petroleum Resources (State), Timipre Sylva, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor Godwin Emefiele; Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mele Kyari, and Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters, Senator Babajide Omoworare.

CBN Governor Godwin Emefiele


Members of the National Assembly leadership that attended the meeting besides Senate President Ahmed Lawan and Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila, are Deputy Senate President Ovie Omo-Agege; Deputy Speaker, Idris Wase; Senate Leader Yahaya Abdullahi; Leader of the House Ado Doguwa; Deputy Senate Leader, Ajayi Boroffice; Senate Minority Leader Enyinnaya Abaribe; Minority Leader of the House Tony Elumelu; Senate Deputy Whip Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi and Senate Deputy Minority Whip, Philip Aduda.

Others are the Chairman, Senate Committee on Appropriations, Barau Jibrin and the Chairman, Senate Committee on Banking, Insurance and other Financial Institutions, Uba Sani.

Ahmed added that the Federal Government has cut its 2020 revenue projection for the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) from N1.5 trillion to N943 billion due to the economic downturn caused by the pandemic.

She urged the National Assembly to effect a downward review of the oil benchmark in the 2020 budget from $57 to $30.

Ahmed said: “Prior to COVID-19 and oil price decline, the Nigerian economy was already fragile and vulnerable.”

According to her, due to the global economic downturn precipitated by the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic, international oil prices plunged as low as $22 per barrel on the international market.

She added that the impact of the pandemic which resulted in international crisis created a disruption in travel and trade, and put “increasing pressure on the naira and foreign reserves as the crude oil sales receipts decline and the country’s micro-economic outlook worsens.”

She also told the leadership of the National Assembly that budgeted revenues for the NCS have been reduced “due to anticipated reduction in trade volumes; and privatization proceeds to be cut by 50 per cent, based on the adverse economic outlook on sales of the Independent Power Projects (IPPs) and other assets.”

Ahmed said the Federal Government has undertaken cuts to Revenue-related expenditures for NNPC for several projects included in the 2020 Appropriation Act passed by the National Assembly in December, 2019.

“The Federal Government is working on fiscal stimulus measures to provide fiscal relief for Taxpayers and key economic sectors;

“Incentivise employers to retain and recruit staff during the economic downturn; stimulate investment in critical infrastructure;

“Review non-essential tax waivers to optimize revenues; and compliment monetary and trade interventions to respond to the crisis.”

She added that the Federal Government had made provision for health sector interventions by introducing import duty waivers for essential input for pharmaceutical firms; tax waivers on new equipment; and deferment of tax to increase production.

Emefiele said “while we would expect to see a decline in our expected growth projection for 2020 relative to 2019, the exact impact will be dependent on how well the Coronavirus is contained over the next few months, and how long low oil prices persist.”

Senate President Lawan, who presided over the meeting said: “If we have to review the budget itself, we have to consider the MTEF/FSP.

“Even in sickness, we need government to provide services.

“The impact of COVID-19 is well-known to all of us in terms of health and the economy.

“Here, we will be talking of revenues that we estimated to fund the budget 2020.

“Because the oil price has gone so low due to the impact of COVID-19, the Minister of State should be able to tell us where we will be in the next six months or so.

“We should have concepts that can deliver fast and are sustainable.

“Anything that we do that can not provide succour and relief to our people will lead to catastrophe.”

Speaker Gbajabiamila said: “Taking a cursory look at some of the papers (presentations), I think this meeting is actually very timely and very important because we live in very unusual time and it is time we start thinking outside the box to see how we can stabilise our economy and the direction it is going to take.”

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FG to spend $4.9bn fresh loans on Kano-Niger Republic rail line, others

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President Muhammadu Buhari
President Muhammadu Buhari

A standard gauge rail being planned from Kano State in Nigeria to Maradi in Niger Republic is one of the projects the President Muhammadu Buhari plans to fund with the fresh external loans he is asking the National Assembly to approve for his regime, The PUNCH reports.

Buhari had asked the National Assembly to approve fresh external loans of $4.054bn and €710m ($839m) for his regime.

He also sought the  legislature’s approval for grant components of $125m in the 2018-2020 external rolling borrowing plan.

These were contained in a letter addressed to both chambers of the National Assembly and read on the floor at the resumption of plenary by the presiding officers Messrs Ahmad Lawan and Femi Gbajabiamila (Senate President and Speaker of House of Representatives respectively) on Tuesday.

Lagos-Ibadan-rail

Buhari,  in the letter, dated August 24, 2021, explained that the projects listed in the 2018-2021 Federal Government Borrowing Plan would be financed through sovereign loans from the World Bank, French Development Agency, EXIM Bank International Fund for Agricultural Development, Credit Suisse Group and Standard Chattered/China Export and Credit in the total sum of $4,054,476,863 and €710m (839m) and grant components of $125m

According to the President, summary of some key projects in each of the six geopolitical zones that will be funded by the loans and a summary on the expected impacts on the socioeconomic development of each of the six geopolitical zones were attached to the letter.

According to the breakdown obtained exclusively by one of our correspondents from the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning, five international bodies will jointly provide the $4,054,476,863 component of the loan.

They include the World Bank -$3,250,000,000; China Exim Bank -$225,120,000; IFAD- $50,000,000; European ECA/KfW/IPEX/APC -$190,255,276; Bank of China -$276,981,587; and Standard Chartered Bank/China Export and Credit (SINOSURE) -$62,120,000.

The Euro component of €710m will be provided by AFD -€210,000,00 and Credit Sussie Group €500,000,000 while the World Bank will provide the grant components of $125m.

According to the document, the $190,255,276 to be provided by European ECA/KfW/IPEX/APC will be spent on the Nigeria to Niger Republic rail line.

The document gave the project title as “Kano-Maradi SGR with branch to Dutse” and identified the implementing MDA as the Federal Ministry of Transportation.

“Financing cost which the lender requested to be capitalised” was written under the column for multilateral institution.

On the expected impact of the project on the geo-political development, the Federal Government wrote, “The project is to link Nigeria with Niger Republic from Kano-Katsina-Daura-Jibiya-Maradi with branch to Dutse.

“It is part of the Trans-Africa Railway System and it is expected to improve the international trade between Nigeria, Niger and other North-Africa countries.”

Also, the $225,120,000 to be provided by China Exim Bank is expected to be spent on the Lagos-Ibadan Railway Modernisation Project.

It is meant to cater for the construction of the branch line (Apapa-Tin Can Island Port) project.

On the impact of the project, the Federal Government said, “The project is to provide an alignment of routes from the Apapa Port Terminal to Tin Can Island Port and to enhance the economic activities at the Apapa and tin Can Island Ports.”

The $50,000,000 to be provided by IFAD will be spent on what the government called Value Chain Development Programme -Additional Financing II.

It identified the implementing states as Anambra, Benue, Ebonyi, Niger, Ogun, Taraba, Nasarawa, Enugu and Kogi while the geo-political zones were listed as North Central, North East, South West and South East.

The expected impact, according to the government, is “to support a measurable increase in the programme’s outreach to 100,000 farmers, including over 6,000 and 3,000 processors and traders respectively.

“It will also support the mainstreaming of issues that were not considered at the stage of programme design.”

The €210,000,000 to be provided by AFD will be spent on two projects -National Digital Identity Management Project (co-financed with the World Bank, AFD and EIB) -€100,000,000; and the Kaduna Bus Rapid Transport Project –€110,000,000.

The Bank of China’s $276,981,587 will be spent on the establishment of three power renewable energy projects; Credit Sussie Group’s €500,000,000 will be spent on sovereign guarantee for the issuance of Euro bond as collateral to enable Bank of Industry fund its projects; while the -$62,120,000 to be provided by Standard Chartered Bank/China Export and Credit (SINOSURE) will be used to provide 17MW hybrid solar power infrastructure for the National Assembly complex.

World Bank’s $3,250,000,000 will be spent on seven projects.

Part of Buhari’s letter to the National Assembly had read, “I write on the above subject and submit the attached addendum to the proposed 2018-2020 external rolling borrowing plan for the consideration and concurrent approval of the senate for the same to become effective.

“The distinguished Senate President may recall that I submitted a request on 2018-2020 borrowing plan for the approval of the senate in May 2021.

“However, in view of other emerging needs and to ensure that all critical projects approved by Federal Executive Council as of June 2021 are incorporated, I hereby forward an addendum to the proposed borrowing plan.

“The projects listed in the external borrowing plan are to be financed through sovereign loans from the World Bank, French Development Agency, EXIM Bank and IFAD in the total sum of $4,054,476,863 and €710m and grant components of $125m.

“A summary of some key projects in each of the six geopolitical zones and a summary on the expected impacts on the socioeconomic development of each of the six geopolitical zones are attached herewith as Annex II and III.”

 

Source The PUNCH via The Advocate

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Breaking: Appeal Court Stops Rivers, Lagos From collecting VAT…For Now

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The Court of Appeal in Abuja has halted the Rivers State government from collecting Value Added Taxes (VAT) until all legal disputes relating to the matter are resolved.

The court ordered that the judgment of the Federal High Court from which the State drew its power to collect the tax must not be implemented.

Justice Haruna Simon Tsanami who issued the order in Abuja on Friday also directed that the law passed by Rivers State House of Assembly and assented to by governor Nyesom Ezenwo Wike must not be implemented.

The appellate court held that since parties have submitted themselves to the authorities of the court for adjudication of the matter, they must not do anything that will affect the subject matter of the appeal

In specific term, Justice Tsanami granted status quo ante below in favour of the Federal Inland Revenue Services FIRS and against the respondents.

The matter has been slated for September 16 for hearing of motion for joinder by Lagos State.

FIRS, in an appeal marked CA/PH/282/2021, is praying the court to set aside the judgment of a Federal High Court in Port Harcourt which granted power to the state to collect VAT.

The tax collection agency is also asking the appellate court to stay the execution of judgment.

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President Buhari Signs Petroleum Industry Bill into Law

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President Muhammadu Buhari has signed the Petroleum Industry Bill 2021 into law.

Working from home in five days quarantine as required by the Presidential Steering Committee on COVID-19 after returning from London on Friday August 13, the President assented to the Bill Monday August 16, in his determination to fulfill his constitutional duty, said a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity Femi Adesina.

According to the statement, the ceremonial part of the new legislation will be done on Wednesday, after the days of mandatory isolation would have been completed.

The Petroleum Industry Act provides legal, governance, regulatory and fiscal framework for the Nigerian petroleum industry, the development of host communities, and related matters.

The Senate had passed the Bill on July 15, 2021, while the House of Representatives did same on July 16, thus ending a long wait since early 2000s, and notching another high for the Buhari administration.

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