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FG MAY SLASH CIVIL SERVANTS’ SALARIES, MERGE AGENCIES, OTHERS TO CUT COST- ZAINAB AHMED

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The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, has said that President Muhammadu Buhari has directed the salaries committee to review payroll and also review the number of agencies.

The government will also remove some redundant items from the budget as a move to cut the cost of governance in the country.

Ahmed disclosed this at the ongoing ‘National Policy Dialogue on Corruption and Cost of Governance in Nigeria’ held in Abuja on Tuesday.

The programme was organised by the Independent Corrupt Practice Commission.

Zainab Ahmed Minister Of Finance Budget And-National-Planning

The government had approved a N13.88trn budget with a deficit of over N5.6trn.

The government projected a revenue of N7.98trn to fund part of the 2021 budget.

“We still see government expenditure increase to a terrain twice higher than our revenue,” Ahmed said.

The Finance boss said all agencies must come together to trim its cost amid the country’s dwindling revenue.

She said, “We need to work together, all agencies of the government to cut down our cost. We need to cut down unnecessary expenditures. Expenditures that we can do without.

“Our budgets are filled year in year out with projects that we see over and over again and also projects that are not necessary.

“Mr President has directed that the salaries committee that I chair, work together with the head of service and other members of the committee to review the government pay rolls in terms of stepping down on cost.”

She revealed that the FG will also review the number of government agencies in terms of their mandates.

Ahmed disclosed that for agencies with the same mandate the government will look at “how to merge the two.”

The Chairman of the ICPC, Bolaji Owasanoye, noted during the stakeholders meeting that the cost of governance is the “driver of corruption in Nigeria.”

He said the government has committed to improving the country’s revenue from new and existing sources.

Owasanoye said the government’s commitment to streamline payroll, removal of subsidies and reduction of the cost of contracts and procurement are all for the benefits of the “poor and vulnerable.”

He said a critical area of concern was “payroll padding” and the “phenomenon of ghost workers.”

He also lamented the duplication of projects such as the constituency projects of lawmakers.

The ICPC boss said funding for such projects are usually released without any mechanism for monitoring and evaluation and reconciliation of the funding.

He cited a project executed by the Redeemed Christian Church of God which was inadvertently diverted as an executive project.

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Economy

Emefiele Not Sacked – CBN Spokesman

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Contrary to viral reports to the effect that the federal government has sacked the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele,  Head of corporate communications of the Bank, Osita Nwanisiobi has said that rumours of a purported sack are not true.

Osita denied the rumours in a phone conversation with Nairametrics stating that “he is not aware of any sack of the CBN Governor”. Nairametrics also understands the CBN Governor is in Davos on official assignment.

Several online media blogs have published reports of a purported sack of the Governor of the Central Bank of Africa’s largest economy with some mentioning that “it was unconfirmed” even though they went ahead to publish.

Nairametrics also contacted other sources close to the presidency and the CBN Governor to confirm if the rumours are true. All our sources claim no knowledge of a purported sack.

Meanwhile,the CBN Governor has been under pressure since he declared interest in running for president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

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Economy

NPA : Panel Clears Hadiza Bala Usman of Fraud

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Hadiza Bala Usman, the former managing director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), has been cleared of allegations of failing to remit N165 billion operating surplus to the coffers of the federal government, according to a report by TheCable.

However, the 11-member committee set up by the ministry of transportation to probe the alleged fraud decided to shift its attention to allegations of insubordination to Rotimi Amaechi, the minister.

She was accused of ignoring ministerial directives and communicating directly with President Muhammadu Buhari.

Usman was originally suspended in May 2021 by the minister over an allegedly missing N165 billion but the committee did not find any evidence in its account reconciliation.

TheCable understands that when Amaechi presented the report to Buhari and asked for permission to remove Usman based on to “insubordination”, the president refused to give approval but instead directed the minister to issue a query to the former NPA MD.

Amaechi, presidency sources told TheCable, said Usman had already defended herself before the committee, but Buhari insisted that she be allowed to respond to the report before any further action is taken.

“A visibly disappointed Amaechi then directed Magdalene Ajani, the permanent secretary, to issue the query,” the source said, adding that Buhari refused to be presented with a “fait accompli”.

Conspicuously missing in the 10 items of query is the original reason for her suspension — the allegation that N165 billion was not remitted to the treasure single account (TSA) which made the headlines.

QUERY AND REPLY

An official of the ministry of transportation, who spoke to TheCable but pleaded to be “shielded” for fear of victimisation, said Usman responded to the query within one week as stipulated.

“She said that she did not have access to some important documents because she was on suspension but I would say she did justice to the query,” the official said.

Mohammed Bello-Koko, who acted as NPA MD during her suspension, was a bank’s accounts officer to the Rivers states government when Amaechi was governor.

Bello-Koko was on Tuesday officially appointed the MD.

In the query dated January 26, 2022, Ajani said the committee accused Usman of the following acts of insubordination.

  • Disregard for ministerial directive in respect of the Bonny/Port Harcourt and Lagos port channel management contract
  • Unlawful procurement of the operation of truck transit park for port bound trucks (e-callup) with the non-payment into TSA
  • Unilateral execution of a supplemental agreement in respect of the Lekki Deep Seaport concession project
  • Breach of the channels of the communication in the public service
  • Unilateral and improper use of the emergency procurement mode to procure vehicles
  • Waiver, rebates and tariffs granted by NPA without requisite approval
  • disobedience of court order in respect of pilotage contract between NPA and Intels
  • Disregard of court order in the matter between NPA and BUA ports and terminal limited in respect of the concession of Terminal B Rivers ports complex.
  • Breach of presidential/ministerial directive in the matter of the LADOL/Samsung dispute
  • Lease of Koko Port to Messers Creek Shore Jetty and Terminal Ltd

In her response, she denied all the allegations.

On the renewal of the Bonny/Port Harcourt and Lagos port channel management contract for which she was said to have disregarded ministerial directive, she said she conveyed the directive to the Bureau for Public Procurement (BPP) which it clarified that it was an extension of an existing contract and such extensions do not require the attention of either the ministerial tenders board or the federal executive council.

Usman said, with regards to the operations of the e-callup system, that “it is practically impossible to have the e-Wallet account domiciled with the TSA as the amount standing to the credit of the transporters’ wallets still belong to the customers. In addition, the owners of the satellite parks and pre-gates used for gating trucks before their callup into the ports need to be paid weekly from the wallet account based on how many bookings were made for their parks”.

She denied unilaterally executing a supplemental agreement in respect of the Lekki Deep Seaport concession project, stating that it was operational in nature and does not alter any major aspect of the concession agreement “as it only rescheduled construction timeframe for a berth and allowed other players to partake in the development of dry bulk since the company was constrained to embark on the construction”.

The former NPA MD said presidency communicated directly with her seeking information and clarifications on the activities of the authority and she responded and she was not at any informed that her responses should have gone through the ministry since presidency did not communicate with her through the ministry.

Usman denied “unilateral and improper use of the emergency procurement” to procure vehicles to replace the ones burnt by the End SARS rioters, quoting public procurement laws to back her decision and pointing out that NPA got a provisional “no objection” certificate for the purchases.

She insisted that she did not disobey court orders on Intels and BUA, and that no presidential or ministerial directive was breached in the LADOL/Samsung dispute.

On the lease of Koko Port to Messrs Creek Shore Jetty and Terminal Ltd, she said she acted the legal limits of NPA as provided by the enabling laws.

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Economy

CBN Issues Guidelines to Reduce the Spate of Bad Loans Within the Banking Sector

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The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has announced the issuance of a Global Standing Instruction (GSI) for checking the Incidence of bad loans within the banking sector.

The GSI is a policy that allows banks to debit the accounts of loan holders in other banks to settle defaults.

According to a statement by Chibuzo Efobi, for the Director, Financial Policy and Regulation Department of the apex bank, the initiative was conceived to address recurring instances of willful loan default in the industry.

Efobi said that the guidelines would enhance the establishment of a “watch list” and identify recalcitrant loan defaulters and enhance loan recovery from all eligible and funded accounts in the industry.

He added that it would also improve credit payment culture and reduce non-performing loans in the Nigerian banking system.

“Consequently, please be informed that the frequency of recovery attempts via the GSI platform has been amended from specific number to continuous and unrestricted number,’’ he said.

He said that the GSI automated loan recovery feature applicable to all loans in the industry shall remain perpetually in place throughout the life of the loan, or  until it is fully repaid.

He urged members of the banking public to check the CBN website, www.cbn.gov.ng for perusal of the guidelines.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the GSI initiative was approved by the Bankers’ Committee at its meeting in February, 2020.

The CBN, thereafter, collaborated with relevant stakeholders to develop necessary protocols to facilitate implementation of the GSI, for eligible loans granted with effect from Aug. 28, 2019. (NAN)

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