FG has spent N502.3bn on COVID-19 intervention — Finance Minister
The Minister of Finance, Budget, and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, has revealed that the Federal government has so far spent N502.3 billion to stabilize the economy after being hit by the rampaging COVID-19 pandemic.
Ahmed made the disclosure while speaking at the national dialogue on COVID-19 economic impact and assessment of national and states’ recovery plans and policy options in Abuja on Tuesday, August 10 TIM Nigeria gathers.
According to the Minister, Nigeria was deeply affected by the pandemic because it was recovering from recession before COVID-19 led to an all-time fall of crude oil prices being the economic pillar of the country.
She listed key interventions to include: the establishment of a N500 billion COVID-19 crisis intervention fund to finance the upgrade and improvement of healthcare facilities; creation of a Special Public Works Programme to employ 774,000 people, among others.
“You know that in the 2020 budget, N500 billion was appropriated and it was fully funded. But apart from that, we also have the economic sustainability plan totaling N2.3 billion in the form of intervention funds from the CBN, which means loans are given to the private sector and they pay back later,” she said.
Two suspected armed robbers who target bank customers nabbed in Delta state.
Two suspected armed robbers have been apprehended in Agbor, Ika South Local Government Area, Delta State, by the Agbor Gha-Ihun Security outfit.
According to reports, the arrest follows reports of customers being robbed after withdrawing money from various banks.
On October 13, the suspects, identified as Smart and Oluchukwu from Imo State, were apprehended near a bank while preparing to rob their victims of their money.
During interrogation, one of the suspects, Smart, admitted to being arrested previously after one of his failed missions.
“We are from Imo State and our mission is to steal. I am a father of two children. My wife and children are in Imo State. Some time ago, I caught by Agbor Youth Vigilante Group on one of my failed missions along Baleke market area. Oluchukwu and I started working together since this week. We feel bad that luck has run out on us,” he said.
Comrade Monday Kiyem, chairman of Agbor Gha-Ihun, told journalists that his team was on their way to a meeting with bank managers in Orogodo metropolis when they apprehended Smart and Oluchuwu at the arena of Bank, opposite Okoh Street in Agbor, while they were waiting for their victims.
“Barely five months ago, we apprehended Smart after one of his failed missions. It took our intervention that he escaped death as he was given the beating of his life.
“Smart escaped being jailed because nobody was standing for the case. Being an unrepentant thief, he has returned to stealing. Now, we will ensure that justice take its course.”
While stating that security is everybody’s business, Comrade Kiyem urged Ika residents especially those living in Orogodo metropolis to beef up security by reporting the hideout of criminals in their area.
“It will interest you to know that these evil perpetrators are not from Agbor. They are from either Anambra or Imo State. Before, we use to have two groups of kidnappers, they were the Fulani and Alifikede, but we were able to wipe them out,” he said.
“We want everyone to cooperate with us by giving us useful information on any suspicious movement within and outside the bank premises and within the residential areas. Our people have lost a lot of money and we don’t want that to happen again. Our sole responsibility is to protect lives and property. Our people have continued to allege that those encouraging this evil act are within the bank. Anybody caught will be severely punished.”
READ ALSO:Two Nigerian men sentenced to 40 years in jail for robbery in Ghana.
Sack workers over the age of 50, and levy anyone earning more than N30,000, Governors tells Buhari
To avert the country’s impending economic collapse, Nigerian governors have advised the federal government to retire all federal civil servants over the age of 50.
The governors also want the government to raise taxes across the board and levy anyone earning N30,000 or more per month.
The governors made the proposal during a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari
The proposal also urged the government to begin implementing the updated Stephen Oronsaye Report, which advocated for the merger and closure of agencies and parastatals with duplicated or contested functions in order to address bureaucratic inefficiency and lower the cost of governance.
Officials familiar with the meeting’s details said the governors were concerned about the state of the economy and presented the federal government with a proposal to restore fiscal discipline.
The federal civil service employs approximately 89,000 people but will spend approximately N4.1 trillion on personnel costs this year, out of a total N17 trillion budget for the country. It is unclear how many workers are over 50, or how much money they receive.
The suggestion comes as signs emerge that the country may be on the verge of economic collapse.
According to the online publication, Nigeria’s external reserves are only $15 billion, far less than the bank’s claimed $36 billion balance on gross external reserves. With the country spending N5.9 trillion on imports in the first three months of the year, $15 billion in reserves would barely cover four months of imports.
Last week, it was revealed that the balance in Nigeria’s Excess Crude Account had been significantly depleted, falling from $35.37 million to $376,655, leaving the country with no buffers to stabilize the economy and its currency. Another sign that the country was bankrupt recently emerged when debt service exceeded revenue.
According to details of the 2022 fiscal performance report for January through April, Nigeria’s total revenue stood at N1.63 trillion while debt servicing stood at N1.94 trillion, showing a variance of over N300 billion.
The governors advised the federal government to immediately reduce expenditure by eliminating petrol subsidies and NNPC-funded projects, to cap the Social Investment Programme (SIP) and National Poverty Reduction with Growth Strategy (NPRGS) budgets at N200 billion, to eliminate extra-constitutional deductions from FAAC, and to reduce SWV items for SDG and NASS Constituency projects.
According to sources, the governors also requested that the government reduce duplications (e.g., empowerment programs) and waste, reduce the one percent grant to NASENI to 0.2 percent, amend the Act in the 2022 Finance Bill, reduce personnel costs of federal government MDAs, and expedite the privatization of non-performing assets such as the NDPHC power plants.
Similarly, the governors urged that the 2023-2025 MTEF reflect the governors’ recommendations and the government’s commitment to restoring fiscal discipline, while the planned 22 percent salary increase in 2023 be reconsidered. They also stated that the fiscal deficit should be kept to no more than 2% of GDP in 2023-2025.
Foreign Exchange and Reserves
To conserve foreign exchange and increase reserves, the governors proposed that MDAs, including budgetary-independent agencies such as FIRS, NPA, NIMASA, and NCC, postpone foreign trips for at least one year.
They also urged the Ministry of Foreign Affairs not to issue Visa requests to foreign embassies for federal government officials and their families unless the presidency expressly approves.
The governors also proposed shifting from state income taxation to consumption taxation, arguing that with the implementation of a 3 percent federal income tax, state-level PIT should be eliminated.
Similarly, they proposed enacting state sales taxes (at a flat rate of 10%) for the 36 states and the FCT, increasing VAT levels to 10% with a timeline to raise it to 15% to 20%, and re-introducing and passing VAT into the Exclusive List. It was unclear whether all governors agreed with the move of VAT to the exclusive list.
To increase tax revenue, they proposed that the federal government impose a flat 3 percent Federal Personal Income Tax on all Nigerians earning more than N30,000 per month, with those earning less than N30,000 per month, whether employed or not, paying a monthly FPIT of N100.
Similarly, telecom companies and the NIMC should work together to ensure that this is deducted from individuals’ phone credit and linked to their NIN and BVN
The governors also proposed that all federal oil and non-oil taxes be collected by a single agency, the FIRS, while Customs, the NPA, and others assess and issue demands.
They proposed that the Federal Government increase crude oil and gas production, resolve lingering issues of gas ownership in PSCs (e.g., Nnwa-Doro, OML 129) to help position Nigeria to take advantage of European gas needs, and provide incentives to accelerate development of vandalism-resistant deep offshore fields such as Bonga SW (Shell), Preweoi (Total), Zabazaba (ENI), and Owowo (Exxon).
The governors also advised the government to encourage (and, if necessary, pre-finance) the Dangote Refinery’s early completion in order to reduce massive future outflows of foreign exchange.
READ ALSO: FULL ADDRESS: As President Buhari Presents To The National Assembly a N16.39 trillion Naira 2022 Budget
Festus Keyamo: Federal Government Cannot Borrow N1.1 Trillion to End ASUU Strike
Festus Keyamo, Minister of State for Labour and Employment, said on Friday that borrowing money to end the Academic Staff Union of Universities’ months-long strike was unrealistic.
He made the remark during an appearance on one the television channels.
“Should we borrow to pay N1.2 trillion a year?”
“You cannot allow one sector of the economy to hold you hostage and then blackmail you into borrowing N1.2 trillion for overheads when our total income would be around N6.1 trillion.” And you have to build roads, health centers, and other sectors.”
The Minister urged parents throughout the country to petition ASUU.
“Those who know them, like the President said the other time, appeal to their sense of patriotism,” he said.
“Let them go back to school.” They are not alone in Nigeria. They are not the only ones who benefit from federal funds. The nation cannot come to a halt because we want to meet ASUU’s demands.”
On February 14, ASUU began a four-week warning strike.
On March 14, the union extended the strike for another two months in order to allow the government to meet all of its demands. On May 9, a 12-week extension was announced.
The union has been on strike since May 9, vowing to continue until its demands are met.
Academics want better working conditions, the revitalization of public universities, and academic autonomy, among other things.
One point of contention for academics is the non-payment of N1.1 trillion in university revitalisation funds.
However, the Federal Government has stated that it does not have the funds to pay such a sum, citing low oil prices during the administration of Muhammadu Buhari.
According to reports, the agreement was reached in 2009.
Another issue is the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS).
The University Transparency and Accountability Solution was proposed by academics as an alternative payroll system (UTAS).