The Federal Executive Council on Wednesday approved the Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper for 2017 to 2019, thus kick-starting the preparation of the 2017 budget.
The approval was given at a meeting of the council presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udo Udoma; the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Mr. Okechukwu Enelamah; and the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, briefed State House correspondents about the meeting’s outcome.
Udoma gave the highlights of the approved document to include oil price benchmark of $42.50 for 2017; $45 for 2018; and $50 for 2019.
In terms of oil production, he said the government would retain this year’s 2.2 million barrels per day for 2017; 2.3 million barrels per day for 2018; and 2.4 million barrels per day for 2019.
He added that the government was targeting three per cent growth for 2017; 4.26 per cent for 2018; and 4.04 per cent for 2019.
He explained that the growth rate for 2019 would be slightly lower than 2018 because as an election year, 2019 was expected to come with some uncertainties.
The minister said the government would use N290 to $1 as the exchange rate, with the belief that naira would stabilise.
He said, “As you know, the Fiscal Responsibility Act requires the executive to prepare the MTEF and send it to the National Assembly for their consideration and it is on the basis of the MTEF that the next budget will be fashioned.
“So, in short, we started the process of preparing the 2017 budget.
“Before the MTEF was presented to FEC for consideration, there was an extensive consultation with the private sectors, governors and Non-governmental Organisations.
“In the 2017-2019 MTEFF, the government intends to intensify efforts in pursuing manpower-driven economy. So, we intend to intensify effort to diversify the economy; we intend to go on with the implementation of ongoing reforms in public finance; we intend to enhance the environment for ease of business so as to generate private sector and private investment.
“We intend to continue to pursue gender sensitive, pro-poor and inclusive social intervention schemes similar to what we did in 2016. Our social intervention programmes is going to be sustained.”
When asked why a government that planned to diversify would still be benchmarking oil price, the minister said the government needed to use a particular number to plan in terms of revenue from crude oil.
“We have numbers for everything; we have numbers we expect to get from Customs, VAT, independent revenue. So, we have numbers for all the things we expect, but because oil is volatile and is an area that has caused us to be where we are today, we want to assure Nigerians that we are not going back to using high estimates. Even though we sense that prices may be moving towards $60 per barrel in the next year or so, we are still going to use conservative number,” he said.
Answering a question on the performance of the 2016 budget, Udoma said the government had released over N400bn of capital projects.
He said the government was also up to date in terms of the recurrent, saying all salaries had been paid, overheads released and statutory transfers made.
Enelamah said the council also approved the ratification of the World Trade Organisation’s Trade Facilitation Agreement that was approved by all members of the WTO in the ministerial conference that was held in 2013. The agreement sought to lower the cost of trade, he said.
Th minister added, “There was a clear understanding that everybody benefits from lowering the cost of doing trade. It is particularly beneficial to developing countries that want to be able to access the international market.”
University Of Ibadan (UI) Goes Digital, Releases Timetable for Virtual Academic Session
University of Ibadan (UI) on Friday announced it is going ahead with resumption on February 20 despite the second wave of COVID-19.
In a statement released by the school, the First Semester of the 2020/2021 academic session will commence virtually on February 20, 2021.
The virtual academic session will last for 13 straight weeks and end on Friday May 12, 2021, while the matriculation ceremony will hold on Tuesday March 16, 2021.
The University of Ibadan also scheduled one week for the Finalization of Continuous Assessment, to begin from Mon. 17 May and ends Friday 21 May.
The rising number of COVID-19 cases has compelled the Senate to approve the virtual academic session in an effort to ensure the tertiary institution abides by the protocols established by the Federal Government to curb the spread of the pandemic.
“It, therefore, agreed that the 2020/2021 First Semester lectures will be delivered online. In this regard, students will not be accommodated on campus,” a statement from the school said.
“Senate also approved the cancellation of the 2019/2020 session. The next session is, therefore, renamed 2020/2021 Academic Session. Consequently, students who have been admitted for the 2019/2020 session will now be regarded as the 2020/2021 intakes.
“Kindly note that online opening of Registration Portal and Orientation Programme for the 2020/2021 intakes may commence ahead of the Sat 20/02/21 date indicated above,” the statement said.
House of Representatives Impeached Trump Over Capitol Invasion
The United States House of Representatives on Wednesday impeached President Trump for the second time after instigating the US Capitol invasion.
Led by Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, 232 representatives, including 10 Republicans, voted to impeach the outgoing president against 197 that voted for him to remain in the office for the next six days when he would handover to the president-elect, Joe Biden.
The ten Republicans were Representatives Liz Cheney of Wyoming, the party’s No. 3 leader in the House; Jaime Herrera Beutler of Washington; John Katko of New York; Adam Kinzinger of Illinois; Fred Upton of Michigan; Dan Newhouse of Washington; Peter Meijer of Michigan; Anthony Gonzalez of Ohio; David Valadao of California; and Tom Rice of South Carolina.
Speaking before the vote, Pelosi said “a constitutional remedy that will ensure that the Republic will be safe from this man who is so resolutely determined to tear down the things that we hold dear and that hold us together.”
“He must go. He is a clear and present danger to the nation that we all love,” she said, adding later, “It gives me no pleasure to say this — it breaks my heart.”
Republicans, who unanimously stood behind president Trump in 2019 during his first impeachment, were divided this time over the attack on Capitol.
A Republican representative from California, Kevin McCarthy, said “The president bears responsibility for Wednesday’s attack on Congress by mob rioters,” Mr. McCarthy said. “He should have immediately denounced the mob when he saw what was unfolding.”
US Congress Declares Joe Biden as The 46th President of The United States After Trump Mob Left
The joint congress of the United States on Thursday, January 7, 2021 certified Joe Biden as the 46th President of the United States following President Trump’s mob action that disrupted the congress joint proceeding on Wednesday.
After ordering his followers to disrupt proceedings on Wednesday, President Trump later announced that there will be an orderly transition on January 20.
“Even though I totally disagree with the outcome of the election, and the facts bear me out, nevertheless there will be an orderly transition on January 20th,” Trump said in a statement issued by White House Deputy Chief of Staff Dan Scavino.
“I have always said we would continue our fight to ensure that only legal votes were counted. While this represents the end of the greatest first term in presidential history, it’s only the beginning of our fight to Make America Great Again!” Trump added.
While the certification was just a mere formality as Biden had secured enough electoral college votes (270) required to clinch the world’s most powerful seat, the refusal of Donald Trump to accept the results of the November 2020 election made the session a keenly watched, especially after Trump mob disrupted a joint session of the Senate.
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