The Finance Minister, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, while side-stepping questions on the controversy that arose last week after her call on the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to reduce the policy rate at its last Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) meeting, stated at the weekend that the federal government was painstakingly fashioning out appropriate measures to reflate the economy, affirming that it had adopted a potent strategy to stem the economic recession through spending on capital projects.
Adeosun said investing in capital projects, including roads, railway projects, housing and education, among others, would trigger a ripple effect on the economy and impact potentially on the populace, stressing that infrastructure was not only the fulcrum, but the superstructure on which development revolves.
She said the quest to inject massive spending on capital projects had ignited government’s move for external borrowing because of the cheap interest rate potential inherent in foreign loans.
The minister, who spoke in an interview in Abuja with select journalists, said one of the biggest issues for the government was the cost of borrowing, being the biggest borrower, adding that in resolving the issue, her ministry was working with the Debt Management Office (DMO) to restructure and refinance some of the existing debt.
“One of the biggest issues for us is the cost of borrowing because, of course, government is the biggest borrower. So, what we had said from the beginning was that we look for cheaper borrowing to bring down our cost of borrowing.
“Currently, it’s cheaper to borrow internationally than to borrow locally.
“So, what we are looking at doing is working with the DMO to try and refinance some of the existing debt, not just the new debt… over the medium term to get lower interest rates. Restructuring will reduce the cost of our debt service, and increase the amount of money available for capital projects.
“That’s just really a strategy of getting us out of recession. It’s not just to spend the stimulus from government, but to spend on capital projects. That’s our priority,” she said.
On why she had for advocated a lower monetary policy rate (MPR) as against the CBN’s option to retain the existing rate, Adeosun said: “We have moved on from that because the CBN is independent, they have looked at the metrics and they have said, look, this is what we have to do. We’ve moved on. It’s only one factor; it’s not the only factor. I have explained to you how we are going to get around that.”
Explaining why the country was yet to secure some of the loans it is seeking from offshore sources, the minister said the delay had nothing to do with Nigeria no longer being attractive to foreign creditors.
According to her, the process of securing the loans from all relevant bodies had commenced and would be consummated before the end of year.
“You know it’s a long process; if you remember at the last FEC (Federal Executive Council), we got the external borrowing plan approved by FEC. Once it’s approved by the National Assembly, we need to access those loans.
“That’s why we rushed it to FEC very quickly and now, it’s going to the National Assembly. Once they finish their oversight function, we will now draw down on some of the loan facilities. But already, the approval has been done,” the minister stated.
On the proposed loan from the African Development Bank (AfDB), the minister said the bank’s president, Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina, was expected in the country today.
“I believe he will give us an update. The China Exim Bank loan is in the process at the moment, specifically for the railway projects. Some of the China Exim Bank loans are already running, like for the airports. But the big one is for the railway projects and that’s the one that we are hopeful that before the end of the year, it would have been approved.
“Then the Eurobond, we are just finalising the appointment of the parties (advisers), and are confident on that one also. On the Eurobond, we already have commitments; even before we opened the offer, we already had four commitments from investors stating that whenever Nigeria is ready, they will be committed to what we are doing because they could see that we are very serious.
“We went to London and we had a non-deal road show that was extremely successful and people were saying they are ready…” she added.
Impact of Released Capital Votes
Speaking on the impact of the N770 billion so far released for capital projects, the minister said after the first N420 billion was released, the second tranche of N350 billion had just been released, promising that the impact would be felt soon.
“The second N350 billion has just gone out and so we have to wait for that impact. But the first one, we are quite satisfied with what has happened, because many of these contractors had not been paid since 2012.
“When we did the first one, they were not sure as to if we were going to sustain the releases and so the second one for us is far more significant, and a lot of them came and said ‘we had not been paid since 2012’, so the tendency was to hold on to that money rather than get to work.
“But now, we have done the second tranche, I think that confidence in government’s ability to meet its obligation is being restored. As a result, I’m sure that with this second release, you are going to see a whole lot of activity on our roads, railways and those big infrastructure projects,” the minister stated.
Attracting Investors During Recession
On what the government was doing to attract foreign investors in a season of recession, Adeosun explained that the majority of investments in the country are by Nigerians, adding that the focus of the government was to provide the right environment, which would ultimately attract not only local but foreign investors.
“One thing we need to understand is that majority of the investments in Nigeria are by Nigerians. If I can’t persuade you to invest then I cannot persuade a foreigner to invest. So, our focus is to get the environment right.
“Once the environment is right and there is an opportunity to make profit, foreign investors will come but the most important thing is the environment and those things that investors want to see in order for them to invest – both Nigerian and foreign investors.
“Sometimes we focus more on foreign investors and ignore the fact that the people that are really putting money in Nigeria are mainly local investors. As such, we need to sort out the infrastructure.
“That is what investors have been saying is a limiting factor – the corruption because people get frustrated by going from one ministry to another trying to get a permit and afterwards they will just say let’s forget it. So these are the things we are trying to do, so we can have an environment where business can thrive,” she explained.
Agenda for IMF/World Bank Meetings
On the forthcoming annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank, the minister said: “We are in talks with the World Bank and IMF everyday and I think we will be telling them what plans we have for the Nigerian economy, how we see the Nigerian economy going forward, that we are committed to inclusive growth, that we are confident of the plans that we are pursuing, and we are willing for them to support us.
“They are already supporting us considerably in so many areas such as education, polio and rebuilding of the North-east. They are very supportive of this country and we want to continue to deepen the relationship so that we can get concessionary funding that we need for these projects and give them the assurance that the reforms we are pursuing are working.”
Sale of National Assets
The minister also addressed the issue of the federal government’s consideration of the sale of national assets, stating: “I think there are a lot of assets that are being considered. There are some unused assets that are just lying idle and people have come and said these things you are not using, can we lease it from you?
“I think when you are looking for money, some things that government is sitting on and we don’t have money to rehabilitate them, it makes sense for us to unlock those things as it will bring money to the economy during these difficult times so that we can move forward.
“I don’t think we have gotten to the stage where we say it’s this or that asset. I think the conversation now is should we just continue borrowing or now that things have gotten to this stage, should we start to dislodge some under-utilised assets.
“And this debate is not limited to us alone: Saudi Arabia is selling some of its oil assets. So if you sell assets and use that to finance other assets, which we are going to give you more, then I don’t have problem with that.”
Adeosun added that deciding on whether to lease or concession the assets, or their outright sale would depend on the nature of the assets in question.
“There are some assets that you can lease and there are some which you may need to divest from. Investors will need to look at the risks and pricing accordingly. We can sell to the Nigerian people or the Pension Fund and you can also list these assets on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE).
“So there are different methodologies for disposing of the assets and raising funds,” the minister explained.
Quantum of Borrowing
Adeosun also spoke on whether or not the sale of some national assets would determine the size of government borrowings, saying: “Yes, we have done a Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Debt Strategy Plan, but we feel that the infrastructure challenges that we face are very serious.
“Accordingly, the kind of money that we need, we can’t borrow because when you have an accumulated deficit, you need to look for the money that will sustain what you are doing for the next three to four years.
“So that is what we are looking at and adopting a more strategic approach so that over time, we will borrow less and which of course is good in the long run.”
Getting Out of Recession
In response to a question as to whether the country would begin to get out of the recession by the next quarter, the minister said although she might not predict if the timeline was realistic, she was confident that the economy would start to grow soon.
“I don’t want to predict when we will get out of recession, but let me tell you that we would start to grow and that is how you get out of a recession because of the stimulus that we are providing.
“It may take longer than we would like but we would definitely get out of it. We are already seeing some positive signs around agriculture and solid minerals and with what we are trying to do in other sectors, I’m sure we will get out of it,” she assured her interviewers.
FG, States, Others Meet
On the heels of the minister’s interview at the weekend, state governors, ministers and policy wonks from the federal, states and local governments across the country, among others, will tomorrow converge on Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, to examine available options on shoring up government revenue streams, especially in an environment of dwindling earnings from crude oil.
The gathering, which will take place under the auspices of the National Council on Finance and Economic Development (NACOFED) 2016 Conference, will be hosted by the finance minister.
The conference, according to a statement from the Ministry of Finance, will attract a diverse group of participants, including ministers, governors, state commissioners for finance and budget, as well as captains of industry from the private sector.
NACOFED was created as a forum for members to discuss current socio-economic issues, and proffer a way forward for the Nigerian economy on fiscal and monetary policies.
The statement issued by the media aide to the minister, Mr. Festus Akanbi, disclosed that the conference would be declared open by the Ogun State Governor, Senator Ibikunle Amosun.
The statement also quoted Adeosun as stating that the policy thrust of the current administration informed the theme of this year’s conference.
She said her ministry has continued to discharge its numerous functions through well-articulated initiatives and policies to improve revenue generation, blocking leakages, tackling wastage, and obtaining best value for money in government expenditure.
Some of the topics to be discussed include: “The non-oil sector as a sustainable alternative in enhancing revenue generation” to be delivered by the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Dr. Kayode Fayemi.
Others include: “Harnessing Customs and Excise Duties for Improved Revenue Generation” to be delivered by the Comptroller General of Customs, Col. Hammed Ali (rtd); and “Tax as a Source of Improved Revenue to the Federation Account” to be led by the Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Mr. Babatunde Fowler.
Business executives and economic analysts expected at the event include Managing Director, Guaranty Trust Bank, Mr. Segun Agbaje; Group General Manager, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Dr. M.K. Baru; Managing Director, Financial Derivatives Limited, Mr. Bismarck Rewane; and a former Director General, Budget Office, Mr. Bode Augusto, among others.
AfDB President to Meet Govt Officials
Meanwhile, the President of AfDB, Adesina, will arrive Abuja today for a three-day official visit to discuss measures on stimulating for the Nigerian economy.
During his time in the country, he will meet with President Muhammadu Buhari, Adeosun and the Governor of the CBN, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, to chart ways to turn around the economy.
A statement obtained on AfDB’s website yesterday, said Adesina would be in Nigeria on his first official visit to the country since his appointment in 2015.
According to the statement, the AfDB president will meet government/policy makers, the private sector, and development partners to discuss the challenges facing Nigeria and highlight AfDB’s commitment to further strengthen its partnership with the country.
He said: “I am very much looking forward to my first official visit to Nigeria as President of the AfDB. Nigeria is a vital shareholder and partner for the Bank. The Nigerian economy is in a critical phase and in these difficult times, we have to make sure we all work together to tackle the challenges facing Africa’s largest economy.”
Adesina added: “The visit aims to advance cooperation across a wide range of areas, including how best Nigeria can respond to its current challenges.”
In Abuja, Adesina will hold series of meetings with the leadership of Nigeria, including the president, the Minister of Finance, and CBN governor.
The statement added that the AfDB president would take part in roundtable discussions with philanthropic leaders and hold discussions with the private sector, as well as development partners.
Adesina will also receive an award from the Nigerian Economic Society (NSE).
“The AfDB has a robust partnership with Nigeria, which is one of the Bank’s founders. Nigeria, the biggest shareholder, is also one of the largest beneficiaries of AfDB’s assistance.
“In 2016, the Bank has so far lent US$524,969 million to Nigeria. As of September 2016, the Bank had invested about US$7 billion in the Nigerian economy since it began its operations in the country in 1967,” the statement said.
AfDB is working closely with Nigeria to support its various sectors, including agriculture, infrastructure, energy, transport, water and sanitation, the Bank added.
COVID-19: Indian Travellers Regains Entry Into Nigeria
The federal government of Nigeria on Monday said travellers from India will no longer be denied entry into Nigeria as the country has been removed from the list of flagged countries.
In May, in an effort to curb the spread of the global health pandemic, the federal government had banned travellers from Brazil, India and Turkey from visiting the country.
Speaking on Monday during the national briefing of the presidential steering committee (PSC) on COVID-19, Boss Mustapha, secretary to the government of the federation (SGF), said the situation in the Asian county has improved.
“The Global cases recorded continues to decline to about 4m cases weekly, although it is less, compared to last year and the situation calls for caution because we are not out of the woods yet. Africa and Nigeria in particular, continue to record rising cases and lots of fatalities,” Mustapha said.
“This can really be curtailed and reduced minimally if we adhere strictly to the NPIs. I recognize the fact that people are fatigued and tired but let me encourage all Nigerians not to give up. We all need to come together to defeat this dreaded disease so we can return to our normal life.
“The most potent way of getting out of this situation is through vaccines, which science and research has presented to us. I call on every eligible person to come out and be vaccinated. There are various choices now. We have AstraZeneca, Moderna, Johnson and Johnson and we expect Pfizer to be delivered very soon. There will be enough vaccines to go around soon. By the second quarter of 2022, we would have received about 52 million doses of the vaccines.
“To ease travels for fully vaccinated Nigerians, we are exploring the principles of reciprocity between Nigeria and other nations. For the time being, Nigerians are advised to always carry their vaccination card details or barcode on their electronic devices for easy access especially for those travelling outside the country.
“Compliance with protocols laid down for quarantine to ensure control remains a source of worry to the PSC. The need to review the protocol has become expedient to align with existing global protocols and realities. On this note, the PSC will adopt a sustainable model and policy that will be unveiled soon. To begin with, India has been removed from the list of flagged countries in view of improved situation in that country.”
“On this note, the PSC will adopt a sustainable model and policy that will be unveiled soon”, he said.
Osagie Ehanire, minister of health said evidence has so far shown that the Delta strain is already dominant in Nigeria.
He warned that though the third wave of the pandemic may appear to be leveling out because there have been no catastrophic increases in infections and fatalities, it is not wise to assume that the threat is gone, especially as cases are fluctuating and have to be identified by genomic sequencing.
The minister assured that even though there is a 25 percent shortfall in CICAX supply, Nigeria will not run low on vaccines.
Ehanire further noted that there were reports of new coronavirus mutations circulating in other countries, and assured that government will monitor with all tools available to respond appropriately.
Also speaking, Faisal Shuaib, executive director of, National Primary Healthcare Development Agency noted that vaccine cards were becoming a requirement across the country.
He, therefore, warned against any attempt to produce/procure and sell fake COVID-19 vaccination cards.
“Anyone who ventures into this would be apprehended and made to face the law. This is a criminal offense, in which both the buyer and seller would be prosecuted.
“We, therefore, urge all Nigerians to report any suspected attempt by any person or group of persons to buy or sell a COVID-19 vaccination card to us via our call centre line on 0700 220 1122, any of our social media handles (Facebook and Instagram), at the nearest police station or any other law enforcement agency. No one needs to cut corners on COVID-19 vaccination.
“The vaccines are free, and the vaccination cards are given free of charge at any of our designated health facilities after your vaccination,” Shuaib said.
South Africa Plans To Introduce Covid Passport
South Africa has announced plans to introduce a vaccine passport amid widespread mistrust of the Covid-19 vaccine in the continent’s most affected country.
President Cyril Ramaphosa made the announcement in a televised address to the nation and assured that the immunization of the adult population was a necessary prerequisite to fully reopen the economy and avoid a fourth wave of infections, while the number of cases has dropped sharply in the country.
In two weeks, we will “provide more information on a system of ‘vaccine passports’ that can be used as proof of vaccination for various purposes and events,” he said without providing further details.
He added that the “sustained decline in infections (…) over the past few weeks” would, however, allow for a relaxation of the restrictive measures starting Monday.
The nightly curfew will be extended by one hour, to 11 p.m., and the limits on gatherings will be raised.
Restrictions on the sale of alcohol will also be eased, although protective masks will still be required in places open to the public.
The peak of a third stubborn wave due to the Delta variant is now over. Over the past seven days, the average number of new daily infections has dropped 29 percent from the previous week and 48 percent from the week before, Ramaphosa said.
“Our most urgent task is to vaccinate our population,” he said, noting that vaccine supply “is no longer a constraint.”
“If many people are not vaccinated (…) the risk of new and more dangerous variants emerging is much greater,” he warned.
After delays in the supply and distribution of doses, the vaccination campaign is now struggling to take off because of skepticism about the vaccine, especially among men.
To date, just over seven million people have been fully vaccinated in South Africa, with more than a quarter of adults have received at least one dose.
The country’s goal is to vaccinate 40 million South Africans, or about two-thirds of the population, by next March.
Authorities have recorded more than 2.8 million cases of the coronavirus since the start of the pandemic, and 84,877 deaths, making it the worst affected country in Africa by the pandemic.
South African scientists are monitoring a new local variant with an unusually high mutation rate, dubbed C.1.2, although its presence is so far marginal among new cases detected in the country.
FG Launches GEEP 2.0 Plans To Lift 100M Nigerians Out Of Poverty
The Federal Government of Nigeria on Tuesday in Abuja inaugurated the restructured Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme (GEEP) now known as GEEP 2.0. to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty.
Hajiya Sadiya Umar Farouq, the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, speaking during the inauguration said the programme was a veritable tool designed to end poverty in many ways.
She said that GEEP was one of the components of the National Social Investment Programme (NSIP).
According to her, the initial GEEP targets the unbanked poor and vulnerable but skilled population that has always been left out on credit delivery programmes and is directed at providing soft and affordable loans to finance their businesses.
“The GEEP is innovatively targeted and delivered under three unique products – the TraderMoni for marginalised youths, The MarketMoni targets vulnerable women, and the FarmerMoni specifically focuses on rural farmers.
“With President Muhammdu Buhari’s gracious approval of expansion to provide loans to an additional one million beneficiaries with emphasis to targeting smallholder farmers in the year 2020/2021, the GEEP has been restructured and is being flagged-off today as GEEP 2.0.
“The GEEP 2.0 is structured to effectively deliver soft loans and skills to a wide range of unemployed citizens including persons living with disability, marginalised women and unemployed youths amongst other vulnerable groups in our society.
“I wish to state here that the GEEP 2.0 is well-coordinated and has an implementation model that accommodates representation at the Federal, State and Local Government levels,” Farouq said.
Farouq said that part of the new strategies include an increase in the loan portfolio of TraderMon/ and Market Moni loans from N10, 000 to N50,000, while the FarmerMoni is now N300,000.
“There is also the provision of the value chain and creation of digital marketplace (E-platform) for beneficiaries to sell their products.
“In addition, there is a digital integration and coordination platform along with a strong and centralised monitoring and evaluation system aimed at enhancing loans recovery.’’
Speaking, the Minister of Youths and Sports, Mr Sunday Dare who also represented the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Boss Mustapha said he was delighted at the inauguration of the GEEP 2.0.
Dare said whenever he saw other ministries that helped in reducing the burden of youths unemployment from his ministry, he was happy, adding that youths were the biggest beneficiaries of NSIP.
Similarly, Mr Clem Agba, the State Minister of Financial, Budget and National Planning said his ministry had been at the forefront of ensuring human dignity and protecting households from poverty.
Meanwhile, the Minister of Women Affairs, Mrs Pauline Tallen said women and youths were always affected by humanitarian crisis and poverty.
Tallen said that the GEEP 2.0 would now help the poor and marginalised women and youths who did not have collateral to secure loans.
Also, the Minister of State for Education, Mr Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba said that the inauguration of the GEEP 2.0 was an indication to show that President Buhari meant it when he said he wanted to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in 10 years.
“It is evident that as we collaborate and corporate with all hands on deck, we shall achieve the ultimate objectives of the programme.”
Dr Garba Abari, the Director-General, National Orientation Agency (NOA) said the agency would work with state programme managers and focal persons toward the success of the NSIP.
Meanwhile, the Team Lead of the GEEP 2.0, Ms Zainab Musawa said that intended beneficiaries would be effectively supervised and monitored by desk officers in all 774 local government areas, state programme managers and the ministry in partnership with NOA.
“Essentially, GEEP 2.0 is a continuation of the Buhari administration’s laudable empowerment drive committed to the upliftment of oppressed Nigerians and we hope the programme will engender job creation.”
Ms Hadiza Hambuza, a representative of Access Bank Plc said the bank would work with the beneficiaries to achieve the objectives of the programme.
The event attracted officials from Presidency, National Assembly, NEMA, EFCC, FCTA Disability Commission among others.
CBN Goes After Abokifx, Freezes Bank Accounts for Publishing Black Market Rates
Union Bank Announces the Appointment of Aisha Abubakar as Independent Non-Executive Director
Releaf Secures $4.2M in Seed Funding Plans To Drive Industrialisation of Food Processing in Africa
Government4 weeks ago
Buhari Approves Review of 368 Grazing Reserves in 25 States
Naira2 weeks ago
Naira Plunges Further, Exchanges at N530 to U.S Dollar
Fintech4 weeks ago
CBN Granted Order To Freeze Trove, Bamboo, Others Accounts For 180 days
Fintech4 weeks ago
Bamboo, Trove, Risevest React To CBN Freeze Order, Assures Investors ‘Your Funds Are Safe and Secured’
News2 weeks ago
Buhari Terminates Appointment of Power and Agriculture Ministers
Economy3 weeks ago
Nigeria Economy Grows 5% In Second Quarter, Its Third Consecutive Growth
Energy3 weeks ago
NNPC Made A Net Profit of N287B in 2020 – Buhari
Government4 weeks ago
EU To Work With Taliban Only If Human Rights Are Respected