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Buhari Seeks Approval for $30bn Foreign Borrowing, N180bn Budget Virement

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Muhammadu Buhari
  • Buhari Seeks Approval for $30bn Foreign Borrowing, N180bn Budget Virement

President Muhammadu Buhari has written to the National Assembly to seek approval to borrow $29.96 billion under the External Borrowing (Rolling) Plan to address the infrastructure deficit in the health, education, water resources and other sectors.

The president is also seeking the approval of the legislature to vire N180.8 billion from the funds appropriated for special intervention (recurrent and capital) in the 2019 budget, to fund critical recurrent and capital items.

Buhari’s letter, which was read at plenary yesterday by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, indicated that the $29.96 billion is for proposed projects and programmes loan of $11.274 billion, $10.686 billion for special national infrastructure projects, Eurobonds of $4.5 billion, and federal government budget support of $3.5 billion.

The president said the projects and programmes under the external borrowing plan were selected based on positive technical economic evaluations, as well as the contributions they would make to the socio-economic development of the country, including employment generation, poverty reduction, and protection of the nation’s vulnerable population.

Some of the funds from the external borrowing plan would be deployed to emergency projects in the North-east, particularly following the recent outbreak of polio after the de-listing of Nigeria from polio endemic countries.

The World Bank has provided a loan of $125 million for the federal government to procure vaccines and other ancillary facilities to stop the polio outbreak, and also provided $450 million to assist in the reconstruction and rehabilitation of the North-east, the president disclosed.

The entire projects for the North-east, according to the president’s letter, are: polio eradication support and routine immunisation ($125 million), community and social development projects ($75 million), Nigeria States and Health Programme Investment Project ($125 million), State Education Programme Investment Project ($100 million), Nigeria Youth Employment and Social Support Project ($100 million), and Fadama III Project ($50 million).

“Given the emergency nature of these facilities and the need to consolidate the peace and return the region to normalcy, and considering the time it would take to get National Assembly’s approval, it has become inevitable to request for the National Assembly leadership’s approval, pending the consideration and approval of the 2016-2018 borrowing plan by the National Assembly to enable us disburse these funds immediately,” Buhari said in the letter.

Similarly, in the letter seeking virement of funds within the 2016 budget, the president provided a breakdown of items to which the N180.8 billion would be allocated.

He sought the virement of N166.6 billion (for recurrent expenditure) from the Special Intervention (recurrent) for which the sum of N300 billion was appropriated, which now has a balance of N275 billion, and N14.2 billion (for capital expenditure) from capital in the federal government special intervention programme for which N200 billion was appropriated, which has a balance of N145 billion.

A breakdown of the proposed expenditure is: Public Service Wage Adjustment – N71,800,215,270, Service Wide Vote: Contingency – N1,200,000,000, Service Wide Vote: Margin for Increase in Cost – N2,000,000,000, Ministry of Interior: Cadet Feeding – Police Academy, Wudil, Kano – N932,400,000, and Amnesty Programme – N35,000,000,000.

Other items are internal operations of the Armed Forces – N5,205,930,270, Service Wide Vote: Operation Lafiya Dole – N13,933,093,000, Ministry of Youth and Sports Development: NYSC – N19,792,018,400, Ministry of Foreign Affairs: Foreign Missions – N14,667,230,014, and Ministry of Education: Augmentation of Meal Subsidy/Direct Teaching and Lab Cost – N900,000.

The letter indicated that N1.2 billion was proposed to fund the salary shortfall in the Public Complaints Commission, while N12,708,367,476 was proposed for the capital budget of the Nigerian Air Force, and N1.5 billion for capital supplementation: Presidential Initiative on North East (PINE).

“You may also wish to be informed that the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing has also requested for virement of the sum of N300 million appropriated under the 2016 Appropriation of the Transmission Company of Nigeria for the construction of a 132 KVA substation at Gwaram, Jigawa State with Project code no. TCN 01B023829 to the construction of two 60MVA 132/33 in Gagarawa, Jigawa State.

“However it was observed that while the line to be vired from exists in the budget book published by the National Assembly, the lines to be vired to, do not exist. It is therefore recommended that the sum of N300 million meant for the construction of the 132 KVA substation at Gwaram, Jigawa State, be vired to budget line TCN 01B021775 for the reconstruction of fallen transmission towers replacement, replacement of glass insulators, etc, which has an appropriation of N4,880,000,000,” Buhari said in the letter.

Dogara, after reading out the letter, said that the requests of the president and the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) would be discussed and debated by the House on Thursday.

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

Government

COVID-19 Vaccine: African Export-Import Bank (Afrexim) to Purchase 270 Million Doses for Nigeria, Other African Nations

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African Export-Import Bank (Afrexim) Approves $2 Billion for the Purchase of 270 million Doses for African Nations

African Export-Import Bank (Afrexim) said it has approved $2 billion for the purchase of 270 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines for African nations, including Nigeria.

Prof. Benedict Oramah, the President of the Bank, disclosed this at a virtual Africa Soft Power Series held on Tuesday.

He, however, stated that the lender is looking to raise more funds for the COVID-19 vaccines’ acquisition.

He said: “The African Union knows that unless you put the virus away, your economy can’t come back. If Africa didn’t do anything, it would become a COVID-19 continent when other parts of the world have already moved on.
“Recall that it took seven years during the heat of HIV for them to come to Africa after 12 million people had died.

“With the assistance of the AU, we were able to get 270 million vaccines and financing need of about $2 billion. Afreximbank then went ahead to secure the $2 billion. But that money for the 270 million doses could only add 15 per cent to the 20 per cent that Covax was bringing.

He added that this is not the time to wait for handouts or free vaccines as other countries will naturally sort themselves out before African nations.

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Government

China Calls for Better China-U.S. Relations

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China Calls for China-U.S. Relations

Senior Chinese diplomat Wang Yi said on Monday the United States and China could work together on issues like climate change and the coronavirus pandemic if they repaired their damaged bilateral relationship.

Wang, a Chinese state councillor and foreign minister, said Beijing stood ready to reopen constructive dialogue with Washington after relations between the two countries sank to their lowest in decades under former president Donald Trump.

Wang called on Washington to remove tariffs on Chinese goods and abandon what he said was an irrational suppression of the Chinese tech sector, steps he said would create the “necessary conditions” for cooperation.

Before Wang spoke at a forum sponsored by the foreign ministry, officials played footage of the “ping-pong diplomacy” of 1972 when an exchange of table tennis players cleared the way for then U.S. President Richard Nixon to visit China.

Wang, a Chinese state councillor and foreign minister, said Beijing stood ready to reopen constructive dialogue with Washington after relations between the two countries sank to their lowest in decades under former president Donald Trump.

Wang called on Washington to remove tariffs on Chinese goods and abandon what he said was an irrational suppression of the Chinese tech sector, steps he said would create the “necessary conditions” for cooperation.

Before Wang spoke at a forum sponsored by the foreign ministry, officials played footage of the “ping-pong diplomacy” of 1972 when an exchange of table tennis players cleared the way for then U.S. President Richard Nixon to visit China.

Wang urged Washington to respect China’s core interests, stop “smearing” the ruling Communist Party, stop interfering in Beijing’s internal affairs and stop “conniving” with separatist forces for Taiwan’s independence.

“Over the past few years, the United States basically cut off bilateral dialogue at all levels,” Wang said in prepared remarks translated into English.

“We stand ready to have candid communication with the U.S. side, and engage in dialogues aimed at solving problems.”

Wang pointed to a recent call between Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Joe Biden as a positive step.

Washington and Beijing have clashed on multiple fronts including trade, accusations of human rights crimes against the Uighur Muslim minorities in the Xinjiang region and Beijing’s territorial claims in the resources-rich South China Sea.

The Biden administration has, however, signalled it will maintain pressure on Beijing. Biden has voiced concern about Beijing’s “coercive and unfair” trade practices and endorsed of a Trump administration determination that China has committed genocide in Xinjiang.

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Government

U.S. Supreme Court Allows Release of Trump Tax Returns

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President Trump Signs Executive Order In Oval Office Of The White House

U.S. Supreme Court Allows Release of Trump Tax Returns

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday paved the way for a New York City prosecutor to obtain former President Donald Trump’s tax returns and other financial records as part of a criminal investigation, a blow to his quest to conceal details of his finances.

The justices without comment rebuffed Trump’s request to put on hold an Oct. 7 lower court ruling directing the former Republican president’s longtime accounting firm, Mazars USA, to comply with a subpoena to turn over the materials to a grand jury convened by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, a Democrat.

“The work continues,” Vance said in a statement issued after the court’s action.

Vance had previously said in a letter to Trump’s lawyers that his office would be free to immediately enforce the subpoena if the justices rejected Trump’s request.

A lawyer for Trump did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Supreme Court, which has a 6-3 conservative majority included three Trump appointees, had already ruled once in the dispute, last July rejecting Trump’s broad argument that he was immune from criminal probes as a sitting president.

Unlike all other recent U.S. presidents, Trump refused during his four years in office to make his tax returns public. The data could provide details on his wealth and the activities of his family real-estate company, the Trump Organization.

Trump, who left office on Jan. 20 after being defeated in his Nov. 3 re-election bid by Democrat Joe Biden, continues to face an array of legal issues concerning his personal and business conduct.

Vance issued a subpoena to Mazars in August 2019 seeking Trump’s corporate and personal tax returns from 2011 to 2018. Trump’s lawyers sued to block the subpoena, arguing that as a sitting president, Trump had absolute immunity from state criminal investigations.

The Supreme Court in its July ruling rejected those arguments but said Trump could raise other objections to the subpoena. Trump’s lawyers then argued before lower courts that the subpoena was overly broad and amounted to political harassment, but U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero in August and the New York-based 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in October rejected those claims.

Vance’s investigation, which began more than two years ago, had focused on hush money payments that the president’s former lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen made before the 2016 election to two women – adult-film actress Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal – who said they had sexual encounters with Trump.

In recent court filings, Vance has suggested that the probe is now broader and could focus on potential bank, tax and insurance fraud, as well as falsification of business records.

In separate litigation, the Democratic-led U.S. House of Representatives was seeking to subpoena similar records. The Supreme Court in July sent that matter back to lower courts for further review.

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