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MDAs Take Over Assets Sales From BPE

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  • MDAs Take Over Assets Sales From BPE

The Federal Government has sidelined the Bureau of Public Enterprises in the process of giving out key assets and infrastructure in several critical sectors of the economy, including aviation, petroleum and railways to private operators as concessions.

Investigation by our correspondent showed that a number of Ministries, Departments and Agencies of the government had sought and obtained approval from President Muhammadu Buhari to handle the concession of assets in their domain rather than channel the process through the government’s privatisation agency.

However, some of the assets slated for concession by the affected MDAs are already listed for commercialisation, sale or concession in the BPE Act. These include the airports, the Nigeria Railway Corporation and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation.

In the Ministry of Aviation, for instance, the Minister of State for Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, recently constituted the Project Steering Committee and Project Delivery Committee to handle the concession of some airports to private investors. The BPE is not represented in the committees.

Sirika is the chairman of the Project Steering Committee, which has the responsibility to provide the general direction and steer the course of public-private partnership project concessions in the aviation sector.

Inaugurating the committee, the minister said the driving force behind the Federal Government’s resolve to concede the airports was overriding national interest in ensuring the establishment and sustenance of world-class standards in both infrastructural development and service delivery.

Other members of the committee are the ministry’s permanent secretary; relevant chief executive officers; director-general of the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission, director of planning in the Ministry of Transportation; representatives of the ministries of Justice, Budget and National Planning, and Finance, and the deputy director of the PPP unit in the ministry, who serves as the secretary.

The Project Delivery Committee, which has the ministry’s director of planning as chairman, is mandated to monitor and evaluate, as well as carry out impact assessment of PPPs/concessions to ascertain value for money on investment; make recommendations to the steering committee on matters of policy reappraisal, review or changes, as may be necessary.

The parent Ministry of Transportation, which is in charge of the railway transportation, has also been in negotiations for the concession of some rail lines.

Investigation by our correspondent showed that although the BPE was represented in the committee put together to handle the concession process, its proposal for competitive bidding was rejected.

It was learnt that the ministry preferred to negotiate with few identified companies rather than open a bidding process that would be “winding and long.”

The Federal Government had recently announced that General Electric would take over the management of the Abuja-Kano rail line under a concession plan between January and March 2017.

At the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, the NNPC, working in collaboration with the ministry, has also sought and received approval for the concession of the nation’s four refineries.

The spokesperson for the NNPC, Mr. Garba-Deen Mohammed, who confirmed this in a telephone interview with our correspondent, however, said there was no plan for the sale of the Nigeria LNG Limited, where the NNPC has majority shareholding.

Mohammed said what the corporation had received was an approval for the rehabilitation and upgrade of the refineries, which would be handled through concession.

According to the ministry, about $1.8bn is required for the rehabilitation of the four refineries.

Investigation by our correspondent also showed that the BPE’s proposal for part sale of the refineries was rejected.

It was gathered that the agency had proposed equity sale of 51 per cent if the government was interested in retaining interest in the refineries instead of sinking funds that were not available into rehabilitating them.

However, the NNPC spokesperson said the government would not spend money on the rehabilitation of the refineries, adding that while it would maintain ownership of the refineries, private operators would be invited to repair and upgrade them with their money, which they would be allowed to recover later.

Mohammed said although the corporation had received proposals towards this end, the process would start when it was advertised.

“We have received proposals. They are waiting for adverts. Once that is done, the refineries should be in good shape within a period of 12 months,” he explained.

Our correspondent also learnt that the failure of the government to constitute the National Council on Privatisation 17 months after it came to power emphasised the negligence of the privatisation agency.

The NCP supervises the BPE and there are decisions that the latter cannot take without the approval of council, which is usually chaired by the Vice President.

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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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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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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