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Senate Approves President’s Virement of N213 Billion in Budget

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  • Senate Approves President’s Virement of N213 Billion in Budget

The Senate yesterday approved a total of N213 billion as virement from the 2016 budget to take care of more urgent expenditure.

President Muhammadu Buhari had last month approached the Senate to approve a virement to the tune of N180 billion in the budget.

He had said the N180 billion would be moved from money already appropriated for special intervention programmes, both recurrent and capital for funding of critical recurrent and capital items.

The president explained the request arose due to a number of reasons, which include shortfalls in provisions for personnel costs; inadequate provision ab initio for some items like the amnesty programme; continuing requirements to sustain the war against insurgency; and depreciation of the naira.

However, in approving the president’s request yesterday, the Senate increased the amount to N213 billion.

The Senate also constituted a six-member ad hoc committee to investigate the alleged abuse, misuse, under-remittance or non-remittance and other fraudulent practices in the collection, accounting, of internally generated revenue by all revenue generating agencies of government from 2012 to 2016.

The committee was directed to conclude the investigation and submit its report to the Senate in six weeks.

The setting up of the committee, followed the adoption of a motion tagged “Urgent Need to Investigate Revenue Generation agencies for Non-Remittance of Generated Revenue” sponsored by Senator Solomon Adeola (APC, Lagos West).

The investigation came barely two weeks after the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun accused revenue-generating agencies of diverting revenues they had generated.

President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki who named Adeola as chairman of the ad hoc committee lamented that revenue agencies generated over N1.5 trillion last year, but could only deliver less than N500 billion.

Saraki said: “As I keep on hammering, independent revenue and non-oil revenue are very important areas of our budget. This independent revenue is 37 per cent. You remember that last year it was almost N1.5 trillion and I am being told now that this year it is likely to come down to N500 billion because they could not meet the target.

“The inability to meet the target is not that they do not have the capacity to meet the target. The problem is that there is too much abuse on these operating surpluses where people spend up to the last naira in all. I think the best way forward is for us to address this issue in blocking these leakages and I believe that in constituting the ad hoc committee, we would just take the best hands and still bring people from Finance and Public Accounts Committees.”

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

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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Ahmed Kuru, Hassan Confirm as AMCON, NDIC MDs

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Ahmed Kuru, Hassan Confirm as AMCON, NDIC MDs

The Senate has confirmed both Ahmed Kuru and Bello Hassan as the Managing Directors of the Asset Management Corporation of Nigerian (AMCON) and the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation, respectively.

The two were confirmed after careful consideration of two separate reports of the Senate Committee on Banking, Insurance and Other Financial Institutions.

Also, the Senate confirmed Ebelechukwu Uneze and Aminu Ismail as executive directors of AMCON; and Muhammad Ibrahim as Executive Director of the NIDC.

Senator Uba Sani, the Chairman of the Committee on Banking, Insurance and Other Financial Institutions, said Kuru was confirmed as the MD of the AMCON in 2015.

He said, “The Corporation saw tremendous and tangible transformation and performance in effectively discharging its mandate during his first tenure through the introduction of new policies and frameworks.

“Strategically under his leadership, AMCON partnered investors and operators for value-enhanced exit of its portfolio companies, as well as the introduction and implementation of the Asset Management Partners scheme to assist with the resolution of small loans which in turn created over 3000 jobs both directly and indirectly.

“He also championed the creation of the Asset Tracing Unit which has led to more extensive discovery of assets and subsequent recovery of indebtedness while simultaneously having proactive negotiations with debt holders to achieve prompt and optimal settlements,” the lawmaker said.

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