- Outstanding Claims for SIWES Now N8.8bn
The Director-General, Industrial Training Fund, Joseph Ari, on Tuesday lamented the huge funding gap for the implementation of the Student Industrial Work Experience Scheme.
Ari stated this in Abuja at the opening session of a meeting with the SIWES regulatory agencies such as the National Universities Commission, National Board for Technical Education, and the National Council for Colleges of Education.
The SIWES is a skill training programme established in 1973 and designed to expose and prepare students of universities and other tertiary institutions for the industrial work situation they are likely to meet after graduation.
Ari said the funding gap had created a huge backlog of about N8.8bn, adding that the outstanding payments might throw the programme in jeopardy.
The DG explained that while the number of universities that enrolled for the programme had increased from 11 in 1973 to 395 presently, the level of funding had been depleting.
For instance, he said in 2010 the sum of N2.4bn was budgeted for the scheme, while actual amount released was N1bn, thus leaving a funding gap of N1.4bn.
For 2011, 2012 and 2013, he put the budgeted amounts at N2.3bn, N2.88bn and N1.19bn, with releases of N1.7bn, N911m and N1.1bn, respectively.
For the 2014 and 2015 fiscal periods, he said the sums of N2.3bn and N2.59bn were budgeted for the scheme, with only N1.31bn and N1.6bn released.
Ari stated that in 2016, the scheme had a budgetary allocation of N2.85bn, out of which no amount had been released with less than three weeks to the end of the year.
He said, “We have about 32 programmes in the SIWES scheme and the schools that are involved in the scheme are about 395 cut across universities, polytechnics and colleges of education.
“While the number of participants of the scheme is rising every day, the commensurate financing is not there and the funding has continued to deplete owing to other commitments of the government, and this has given us a bad name, because every year we keep on getting backlog of funding.”
The DG added that the meeting was convened with the agencies to find a sustainable way in providing funding for the scheme, adding that the current economic situation in the country necessitated a need to review the funding model.
A representative of the NCCE, Dr. Amy Shalangwa, said one of the positions to be put forward by the agency was that parents of students benefiting from the SIWES should assist in funding the programme.
This, according to her, will go a long way in reducing the funding gap that is almost putting the programme in jeopardy.
Gold Gained Ahead of Joe Biden Inauguration 2021
Gold price rose from one and a half month low on Tuesday ahead of President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration on Wednesday.
The precious metal, largely regarded as a haven asset by investors, edged up by 0.2 percent to $1,844.52 per ounce on Tuesday, up from $1,802.61 on Monday.
He said, “The key factor appears to be the (U.S.) currency.”
As expected, a change in administration comes with the change in economic policies, especially taking into consideration the peculiarities of the present situation. In fact, even though Biden, Janet Yellen and the rest of the new cabinet are expected to go all out on additional stimulus with the support of Democrats controlled Houses, economic uncertainties with rising COVID-19 cases and slow vaccine distribution remained a huge concern.
Also, the effectiveness of the vaccines can not be ascertained until wider rollout.
Still, which policy would be halted or sustained by the incoming administration remained a concern that has forced many investors to once again flee other assets for Gold ahead of tomorrow’s inauguration.
Crude Oil Holds Steady Above $55 Per Barrel on Tuesday
Brent Crude oil, against which Nigerian crude oil is priced, rose from $54.46 per barrel on Monday to $55.27 per barrel as of 9:03 am Nigerian time on Tuesday.
Last week, Brent crude oil rose to 11 months high of $57.38 per barrel before pulling back on rising COVID-19 cases and lockdowns in key global economies like the United Kingdom, Euro-Area, China, etc.
While OPEC has left 2021 oil demand unchanged and President-elect Joe Biden has announced a $1.9 trillion stimulus package, experts are saying the rising number of new cases of COVID-19 amid poor vaccine distribution could drag on growth and demand for oil in 2021.
On Friday, Dan Yergin, vice-chairman at IHS Markit, said in addition to the stimulus package “There are two other things that are going with it … one is of course, vaccinations — in the sense that eventually this crisis is going to end, and maybe by the spring, lockdowns will be over.”
“The other thing is what Saudi Arabia did. This is the third time Saudi Arabia has made a sudden change in policy in less than a year, and this one was to announce (the) 1 million barrel a day cut — partly because they are worried about the impact of the surge in virus that’s occurring,” he said.
Also, the stimulus being injected into the United States economy could spur huge Shale production and disrupt OPEC and allies’ efforts at balancing the global oil market in 2021.
Crude Oil Pulled Back Despite Joe Biden Stimulus
Crude oil pulled back on Friday despite the $1.9 trillion stimulus package announced by U.S President-elect, Joe Biden.
Brent crude oil, against which Nigeria’s oil is priced, pulled back from $57.38 per barrel on Wednesday to $55.52 per barrel on Friday in spite of the huge stimulus package announced on Thursday.
On Thursday, OPEC, in its latest outlook for the year, said uncertainties remain high in 2021 with the number of COVID-19 new cases on the rise.
OPEC said, “Uncertainties remain high going forward with the main downside risks being issues related to COVID-19 containment measures and the impact of the pandemic on consumer behavior.”
“These will also include how many countries are adapting lockdown measures, and for how long. At the same time, quicker vaccination plans and a recovery in consumer confidence provide some upside optimism.”
Governments across Europe have announced tighter and longer coronavirus lockdowns, with vaccinations not expected to have a significant impact for the next few months.
“The complex remains in pause mode, a development that should not be surprising given the magnitude of the oil price gains that have been developing for some 2-1/2 months,” Jim Ritterbusch, president of Ritterbusch and Associates, said.
Still, OPEC left its crude oil projections unchanged for the year. The oil cartel expected global oil demand to increase by 5.9 million barrels per day year on year to an average of 95.9 million per day in 2020.
But also OPEC expects a recent rally and stimulus to boost U.S. Shale crude oil production in the year, a projection Investors King experts expect to hurt OPEC strategy in 2021.
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