- Solid Minerals Sector Yields Only N2bn in 2016
Agriculture, mines and steel present the quickest means of diversifying Nigeria’s mono-economy, according to experts. Running with this idea, the Federal Government has emphasised mines and steel at every possible juncture. Despite this emphasis, the sector has only boosted the Federation Account by N2bn in 2016.
The minerals and mines sector has contributed N2bn to the Federation Account in 2016, according to information obtained from the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development.
Compared to the role expected of the sector in a diversified economy, the revenue made from the sector for sharing by the three tiers of government is negligible.
The Federal Government had never hidden the fact that it looks up to the solid minerals sector and agriculture for the much needed diversification of the economy, given the significant reduction in the earnings from the main base of the nation’s economy, oil.
In realisation of the nation’s need for diversification, the Muhammadu Buhari-led government has continued to emphasis the reed to exploit the solid minerals sector in order to increase the earning capacity of the country.
The government signified its interest in the solid minerals sector in the articulation of the 2016 budget. It increased the capital budget of the sector seven times, from N1bn in 2015 to N7bn in 2017.
While other ministries, departments and agencies may be writhing in unreleased capital budget for the year; that of the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development has been fully released; even with five months left to the end of the 2016 budget implementing year.
Experts therefore say it is disappointing that despite the emphasis, the mines and steel sector has contributed only N2bn to the Federation Account within the year.
However, given what had been the lot and performance of the sector in the previous year, some stakeholders believe the N2bn contributed by the sector to the federation account indicates a bright future for the industry.
Given that the sector contribuýted N700m to the federation account in 2015, N2bn represents almost 200 per cent improvement on the contribution of the solid minerals sector to the coffers of the nation.
President of the Miners Association of Nigeria, Alhaji Sani Shehu, said although the government did not do much to increase revenue drive in the sector, the N2bn contributed to the coffers of the government represented a significant increase.
He expressed confidence that the sector would do much better in the years ahead, beginning from 2017.
Shehu said, “When you compare N2bn to the N700m contributed by the sector in 2015, it is a significant improvement. There is high possibility that the sector would surpass the N3.5bn revenue which the government has projected for 2017.
“Do not forget that the revenues we get now are mainly from quarries and cement. The core mining activities have not started yielding revenues. So, there is the likelihood that the sector would now be yielding much more to the government beginning from 2017.”
For the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, the most significant thing is that the right foundation is being laid to ensure increased productivity of the sector in the years ahead.
This, he said, included the articulation of the road map for the reform of the mining sector; the inauguration of the Mining Strategic Team; and the resolution of the legal tussle between the Federal Government and an Indian firm over the contentious concession of Ajaokuta Steel Mill.
To increase the participation of the state governments, even with the stipulation of the 1999 Constitution that mining is on the exclusive list, the Federal Government has sought innovative means to avoid constitutional breach.
Fayemi said, “In order to encourage beneficial participation of state governments in the mining sector, we have got approval for the implementation of the constitutionally guaranteed 13 per cent derivation for mineral revenue for states, similar to the derivation that oil-producing states currently enjoy from the federation accounts.
“While in principle, we cannot give states licences as separate legal entities, companies in which the states have an ownership interest can bid for and receive licences. We are also working closely to build the capacity of state governments in structuring Special Purpose Vehicles to participate in mining in their jurisdictions, without undermining private sector.”
On securing the finance required to lift up the sector, Fayemi had said, “We sought for N30bn intervention fund from the Federal Government, partly to focus on exploration, formalisation of artisanal miners, and providing access to funding for genuine miners. For the first time since 2004, we got approval for this amount by securing access to the revolving mining sector component of the Natural Resources Development Fund.
“We are working with the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority, the Nigerian Stock Exchange and others to assemble a $600m investment fund for the sector which we hope to conclude and operationalise by the second quarter of 2017.
“We have secured support from the World Bank for $150m for the Mineral Sector Support for Economic Diversification programme, a critical component of which is to provide technical assistance for the restructuring and operation of the Mining Investment Fund, which will make finance available to the ASM operators through development finance, micro-finance and leasing institutions.”
He added that the fund would help to bring back on stream previously abandoned proven mining projects such as tin ore, iron ore, coal, gold and lead-zinc.
So, will the mining sector begin to make significant contribution to the coffers of the nation? Will the nation make the much sought transition from a mineral-rich state to a mining destination?
Stakeholders believe that incremental revenues are possible but they add that the best this administration can do is to lay the necessary foundation blocks for eventual growth because the transition will take a little more time than anxious citizens are willing to allow.
COVID-19: CBN Has Disbursed N83B Loans to Healthcare Sector
The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele, yesterday, said the central bank had disbursed over N83.9 billion to pharmaceutical and healthcare practitioners in the country since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.
Also, Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has stressed the need for a slash in the cost of governance in the country, saying a lot more resources could be dedicated towards healthcare and critical infrastructure.
They both said this yesterday, at the premiere of ‘Unmasked’, a documentary on Nigeria’s response to the pandemic held in Lagos.
Emefiele, who was represented by the CBN’s Director of Corporate Communications, Osita Nwasinobi, explained: “Building a robust healthcare infrastructure was also vital from a security perspective, as some nations had imposed restrictions on the exports of vital medical drugs as well as the use of drug patents that could aid in containing the spread of the pandemic.
“As a result, we focused our interventions in the healthcare sector on three areas. Building the capacity of our healthcare institutions supporting the domestic manufacturing of drugs by businesses, and providing grants to researchers in the medical field, in order to encourage them to develop breakthrough innovations that would address health challenges faced by Nigerians.
“In this regard, we disbursed over N83.9 billion in loans to pharmaceutical companies and healthcare practitioners, which is supporting 26 pharmaceutical and 56 medical projects across the country. We were also able to mobilise key stakeholders in the Nigerian economy through the CACOVID alliance, which led to the provision of over N25 billion in relief materials to affected households, and the set-up of 39 isolation centres across the country. These measures helped to expand and strengthen the capacity of our healthcare institutions to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.”
According to the CBN Governor, the banking sector regulator also initiated the Healthcare Sector Research and Development Intervention Grant Scheme, which was to aid research on solutions that could address diseases such as COVID-19, and other communicable/non-communicable diseases.
He said so far, five major healthcare-related research projects were being financed under the initiative.
Speaking further on the call to increase access to health insurance, Emefiele said: “One key aspect which we would have to address is improving access to healthcare for all Nigerians. A key factor that has impeded access to healthcare for Nigerians is the prevailing cost of healthcare services.
“According to a study by World Health Organisation (WHO), only four percent of Nigerians have access to health insurance. Besides food, healthcare expenses are a significant component of average Nigeria’s personal expenditure.
“Out of pocket expenses on healthcare amount to close to 76 percent of total healthcare expenditure. At such levels of health spending, individuals particularly those in rural communities may be denied access to healthcare services.
“Expanding the insurance net to capture the pool of Nigerians not covered by existing health insurance schemes, could help to reduce the high out of pocket expenses on healthcare services by Nigerians. It will also help to increase the pool of funds that could be invested in building our healthcare infrastructure and in improving the existing welfare package of our healthcare workers.”
“The private sector has a significant role to play in this regard given the decline in government revenues as occasioned by the drop in commodity prices. Leveraging innovative solutions that can provide insurance services at relatively cheap prices could significantly help to improve access to healthcare for a large proportion of Nigerians particularly those in our rural communities.”
According to Emefiele, the CBN remains committed to working with all stakeholders in improving access to finance and credit that would support the development of viable healthcare infrastructure in our country.
On his part, Sanwo-Olu said: “What are the lessons that we have learned with the Covid-19? Looking at all the things that Covid-19 has cost us, how are we preparing ourselves?
“The truth be told the structure of our governance system needs to change particularly the cost of governance. We need to speak up and ask ourselves are we ready to change.”
“When it gets to the election it is the same set of people that will come up and people don’t come out to vote and we end up having 20 percent out of 100 percent that will elect those that will govern. So, the change has to be about all of us. That is how the real change that will help us will come,” he added.
Emefiele Says CBN Will Resist All Attempts to Continue Maize Importation
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has vowed to resist all attempts to continue the importation of maize into the country.
Godwin Emefiele, the governor, CBN, in a statement titled ‘Emefiele woos youths to embrace agriculture’, said: “the CBN would resist attempts by those who seek to continually import maize into the country.”
Emefiele, who spoke in Katsina during the unveiling of the first maize pyramid and inauguration of the 2021 maize wet season farming under the CBN-Maize Association of Nigeria Anchor Borrowers’ Programme, said maize farmers in the country had what it takes to meet the maize demand gap of over 4.5 million metric tonnes in the country.
“With over 50,000 bags of maize available on this ground, and others aggregated across the country, maize farmers are sending a resounding message that we can grow enough maize to meet the country’s demand,” Emefiele said.
He explained that the maize unveiled at the ceremony would be sold to reputable feed processors.
He added that this would in turn impact positively on current poultry feed prices, as over 60 per cent of maize produced in the country were used for producing poultry feed.
Nigeria’s Spending Structure Unsustainable, Budget Head Says
Nigeria’s current trend of spending more money on running the government than on building new infrastructure is unsustainable, the country’s top budget oversight official said.
Low revenue collection and high recurrent costs have resulted in actual capital expenditure below two trillion naira ($4.88 billion) a year for a decade, Ben Akabueze, director-general of the Budget Office, said Tuesday in a virtual presentation.
“Hence, the investments required to bridge the infrastructure gap are way beyond the means available to the government,” Akabueze said. Recurrent spending, allocated towards salaries and running costs, has accounted for more than 75% of the public budget every year since 2011, he said.
Africa’s largest economy requires at least $3 trillion of spending over the next 30 years to close its infrastructure gap, Moody’s Investors Service said in November. The country’s tax revenue as a proportion of gross domestic product is one of the lowest globally, according to the International Monetary Fund.
“Huge recurrent expenditure has constrained the provision of good roads, steady power supply, health care services, quality education and quality shelter,” Akabueze said.
Nigeria should amend its constitution to create six regions to replace the existing 36 states, which each have their own governments, Akabueze said. The country also needs to reduce the number of cabinet ministers to a maximum of 24 from more than 40 and cut federal ministries to fewer than 20 from the current 27, he said.
“No country can develop where a large part of its earnings is spent on administrative structures rather than on capital investment,” Akabueze said.
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