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Submit CBN, Others’ Budgets in Two Weeks, Senate Tells Osinbajo

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  • Submit CBN, Others’ Budgets in Two Weeks, Senate Tells Osinbajo

The Senate on Wednesday gave a two-week ultimatum to Acting President Yemi Osinbajo to submit the 2017 budgets of Federal Government agencies, corporations and parastatals.

The lawmakers issued the ultimatum at a plenary following a motion by the Deputy Majority Leader, Senator Bala Ibn Na’Allah, on the alleged non-compliance with Section 21 of the Fiscal Responsibility Act by some government agencies.

The Chairman, Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Aliyu Sabi-Abdullahi, had on Tuesday said of the 38 affected organisations, only the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation, Bureau of Public Enterprises and the National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure had submitted their budgets.

In the motion titled: ‘Non-Submission of 2017 Budget by Public Corporations in Violation of the Fiscal Responsibility Act,’ N’Allah said the failure to submit the proposals by the affected corporations to the National Assembly was becoming worrisome.

He stated, “The Senate observes that non-compliance with the provisions of the Fiscal Responsibility Act constitutes an abuse of power and economic sabotage aimed at frustrating the current economic measures being taken by the present administration to address the economic recession.”

The lawmakers unanimously granted the prayer of the motion to “urge the President to, as a matter of urgency, submit the budgets of parastatals and agencies to the National Assembly in accordance with the provision of Section 21 of the Fiscal Responsibility Act not later than two weeks.”

Seconding the motion, the Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, pointed out that the Constitution was supreme and its provisions were a binding force on all authorities and persons in the country.

Citing Section 80(3) of the Constitution, Ekweremadu urged the Senate to bar errant agencies and corporations from capital expenditure until their budgets had been passed by the legislature.

“I recall that in 2016, President Muhammadu Buhari sent to this National Assembly the Appropriation Act for that year together with those estimates. While in 2017, the ministers find it impossible to accompany the same Appropriation Bill 2017 with those estimates of the agencies under them. We cannot be going back and forth. I believe that this is the time for us to insist, under Section 88 that gives us power of oversight, that this has to be done.”

Also, Senator George Sekibo cited Section 5(1) (b) of the Constitution that the executive was meant to maintain and enforce laws.

He stated, “And if the law says at certain months before January, the budget of a corporation should be presented to the National Assembly and year in and year out, we keep on crying for the same thing, what do we do?

In his submission, Senator Olamilekan Adeola said the total sum of the budgets of Federal Government parastatals was bigger than the N7.441tn general budget of the government.

“What we are talking about here today is in excess of N10tn in the hands of the parastatals of the Federal Government. It is saddening to note that in the same way and the same tradition, these parastatals are trying to ensure that every year they continue to do the same thing over their budgets,” he said.

The President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, who presided over the plenary, described the issue as a corruption matter, stating that the trend must stop.

He said, “Truly, this motion is at the heart of this fight against corruption and I cannot see how we can continue in a society where we are fighting corruption, where people will be spending money without approval and without appropriation. It must stop, it will stop and it is going to stop from now.

“Clearly, we have made our position that based on this amendment, that these agencies must get their budgets to us in two weeks. Committee chairmen, I want to appeal that once we get the budgets, on our own part as well, let us ensure that we treat them publicly, very diligently and try and turn them around as quickly as possible.”

The corporations, agencies and corporations with independent budgets are the BPE, NASENI, Nigerian Airspace Management Agency, Nigerian Shippers’ Council, National Maritime Authority, Raw Materials Research and Development Council, National Sugar Development Council, Nigerian Postal Service, Nigerian Ports Authority and the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria.

Other are the Securities and Exchange Commission, Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation, National Communications Commission, National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control, Nigeria Customs Service and the National Broadcasting Commission.

Also on the list are the National Insurance Commission, News Agency of Nigeria, Nigerian Copyrights Commission, Nigerian Deposit Insurance Corporation, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, Federal Inland Revenue Service, Nigerian Immigration Service, Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, Radio Nigeria, Federal Housing Authority, Nigerian Television Authority, National Automotive Design and Development Council, and the Nigerian Nuclear Regulatory Authority.

The National Business and Technical Examination Board, Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria, National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency, Industrial Training Fund, Corporate Affairs Commission, Standards Organisation of Nigeria, as well as the Oil and Gas Free Zone Authority are also to submit their budgets to the National Assembly.

Meanwhile, the Chairman, Senate Ad Hoc Committee on Misuse, Non-remittance Internally Generated Revenue and Fraudulent Acts by Government Agencies, Adeola, has accused most university administrators in the country of “cooking up figures in their yearly accounts as a way of evading payment of operating surpluses.”

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.

Economy

Electricity Consumers Get 611,231 Meters Under MAP Scheme

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Electricity Consumers Get 611,231 Meters Under MAP Scheme

A total of 611,231 meters have been deployed as at January 31, 2021 under the Meter Asset Provider initiative since its full operation despite the COVID-19 pandemic and other extraneous factors, the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission has said.

NERC disclosed this in a consultation paper on the review of the MAP Regulations.

The proposed review of the MAP scheme is coming nearly four months after the Federal Government launched a new initiative called National Mass Metering Programme aimed at distributing six million meters to consumers free of charge.

“The existence of a huge metering gap and the need to ensure successful implementation of the MYTO 2020 Service-Based Tariff resulted in the approval of the NMMP, a policy of the Federal Government anchored on the provision of long-term low interest financing to the Discos,” NERC said.

The commission had in March 2018 approved the MAP Regulations with the aim of fast-tracking the closure of the metering gap in the sector through the engagement of third-party investors (called meter asset providers) for the financing, procurement, supply, installation and maintenance of meters.

It set a target of providing meters to all customers within three years, and directed the Discos and the approved MAPs to commence the rollout of meters not later than May 1, 2019.

But in February 2020, NERC said several constraints, including changes in fiscal policy and the limited availability of long-term funding, had led to limited success in meter rollout.

NERC, in the consultation paper, highlighted three proposed options for metering implementation going forward.

The first option is to allow the implementation of both the NMMP and MAP metering frameworks to run concurrently; the second is to continue with the current MAP framework with meters procured under the NMMP supplied only through MAPs (by being off-takers from the local manufacturers/assemblers).

The third option is to wind down the MAP framework and allow the Discos to procure meters directly from local manufacturers/assemblers (or as procured by the World Bank), and enter into new contracts for the installation and maintenance of such meters.

“Customers who choose not to wait to receive meters based on the deployment schedule of the NMMP shall continue to have the option of making upfront payments for meters which will be installed within a maximum period of 10 working days,” NERC said.

The regulator said such customers would be refunded by the Discos through energy credits, adding that there would be no option for meter acquisition through the payment of a monthly meter service charge.

“Where meters have already been deployed under the meter service charge option, Discos shall make one-off repayment to affected customers and associated MAPs. Such meters shall be recognised in the rate base of the Discos,” it added.

NERC urged stakeholders to provide comments, objections, and representations on the proposed amendments within 21 days of the publication of the consultation paper.

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Nigeria’s Economy Moving in Right Direction but Slow – Amina Mohammed

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Nigeria’s Economy Moving in Right Direction but Slow – Amina Mohammed

Nigeria is moving in the right direction economically but its movement is not fast, the United Nations stated on Thursday.

Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, Amina Mohammed, said this during a meeting at the headquarters of the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment in Abuja.

She said the challenges in Nigeria were huge, its population large but described the country’s economy as great with lots of opportunities.

The UN scribe stated that after traveling by train and through various roads in the Northern parts of Nigeria, she discovered that the roads were motorable, although there were ongoing repairs on some of them.

Mohammed said, “This is a country that is diverse in nature, ethnicity, religious backgrounds and opportunities. But these are its strengths, not weaknesses.

“And I think the narrative for Nigeria has to change to one that is very much the reality.”

Speaking on her trips across parts of Nigeria, she said, “What I saw along the way is really a country that is growing, that is moving in the right direction economically. Is it fast enough? No. Is it in the right direction? Yes it is.

“And the challenges still remain with security, our social cohesion and social contract between government and the people. But I know that people are working on these issues.”

She said the UN recognised the reforms in Nigeria and other nations, adding that the common global agenda was the Sustainable Development Goals.

Mohammad commended Nigeria’s quick response to the COVID-19 pandemic, as she expressed hope that the arrival of vaccines would be the beginning of the end of COVID-19.

On his part, the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Adeniyi Adebayo, told his guest that the Federal Government was working hard to make Nigeria the entrepreneurial hub of Africa.

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N10.7tn Spent on Fuel Subsidy in 10 Years – MOMAN

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N10.7tn Spent on Fuel Subsidy in 10 Years – MOMAN

Nigeria spent a total of N10.7tn on fuel subsidy in the last 10 years, the Chairman, Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria, Mr Adetunji Oyebanji, has said.

Oyebanji, who was the guest speaker at the 18th Aret Adams Lecture on Thursday, said N750bn was spent on subsidy in 2019.

He highlighted the need for a transition to a market-driven environment through policy-backed legislative and commercial frameworks, enabling the sustainability of the downstream petroleum sector.

“Total deregulation is more than just the removal of price subsidies; it is aimed at improving business operations, increasing the investments in the oil and gas sector value chain, resulting in the growth in the nation’s downstream petroleum sector as a whole,” he said.

The managing director of 11 Plc (formerly Mobil Oil Nigeria Plc) said steps had been taken, “but larger and faster leaps are now required.”

According to him, deregulation requires the creation of a competitive market environment, and will guarantee the supply of products at commercial and market prices.

“It requires unrestricted and profitable investments in infrastructure, earning reasonable returns to investors. It requires a strong regulator to enable transparency and fair competition among players, and not to regulate prices,” Oyebanji said.

He noted that MOMAN had recently called for a national debate by stakeholders to share pragmatic and realistic initiatives to ease the impact of the subsidy removal on society – especially on the most vulnerable.

He said, “A shift from crude oil production to crude oil full value realisation through deliberate investment in domestic refining and refined products distribution, creates the opportunity to transform the dynamics of the downstream sector from one of ‘net importer’ to one of ‘net exporter’, spurring the growth of the Nigerian economy.

“Effective reforms and regulations are key drivers for the growth within the refining sector. Non-functional refineries cost Nigeria over $13bn in 2019. If the NNPC refineries were operating at optimal capacity, Nigeria would have imported only 40 per cent of what it consumed in 2019.”

Full deregulation of the downstream sector remains the most glaring boost to potential investors in this space, according to Oyebanji.

He said, “As crude oil prices will fluctuate depending on the prevailing exchange rates, it will be astute to trade in naira to avoid inevitable price swings.

“There needs to be a balance between ensuring the sustainable growth of the crude oil value chain (upstream through downstream) and providing value for the Nigerian consumer and the Nigerian economy.”

He said the philosophy should be for the government to put the legislative and commercial framework in place and let the market develop by itself.

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