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Budget Delay Not Good for Economy, Says Lemo

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  • Budget Delay Not Good for Economy, Says Lemo

A former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Tunde Lemo, has said the delay in the signing of the 2017 budget into law is not too good for the economy, especially when the country is still in recession.

He said this on Thursday at the D.S. Adegbenro ICT Polytechnic, Itori, Ogun State, while fielding questions from journalists after delivering a lecture.

The maiden lecture was organised by the institution’s School of Management Sciences.

According to him, in countries where the budget cycle runs from the beginning of the year, the Appropriation Bill would have been submitted by September of the preceding year.

He, however, explained that the fact that a budget was delayed did not necessarily mean everything would ground to a halt, as a certain percentage of the budget for the preceding year could still be brought to the new year.

Lemo said, “I think the National Assembly can improve on the efficiency of passage of the budget in the sense that we all know the timetable for budget implementation.

“And in other climes, if you know you are implementing a budget from January, by September of the preceding year that budget should be with the National Assembly. For me, three months should be sufficient for them to go through it so that we hit the ground running from day one in the new year.”

He added, “However, the public must also note that the fact that the budget is delayed does not mean that everything must grind to a halt. There is a policy in government that you can implement every account held up to a percentage of what you did the preceding year, so that you have a situation where everything did not grind to a halt.

“Indeed, if we must race against time and take Nigeria out of recession, by now we should have had a budget running. It is not too good that we are still having this delay for this long period. My advice is that we should plan against next year’s budget; by August or September this year, the 2018 budget should be submitted to the National Assembly, so that by January 2018, we can hit the ground running.”

While pointing out some obstacles militating against the nation’s economic growth, he said the government must cut down on the cost of governance, improve on infrastructure, create a stable macro-economic environment, and evolve an investment-led recovery programme, among others.

Lemo, who spoke on the theme: ‘Economic recovery and growth plan: Obstacles and suggestions of radical solutions’, noted that the current practice where 70 per cent of budgetary allocations were spent on recurrent expenditure and 30 per cent on capital expenditure by the government did not augur well for the growth of the economy.

He also called on the government to work towards reducing the interest rate on loans to a single digit.

Suggesting other radical solutions to the current economic recession, Lemo charged the Federal Inland Revenue Service to evolve a strategy of bringing more Nigerians into the tax net.

While he suggested that tax evaders must be identified, arrested and prosecuted, the chartered banker said when the citizens pay their taxes, government would have money to provide amenities for the people.

On his own part, the Rector of the institution, Dr. Olufemi Fatade, noted that the country’s current economic challenge did not crop up overnight, but was due to overdependence on a single product, crude oil.

The Dean, School of Management Sciences, Dr. Femi Kayode, who said the lecture would be an annual event, said it would serve as a veritable platform to proffer solutions to the nation’s socio- economic challenges.

The event, which witnessed the turning of sod at the site for the School of Management Sciences, was attended by the Olowu of Owu, Oba Adegboyega Dosunmu, among others.

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

Onyeama: Qatar To Invest $5bn In Nigeria’s Economy

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The oil-rich state of Qatar is to invest a total of $5 billion in Nigeria’s economy, the Foreign Affairs Minister, Godfrey Onyeama, has disclosed.

Onyeama, who spoke Sunday at a send forth dinner in honour of Nigeria’s Ambassador-designate to the State of Qatar, who is also the outgoing Director of Protocol (DOP) at the State House, Ambassador Yakubu Ahmed, also stated that recent career ambassadorial appointments made by the gederal government was based on merit, experience and professionalism.

The minister further said there had been discussions with Qatar on partnership with Nigeria’s Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF), for significant investments in the region of $5 billion in the Nigerian economy.

According to him, ‘‘Qatar is a weighty and strategic country and very strategic in that part of the world and we are putting our best feet forward to advance the interest of our country economically and in other areas.”

He recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari had visited the State of Qatar in 2016 and the Emir of Qatar, Tamim Bin Hammad Al-Thani, reciprocated with a State visit in 2019.

Onyeama also explained that only trusted hands with a track record of diligence, experience and professionalism in the Foreign Service were recently appointed career ambassadors by the federal government.

The minister said the appointment of Ahmed and other career ambassadors were predicated on posting dedicated and keen Foreign Service practitioners to serve as image makers of the country.

He said: ‘‘Ambassador Yakubu Ahmed is a dedicated professional with a penchant for rigour and detail. He is very capable and one of the best in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He is personable, affable, extremely friendly, dispassionate and objective.

‘‘He is going to head a very important mission, a very important country, reckoned to be one of the richest countries in the world, per capita, and there’s a lot we will be doing with the State of Qatar.”

Also speaking, the Deputy Chief of Staff, Adeola Rahman Ipaye, described the honoree as a ‘‘perfect gentleman, very even-natured and always well turned out’’.

Ipaye said he had no doubt that the newly appointed ambassador would serve the country well in Qatar, adding that: ‘‘We are further encouraged that when he completes this assignment, he would return to serve Nigeria in a higher capacity.’’

In his remarks, the Permanent Secretary, State House, Tijjani Umar, while congratulating the outgoing DOP on his appointment, lauded Ahmed for excellent service to the State House and the nation.

‘‘He served this institution and the nation with the deepest sense of responsibility and it is very important that we establish a tradition where the system appreciates those who have served it well and those who will continue to serve it well,’’ he said.

Umar urged the new envoy to keep very fond memories of his time at the Presidential Villa, assuring him of the prayers and goodwill of all the staff.

Responding, Ahmed thanked President Buhari for the great honour and privilege of making him his principal representative in Doha, Qatar.

The Ambassador-designate pledged to deplore his energy and skill to the promotion of the existing cordial relationship between Nigeria and Qatar, particularly in the areas of economic, political, cultural and consular affairs as well as other key areas.

Ahmed, who joined Nigeria’s Foreign Service in 1993, said during his years in public service he had learnt that ‘‘patriotism, selfless service, diligence, determination and perseverance will always result in the achievement of the desired objective’’.

According to him, these virtues would be his ‘‘watchword’’ in the pursuit of Nigeria’s foreign policy objectives and the attainment of national interests.

The Ambassador-designate singled out for appreciation the Chief of Staff to the President, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, and the state Chief of Protocol, Ambassador Lawal Kazaure, saying he had learnt a lot working under their mentorship.

He expressed gratitude to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Permanent Secretary, State House for giving him the opportunity of a memorable work experience in the State House.

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Economy

France, Nigeria to Build New Partnership

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France is currently aiming at building a new partnership with Nigeria, with the dispatching of its Minister in charge of Foreign Trade and Attractiveness, Franck Riester, to Nigeria.

Riester, who was expected at the time of filing this report on Monday, is scheduled to visit Nigeria from 12-14 April, 2021.

A statement from the French Embassy in Nigeria said: “Franck Riester is visiting Nigeria from 12 to 14 April, a visit that follows up on the priorities set by French President Emmanuel Macron during his official visit to Nigeria in July 2018 and his desire to build a new partnership between Africa and France.

“As the largest economy in Africa and the economic engine of West Africa, Nigeria is indeed a major partner for France, the first in sub-Saharan Africa with bilateral trade amounting to a total of 4.5 billion USD in 2019 (2.3 billion USD in 2020, due to the Covid-19 pandemic).”

It disclosed that the minister will have several official meetings in Abuja and Lagos, in order to underline the importance of the bilateral economic relationship and to prepare the summit on the financing of African economies in Paris on 18 May.

It revealed that the objective of the mission is also to further strengthen the links between the French and Nigerian private sectors, and “in this regard, the minister will have in-depth discussions with the main Nigerian economic actors to strengthen bilateral cooperation and investments, both in Nigeria and in France, particularly in the logistics sector”.

It said while in the country, the minister would meet with young Nigerian entrepreneurs in the cultural and creative industries sector, to discuss the major role of their country in African creativity and the development of the African entrepreneurial ecosystem, with the support of France.

It further said: “The minister will also open the ‘Choose Africa’ conference, a €3.5 billion initiative by President Emmanuel Macron dedicated to supporting the development of start-ups and SMEs in Africa to enable the continent to benefit fully from the opportunities of the digital revolution.”

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Economy

COVID-19: USAID to Provide $3m Grant, Technical Assistance to Combat Food Insecurity in Nigeria

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The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is providing financial grant and technical assistance worth $3 million to combat food insecurity in Nigeria compounded by COVID-19 pandemic.

A statement by the agency on Monday said: “On April 12, 2021, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) in Nigeria launched a COVID-19 Food Security Challenge that will provide $3 million in grant funding and technical assistance to youth-led and mid-stage companies working in food value chains in Nigeria.”

The statement lamented that Nigeria is experiencing food insecurity compounded by the COVID-19 global pandemic and its effects on the food value chain in the country.

It stated that the pandemic has disrupted the already fragile agricultural value chains, especially smallholder farmers’ ability to produce, process and distribute food, which has disrupted agricultural productivity and markets, and negatively impacted livelihoods, especially among vulnerable households, women and youth.

The USAID Mission Director, Anne Patterson, said: “We are launching the COVID-19 Food Security Challenge to help innovative Nigerians alleviate food insecurity.

“This assistance encourages private sector-led solutions to boost food production, processing and create market linkage along the agriculture value chain in a sustainable way across Nigeria.”

The statement revealed that in launching the challenge, USAID seeks commercially viable youth-led and mid-stage companies already working in food production, processing, and distribution, noting that successful applicants will present ideas that demonstrably help farmers and other stakeholders in the agricultural value chain increase, agricultural productivity and food security within the next six months.

According to the statement, the challenge will award 15 to 25 youth-led companies up to $75,000 each and award 10 to 15 mid-stage companies up to $150,000 each.

Winners will receive funding and technical assistance to rapidly expand their activities to mitigate the effect of COVID-19 on Nigeria’s food value chain and improve the resilience of vulnerable households to the negative impacts of the pandemic.

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