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Budget: FG to Release N350bn for Capital Projects

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  • Budget: FG to Release N350bn for Capital Projects

The Federal Government is set to release the first tranche of capital release of N350bn to its Ministries, Departments and Agencies for implementation of the 2017 budget.

The Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, disclosed this on Monday in Abuja during the public presentation of the 2017 Federal Government budget.

The event was attended by top officials in government, including the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Udo Udoma; Minister of State for Budget, Zainab Ahmed; Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole; and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyema, among others.

The 2017 budget christened, ‘Budget of Recovery and Growth’, was presented to the National Assembly on December 14, 2016, and passed by the lawmakers on May 11, 2017.

It was signed into law by the Acting President Yemi Osinbajo on June 12, 2017 and had a total expenditure outlay of N7.44tn, out of which N2.99tn was for non-debt recurrent spending; N2.36tn for capital expenditure; while debt servicing is to gulp N1.66tn.

Adeosun said her ministry was ready to make the release as soon as the budget was loaded, adding that a cash plan meeting would soon be held where the funds would be released to the MDAs.

“We are ready to make releases as soon as the budget is loaded. We have a cash plan meeting and we will release the first tranche of N350bn for capital projects,” she stated.

Udoma, in his presentation at the event, said the 2017 budget would run for one full year till June next year.

He, however, said that both the executive and the legislature were working on a template that would enable the country to commence a predictable budget year that would run between January and December of every year.

He added that if this arrangement was to commence from the 2018 budget year, then the 2017 budget would cease once the next year’s budget was passed and signed into law in January.

The implication of this, according him, is that some of the programmes of government contained in the 2017 fiscal document would be re-introduced in the 2018 budget.

Udoma explained, “The period of the 2016 budget was up till May and the period of the 2017 budget is again by the provision of the bill that was sent to us, which is now an Act of Parliament, continues again, this time, till June.

“However, whenever a new Appropriations Act comes into law, it overtakes the previous Appropriations Act. This means that assuming we were as we intend to achieve this year, we pass the 2018 budget into law; when it is signed into law, then the other one ceases to exist.

“So our aim is by January 2018, we want to get back to the January to December budget year. That means some of the projects in the 2017 budget will have to be carried over.”

He added that the budget that was passed by the National Assembly was what was signed into law by the Acting President, adding that an understanding had been reached for the submission of virement application to adjust the budget to reflect some of the projects, which the lawmakers tinkered with.

Such projects, according to him, are the railways, health and Federal Capital Territory projects.

Udoma said, “We identified some of our priority projects where the allocations have been reduced and discussed with the National Assembly and they graciously agreed that we can bring a virement application to restore the amount of those projects.

“Those projects include the railways, some health projects and Federal Capital Territory projects. But until that is done, the budget and the Appropriations Act reflect exactly what was passed by the National Assembly, and this is what the law is as I speak.

“However, we will be bringing virement application on a number of these projects under consideration. It’s only after they have approved it before it now becomes a law, and the budget will be adjusted to reflect that.”

The minister said the capital allocation of N2.36tn, which represents 31.7 per cent of the total budget, was directed at projects that were aligned with the core execution priorities of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan.

Udoma noted that allocations had been targeted at critical economic sectors that had quick transformative potential such as infrastructure, agriculture, manufacturing, solid minerals, services, and social development.

For instance, he said the government would be embarking on a rail modernisation programme for which N148bn had been allocated mostly as counterpart funds on projects to be financed by China.

They are Lagos-Kano, Calabar-Lagos, Kano-Kaduna, Ajaokuta-Itakpe-Warri, Kaduna-Idu and other rail projects.

In the area of electricity, the minister said the sum of N40bn service-wide provision had been made to settle reconciled outstanding bills of government agencies as part of the strategy to revamp the ailing power sector.

For the housing sector, Udoma said the sum of N28bn was allocated in the budget for the Federal Government’s National Housing Programme nationwide.

He stated that the government was concerned about the number of abandoned projects scattered across the federation, adding that more targeted releases of funds would be done to relevant agencies of government.

The minister noted that in this year’s budget, funds had been allocated for construction and rehabilitation of over 65 roads and bridges across the six geo-political zones of the country.

Some of them are N10bn for the rehabilitation/reconstruction and expansion of Lagos-Shagamu-Ibadan dual carriageway sections I and II; N13.19bn for the dualisation of the Kano-Maiduguri road Sections I-V; N10.63bn for the rehabilitation of the Enugu-Port Harcourt dual carriageway Sections I-IV; and N7bn for the construction of the Second Niger Bridge phases 2A & 2B, including the access roads.

The Director-General, Budget Office of the Federation, Mr. Ben Akabueze, said the government would be engaging the citizens more in its budgeting process in order to enable the country to have a document that would be all inclusive.

He added that steps were being taken to bridge the gap between the people and the government by promoting transparency and accountability in the entire budget process.

Is the CEO/Founder of Investors King Limited. A proven foreign exchange research analyst and a published author on Yahoo Finance, Businessinsider, Nasdaq, Entrepreneur.com, Investorplace, and many more. He has over two decades of experience in global financial markets.

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South Africa’s Inflation Rate Holds Steady in May

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South Africa's economy - Investors King

South Africa’s inflation rate remained unchanged in May, increasing the likelihood that the central bank will maintain current borrowing costs.

According to a statement released by Statistics South Africa on Wednesday, consumer prices rose by 5.2% year-on-year, the same rate as in April.

The consistent inflation rate is expected to influence the decision of the six-member monetary policy committee (MPC), which is set to meet in mid-July. The current benchmark rate stands at 8.25%, a 15-year high, and has been held steady for six consecutive meetings.

Central Bank Governor Lesetja Kganyago has repeatedly emphasized the need for inflation to fall firmly within the 3% to 6% target range before considering any reduction in borrowing costs.

“We will continue to deliver on our mandate, irrespective of how our post-election politics plays out,” Kganyago stated earlier this month in Soweto. “The only impact is what kind of policies any coalition will propose. If the policies are not sustainable, we might not have investment.”

While money markets are assigning a slim chance of a 25-basis point rate cut in July, they are fully pricing in a reduction by November.

Bloomberg Africa economist Yvonne Mhango anticipates the rate-cutting cycle to begin in the fourth quarter, supported by a sharp drop in gasoline prices in June and a rally in the rand.

The rand has appreciated more than 3% since Friday, following the ANC’s agreement to a power-sharing deal with business-friendly opposition parties and the re-election of President Cyril Ramaphosa.

In May, the annual inflation rates for four of the twelve product groups remained stable, including food and non-alcoholic beverages.

However, transport, alcoholic beverages and tobacco, and recreation and culture saw higher rates. Food prices increased by 4.3% in May, slightly down from 4.4% in April, while transport costs rose by 6.3%, up from 5.7% and marking the highest rate for this category since October 2023.

The central bank’s cautious stance on monetary policy reflects its ongoing concerns about inflation.

Governor Kganyago has consistently voiced worries that the inflation rate is not decreasing as quickly as desired. The MPC’s upcoming decision will hinge on sustained inflationary pressures and the need to balance economic stability with fostering growth.

As South Africa navigates its economic challenges, the steady inflation rate in May provides a measure of predictability for policymakers and investors alike.

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Ghana Reports Strong 4.7% GDP Growth in First Quarter of 2024

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Ghana’s economy showed impressive growth in the first quarter of 2024 with the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) expanding by 4.7% compared to the same period last year, according to Government Statistician Samuel Kobina Annim.

This represents an increase from the 3.8% growth recorded in the previous quarter and should provide a much-needed boost to the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) as the nation approaches the presidential elections scheduled for December 7.

The positive economic data comes amidst a challenging backdrop of fiscal consolidation efforts under a $3 billion International Monetary Fund (IMF) rescue program.

The government has been working to control debt through reduced spending and restructuring nearly all of its $44 billion debt.

This includes ongoing negotiations with private creditors to reorganize $13 billion worth of bonds.

The latest GDP figures are seen as a vindication of the NPP’s economic policies, which have been under fire from the main opposition party, the National Democratic Congress (NDC).

The opposition has criticized the government’s handling of the economy, particularly its fiscal policies and the terms of the IMF program, arguing that they have imposed undue hardship on ordinary Ghanaians.

However, the 4.7% growth rate suggests that the measures taken to stabilize the economy are beginning to yield positive results.

Analysts believe that the stronger-than-expected economic performance will bolster the NPP’s position as the country gears up for the presidential elections.

“The growth we are seeing is a testament to the resilience of the Ghanaian economy and the effectiveness of the government’s policies,” Annim stated at a press briefing in Accra. “Despite the constraints imposed by the debt restructuring and IMF program, we are seeing significant progress.”

The IMF program, which is designed to restore macroeconomic stability, has necessitated tough fiscal adjustments.

These include cutting government expenditure and implementing structural reforms aimed at boosting economic efficiency and growth.

The government’s commitment to these reforms has been crucial in securing the confidence of international lenders and investors.

In addition to the IMF support, the government has also been focused on diversifying the economy, reducing its reliance on commodities, and fostering sectors such as manufacturing, services, and technology.

These efforts have contributed to the robust growth figures reported for the first quarter.

Economic growth in Ghana has been uneven in recent years, with periods of rapid expansion often followed by slowdowns.

The current administration has emphasized sustainable and inclusive growth, seeking to ensure that the benefits of economic progress are widely shared across all segments of the population.

The next few months will be critical as the government continues its efforts to stabilize the economy while preparing for the upcoming elections.

The positive GDP growth figures provide a strong foundation, but challenges remain, including managing inflation, creating jobs, and ensuring the stability of the financial sector.

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World Bank Commits Over $15 Billion to Support Nigeria’s Economic Reforms

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The World Bank has pledged over $15 billion in technical advisory and financial support to help the country achieve sustainable economic prosperity.

This commitment, announced in a feature article titled “Turning The Corner: Nigeria’s Ongoing Path of Economic Reforms,” underscores the international lender’s confidence in Nigeria’s recent bold reforms aimed at stabilizing and growing its economy.

The World Bank’s support will be channeled into key sectors such as reliable power and clean energy, girls’ education and women’s economic empowerment, climate adaptation and resilience, water and sanitation, and governance reforms.

The bank lauded Nigeria’s government for its courageous steps in implementing much-needed reforms, highlighting the unification of multiple official exchange rates, which has led to a market-determined official rate, and the phasing out of the costly gasoline subsidy.

“These reforms are crucial for Nigeria’s long-term economic health,” the World Bank stated. “The supply of foreign exchange has improved, benefiting businesses and consumers, while the gap between official and parallel market exchange rates has narrowed, enhancing transparency and curbing corrupt practices.”

The removal of the gasoline subsidy, which had cost the country over 8.6 trillion naira (US$22.2 billion) from 2019 to 2022, was particularly noted for its potential to redirect fiscal resources toward more impactful public investments.

The World Bank pointed out that the subsidy primarily benefited wealthier consumers and fostered black market activities, rather than aiding the poor.

The bank’s article emphasized that Nigeria is at a turning point, with macro-fiscal reforms expected to channel more resources into sectors critical for improving citizens’ lives.

The World Bank’s support is designed to sustain these reforms and expand social protection for the poor and vulnerable, aiming to put the economy back on a sustainable growth path.

In addition to this substantial support, the World Bank recently approved a $2.25 billion loan to Nigeria at a one percent interest rate to finance further fiscal reforms.

This includes $1.5 billion for the Nigeria Reforms for Economic Stabilization to Enable Transformation (RESET) Development Policy Financing, and $750 million for the NG Accelerating Resource Mobilization Reforms Programme-for-Results (ARMOR).

“The future can be bright, and Nigeria can rise and serve as an example for the region on how macro-fiscal and governance reforms, along with continued investments in public goods, can accelerate growth and improve the lives of its citizens,” the World Bank concluded.

With this robust backing from the World Bank, Nigeria is well-positioned to tackle its economic challenges and embark on a path to sustained prosperity and development.

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