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Allocate 40% of Budget to Infrastructure

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The Federal Government has been urged to allocate 40 per cent of the 2018 budget to capital projects in order to boost development in critical sectors of the economy.

The Centre for Social Justice and the United States Agency for International Development stated this in a report on the Health Sector Medium-Term Strategies for the 2018-2020 fiscal periods.

The Lead Director, CSJ, Mr. Eze Onyekpere, who presented the report in Abuja on Monday, also called on the Federal Government to allocate 15 per cent of the annual budget to the health sector so as to reduce the high rate of medical tourism in the country.

He said there was also a need to amend the National Health Insurance Scheme Act to make health insurance compulsory and universal, adding that this would enable the government to generate more funding for the health sector.

He said while the improvement in the macroeconomic situation of the country had been minimal, there was a need for increased investment in health as doing otherwise might further worsen the national health and economic indices.

He said, “Current health indices in Nigeria should be the basis of a robust investment plan in the MTSS anchored on the macroeconomic realities of the country.

“Government should allocate 15 per cent of the total annual national budget to the health sector in compliance with the Abuja Declaration of 2001. Where not possible, start with a minimum of 7.5 per cent allocation in 2018 and progressively increase by 1.5 per cent until the 15 per cent is attained by 2023.

“The bulk of the new resources should go to capital expenditure to enhance access to equipment and health supporting infrastructure. At least, not less than 40 per cent of the allocation should go to capital expenditure in 2018 and progressively increasing in subsequent years.

“As stipulated in the National Health Act 2014, in particular, allocate not less than one per cent of the Consolidated Revenue Fund to the Basic Health Care Provision Fund in the 2018 budget and beyond.

“To generate more funding for the health sector, amend the National Health Insurance Scheme Act to make health insurance compulsory and universal. Consider new sources for health insurance funding to include a two per cent surcharge on all imports, a special tax on alcohol and tobacco and minimal tariffs on telecommunications services to be borne by the consumer.”

He also called on the government to consider the establishment of a health bank to provide single-digit long-term loans for the development of health institutions, health infrastructure, research and human resources for health.

The initial capital, he , was to be subscribed by the FGN with an invitation to regional and international development institutions to subscribe to the authorizsed capital.

Onyekpere said while steps were being taken to establish the health bank, the government should also consider a special window of funding the health sector.

This, he added, should be established through administrative action by institutions such as the Central Bank of Nigeria, which had provided similar long-term and bailout funds in the past.

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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Economy

Federal Government Appeals to Electricity Union Amid Tariff Hike Tensions

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The Federal Government has made a direct appeal to the National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE) amidst rising tensions over the recent hike in electricity tariffs.

The plea comes as the union continues to voice its dissatisfaction with the government’s decision to remove the subsidy on the tariff payable by Band A customers, warning of potential service withdrawal if the decision is not reversed.

In an interview with our correspondent, Adebiyi Adeyeye, the National President of the NUEE, reiterated the union’s stance against the increase, citing the impracticality of expecting their members to collect higher tariffs from customers without a proportional improvement in service.

Adeyeye emphasized the union’s concerns over the discrepancy between the promised 20 hours of daily power supply and the actual delivery, which he deemed “not feasible” due to existing infrastructural limitations.

The Federal Government, represented by Minister of Power Adebayo Adelabu, called for understanding and patience from the union. Speaking through his media aide, Bolaji Tunji, Adelabu assured that efforts were being made to improve electricity supply across the nation. He emphasized the necessity of these changes for the country’s long-term economic growth and job creation.

“We just want to appeal to the labor union to understand the context of these changes. It’s about working together to address the underlying issues within the power sector. It is not anybody’s joy that there are blackouts all the time,” Adelabu stated.

He added that the steps being taken would ultimately benefit the economy and urged the union to bear with the government during this transitional phase.

Adeyeye maintained that the union’s primary objective is to safeguard the well-being of its members, who are facing increased threats due to the tariff hike.

He stressed the need for immediate action from the government to resolve the issues, stating that the union would withdraw its services if necessary.

As the standoff continues, the public watches with interest, hoping for a resolution that will avoid disruptions to the country’s power supply and maintain a harmonious relationship between the government and electricity workers.

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Minister of Power Pledges 6,000 Megawatts Electricity Generation in Six Months

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Adebayo Adelabu has made a bold pledge to ramp up electricity generation to 6,000 megawatts (MW) within the next six months.

This announcement comes amidst ongoing efforts to tackle the longstanding issue of inadequate power supply that has plagued the country for years.

During an appearance on Channel Television’s Politics Today program, Adelabu said the government is committed to resolving the issues hindering the power sector’s efficiency.

He expressed confidence in the administration’s ability to overcome the challenges and deliver tangible results to the Nigerian populace.

Currently, Nigeria generates and transmits over 4,000MW of electricity with distribution bottlenecks being identified as a major obstacle.

Adelabu assured that steps are being taken to address these distribution challenges and ensure that the generated power reaches consumers across the country effectively.

The minister highlighted that the government has been proactive in seeking the expertise of professionals and engaging stakeholders to identify the root causes of the power sector’s problems and devise appropriate solutions.

Adelabu acknowledged the existing gap between Nigeria’s installed capacity of 13,000MW and the actual generation output, attributing it to various factors that have impeded optimal performance.

Despite these challenges, he expressed optimism that the government’s initiatives would lead to a substantial increase in electricity generation, marking a significant milestone in Nigeria’s energy sector.

Addressing concerns about the recent decline in power generation due to low gas supply, Adelabu assured Nigerians that measures are being taken to rectify the situation.

He acknowledged the impact of power outages on citizens’ daily lives and reiterated the government’s commitment to providing stable electricity supply within the stipulated timeframe.

The Minister’s assurance of achieving 6,000MW of electricity generation in the next six months comes as a ray of hope for millions of Nigerians who have long endured the consequences of inadequate power supply.

With ongoing reforms and targeted interventions, there is optimism that Nigeria’s power sector will witness a transformative change, ushering in an era of improved access to electricity for all citizens.

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Nigeria’s Economic Woes to Drag Down Sub-Saharan Growth, World Bank Forecasts

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The World Bank’s latest report on the economic outlook for Western and Central Africa has highlighted Nigeria’s sluggish economic growth as a significant factor impeding the sub-region’s overall performance.

According to the report, while economic activities in the region are expected to increase, Nigeria’s lower-than-average growth trajectory will act as a hindrance to broader economic expansion.

The report indicates that economic activity in Western and Central Africa is set to rise from 3.2 percent in 2023 to 3.7 percent in 2024 and further accelerate to 4.2 percent in 2025–2026.

However, Nigeria’s growth, projected at 3.3 percent in 2024 and 3.6 percent in 2025–2026, falls below the sub-region’s average.

The World Bank underscores the importance of macroeconomic and fiscal reforms in Nigeria, which it anticipates will gradually yield results.

It expects the oil sector to stabilize with a recovery in production and slightly lower prices, contributing to a more stable macroeconomic environment.

Despite these measures, the report emphasizes the need for structural reforms to foster higher growth rates.

In contrast, economic activities in the West African Economic and Monetary Union are projected to increase significantly, with growth rates of 5.9 percent in 2024 and 6.2 percent in 2025.

Solid performances from countries like Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, Niger, and Senegal are cited as key drivers of growth in the region.

The report also highlights the importance of monetary policy adjustments and reforms in supporting economic growth.

For instance, a more accommodative monetary policy by the Central Bank of West African States is expected to bolster private consumption in Côte d’Ivoire.

Also, investments in sectors such as agriculture, manufacturing, and telecommunications are anticipated to increase due to improvements in the business environment.

However, Nigeria continues to grapple with multidimensional poverty as highlighted by the National Bureau of Statistics.

Over half of Nigeria’s population is considered multidimensionally poor, with rural areas disproportionately affected. The World Bank underscores the need for concerted efforts to address poverty and inequality in the country.

Sub-Saharan Africa as a whole faces challenges in deepening and lengthening economic growth. Despite recent progress, growth remains volatile, and poverty rates remain high.

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