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FG to Spend N4.8bn on Villa Maintenance in 2018

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aso rock state house
  • FG to Spend N4.8bn on Villa Maintenance in 2018

The Federal Government is proposing to spend N4.86bn in the 2018 fiscal year on maintenance of the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

The budgeted amount for next year when compared to the N4.95bn allocated for annual routine maintenance of villa facilities in the 2017 budget represents a decline of about N90m.

In the 2016 budget, the sum of N3.91bn was allocated for annual routine maintenance of the Presidential Villa by the Federal Government.

The N4.86bn amount for this year is part of the N11.54bn total allocation made for the state house headquarters in the proposed 2018 budget.

The State House has a total capital allocation of N7.1bn while recurrent expenditure was estimated at N4.43bn

In 2017, the state house had a budget of N11.02bm made up of N6.52bn for capital project while recurrent expenditure was estimated at N4.49bn.

The 2018 budget was submitted last Tuesday to a joint session of the National Assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari.

It has a total allocation of N8.61tn made up of N3.49tn for recurrent, N2.43tn for capital while debt servicing and statutory transfers among others are to gulp the sum of N2.01tn and N456bn respectively.

A breakdown of the state house budget shows that apart from the N4.86bn for annual maintenance, there are outstanding liabilities of N565.65m for routine maintenance for 2016.

In the same vein, the sum of N907.1m was budgeted for phased replacement of vehicles, spares and tyres in the presidential security/police escort, while N284.58m was allocated for renovation work at state house security quarters.

The budget proposal also has a provision of N93.6m for electronic document management system, N17.74m for upgrade of state house library, N28.9m for upgrade of villa ranch and construction of wildlife conservation and N83.7m for purchase of tyres for bulletproof vehicles, ambulances and other utilities and operational vehicles.

The Minister of Budget and National Planning, Udo Udoma, had on Tuesday during the public presentation of the 2018 budget, said the government would continue to spend more on ongoing infrastructure projects that had potential for job creation and inclusive growth.

He said the Federal Government would continue to leverage private capital and counterpart funding for the delivery of infrastructure projects.

The minister said for 2018 capital projects, the government would carry out huge projects in transportation, power, works, housing, health, water resources, agriculture and rural development, mines and steel development, industry , trade and investment, and education.

For instance, he said N35.4bn had been provided for Federal Government National Housing Programme, N10bn for second Niger Bridge, N294bn for construction and rehabilitation of major roads nationwide, N8.9bn for procurements of vaccines, over N50bn for water supply, rehabilitation of dams and irrigation projects nationwide.

He added that N25.1bn had been earmarked for promotion and development of value chains across 30 different commodities, N4bn for agri-business and market development, N46.3bn for special economic zone projects across the geopolitical zones to drive manufacturing and exports and N19.28bn in form of tax credits to support export through Export Expansion Grant, among others.

Budget unacceptable, a misnomer- CACOL, Junaid, others

However, a civil-society organisation, Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, condemned the budget for Aso Rock Villa, saying it was “unacceptable and a misnomer.”

The CACOL Director, Debo Adeniran, said, “Several items in the Aso Rock Villa budget are repeated annually and no changes are carried out. You are still going to have budget for kitchen utensils, furniture and others. This is the problem of our budget and the reason why the government has gone ahead with such bogus amounts is because there is no accountability, probity and transparency. If people can raise questions, we can force the amounts down.

“Basically, it is a misnomer and an administration preaching change must not allow such bloated budget. We have just heard about the Aso Rock clinic fraud which was brought to light by even the wife of the President.”

Also, a Second Republic lawmaker, Dr Junaid Muhammed, described as unacceptable the budgeted amount for the installations, noting that the budget needed to be scrutinised.

Muhammed said, “I share the concerns of many Nigerians that many items in the 2018 are bloated and unacceptable. If only we will take time to scrutinise the budget, we will find many of such unnecessary items such as the one in focus.

“That the cost of the maintenance of the installations at the villa, put at N4.86billion is more than the installations themselves is laughable and shows that the present government is not being sincere with itself. Such is very unacceptable.”

It is unnecessary, says CIFCN registrar

Commenting on the allocation for maintenance of the villa, the Registrar, Chartered Institute of Finance and Control of Nigeria, Mr. Godwin Eohoi, said the huge allocation was unnecessary at a time when Nigerians were experiencing economic hardship.

He said, “That kind of huge allocation for maintenance of the presidential villa is an expenditure that should not be encouraged at a time when the government is involved in huge borrowing to finance its operations and when a majority of Nigerians are suffering the biting economic hardship.

“The government should set its priorities right by ensuring that many of the bad roads are fixed. Why budget such huge amount of money for maintenance of the Villa when many people don’t even have food to eat?

“That amount that was budgeted for maintenance should have been reduced drastically to free up funds for other infrastructure projects.”

The office of President Muhammadu Buhari was repaired after the President came back from 81 days’ medical trip in London, the United Kingdom on August 19.

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.

Government

COVID-19 Vaccine: African Export-Import Bank (Afrexim) to Purchase 270 Million Doses for Nigeria, Other African Nations

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African Export-Import Bank (Afrexim) Approves $2 Billion for the Purchase of 270 million Doses for African Nations

African Export-Import Bank (Afrexim) said it has approved $2 billion for the purchase of 270 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines for African nations, including Nigeria.

Prof. Benedict Oramah, the President of the Bank, disclosed this at a virtual Africa Soft Power Series held on Tuesday.

He, however, stated that the lender is looking to raise more funds for the COVID-19 vaccines’ acquisition.

He said: “The African Union knows that unless you put the virus away, your economy can’t come back. If Africa didn’t do anything, it would become a COVID-19 continent when other parts of the world have already moved on.
“Recall that it took seven years during the heat of HIV for them to come to Africa after 12 million people had died.

“With the assistance of the AU, we were able to get 270 million vaccines and financing need of about $2 billion. Afreximbank then went ahead to secure the $2 billion. But that money for the 270 million doses could only add 15 per cent to the 20 per cent that Covax was bringing.

He added that this is not the time to wait for handouts or free vaccines as other countries will naturally sort themselves out before African nations.

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Government

China Calls for Better China-U.S. Relations

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China Calls for China-U.S. Relations

Senior Chinese diplomat Wang Yi said on Monday the United States and China could work together on issues like climate change and the coronavirus pandemic if they repaired their damaged bilateral relationship.

Wang, a Chinese state councillor and foreign minister, said Beijing stood ready to reopen constructive dialogue with Washington after relations between the two countries sank to their lowest in decades under former president Donald Trump.

Wang called on Washington to remove tariffs on Chinese goods and abandon what he said was an irrational suppression of the Chinese tech sector, steps he said would create the “necessary conditions” for cooperation.

Before Wang spoke at a forum sponsored by the foreign ministry, officials played footage of the “ping-pong diplomacy” of 1972 when an exchange of table tennis players cleared the way for then U.S. President Richard Nixon to visit China.

Wang, a Chinese state councillor and foreign minister, said Beijing stood ready to reopen constructive dialogue with Washington after relations between the two countries sank to their lowest in decades under former president Donald Trump.

Wang called on Washington to remove tariffs on Chinese goods and abandon what he said was an irrational suppression of the Chinese tech sector, steps he said would create the “necessary conditions” for cooperation.

Before Wang spoke at a forum sponsored by the foreign ministry, officials played footage of the “ping-pong diplomacy” of 1972 when an exchange of table tennis players cleared the way for then U.S. President Richard Nixon to visit China.

Wang urged Washington to respect China’s core interests, stop “smearing” the ruling Communist Party, stop interfering in Beijing’s internal affairs and stop “conniving” with separatist forces for Taiwan’s independence.

“Over the past few years, the United States basically cut off bilateral dialogue at all levels,” Wang said in prepared remarks translated into English.

“We stand ready to have candid communication with the U.S. side, and engage in dialogues aimed at solving problems.”

Wang pointed to a recent call between Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Joe Biden as a positive step.

Washington and Beijing have clashed on multiple fronts including trade, accusations of human rights crimes against the Uighur Muslim minorities in the Xinjiang region and Beijing’s territorial claims in the resources-rich South China Sea.

The Biden administration has, however, signalled it will maintain pressure on Beijing. Biden has voiced concern about Beijing’s “coercive and unfair” trade practices and endorsed of a Trump administration determination that China has committed genocide in Xinjiang.

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Government

U.S. Supreme Court Allows Release of Trump Tax Returns

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President Trump Signs Executive Order In Oval Office Of The White House

U.S. Supreme Court Allows Release of Trump Tax Returns

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday paved the way for a New York City prosecutor to obtain former President Donald Trump’s tax returns and other financial records as part of a criminal investigation, a blow to his quest to conceal details of his finances.

The justices without comment rebuffed Trump’s request to put on hold an Oct. 7 lower court ruling directing the former Republican president’s longtime accounting firm, Mazars USA, to comply with a subpoena to turn over the materials to a grand jury convened by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, a Democrat.

“The work continues,” Vance said in a statement issued after the court’s action.

Vance had previously said in a letter to Trump’s lawyers that his office would be free to immediately enforce the subpoena if the justices rejected Trump’s request.

A lawyer for Trump did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Supreme Court, which has a 6-3 conservative majority included three Trump appointees, had already ruled once in the dispute, last July rejecting Trump’s broad argument that he was immune from criminal probes as a sitting president.

Unlike all other recent U.S. presidents, Trump refused during his four years in office to make his tax returns public. The data could provide details on his wealth and the activities of his family real-estate company, the Trump Organization.

Trump, who left office on Jan. 20 after being defeated in his Nov. 3 re-election bid by Democrat Joe Biden, continues to face an array of legal issues concerning his personal and business conduct.

Vance issued a subpoena to Mazars in August 2019 seeking Trump’s corporate and personal tax returns from 2011 to 2018. Trump’s lawyers sued to block the subpoena, arguing that as a sitting president, Trump had absolute immunity from state criminal investigations.

The Supreme Court in its July ruling rejected those arguments but said Trump could raise other objections to the subpoena. Trump’s lawyers then argued before lower courts that the subpoena was overly broad and amounted to political harassment, but U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero in August and the New York-based 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in October rejected those claims.

Vance’s investigation, which began more than two years ago, had focused on hush money payments that the president’s former lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen made before the 2016 election to two women – adult-film actress Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal – who said they had sexual encounters with Trump.

In recent court filings, Vance has suggested that the probe is now broader and could focus on potential bank, tax and insurance fraud, as well as falsification of business records.

In separate litigation, the Democratic-led U.S. House of Representatives was seeking to subpoena similar records. The Supreme Court in July sent that matter back to lower courts for further review.

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