- 2018 Budget Contains N460bn Wasteful Expenditure – Group
The Centre for Social Justice on Tuesday picked holes in the 2018 budget proposals presented by President Muhammadu Buhari to the National Assembly, stating that the fiscal document contained over N460bn “frivolous, inappropriate, unclear and wasteful” expenditure.
The group stated this in a report made available to our correspondent by its Lead Facilitator, Mr. Eze Onyekpere.
The group analysed the 2018 budget of N8.6tn, which is currently before the National Assembly.
The group called on the lawmakers to critically review the fiscal document in order to remove all the expenditure that would not impact positively on the lives of the people.
It recommended that many expenditure in the budget should be slashed, adding that this would save the country about N219.3bn.
The report read in part, “The Centre for Social Justice and its partners in the Citizens Wealth Platform have identified frivolous, inappropriate, unclear and wasteful expenditure in the federal Appropriation Bill. The documentation is sent to every member of the National Assembly to assist the passage of the annual budget.
“The term frivolous implies not having any serious purpose or value as some of the expenditure proposals cannot be supported by any high level national plan or policy. They ignore the pressing problems and challenges, while providing for the fancy, whims and caprices of the budget crafters.
“A total of N219.37bn has been identified as resources to be saved and reprogrammed by the National Assembly. We hope that the National Assembly will do the needful for the common good.”
It claimed that it had become a tradition among Ministries, Departments and Agencies of government to allocate huge sums of money for expenditure items that were unclear in the budget.
Some of them are purchase of motor vehicles, software, computers, uniforms and clothing, refreshment and meals, monitoring and evaluation, as well as welfare packages.
Others are maintenance of office buildings/residential quarters, budget preparation expenses, residential rents, and capacity building, among others.
Giving a breakdown of some of the expenses that made up the unclear expenditure, the report stated that in the State House for instance, the sum of N907.1m, which was allocated for phased replacement of vehicle spare parts and tyres, was bogus and should be reduced by 50 per cent to N453.55m.
It added that the N4.86bn that was budgeted for annual routine maintenance of the Villa should be reduced by 80 per cent to N972m.
The CSJ said the reduction in the maintenance cost of the Villa by 80 per cent would result into a saving of N3.88bn that could be channelled into other developmental projects.
It added, “Annual routine maintenance cannot cost so much. And there is a second sum for maintenance of office and residential quarters.
“Reduce the first and second votes by 80 per cent. There is a further sum of N92m for ‘other maintenance services’ after providing for vehicle, equipment, generator maintenance.”
The report also stated that the huge vote of N51.75bn for the Sustainable Development Goals called for vigilance and proper oversight on the part of the legislature after approval.
It noted that for over 13 years, this type of vote had been approved without Nigerians getting value and improvement in their lives for the large sums of money.
The report also cited the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, whose budget included several requests for money without specific details about what they were voted for.
Nigeria’s Main Refineries Record N406.62bn Loss in Two Years
Port Harcourt, Kaduna, Warri Refinery posts N406.62bn Deficit in Two Years
Nigeria’s three main refineries recorded N406.62 billion loss in two years, according to the audited financial statements from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
The three refineries located in Port Harcourt, Kaduna and Warri have a combined installed capacity of 445,000 barrels per day, however, the refineries have continued to function below the installed capacity.
The audited report showed the Kaduna refinery posted N64.34 billion loss in 2018, better than the N111.89 billion loss reported in 2017.
While Warri refinery filed N44.44 billion loss for 2018, also better than the N81.60 billion loss posted in 2017.
Port Harcourt refinery reported N45.59 billion loss in 2018, down from N55.76 billion loss posted in 2017.
The Nigerian government has spent billions of US dollars in maintaining and trying to improve the dilapidated refineries over the years. However, because of the inability of the three refineries to meet daily petrol demands of the Nigerian people, the Federal Government resulted to importation that has eroded the nation’s foreign reserves.
A recent report from the NNPC showed that Nigeria spent N2.37 trillion on petrol importation between May 2019 and May 2020 despite the nation struggling with falling foreign reserves due to low oil prices.
The weak foreign reserves has disrupted the nation’s economic outlook and weighed on the Nigerian Naira. The Naira has been devalued by 15 percent this year and was recently adjusted from N360 per US dollar exchange rate to N380/US$ for importers and investors to ease pressure on the nation’s foreign reserves.
Last week, at a summit organised by Seplat, Mallam Mele Kyari, the Group Managing Director, NNPC, said the three refineries were all idle despite the money being spent on them.
“In Nigeria today, we are importing practically every petroleum product that we consume in this country.
“We are working to make sure that we are able to fix our refineries,” Kyari stated.
All hopes are now on Dangote’s refinery.
Aliko Dangote, Africa’s richest man and the world’s richest black man, is presently constructing a 650,000 barrels per day refinery.
Osinbajo Says FG Plans to Create 5 Million Jobs
FG to Create 5m Jobs from Strategic Investments in Manufacturing, Agriculture
Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, has said the Federal Government plans to create at least 5 million jobs in the next few years.
Osinbajo, who spoke at the Virtual Presidential Policy Dialogue Session organised by the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), said the Buhari-led administration is focused on job creation.
He, therefore, stated that this would be achieved with strategic investments in key sectors like the manufacturing and agriculture sectors.
The Vice President said, “We are to create jobs and boost our national housing programme. We would be intentional in the support of manufacturers in using our local raw materials. We are seriously engaging the use of cement in building our roads, as it will be cheaper for us and more durable.
“We are targeting electrification of five million households with solar power, and we are supporting SMEs, especially in the pharmaceuticals to enhance the production of personal protective equipment.”
Mrs. Toki Mabogunje, the President of LCCI, who also spoke at the event, expressed concerns over the failure of the Nigerian Customs Service to adhere to the Executive Order which forbids Customs checkpoints around the ports and within given geographical delimitations in the country.
She also noted the slow pace of reforms in the oil and gas sector, one of the nation’s main sectors. According to her, the oil and gas sector was another cause for worry, saying up till now the PIB passed has not been signed by President Muhammadu Buhari.
According to her, “Closure of the land borders has enormous implications for cross border economic activities around the country. The indications are now that the closure is indefinite. While we share the concern of government on issues of security and smuggling, we believe that the indefinite closure of land borders is not the solution to the problem.
“We are excited about the signing of the AFCTA. But we need to get ourselves ready for the pressure of competition inherent in the continental economic integration agenda. A number of commitments were made about the creation of an environment that would enable the private sector to be competition ready. But not much has happened in this regard so far.
“We are aware of the efforts of government to fix our infrastructure, including roads and railways, but funding has remained a major challenge. We would like to see a new funding model with much bigger focus on private sector capital within a Public Private Partnership [PPP] framework for infrastructure development in the country.”
Fuel Scarcity: NUPENG to Commence Strike on Monday
Lagosians Should Brace for Fuel Scarcity as NUPENG Embarks on Strike
Nigerians should brace for fuel scarcity as the national leadership of the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas (NUPENG) directed all petroleum tanker drivers to withdraw their services from Lagos State starting from Monday, 10 August 2020.
In a statement released by NUPENG on Friday, the union said the directive followed the failure of various authorities in Lagos State to address three major issues that had impacted the operations of petroleum tanker drivers in the state for several months.
The statement signed by the National President, Williams Akporeha and the General Secretary, Olawale Afolabi, NUPENG and titled title ‘NUPENG leadership directs withdrawal of services by petroleum tanker drivers in Lagos State with effect from Monday, August 10, 2020,’ noted that members of the union are frustrated and pained by the barrage of challenges faced while carrying out their activities in Lagos State.
NUPENG said, “The entire rank and file members of the union are deeply pained, frustrated and agonised by the barrage of these challenges being consistently faced by petroleum tanker drivers in Lagos State and are left with no other option but to direct the withdrawal of their services in Lagos State until the Lagos State Government and other relevant stakeholders address these critical challenges.
“It is sad and disheartening to note here that we had made several appeals and reports to the Lagos State Government and the Presidential Task Force for the decongestion of Apapa on these challenges but all to no avail.”
NUPENG listed the major challenges faced by petroleum tanker drivers in Lagos State as extortion and harassment by various security agents and, area boys’ (miscreants).
“This menace must stop and the leadership of these security operatives in Lagos State must go all out to call their men to order with immediate effect.”
The Union added that it is sad that the security agents who were expected to ensure the free flow of traffic and protection of road users were the same people using their uniforms and arms to intimidate, harass and extort money from petroleum drivers in Lagos State.
Therefore, it said it had embarked on an indefinite strike to force the Lagos State Government to address the situation.
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