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Budget: Delayed Passage Threatens Foreign Investment, Says NECA

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  • Budget: Delayed Passage Threatens Foreign Investment, Says NECA

The Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association has decried the recurring delay in the passage of the national budget, saying this does not help economic growth and threatens foreign direct investment.

This was contained in a statement made available to our correspondent on Sunday.

NECA, while decrying the development, said the trend was already becoming a culture.

It noted that since 2014, the earliest time the budget was passed was in 2016, and it was in March of that year.

President Muhammadu Buhari presented a budget proposal of N8.83tn for 2019 to the National Assembly on December 19, 2018.

The 2019 total budget estimate is N300bn lower than the N9.1bn budget of the preceding year.

The President said N4.04tn or 50.31 per cent was earmarked for recurrent expenditure and N2.03tn, representing 22.98 per cent, earmarked for capital projects.

Other estimates are N492.36bn for statutory transfers; N2.14tn for debt servicing and provision of N120bn as a sinking fund. Since then, there seems to be nothing concrete to have been heard concerning the budget.

However, the Director General of NECA, Mr Timothy Olawale, described as disheartening the continuous delay in the passage of the national budget, arguing that some other African countries had moved beyond such level.

He added that if truly the country wanted to move onto the track of economic prosperity as soon as possible, then it needed to accord extreme importance to the early passage of the budget.

While he said there had to be a defined time frame, which should be religiously followed as seen in other countries, Olawale advised the executive and legislative arms of the government to shelve the cold war between them in the interest of the nation and work on the budget.

He said, “The continuous delay in budget passage year on year is worrisome and continues to be a major source of concern for the private sector. The importance of quick passage of the budget cannot be over-emphasised as it plays a very critical role in economic development.

“Looking at the trend from 2014, the earliest time the budget was passed was in 2016 and that was in the month of March. Nigeria’s fiscal year begins in January and ends in December; hence, we cannot begin to imagine the dire consequences of the late passage of the budget on national development and business growth.

“In Ghana, for instance, the budget for the 2019 fiscal year was approved in November 2018. In Ethiopia, the budget for the 2018-2019 fiscal year was approved few days before the commencement of the fiscal year in July 2018. Similarly, in Egypt, the budget for their 2018-2019 fiscal year was approved about a month to the commencement of the fiscal year.

“The stability and predictability of the budgetary process of these countries could be one of the reasons why they are becoming the new desired destination for foreign investments.

“For some years now, the process leading to the approval and passing of budget in Nigeria has always been a victim of the proverbial fighting of two elephants. A critical component of the budget such as the capital expenditure, which, to a large extent, plays a major role in economic development, suffers. Infrastructural reforms, which are meant to attract investments and improve the lives of the populace, are put on hold and business decisions, which could translate to expansion and employment generation, frustrated.”

While advising on the way out, Olawale stated, “If we truly want to get the country on the track of economic prosperity as soon as possible, we need to accord extreme importance to the early passage of the budget. There has to be a defined time frame, which should be religiously followed as seen in other countries. We also urge our lawmakers to give the 2019 budget the utmost importance it requires as budget passage should not suffer at the expense of politics.”

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

Nigeria, Morocco sign MOUs on Hydrocarbons, Others

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The Federal Government and the Kingdom of Morocco have signed five strategic Memoranda of Understanding that will foster Nigerian-Morocco bilateral collaboration and promote the development of hydrocarbons, agriculture, and commerce in both countries.

The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva, led the Nigerian delegation to the agreement signing ceremony on Tuesday at Marrakech, Morocco, while the Chief Executive Officer of OCP Africa, Mr Anouar Jamali, signed for the Kingdom of Morocco, according to a statement by the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board.

Under the agreement between OCP, NSIA and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Nigeria will import phosphate from the Kingdom of Morocco and use it to produce blended fertiliser for the local market and export.

The statement said Nigeria would also produce ammonia and export to Morocco.

“As part of the project, the Nigerian Government plans to establish an ammonia plant at Akwa Ibom State,” it said.

The Executive Secretary of NCDMB, Mr Simbi Wabote, and the Group Managing Director of NNPC, Mallam Mele Kyari, were part of the delegation and they confirmed that their organisations would take equity in the ammonia plant when the Final Investment Decision would be taken, the statement said.

Sylva said the project would broaden economic opportunities for the two nations and improve the wellbeing of the people.

He added that the project would also positively impact agriculture, stimulate the growth of gas-based industries and lead to massive job creation.

He said the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), had mandated the Ministry of Petroleum Resources and it agencies and other government agencies to give maximum support for the project.

“He mandated me to ensure that at least the first phase of this project is commissioned before the expiration of his second term in office in 2023,” he added.

According to the statement, the MOUs were for the support of the second phase of the Presidential Fertiliser Initiative; Shareholders Agreement for the creation of the joint venture company to develop the multipurpose industrial platform and MOU for equity investment by the NNPC in the joint venture and support of the gas.

Other agreements are term sheet for gas sales and aggregation agreement and MOU for land acquisition and administrative facilitation to the establishment of the multipurpose industrial platform for gas sales and aggregation agreement.

The NCDMB boss described the bilateral agreement as significant to the Nigerian economy as it would accelerate Nigeria’s gas monetisation programme through establishment of the ammonia plant in the country.

The agreement would also improve Nigeria’s per capita fertiliser application through importation of phosphate derivatives from Morocco, he added.

Wabote challenged the relevant parties to focus on accelerating the FID, assuring them that the NCDMB would take equity investment for long-term sustainability of the project.

He canvassed for the setting up of a project management oversight structure to ensure project requirements and timelines are met.

“There is also need to determine manpower needs for construction and operations phase of the project and develop training programmes that will create the workforce pool from Nigeria and Morocco and design collaboration framework between research centres in Nigeria and Morocco to develop technology solutions for maintaining the ISBL and OSBL units of the Ammonia complex,” he said.

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Economy

Dangote Fertiliser Plant to Commence Shipment of Urea in March 2021

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Dangote to Sells Petrol in Naira, Plans to Commence Urea Shipment in March 2021

The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, has said Dangote Fertiliser Plant will commence shipment of Urea in March 2021.

The CBN governor disclosed this during an inspection tour of the sites of Dangote Refinery, Petrochemicals Complex Fertiliser Plant and Subsea Gas Pipeline at Ibeju Lekki, Lagos on Saturday.

Emefiele further stated that Dangote Refinery would sell refined petroleum products in Naira when it starts production.

This he said would save the country from spending 41 percent of the nation’s foreign exchange on importation of petroleum products yearly.

Based on agreement and discussions with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation and the oil companies, the Dangote Refinery can buy its crude in naira, refine it, and produce it for Nigerians’ use in naira,” Mr Emefiele said.

That is the element where foreign exchange is saved for the country becomes very clear. We are also very optimistic that by refining this product here in Nigeria, all those costs associated with either demurrage from import, costs associated with freight will be totally eliminated.

Emefiele explained that this will make the price of Nigeria’s petroleum products affordable and cheaper in naira.

If we are lucky that what the refinery produces is more than we need locally you will see Nigerian businessmen buying small vessels to take them to our West African neighbours to sell to them in naira.

“This will increase our volume in naira and help to push it into the Economic Community of West African States as a currency,” Mr Emefiele said.

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Economy

UK Budget 2021: Will Sunak’s Budget Run Into Unintended Consequences?

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Rishi Sunak’s Budget will encourage higher earners to consider their “international financial options” and will drive businesses away from the UK, warns the CEO of one of the world’s largest independent financial advisory and fintech organizations.

The warning from Nigel Green, chief executive and founder of deVere Group, comes as the Chancellor delivered his 2021 Budget in the House of Commons, his second since he took on the role.

Mr Green says: “The Chancellor has got an extraordinarily difficult hand to play as he tries to stem the economic damage caused by the pandemic, support jobs and businesses and, crucially, rebuild the public finances.

“Whilst Mr Sunak is being hailed a hero for the continued and unprecedented levels of support, it should also be remembered that he is – in a stealth move – dragging more people firmly into the tax net.

“He is raising taxes under the radar.

“Yes, there is no income tax rise. However, he is freezing personal tax thresholds, meaning as incomes rise and thresholds don’t, he is able to raise money by fiscal drag.”

Earlier this week, the deVere CEO noted: “Those most impacted by this stealth move will be looking at the financial planning options available to them, including international options, in order to grow and protect their wealth.”

Rishi Sunak also confirmed that corporation tax will increase to 25% from 2023, up from the current level of 19%.

Of this tax hike, Mr Green goes on to say: “Lower corporation tax helps job and wealth-creating business to survive and thrive. It also helps attract business to move and invest in the country.

“Instead of increasing taxes, Mr Sunak should have relentlessly focussed on growth and stimulus policies for businesses.  This would have been of greater help to firms, the economy, jobs and, ultimately, the Treasury’s coffers.”

He adds: “Again, this corporation tax hike is likely to serve as a prompt for businesses to consider their overseas financial options.”

The deVere CEO concludes: “The Chancellor had to perform a tough juggling act.  But stealthily dragging more people into the tax net and raising corporation tax might have negative, unintended consequences for the Treasury’s bottom line.”

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