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Analysts Seek Strict Implementation as N’Assembly Passes 2019 Budget

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  • Analysts Seek Strict Implementation as N’Assembly Passes 2019 Budget

The National Assembly yesterday passed the 2019 budget after jerking it up by N90 billion from N8.83 trillion to N8.91 trillion.

The passage of the appropriation bill is coming more than four months after the budget estimate was presented to the joint sitting of the National Assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari last December.

However, beyond the passage of the 2019 Appropriation Bill into law by the National Assembly, some economists and operators have, in separate interviews, called for strict implementation of the budget.

The analysts have also stressed the need for the federal government to return to the January- December budget cycle.

A former Director General of the West African Institute for Financial and Economic Management (WAIFEM), Prof. Akpan Ekpo, on his part, called for closed monitoring of the budget implementation when signed into law by the president.

Ekpo said: “The problem with Nigeria is that we just allocate money, we don’t monitor the outcome. The main thing is to get the result of what you are putting money into.

“So, allocation is no longer the issue, but budget implementation. For example, if, last year, money was allocated for security, how was it implemented? What did they buy for security? Was it properly utilised?

“Again, we are in the fifth month, and we are still talking about the 2019 budget. A budget is supposed to be a tool for macro stability. Once it is delayed for five months, it creates a lot of distortions in the economy. So, going forward, we need to return to the December-January budget cycle.”

The Director General, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Mr. Muda Yusuf, described the passage of the budget by the lawmakers as a welcome development.

He said: “We only hope that the president can quickly assent to it so that implementation can start in earnest.

“We hope that there is no major discrepancy between what was submitted and what was passed by the lawmakers, because over the years that has always been the bone of contention and has always delayed the signing of the budget.

“Going forward, as we move to the next phase of this administration, we should endeavour to return to the December-January budget cycle.”

His counterpart at the Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Assembly, Mr. Timothy Olawale, regretted the avoidable delays, which had become traditional with very serious adverse implications for the economy.

“We hope the executive and legislative arms will bury their differences and work together for the good of the nation and the people they have agreed to serve,” he said.

An analyst at Ecobank Nigeria, Mr. Kunle Ezun, said he anticipated that the lawmakers would have raised the budget to N10 trillion, considering the new minimum wage.

He explained: “The budget, as it is presently, is not enough to stimulate economic growth in Nigeria. An economy of over $500 billion, with a population that has a three per cent growth rate, you can’t be having budget of this size.

“I am sure that in the life of this budget, a supplementary budget would be submitted before the end of the year. We expect the government to increase spending this year if it is to achieve its three per cent GDP projection and to achieve that, they would need to spend more.”

N’Assembly Increases Budget by N90bn

Meanwhile, the National Assembly yesterday passed the 2019 budget after jerking it up by N90 billion from the N8.83 trillion budget size presented by President Buhari to N8.91trillion.

The breakdown of the N90 billion added to the budget include N23.67 billion earmarked as severance gratuity for outgoing legislators and their aides and induction of new legislators; N10 billion added as federal government intervention for tackling humanitarian crisis in Zamfara State, and additional N66 billion for security agencies including Army, Navy, Air Force, and the Police to tackle insecurity and all forms of crimes in the country.

The budget reports were presented at yesterday’s plenary of the two chambers by the Chairman of Senate committee on Appropriation, Senator Danjuma Goje (Gombe Central), and his counterpart in the House of Representatives, Hon. Mustapha Dawaki, before the two chambers dissolved into their respective Committees on Supply to consider the clause-by- clause report of the budget.
Presenting the budget report earlier, Goje explained that the N23.678 billion severance package for outgoing legislators also included induction programme and inauguration of the ninth assembly.

He added that in implementing the just approved N30,000 minimum wage for public servants, the N160 billion proposed as service-wide votes was appropriated for, under the public service wage adjustment for Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).

All the parameters upon which the budget estimates were based by the executive were retained by both Senate and House of Representatives.

The parameters are $60 per barrel oil price benchmark, 2.3 million barrel per day production level, N350 to one US dollar as exchange rate.

Major highlights of the N8.916 trillion budget passed by the National Assembly are N502.058 billion for Statutory Transfers; N500 billion for Special Intervention and N4.055 trillion for recurrent expenditure.

Others are N2.094 trillion for capital expenditure, N1.908 trillion as fiscal deficit within the ambit of 1.37 per cent deficit to GDP (Gross Domestic Product).

Within the service wide votes allocation in the approved budget, N5 billion is earmarked for payment of outstanding death benefit to civil servants and police personnel, N15 billion as additional support for universities and N65 billion for Presidential Amnesty Programme on reintegration of transformed ex- militants.

Within the capital expenditure component of the budget, N394.906 billion is earmarked for the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing, N107.218 billion for the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, N159.125 billion for Ministry of Defence and N92.178 billion for Ministry of Water Resources.

Others are N58.689 billion for Ministry of Education, N179.384 billion for Ministry of Transportation, N53.678 billion for Ministry of Interior and others.

However, in the recurrent expenditure component of the budget, the Ministry of Interior has the highest appropriated votes of N564.222 billion, followed by Ministry of Education with N463.395 billion.

Others include N502, 058,892,965 set aside for statutory transfers, N2,254,014,113,092 for debt servicing, N4,055,940,383,684 for recurrent (non-debt) expenditure, while N2,094,950,709,632 was earmarked as contribution to the development fund for capital expenditure for the year ending December 31, 2019.

Under the statutory transfers, the National Judicial Council (NJC) got N110,000,000,000; Niger Delta Development Commission (N100,188,921,129); Universal Basic Education (N112,471,421,836); National Assembly (N128,000,000,000); Public Complaint Commission (4,398,550,000,000); INEC (N45,500,000,000); National Human Rights Commission (N1,500,000,000); Independent Corrupt Practices and Related Offences (N5,380,108,639); Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs (N2,199,690,571); and Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development (N122,668,019,823).

Other statutory transfers are: Federal Ministry of Women Affairs (N1,521,618,086); Federal Ministry of Education (N463,395,832,111); Federal Ministry of Health (N315,717,344, 56); Federal Ministry of Environment (N18,774,175,241); and National Population Commission (N6,013,849,931).
Speaking after the Appropriation Bill passed third reading, Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, said: “With passage of this bill for third reading today, the executive must ensure full implementation of the budget, sector by sector for the benefit and well- being of Nigerians.

In a related development, the House of Representatives at plenary also yesterday appropriated N8,916,964,099,373 for the 2019 fiscal year.
This followed the consideration of the report of the Hon. Mustapha Bala Dawaki-led Committee on Appropriation Bill for an Act to authorise the issue from the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federation the total sum of N8.916 trillion.

Briefing journalists about the processes that led to the conclusion of the budget, Dawaki said: “The budget has been passed by both chambers. Today, we are happy that the National Assembly has passed the budget at the end of April – on April 30, 2019. I believe that by Thursday it will be transmitted to the president for assent.

“The proposal that was laid before the National Assembly; there are two components of the budget, the exchange rate and crude oil production. All these items, the way they were presented by the President, the National Assembly sustained them. The crude oil production (output) was 2.3 million barrels per day and the exchange rate was N305 to a dollar. The benchmark was $60 per barrel. The National Assembly sustained all these; we did not change anything in the executive proposal.

“The only area that is affected is the area of deficit; the deficit sent to us was N1.906 trillion. There was an increment of N53 billion. The reason is that there were so many outstanding items that were not captured in the 2019 budget proposal. One, there was a resolution by the Senate that urged the federal government’s intervention in the security situation in Zamfara, to which N10 billion was proposed. We had to make that available in the capital supplementation under the Service Wide Vote.

“There is also a severance benefit of the outgoing legislators and legislative aides, which was not captured in the 2019 proposal. These benefits and expenses always happen in the transition year; that is, the fourth year when legislators are exiting and new ones are coming. We had to make a provision for that, which amounted to N24.6 billion. There is also salary arrears of legislative aides that have not been paid for the period of four years, for which N3 billion was provided.

“There is also an addition to the security agencies generally because of what is happening in Nigeria regarding the security situation. We still believe that providing more fund for them – it can never be enough – will make them to discharge their constitutional responsibilities diligently; and the various allowances to take care of their personnel. These are the areas where the National Assembly intervened.”

Bothered by the quantum of money allocated to the office of the National Security Adviser as against what came to sections of the National Assembly, Kano lawmaker, Hon. Damburam Nuhu, on his part, said it is important for Nigerians to note that one office got as much as N86 billion.

“My worry is, we are passing a budget of N86.8 billion for the office of the National Security Adviser alone and the entire budget of the National Assembly N128 billion. This comprises the recurrent plus the capital and everything, which is not only for legislators; it is also for the commission and all other aides and co.

“The people of the country need to know that if a single agency like the National Security Adviser’s office will be taking N86bn, then there is cause for worry; when people say perhaps we are taking too much in this place; that is why I am raising this observation for everybody to know,” he stated.

Other caveats in the budget include: “The department of government charged with the responsibility of certifying that due process have been complied with in the processing of implementation of projects shall ensure that all processes of approval are completed within the specified period as provided for in the Public Procurement Act.

“All accounting officers of Ministries, Parastatals and Departments of government, who control heads of expenditure, shall upon the coming into effect of this bill, furnish the National Assembly on quarterly basis, with detailed information on the Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) of the agency in any form whatsoever.

“All accounting officers of ministries, parastatals and departments of government, who control heads of expenditure, shall upon the coming into effect of this bill, furnish the National Assembly on quarterly basis, with detailed information on all foreign and domestic assistance received from any agency, persons or organisation in any form whatsoever. For the purpose of this bill the term ‘schedule’ includes the detailed estimates of expenditure.”

The House of Representatives also noted: “In line with the provisions of Section 318 of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, as amended, this bill will run for a course of 12 months starting from the date it is assented into law.

President Buhari had on Wednesday, December 19, 2018 unveiled a federal budget proposal of N8.83 trillion for the 2019 fiscal year.

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

Fitch Agency Revises Nigeria’s Growth Projection for 2021

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Fitch Agency Revises Nigeria’s Growth Projection for 2021

Fitch Ratings, one of the world’s leading agencies, has revised down Nigeria’s growth projection for 2021.

The global rating agency predicted that Nigeria will grow by 1.5 percent in 2021, down from the previous 2.3 percent projection.

Fitch based its latest prediction on weaker base effects coming out of a shallower contraction recorded by the country in 2020.

While the agency said oil exports would be the main growth driver for Nigeria in 2021, consumer spending and investment were expected to remain subdued because of the rising inflation and the slow distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Fitch Ratings, however, said Africa’s largest economy could expand by 2.7 percent in 2022, adding that by then it “expect Nigeria’s vaccination programme to gather pace, which will result in private consumption and fixed investment accelerating.”

“We at Fitch Solutions have revised our estimate for Nigeria’s real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to a contraction of 1.9 per cent in 2020, compared to our previous estimate of a 3.2 per cent fall. The revision follows the release of stronger than expected GDP data indicating that the economy exited recession in the fourth quarter of 2020, growing by 0.1 per cent year-on-year, after contracting by 3.6 per cent in the third quarter of 2020 and by 6.1 per cent in the second quarter of 2020.

“The agriculture and services sectors led the Q4 2020 rebound, expanding by 3.4 per cent and 1.3 per cent respectively, resulting in non-oil growth rising by 1.7 per cent compared to a 2.5 per cent fall in Q3 2020. The oil sector (around 8.0% of GDP) contracted by 19.8 per cent in Q4 2020 – its third consecutive quarterly contraction – because of falling oil production and weak prices.

“Crude production slowed to 1.56 million barrels per day (b/d) in Q4 2020 from 1.67 milion b/d in Q3 2020, partly because of Nigeria’s commitments under the OPEC+ deal, while the price of Brent fell to an average of $43.2 per barrel (/bbl) in 2020 compared to $64.2/bbl in 2019,” it stated.

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Economy

Stop Maize, Soybean Export to Reduce Scarcity – NIAL

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Farm input

Stop Maize, Soybean Export to Reduce Scarcity – NIAL

The Nigerian Institute of Animal Science on Tuesday called on the Federal Government to halt the continued export of maize and soybean to reduce the scarcity of the commodities as well curb their price hike in Nigeria.

Registrar and Chief Executive Officer, NIAL, Prof. Eustance Iyayi, told journalists in Abuja that the poultry sector was currently hit by the severe scarcity of maize and soybean.

This, he said, was due to the continued export of the commodities, the COVID-19 pandemic, which had disorganised the international supply chain, lingering insecurity in the North-East, farmers/herders conflict and flooding in some parts of the country.

“Maize and soybean are being exported and this has exacerbated the situation leading to local scarcity and price escalation of the commodities in poultry production,” Iyayi stated.

He added, “The increasing prices of the essential commodities has resulted in the increase in price of finished feeds by about 75 per cent.

“This has led to the closure of small and medium sized poultry farms thereby threatening about 10 million jobs as a result of this scarcity.

“To set the poultry industry from total collapse, the institute urges the government to immediately halt the exportation of soybean and maize and grant import permit to importers at the official foreign exchange rate.”

Iyayi said there was shortage of soybean in Nigeria and other countries, stressing that the little amount being produced across the country should not be exported.

He said the current maize yield of about one to two tonnes per hectare being produced in Nigeria would not be enough to sustain the country.

The NIAL helmsman stated that the country should be producing between seven and 10 tonnes per hectare in order to meet the requirements for humans and animals.

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Economy

Petrol Landing Cost Jumps to N186, Oil Hits $64

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Petrol Landing Cost Jumps to N186, Oil Hits $64

Against the backdrop of the rising price of oil prices, the landing cost of Premium Motor Spirit (petrol) imported into Nigeria has increased to N186.33 per litre.

Investors King had exclusively reported on February 9 that the landing cost of PMS rose to about N180 per litre on February 5 from N158.53 per litre on January 7.

Crude oil price accounts for a large chunk of the final cost of petrol, and the deregulation of petrol price by the Federal Government last year means that the pump price of the product will reflect changes in the international oil market.

Going by the petrol pricing template of the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency, the landing cost of petrol rose to N186.33 per litre on February 16, with the pump price of the product expected to be N209.33 per litre.

The international oil benchmark, Brent crude, closed at $63.96 per barrel on February 16, up from $59.34 per barrel on February 5.

The rising price of crude oil pushed the cost of petrol quoted on Platts to $560.75 per metric tonne (N163.08 per litre, using N390/$1) on February 16 from $543.25 per metric tonne (N157.99 per litre) on February 5.

Other cost elements that make up the landing cost include freight (N10.29), lightering expenses (N4.57), insurance cost (N0.25), Nigerian Ports Authority charge (N2.38), Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency charge (N0.23), jetty throughput charge (N1.61), storage charge (N2.58), and financing (N1.33).

The freight cost increased to $35.41 per MT (N10.29 per litre) last Wednesday from $30.04 per MT (N8.74 per litre) on February 5.

The pump price is the sum of the landing cost, wholesale margin and the distribution margins. The wholesale margin is N4.03 while the distribution margins comprise transporters allowance (N3.89), retailer (N6.19), bridging fund (N7.51), marine transport average (N0.15), and admin charge (N1.23).

Apart from the changes in global crude oil prices, the exchange rate of naira to the dollar also affects the cost of imported petrol.

The cost of petrol would be higher if the 410/$1 rate at which the naira closed on Monday at the Investors’ and Exporters’ Foreign Exchange Window was used. The naira closed at 480/$1 at the parallel market.

The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, which has been the sole importer of petrol into the country in recent years, is still being relied upon by marketers for the supply of the product despite the deregulation of the downstream petroleum sector.

Oil marketers said recently that they were ready to resume importation of petrol if the foreign exchange was made available to them at a competitive rate.

“The discussion we should be having today is how best to maximise the benefits of the removal of price controls and subsidies while minimising the adverse effects of this action on our citizens,” the Chairman, Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria, Mr Adetunji Oyebanji, said at a virtual press briefing.

Brent crude, against which Nigeria’s oil is priced, rose by $1.67 to $64.58 per barrel as of 6:08pm Nigerian time on Monday.

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