Nigeria Can no Long Afford Subsidy, Says Buhari
President Muhammadu Buhari has said it is economically dangerous to go back to the era of fuel subsidy given a 60 percent decline in revenue generation.
The president, who was represented by the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo (SAN) at the opening of the First Year Ministerial Performance Review Retreat for Ministers, Permanent Secretaries and Top Government Functionaries, at the State House Conference Centre, said the plunged in global oil prices due to COVID-19 has compelled the administration to make some tough calls that may cause initial pain but necessary for long-term gains.
He said “The COVID-19 pandemic, which has affected economies globally, has compelled us to make some far-reaching adjustments that may cause some initial pain, but which is necessary for long-term gains. As you all know, when oil prices collapsed at the height of the global lockdown, we deregulated the price of premium motor spirit (PMS) such that the benefit of lower prices was passed to consumers.
“This was welcomed by all and sundry. The effect of regulation though is that PMS prices will change with changes in global oil prices. This means, quite regrettably, that as oil prices recover, we would see some increases in PMS prices.
“There are several negative consequences, if Government should resume the business of fixing or subsidizing PMS prices. First of all, it would mean a return to the costly subsidy regime. Today we have 60% less revenues; we just cannot afford the cost. The second danger is the potential return of fuel queues – which has, thankfully, become a thing of the past under this administration. Nigerians no longer have to endure long queues just to buy petrol, often at highly inflated prices.
“Also, as I hinted earlier, there is no provision for fuel subsidy in the revised 2020 budget, simply because we are not able to afford it, if reasonable provisions must be made for health, education and other social services. We now have no choice.
“Nevertheless, I want to assure our compatriots that Government will remain alert to its responsibilities. The role of government now is to prevent marketers from raising prices arbitrarily or exploiting citizens. This was why the PPRA made the announcement a few days ago setting the range of price that must not be exceeded by marketers. The advantage we now have is that anyone can bring in petroleum products and compete with marketers, that way the price of petrol will be keep coming down”, the President said.
Speaking on the implementation of service-based billing for electricity, he said the adjustment was a painful one but its necessary if the nation wants consistent and reliable power supply.
He said “The other painful adjustment that we have had to make in recent days is a review of the electricity tariff regime. If there is one thing that we have heard over and over again, it is that Nigerians want consistent and reliable power supply. So the power sector remains a critical priority for the administration.
“Protecting the poor and vulnerable, while ensuring improved service in the power sector, is also a major priority for Government. And our policies, like the social investment programmes and other socio-economic schemes to benefit Nigerians, show that we remain focused on improving the welfare of the common man.
“The recent service-based tariff adjustment by the Discos has been a source of concern for many of us. Let me say frankly that like many Nigerians I have been very unhappy about the quality of service given by the Discos. That is why we have directed that tariff adjustments be made only on the basis of guaranteed improvement in service.
“Under this new arrangement only customers who are guaranteed a minimum of 12 hours of power and above can have their tariffs adjusted. Those who get less than 12 hours supply (Band D and E Customers) will not see any tariff adjustment. The poor and under privileged who were on R1 lifeline tariffs in the old structure will be maintained on lifeline tariffs, meaning that they will experience no increase.
“Government has also taken notice of the complaints about arbitrary estimated billing. Accordingly, a mass metering program is being undertaken to provide meters for over 5 million Nigerians, largely driven by preferred procurement from local manufacturers – creating thousands of jobs in the process. NERC has also been instructed to strictly enforce the capping regulation which will ensure that unmetered customers are not charged beyond the metered customers in their neighbourhood,” he said.
Nigeria Receives £4.2 Million Looted By James Ibori
The government of the United Kingdom has repatriated the sum of £4.2million that was looted by associates and family members of the convicted former governor of Delta State, James Ibori.
The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, SAN, on Tuesday confirmed the receipt of the looted fund in a statement he made available to newsmen in Abuja.
In the statement signed by Malami Special Assistant on Media and Public Relations, Dr. Umar Gwandu, the Minister of Justice disclosed that the naira equivalent of the amount was credited into the designated Federal Government account on May 10, 2021.
The AGF had earlier signed a Memorandum of Understanding for the repatriation of the loot fund on behalf of the Federal Government of Nigeria.
According to him, “the development was a demonstration of the recognition of reputation Nigeria earns through records of management of recovered stolen Nigerian stolen in the execution of public oriented projects”.
AfDB, European Bank To Bridge $2.5tn Africa’s Financing Gap
The African Development Bank Group and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development signed a Memorandum of Understanding on Monday to promote sustainable private sector development in Africa.
In a statement issued by its Communication and External Relations Department, the AfDB said, “The MoU will help catalyse new sources of financing to help bridge the $2.5tn annual financing gap for development in Africa.
“This gap requires that development finance institutions work in partnership.”
The bank stated that under this partnership, the AfDB and the EBRD would capitalise on their respective
expertise and experience, with a particular focus on climate change, green and resilient infrastructure and capital markets development.
“They will also work on improving business environments, bolstering the real economy and mobilising private sector investment,” the AfDB stated.
It observed that COVID-19 was threatening progress made towards the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and was exacerbating the debt vulnerability of many African countries.
The bank stated that sustainable private sector development would be key to recovery and prosperity across the continent.
AfDB’s President, Akinwumi Adesina, after signing the memorandum with his counterpart, EBRD President,
Odile Renaud-Basso, was quoted as saying, “The new partnership agreement between our two institutions will pave the way for us to do more together, especially in supporting the growth of Africa’s private sector.
“The impact of COVID-19 on government resources is huge and we need to mobilise more private resources to help African countries build back stronger.”
On his part, Renaud-Basso, said, “The COVID-19 crisis has made the need for better and ever closer collective action even more urgent.
“Collaboration between the EBRD and the African Development Bank has grown from strength to strength over the years in the region.”
Despite Rising Debt Profile, President Buhari Seeks New N2.342T External Loan
President Muhammadu Buhari, on Tuesday, urged the Senate to approve a new external loan of N2,343,387,942,848.00, about $6.183billion, for the Federal Government to finance the 2021 budget deficit.
Senate President Ahmad Lawan read Buhari’s letter of request on the floor of the Senate at plenary.
Last Month, Investorsking recalled that there was a controversy when Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki had raised concerns over the financial trouble Nigeria might find herself due to the continuous rising debt profile.
In a recent report carried out by PWC, it was reported that:
“Actual debt servicing cost in 2020 stood at N3.27 trillion and represented about 10 percent over the budgeted amount of N2.95 trillion. This puts the debt-to-revenue ratio at approximately 83 percent, nearly double the 46 percent that was budgeted.
“This implies that about N83 out of every N100 the FG earned was used to settle interest payments for outstanding domestic and foreign debts within the reference period. In 2021, the FG plans to spend N3.32 trillion to service its outstanding debt. This is slightly higher than the N2.95 trillion budgeted in 2020”.
According to DMO Nigeria’s total public debt as at December 31, 2020, was N32.915 Trillion.
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