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Senate Queries NACA Demand’s Audited Records Of Global Fund

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Global Fund- Investorsking

The Senate Public Accounts Committee has sustained the query issued by the Auditor General for the Federation against the National Agency for the Control of AIDS.

The agency was indicted over its alleged failure to make available necessary records of its global funds for audit. The query was issued based on the 2016 Report of the AuGF currently being scrutinized by the Senate panel

The Chairman of the Committee, Senator Matthew Urhoghide, while ruling on the matter at the panel’s last sitting, last week, wondered why the management of NACA failed to submit its financial activities concerning global funds for perusal.

Urhoghide said his panel was interested in the financial activities surrounding the global fund such as the amount received and its utilisation.

The Director of Finance and Account of the agency, Nsikak Ebong, however, told the panel that the financial records of the global funds were available for necessary screening any day.

Ebong said, “The global fund grants records are always available for review. These documents have always been made available to audit or review on demand.”

The representative of the AuGF, Eyitatyo Ageshin, faulted the position of the DFA of NACA. He alleged that when his office requested the documents in 2016, the agency could not present them

He said, “The report was written in August 2016 and they responded on February 20, 2017, almost about seven months after.

“We asked them to respond within 21 days but they didn’t do that. When NACA responded after seven months, they simply said “This is noted.”

“That means that they agreed that they committed an error and you now said the records are ready and available for your (AuGF), office at your convenience.

“That means we should come to your (NACA) office again, the second time. We don’t have that time. We expected you to bring your records to the (AUgF) office because the onus is on you to defend that record. You didn’t bring it.”

Ruling on the matter, Urhoghide said, “There is no proof before us that gave details of what you got from global funds. DFA, you were there when this query was raised in 2016.

“Why don’t you bring the necessary documents that would show us what you got from the global fund? You were coming to the Senate to respond to the query raised against you and you didn’t bring any document to show us. We sustain the query.”

The query partly read, “The records of Global Fund with the Agency were not released for audit examination despite repeated demands.

“As a result, it was not possible to ascertain the total amount received from the Fund during the year to form an objective opinion on the judicious utilization of the money.

“All efforts to obtain the records, including explanations, were not successful.

“Similarly, the financial activities of the Global Fund such as amount received from the Fund and its utilization were not incorporated into the 2015 Financial Statements of the Agency, to form part of the agency‟s incomes and expenditure for the year.

“The Financial Statements of the agency are expected to disclose not only funds from the Federal Government of Nigeria, but also incomes from other sources such as the Global Fund, World Bank, and so on.

“Details of the utilisation of the funds should also be disclosed, to give complete information regarding the financial position of the agency and to avoid misleading the public.

“The Director-General did not respond to my report dated 29th August 2017. He should therefore be compelled to explain the incomplete financial statements. “

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Economy

Ogun Records N13.3B Internally Generated Revenue Monthly in Q1 of 2021

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Revenue - Investors King

Ogun State Government has recorded an average of N13.3billion monthly as Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) in the first quarter of 2021.

The government said it is also planning to raise its yearly Gross Domestic Product (GDP) rate from the current single digit by 25 percent.

The Commissioner for Finance, Dapo Okubadejo disclosed this to newsmen in Abeokuta ahead of the state’s investment summit tagged: ‘OgunIseya21: Becoming Africa’s Model Industrial and Logistics Hub’, slated for July 13th-14th, 2021.

Okubadejo who doubles as the State’s Chief Economic Adviser noted that the state’s IGR had experienced an upward movement after last year’s shortfall due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the attendant lockdown.

“We had a significant turnaround in the first quarter of this year. In fact, as of April, we have done almost N40bn in the Internally Generated Revenue. Our target this year is to exceed all the previous records we have set in IGR. That’s why we have put in place, all these transformation initiatives, friendly policies and also facilitate this investment summit to further showcase Ogun State as the preferred industrial destination,” he said.

The Finance Commissioner was supported in highlighting the investment potentials of the summit by his counterparts from the Ministries of Industry, Trade and Investment, Mrs. Kikelomo Longe; Works and Infrastructure, Ade Adesanya; Culture and Tourism, Toyin Taiwo; Budget and Planning, Olaolu Olabimtan and the Director-General, Public-Private Partnership, Dapo Oduwole.

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Unemployment To Push More Nigerians Into Poverty – NESG

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Nigerian Economic Summit Group- Investors King

On Friday, The Nigerian Economic Summit Group said that many more Nigerians are expected to fall into the poverty trap amid rising unemployment in the country.

The NESG, a private sector-led think-tank, noted in its economic report for the first quarter of 2021 that the country’s economic growth in the period under review was relatively weak.

It said, “Nigeria’s economic growth trajectory is better described as jobless and less inclusive even in the heydays of high growth regime in the 2000s.

“While the Nigerian economy recovered from the recession in Q4 of 2020, the unemployment rate spiked to its highest level ever at 33.3 percent in the same quarter.

“With the COVID-19 crisis heightening the rate of joblessness, many Nigerians are expected to fall into the poverty trap, going forward.”

The group noted that the World Bank estimated an increase in the number of poor Nigerians to 90 million in 2020 from 83 million in 2019.

“This corresponds to a rise in headcount poverty ratio to 44.1 percent in 2020 from 40.1 percent in 2019. The rising levels of unemployment and poverty are reflected in the persistent insecurity and social vices, with attendant huge economic costs,” it said.

According to the report, huge dependence on proceeds from crude oil, leaving other revenue sources unexplored, indicates that Nigeria is not set to rein in debt accumulation in the short to medium term.

The NESG noted that public debt stock continued to trend upwards, with a jump from N7.6tn ($48.7bn) in 2012 to N32.9tn ($86.8bn) in 2020.

It said public debts grew by 20 percent between 2019 and 2020, adding, “This is partly due to the need for emergency funds to combat the global pandemic and alleviate its adverse economic impacts on households and businesses.”

According to the group, Nigeria needs more than an economic rebound, and there is a need to improve growth inclusiveness.

It said, “Nigeria has struggled to achieve inclusive growth for many decades. Since recovery from the 2016 recession, the economy has been on a fragile growth path until it slipped into another recession in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This suggests that the country needs to attain high and sustainable economic growth to become strong and resilient.

“The relationship between economic growth and unemployment rate in Nigeria suggests that economic growth has not led to a reduction in the unemployment rate – jobless growth.”

The NESG said to reverse this recurring trend, there was an urgent need for collaborative efforts between the government and relevant stakeholders towards addressing the constraints to value chain development in high-growth and employment-elastic sectors, including manufacturing, construction, trade, education, health and professional services, with ICT and renewable energy sectors as growth enablers.

It noted that despite the re-opening of the land borders that the Nigerian government shut since October 2019, inflation reached a four-year high of 18.1 percent in April 2021.

“While we expect improved agricultural production in coming months to partially ease inflationary pressures, this positive impact could be suppressed by recurring key structural bottlenecks including insecurity in the food-producing regions, electricity tariff hike, fuel price increase and hike in transport and logistic costs,” it added.

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IMF Queries FG Strategies On Fuel Subsidy, Unemployment, Inflation

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IMF - Investors King

The International Monetary Fund has raised the red flag over Nigeria’s resumption of petrol subsidy payments, describing it as injurious to the economy.

It also reiterated the importance of introducing a market-based fuel pricing mechanism and deployment of well-targeted social safety nets to cushion any adverse impact on the poor.

In a report produced after a virtual meeting with Nigerian authorities from June 1 to 8, the IMF also expressed concerns over the rising unemployment and inflation rates, even as it admitted that real Gross Domestic Product was recovering.

The IMF team, led by Jesmin Rahman, further hailed the Central Bank of Nigeria for its efforts at unifying the exchange rate by embracing needed reforms.

The Fund said: “Recent exchange rate measures are encouraging, and further reforms are needed to achieve a fully unified and market-clearing exchange rate.

“The resurfacing of fuel subsidies is concerning, particularly in the context of low revenue mobilisation.

“The Nigerian economy has started to gradually recover from the negative effects of the COVID-19 global pandemic. Following sharp output contractions in the second and third quarters, GDP growth turned positive in Q4 2020 and growth reached 0.5 percent (y/y) in Q1 2021, supported by agriculture and services sectors.

“Nevertheless, the employment level continues to fall dramatically and, together with other socio-economic indicators, is far below pre-pandemic levels. Inflation slightly decelerated in May but remained elevated at 17.9 percent, owing to high food price inflation. With the recovery in oil prices and remittance flows, the strong pressures on the balance of payments have somewhat abated, although imports are rebounding faster than exports and foreign investor appetite remains subdued resulting in continued FX shortage.

“The incipient recovery in economic activity is projected to take root and broaden among sectors, with GDP growth expected to reach 2.5 percent in 2021. Inflation is expected to remain elevated in 2021, but likely to decelerate in the second half of the year to reach about 15.5 percent, following the removal of border controls and the elimination of base effects from elevated food price levels.”

The IMF also recognised that tax revenue collections were gradually recovering but noted that with fuel subsidies resurfacing, additional spending for COVID-19 vaccines and to address security challenges, the fiscal deficit of the Consolidated Government is expected to remain elevated at 5.5 percent of GDP.

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