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Buhari, VP, Ministers, Lawmakers, Others Earn N9.18bn Yearly

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Twelve months after the Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission pledged to give the nation reviewed salaries and allowances for political office holders, lawmakers and key government officials still cart home about N9.18bn annually in salaries and allowances.

Investigation show that while RMAFC had completed work on the review of the emoluments of political office holders about November 2015, the new emoluments have not seen the light of the day due to the politics involved in the process.

As a result, key political office holders still earn the full packages they earned before the decision to reduce the earnings of political and judicial office holders.

The annualised salary and allowances of the president is N14,058,820, while that of the vice-president is N12,126,290.

President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo had announced their decision to take only 50 per cent of the salary and allowances approved for them, meaning that they take home N7,029,410 and N6,063,145 respectively.

However, most of the allowances and entitlements of the President and Vice-President are not monetised but fully provided by the state.

Apart from salary, the regular allowances that are monetised for the President are only hardship allowance, N1,757,350.50 per annum; and consistency allowance, N8,786,762.50 per annum.

For the Vice-President, the hardship allowance is N1,515,786.25 per annum, while the consistency allowance is N7, 578,931.25 per annum.

The irregular allowances for the President are the severance allowance – 300 per cent of the annual salary or N10,544,115 – and leave allowance – 10 per cent of the annual salary or N351,470.50.

The irregular allowances of the Vice-President are the severance allowance – 300 per cent of the annual salary or N9, 094,717.50 – and leave allowance – 10 per cent of the annual salary or N303,157.25.

Other allowances that the President and the Vice-President are supposed to enjoy which are not provided in monetary terms include motor vehicle fuelling and maintenance, special assistants, and personal assistants.

Others are domestic staff, entertainment, utilities, security and newspapers/periodical allowances.

These irregular allowances include accommodation, furniture, duty tour, estacode, medical, and severance/gratuity.

For a senator, the salary and allowances add up to N20,669,280 per annum. Those of a member of the House of Representatives add up to N17,271,347.75.

There are 109 senators and 360 representatives. With the exception of the Senate President, the Deputy Senate President, the Speaker of the House of Representatives and his deputy whose allowances are provided by the state, lawmakers get a total of N8,397,965,454.5.

For a minister, the salary and allowances add up to N14,705,164 while those of presidential aide add up to N14,085,843.75. The Head of Service and the Secretary to the Government of the Federation are on the same salaries and allowances.

There are 36 ministers and 15 presidential aides. Their annual emoluments add up to N770,083,888.25.

RMAFC had in June 2015 set in motion the process for the downward review of the existing salaries and allowances of political, public and judicial office holders when it set up a committee chaired by Mr. Abdullahi Inde.

At the inauguration, returning Chairman of RMAFC, Mr. Elias Mbam, had urged the committee to be conscious of the prevailing economic situation and the need to reduce cost of governance so as to free more funds for development.

The current remuneration of public office holders is guided by the Remuneration Act of 2008. A review became imperative following dwindling government revenues occasioned by falling prices in the international oil market.

However, investigation showed that when Mbam left the commission following the completion of his first tenure in November 2015, the acting Chairman of RMAFC, Mr. Umar Gana, made a number of attempts to present the new packages to President Buhari but failed.

“The acting chairman could not get the green light from the Villa to present the remuneration package to the President,” an authoritative source told our correspondent.

“That is why the new salary structure has been stalled. The law requires that the President must get the recommendation from RMAFC who would table it before the Federal Executive Council for ratification. Then, it is presented to the National Assembly.”

The current allowances of lawmakers are in categories. Some are tagged regular allowances while others are tagged irregular allowances.

Regular allowances are those that are paid on monthly basis along with the monthly salaries while irregular allowances are paid at other frequencies ranging from annual to once in four years.

There are also other allowances not included in this calculation that are paid not at any fixed periods but as many times as they occur in the year.

The allowances are calculated as percentages of the annual salaries. While some are higher than the annual salaries; others are lower.

Basically, both senators and Reps are paid the same percentages of their salaries as allowances except in constituency allowance where senators are paid 250 per cent while Reps are 100 per cent.

Vehicle maintenance and fuelling alliance is 75 per cent; domestic staff, 75 per cent; entertainment, 30 per cent; utilities, 30 per cent; wardrobe, 25 per cent; newspapers, 15 per cent; house maintenance, five per cent; and personal assistants, 25 per cent.

The irregular allowances include housing allowance, 200 per cent of their annual salaries; furniture allowance, 300 per cent; recess allowance, 10 per cent and severance allowance, 300 per cent.

Housing allowance is paid once a year. Furniture allowance is paid once in four years and recess allowance is paid when the lawmakers are on recess and they go on recess four times in a year. Severance allowance is at the end of the four-year tenure.

There are other allowances that the lawmakers are not paid directly but provided and paid for by the government. These are special assistants, security and legislative aides. What this means is that those engaged in these capacities are paid directly by the government as the allowances cannot be claimed by political office holders. These allowances apply to senators and Reps.

Medical expenses are also borne by the government when they have need for the services.

The lawmakers are also entitled to tour duty allowance, estacode (when they travel).For a senator, the tour duty allowance is N37, 000 per night; the estacode is $950 per night.

For a member of the House of Representatives, the tour duty allowance is N35, 000 per night; while estacode is $900 per night.

Ministers and presidential aides also enjoy similar allowances.

Experts, however, are not worried by the official earnings of political office holders but by the unofficial ones. Lawmakers, for instance, are said to get some quarterly payment.

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.

Government

FG Puts Nine-year Presidential Jet Up For Sale

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The Federal Government has put up for sale a jet in the presidential fleet, Hawker 4000 aircraft with registration number, 5N-FGX/: RC 066.

The business-size jet which entered into service in December 2011, has capacity for nine passengers and three crew members.

Findings indicate that only 73 Hawker 4000 aircraft were manufactured by Hawker Beechcraft between 2001 and 2013 and they were sold for $22.91m each as of 2012.

The FG in a published advert on Wednesday disclosed that the aircraft with a range of 3,190-nautical mile had flown for 1,768 hours.

It said the aircraft could be inspected at the Presidential Air Fleet’s hangar located at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.

Interested buyers were requested to submit their closed bid to the Chairman, Committee for Sale of Aircraft, Office of the National Security Adviser, care of Special Services Office, Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation.

In an advertisement published in some national dailies on Wednesday, prospective buyers were directed to submit a refundable bank draft for $50,000 to the committee with the bid.

It also said that all the bids should be quoted in dollars.

The notice read, “Please note that all bids must be submitted within one week of this publication.

“Background check is required as a pre-qualification for the bid. Prospective bidders who want to inspect the aircraft will be granted access within one week from this advertisement.”

The Presidency had similarly in 2016 put up for sale two presidential aircraft, a Falcon 7X executive jet and Hawker 4000, in line with the directive of the president, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), that aircraft in the Presidential Air Fleet should be reduced to cut down on waste.

The government also said some aircraft in the fleet would be handed over to the Nigeria Air Force for its operations. It could not be confirmed if this had been done.

According to the Presidency, the PAF has 10 aircraft and they include Boeing Business Jet (Boeing 737-800 or Air Force One), one Gulfstream 550, one Gulfstream V (Gulfstream 500), two Falcons 7X, one Hawker Sidley 4000, two AgustaWestland AW 139 helicopters and two AgustaWestland AW 101 helicopters.

Reports said each of the two Falcon 7X jets were purchased in 2010 for $51.1m, while the Gulfstream 550 costs $53.3m.

The Senior Special Assistant, (Media and Publicity) to the President, Garba Shehu, had yet to respond to inquiries on the number of presidential aircraft sold so far, as of the time of filing this report.

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Coronavirus – Angola: Confronting the COVID-19 Pandemic and the Oil Price Shock

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The COVID-19 pandemic and the shock from the falling price of oil have put severe pressure on Angola since the country’s second review under the Extended Fund Facility (EFF) in December 2019.

Only months after the conclusion of the second review in December 2019, the COVID-19 pandemic reached Angola, ushering in economic and health crises. The decline in oil prices further strained the economy, which is heavily reliant on oil exports. The economic downturn and social distancing to contain the spread of the virus have been damaging, especially given the large informal sector.

A swift response to the crisis

The Angolan authorities adopted timely measures to tackle the challenges arising from the COVID-19 shock. Measures to protect public health included quarantine, social distancing, closing of borders with limited exceptions, closures of schools, restaurants, and public events, and limited transportation. The government recently approved a prudent supplementary budget for 2020 using a conservative oil reference price. It has also introduced a comprehensive set of fiscal and monetary measures to support economic activities.

Fiscal measures

On relief to help vulnerable people:

• Tax exemptions of value-added tax (VAT) and customs duties on goods imported under humanitarian aid and donations.

• VAT tax credit for imported capital goods and raw materials for producing essential consumption goods.

• Interest-free, deferred payment option for social security contributions.

• Regulation of prices for a list of medical goods.

On government spending:

• Freeze of 30 percent of purchases on nonessential goods and services.

• Reduction in the number of ministries from 28 to 21.

• Suspension of selected, nonessential capital expenditures.

• Decrease in travel and real estate investments.

Monetary measures

• Additional liquidity support to banks and a liquidity line to buy government securities from nonfinancial corporations.

• A credit-stimulus program.

• Temporary suspension for debt service payments.

• Requirement for banks to provide credit to importers of essential goods.

A proactive external debt management

The government needs to safeguard its ability to continue to service its debt on schedule, even under the current trying circumstances. The government has therefore availed itself of the G20 Debt Service Suspension Initiative. They have also secured selected debt reprofiling operations with some of their large creditors.

Financial support from the IMF

On September 16, 2020, the IMF’s Executive Board approved the third review under the EFF and additional financial support to Angola to help mitigate the impact of the crises. Accordingly, the IMF has provided $1 billion to Angola, bringing its total expected financial support to about $4.5 billion under the three-year program. The authorities are strengthening their public financial management to improve accountability for the funds received from the IMF and debt relief from creditors.

The path to recovery

It is important for Angola to continue to stabilize the economy, control inflation, keep the reform momentum, and safeguard financial stability. It is also crucial to persevere with structural reforms, such as privatization, improvement in governance in state-owned enterprises, and strengthened legal frameworks. These reforms will help improve the business environment and pave the way for foreign direct investment and growth-enhancing economic diversification.

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Republic of Korea Contributes Rice and Cash to Assist Ugandans threatened by locusts

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The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today welcomed 5,000 metric tons of rice and US$300,000 in cash from the Republic of Korea to provide much-needed relief assistance to 781,000 people including refugees and Ugandans threatened by locusts.

“WFP is extremely grateful for the continued generosity of the Republic of Korea since 2018 and its appreciation of the immense humanitarian needs in Uganda, which were suddenly made even more complicated by COVID-19,” said WFP Officer in Charge Ryan Anderson.

”This contribution of 5,000 metric tons of rice found us at a crossroads when we were considering whether to make deeper ration cuts for refugees because of a shortage of funding, even as we have evidence that they already face high food insecurity,” he added.

Combined with other contributions, the rice may allow WFP to maintain rations for 1.26 million refugees at the current 70 percent of a full ration for a while. Valued at US$4.3 million, it will also meet cereal needs of 614,000 refugees in seven settlements towards the end of the year.

The additional US$300,000 in cash will enable WFP to meet the relief needs of 167,000 people in the northeastern region of Karamoja, which is the most food-insecure region in the country and is threatened by a combination of malnutrition among its residents, locusts, floods and animal diseases.

“The Republic of Korea is committed to supporting vulnerable groups of people in Uganda, especially refugees fleeing conflict and nationals faced by chronic food shortages and malnutrition,” said Ambassador Ha Byung-Kyoo.

“We also are very pleased to continue making contributions of rice, which we have heard is appreciated by the refugees and contributes to much needed dietary diversity,” he added.

WFP was forced to reduce rations for refugees in April to 70 percent of a full ration because of funding shortages. The economic pressures that COVID-19 has brought on donor capitals has further complicated funding to feed refugees. WFP is putting in place safety measures in 13 refugee settlements to prevent the spread of COVID-19 during food and cash distributions.

The Republic of Korea has contributed rice to WFP in Uganda annually since 2018 in support of 1.43 million refugees – the highest number of refugees hosted by any country in Africa.

The US$300,000 contribution will also contribute to supporting WFP assistance in Karamoja. Even though families in the region were able to harvest some crops in August, despite repeated sightings of locusts between February and July, the very presence of the pests in the region threatens both agriculture and vegetation needed for animals. Relief food helps to cushion families as the government and UN partners work to control the impact of locusts.

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