The nation’s external reserves fell to $28.1bn on January 28, the lowest level since 2005, data from the Central Bank of Nigeria showed on Friday.
The foreign exchange reserves had stood at $29.13bn a month ago, the data showed.
On December 31, 2015, the reserves closed at $29.070bn, reflecting a decline of 15.79 per cent year-on-year from $34.52bn a year ago.
During the first 11 days of this year, the foreign reserves fell by $288m, and stood at $28.782bn on January 11.
It had recorded $28.895bn on January 8 and $28.931bn on January 7, the CBN statistics showed.
The stoppage of foreign exchange sale to Bureau De Change operators has failed to prevent massive decline of the nation’s foreign reserves, which dropped by $108m three days after the move by the CBN.
The rate at which the reserves fell in the three days after the ban was more than what was recorded between December 31, 2015 and January 11, 2016, the CBN data showed.
The CBN had claimed that with the continued depletion of the foreign reserves, providing forex to the BDCs was no longer sustainable.
The CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, said between July 2014 and January this year, the country’s external reserves had suffered a great pressure from speculative attacks, round-tripping and front-loading activities by players in the foreign exchange market.
These, he noted, had led to a decline in the reserves from $37.3bn in June 2014 to $28bn currently.
There have been several calls for flexibility in the foreign exchange policies of the CBN as businesses continue to suffer from the restrictive policies of the central bank.
The Managing Director, International Monetary Fund, Christine Lagarde, had in a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari earlier this month stressed the need for flexibility with monetary policies in order not to deplete the reserves.
She said, “We believe that with very clear primary ambition to support the poorer people of Nigeria, there could be added flexibility in the monetary policy, particularly if as we think the price of oil is likely to be low for longer (period).
“The occurrences should not deplete the reserves of the country, simply because of being seemingly rigid. I’m not suggesting that rigidity be totally removed, but some form of flexibility would help.”
Lagarde also said, “A nation’s foreign reserves are usually an indication of the health of its international trade, with import-dependent countries often disadvantaged in their current account balance as a result of forex expenditure outstripping income.
FG Plans to Build 10 New Airports in Anambra, Benue, Others – Aviation Minister
Aviation Minister Says FG Working on Building 10 New Airports
The Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, on Tuesday, said the Federal Government plans to build 10 airports across the country to improve civil aviation.
The minister made the statement while defending his ministry’s 2021 budget proposals.
Sirika said President Muhammadu Buhari has done justice to the aviation ministry through the ongoing framework and implementation.
He said the administration would construct new airports in Anambra, Benue, Ekiti, Nasarawa, Ebonyi and Gombe States.
He further stated that airports in Kebbi, Osubi and Dutse have been taken over for redevelopment by the Federal Government.
Sirika said, “Consequent upon that roadmap, we have seen aviation grow in 2018 to become the second-fastest-growing sector of the economy.
“Also and by 2019, it became the fastest-growing sector of the economy and increased its GDP contribution.
“From 2015 till now, we’ve seen a lot of growth in civil aviation, the number of airports is increasing.
“So far, about seven airports have been added to the map, some of them completed, some of them under construction.
“There are airports coming up in Benue, Ebonyi, Ekiti, Lafia, Damaturu, Anambra and so on.
“All these show that civil aviation is growing during this administration.
“So, we have about 10 new airports coming up, that is almost half the number of airports we used to have in Nigeria.
“We are adding 50 per cent of the number of airports,” the minister added.
Sirika noted that Nigeria Air, the proposed national carrier, was part of the new roadmap and could be delivered before 2023.
He said, “We are on it. The transaction adviser has brought in the outline business case.
“It is being reviewed by Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission, Soon after it finishes, it will go to the Federal Executive Council and it will be approved.
“We will not leave this government without having it in place.”
He defended why Lokoja, Kogi State needs another airport, saying it is an alternative to the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja.
He said, “Lokoja is an important northern town. It is a cosmopolitan town, it’s a mini Nigeria and it is extremely very important in growth and development of our country.
“We have a lot of agricultural activities there. There is fishery, there is perishable item production and so on.
“So, establishing an airport there is quite apt. For me, it is something we should have done long ago for its importance.”
FG Says Over N6 Billion Disbursed to Poor Households in Zamfara
Over N6 Billion Disbursed to Poor Households in Zamfara
The Federal Government said it has disbursed over N6 billion under the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) scheme to poor households in six out of the 14 local governments in Zamfara in 2020.
The Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Hajiya Sadiya Umar-Farouk disclosed this on Tuesday during the flag off of Grant for Rural Women Project in Gusau.
The minister said the CCT program was created in 2016 to address the deficiencies in capacity and lack of investment in human capital of poor and vulnerable households.
“The programme is designed to deliver timely and accessible cash transfers to beneficiary households.
“And sets to support development objectives and priorities, to achieve improvement in health and nutrition, school enrolment and retention, environmental sanitation and empowerment among others,” she explained.
Umar-Faruk said a total of 130,000 beneficiaries from Anka, Bungudu, Birnin Magaji, Kaura Namoda, Tsafe, and Talata Mafara local government areas received between N30,000 to N80,000, depending on the dates the beneficiary enrolled in the programme.
Speaking on the grant for Rural Women, the minister said the programme was introduced to deepen the social inclusion agenda of President Buhari administration that includes lifting 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in 10 years.
“It is designed to provide a one-off grant to some of the poorest and most vulnerable women in rural Nigeria.
“A grant of N20,000 will be disbursed to over 150,000 poor rural women across the 36 states of the federation,” she said.
Delta State Gov Okowa Presents N378.48 Billion Budget for 2021
Ifeanyi Okowa Presents N378.48 Billion Proposed Budget for 2021
The Executive Governor of Delta State, Senator (Dr) Ifeanyi Okowa, on Tuesday presented a N378.48 billion budget to the state’s House of Assembly for consideration for the 2021 fiscal year.
The budget christened “Budget of Recovery” appropriated N207.52 billion for Capital Expenditure while Recurrent Expenditure was allocated N171.32 billion.
According to the Governor, capital expenditure accounted for 54.76 percent of the budget while 45.24 percent represented recurrent expenditure.
He explained that the allocations were in line with his administration’s agenda of spending more on projects and programmes that would impact positively on the socio-economic well-being of the people of Delta.
The proposed budget for 2021 is N96.2 billion or 34.05 per cent more than the N282 billion approved for 2020.
The governor said that the 2021 budget proposals reinforced the state government’s commitment to road infrastructure, education, health, job and wealth creation programmes as the principal-drivers of the Stronger Delta agenda.
According to him, N113 billion, representing 89.94 per cent of the capital budget is allocated to the economic sector while N35 billion is allocated to the social sector; the administration sector got 10.93 billion and the regional sector, N42 billion.
“In 2021, we propose to spend N66.66 billion on Road Infrastructure; N6.79 billion on Health; Education will gulp N23.55 billion; Agriculture, N2.04 billion and Water Sector, N1.83 billion.
“Job and Wealth Creation Bureau will gulp N1 Billion and Youth Development, N1.25 billion. These key sectors are very essential in our 2021 budget,” Okowa said.
Okowa also explained that due to the negative impact of COVID-19 on the economy and the world at large, government spending was significantly affected by the global pandemic and that Delta was no exception.
The governor, therefore, stated that “the proposed 2021 Budget for Delta is primarily focused on protecting and supporting our people in a COVID-19 environment, accelerating infrastructural renewal, incentivizing growth, enhancing job creation, engendering social inclusion and developing sustainably.
“Overall, the proposed 2021 Budget is predicated on inclusive economic growth that is sustainable and people-centred, with strengthening fiscal sustainability through increased efficiency in spending, improved revenue mobilization and debt sustainability.
“It also entails improving processes and systems in Public Financial Management, and Monitoring and Evaluation, to bolster better public sector service delivery.”
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