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IMF: Nigeria’s economy to grow at 0.8% post-recession

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IMF: Nigeria’s economy to grow at 0.8% post-recession

An International Monetary Fund (IMF) report on Sub-Sahara Africa economic outlook has projected that Nigeria will maintain an eight per cent growth post-recession during the year. The 0.8 per cent growth projection, which is conditional, is premised on a higher oil production subject to maintenance of peace in the Niger Delta and strong agricultural production.

The forecast, including other draw backs that held down the sub-Saharan region from growing at fastest economic pace, were contained in IMF regional report on Africa unveiled yesterday in Abuja.

The report also projected a modest rebound in aggregate growth for the African continent at 2.6 per cent in 2017. The three countries leading in this regard include Nigeria, Angola and South Africa.

The countries have been tipped as being responsible for contributing about three quarters of the region’s rebound. Leading the presentation with a theme: “Restarting the growth engine,” was the IMF Director (African department), Abebe Aemro Selassie, at a session, which had in attendance Nigeria’s Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun; Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, and Dr. Doyin Salami, a Director at Lagos Business School.

For South Africa, the report noted that, “a fading impact of the drought, combined with improved terms of trade, is projected to drive growth to 0.8 per cent amid political risk which continues to loom large.”

The report forecast that a more expansive fiscal stance ahead of this year’s election, along with an improvement in the terms of trade, are expected to push Angola’s growth up to 1.3 per cent.

The report observed that growth in sub-Sahara region remained fragile as growth was slowed considerably in 2016. “In 2016, growth slowed in about two-thirds of the countries in the region, accounting for 83 per cent of regional GDP- and is estimated to have reached just one and half per cent.

This marked the region’s worst performance in more than two decades.

“Even the modest rebound to two and half per cent expected in 2017 will be, to a large extent, driven by one-off factors in the three largest countries – a recovery in oil production in Nigeria, higher public spending ahead of election in Angola, and the fading of drought effects in South Africa,” the report noted. To correct economic imbalance facing the region, the report made a number of suggestions. It called for urgent policy action to address macroeconomic imbalance in resource intensive countries, and to preserve existing momentum elsewhere.

“For the hardest hit resource-intensive countries, fiscal consideration remains urgently needed to halt the decline in international reserves and to offset permanent revenue losses.

This is especially the case in the CEMAC countries where fiscal measures should support binding limits on central bank financing to governments and help contain external pressure.

“In countries where the exchange rate tool is available like (Nigeria and Angola), greater exchange rate flexibility and the elimination of exchange restrictions that are inflicting serious harm on the real economy should be part of a coherent policy package,” the report noted.

Responding, Adeosun said that Nigeria, being one of the countries hardest hit by oil commodity price decline, budgetary impact of revenue losses to the country and balance of payment pressures remained considerable.

However, she asserted that: “We have tried to mitigate these pressures through series of interventions, such as growing the non-oil sector base through increased efficiency of tax and customs collections, reduced cost of doing business, support for agriculture, infrastructure and manufacturing as well as reflating the economy through special fiscal support to sub-nationals among several measures.”

Commenting on the report, Salami advised the region leaders to take corrective measures itemised in the report for implementation.

“Look at the past as a way of charting the future.

It doesn’t matter what happens in the future if you don’t get the basis right. The basic problem is we need to do the right thing. The global outlook for Africa is not rosy, things are changing,” Salami added.

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PACAC: Don’t accuse DSS of disobeying court order until…

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PACAC: Don’t accuse DSS of disobeying court order until…

The Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC), has stressed the importance of getting facts of a case, before jumping to conclusion.
Chairman of PACAC, Prof. Itse Sagay, gave the charge on Thursday in Abuja, while responding to criticisms over the continued detention of convener of #Revolution Now campaign, Mr. Omoyele Sowore by the state, desire an order of court for his release.
Specifically, the Senior Advocate of Nigeria decried what he described as “negativity” to issues that concern government.
Sagay spoke in Abuja at a ‘Roundtable On The Re-Introduction of The Jury System and Review of Draft Jury Service Bill’.
He said: “What I see having been part of the government at my small level is that Nigerians do not seek facts before they jump to conclusion.
“In the case of Sowore, I think somebody should go and interview the DSS and find out why instead of jumping to conclusions which are usually negative conclusions.
“There is negativity  in Nigerian orientation to situation particularly when it affects government. I don’t accept that there is disobedience of court order until I know the facts.”

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Buhari: I try to obey the Constitution

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Buhari: I try to obey the Constitution

President Muhammadu Buhari says he tries as much as he can to obey the constitution of the country.
The president said this on Thursday when he received speakers of state assemblies at the presidential villa in Abuja.
In a statement issued by Femi Adesina, presidential spokesman, Buhari said the constitution must be adhered to, or altered to reflect dynamics and realities of the country.
He said the autonomy of state legislature has been constrained by the constitution.
The president asked the lawmakers to always put the interest of the people first in all deliberations and negotiations.
“I try as much as I can to always be loyal and obedient to the constitution so long as it is humanly possible,” Buhari said.
“The 8th National Assembly sometimes kept the budget for seven months. And I had to call the Senate President and the Speaker then. I told them by delaying passage of the budget you are not hurting Buhari, but the people.
“We have in the last four years dedicated significant resources to key social services sectors especially in health, education as well as our massive social investment programs. We have also started restoring our infrastructure to levels that this country expects.
“I also want to assure you that we remain committed to ensuring that equity and fairness prevail in governance. I will ensure that we consult your conference to further enhance the positive impact of our interventions across the country.”

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Enugu airport shutdown: Reps want FG to fix Owerri-Orlu-Ideato-Uga road

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Enugu airport shutdown: Reps want FG to fix Owerri-Orlu-Ideato-Uga road

Following the renovation work going on at the Akanu Ibiam International  airport, Enugu, the House of Representatives has urged the Federal Road Maintenance Agency (FERMA) to urgently undertake remedial work on the Owerri-Orlu-Idoato-Uga road.
The House gave the advice Thursday following the adoption of a motion sponsored by Hon. Chigozie Pascal Obi (AA, Imo).
Presenting the motion, Hon. Obi noted that with the closure of the Enugu airport, there is a heavy traffic on the road, which links several local governments headquarters in Imo State expressing concern that this could constitute further hazards to communities and villages in Ideato federal constituency.
He said the Owerri-Orlu-Ideato-Uga federal road links the capital of IMO state through Uga to Awka, the capital of Anambra state.
Obi expressed worry that the stretches of the road from Orlu-Mgbee-Umuchima-Obioha-Urualla have collapsed, with devastating gullies, on both sides of the road.
He informed that: “The government of Imo State under the leadership of Senator Rocha’s Okorocha had executed projects and made appreciable efforts in this regard but the unintended over-flooding arising from the destructive climate change, destroyed some of the works to unimaginable proportions. “

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Insecurity: We must develop capacity of our Force – CAS

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Insecurity: We must develop capacity of our Force – CAS

…as Air Force decorates 47 senior officers

The Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, has identified human capacity development as a potent tool needed to combat threats to internal security.
According to the CAS, personnel’s skill and commitment to duty, contribute in no small measure  to the overall success of a fighting Force against adversaries
The Air Chief made the position Thursday at the NAF headquarters in Abuja during the decoration of 12 newly-promoted Air Vice Marshals (AVMs), and 35 Air Commodores.
In his remarks, Abubakar maintained that, for operational mistakes to be reduced, the heads of the services must be imbued with good leadership qualities.
He said it was on the basis of that, that the senior officers were found worthy of their respective promotions to the next ranks.
“These senior officers have worked hard to qualify for elevation to the enviable air rank hence we are gathered here to celebrate this diligence and to congratulate them on their promotion to higher ranks,” the CAS said.

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Ogun APC to APM: Supreme Court judgement not for sale

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Ogun APC to APM: Supreme Court judgement not for sale

The Ogun State branch of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has taken a swipe at the Allied Peoples Movement (APM) and its candidate at the March 9 governorship election in the state, Hon. Adekunle Akinlade, on its plan to approach the Supreme Court, saying, “the judgement of the Supreme Court is not for sale”
It would be recalled that the Court of Appeal sitting in Ibadan, Oyo State, had on Monday, November 11 dismissed the petition filed by the APC governorship candidate in Ogun State, against the victory of the incumbent Governor Dapo Abiodun, the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC). In a unanimous decision, the Appeal court justices said the appeal “lacks merit and it is therefore struck out.”
However, in reaction to the appellate court ruling, the APM and its candidate told the media last weekend that they would be approaching the Supreme Court as the last port of call in gubernatorial election petition.
But in a swift reaction to the APM decision, the Publicity Secretary of APC in Ogun State, Tunde Oladunjoye in a statement issued on Thursday said the “APM and its candidates are serial losers who are merely”.

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Report: US considers pulling up to 4,000 troops from S’Korea

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Report: US considers pulling up to 4,000 troops from S’Korea

The United States is considering a significant cut to its troop numbers in South Korea if Seoul does not contribute more to the cost of the deployment, South Korean newspaper ‘Chosun Ilbo’ reported on Thursday.

The US broke off talks on defence costs with South Korea this week after demanding Seoul raise its annual contribution to $5bn, more than five times what it pays now, in a rare public display of discord in the alliance.

Neither side has publicly confirmed the numbers, but US President Donald Trump has said the US military presence in and around South Korea was “$5 billion worth of protection”.

“I understand that the US is preparing to withdraw one brigade in case negotiations with South Korea do not go as well as President Trump wants,” a diplomatic source in Washington with knowledge of the negotiations was cited as saying by ‘Chosun Ilbo’.

A typical US military brigade numbers about 3,000 to 4,000 troops. There are about 28,500 American troops currently stationed in South Korea, which remains technically in a state of war with nuclear-armed neighbour North Korea following a 1950-1953 conflict, reports al-Jazeera.

US Defense Secretary Mark Esper said he was not aware of any plans to withdraw 4,000 troops from South Korea if cost-sharing talks failed.

“We’re not threatening allies over this. This is a negotiation,” he told reporters during a trip to Vietnam.

South Korea’s defence ministry said the Chosun report was “not the official position of the US government”.

Strains among allies

Under US law, the United States’s troop presence in South Korea must not fall below 22,000 unless the secretary of defence justifies a further reduction to Congress.

‘Chosun Ilbo’ said the potential reduction of a brigade had already been discussed with the top brass of US forces in South Korea.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

US Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun said on Wednesday he believed the US should continue to station troops in South Korea when asked if he would continue to advocate for the presence of US military personnel in the country if he was confirmed as Deputy Secretary of State.

“South Korea is among our most important alliance partners. That doesn’t mean anybody gets a free ride. We have a tough burden-sharing negotiation that we’re in the middle of with the South Koreans,” Biegun said.

South Korean political party leaders visited Washington, DC on Wednesday to press for a fair and reasonable outcome of the cost-sharing talks.

“I stressed that a withdrawal of US troops from South Korea should not be brought up, as the South Korea-US alliance also helps the US national interest,” said Na Kyung-won of the main opposition Liberty Korea Party.

Meanwhile, South Korea’s intelligence-sharing pact with Japan, which Seoul decided to terminate after relations soured over historical issues and has become the subject of increasing US pressure to renew, is set to expire on November 23.

South Korea’s presidential office is holding a National Security Council meeting on Thursday, where the agreement is expected to be discussed, South Korean media said.

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Trump impeachment: Ukraine officials knew about hold on aid earlier than reported

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Trump impeachment: Ukraine officials knew about hold on aid earlier than reported

A senior U.S. Department of Defense official testified on Wednesday that Ukrainian officials knew President Donald Trump’s administration was withholding military assistance in July, undercutting a key Republican defense of the president’s actions in the impeachment inquiry.

Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defence Laura Cooper testified at a hearing in the impeachment inquiry into Trump that has largely focused on the decision to withhold nearly $400 million in security aid, reports Reuters.

She said Ukrainian officials had known in July about the holdup in the security aid, which was new information she had not had when she was interviewed behind closed doors on October 23.

Cooper said her staff received an email on July 25 from the State Department saying that Ukraine’s embassy and the U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee were asking about security assistance.

“On July 25 a member of my staff got a question from a Ukrainian Embassy contact asking what was going on with U.S. security assistance,” Cooper told the House Intelligence Committee at the impeachment hearing.

July 25 was the day of a telephone call between Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in which the Republican U.S. president raised the issues of an investigation of Democratic former Vice President Joe Biden, alleged Ukrainian interference in the 2016 presidential election and the aid.

Cooper also said some of her staff had met with officials from the Ukrainian embassy during the week of August 6 and that they had raised the issue of the aid.

Defending Trump in the inquiry, some Republicans have sought to minimize the impact of the White House decision to withhold the military aid by saying Ukraine was only aware of the hold for two weeks before the hold was lifted on September 11.

In the Democratic-led impeachment inquiry, investigators are looking into whether Trump withheld the aid in order to pressure Ukraine to launch the investigations.

Trump – backed up by most congressional Republicans – denies wrongdoing.

Cooper also said she had never discussed a hold on security assistance for Ukraine with Trump and never heard from him directly on the matter.

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Trump hosted Zuckerberg for undisclosed dinner at White House

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Trump hosted Zuckerberg for undisclosed dinner at White House

President Donald Trump hosted a previously undisclosed dinner with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook board member Peter Thiel at the White House in October, the company told NBC News on Wednesday.

The meeting took place during Zuckerberg’s most recent visit to Washington, where he testified before Congress about Facebook’s new cryptocurrency Libra. Zuckerberg also gave a speech at Georgetown University detailing his company’s commitment to free speech, and its resistance to calls for the company to crack down on misinformation in political ads.

Facebook confirmed the meeting to NBC News on Wednesday.

“As is normal for a CEO of a major U.S. company, Mark accepted an invitation to have dinner with the President and First Lady at the White House,” a Facebook spokesperson said in an emailed statement.

It is unclear why the meeting was not made public or what Trump, Zuckerberg and Thiel discussed.

The White House declined to comment.

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Reps: ICPC misled Buhari on N1trn constituency projects

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Reps: ICPC misled Buhari on N1trn constituency projects
  • Senators to President: Ask ministers what happened to money
  • Lawmakers: Poor releases liable for abandoned projects
  • Gbajabiamila: Anti-graft agencies must do diligent probe

 

 

The House of Representatives has accused the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) of providing misleading statistics, upon which President Muhammadu Buhari relied on to say about N1 trillion was expended on National Assembly members’ constituency projects in 10 years.

President Buhari had, on Tuesday, at an event organised by office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) in conjunction with the ICPC, declared that about N1 trillion was wasted in 10 years in constituency projects by the National Assembly members.

The President said that data collected from Nigerians in rural communities pointed to the fact that they had not felt the impact of the said projects, as there was no commensurate result with the funds spent.

But at yesterday’s plenary of the House, the minority leader, Hon. Ndudi Elumelu (PDP, Delta) raised a point of order, in which he argued that the said figures were incorrect, and breached his privileges as a member of the National Assembly.

According to Elumelu, “I saw in the newspapers, dated 20th November 2019, and one thing is very consistent and that is the comment credited to our amiable President saying that N1 trillion was made available in the last 10 years to the National Assembly for constituency projects and that there was no value for the money spent. Yes, in the last 10 years, N1 trillion was actually made available by way N100 billion annually for constituency projects.

“Truly, our constituents do not have value for such provisions. But one thing I am worried about is that words have meanings. My constituents called me to ask me to give account of the money that came to my constituency. I had so many calls and it was difficult for me to explain.

“My worry and why I am bringing this up is that, yes I got N100 million budgeted, but actual releases was not up to 50 per cent. In actual sense, even this year, we never got release more than 40 per cent. I can conveniently tell you that only about 30 per cent has been released.”

He submitted that: “Section four of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, says we should make budgets and if we pass budget in this House, the onus is now on the executive to implement and award contract. We don’t award contracts.

“I don’t know of any member who is a member of the tender’s board. In effect, the National Assembly has nothing to do with the execution of any contract. It is painful that the agency that generated that information failed to state that while it is true that N1 trillion was budgeted in the last 10 years, this money has not been released.

“I am not happy because the information is capable of giving me a bad name before my community. The ICPC that wrote this report failed to tell the truth of how much was actually released. When you say N1 trillion is budgeted like the President said, if that money was released completely, there will be value commensurate to the money.

“I wonder why the ICPC man failed to look at what was released. Why should ours be a subject of debate that they will tell Nigerians we received N1 trillion when it was budgeted, but not released. My message is that we should let them know that while N1 trillion was budgeted for constituency projects, by way of releases, we did not receive that because what was released was less that 40 per cent.”

Supporting the motion, the deputy minority leader, Hon. Toby Okechukwu (PDP, Enugu) argued that the biggest problem with such projects was poor release of funds for their execution, adding that those who informed the President failed to take such into consideration.

He said: “The issue is very important because words have meanings. In all the papers, they said N1 trillion wasted on constituency projects in 10 years. Of course, Mr. President would have been responding to information given to him. I am a student of public policy analysis. I understand that projects and policies of government go through interrogation.

“When you say N1 trillion is released, it presupposes that the equivalent value of that money should be on ground. There is also a presupposition that this money is given to members. Our responsibility is to make laws and pass budget and once that is done, it goes to the Executive and the execution is the responsibility of the executive.”

Okechukwu argued that “on the average, we have about 50 per cent of that money that has been released in the last 10 years. The reason why we have so many abandoned projects in our communities is because of lack of releases.

“You award contract and you pay 50 per cent. What happens to the remaining 50 per cent? How can you complete them? I know that in the last 10 years, this House has appropriated an average of N7 trillion and that presupposes that you spent N70 trillion.

“In the 2019 budget, about N220 billion was budgeted for roads and what was released was N45 billion. If you are expecting the value of N220 billion when you give N45 billion, I don’t know what you will see.”

In his response, Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila said the matter affected the collective privileges of members of the whole House, and may yield a bad consequence.

According to the speaker, “I think it is a breach of our collective privilege as a House and not one person. My concern is the unintended consequences of words spoken. These are words emanating from a report by ICPC. There could be unintended consequences that could come out of it.

“You put people’s wellbeing at risk. I feel it is okay to use the National Assembly as the weeping boys. The fact is that there is the FOI bill. The ICPC could easily invoke their power of investigation and look at releases as compared to what was budgeted.

“The ICPC that made the report, I don’t think they will appreciate if the House, in discharge of its constitutional responsibilities, did an oversight on ICPC based on what was budgeted as opposed to what was released to them. When you break an egg, it is going to be difficult to put it together.

“I will use this medium to send this message across to ICPC and other agencies to do their work of investigation well. There is a difference between money budgeted and money released. It is as simple as ABC.”

The motion was consequently sustained and adopted.

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FAAC: FG, states, LGs share N702.058bn as October revenue

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FAAC: FG, states, LGs share N702.058bn as October revenue

The three tiers of government – federal, states and 774 local government councils – yesterday shared N702.058 billion as October revenue from the federation account.

The amount was confirmed last night by the Accountant General of Federation, Mallam Idris Ahmed who presided over Federation Accounts Allocation Committee (FAAC) that held in Abuja.

The N702.058 billion comprised revenue from Value Added Tax (VAT), Exchange Gain and Gross Statutory Revenue.

The gross statutory revenue for the month of October 2019 was N596.041 billion. It was lower than the N599.701 billion received in the previous month by N3.660 billion. Revenue from VAT was N104.910 billion as against N92.874 billion distributed in the preceding month, resulting in an increase of N12.036 billion. Exchange Gain yielded a total revenue of N1.107 billion.

Of N702.058 billion shared, the Federal Government received N295.737 billion, the states received N192.697 billion, and the Local Government Councils received N144.987 billion.

The oil producing states received N49.164 billion as 13% derivation revenue and the revenue generating agencies received N19.472 billion as cost of revenue collection.

A breakdown of the distribution showed that from the gross statutory revenue of N596.041 billion, the Federal Government received N280.110 billion, the states received N142.076 billion, the local government councils received N109.534 billion, the oil producing states received N49.044 billion as 13% derivation revenue and the revenue collecting agencies received N15.276 billion as cost of collection.

From the VAT, the Federal Government received N15.107 billion, the states received N50.357 billion, the local government councils received N35.250 billion and the revenue generating agencies received N4.196 billion.

The balance in Excess Crude Account (ECA) stood at $324 million as of 20th November 2019.

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