resident Muhammadu Buhari has blamed the poor performance of the 2019 budget on the underperformance of oil and non-oil sources and dwindling revenue from the Value Added Tax (VAT).
Buhari, who disclosed this while presenting the 2020 appropriation bill titled: “Budget of sustaining growth and job creation” before a joint session of the National Assembly yesterday, said that the projected revenue fell short of the actual receipts.
He said: “The 2019 ‘Budget of Continuity’ was based on a benchmark oil price of $60 per barrel, oil production of 2.3 mbpd and an exchange rate of N305 to the United States dollar. Based on these parameters, we projected a deficit of N1.918 trillion or 1.37 per cent of Gross Domestic Product.
“As at June 2019, Federal Government’s actual aggregate revenue (excluding government-owned enterprises) was N2.04 trillion. This revenue performance is only 58 per cent of the 2019 budget’s target due to the underperformance of both oil and non-oil revenue sources. Specifically, oil revenues were below target by 49 per cent as at June 2019.
“This reflects the lower-than-projected oil production, deductions for cost under-recovery on supply of premium motor spirit (PMS), as well as higher expenditures on pipeline security/maintenance and frontier exploration.”
Giving further details, the president noted: “Daily oil production averaged 1.86 mbpd as at June 2019, as against the estimated 2.3 mbpd that was assumed. This shortfall was partly offset as the market price of Bonny Light crude oil averaged $67.20 per barrel, which was higher than the benchmark price of $60.
“Additionally, revenue projections from restructuring of joint venture oil and gas assets and enactment of new fiscal terms for production sharing contracts did not materialise, as the enabling legislation for these reforms is yet to be passed into law.”
He also noted that “receipts from Value Added Tax were below expectations due to lower levels of activities in certain economic sectors, in the aftermath of national elections. Corporate taxes were affected by the seasonality of collections, which tend to peak in the second half of the calendar year.
“The performance of non-oil taxes and independent revenues, such as internally generated revenues, were N614.57 billion and N217.84 billion respectively.”
On the expenditure side, he said: “The 2019 budget implementation was also hindered by the combination of delay in its approval and the underperformance of revenue collections. As such, only recurrent expenditure items have been implemented substantially. Of the prorated expenditure of N4.46 trillion budgeted, N3.39 trillion had been spent by June 30, 2019.”
According to him, “as at September 30, 2019, a total of about N294.63 billion had been released for capital projects. I have directed the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning to release an additional N600 billion of the 2019 capital budget by the end of the year.”
He lamented that the global economic environment remains very challenging, adding that the nation’s annual growth increased from 0.82 per cent in 2017 to 1.93 per cent in 2018 and 2.02 per cent in the first half of 2019.
He said the nation “also succeeded in significantly reducing inflation from a peak of 18.72 per cent in January 2017, to 11.02 per cent by August 2019.
“This was achieved through effective fiscal and monetary policy coordination, exchange rate stability and sensible management of our foreign exchange.
“We have sustained accretion to our external reserves, which have risen from $23 billion in October 2016 to about $42.5 billion by August 2019. The increase is largely due to favourable prices of crude oil in the international market, minimal disruption of crude oil production given the stable security situation in the Niger Delta region and our import substitution drive, especially in key commodities.
“The foreign exchange market has also remained stable due to the effective implementation of the central bank’s interventions to restore liquidity, improve access and discourage currency speculation,” he stated.
Meanwhile, the president has said the Federal Government would soon be forwarding to the National Assembly an executive version of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB), assuring of his administration’s resolve to completing the reforms to the governance and fiscal aspects of the bill.
He said: “Furthermore, completing the reforms to the governance and fiscal terms of the petroleum industry will provide certainty and attract further investments into the sector. A consequence of this will be increase in jobs and in government’s take.
“I therefore seek your support in passing into law two Petroleum Industry Executive Bills I will be forwarding to you shortly.”
According to the Buhari, “The draft Finance Bill proposes an increase of the VAT rate from five per cent to 7.5 per cent. As such, the 2020 Appropriation Bill is based on this new VAT rate. The additional revenues will be used to fund health, education and infrastructure programmes.
“As the states and local governments are allocated 85 per cent of all VAT revenues, we expect to see greater quality and efficiency in their spending in these areas as well.”
He explained that the VAT Act already exempts pharmaceuticals, educational items and basic commodities.
“Specifically, Section 46 of the Finance Bill, 2019, expands the exempt items to include the following
Brown and white bread; cereals including maize, rice, wheat, millet, barley and sorghum; fish of all kinds; flour and starch meals; fruits, nuts, pulses and vegetables of various kinds; roots such as yam, cocoyam, sweet and Irish potatoes; meat and poultry products including eggs; milk; salt and herbs of various kinds; and natural water and table water.
“Additionally, our proposals also raise the threshold for VAT registration to N25 million in turnover per annum, such that the revenue authorities can focus their compliance efforts on larger businesses thereby bringing relief for our micro, small and medium-sized businesses,” he stated.
On reforms in the public service, the president disclosed that the Federal Government would continue to control personnel cost, warning that any government staff not captured on the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) platform by the end of October 2019 will not receive his salary.
Similarly, the president announced the ban on any authorised recruitment, directing that any MDA that intends to employ must seek approval failure to do so.
“All agencies must obtain the necessary approvals before embarking on any fresh recruitment and any contraventions of these directives shall attract severe sanctions,” Buhari said.
He also warned against indiscriminate opening of liaison offices by MDAs, saying: “respective heads of MDAs must ensure strict adherence to government regulations regarding expenditure control measures.
“The proliferation of zonal, state and liaison offices by federal ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs), with attendant avoidable increase in public expenditure, will no longer be tolerated,” he said.
Speaking further, the president revealed that government would introduce new performance management frameworks to “regulate the cost to revenue ratios for government-owned enterprises, which shall come under significant scrutiny.
“We will reward exceptional revenue and cost management performance, while severe consequences will attend failures to achieve agreed revenue targets,” the president said.
FEC approves N5.4bn for oil, gas parks, aviation security
The Federal Executive Council (FEC) has approved a total of N5.4 billion for construction of oil and gas parks as well as indoor shooting range for aviation security.
Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva, said the oil and gas parks located in Akwa Ibom and Bayelsa states will be used for the country’s oil servicing sector.
According to Sylva, the oil and gas parks will cost about N3 billion adding that the parks are to support the development of oil and gas tools.
The minister explained that the parks will create additional 1,000 jobs and improve security in the region.
According to Sylva, who was joined by the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed; Gbemi Saraki, Minister of State for Transportation and Hadi Sirika, Minister of Aviation, said, “Two oil and gas parks were approved in council, one in Akwa Ibom and the other in Bayelsa State. These parks are to support the development and manufacturing of oil and gas tools. In some countries, service sector of the oil industry is sometimes even bigger than the oil industry itself.
“Unfortunately, in Nigeria, that sector has not really grown so much. Now, this administration is really committed to developing the service sector and that is why the oil and gas parks are being built. These parks will create a lot of jobs, we are looking at about 1,000 additional jobs and, of course, it will also improve the security of Niger Delta.”
In his remarks, Sirika said that FEC approved about N2.4 billion for the construction of indoor shooting range for aviation security.
He noted that it was in line with the approval for airport officials to bear arms towards boosting security at Nigerian airports.
Also speaking, Saraki said that FEC approved a contract for 300 buoys for River Niger, between Lokoja and Onitsha at the cost of N581 million.
SGF: My office doesn’t supervise constituency projects
Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha, yesterday explained that his office does not execute and supervise constituency projects in any part of the country.
The SGF explained that some fraudulent individuals have been misinforming the public about its role of supervising projects.
In a statement by the Director of Information, Willie Bassey, the SGF said “for the avoidance of doubt, the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation neither executes nor supervises constituency projects.”
He said there are unrelenting activities of faceless persons using the social media and other platforms to lure unsuspecting members of the Public to submit their Curriculum Vitae at a fee, to a non-existing desk at the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, for Federal Government appointments.
“The Office is similarly aware of inaccurate information being peddled around regarding constituency projects being executed under its supervision.
“Also, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation has become aware of numerous forged introductory letters purportedly issued from his office seeking diverse favours from individuals and corporate entities for personal gains.” Mustapha warned that “the general public is by this notice advised to beware of the clandestine activities of these dubious and fraudulent persons and their cohorts going about to fleece unsuspecting members of the public.
Assuredly, the government has evolved measures to track these unpatriotic and faceless persons and will bring to justice anyone found engaging in these unwholesome activities.
The SGF said all enquiries and clarification, could be made on the official communication channels of the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation.
Insurgency: NAF fighter jets use 64,964,000 hours to hit terrorists, bandits
The Chief of Air Staff, Air Vice Marshal Sadique Abubakar, yesterday, disclosed that the Nigerian Air Force, NAF, has successfully launched six different operation strategies to tackle insecurity and other forms of criminality in the different parts of the country.
Speaking at an interactive meeting with members of the House of Representatives committee on air force in Abuja, Sadique stressed that the agency was saddled with the responsibility of national security and was at a point grappling with a serious threat to national security by bandits and criminals in Nigeria.
He explained that in the last five years, the agency had done everything possible to protect Nigerian citizens and also protect the territorial integrity of the nation against any for form of aggression.
According to the NAF boss, the Airforce launched six different operations to tackle insecurity, particularly insurgency and banditry in the North-East state of Borno and some few other Northern states of the Federation.
He listed the different operations as follows: Operation Lafia Dole, Safe Heaven, Thunder Strike, Hadarin Daji, Swift Response and Delta Safe.
On the achievements of the agency, he said that it had successfully evacuated stranded Nigerians from crisis prone areas in Cameroun and also have sent relief materials to victims of similar crisis in Malawi, Gambia and other African nations.
He further informed the lawmakers that NAF had expended 64,964,000 hours to tackle these security challenges, adding that it expended 924,000 hours in the North-East region alone.
The NAF boss commended the lawmakers in both the Senate and House of Representatives for passing the Air Force Institute of Technology Establishment Bill into law, saying that it would help in its operations as well as capacity building.
Okowa approves appointment of 4 traditional rulers
Delta State Governor, Ifeanyi Okowa, has approved the appointment of no fewer than four traditional rulers in the state, charging them to enhance the peace-building agenda of his administration’s ‘Stronger Delta’ mantra.
This came as the governor read riot act to the state commissioners on project monitoring and evaluation, saying they should deliver on the mandate that produced them, or risk being sacked.
The newly appointed monarchs are the Obi of Ogwashi-Uku Kingdom, Chukwuka Okonjo; the Pere of Burutu Kingdom, Johnbull, Bolokowei; the traditional ruler of Beneku Kingdom, and the Obi of Onicha-Olona, Christopher Uzu-Diji.
The appointment of Okonjo of the Okonjo-Iweala family to succeed his father might have doused the rising tension that had hitherto trailed the traditional stool of the kingdom.
The governor, who expressed delight that his administration’s ‘Smart Delta Agenda’ yielded good fruits during his first tenure, however, threatened that any non-performing aide, ministry, department or agency would be sanctioned.
While addressing newsmen yesterday on the outcome of the enlarged executive council meeting at the Government House in Asaba, the state capital, the state Commissioner for Information, Mr. Charles Aniagwu, supported by his counterpart in the Economic Planning Ministry, Mr. Barry Gbee, said the governor would not take it lightly with any indolent appointee.
“He (Governor Okowa) had warned that he would not tolerate a situation whereby a Commissioner will sit in the comfort zone of his office while execution of projects suffer setbacks,” he said.
The Commissioner, therefore, hinted that N389 billion had been proposed for 2020 budget, with N217 billion as capital expenditure and recurrent expenditure of N171 billion, saying the budget outlay is slightly different from the N390 billion estimated for 2019.
Edo: LG boss in trouble over alleged financial recklessness
Crisis is brewing in Esan North-East Local Government Area of Edo State as nine out of the 11 councillors in the council have accused the Chairman, Hon. Augustine Okoibhole of alleged corrupt practices.
This was as they accused him of allegedly enriching himself at the detriment of the welfare of the people of the local government area, as well as abuse of office and disregard to the traditional institution of the area, among several other allegations levelled against him.
But, the Chairman has denied the allegations, saying he has run the council in line with due diligence, procedures and transparency, even as he denied any financial wrong doing.
The nine councillors had in a petition to the state Governor, Godwin Obaseki, accused the Chairman of financial recklessness and that he operated multiple accounts in the name of the council as against the Single Account policy of the state and federal government.
Speaking on behalf of his colleagues, Hon. Iluobe Christina from Ward Seven also said the chairman was unable to account for a N13,348,000 remitted to the council’s account by the Revenue Verification Committee.
But, while reacting to the allegations yesterday, Okoibhole said: “The new NFIU (Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit) directive gives the council room to operate three accounts and that is what we are doing; we are operating three accounts.”
On the allegation of his inability to account for the IGR funds, he noted: “We have been paying salaries; we do not owe workers’ salaries, I have executed several projects. We have built livestock market, and constructed drainages and all the monies did not come from my personal pocket, but from the council. What we have done is even far more than N144 million. My wage bill on monthly basis is over N30 million and for the last 25 months, I have paid the workers’ salaries.
On the Paris Club loan refund, Okoibhole said he acted as directed by the state governor to pay salary arrears as “we owed the workers eight months, and now we are owe only two and half months, which means I have paid five and a half months.”
According to him, the only problem he had with the traditional institution as alleged is that he built a new livestock market with abattoir and other facilities which the Hausa and marketers from Kogi State had already moved into, but traders from the local government council refused on the ground that the chairman was trying to divide the traditional market in Uromi.
Similarly, the councillors also alleged that the sum of N144,000,000 generated as Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) for the past 16 months had not been accounted for by the council chairman, as well as the N116,350,894 Paris Club refund.
The aggrieved councillors, however, in a petition of October 2 to the state House of Assembly accused the council chairman of reckless spending of the council funds and for operating multiple accounts in the name of the council with three commercial banks.
According to them, the action of the embattled council boss is against the Federal government single account policy.
They, however, disclosed that the sum of N13, 348,000 that was remitted to the council through the revenue verification committee of the council was paid into the Zenith Bank account by the chairman.
The aggrieved members of the council said that efforts to drag the chairman before the anti-graft agency, the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) had continued to be thwarted by some forces in the area.
Ihedioha inaugurates 2019 Ahiajoku Lecture Series Committee
Determined to revive rich cultural heritage of Igbo through the Ahiajoku Lecture Series (ALS), Imo State Governor, Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha has inaugurated committee for the ALS.
Ihedioha, who said the Lecture Series had made the State unique among other states in the federation because of its attachment to education, scholarly works and culture, charged members of the Committee to take cognizance of the importance of the Lecture in rebuilding the State.
He said: “Ahiajoku Lecture has distinguished Imo among scholarly States. It has indeed stood us out as a state in love with education,” stressing that, “education is our mainstay because of our very high literacy rate.”
Ihedioha noted that the Ahiajoku Lecture would continue to play significant roles in promoting Igbo culture, tradition and contribute significantly in the rebuilding process of Imo State, saying members of the Committee were carefully chosen for their track records and for the fact that they would do the state proud as he was sure that the committee would deliver and make the event successful.
The governor, however, expressed hope that the committee would ensure success of the lecture slated for the 30th of November 2019, and assured members of his readiness to support them to deliver on the assignment.
In his remarks on behalf of the members, Chairman of the 2019 Ahiajoku Lecture Series Committee and former Governor Ikedi Ohakim commended Ihedioha for reviving the Ahiajoku Lecture Series and finding him and other members of the committee worthy to organize the lecture.
PDP to Buhari: N5000 ID card fee repressive, offensive
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has condemned the imposition of N5, 000 fee on Nigerians, for the National Identity Card, by the All Progressives Congress (APC) led Federal Governments, describing it as repressive and offensive to the sensibility of the people.
The party said in a statement yesterday by the National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, that the fee was unwarranted and unjustified levy on Nigerians.
The PDP added that the action amounted to fleecing and stripping Nigerians of their constitutional rights in their own nation.
“Our party holds that issuance of national identity card to citizens, as an obligation of the state to its citizenry, must remain free as established by the PDP.
“The N5, 000 levy must be immediately rescinded before it triggers restiveness in the nation.
“Already, the fee is generating tension in the country as Nigerians have continued to register their rejection in the public space,” the party stated.
It noted what it described as “the increasing penchant of the APC administration to impose all sorts of taxes on suffering Nigerians.
“Only recently, the Buhari-led APC administration increased the Value Added Tax (VAT) on goods and services from five per cent to 7.5 per cent.
“This is in addition to increase in tariffs for electricity and other services as well as the obnoxious decision to return the toll gates on our major highways.
“Our party cautions that such impositions breed resentment and erode the much-desired patriotism; leading to the escalation of social vices and low commitment to nation building by citizens.”
PDP therefore called on President Muhammadu Buhari to direct the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) to immediately cancel its decision to levy Nigerians for national identity cards.
Group writes Ikpeazu, demands sack of aide over threats to life
Following trending audio recording in which an aide to Governor Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia state allegedly threatened to deal with a blogger should he not desist from writing about Abia state government, a group, South-East Equity Alliance (SEA) has written to Ikpeazu, urging him to defend his oath of office.
The group also demanded that the governor should immediately sack his Senior Special Assistant on General Duties, Mr. Uchenna Erondu whose voice was said to have been captured in the audio recording, intimidating a student blogger, Ogochukwu Nwaokeoma, threatening to whisk him to Abuja should he dare write anything else about the activities of the Abia state government.
There are indications that the blogger, Nwaokeoma, has since fled Abia state and gone into hiding for fear of his life.
But in an open letter to the Abia state governor, signed by the National Coordinator of the group, Comrade Ekeh Ifeanyi Chimezie (Imo State); National Secretary, Okoro Williams (Ebonyi State) and the National Public Relations Officer, Debby Tochi Joy (Abia State), the group urged Ikpeazu to rise up in defence of democracy, constitutional governance and his oath to protect lives and properties of Abia citizens.
NAFDAC partners patent medicine dealers, seeks adherence to regulatory guidelines
The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), has called for closer collaboration between the agency and the members of National Association of Patent and Proprietary Medicine Dealers (NAPPMED).
The Agency, however, called on NAPPMED members to abide by its regulatory guidelines and rules.
Director-General of NAFDAC, Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye, made the call in Enugu yesterday during a sensitization workshop.
The workshop tagged “NAFDAC’s Regulatory Expectation of NAPPMED in Nigeria,” was also designed to build robust collaboration and cordial relationship between the association and NAFDAC.
Adeyeye, represented by NAFDAC South-East Zonal Director, Mrs. Olajumoke Ojetokun, said that “all unregistered medicines remain a fake drug since it did not pass through the Agency’s vital registration process, numbering and check.’’
She went on: “The dangers of the use of counterfeit and unwholesome medicines are enormous and they range from pharmacological issues such as; respiratory depression (shallow breath and irregular breathing), central depression/severe drowsiness.
“Other dangers are; muscle rigidity, unconsciousness/coma to socio-economic problems such as; crime, terrorism, loss of economic productivity and pressure on the healthcare systems.”
Also speaking, Mr. Chuks Osuji, Chairman of NAPPMED Ogbete Market (Section B), said that the association would continue to work together with NAFDAC.
“We are ever ready to obey all the instructions given by NAFDAC and maintain a cordial relationship with the Agency,’’ Osuji said.
Mr Oliver Ezemba, Chairman of NAPPMED Ogbete Market (Section A), noted that NAPPMED members had been longing for a workshop like this, where individual members would be lectured and taught best practices and how to ensure compliance.
“It is clear that whenever someone sells an unwholesome or fake drug or medicine; it might be your family or friend that might end up using it,’’ Ezemba said.
In a lecture entitled “Dangers of Fake Drug to Public Health,’’ Mr. Chike Obiano, advised NAPPMED members to desist from selling expired drugs or re-writing the expiry date of drugs or drug products.
“This action has led to incidences of drug failures and illnesses getting complicated,’’ Obiano said.
Army unveils new South-East operation’s name
The Nigerian Army has announced a change in name of its South-East operation from Exercise Evwu Eke (python dance) to ‘Exercise Atilogwu Udo.
Investigation by New Telegraph revealed that “Atilogwu Udo” was a form of “dance for peace” in Igboland.
New Telegraph said that the Army had announced October 7 as date for commencement of nationwide operations to wit: Python Dance 1V (South East); Crocodile Smile 1V (South South and South West); Ayem Akpatuma 11 (North Central and North West).
Curiously, the Army had, at a press conference last week, announced November 1 as the new date for the nationwide exercise.
The change which was conveyed yesterday in a statement by the Army Operations Media Coordinator, Col. Aminu Iliyasu, came on the heels of criticisms by some groups in the South-East, including the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).
He said: “The authorities of the Nigerian Army wish to inform the general public of the change of name of one of its annual training exercises code named, “Exercise EGWU EKE” to ‘Exercise Atilogwu Udo.
“The annual training exercise commenced in 2016 and has consistently recorded remarkable successes since its introduction.
“The Exercise, which covers the South East region of the country, is designed to combat criminal activities including kidnappings, armed robbery, inter-cult and communal clashes among other sundry crimes.
“All other information relative to the Exercise as contained in the previous Press Statement and Press Conference issued by the Army Headquarters remain unchanged.
“The Chief of Army Staff Lieutenant General Tukur Yusufu Buratai wishes to reiterate the commitment of the Nigerian Army in protecting lives and properties of citizens particularly during these ember months and the fast approaching Yuletide season.
“He also wishes to further solicit the support and understanding of all well-meaning Nigerians towards providing a well secured environment for all and sundry.”
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