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Nigerian press focuses on 2021 budget estimates presented to National Assembly, others

The views of economic and financial experts on the 2021 budget estimates presented to the National Assembly President Muhammadu Buhari…

The views of economic and financial experts on the 2021 budget estimates presented to the National Assembly President Muhammadu Buhari dominates the headlines of Nigerian newspapers on Friday.ThisDay reports that economic and financial experts have suggested swift implementation of a combination of fiscal, structural and investment policies to reduce the adverse effects of the looming second recession and get the economy on the path of a quick recovery.

President Muhammadu Buhari had yesterday predicted that the country’s economy may lapse into the second recession in four years, with the projected negative Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth in the third quarter of this year.

Buhari, who disclosed this when he presented a N13.08 trillion budget proposal for the 2021 fiscal year to the joint session of the National Assembly, however, assured Nigerians that his government will do everything possible to get the country out of recession in 2021.

While the All Progressives Congress (APC) has commended the president for the presentation of the proposal, the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) caucus in the Senate has condemned it, describing the estimates as stale and uninspiring.

The newspaper says that the federal government has commenced the conversion of official vehicles belonging to Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) from petrol to Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) in designated centres in Abuja.

It said part of the move was to provide Nigerians with autogas to cushion the effects of rising petrol costs in line with President Muhammadu Buhari’s commitment to adopt gas as an alternative fuel for the country.

The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva, stated this yesterday during a visit to an autogas dispensing station and conversion inspection exercise, at the NNPC autogas dispensing facility in Jahi and Autolady Garage in Abuja, where some government official vehicles were being converted.

Sylva said the conversion underscored the seriousness of the new government initiative.

The minister expressed his satisfaction with the conversion process thus far and charged conversion centres to make vehicle and user-safety a priority during the process.

The Nation reports that the Lagos Chamber of Commerce & lndustry (LCCI) on Thursday called on the federal government to reopen the country’s land borders.

The LCCI President, Mrs. Toki Mabogunje, said there might be the need to reopen the land borders to give succor to food prices in the light of lower domestic food supply amid huge demand for food.

She also canvassed the need for both the State and Federal government’s to promptly address the issue of food wastage, majorly responsible for the food supply gap experienced in the country.

The LCCI boss also endorsed the move to adopt a cost reflective tariff regime in the power sector. She said: “We note the push back from the labour unions on this policy. We believe that if the sector must attract investment and ensure an improvement in power supply, the cost reflective tariff regime is inevitable. If the economies of the investment is not right, investors will not inject capital into the sector”.

The Punch reports that the Federal Government through the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority could impose a total penalty of $94,500 on international airlines for breaching COVID-19 safety protocols as established by the Presidential Task Force.

Nigeria’s Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, said on Thursday at the PTF briefing in Abuja that the culpable airlines flew in 27 passengers into Nigeria with no negative PCR test result on COVID-19.

In August, the PTF said airlines that failed to comply with the laid down international flight safety protocols against the spread of COVID-19 would be slammed a $3,500 fine per passenger.

This implies that for the 27 passengers that were flown into Nigeria by the airlines, the carriers would pay a total of penalty of $94,500 to the government through the NCAA.

Sirika said some of the 27 passengers arrived the country with rapid test results, which were not accepted, while others came with expired PCR results and the remaining had no results at all. The minister said,

The newspaper also reports that the Minister of Transportation, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, on Thursday met the Ambassador of Niger to Nigeria, Alat Mogaskia, over modalities for the construction of the newly approved Kano-Maradi rail line.

The Kano-Maradi rail line connects Kano in Nigeria to Maradi in the Republic of Niger. On September 23, 2020, the Federal Government approved the contract for the development of the proposed Kano-Katsina-Jibia to Maradi rail line in Niger Republic and Dutse, capital of Jigawa, at the cost of $1.96bn.

The transportation minister told the Niger ambassador that there was a need for both countries to meet over the infrastructure which the Federal Government plans to construct in Maradi.

Amaechi said, “We are trying to build a rail up to Maradi; we want to meet the state governor over the infrastructure, where it would be located, because we plan to construct rail stations and a warehouse.

The Sun says that the Federal Government yesterday said its total federally distributable revenue for the 2021 Budget has been estimated at N8.433 trillion while total revenue available to fund the 2021 federal budget is put at N7.886 trillion.

This was disclosed by President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday at a joint session of the National Assembly where he presented the 2021 budget.

The money available to fund next year’s budget includes grants and aid of N354.85 billion as well as the revenues from sixty Government-Owned Enterprises (GOEs). According to the 2021 budget document, oil revenue is projected at N2.01 trillion, while non-oil revenue is estimated at N1.49 trillion.

The 2021 appropriation bill has been modified to include budgeted revenues, regardless of amount, for each MDA, to focus on internal revenue generation.

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