Nigerian press focuses on N225bn debt service fund, sale of more public assets

The huge debt service provision in the revised 2020 budget and plans to sell more public assets to fund the…

The huge debt service provision in the revised 2020 budget and plans to sell more public assets to fund the budget, which has a deficit of N5.37 trillion are some of the leading stories in the Nigerian newspapers on Friday.The Punch reports that Nigeria’s Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, on Thursday presented the revised 2020 Appropriation Act to the National Assembly and explained why the downward review of the national budget.

The minister stated that “the $57 per barrel crude oil price benchmark approved in the 2020 budget is no longer sustainable.” According to her, the upfront fiscal deductions by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation for mandated oil and gas sector expenditures was reduced by 65 percent from N1.22tn to N424bn.

The newspaper also said that there are indications that more public assets may be put up for sale by the Nigerian Government as the Bureau of Public Enterprises reviews the 2020 Privatisation Work Plan. The report added that the revised 2020 budget has a deficit of N5.37tn and that the finance minister had said the Federal Government intended to finance the deficit through domestic and foreign borrowing, as well as proceeds from privatisation of public assets.

ThisDay reported that Nigerian governors have raised concerns over the ownership and distribution of recovered looted funds as a first-line charge from the Federation Account. They also urged the National Assembly to step down the controversial Infectious Diseases Control Bill to give room for consultations with states and other stakeholders.

The newspaper also said that the Nigerian government has said that for now, the Covid-19 has not affected the demand for gas and that the final impact of the virus was still uncertain. According to the report, that coronavirus outbreak, which has impacted oil demands and prices offered Nigeria an opportunity to prioritise its gas market and that if stakeholders worked hard, gas could replace oil as the country’s main foreign exchange earner.

The Guardian reported that the World Health Organisation (WHO) has said the coronavirus (COVID-19) “may never go away.” It, therefore, warned against any attempt to predict how long it would keep circulating and called for a “massive effort” to counter it.

WHO emergencies expert, Mike Ryan, told an online briefing on Wednesday: “It is important to put this on the table: this virus may become just another endemic virus in our communities.

“I think it is important we are realistic and I don’t think anyone can predict when this disease will disappear. I think there are no promises in this and there are no dates. This disease may settle into a long problem, or it may not be.”