Press focuses on N895bn supplementary budget of Nigerian government

President Muhammadu Buhari's request to the National Assembly for approval of supplementary budget of N895 billion and the inauguration of…

President Muhammadu Buhari’s request to the National Assembly for approval of supplementary budget of N895 billion and the inauguration of the National Steering Committee of the National Poverty Reduction with growth strategy to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in 10 years are some of the trending stories in Nigerian newspapers on Wednesday.The Punch reports that the President of the Nigerian Senate, Dr. Ahmad Lawan, on Tuesday read an official communication from President Muhammadu Buhari, asking the National Assembly to approve a supplementary budget of N895bn.

The amount had earlier been approved by the Federal Executive Council. A large chunk of the money is meant to fund the procurement of military hardware to prosecute the war against insurgency and banditry.

The Federal Government is also expected to spend the remaining amount on health-related issues. President of the Senate Ahmad Lawan read Buhari’s letter at the commencement of Tuesday’s plenary following its resumption from a two-week break.

Buhari’s letter read in part, “The supplementary budget request is for a total sum of N895, 842, 465, 917. “We propose to fund N45.63bn of the N83.56bn required for the COVID-19 vaccine programme by drawing on existing World Bank loans which will be a structured as well as other grants totalling $113.2m.

“The balance of N37.93bn required for COVID-19 vaccines, salaries and other health-related expenditure totalling N41.6bn and N48.2bn recurrent component of defence and security will be funded by borrowing N135bn from some special reserve levy accounts.

“We propose to fund the balance of N722.4bn for capital expenditure on defence and security and capital supplementation from new borrowings in the absence of any supplementary revenue sources.”

The newspaper says that President Muhammadu Buhari inaugurated on Tuesday the National Steering Committee of the National Poverty Reduction with Growth Strategy, chaired by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo.

He said this re-echoed his commitment to lifting 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in 10 years, with a well-researched framework for implementation and funding.

The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, disclosed this in a statement on Tuesday titled, ‘President Buhari inaugurates steering committee on poverty reduction, establishes private equity fund.’

Speaking at the ceremony, the President said the NPRGS had already proposed the establishment of a private equity fund, the Nigeria Investment and Growth Fund, to lead resource mobilisation drive and also manage the resources in a sustainable manner.

He was quoted as saying, “This journey began in January 2021 when I directed the chairman of the Presidential Economic Advisory Council and Secretary to the Government of the Federation to collaboratively work together to articulate what will lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in 10 years.”

ThisDay reports that former President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday attributed Nigeria’s failure to properly manage its diversity and continuing inability to give ethnic and religious minorities their proper place in the country as part of the reasons for disenchantment in the polity.

The former president, in his address at the 13th Joe-Kyari Gadzama Public Lecture said aside from the South-west, no other area in the country has been able to balance religion and development.

“That is the only part of Nigeria where we feel has been able to manage religion and development very well. So, we must look at our own unique circumstances and come up with the right form of government,” he said.

His address during the event, which held both virtually and physically in Abuja, was titled: “Redefining Democracy: Yearnings of the Minority in a Democratic Setting.”

Jonathan stated that he decided to honour the invitation to speak on the state of the nation, despite the likely misinterpretation of his treatise, out of his respect for the host, Mr. Joe-Kyari Gadzama (SAN), and because a society that does not respect the rule of law would breed anarchy where life becomes nasty, brutish and short, making real progress difficult.

According to him, in Nigeria, the complications associated with the marginalisation of minority groups and tribes were identified many years ago and efforts have been made across generations to solve the problems, including the Willinks Commission set up during the colonial era.

He added that although the Federal Character Commission (FCC) is a product of such efforts, it has not fully rectified the anomalies, having been tailored to deal with mainly the civil service.

The newspaper says that poor electricity supply in the country is increasing the cost of production for manufacturers of plastic products in Nigeria, posing a major disincentive for continuous investment in the sector.

The General Manager, Pentagon Plastic Industries Limited (PPIL), Mr. Shyam Barakale, stated this during his chat with journalists on Monday.

He added that one of the biggest challenges facing plastic manufacturing outfits was the cost of providing their own power. “If regular and consistent electrical power can be sourced from the grid, we can easily concentrate on our core activity which is plastic manufacturing rather than investing in building and maintaining power plants,” Barakale said.

According to him, lack of regular power compelled the company to invest in its own power source, relying on Clarke Energy, a multinational specialist in distributed power generation solutions, to set up its own power.

THISDAY learnt that Clarke Energy provided a 1.8MW gas power plant for PPIL which the company purchased and regularly maintains. “With Clarke Energy, we have a partnership that goes back to 2014. The company carried out a technical study and recommended the deployment of a gas power plant. It has been serving us well since 2015.

The Sun reports that Foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows to Nigeria increased to $2.4 billion in 2020 from $2.3 in the previous year despite the COVID-19 pandemic that plagued global economies.

This is contained in the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) World Investment Report 2021.

Nigeria emerged as the third largest economy, alongside Ethiopia ($2.4 billion) that attracted FDI inflows in Africa last year.

Egypt was the largest recipient in Africa, even with a significant reduction of 35 percent to $5.9 billion in 2020; followed by the Republic of the Congo ($4 billion), while South Africa was fourth with $3.1 billion (a decline of 39 percent).

According to the report, the COVID-19 crisis caused a dramatic fall in FDIs in 2020 to push global FDI flows to $1 trillion from $1.5 trillion in 2019 (a decline of 35 percent).

The Guardian reports that the Association of Meter Asset Providers (MAPs) has called for an upward review of the current price of prepaid meters by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) to meet the challenges occasioned by rising inflation.

It noted that continued upward movement of foreign exchange rates, associated increases in customs costs, increase in container freight costs, and the disruptions in the international supply chain, leading to a global increase in the prices of raw materials and components for the manufacture of prepaid meters necessitated the need for an upward review.

The Meter providers also noted that there would be a corresponding downward review of meter prices when there is a downward movement in foreign exchange rates and other cost factors.

The association in a communiqué at the end of its meeting assured that closing the metering gap would improve revenue collection, transparency, payment discipline, and improve customer satisfaction in the power industry.

The Meter providers also asked the Central Bank of Nigeria to guarantee access to foreign exchange to Local Meter Manufacturers and Assemblers for the procurement of parts and accessories (Completely Knocked Down (CKD) or Semi Knocked Down (SKD) parts) including equipment for meter manufacturing/production as well as expansion of factory infrastructure.

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