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2024 Budget: N800 to Dollar Benchmark is Strategic – Bagudu

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Alhaji Atiku Bagudu, Minister of Budget and Economic Planning, says the decision to base the 2024 budget on foreign exchange benchmark of N800 to a dollar was a strategic and conscious effort by the federal government.

In an interview with newsmen on Thursday in Abuja, Bagudu said budgets could not be based on a spot rate in order to avoid eventualities in the world market due to global dynamics.

He said before arriving at the projected exchange rate of N750 to the dollar in the 2024 budget, the government considered and viewed critically the average performance of the Naira.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the National Assembly eventually raised the foreign exchange benchmark to N800 to the dollar.

“For budgeting purposes, you don’t use the spot rate of anything. Oil price can go to 120 today, maybe there is a shortage, maybe there is a collision between two ships that will block a channel. It would be foolish to use that as a reference price.

“I should take a period of maybe six months to one year and say let me observe this average behaviour, so you don’t use spot prices. So, even the exchange rate is like that.

“Much as we are hoping that it would soon come below, but at the time you are doing the budget you will take a view on average performance. And that’s what we took,” Bagudu said.

The minister said the Federal Government was confident that the measures taken so far would substantially increase the supply of foreign exchange into the economy.

The budget minister, who also spoke on the level of borrowing to fund the deficit in the 2024 budget, said the difference between this year’s borrowing compared to 2023 remained significant.

“In 2023, the budget anticipated a borrowing of close to N14 trillion. This year’s budget is N9.1trillion. So, we think that is significant.

“2023 took us to about 6.11 per cent of our GDP as borrowing. This one is  3.8 per cent. So, the quantum had decreased,” he said.

Bagudu said the Federal Government in the 2024 fiscal year intended to operate strictly within the dictates of fiscal responsibility law.

The law provides that the Central Bank of Nigeria can lend to the government through its Ways and Means window only 5 per cent of total budget.

“We will not go outside the law and borrow from ways and means, what is outside the law.

“So, the fiscal responsibility law says, in every one year, the Central Bank can lend the government up to 5 per cent of its budget for the year.

“So, if you go out of that, you’re going outside the lawful limit, and that’s what the minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy was very clear we are not going to do. We are not going to resort to borrowing outside the law,” he said.

Bagudu said 2024 revenue projections were designed to build on the various initiatives of the government to create an enabling environment for investment from both the local and foreign businesses.

He said the core priority of the budget was placed on areas such as security, education, works and housing in order to develop the economy and create jobs for Nigerians.

“We have seen the reforms so far have brought in more revenue but we are not stopping there. We believe that our objective to achieve at least 1.8 million production per day is something that has been done before. “And with security gains that are increasing with mobilising of all stakeholders.

“For example, just yesterday, maybe you will have seen even the governors re-energise the National Economic Council Committee on crude oil theft and prevention.

“So that governors will say to the extent that is happening in their state, they will take personal responsibility and lead.

“So, because of that we are confident that the revenue projections are achievable and with budget efficiency and discipline we are putting in, we believe that we won’t have to resort to additional borrowing. Maybe we will even borrow less,” Bagudu said. (NAN)

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Kidnaping: Police in Adamawa Nab 3 Suspects, Rescue 16-yr-old Female Victim

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The Police Command in Adamawa, says its operatives, in collaboration with Hunters in Gombi Local Government Area (LGA), have arrested three suspected kidnappers, and rescued a 16 year-old female victim.

SP Suleiman Nguroje, the command’s spokesperson, who disclosed this in a statement in Yola on Wednesday, said the operation was carried out by its Crack Squad.

Nguroje said that the operation was launched following a tip-off, and the operatives stormed a kidnapping den at Fotta village of Gombi.

“The suspects were all arrested at a certain house in a remote side of Fotta Village, where they camped their kidnapped female victim and demanded N8,000,000 ransom.

He said the victim, name withheld, was kidnapped three days ago, from Buma Village, Shani LGA of Borno State.

According to the statement, the victim is currently receiving medical attention at an undisclosed health facility.

Nguroje stated that the Commissioner of Police, CP Dankombo Morris, had assured the public that there would be no hiding place for criminals as they would be fished out from anywhere within the state.

He called on members of the public to give timely information to the Police, especially those with questionable character. (NAN)

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Average Price Per Litre of Kerosene Stood at N1,329.53 in January – NBS

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The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) says the average price of a litre of kerosene dropped from N1,362.27
in December 2023 to N1,329.53 in January 2024.

This is contained in the Bureau’s “Kerosene Price Watch’’ for January 2024 released on Wednesday in Abuja.

The report said the January price represented a 2.

40 per cent decrease compared to what was obtained in December.

The NBS said the average price per litre of kerosene increased on a year-on-year basis by 15.

27 per cent from N1,153.40 recorded in January 2023 to N1,329.53 in January 2024.

On state profile analysis, the report showed that Kaduna recorded the highest average price of N1,833.

33 per litre of kerosene in January, followed by Benue at N1,766.67 and Niger at N1,703.70.

“On the other hand, the lowest price was recorded in Bayelsa at N969.70, followed by Rivers at N1,057.69 and Kwara atN1,066.67.”

The NBS said the analysis further showed that the North-Central recorded the highest average retail price per litre of Kerosene at N1,479.10, followed by the North-East at N1,381.94.

It said the South-South recorded the lowest average retail price per litre of kerosene at N1,225.83.

The report said the average retail price per gallon of Kerosene paid by consumers in January 2024 was N4, 870.83, indicating a 7.53 per cent increase from N4,529.92 recorded in December 2023.

“On a year-on-year basis, the average price per gallon of kerosene increased by 25.34 per cent from N3, 886.11 recorded in January 2023.

On state profile analysis, it showed that Adamawa recorded the highest average retail price at N6,083.33 per gallon of kerosene, followed by Bauchi at N5,800.00 and Kano at N5,777.78.

On the other hand, the report said Delta recorded the lowest price at N4,000.00, followed by Ondo and Enugu at N4,398.03 and N4,409.05, respectively.

Analysis by zone showed that the North-East recorded the highest average price per gallon of Kerosene at N5,526.39, followed by the North- West at N5,062.78.

“The South-East recorded the lowest average price per gallon of kerosene at N4,508.51,” the NBS said.(NAN)

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Protest: DSS Urges Labour to Embrace Dialogue

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The Department of State Services (DSS) has urged  the organised labour to embrace dialogue and negotiation against its planned protest slated for Feb. 27 and Feb. 28.

Dr Peter Afunanya, the Director of Public Relations and Strategic Communications of the DSS,  made the call in a statement on Wednesday in Abuja.

He said the service recognised protest as the legitimate right of the labour movement but call on the body to shelve the planned  action in the interest of peace and public order.

“The attention of the DSS has been drawn to plans by sections of the organised labour to stage protests between Feb.

27 and Feb.  28 in parts of the country over sundry economic issues.

“The DSS appeals to labour  to go after dialogue and negotiation rather than engaging in conducts that can heighten tensions.

“More so,  the service is aware that some elements are planning to use the opportunity of the protest to foment crisis and by extension, widespread violence,” he said.

He said the protest, without doubt, would worsen the socio-economic situation across the country.

According to him, it is common knowledge that all levels of government are striving to ameliorate the prevailing economic condition and as such, should be given a benefit of the doubt.

He said appropriate authorities were working assiduously with a spectrum of stakeholders to fashion out modalities to address the current difficulties.

Afunanya urged citizens to recognise that what remained unsolved in peace time, would not be attained in war-time, adding that everyone would be casualty in time of trouble.

“Ongoing wars in the global scene is a stark reminder of their catastrophic repercussions on the affected countries’ domestic environments thus, the critical need to protect and maintain our internal stability and unity.

“Those exploiting the fault lines in the country need to have a rethink as resort to negativities will endanger our peaceful coexistence with dire consequences.

“Parents and guardians are implored to exert authority in guiding their children and wards from inimical acts capable of jeopardising public safety and harmony,” he added.

He called on all sectors, including political parties, opposition groups, religious and traditional institutions, civil society and non-governmental bodies to eschew violence and demonstrate leadership and statesmanship in the current challenging times.

According to him, making political capital out of the current situation or involving in divisive utterances at a time like this, will be of no benefit to any peace-loving Nigerian.

Afunanya enjoined citizens to be vigilant and not allow fifth columnists and hostile forces or agents to use them to destabilise the peace of the nation. (NAN)

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