FG to Prosecute Social Investment Programmes’ Saboteurs
Special Adviser to the President on Social Investments, Mrs. Maryam Uwais, yesterday said the Federal Government will prosecute saboteurs of its Social Investment Programmes.
Uwais gave the warning in a statement by Justice Bibiye, Communications Manager, and National Social Investment Office (NSIO) in Abuja.
Uwais said the Federal Government would continue to mainstream the principles of transparency, accountability and probity in the implementation of the SIPs of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration.
She said efforts were being intensified to track down those bent on sabotaging the SIPs by exploiting beneficiaries for personal gains, or sensationalise untruths to discredit the efforts at uplifting poorer citizens of the country from poverty.
Uwais said NSIO was working with the relevant security agencies to ensure that those found wanting were arrested and prosecuted.
She responded against the backdrop of media reports which quoted her to have accused monarchs and other traditional rulers in the country of collecting bribes from beneficiaries of the SIPs.
The presidential aide urged members of the public to dismiss such reports as sensationalism and a total misrepresentation of facts.
Uwais delivered a goodwill message as Special Guest at the 13th Anti-corruption Agenda for the 9th National Assembly, held recently in Abuja.
She said she never mentioned at that event that monarchs or traditional rulers as among those involved in demanding kickbacks from SIPs beneficiaries in rural areas.
According to Uwais, her comments at the function, organised by the Human and Environmental Development Agenda, a Non-Governmental Organisation, were based on the outcome of investigations triggered by an individual in the audience.
She said that the concerns raised at the event related to complaints by some beneficiaries who alleged being short-changed by some community leaders in Osun State.
“At a similar event held sometime ago, a young man had publicly reported that some beneficiaries were being shortchanged in his community, so I promised to have it investigated.
“This investigation was carried out by ANEEJ, the principal monitor of disbursements of the Abacha restituted funds.
“The report of the investigation revealed that the disclosures were essentially factual; some community leaders and LGA officials were in the habit of demanding levies after payment is concluded in the communities.’’
Uwais said that NSIO resolved to undertake measures to counter those adverse practices in the field.
According her, the office is planning an event in the communities to engage the beneficiaries with a view to building their confidence, so they can refuse to accede to such demands.
“Those who understand the leadership structure in our communities would know that monarchs are not the only set of persons classified as community leaders.
“Our royal fathers are usually supported by others in the hierarchy to superintend over community affairs.
“It then becomes very disturbing and somewhat mischievous for a reporter to single out monarchs from a comment that focused generally on community leaders.
“We urge the media to avoid sensationalism and keep striving towards upholding the lofty principles of truth, fairness, objectivity and accuracy in their reportage of events of National concern.
“In addition to field reports we get from our independent monitors and volunteers, we have continued to encourage and welcome feed-backs from members of the public, on acts of infraction and other challenges that can assist government to achieve better results in the implementation of the Social Safety Net Programmes,” She said.
Experts Canvass Better Attention to Taxes, Untapped Minerals, others
By Gom Mirian, Abuja
Experts in the research and development sectors have called on the incoming administration to focus on the growth-enhancing sectors in the country rather than relying solely on revenues from crude oil to develop the economy.
The call was made in Abuja at a one-day Leadership and Development Policy Dialogue Series (LDPDS)organized by the African Centre for Leadership, Strategy and Development (Centre LSD)tagged: “Nigerian Debt Profile: Issues, implications, Lessons and Solutions for the Next Administration.
Director portfolio management department of the Debt Management Office (DMO), Mr Oladele Afolabi said there were a lot of linkages and shortfalls in the payment of taxes, especially by companies which is the reflection of the low revenue received in the country.
While urging the next administration to ensure blockage of these linkages, tasked the government to explore untapped mineral resources in the country to generate more revenue since the revenue obtained from crude oil is incapable of developing the economy.
Speaking at the dialogue, a professor of Economics at the University of Abuja, Isa Muhammad said Nigeria spends N97 of every N100 earned or produced on debt service.
According to professor Muhammad, the Nigerian debt service to income ratio has drastically increased from 17% to 97% in ten years (2012-2021).
He said the increase is extremely high compared to the World Bank’s recommended limit of no more than 22.5%.
He said: “In 2022, a deficit of N6. 26 trillion is anticipated as a result of all fiscal activities.
“Debt payment is anticipated to cost N3.61 trillion, with N292.71 billion coming from sinking funds to pay off maturing bonds.
“This is an alarming instance of revenue challenge that, if not handled properly, could result in a problem with the sustainability of debt”, he said.
Professor Muhammad called on the next administration to strengthen government finances, lower the fiscal deficit over time, and adopt revenue and expenditure reform steps in the medium term.
He also called on the next administration to move away from budget deficits as income collections increase.
Earlier in his remarks, the Executive Director of the Centre LSD, Mr Monday Osasah, said dialogue became imperative following the Federal Government (FG), the outcry that Nigeria’s debt sustainability has become threatened owing to the rise in its revenue shortfalls.
He said: “This revenue, unfortunately, is not matched by the high debt servicing burden of the country. According to the Minister of Finance, Nigeria is expected to spend 60% of its total revenue on debt servicing in 2023.
Also, the Head of the National Bureau of Statistics(NBS), Dr Anthony Ayo urged the next administration to step down on the ‘debt-to-GDP ratio as a method of measuring debt sustainability but rather than adopt the ‘revenue-to-GDP approach to achieve effective results.
Mr Osasah said these assertions portend a grave threat to the Nigerian economy, as this depletes the resources available for other national developmental priorities.
He said the dialogue, therefore, presents an opportunity for stakeholders to have a shared understanding of the issues, implications, lessons, and solutions, as well as make recommendations for the next Administration.
Afreximbank Budgets $350,000 for Nigeria Inland Waterways Development
By Tony Obiechina, Abuja
African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) in its role as a systemically important and market-failure bank for Africa, has provided a grant of US$350,000 and leveraged on its partnership with the Nigerian Export-Import Bank (NEXIM), the Federal Ministry of Transportation and the Nigerian Navy to facilitate the movement of goods using navigable waterways in Nigeria.
In this regard, a major milestone in the quest to unlock the huge potentials in transportation on Nigeria’s inland waterways was recorded on Tuesday 16th March 2023 with the unveiling of the Navigational Charts of the Lower River Niger by the Honorable Minister for Transportation, Mr.Mu’azu Jaji Sambo supported by, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr. Boss Mustapha.
The Charting project was made possible by the grant from Afreximbank in recognition of the importance of inland waterways transportation and by extension, coastal waterways transportation, to its mandate of promoting Intra-African trade.
Speaking at the event, the Minister of Transportation, Mr. Mu’azu Jaji Sambo, hailed the support from Afreximbank through the grant and reiterated the importance of water transportation as the most environmentally friendly mode of transportation with significant economic benefits, citing the example of the United States of America where 60% of agricultural produce are moved through inland waterways.
He commended the efforts of all the parties involved in the activity and made commitment to progressing the subsequent activities involved to make the movement of goods on the lower River Niger from the hinterlands to the coastal lands possible.
Afreximbank was represented at the event by Mr. Remigius Nwachukwu, Manager Trade Finance, Anglophone West Africa, who commended the leadership and vision of Prof. Benedict Oramah, President and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Afreximbank towards the realization of this project which falls clearly within the ambit of the mandate of Afreximbank in promoting, facilitating and financing intra- and extra-African trade.
Afreximbank also noted that existing African infrastructure was designed to carry African commodities to the global markets and not to facilitate intra-African trade. In this context, Afreximbank decided to support the development of the maritime sector including inland waterways to ensure that there are efficient and cost-effective routes to facilitate intra-African trade under the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA).
The launch of the navigational charts is following a Maritime Survey and Charting Project executed by the Sealink Consortium in collaboration with the Nigerian Navy, Nigeria Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) and Neximbank which was financed through the grant from Afreximbank. The Navigational Charting was undertaken by a wholly indigenous team from the Nigerian Navy and NIWA.
The Regional Sealink Project is a trade facilitation initiative designed to bridge critical logistics infrastructure gap toward facilitating and deepening inland and intra-coastal waterways operations. The charts provide information on navigable and restricted areas of the river channel as well as serve as a springboard to attaining a fully developed navigable channel.
The Charting covered a distance of 456 km from Jamata, Lokoja to Burutu and have been approved by the International Centre for Electronic Navigational Charts having met International Hydrographic Organization’s standards.
Although some more work like dredging and removal of identified wrecks are still expected to be done on the channel, navigational activities can commence with the use of the Charts which Mariners can obtain from the International Centre for Electronic Navigational Charts either in hard copy or electronic form.
FAAC Shares N722.677bn February Revenue to FG, States, LGCs
By Tony Obiechina, Abuja
The Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC) has shared a total sum of N722.677 billion February 2023 Federation Account Revenue to the Federal Government, States and Local Government Councils.
This was contained in a communiqué issued at the end of the Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC) meeting for on Wednesday and made available in a statement signed by Mr Bawa Mokwa, Director of Press & Public Relations, Office of Accountant General of the Federation (OAGF).
The N722.677 billion total distributable revenue comprised distributable statutory revenue of N366.800 billion, distributable Value Added Tax (VAT) revenue of N224. 232 billion, Electronic Money Transfer Levy (EMTL) of N11.645 billion and N120.000 billion Augmentation from Forex Equalisation Account.
In February 2023,, the total deductions for cost of collection was N27.449 billion and total deductions for transfers, savings, recoveries and refunds was N109.909 billion.
The balance in the Excess Crude Account (ECA) was $473,754.57
The communiqué confirmed that from the total distributable revenue of N722.677 billion; the Federal Government received N269.063 billion, the State Governments received N236.464 billion and the Local Government Councils received N173.936 billion. A total sum of N43.214 billion was shared to the relevant States as 13% derivation revenue.
Gross statutory revenue of N487.106 billion was received for the month of February 2023. This was lower than the sum of N653.704 billion received in the previous month by N166.598 billion.
From the N366.800 billion distributable statutory revenue, the Federal Government received N178.683 billion, the State Governments received N90.630 billion and the Local Government Councils received N69.872 billion. The sum of N27.614 billion was shared to the relevant States as 13% derivation revenue.
For the month of February 2023,, the gross revenue available from the Value Added Tax (VAT) was N240.799 billion This was lower than the N250.009 billion available in the month of January 2023 by N9.210 billion.
The Federal Government received N33.635 billion, the State Governments received N112.116 billion and the Local Government Councils received N78.481 billion from the N224.232 billion distributable Value Added Tax (VAT) revenue.
The N11.645 billion Electronic Money Transfer Levy (EMTL) was distributed as follows: the Federal Government received N1.747 billion, the State Governments received N5.822 billion, and the Local Government Councils received N4.076 billion.
From the N120.000 billion Augmentation, the Federal Government received N54.998 billion, the State Governments received N27.896 billion, the Local Government Councils received N21.506 billion and a total sum of N15.600 billion was shared to the relevant Sates as 13% mineral revenue.
According to the communiqué, in the month of February 2023, Petroleum Profit Tax (PPT), Companies Income Tax (CIT), Oil and Gas Royalties, Import and Excise Duties all decreased significantly while Value Added Tax (VAT) and Electronic Money Transfer Levy (EMTL) decreased marginally.
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