FG to Release N600bn for Capital Projects – Buhari
President Muhammadu Buhari has directed the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning to release N600 billion for Capital Expenditure in the next three months.
The President gave the directive in his nationwide broadcast to mark the Nigeria’s 59th Independence Anniversary on Tuesday in Abuja.
He stated that the directive was informed by his administration’s desire to significantly increase investments in the nation’s critical infrastructure.
According to him, the implementation of the 2019 Capital Budget, which was only approved in June 2019, will be accelerated to ensure that critical priority projects are completed or substantially addressed.
He revealed that the Federal Government had so far released N1.74trillion for execution of various capital projects in the 2018 fiscal year.
“In this regard, we are significantly increasing investments in critical infrastructure. Last year, capital releases only commenced with the approval of the Budget in June 2018.
“However, as at 20th June this year, up to N1.74 trillion had been released for capital projects in the 2018 fiscal year,’’ he said.
The president noted that the exchange rate in the last three years had remained stable, with robust reserves of 42.5 billion dollars, up from 23 billion dollars in Oct. 2016.
He added that, to maximise impact, the federal government would continue to increasingly welcome and encourage private capital for infrastructure development through Public Private Partnerships.
“Through the Road Infrastructure Tax Credit Scheme, which I initiated in January this year, we are giving incentives to private sector inflow of over N205 billion in 19 Nigerian roads and bridges of 794.4km across in 11 States of the Federation.
“As we push to diversify the economy, we still remain focused on optimising the revenues generated from the oil and gas sector.
“We will, working with the Legislature, soon pass the Petroleum Industry Bill and amendments to the Deep Offshore Act and Inland Basin Production Sharing Contracts Act into law, to ensure Government obtains a fair share of oil revenues, whilst encouraging private sector investment,’’ he said.
Buhari maintained that his administration would also continue the fight against illegal bunkering of crude oil and the smuggling of refined petroleum products across the borders.
He said this would include the diligent prosecution and conviction of offenders found guilty of these acts.
“Whilst Nigeria remains committed to free and fair continental and international trade, we will not hesitate to take all necessary steps to tackle illegal smuggling, transshipment and other predatory trade practices that destroy jobs in our country,’’ the president added.
On power, Buhari reiterated his administration’s determination to reform the power sector to ensure speedy socio-economic transformation across the country.
“We are resolute in reforming the power sector. In August this year, we launched the Presidential Power Initiative to modernize the National Grid in 3 phases: starting from 5 Gigawatts to 7 Gigawatts, then to 11 Gigawatts by 2023, and finally 25 Gigawatts afterwards.
“This programme, in partnership with the German Government and Siemens, will provide end-to-end electrification solutions that will resolve our transmission and distribution challenges,’’ he disclosed.
According to him, the programme will also localise the development and assembly of smart meters as well as the operations and maintenance capabilities of transmission and distribution infrastructure.
He expressed delight with the improved inter-agency collaboration between the Ministry of Power and the regulators in the banking and power sectors to ensure that electricity sales, billings and collections were automated and become cashless.
“These initiatives are important to ensure that the technical and collection losses in the sector are substantially reduced.
“I remain confident that Nigerians will have affordable and uninterrupted electricity supply in the not too distant future.
“Our efforts to improve the power sector will complement other infrastructure investments projects under the Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund,’’ he said.
He acknowledged that the fund was investing in the Mambilla Power Plant project, as well as key economic road infrastructure such as the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, Second Niger Bridge and Abuja-Kano Expressway.
The President expressed optimism that the first set of these projects remain on track to be completed by 2022. (NAN)
Africa Has Technology, Potential to Eradicate Hunger- Adesina says
African Development Bank (AfDB) President, Dr Akinwumi Adesina, says Africa has the necessary partnerships and technologies to eradicate hunger.
In a statement issued on the banks website, Adesina said what Africa needed was action, including robust financing to achieve this.
He spoke during the opening session of the 8th Africa Agribusiness and Science Week (AASW), in Durban, South Africa, on Monday.
The Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA), organised the event in collaboration with the South African government, the African Union Commission (AUC), AfDB and the Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research (CGIAR).
Other partners included the UN’s International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), and United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO), as well as the European Commission.
Adesina said: “We must pull together the best of science, technology, and innovations to drive a more productive, efficient, and more competitive agricultural system.”
According to him, Africa’s food systems have the potential to unleash 1 trillion dollars in value, over the next seven years.
“For that to be achieved, we must strengthen and support the CGIAR with a lot more resources, ensure that it works in and delivers for Africa based on our priorities.
“And support regional research and development institutions, such as FARA, and the sub-regional agricultural research organisations,” he said.
He said one of the bank’s initiatives targeted at boosting African food security was the Feed Africa Summit, held in January in the Senegalese capital Dakar.
According to him, this brought together 34 heads of states and governments.
“Working with development partners from around the world and the AUC, the private sector companies, and global and national agricultural research centers, we developed Food and Agricultural Delivery Compacts for 41 countries.
“The summit partners have built on its success, mobilising 72 billion dollars so far, to support the national compacts.”
Adesina thereafter, presented the 2023 FARA Leadership Prizes for Advancing Agricultural Science, Technology, and Innovation in Africa to some personalities.
“They include, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Director-General, World Trade Organisation; AUC Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture, Amb. Josefa Sacko and FARA’s Executive Director Dr Yemi Akinbamijo.
“Others are Senegal’s former Minister of Agriculture and Rural Infrastructure, Papa Abdoulaye Seck, and Afreximbank President, Prof. Benedict Oramah.”
The AUC Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture, said the event could not have come at a better time.
Sacko said this was because the world was in the midst of a hunger pandemic caused by cascading factors, including COVID-19 and Climate Change.
She said: “Africa needs to leverage on its potential, including science, and be proactive rather than reactive to shocks.
‘“Let us continue to take advantage of the continent’s youthful population and immense natural capital.
“And let us unlock the potential we have. We should feed Africans and we should feed the world,” Sacko added.
The FARA Chairperson Alioune Fall, spoke about the interlocking relationship between climate change and agricultural production.
“Climate change and its effect on the continent require new ways of doing things in almost all facets of our society.
“Africa’s young farmers will not adopt nature-based approaches unless they are well packaged, affordable and technology-serviced, Fall said” Adesina won the award in 2016.
The 8th AASW, is the main continental platform for stakeholders of agriculture and agribusiness research and innovation in Africa.
It brings together 1,500 stakeholders every three years, to take stock of progress on research and innovation, share information, create business alliances, and map out priorities for joint action.
The 7the AASW was held in Kigali, Rwanda in June 2016. (NAN)
FG Restates Commitment to Deepen Trade Relations with China
The Federal Government has stated its committed to further strengthen its trade and economic relations with the People’s Republic of China.
The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Industry, Trade and investment, Dr Evelyn Ngige said this when Mr Zhang Guanbin, Deputy Director-General, Department of Trade, Ministry of Commerce, People’s Republic of China visited her in Abuja.
She emphasised that boosting the trade ties would improve trade volume between Nigeria and China which stood at over 12.03 billion US dollars in 2021.
Ngige noted the ministry’s pivotal role in Nigeria’s economic development, through the promotion of the non- oil sector which has strengthened economic diversification, domestic and international relations and a significant bilateral trade between Nigeria and China, as well.
Earlier, the Deputy Director-General, Department of Trade, Ministry of Commerce of the People’s Republic of China and leader of the delegation, Mr Zhang Guanbin commended the Federal Government for the trade cooperation between the two countries.
He said that a working group between Nigeria and China would help achieve greater results.
According to him, Chinese investors in Nigeria believe in Nigeria’s business environment and seek to enlarge their business investment in the country.
He said that China is working on the implementation of agreements reached by the leaders of the two countries.
Guanbin extended an invitation to Nigerian Government for participation at the International Co-operation Forum in China scheduled to hold in October 2023.
On his part, the Director of Trade in the Ministry, Mr Suleiman Audu said that the ministry had put in place processes of re-invigorating the working group in trade. (NAN)
Nigeria Records N927.2bn Trade Surplus in Q1 2023- NBS
By Tony Obiechina, Abuja
Nigeria recorded N927.16 billion trade surplus between January and March, 2023.
The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), which stated this in its report on foreign trade for the first quarter of 2023, also disclosed that Nigeria’s total exports stood at N6.49 trillion, and imports at N5. 56 trillion.
The NBS report shows that in the quarter under review, the nation’s total trade stood at N12.05 trillion. This is higher than the value (N7.86 trillion) recorded in the corresponding period (Q1) of 2021.
It is also more than the figure recorded in the fourth quarter (Q4) of 2022 when Nigeria’s trade stood at N11.72 trillion.
“Total exports increased in the first quarter by 2 percent but declined by 8.66 percent when compared to the amount recorded in the fourth quarter of 2022 (N6, 359.61 billion) and the corresponding quarter in 2022 (N7, 102.11 billion) respectively,” the report reads.
“In the same vein, total imports increased by 3.67 percent in the first quarter of 2023 compared to the value recorded in the fourth quarter of 2022 (N5,362.83 billion) but then again declined by 25.83 percent when compared to the value recorded in the corresponding quarter of 2022 (N7,495.67 billion).”
Further examination of the report shows that the majority of imported goods in Q1 2022 originated from China, the Netherlands, Belgium, India, and the United States of America.
NBS said the value of imports from the aforementioned countries amounted to N3.1 trillion, representing a share of 55.78 percent of the total value of imports.
The bureau said the commodities with the largest values of imported products were “motor spirit ordinary, gas oil, and durum wheat”.
Meanwhile, goods worth about N837.65 billion (the most) were exported to the Netherlands.
Other countries where goods were exported to are the United States of America (N579.35 billion), Spain (N488.17 billion), France (N487.34 billion), and India (N456.69 billion).
A trade surplus is an economic indicator of a positive trade balance in which a nation’s exports outweigh its imports.
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