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FG’s Finance Team in Reps, Defend Current High Cost of Living

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By Ubong Ukpong, Abuja

 The federal government’s finance team led by Minister of Finance, Wale Edun, and the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Atiku Bagudu, on Tuesday , defended the current high cost of living,just as they assured Nigerians of the federal government’s resolve to address the present  high cost of living being witnessed in the country.

Olayemi Cardoso, the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), and Zacch Adedeji, Chairman, Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), also joined the ministers to allay the fears of Nigerians about the current inflation.

The government agents spoke when they appeared at the sectoral debate organised by the House of Representatives for the finance sector and stakeholders on the current cost of living at Plenary in Abuja on Tuesday.

Speaking, Edun, who is also the coordinating minister of the economy, said, “Where we are as a nation is a much better place than we were in May 29, 2023.”

He added that Nigeria as a country was on the road to economic disaster by way of subsidy on fuel, adding that it was expected that there would be challenges as a result of subsidy removal.

Edun said that inflation had increased and the cost of living had spiked, but stated that President Bola Tinubu was committed to protecting the poorest and the vulnerable.

“As things improve, there will be further intervention on behalf of the vulnerable to assist in the cost of living.

“Let us be confident, calm, and assured that Nigeria will change in terms of economic management and that there will be intervention in every sector.”

According to him, there is a need to tackle inflation because full inflation accounts for 33 percent of the consumer price index.

He said there was a need to return to production, adding that industry however, required energy to function optimally and that the President was also committed to using state power to subdue vested interests in the oil sector.

On his part, Bagudu said the president was committed to national development, adding that the president reckoned with the challenges of the living conditions of the people.

“What is happening in our country is obvious to someone visiting a construction site; we are very clear that we are on the right path and the challenges of the moment are being tackled.

“We are getting support from international partners, and they are all acknowledging the commendable steps that the president is taking.

“We have seen investments in the rail sector, the NNLG, and we assure you that we will overcome the challenges of the moment and sustain the economic growth as promised by the President,” he said.

In a related development, Cardoso expressed confidence that positive outcomes from the administration of Tinubu were already emerging and would further emerge in the near future.

“The concern as per the cost of living is genuine, and the urgency of the matter is not lost on us at the CBN, and we are working tirelessly to bring up a lasting solution.

He said inflation was expected to decline in 2024, adding that this would be aided by improved agricultural productivity.

He said that the challenges of the exchange rate had been tackled, adding that they were fueled by speculation, increased forex demand, increased capital outflow, excess liquidity, and increased demand, among others.

He said the CBN was addressing the forex demand by clearing forex operations and adjusting the remuneration standard deposit, among others.

Speaking, the FIRS boss, Mr Adedeji, said the service was not a revenue-generating agency but a revenue-collection agency, adding that the agency was doing a lot to increase the nation’s revenue base.

According to him, the target for 2023 revenue was N10 trillion, and we achieved N12.3 trillion because of the decision taken by the president.

Adedeji said the president took the decision to rectify the distortion in the economic parameters and remove the fuel subsidy.

According to him, we have over performance from VAT collection and company income tax. We have the target of collecting N19.2 trillion in 2024.

The chairman added that the N19.2 trillion target was based on the fact that it would not collect new taxes but bring more people into the tax rate.

He said less than 60 companies, as of today, contribute less than 60 percent to the nation’s company income tax.

Meanwhile, Rep. Benjamin Kalu, the Deputy Speaker of the sectoral debate with the Ministers of CBN and FIRS, said it was imperative to recognize the urgency and importance of the agenda before it.

He said, “We must also confront the stark realities of the economic, fiscal, and revenue challenges that our beloved nation, Nigeria, is currently facing.

“In the face of global economic shifts and domestic challenges, it is clear that robust reform measures are not just beneficial but imperative.

“We are at a pivotal moment where the decisions we make and the policies we implement will impact the lives of millions of Nigerians”

He said the reform should not only address immediate needs but also lay a resilient and dynamic framework that would adapt to future challenges and opportunities.

According to him, these measures should stimulate growth, foster innovation, and uplift the lives of every Nigerian.

NEWS

Tinubu Mourns Ex-Minister, Ogbonnaya Onu

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President Bola Tinubu has extended his deepest condolences to the Onu family over the passing of Chief Ogbonnaya Onu, a former Minister of Science and Technology in the Buhari administration.

Chief Onu passed away on Thursday at the age of 72.

“The President mourns a luminous star in Nigeria’s political firmament.

The first civilian governor of Abia State; former minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, a principal draughtsman in the founding of the All Progressives Congress (APC), and a valiant partner in the victory of the party in the 2015 elections.
 

“Most importantly, the President celebrates the life of an accomplished scholar, first-class engineer; a man of proven integrity; defiant to indiscipline, but ever yielding to the highest standards of rectitude,” a statement by Chief Ajuri Ngelale, Presidential spokesman quoted the President to have said.

The statement said Tinubu affirmed that the late Onu epitomized Nigeria in concord; in wholeness, as the late statesman believed in and defended Nigeria’s unity, advocated peace, and promoted fellowship across the Niger.

The President also condoled with the friends and associates of Chief Onu, Ebonyi and Abia State Governments, and all Nigerians grieving this gaping loss.

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Business News

Geregu Power Earns N50.4bn From Electricity Sales, Capacity Charges 

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By Tony Obiechina, Abuja 

Geregu Power Plc has generated N50.4bn on electricity sales and capacity charges to Nigerians in the first quarter of 2024.

The power company which is the first listed power company of the Nigerian Exchange Ltd disclosed the performance in its Q1, 2024 financial statement.

The company grew its Q1 revenue by 225 per cent from N14.

2bn in 2023 to N50.
4bn in 2023.

A breakdown reveals that Geregu Power sold energy worth N31bn and received N19bn as revenue from capacity charge.

Recall that the power company posted an annual revenue of N82.9bn in the full year of 2023 but it has covered half of the amount in Q1.

The revenue was above the company’s forecast for Q1 2024 when it projected its revenue to rise to N31.24bn.

Geregu Power recorded a profit before tax of N21.9bn up from the N5.3bn recorded in Q1 of last year, reflecting 307.8 per cent growth.

During the period underreview, the company saw its profit after tax rose by 307.3 per cent to N14.46bn from N3.54bn recorded in Q1 of last year. In the full year 2023, the company made N16.1bn net profit.

The net profit was above the company projection of N5.5bn. 

Geregu Power took an income tax charge of N7.43bn, up from the N1.8bn in Q1 2023. The tax charges were higher than the N2.7bn projected for Q1 2024.

The company also spent N21.5bn on the cost of sales involving gas supply and transportation, up from the N6.6bn spent on gas supply and transportation in Q1 2023.

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Foreign News

U.S. not Expecting to be Drawn into War but Predicts Attack by Iran Against Israel

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The United States expects an attack by Iran against Israel but one that would not be big enough to draw Washington into war, a U.S. official said late on Thursday.

The White House said earlier that Washington did not want conflict to spread in the Middle East and the U.S. had told Iran it was not involved in an air strike against a top Iranian military commander in Damascus.

The White House added it warned Iran to not use that attack as a pretext to escalate further in the region.

Suspected Israeli warplanes bombed Iran’s embassy in Damascus on Monday in a strike for which Iran has vowed revenge and in which a top Iranian general and six other Iranian military officers were killed, ratcheting up tension in a region already strained by the Gaza war.

Iranian sources told Reuters that Tehran has signalled to Washington that it will respond to Israel’s attack on its Syrian embassy in a way that aims to avoid major escalation and it will not act hastily, as Tehran presses demands including a Gaza truce.

The United States has been on high alert about possible retaliatory strikes from Iran and U.S. envoys have been working to lower tensions.

Palestinian Islamist group Hamas attacked Israel on Oct. 7, killing 1,200, according to Israeli tallies.

Israel’s military assault on Hamas-governed Gaza has since killed more than 33,000 people according to the local health ministry, displaced nearly all of Gaza’s 2.3 million population, caused a humanitarian crisis, and led to genocide allegations that Israel denies.

Iran-backed groups have declared support for Palestinians, waging attacks from Lebanon, Yemen, and Iraq.

Tehran has avoided direct confrontation with Israel or the United States, while declaring support for its allies. (Reuters/NAN)

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