- Atiku decries rising debts
By Tony Obiechina, Abuja
The Debt Management Office (DMO), yesterday said Nigeria’s total public debt was N24.947 trillion or Trillion (US$ 81.274 Billion) during the first quarter of 2019.
In a statement released by the DMO in Abuja and made available to Daily Asset, the public debt incurred by the Federal, States and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), recorded a marginal Increase of 2.3 per cent, as at 31st March, 2019.
According to the statement, the Public Debt Data comprises the Domestic and External Debts of the three levels of government.
Giving a further breakdown, the statement said, “the increase of N560.009 Billion in the Total Public Debt in Q1 2019, was accounted for largely by Domestic Debt which grew by N458.363 Billion.
“Increases were recorded in the Domestic Debt Stock of the FGN, States and the FCT. External Debt also increased by N101.646 Billion during the same period.
“In relation to the Debt Management Strategy, the Ratio of Domestic to External Debt stood at 68.49% to 31.51 per cent at the end of March 2019. The Total Public Debt to GDP Ratio was 19.03 per cent which is within the 25 per cent Debt Limit imposed by the Government”.
Meanwhile, Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar has lamented Nigeria’s increasing debt profile under the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.
In a statement by his Media Adviser, Paul Ibe, Atiku noted that Nigeria’s debt profile is now at the stage where all genuine lovers of Nigeria ought to raise an alarm.
The statement reads: “On May 29, 2015, our national debt profile was at a very healthy ₦12 trillion. However, after four years of profligate spending, and even more irresponsible borrowing, our national debt doubled to ₦24.3 trillion by December 2018.
“As alarming as this is, what is more troubling is that between December 2018 and March 2019, the administration of General Buhari added an additional and unprecedented ₦560 billion debt to our national debt profile.
“What could this junta have needed that amount for? If you take those dates into account, they fall on the period of electioneering, when monies were freely distributed by officials of this government in the name of Tradermoni and other election gimmicks that were discontinued after the election.
“We find it inconceivable that Nigeria could have had such unprecedented borrowings in the midst of almost unimaginable sorrowing, which resulted in our nation becoming the world headquarters for extreme poverty and the global capital of out of school children, even as we slipped in the Corruption Perception Index of Transparency International.
“As someone who headed the National Economic Council that paid off Nigeria’s entire debt under the visionary leadership of President Olusegun Obasanjo, Atiku Abubakar has the moral authority to call those who are turning Nigeria into a beggar nation to halt the drift into unsustainable borrowing.
“We cannot continue to borrow to pay salaries and support luxuries. Already, over 50% of our revenue is going towards debt servicing, not even debt repayments.
“We raise this alarm as responsible citizens and call on other lovers of Nigeria to speak up as we have no other nation to call our home, but Nigeria.”
UNGA 78: Nigeria, 192 UN Members Adopt Plan Against Pandemics
Nigeria and other UN Member States have pledged to prevent a repeat of the devastating health and socio-economic crises caused by COVID-19 and shore up the world’s ability to head off another pandemic.
All 193 UN Member States adopted a political declaration at a high-level meeting on Pandemic Prevention, Preparedness and Response at the ongoing 78th session.
Adopting a milestone political declaration at the first-ever summit on pandemic prevention and response, nations also committed to get back on track to reach the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
“[This] is a historic milestone in the urgent drive to make all people of the world safer, and better protected from the devastating impacts of pandemics,” Tedros Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the UN World Health Organisation (WHO), said.
“I welcome this commitment by world leaders to provide the political support and direction needed so that WHO, governments and all involved can protect people’s health and take concrete steps towards investing in local capacities, ensuring equity and supporting the global emergency health architecture that the world needs.”
The declaration was the result of months of intense negotiations to refine and agree on actions at the national, regional and global levels. It will be submitted to the General Assembly in due course for formal endorsement.
The political declaration asserts the need for Member States to conclude negotiations on a formal agreement on pandemic prevention, preparedness and response, known also as the Pandemic Accord – and make targeted amendments to International Health Regulations – by May next year.
It also calls on States to address the negative, physical and mental health impacts of health-related misinformation, disinformation, hate speech and stigmatization, especially on social media platforms.
Instead, it calls for public information campaigns based on science and the facts.
Member States also committed to strengthening health work forces and rapid response capacities, surveillance, and local manufacturing abilities, so countries can meet their own needs to prevent, prepare for and respond to pandemics.
Speaking at the summit, UN Secretary- General, Antonio Guterres, recalled that the global response to COVID-19 showcased both human ingenuity and exposed society’s shortcomings.
While rapid test and vaccine development were notable achievements, there were also a lack of preparedness, disproportionate impacts on the world’s poorest and vaccine hoarding by wealthy nations.
“We must not repeat the mistakes of the past when the next pandemic strikes – as we know it will – and other health threats emerge,” he said.
Reiterating the importance of the declaration, the UN chief urged countries to support the WHO, including increasing their financial contributions.
Tinubu Attends NASDAQ, Rings Closing Bell
President Bola Tinubu on Thursday, rang the bell at the National Association of Securities Dealers Automatic Quotation System (NASDAQ), becoming the first African Head of Government to do so.
The president rang the bell at the world’s financial capital, New York and became the first African President to perform such task.
NASDAQ is world’s second largest stock exchange.
Tinubu, while performing the task, was in company of some Nigerian business leaders and officials of the Nigerian Exchange Ltd. (NGX).
The President also used the opportunity, presented by the historic moment, to advance his foreign investment push in front of financial markets at the famous stock exchange.
“It’s a great honour for me to be here. I am happy to bring Nigeria to your doorsteps and I am honoured that we are here, today, with a bubbling Nigerian stock market that will evolve in the West African sub-region.
‘’The greatest economy in Africa is Nigeria. There is an immense opportunity in Nigeria, where you can invest your money without fear,” the President said.
He said that his government would address longstanding problems and impediments, such as the recent economic policies taken since assumption of office in May.
He said these include restoration and unification of the foreign exchange rate market to a stable and trustworthy level.
According to him, this will allow new investors to bring their money and be free of worries about whether they can take it out at any point in time.
“You’re free to take in your money and bring out your money. I count on you to invest in Nigeria,” the President said.
Tinubu Woos Investors at Nigeria-US Business Roundtable
President Bola Tinubu has assured prospective investors of his administration’s determination to adopt necessary fiscal and regulatory measures toward the ease of doing business in Nigeria.
At the Nigeria-U.S. Executive Business Roundtable, the President said he recognised that investment capital is cowardly in nature.
He said that was the reason behind his bringing successful Nigerian industrialists and public officials to share their experiences and operational plans, respectively.
Tinubu said this was in addition to all he had done to boost the confidence of the global investment community in Nigeria, by reforming the fiscal, monetary, regulatory and tax policy environment.
“Nigeria is an opportunity that is impossible to replicate or find elsewhere in any part of the world. We have brilliant young people who both innovate and consume at a large scale.
‘’Our entrepreneurial spirit is a major part of what makes our market totally unique, aside from demography.
‘’Nigerians build businesses and Nigerian businesses partner with other businesses to conduct larger business.
‘’There is enough value to spread around. Be careful of what you hear about Nigeria. You may be dissuaded out of a major opportunity that others will take up.
‘’We are here for you. We will give you all the support you need to succeed and succeed abundantly,” the President said.
On behalf of the U.S. Government, U.S. Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo, told U.S. business leaders he came back from Nigeria on an official visit that later became a fact-finding mission.
“In Lagos, I saw, first-hand, some of the major reforms you implemented as the Governor of Lagos and the transformative effect on Nigeria’s commercial capital.
‘’People have attested to the fact that the reforms you have put in place as President are quickly enhancing confidence.
‘’American business is paying attention to that and from what we have seen for ourselves, Nigeria is proving to be a new frontier for investment.
‘’We will encourage our companies from our end as those reforms continue to deepen,” Adeyemo said.
The American Business Council President, Mr Sops Ideriah, said that the extensive turnouts at the roundtable by American business chief executives was impressive.
According to him, the turnouts served as a testament to the degree to which confidence is rising in response to the actions and words of the President.
He said that this was with respect to ease of doing business, investment promotion, and his willingness to intervene to clear the historical concerns of American business people about doing business in Nigeria.
“Having all the stakeholders in the room, His Excellency, the President of Nigeria being here, from government actors at the federal and state level to ministers and tax authorities present, as well as private sector industrialists in Nigeria.
‘’We are very positive about the potential of Nigeria and we are just reinforcing to our colleagues the message about the economic opportunities that exist there,” Ideriah said.
Acting Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Mr Zacch Adedeji, assured the American captains of industry that the nation’s apex tax authority would not focus on taxing the seed.
He said it would focus only on the proportionate taxation of the fruit of fully formed industry, through efficient policy synergy with Nigeria’s sub-national authorities.
“The President is a business enabler, not a handicapper. Everything we do will be geared toward making your tax assessment and payment processes as digitally efficient and transparent as possible.
‘’We are not after the seed, but the fruit and we will keep to this commitment,” Adedeji said.(NAN)
NNPCL Signs Membership of UN Global Compact
The Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited, has signed up as a participant of the United Nations Global Compact, thereby becoming the first state-owned oil company to join the global initiative.
Group CEO of NNPC Ltd, Malam Mele Kyari, signed the Letter of Commitment, at the ongoing UN General Assembly (UNGA), signifying its participation in the UN Global Compact in New York.
A statement by the NNPC Ltd management, on Thursday, said the company signed up in a short ceremony on the sidelines of President Bola Tinubu’s session during the Global Africa Business Initiative (GABI) at the ongoing general assembly.
In a speech shortly after the signing, Kyari said the NNPCL’s participation in the UN Global Compact was a further testimony to Nigeria’s commitment to work with global partners towards attaining a just Energy Transition.
Kyari added that with this development, NNPCL supports the Ten Principles of the UN Global Compact on human rights, labour, environment, and anti corruption.
He described the NNPCL as a dynamic global energy company with businesses and operations across the entire spectrum of the energy value chain.
“We are committed to making the UN Global Compact and its principles part of our strategy, culture and day-to-day operations of our Company.
“We will engage in collaborative projects which advance the broader development of goals of the United Nations, particularly the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),” Kyari added.
Earlier in her remarks, the Executive Director, UN Global Compact Network, Nigeria, Ms Naomi Nwokolo described NNPCL’s move to become a participant of the UN global initiative as pivotal step in fostering a culture of ethical business conduct, environmental stewardship, and social responsibility.
With Nigeria being one of the largest producers of crude oil in Africa, a transition from an energy system driven by fossil fuels to one based on renewable energy will have far reaching positive impact, serving as a catalyst for sustainability in-country, on the continent and the world at large.
The UN Global Compact, formally inaugurated in July 2000, is a voluntary UN agreement designed to encourage companies around the world to develop, implement, and disclose responsible and sustainable corporate policies and practices. (NAN)
Minister Calls for Creative Ideas to Overcome Economic Challenges
By Raphael Atuu, Abuja
Minister of Water Resources and Sanitation, Professor Joseph Terlumun Utsev has called on Nigerians to come up with creative ideas and suggestions on how best to overcome challenges facing the country.
Engineer Utsev made the call on Wednesday, when he received members of the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG) in his office in Abuja.
According to him, the administration of President Bola Tinubu was committed to making lives meaningful for all citizens and was ready to welcome creative ideas that will enable the country surmount its challenges and better the living condition of citizens.
He acknowledged the key role the Nigerian Economic Summit Group has played over the years in promoting and championing reforms of the Nigerian economy and called for synergy between the group and the Ministry to achieve the desired result.
Acting Chief Operations Officer and Senior Fellow Economic Policy, Strategy and Competitiveness, Dr Tayo Aduloju had explained that the group, which is non – profit, non -partisan private sector organization with a mandate to promote and champion the reform of the Nigerian economy into a modern globally and competitive one was at the ministry to seek partnership in the areas of providing useful ways of improving water , sanitation and hygiene in the country as well as how to make water a business .
The Minister had earlier played host to a delegation from the World Bank led by Jun Matsumoto, which were at the ministry to also seek partnership for the promotion of irrigation farming and effective utilization of dams for agriculture.
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