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Nigeria to reopen land borders soon – Finance minister

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  • Says no issue with federal workers’ salaries

Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, has said the nation’s land borders closed in August 2019 will be reopened soon.

She stated this during an interview with State House correspondents in Abuja on Wednesday.

Already, she said the presidential committee set up on the matter had completed its job and recommended the reopening of the borders.

The committee would soon submit its report to President Muhammadu Buhari, the minister who chairs the committee said, adding that a formal pronouncement would be made on the matter thereafter.

She said, “Mr President has set up a committee that I chair, alongside the Minister of Foreign Affairs and other ministers, including Interior, Customs, Immigration, the security services, to review and advise him on the issue of border closure.

“The committee has just completed its work and we’ll be submitting our report. I’ve signed my copy; I gave everybody to sign between today and tomorrow so that we can submit the report to Mr President.”

she also spoke on the plan to save the economy from recession, saying the administration hoped to use the Economic Sustainability Plan to rescue the economy from its current situation.

She said that the government already anticipated the current recession and had designed the ESP to help fast-track its exit from the economic woe, adding that so far the plan was still very much on track and that the economy was expected to come out of recession in the first quarter of 2021.

She said, “The steps that were taken involved a vigorous implementation of the Economic Sustainability Plan. You will recall that the ESP was designed to be a 12-month plan, to act as a bridge between the ERGP and its successor plan. Also, it was designed specifically to help us quickly exit recession, which we had projected was going to happen.

“So the ESP implementation is really on course; it’s focused and the implementation of the 2020 budget is really on course and very focused. We have been able to release a large volume of capital funding into ministries, departments and agencies, enabling a lot of public works going on simultaneously all over the country.

“So how we will maintain this is to make sure we continue to implement the ESP as it is planned. It will help us exit recession; it will help us reset back on the path of growth and on a road that is sustainable.”

Asked if there were plans to withdraw and rework the 2021 budget proposal which was with the National Assembly in view of the recent announcement of the contraction of the economy, the minister said, “We are not planning to retrieve the budget or reverse the budget beyond the work of appropriation that the National Assembly is currently doing in consultation with us.”

The minister explained the cause of delay in the payment of federal workers’ salaries, saying, “There’s no issue with federal workers’ salary. We have paid salaries for November and we shall pay salaries for December so there’s no issue at all with federal workers’ salary.

“If you hear about any issue, it is for agencies whose budgets funding on the GIFMIS (Government Integrated Financial Management and Information System) was exhausted and we are about to make an adjustment to them.

“When we were doing the 2020 budget, we made estimates of the consequential adjustment that is required as a result of the minimum wage and we had sent the budget before a decision and approval was taken on the consequential adjustment. So, it is anticipated that some agencies might run short and we made a block provision in the service-wide vote of the budget.

“So when we have such a situation, what we simply do is remove funds from the service-wide vote to the agency so that they pay their budget; so there’s no problem of payment of salaries at all.”

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NCAA to demolish Globacom masts nationwide over ₦5.9bn debt

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The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority has concluded plans to start dismantling some telecommunication masts belonging to Globacom Ltd, a Global Sattelite Mobile (GSM) telecommunications provider, in various locations across the country over failure to pay N5.9 billion renewal fees for height clearance to the agency.

The development followed a directive from the Nigerian government to some of its agencies and parastatals to go after debtors and defaulters and recover all the outstanding for the government.

SaharaReporters learnt that the matter came to a head following exchange of correspondence between Globacom and NCAA and scheduled meetings designed to ensure payment of the said accumulated fees by the telecommunication network which failed.

In a letter dated October 4, 2021, titled: “Re: Illegal Erection of High Structures and Refusal to Renew Expired Aviation Height Clearance Certificates by Globacom Limited” and addressed to the Managing Director, Globacom, obtained by SaharaReporters, it was affirmed that following the failure by Globacom to pay the the required fees amounting to N5.9 billion, the regulatory agency had no choice but to commence the dismantling of the its masts across the country.

“In the circumstance, having exhausted all avenues for a resolution of this matter, we are now left without choice but to apply the relevant sanctions, including the dismantling of all your non-compliant masts nationwide. And this shall be without further notice to you”, it said.

The letter signed by Legal Adviser/Head, Compliance and Enforcement, Mr. Emmanuel Chukwuma, recalled that, “The meeting to discuss the above subject-matter, was fixed for September 23, 2021, at your instance.

“You may wish to recall that you had on August, 25, 2021, requested that the meeting, earlier rescheduled, at your instance, from Monday, July 26, 2021 to Thursday, August 26, 2021, be further rescheduled to Thursday, September 23, 2021, to enable your Chief Operating Officer/COO to attend.

“It is unfortunate that despite our concurrence to a further rescheduling of the meeting to the requested date, and so informing you through our letter of 13th September, 2021, you failed to turn up for the meeting”, it said.

The letter noted that the Director-General of the NCAA had to abort an official assignment in Europe and return to Nigeria in order to be able to attend the meeting.

“Globacom only wrote the letter under reference three days after, asking that the meeting be rescheduled, without any explanation for the failure of any management staff to show up.

“I am directed to inform you that the NCAA is not disposed to granting this latest (fourth) request to reschedule the meeting, particularly, as no reason was given for your non-attendance on the last date.

“In the circumstance, having exhausted all avenues for a resolution of this matter, we are now left without choice but to apply the relevant sanctions including the dismantling of all your non-compliant masts nationwide. And this shall be without further notice to you”, it said.

In an earlier communication with Globacom, NCAA listed the indebtedness of globacom to include application fee for 2006 to 2007 at N100,000 per mast, totalling N689,800,000, annual renewal fee for 2007-2022 (15years), N50,000 per mast amounting to N6,898 and inspection fee covering N6,898 masts across the nation all totalling N6,064,230,000.

SaharaReporters learnt that Globacom paid the sum of N100 million on July 31, 2019 and had not made any further payment.

An earlier letter from NCCA to Global said total application fee for the period under review stood at N604,800,000 while cost of inspection amounted to N190,930,000.

The letter also stated the position of NCAA in law with regard to regulation of masts.

“Please be reminded that Section 30(3)() of the Civil Aviation Act 2006 empowers the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) by law to prohibit and regulate the installation of any structure (including telecommunication mast), which by virtue of its ‘height or position is considered to endanger the safety of air navigation,” it said.

This is coming two years after the agency asked Globacom and other Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) operators to remove their over 7, 000 masts or risk seeing them demolished.

The NCAA had claimed the masts, erected at different locations within the country close to the nation’s airports, are obstructing flight safety and could cause accidents if not removed.

SaharaReporters

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Nigeria’ll save 40% of forex earnings with Dangote Refinery – Emefiele

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Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele, has said Nigeria will save 40 per cent of its foreign exchange earnings when the Dangote Refinery and Petrochemical Plant is in full operations in 2022.

The CBN governor stated this on the sidelines of the ongoing International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank annual meetings in Washington DC.

Emefiele said the Federal Government currently spent about 40 percent of its dollar earnings on the importation of petroleum products, putting pressure on the naira to dollar rate.

“By the time the Dangote Refinery begins operation, it would be a major FX saving source for Nigeria,” he said.

“Right now, the overall forex we spend on imported items, the importation of petroleum products consumes close to 30 percent (by the time you add diesel, aviation fuel, petrol and the rest of that).

“The Dangote Refinery has the capacity to produce 650,000 barrels per day. There is a domestic component that is about 455,000 barrels. Even if the 455,000 is what is sold to Dangote in naira alone, it is going to be major forex saving for Nigeria.

“If you look at the cost of freight alone, it is a major saving for Nigeria. That is because if we have to go to Europe or other parts of the world to bring in petroleum products where we pay heavily in freight and in stocking those products in the high sea before we offload them, Nigerians would benefit a lot from the Dangote Refinery.

“That project is one of Nigeria’s backward integration programmes, and we are very proud of it.”

The CBN governor added that the petrochemical part of the Dangote Refinery would save five 5 percent FX from polyethene and polypropylene granules and another two percent from fertiliser.

“On the petrochemical, it is also expected to commence about same period next. That petrochemical plant will be producing 900,000 tonnes of polyethene and polypropylene granules. Nigeria’s annual consumption here is less than 200,000,” he added.

“What does that mean? It is going to save five per cent of our imports. If you save five percent of your imports and another 30 per cent on petroleum products and then on the fertiliser where we would save about two percent of our imports, we are moving close to saving 40 percent of the country’s imports.

“By that time, you will see what we would be doing when people talk about floating the naira, and then let’s see how the currency will depreciate.”

The Dangote Refinery is a 650,000 barrels per day integrated refinery project under construction in the Lekki Free Zone, Lagos. It is expected to be Africa’s biggest oil refinery and the world’s biggest single-train facility, upon completion.

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Nigeria’s inflation rate drops sixth consecutive time to 16.63%

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The National Bureau of Statistics on Friday announced a drop in the Nigeria’s inflation rate, the sixth consecutive decline this year.

Specifically, the NBS stated in its latest report that the consumer price index (CPI), measuring the rate of change in prices of goods and services, dropped to 16.63 per cent in September. This is 0.38 per cent points lower than 17.01 percent recorded in August 2021.

According to the report, increases were recorded in all classifications of individual consumption according to purpose (COICOP) divisions that yielded the headline index.

“On a month-on-month basis, the Headline Index increased by 1.15 per cent in September 2021, this is 0.13 per cent rate higher than the rate recorded in August 2021 (1.02) per cent,” the report stated.

“The percentage change in the average composite CPI for the 12-month period ending September 2021 over the average of the CPI for the previous 12-month period was 16.83 per cent, showing 0.23 per cent points from 16.60 per cent recorded in July 2021.

“The urban Inflation rate increased by 17.19 per cent (year-on-year) in September 2021 from 17.59 per cent recorded in August 2021, while the rural inflation rate increased by 16.08 per cent in September 2021 from 16.45 per cent in August 2021.

“On a month-on-month basis, the Urban Index rose by 1.21 per cent in September 2021, up by 0.15 the rate recorded in August 2021 (1.06), while the Rural Index also rose by 1.10 per cent in September 2021, up by 0.11 the rate that was recorded in August 2021 (0.99) per cent.”

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