Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, has reacted to criticisms against the Federal Government’s huge loans to finance capital projects, saying the administration is borrowing “sensibly” to cater to the country’s infrastructure needs including rail.
She also said the economy was indeed beginning to pick up on account of the huge contribution from the non-oil sector.
She spoke in Abuja on Monday at a press conference on the recent report by the National Bureau of Statistics on the growth of the economy.
Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, was also present at the press conference.
Ahmed said if Nigeria failed to invest in infrastructure, “we will regret it”.
Nigeria’s total public debt had hit N33.1 trillion as of March 2021 and many have expressed concern about the rate at which the government is borrowing to finance infrastructure projects.
But the minister said the investments would be beneficial to the country in the future.
“We are borrowing sensibly and we are investing in rail and other infrastructure,” she said, adding, “If we do not do these investments, we will regret. [These] investments will return revenue in the future.”
Speaking on the NBS report, Ahmed explained that the country’s economy would have grown above five per cent in the second quarter of 2021 but the agriculture sector recorded slower growth, owing to security challenges.
“The 2021 second quarter growth reflects better economic performance compared to the same quarter last year. The same quarter last year, we had a negative growth of -6.10 percent. It is also better than the first quarter of 2021,” she said.
The minister also said, “The service sector recorded a strong performance, growing by 9.27 percent this reporting quarter, representing the fastest growth in this sector since 2010.
“The second quarter growth of 2021 would have been much stronger than the 5.01 per cent but for agriculture that recorded a slightly lower growth.
“A number of bottlenecks within the system including insecurity have negatively affected the sector negatively. Also, the industrial sector slowed down to -1.3 per cent.”
She stressed that the non-oil sector contributed majorly to the growth witnessed in the second quarter.
“The non-oil sector recorded a growth of 7 percent which represents the fastest growth since the third quarter of 2014,” she said.
Ahmed noted that the nation’s economic and business activities were fully returning to pre-COVID-19 period.
FG begins review of power sector licences amid poor supply
The Federal Government is reviewing the operational licences of electricity generation and distribution companies following poor service delivery in the sector, Minister of Power, Abubakar Aliyu.
The minister gave the indication in a statement obtained on Thursday, which was issued in Abuja to mark his 50 days in the office, noting that the FG was aware of the challenges facing the sector and was working to tackle them.
Specifically, the minister said, “We shall be taking a careful and detailed look at issues of policy, capacity and the technical requirement, amongst other things.
“One very critical concern that we must address in this performance monitoring process is to find out if the terms for granting of licenses were onerous.”
Aliyu also said the FG was “working tirelessly as we explore opportunities that will, in the short term, deliver the much-desired quick wins whilst still focusing on the long-term objectives of increasing the available power, improving the quality of services, attracting the much-needed investment, promoting efficiency, competition and growth and lastly ensuring transparency and accountability in the value chain of the power sector.
“The ministry is intensifying performance monitoring of the licensees and the licensing regime, especially their revised Performance Improvement Plans (PIP) to have a better understanding of why some critical stakeholders are performing below expectation.”
The minister said, “Specific areas of conflict and tensions within the power industry value chain are being harmonized for greater synergy which will bring about a wholesome alignment of responsibilities within the governance system of the power sector. It is this new mindset of cooperation for optimal performance that we are bringing on board”.
According to him, the ministry will be focusing on improving liquidity in the sector; improving services in terms of hours of supply; billing transparency and accuracy, and wider access to electricity; bringing consumer, operator and investor confidence back to the sector to attract foreign and local investment into the sector, create jobs, and promote competition and bring in more participants in the Nigerian Electricity Market.
The power sector was partially privatised in November 2013 with the government handing over the ownership of the DisCos and a large number of GenCos to the private sector. But experts note that the power supply remains poor with the government having to bail out the sector with almost N2 trillion due to poor financial state.
ICPC: Corrupt persons using real estate for money laundering
Corrupt persons are now using real estate as an avenue to launder illicit funds, the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission has said.
Chairman of the ICPC, Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye, stated this on Thursday when he spoke to the House of Representatives Ad-Hoc Committee investigating the activities of estate developers in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
According to him, the commission carried out a study between 2010 and 2011 that revealed the sharp practices in the sector including massive corruption and injection of illicit funds.
Owasanoye alleged that estate developers had formed the habit of selling allocated lands for mass housing in piecemeal to the highest bidders.
The ICPC chairman said where the houses were built, they were allegedly sold to the rich.
He added that the commission had in the process of its investigations and prosecution recovered 241 houses and 60 buildings from corrupt public officers.
Chairman, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Mohammed Bawa, who was represented by a director at the agency, Daniel Esei, also said developers were not complying with extant laws which aggravated the sharp practices in the sector.
According to him, developers break the laws by allowing third parties to make payments or buy houses, shortchanging the real subscribers.
He also said there was a need for more stringent laws to allow the application of sanctions on developers who go against the law.
Responding, President of the Real Estate Developers Association of Nigeria (REDAN), Aliyu Wamakko, said although what ICPC alleged might be happening, the developers involved were not members of the association.
FULL LIST: FEC approves NNPC’s request to fix 21 federal roads at N621bn
The federal executive council (FEC) has approved N621.2 billion for the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, (NNPC) to take over the reconstruction of 21 federal roads across the six geopolitical zones of the country.
Babatunde Fashola, minister of works and housing, disclosed after the FEC meeting presided by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo on Wednesday.
The National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) had decried the loss of its members and properties to dilapidated roads — but NNPC appealed to the union to shelve the planned strike and accepted to rebuild some roads.
The approval, according to Fashola, was in line with Executive Order No. 007 of 2019 cited as the companies income tax (Road Infrastructure Development and Refurbishment Investment Tax Credit Scheme) Order, 2019 (“EO7 of 2019” or “the Scheme”), signed by President Muhammadu Buhari.
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He explained that the selected 21 roads are 1804.6 kilometres, and it was a strategic intervention under the Federal Government Road Infrastructure and Refreshment Tax Credit Scheme.
The minister further explained that Executive Order 7 allows the private sector to deploy in advance the taxes they would pay for infrastructure development.
He said nine of the selected projects are in North Central, three in North East, two in North West, two in South East, three in South-South, and two in South West.
- Dualization of Ilorin-Jebba-Mokwa/ Bokani Junction road Section 1: Illorin-Jebba, Kwara State C/NO. 6468. 110.8km
- Dualization of Ilorin, Jebba-Mokwa/Bokani junction Road Section II: Jebba-Mokwa-Bokani junction in Kwara and Niger states. C/NO.6469. 46 km
- Dualization of Suleja-Minna road, Niger state. C/O. 6077. 40km
- Dualization of Suleja-Minna Road, Niger State PhaseII (Km 40+000-101+000) C/NO.6267. 61km
- Reconstruction of Bida-Lambata Road, Niger state C/NO.6372. 125km
- Agaie-Katcha-Baro Road, Niger State 52.3km
- Emergency repairs of failed section of Mokwa-Makera-Tagina-Kaduna state border in Niger state. 164km
- Minna-Zungeru minna-Zungeru-Tagina road, Niger state. 90km
- Bida-Minna road, Niger state. 791.1km
- Rehabilitation of Cham-Numan section of Gombe-Yola road in Adamawa state. 46.35km
- Construction of Bali-Serti road in Taraba state. 110km
- Rehabilitation of Gombe-Biu road in Gombe/Borno state. 117km
- Rehabilitation of outstanding sections of Gada-Zaima-Zuru-Gamji road Phase II in Kebbi State 62km.
- Rehabilitation of Zaria-Funtua-Gusau-Sokoto-Birnin Kebbi. 221.5km
- Dualization of Aba-Ikot Ekpene road in Abia/Akwa Ibom states. 73km
- Rehabilitation of Umuahia (Ikwuano)-Ikot Ekpene road: Umuahia-Umudike in Abia state. 49km
- Rehabilitation of Odukpani-Itu-Ikot Ekpene road in Cross River state Section I: Odukpani-Itu Bridge Head in Cross River/Akwa Ibom states. 21.9km
- Dualization of outstanding portion of Odukpani-Itu-Ikot Ekpene: lot 2. 32km
- Dualization of Oku-Iboku Power Plant Section of the Odukpani-Itu-Ikot-Ekpene road in Cross River/Akwa Ibom state. 28km
- Rehabilitation and expansion of Lagos-Badagry Expressway (Agbara Junction-Nigeria/Benin border) in Lagos State. 62km
- Dualization of Ibadan-Ilorin road (Route A2) Section II in Oyo State (Oyo-Ogbomosho). 52km
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