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Debt stock to hit N40trn as FG set to borrow N6.258trn to finance budget deficit

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…as FG set to borrow N6.258trn to finance 2022 budget deficit

Amid general outcry against mounting debts, the Federal Government has said that it will borrow to finance the projected N6.258trillion deficit projected in the total N16.39 trillion appropriation proposal for the 2022 fiscal year. Minister of Finance and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, made this disclosure yesterday while briefing newsmen after the weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting chaired by President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa. The minister, who as-sured that the nation was not in any way endangered by the mounting debts, said the total money borrowed by the government so far stood at 23 per cent of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Ahmed maintained that it was necessary that the government continue to borrow in order to fund developmental and infrastructure projects as it does not get enough from its revenues. She noted that Nigeria’s revenue could barely accommodate services even as she emphasised that despite the concerns, its borrowings were still within acceptable limits. “If we just depend on the revenue that we get, even though our revenue has increased, the operational expenditure of government, including salaries and other overheads, is barely covered or swallowed up by the revenue.

“So, we need to borrow to be able to build these projects that will ensure that we’re able to develop on a sustainable basis. “Nigeria’s borrowing has been of great concern and has elicited a lot of discussions. But if you look at the total size of the borrowing, it is still within healthy and sustainable limits. As at July 2021, the total borrowing was 23 per cent of GDP.” According to her, government had been borrowing before Buhari’s administration and would continue to borrow in order to deliver developmental projects like roads, rails, bridges, power and water for sustainable development in this country. Justifying Nigeria’s debt profile, she said: “As at July 2021, the total borrowing was 23 per cent of GDP. When you compare our borrowing to other countries, we’re the lowest within the region, lowest compared to Egypt, South Africa, Brazil, Mexico, the very lowest, and Angola.

“We do have a problem of revenue. Our revenues have been increasing. We just reported to Council that our revenues from non-oil has performed, as July, at the rate of 111 per cent, which means outperforming the prorated budget. “But our expenditure, especially staff emoluments, have been increasing at a very fast rate, making it difficult to cope with funding of government.

“So, what we have to do is a combination of cutting down our cost, as well as increasing revenue to be able to cope with all that is required for government to do, including salaries, pensions debt service, as well as capital expenditure.” The minister said that FEC noted the changes in the 2022-2024 fiscal projections based on implementation of the Petroleum Industry Act 2021 and other necessary expenditures that should be accommodated in the 2022 Budget. She also disclosed the key assumptions and targets underlying the budget provisions including oil price – $57 per barrel; oil production – 1.88 mbpd; exchange rate – N410.15/US$; oil revenue – N3.15 trillion and non-oil revenue – N2.13 trillion.

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As Buhari launches eNaira, CBN unveils 100 for 100 financial instrument

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President Muhammadu Buhari has launched the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) digital currency, the e-Naira.
While launching the digital currency, at the State House,Abuja, this afternoon, the president commended the CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, for his efforts towards ensuring a more efficient payment system in the country.
In his address, Emefiele announced a new financial instrument titled “The 100 for 100 PPP – Policy on Production and Productivity,” to reduce the nation’s overdependence on imports.
According to the governor, the instrument, “will be anchored in our Development Finance Department under my direct supervision.
“Under this policy the CBN will advertise, screen, scrutinize and financially support 100 targeted private sector companies in 100 days, beginning from 01 November 2021, and rolling over every 100 days with new set of 100 companies, whose names will be published in National Dailies for Nigerians to verify and confirm.

“The purpose of this instrument is to take further steps to reverse our over reliance on imports.”

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Investigate sources of fake reports about luxury bus hijack, GUO, ALBON tell police

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Luxury bus owners and operators have denied a new report claiming that one of the buses was hijacked and 123 passengers abducted by some gunmen.

The transporters were reacting to what they called the latest in a series of recent fake news that a “fully loaded” Abuja-bound luxury bus belonging to GUO Transport Co Ltd was “intercepted” in Edo by “bandits suspected to be Fulani who kidnapped about 123 passengers on board, hours after departing Owerri.

They asked the police and other security agencies in the country to investigate the sources of such frequent hoax online news reports about the hijack of their vehicles and kidnap of passengers by bandits.

Describing the abduction story which was widely publicised online as a mischievously fabricated falsehood, the Managing Director of GUO, Maduabuchukwu Okeke, disclosed that neither was any of his company’s buses hijacked nor the passengers abducted.

He stated that since the middle of last week when the false report was posted, his company has been inundated with calls and visits by worried members of the travelling public trying to confirm the “news.”

One of the publications went as far as claiming that the bandits were “armed with Ak-47 rifles and machetes.”

The GUO Managing Director recalled that false stories of luxury bus hijack and kidnap of passengers have been recycled several times since banditry became a worrisome issue in the country.

He urged the Department of State Services {DSS}, the police and other law enforcement agencies, to track down the perpetrators who are bent on scaring away innocent long distance road users, putting luxury bus business in jeopardy and causing disaffection among sections of the society.

Okeke debunked the story, saying, “The mischief makers claimed that 123 passengers were abducted. But, what kind of luxury bus can accommodate 123 passengers even with the so called “attachment” seats which are totally prohibited in GUO as a matter of policy. Or, are we talking about pieces of wood here, and not human beings anymore? You do not need to think deep to know that the story is false.”

He stated that if there was any such incident involving GUO buses, the management would have officially issued a statement in addition to a confirmation by the police.

Also speaking on to latest hijack and kidnap hoax, the recently elected National President of Association of Luxury Bus Owners of Nigeria {ALBON}, Nonso Ubajaka, decried the frequent generation of falsehood about his members’ vehicles on the internet.

Ubajaka said he checked with the management of GUO and confirmed that none of their buses was attacked by bandits.

“So, the question is: What is the motive behind the frequent fake news about luxury buses being “intercepted” and occupants abducted by the Fulani? All the transport owners are worried because there seems to be a secret plan to cause fear and disaffection which gives us cause for concern,” he said.

The ALBON President, therefore, echoed the appeal to the law enforcement agencies to swing into action and apprehend the mischief makers before they cause more damage through the internet.

Other luxury bus transporters and members of both ALBON and the bigger amalgam of transport bodies –   Public Transport Owners of Nigeria Association {PTONA}, urged online news readers to disregard such fake news.

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First Bank confirms Otedola highest shareholder

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First Bank of Nigeria (FBN) Holdings Plc has now confirmed billionaire businessman Femi Otedola as having the largest shares in the company.

It has thus written officially to the Nigerian Exchange notifying of the acquisition of substantial shareholdings in the holding company by Otedola.

This is coming after it said the firm had not received a notification of a significant holding by a new investor.

The company’s earlier notice on Friday was interpreted as a denial of any knowledge of a takeover of the company by Otedola, having acquired majority shareholding in the firm.

But the FBN Holdings Plc in another press release dated October 23, 2021 and published on the Exchange website, stated that it received a notification from APT Securities and Funds Limited, that their Client, Mr Otedola Olufemi Peter and his nominee, Calvados Global Services Limited, had acquired a total of 1,818,551,625 units of shares from the company’s issued share capital of 35,895,292,791.

It stated that the equity stake of Otedola and his nominee in the Company is now 5.07per cent.

The letter, read in part: “We refer to our communication to the market dated October 22, 2021 on the above subject matter where we stated that we would inform the public of any substantial acquisition upon receipt of any notification from the shareholder.

“This morning, October 23, 2021, FBN Holdings Plc received a notification from APT Securities and Funds Limited that their client Mr Otedola Olufemi Peter and his nominee Calvados Global Services Limited have acquired a total of 1,818,551,625 units of shares from the company’s issued share capital of 35,895,292,791.”

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