The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Dr. Zainab Ahmed, says lack of adequate revenue to finance both human and capital infrastructure should be the major worry of Nigeria, not the current debt it owes.
Ahmed made the remarks at the Public presentation and Breakdown of the Highlights of the 2022 Appropriation Bill to justify the current level of the federal government borrowing to finance the deficit of the budget.
She stated that with the federal government expected to spend N16 trillion in the proposed 2022 Budget, its expenses are minute to the combined over N100 trillion spent on the Nigerian economy.
She said at 21.6 percent borrowing for the 2022 Budget, Nigeria needs 50 percent of its current GDP to be able to have infrastructural development and growth that would translate into meaningful economic growth.
“What we have is a revenue problem and we are working on it to be able to fully fund the operations of government as well as be able to service our debt obligations.”
“Borrowings are essential for us to be able to continue to deploy necessary capital expenditures as well as human development.”
She added that the federal government has to borrow to spend more to invest in infrastructure as it would lead to more job creation, spending and taxes.
Why Nigeria’s debt exceeded 3 per cent of the GDP
“If you look at the Fiscal Responsibility Act, Section 41.1, it is clearly that the country can borrow for investing in capital expenditure and human development as long as the borrowing does not exceed 3 per cent of GDP.
“This year we have exceeded the 3 per cent by 0.39 per cent but this has been allowed in the Fiscal Responsibility Act. A provision that says that Mr. President can exceed the 3 per cent threshold where there is a national emergency. It is our collective view that the current security situation that we have, the need to properly address the economic conditions occasioned by the Covid-19 pandemic and the crash of crude oil crash qualify as national emergency.”
She added that exponential growth of Nigeria’s public debt was due to the spending made to come out fast from the two recessions the economy entered.
Defence and security spending contributed to huge fiscal deficit
The Minister blamed spending to be made on defence and security for widening the fiscal deficit for the 2022 Budget.
“With the pervasive security challenges within the country, there is a need for sustained funding of the security services and this has necessitated massive expenditures in security equipment and operations and has contributed to the fiscal deficit. Defence and the security sector account for 22 per cent of the budget expenditure for 2022.”
Breakdown of budget
A breakdown of the 2022 Budget would resort to N6.83 trillion spent on recurrent expenditure; N5.35 to go on capital expenditures and N3.61 trillion to be spent on debt servicing.
Meanwhile, revenue would be generated through: oil revenue N3.53 trillion; taxes to contribute N2.132 trillion; independent revenue would yield N1.816 trillion; retained government organisations and enterprises, N1.728 trillion and other revenue sources to bring N924.31 billion.
Lai Mohammed insists no proof protesters were killed at Lekki tollgate
Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, has said there is no proof that any protester was killed at the Lekki tollgate in Lagos in October 2020 during the #EndSARS protest.
Some soldiers on October 20, 2020 were said to have opened fire on protesters in an attempt to disperse them allegedly leading to the death of many.
Mohammed, who addressed a press conference in Abuja on Wednesday, described the 2020 event at the tollgate as a “phantom massacre”.
“Today marks the first anniversary of the phantom massacre at Lekki tollgate in Lagos, which was the culmination of an otherwise peaceful protest that was later hijacked by hoodlums,” the minister said.
The minister also said, “At earlier press conferences, I had called the reported massacre at the tollgate the first massacre in the world without blood or bodies.
“One year later, and despite ample opportunities for the families of those allegedly killed and those alleging a massacre to present evidence, there has been none: No bodies, no families, no convincing evidence, nothing. Where are the families of those who were reportedly killed at the toll gate? Did they show up at the Judicial Panel of Inquiry? If not, why?”
Adebanjo leads Afenifere chieftains on visit to Tinubu
Chief Ayo Adebanjo, leader of Pan-Yoruba socio-political group, Afenifere, has led other chieftains of the body on a visit to national leader of the All Progressives Congress, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, at his home in Lagos.
Others on the visit are Chief Supo Sonibare, Oba Olaitan Oladipo, and retired Assistant Inspector General of Police, Tunji Alapini.
The visit came a few days after Tinubu returned from a medical trip to the United Kingdom where he underwent knee surgery.
The Punch reported that the last time Tinubu and Adebanjo met was in April when the former Afenifere spokesman, Yinka Odumakin, died.
Prior to the visit, Adebanjo had told PUNCH Online interview programme, The Roundtable, that the reason why Tinubu had been silent on the herdsmen crisis was that he felt President Muhammadu Buhari would make him his successor.
In another interview with SUNDAY PUNCH, Adebanjo stated that Buhari won’t hand over power to Tinubu, adding that they were both deceiving each other.
He said, “I have said it openly before and I would say it again that Buhari is deceiving Tinubu and Tinubu is deceiving Buhari. I’m an old man and I’m a funeral candidate already, so quote me. If Tinubu contests the primary in APC today, he will fail.”
Adebanjo then advised Tinubu and other APC members from the South-West to leave the party in the interest of Yorubaland.
He said, “I have always told them, from Tinubu downwards, that it’s better they save themselves speedily. I’m talking to all of them, that in the interest of Yorubaland and the country, they should get out of the carcass they call APC. I made a public pronouncement that they were a conglomeration of incompatibles. It’s on record. I said it then and I’m still saying it now; if they don’t save themselves early enough, then they are ready for a disaster.”
Kaduna gives civil servants 12-day ultimatum on COVID vaccine
The Kaduna State Government has given all civil servants in the state 12 days to receive the COVID-19 vaccine or be barred from office.
The ultimatum was announced in a statement issued on Tuesday by Muyiwa Adekeye, spokesman for the state governor, Nasir el-Rufai.
According to him, all civil servants are expected to be vaccinated by October 31, after which they would be denied entry into government offices if they failed to comply with the directive.
“The Kaduna State Government will from 31st October 2021 require compliance with COVID-19 protocols, especially facemasks and vaccination, for access to its offices,” the statement said.
“The Ministry of Health has since commenced the vaccination of all civil servants, and this is expected to be completed by 31st October 2021. All civil servants are required to be vaccinated by that date.
“Visitors to government offices will need to present their vaccination cards. Given the limited supply of vaccines that are currently available, visitors that have not yet been vaccinated will, in the interim, be permitted entry upon presentation of evidence of registration with the state Ministry of Health for the purpose of vaccination, while wearing their facemasks.”
Adekeye said the decision was taken following a review by the Kaduna COVID-19 task force, and urged residents to ensure strict adherence to the protocol for preventing the spread of infections.
According to the statement, Amina Mohammed-Baloni, Kaduna commissioner for health, has also asked residents to register at the nearest primary health centres for vaccination “so that the relevant authorities can easily contact them as more Covid-19 vaccines become available”.
The development comes weeks after Edo began its ‘no vaccination, no entry’ campaign, which bars unvaccinated civil servants from entering government offices.
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