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No budgetary provision for COVID-19 vaccines – Finance minister

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Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, has said that there is no provision in the 2021 budget to procure COVID-19 vaccines.

She stated this during a virtual presentation of the 2021 budget in Abuja, adding however that the government was working on the type and quantity of COVID-19 vaccines to procure.

Nigeria is expected to receive about 100,000 doses of the Pfizer and BioNTech approved COVID-19 vaccines by the end of January.

But the minister said her ministry and the Ministry of Health would meet to finalise the amount to be allocated to vaccine procurement in the next two weeks.

The country, under phase two of its COVID-19 vaccination scheme, will also get 42 million extra doses of vaccines through the COVAX facility.

The government is targeting to vaccinate about 40 per cent of Nigeria’s population in 2021.

Ahmed expressed the hope that the National Assembly would provide a supplementary budget for additional spending on COVID-19 vaccines, when needed.

She said, “We agreed that the effort needed to be done so that we have clarity as to whether the provisions in the budget will be adequate or we have to make additional provisions by way of a special supplementary budget to make more provisions for COVID-19 vaccinations.”

On whether there was a provision for fuel subsidy in the 2021 budget, Ahmed stated that no such provision was made for it.

She also foreclosed subsidy on electricity due to the recent suspension of the hike in electricity tariff.

The minister, however, added that the Finance Act, among others, exempted workers within the N30,000 minimum wage bracket and below from personal income tax deductions.

According to her, another key provision in the Act is the exemption of all micro and small companies earning N25 million or less as annual turnover from paying the Tertiary Education Tax.

The Act also excluded commercial airline tickets, commercial aircraft spare parts and components; interests in land and buildings; animal feed and hire, rental or lease of agriculture equipment for agricultural purposes from 7.5 per cent Value Added Tax (VAT) charge.

She said, “The key guiding principle of the Finance Act 2020 is to ensure that there is a balance between broader macroeconomic strategies to attract investment, grow the economy, create jobs as well as provide immediate fiscal strategies for accelerated domestic revenue mobilisation, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the domestic / global economic downturn.

“Specifically, the Finance Act 2020 adopts counter-cyclical fiscal policies in response to the COVID-19 pandemic by providing fiscal relief for taxpayers; reforms fiscal incentive policies to prioritise job creation and accelerate economic recovery and growth; and fosters closer coordination of monetary, trade and fiscal policies.”

Ahmed added that the 2020 Finance Act also provided for the establishment of a N500 billion crisis Intervention Fund as well as other sources approved by the National Assembly to fund the Federal Government’s expenditures.

Proceeds from unclaimed dividends of listed companies and unutilised amounts in dormant bank accounts outstanding for six years or more would be channelled to the fund, she stated,

The unclaimed dividends and bank balances are subject to a perpetual trust to be managed by the Debt Management Office (DMO), with governing council to be chaired by the finance minister and co-chaired by a nominee from the organised private sector who is of impeccable integrity and reputation.

Ahmed, however, added that genuine beneficiaries would be able to claim their funds back from the Federal Government at any time.

The minister also spoke on the performance of the revised 2020 budget, noting that the Federal Government expended a total of N1.8 trillion on capital projects.

According to her, the N1.8 trillion represents about 89 per cent of the total provision for capital projects.

She explained that out of the amount spent, N118.37 billion was released for COVID-19-related capital expenditure.

Ahmed said while the Federal Government projected N9.97 trillion for expenditure in 2020, it spent about N10.08 trillion, representing 101 per cent performance.

Debt service, she also stated, gulped N3.27 trillion while personnel cost, including salaries and pensions, accounted for N3.19 trillion.

She noted that the crude oil price benchmark was retained at $40 per barrel although the World Bank forecast $44 per barrel average crude oil price in 2021.

She added that crude oil production was projected to increase from 1.80 million barrels per day (mbpd) in 2020 to 1.86mbpd in 2021, as economies recover from recession, and moderated by the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) quota agreements.

Ahmed stated that the aggregate revenue available to fund the N13.5 trillion 2021 budget was projected at N7.99 trillion (36.9 per cent higher than the 2020 projection of N5.84 trillion).

To promote fiscal transparency, accountability and comprehensiveness, she said the budgets of 60 Government-owned Enterprises (GOEs) were integrated in the Federal Government’s 2021 budget.

“In aggregate, 30 per cent of projected revenues is to come from oil-related sources while 70 per cent is to be earned from non-oil sources. Overall, the size of the budget has been constrained by our relatively low revenues,” she added.

The minister also explained that the deficit of N5.6 trillion will be funded via domestic and external borrowings of N2.34 trillion apiece.

She said N2.5 billion was expected as privatisation proceeds.

The budget also has an aggregate capital expenditure of N4.37 trillion or 32.2 per cent of total expenditure, which is 62.9 per cent higher than the 2020 Revised Budget, inclusive of capital component of statutory transfers and GOEs.

At N3.32 trillion, the provision for debt service for 2021 is 24.5 per cent of total expenditure and 12.6 per cent higher than 2020 revised budget, according to her.

The minister also put the provision to retire maturing bonds to local contractors / suppliers at N200 billion.

Director-General, Budget Office of the Federation (BoF), Mr Ben Akabueze, said the country was expecting donations of COVID-19 vaccines to cover 20 per cent of its population while 50 per cent would be acquired to achieve herd immunity.

Akabueze said, “To have herd immunity, 70 per cent of the population has to be vaccinated. Already, vaccine for 20 per cent of the population will be donated while the balance of 50 per cent will be paid for by the government.”

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$1bn investment recorded in auto industry – Minister

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The Federal Government has recorded more than one billion dollars’ worth of investments in the automotive industry. Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Otunba Adeniyi Adebayo, said this in Abuja on Tuesday when he featured at the 20th edition of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration scorecard series organsied by the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture.

“Over one billion dollars in investment has been recorded in the automotive sector and we are ready to move on to the next phase for the automotive industry,” the minister said.

He said the review of the National Automotive Industry Development Plan (NAIDP) was almost completed, adding that the plan was going through validation process.

Adebayo restated the ministry’s commitment toward enabling business environment to attract and retain investments.

According to him, the ministry and the Nigerian Investment Promotion Council (NIPC) are committed to attracting and protecting investments that genuinely benefit Nigeria and its citizens.

He said that the revised Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) would boost investment.

“Nigeria has successfully revised its model Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) to include a specific provision for investment facilitation, which institutionalizes the principle of assisting investors in completing their investments.

“We are proud to offer Nigeria’s first investment policy to the Federal Executive Council (FEC) for approval.

“This strategic statement, which will outline our priorities, aims, commitments, and expectations, is a turning point for the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade, and Investment and Nigeria as an investment destination,” he said.

Adebayo, who said that Nigeria had Investment Promotion and Protection Agreements (IPPAs) with Singapore, Morocco, and Saudi Arabia to attract and retain investments, said the ministry was developing more.

“We have IPPAs with Singapore, Morocco, and Saudi Arabia to attract and retain investments. The president ratified both accords on Sept. 16, 2022 and we are developing more IPPAs,” he said.

Adebayo said the ministry also distributed 5,571 acceptance certificates worth N7.7 trillion to 2,665,800 firms.

“The acceptance certificates allow businesses claim tax reduction when computing Company Income Tax.

“We also issued more than 130 Production Day Certificates, a crucial Pioneer Status Incentive step,’’ the minister said.

To further accelerate industrialisation, Adebayo said that the ministry was expediting the establishment of Special Economic Zones (SEZs) across the country.

According to him, the special economic zones will increase infrastructure availability and provide fiscal incentives for value addition.

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Pay customers with N100, N50, CBN orders commercial banks

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The Central Bank Of Nigeria has directed all commercial banks to pay customers over the counter in N100, N50, N20, N10, and N5 notes, regardless of the amount withdrawn.

Bankers Committee issued the directives to all commercial banks in the country on Monday, and announced the discontinuation of old notes payment of N1000, N500 and N200 across the counters.

It also urged people to use their alternative channels for transactions, while those insisting on new naira notes were advised to use Automated Teller Machine (ATMs).

The directives came on Monday, following a meeting of the bankers committee in Lagos.

The CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, in a statement on Sunday extended the deadline for old naira notes from January 31 to February 10, 2023.

Emefiele also noted that he obtained permission from President Muhmammadu Buhari to effect the extension.

According to him, the extension, ‘a seven-day grace period’ was as a result of measures put in place to ease the scarcity.

The decision is coming after CBN had previously insisted that it would not extend the deadline.

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Famous 4×4 Grenadier coming to Nigeria, courtesy Coscharis Motors

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Coscharis Motors has announced its readiness to introduce the popular rugged off-road vehicle, Grenadier, to the Nigerian auto market.

This follows the naming of the auto company by INEOS Automotive as its official retail partner in Nigeria.

Nigeria is the sixth market in Sub-Sahara Africa to join the brand after South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania, Namibia and Botswana.

A statement on Monday by Abiona Babarinde, the auto firm’s General Manager, Marketing and Corporate Communications, said, “The first Grenadier demonstrator vehicles are expected to arrive in Nigeria in early 2023 with customer deliveries expected to commence within the first quarter.

“All after-sales servicing will be conducted at a dedicated workshop also located in Lagos.”

Commenting on this partnership, the President/CEO of Coscharis Group, Dr Cosmas Maduka, said, “We are proud that INEOS Automotive has appointed Coscharis Motors to represent its brand in Nigeria. “This milestone marks another step in the evolution of our company. With our history and experience of the Nigerian market, we know that the INEOS Grenadier is going to be a serious player in the off-road segment.

“We have no doubt that the Grenadier has what it takes to handle Africa’s tough terrain and that it is the perfect option to meet the specific demands of those who need a capable, refined, and reliable off-road vehicle in the region. We look forward to the first customer test drives and hearing public feedback, because this vehicle is definitely going to stir things up in Nigeria.”

The statement quoted Tim Abbott, INEOS Automotive’s Head of Region South Africa and Sub-Sahara Africa, as saying, “We are carefully selecting our partners across the SSA region, to find people who know their local market and customers, and also understand our brand.

“Coscharis Motors shares our belief that the INEOS Grenadier is the perfect vehicle not only for Nigeria, but for the continent. Our shared passion for off-roading, along with their excellent reputation in the automotive industry, makes it the perfect partnership for Grenadier in Nigeria.”

Coscharis says the Grenadier has been developed to be refined on the road and extraordinarily capable off-road.

“The Grenadier is powered by a choice of two straight-six, 3.0-litre BMW engines. Both the BMW B57 diesel and B58 petrol powertrains have a proven track record, regularly appearing in top ten world’s best engine lists since 2016. They have been used in everything from sports cars to SUVs.

“The two power units bring BMW’s sophistication and refinement to the Grenadier, but they have been enhanced by INEOS Automotive’s engineering team. As well as providing powerful acceleration on tarmac, they also deliver peak torque at low revs – sustaining it through the rev range – for optimal off-road performance,” it states.

It also notes that the carefully calibrated characteristics help the driver to confidently manage the vehicle’s momentum and grip without stressing the engine, ensuring full control when tackling tricky terrain.

It adds, “The refined turbo petrol engine produces 286PS (210kW) and 450Nm (332 lb ft) of torque, while the twin-turbo diesel generates 249PS (183kW) and 550Nm (406 lb ft), for even greater pulling power. Start/stop is built-in, increasing range and preserving air quality when the vehicle is stationary.

“While it is every inch a rugged 4X4, it ticks all the right boxes on the road, too. The chassis combines a five-link suspension setup with Brembo brakes and Bridgestone tyres, meaning the Grenadier is composed, well- mannered and fun to drive no matter what the terrain.”

The firm also reveals that by the end of this year, INEOS Automotive plans to have a network of more than 200 sales and service sites for the Grenadier spanning over 50 countries, including established dealer groups, 4X4 specialists and agricultural equipment dealers.

 

 

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