Benue lawmakers ignore critics, okay bogus pensions for ex-govs, deputies – Newstrends
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Benue lawmakers ignore critics, okay bogus pensions for ex-govs, deputies

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Benue lawmakers ignore critics, okay bogus pensions for ex-govs, deputies 

Benue State House of Assembly has passed the controversial executive pension bill, giving bogus entitlements to ex-governors and their deputies of the state.

The lawmakers passed the bill on Thursday after receiving an alert of three out of six months’ salary arrears owed by the state government.

The lawmakers had suspended sitting following non-payment of six months’ salary arrears and three months’ overhead.

The bill, which received condemnation from some people in the state including the governor-elect, Rev Fr Hyacinth Alia, is to provide for the governor a permanent residential accommodation in any place of their choice in the country, make provisions for four new cars every four years for the former governors and two new cars every four years for former deputy governors.

It also provides for six personal staff for the former governors and three for the former deputy governors to be paid for by the state, while it also provides for free medical treatment for the past governors, their spouses and at least four children under 18.

Having received the alert on Thursday, members were said to have convened a plenary session where the bill was passed with some adjustments.

The minority leader of the house, Bem Ngutyo, confirmed that the bill had been passed with ‘some adjustment’.

He said, “Yes the house passed the bill just now but we reduced the contents badly; the four cars to governors were reduced to two, two to deputies reduced to one, the portion to provide accommodation to past governors at any place of their choice was expunged.

“So also the portion of medical trips abroad twice a year was reduced to once.

Asked if the governor had cleared the six months salary arrears and three months’ overhead, Ngutyo said, “We have received an alert of three months salary out of six” adding that the three months’ overhead had also been paid.

Chairman of the House Committee on Information, Tertsea Gbisea, who also confirmed the passage, said that the house passed the bill but with ‘extensive changes made’.

Gbisea said, “Yes, a version of the Maintenance of Former Elected Governors of Benue State Bill was passed today (Thursday), extensive changes were made on the version sent by the executive.

“We had in mind the dire financial situation of the state and did the needful. The auditor general report was also adopted two days ago.”

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JUST IN: Nigeria’s forex reserves hit 3-month high

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JUST IN: Nigeria’s forex reserves hit 3-month high

Nigeria’s foreign exchange (FX) reserves have climbed to their highest level since March 28, 2024, marking a significant financial achievement that aligns with the longest stretch of exchange rate stability seen in over a year.

This milestone comes as Nigeria secures a series of financial commitments from the World Bank through new multilateral loans.

The latest data from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) reveals that the reserves now stand at $33.58 billion as of June 19, 2024. This marks a substantial recovery from the end of March 2024, when the reserves peaked at $33.83 billion before entering a period of decline.

The rise in FX reserves follows three months of notable fluctuations, which saw the reserves plummet to a low of $32.11 billion on April 19, 2024, raising concerns about the nation’s financial stability. In response, the central bank Governor addressed the issue at the IMF Spring meeting in April.

Since then, a steady and consistent upward trajectory has been observed, coinciding with a period of exchange rate stability. This month, the official exchange rate has averaged N1,481/$1, fluctuating within a narrow band of plus or minus 0.06%.

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According to CBN data, forex reserves have risen by 5%, or $1.47 billion, in the last two months, climbing from $32.11 billion on April 19, 2024, to $33.58 billion by June 19, 2024. This growth represents a significant boost for the country’s external reserves, as the CBN continues to implement policies that attract forex liquidity.

Critics, however, will note the improved liquidity position, considering the myriad of policies implemented by the central bank over the past year and several promises of potential forex inflow from foreign portfolio investors. Improved liquidity in forex turnover has been observed, with the average turnover for June to date at $199 million daily compared to $168 million in the same period in May. Total forex turnover in June is now $2.1 billion, spanning 11 days of trading.

The Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) recently urged the CBN to focus on boosting external reserves. The Monetary Policy Communique from its 295th meeting noted:

“The Committee also noted the marginal increase in the external reserve balance between March and April 2024 and urged the Bank to sustain its focus on accretion to reserves.”

To ensure a steady flow of foreign exchange into the country, the CBN plans to double diaspora remittance inflows this year.

Additionally, Afrexim Bank recently disbursed $925 million, another tranche of the $3.3 billion crude oil-backed loan agreement with the NNPC from last year. This brings the total payment for the facility to $3.175 billion, aiming to stabilize the forex market amid severe volatility.

Moreover, the World Bank has approved $2.25 billion in loans to Nigeria to bolster economic stability and support vulnerable populations. This financial injection is designed to provide immediate financial and technical support for Nigeria’s urgent economic stabilization efforts.

JUST IN: Nigeria’s forex reserves hit 3-month high

(NAIRAMETRICS)

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Naira at par selling N1,485/$ in parallel, official markets

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Naira at par selling N1,485/$ in parallel, official markets

The Naira yesterday appreciated in the parallel market to N1,485 per dollar from N1,490 per dollar on Wednesday.

However, the Naira depreciated to N1,485.36 per dollar in the Nigerian Autonomous Foreign Exchange Market, NAFEM.

Data from FMDQ showed that the indicative exchange rate for NAFEM rose to N1,485.06 per dollar from N1,483.02 per dollar on Wednesday, indicating N2.04 depreciation for the naira.

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Consequently, the margin between the parallel market and NAFEM rates narrowed to 36 kobo per dollar from N6.98 per dollar on Wednesday.

Naira at par selling N1,485/$ in parallel, official markets

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R.T. Briscoe begins conversion of vehicles to run on CNG/LPG 

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R.T. Briscoe begins conversion of vehicles to run on CNG/LPG 

R.T. Briscoe Plc has commenced conversion of petrol and diesel vehicles to run on Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) and Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG).

Group Managing Director of the company, Mr Seyi Onajide, disclosed this during an interactive session with journalists in Lagos.

He also unveiled a number projects embarked upon by the company including securing the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to raise N10 billion through a savings and investments scheme.

Onajide said the automotive division of the conglomerate decided to set up a CNG/LPG conversion facility in line with the Federal Government’s CNG initiative (Pi-CNG).

“We started the conversion of petrol or diesel engine cars into CNG and LPG without government funding and we believe it is the future of automobile industry. We have successfully done that on some pick-up vehicles,” he said.

The R.T. Briscoe CEO said the company had submitted a proposal to the Presidential CNG committee.

“They invited us to participate in the CNG initiative. We believe that the average vehicle owner in Nigeria and even commuters can benefit from this initiative because it has a lot of benefits. It will save costs for the motoring public,” he said.

Onajide said the CNG conversion kits being used are manufactured in Europe with one of the best global rating standards .

He added that the automotive division of the R.T. Briscoe has well-trained technical and professional team that could handle the installation.

Even as he noted that the future looked promising, he observed the initiative could be impeded by the non-availability of CNG and LPG refilling stations and expressed support for a hybrid model.

He said, R.T. Briscoe had approached some corporate institutions that are fleet owners that have justifiable reasons to build gas-refilled plants on their premises.

According to him, until gas-refilling stations are readily available, CNG would be limited to big organisations that could house and store gas.

The highpoint of the event was the inspection with a test drive of the finished vehicles converted to run on CNG.

RT Briscoe Plc is engaged in the sales and servicing of Toyota vehicles, technical services, material handling and property development and management.

The Presidential CNG Initiative (Pi-CNG) is a component of the palliative intervention of the President Bola Ahmed Tinubu administration directed at providing succour to the masses occasioned by the hardships of the fuel subsidy removal policy of the Federal Government.

With a projected $2.5 billion investment by 2027, the Presidential CNG Initiative plans to drive Nigeria towards a sustainable and prosperous future, where every citizen has the opportunity to thrive.

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