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FG to present 2022 appropriation bill in October

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The federal government says the 2022 appropriation bill may be presented to a joint session of the national assembly in October.

Zainab Ahmed, minister of finance, budget and national planning, disclosed this during a press briefing in Abuja on Monday.

The briefing was organised for the minister to provide insight into the recent Gross Domestic Product (GDP) report for Q2 2021 published by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).

The minister expressed delight with the GDP report, saying it is the strongest real GDP growth the economy has recorded since Q4 2014.

On the 2022 budget, Ahmed said the federal government plans to raise half of the €6.1bn, part of external borrowing to be used to fund budget deficit, through euro bonds and the remaining half through other windows.

She said a road show will take place from October 11 after the bill has been tendered before the national assembly.

“We will be going on a road show from October 11 after we submit the budget to the national assembly,” she said.

“We will be starting with the roadshow from the Nigerian investors in Lagos and then, we will be meeting with investors in New York and UK and within that week, we will be doing the pricing as well.

“We have an approval in the 2021 budget to fund the budget deficit 50 per cent locally and 50 per cent externally.

“So, the 50 per cent external borrowing is 6.1 billion euros. We are planning to do about half of that in Eurobonds and the other half through other windows such as multilateral and bilateral sources.”

According to the 2022 budget call circular published by the Budget Office, the ministries of works and housing; finance, budget and national planning; and defence will get the highest capital allocations in the 2022 budget.

A breakdown showed that the ministry of works and housing will get the highest allocation of N352.65 billion out of the entire N1.759 trillion capital expenditure for ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) in the 2022 budget.

The ministry of finance, budget and national planning came next on the list with N158.07 billion. This amount includes N150 billion for Power Sector Recovery Programme Transfer to the Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading (NBET).

Trailing the two ministries is defence with N128.94 billion and transport with N120.6 billion.

On the state of the nation’s borrowings, the minister said the government is borrowing “sensibly and responsibly”.

Ahmed said the borrowings have resulted in investment in infrastructure such as rail lines which would yield future returns.

“We are borrowing sensibly responsibly to invest on infrastructures in rail and other infrastructures like rail,” she said.

“These investments will make returns in future. If we do not do these investments, we will regret. These investments will return revenue in the future.”

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Nigerians To Pay More For Beverages, Sweetened Drinks As FG Enforces Sugar Tax

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The Federal Government has commenced the implementation of the N10 per litre sugar tax on carbonated sugar drinks and beverages.

According to the Chief Superintendent of Customs, Department of Excise, Free Trade Zone and Industrial Incentives, Dennis Ituma, the tax would help combat Non-communicable Diseases (NCDs).

He spoke at a Policy Breakfast Meeting which held in Abuja this weekend.

The event was organised by the National Action on Sugar Reduction (NASR) to proffer ways to implement tax and other interventions to reduce consumption of Sugar-Sweetened Beverages (SSBs) in Nigeria.

The implementation is coming despite pleas by the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) and some related stakeholders who asked the government to halt the policy introduced in the Finance Act, signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari on December 31, 2021.

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In a statement, the Coalition Representative of the 12-member NASR, Omei Bongos-Ikwue, quoted  the Customs official as saying the services had commenced.

“The N10 per litre of Sugar-Sweetened Beverages has been implemented on June 1, by July 21, all excise duties must have been collected and paid into the federation account. It should interest you that taxation on SSBs was a policy of the Federal Government in 1984 but was stopped in January 2009.

“Previously both SSBs, alcoholic drinks and tobacco were all taxed until 2009 when SSBs was removed from taxable beverages,” he said.

Members of the NASR are Diabetes Association of Nigeria, Nutrition Society of Nigeria, Nigeria Cancer Society, Breast Without Spot, Lafiya Wealth Initiative, TalkHealth9ja, Nigeria Health Watch, Project PINK BLUE, Sustainable Development Initiative, African Youth Initiative on Population, Health and Development (AfrYPoD), Bundies Care Initiative, and Nigerian Heart Foundation.

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Ekweremadu: Immigration says Ukpo birthday certificate shows he’s 21 not 15

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Birth certificate of Ekweremadu ‘kidney donor’ shows he’s 21, says immigration

The Nigeria Immigration Service says David Ukpo, the “kidney donor” at the centre of the organ harvesting allegation against Ike Ekweremadu, is 21 years old — not 15.

Spokesman for the NIS, Amos Okpu, disclosed this in a statement released on Sunday.

Okpu said the birth certificate presented by Ukpo during his international passport registration showed that he is 21 years old.

Ekweremadu and his wife, Beatrice, were arrested last Thursday and arraigned in court for allegedly bringing a child to the UK for organ harvesting.

They were subsequently remanded in custody till July 7 while investigations are still ongoing.

The senator had written to the UK high commission to support a visa application of a “donor”.

Although the UK police said the donor was 15, Ukpo was listed as 21 years old on his international passport and the Bank Verification Number (BVN) portal.

The immigration spokesman said the birth certificate issued by the National Population Commission (NPC) and the national identity number (NIN) slip presented by Ukpo indicated that he is 21.

He explained that Ukpo’s date of birth was listed as October 12, 2000 — meaning he will be 22 years old in October 2022.

“The facts of the matter concerning the case above, therefore, are that the said Mr David Ukpo Nwamina applied and paid for the enhanced standard passport using the NIS portal after which he approached the Gwagwalada Passport Office, FCT Abuja, on the 2nd November 2021 for his interview,” the statement reads.

“To support his application, Mr. Nwamina presented all the necessary documents required, including his National Population Commission (NPC) issued Birth Certificate, showing 12 October, 2000, as his date of birth; his National Identity Number (NIN) corroborating the date of birth on his birth certificate, issued by NIMC; a letter of introduction issued by Ebonyi State Government Liaison Office situated at Maitama District Abuja, and a Guarantor’s form duly signed by one Mr. Uchechukwu Chukwuma Ogbonno.
“In view of the above, the general public may wish to be informed that the date of birth, or any other information for that matter, on any Nigerian passport is printed on the document only after a thorough vetting process that involves both physical and forensic examination of the applicant’s breeder documents. Mr. Nwamina’s case, therefore, was not different.”

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South African police investigate death of 20 in nightclub 

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South African police are investigating the deaths of at least 20 people at a nightclub in the coastal town of East London early Sunday morning.

According to AP, it is unclear what led to the deaths of the young people, who were reportedly attending a party to celebrate the end of winter school exams.

Local newspaper Daily Dispatch reported that bodies were strewn across tables and chairs without any visible signs of injuries.

“At this point we cannot confirm the cause of death,” said health department spokesperson Siyanda Manana.

“We are going to conduct autopsies as soon as possible to establish the probable cause of death. The deceased have been taken to state mortuaries,” Manana added.

The owner of the club, Siyakhangela Ndevu, told local broadcaster eNCA that he had been called to the scene early Sunday morning.

“I am still uncertain about what really happened, but when I was called in the morning I was told the place was too full and that some people were trying to force their way into the tavern,” he said.

“However, we will hear what the police say about the cause of death,” Ndevu added.

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