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Nigeria to reopen land borders soon – Finance minister

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  • Says no issue with federal workers’ salaries

Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, has said the nation’s land borders closed in August 2019 will be reopened soon.

She stated this during an interview with State House correspondents in Abuja on Wednesday.

Already, she said the presidential committee set up on the matter had completed its job and recommended the reopening of the borders.

The committee would soon submit its report to President Muhammadu Buhari, the minister who chairs the committee said, adding that a formal pronouncement would be made on the matter thereafter.

She said, “Mr President has set up a committee that I chair, alongside the Minister of Foreign Affairs and other ministers, including Interior, Customs, Immigration, the security services, to review and advise him on the issue of border closure.

“The committee has just completed its work and we’ll be submitting our report. I’ve signed my copy; I gave everybody to sign between today and tomorrow so that we can submit the report to Mr President.”

she also spoke on the plan to save the economy from recession, saying the administration hoped to use the Economic Sustainability Plan to rescue the economy from its current situation.

She said that the government already anticipated the current recession and had designed the ESP to help fast-track its exit from the economic woe, adding that so far the plan was still very much on track and that the economy was expected to come out of recession in the first quarter of 2021.

She said, “The steps that were taken involved a vigorous implementation of the Economic Sustainability Plan. You will recall that the ESP was designed to be a 12-month plan, to act as a bridge between the ERGP and its successor plan. Also, it was designed specifically to help us quickly exit recession, which we had projected was going to happen.

“So the ESP implementation is really on course; it’s focused and the implementation of the 2020 budget is really on course and very focused. We have been able to release a large volume of capital funding into ministries, departments and agencies, enabling a lot of public works going on simultaneously all over the country.

“So how we will maintain this is to make sure we continue to implement the ESP as it is planned. It will help us exit recession; it will help us reset back on the path of growth and on a road that is sustainable.”

Asked if there were plans to withdraw and rework the 2021 budget proposal which was with the National Assembly in view of the recent announcement of the contraction of the economy, the minister said, “We are not planning to retrieve the budget or reverse the budget beyond the work of appropriation that the National Assembly is currently doing in consultation with us.”

The minister explained the cause of delay in the payment of federal workers’ salaries, saying, “There’s no issue with federal workers’ salary. We have paid salaries for November and we shall pay salaries for December so there’s no issue at all with federal workers’ salary.

“If you hear about any issue, it is for agencies whose budgets funding on the GIFMIS (Government Integrated Financial Management and Information System) was exhausted and we are about to make an adjustment to them.

“When we were doing the 2020 budget, we made estimates of the consequential adjustment that is required as a result of the minimum wage and we had sent the budget before a decision and approval was taken on the consequential adjustment. So, it is anticipated that some agencies might run short and we made a block provision in the service-wide vote of the budget.

“So when we have such a situation, what we simply do is remove funds from the service-wide vote to the agency so that they pay their budget; so there’s no problem of payment of salaries at all.”

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Breaking: CBN jacks up interest rate to 15.5%

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The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has raised the monetary policy rate (MPR), which measures interest rate, from 14 per cent to 15.5 per cent to tame rising inflation.

The interest rate was raised from 13 per cent to 14 per cent in July this year.

The monetary policy rate is the baseline interest rate in an economy, every other interest rate used within an economy is built on.

Governor of the CBN, Godwin Emefiele, addressing journalists on Tuesday after the committee’s meeting in Abuja, said 10 members of the committee voted for the rate hike.

In August, Nigeria’s inflation rate rose to a nearly two-decade high at 20.52 per cent.

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Lamborghini pushes out final Aventador, Ultimae, ends V12 supercar

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Supercar manufacturer, Lamborghini, has announced the production of the last Aventador. You can call it Avantador’s last dance. The final Lamborghini Aventador Ultimae was rolled off the production line in Sant’Agata, Italy, and kissing goodbye to V12-powered supercar that shaped an era. The Lamborghini V12 will be hybridised going forward.

This Ultimae Roadster marks the 11,465th Aventador to reach customers worldwide. First launched in 2011, the Aventador is not exactly modern, but when it debuted, it was described by CEO Stephan Winkelmann as “a jump of two generations in terms of design and technology,” with “performance that is simply overwhelming.”

A plug-in hybrid replacement is expected to be revealed later this year, having been spied testing.

Lamborghini made sure the final model was the most powerful, with the 6.5-litre unit producing 10bhp more than in the previous range-topping Aventador, the Lamborghini Aventador SVJ, sending 769bhp (780PS, hence the name) to both axles. The Aventador-based Essenza SCV12 produces 819bhp but is limited to track use.

The Ultimae’s 531lb ft torque peak matches the SVJ’s, with which it shares its power- to-weight ratio. But with a 0-62mph time of just 2.8sec and a top speed of 221mph, the Ultimae is the fastest road-going Aventador.

The 350 coupés and 250 roadsters – each sold with a numbered plaque – were offered in a range of unique colour schemes, including a new grey-on-grey option with contrasting red trim elements, while the roadster could be specified with an exposed carbonfibre roof panel. It was also subtly marked out from other Aventadors by way of a unique styling package that “took the best components” of the S and SVJ.

The Aventador’s plug-in hybrid replacement will serve as a bridge to pure-electric Lamborghini models in the future.

This electrified future will see the Hurácan and Lamborghini Urus also go down the same route, and an all-electric 2+2 introduced in the second half of the decade.

Importantly, however, while its replacement will use an electrified drivetrain, it will take the bulk of its power from a large-capacity V12, in line with company boss Stephan Winkelmann’s commitment to the emotional value of its supercars.

He told Autocar last year that there is “a lot of emotion attached” to the 12-cylinder engine, which he is particularly aware of, having been involved in the launch of the Aventador in his first stint as the boss of Lamborghini in 2011.

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How to use your pensions for mortgage

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The National Pension Commission recently approved the guidelines to access Retirement Savings Account balance for payment of equity contribution for residential mortgage by RSA holders.

The approval was in line with Section 89 (2) of the Pension Reform Act 2014, which allows RSA holders to use a portion of their RSA balance towards payment of equity for residential mortgage.

PenCom however specified conditions to access the funds. A major condition is that the applicant must be in active employment, either as a salaried employee or as a self-employed person.

It stated that application for equity contribution for residential mortgage must be in person and not by proxy.

How to apply

Anybody who is interested can approach his PFA to get explanation on the process. The PFA will print the statement of account and determine the 25 per cent.

Speaking with our correspondent, the Spokesperson, PenCom, Abdulqadir Dahiru, said, “Then when you have that, you can now go back to your mortgage lender, get a letter of offer of your property, go through their own due diligence to agree for them to finance because the pension is only giving you 25 per cent; 75 per cent will still be financed by somebody.

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“That person must give you an offer letter for a loan that he is ready to finance you, and this is the equity contribution you are required to bring. So if you have that equity contribution with that letter of offer, which has been validated by the mortgage lender, that is when you can approach your PFA to request for your 25 per cent.”

Maximum amount allowed

PenCom stated that the maximum amount to be withdrawn is 25 per cent of the total mandatory RSA balance as of the date of application, irrespective of the value of equity contribution required by the mortgage lender.

Where 25 per cent of a contributor’s RSA balance is not sufficient for payment as equity contribution, the RSA holders may utilise the contingency portion of their voluntary contributions (if any).

Consent form

If a person had accessed part of the funds before either for leaving paid employment before retirement age, he will still get lump sum at retirement. He can still get part of the funds for mortgage after meeting specific conditions stated in the guidelines, but he must sign a consent form to get it.

Aisha Dahir-Umar, DG National Pension Commission

Dahiru said, “If you have taken 25 per cent for temporary loss of job and then you get employment again, and you continue contributing and you come to collect for a mortgage, you will sign a consent to say that I’m fully aware that this money I want to withdraw to finance a house will affect the amount I may likely take when I retire, I understand and whatever.

“So, basically you are indemnifying the PFA that you understand so that at the point of retirement, if your benefit is lower compared to your colleagues you will not complain.”

Mortgage lender

To qualify as a mortgage lender for the purpose, the company must be licensed by the Central Bank of Nigeria, comply with the Contributory Pension Scheme and have valid Pension Clearance Certificate, according to PenCom’s guidelines.

Eligibility

According to PenCom, a worker must have an offer letter for the property duly signed by the property owner and verified by the mortgage lender. The RSA of the applicant must have both employer and employee’s mandatory contributions for a cumulative minimum period of 60 months (five years). A contributor under the Micro Pension Plan is also eligible, provided he/she has made contributions for at least 60 months (five years) prior to the date of his/her application.

Age limit

RSA holders that have less than three years to retirement are not eligible.

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Dahiru explained, “If I am an employee and working in an organisation where the retirement age is 55 years, if I am 50, or 51 years, I can access because I have five years or more than three years to retire. But once I get to 52 that, means I have three years which I cannot access.”

According to PenCom’s guidelines, married couples, who are RSA holders, are eligible to make a joint application, subject to individually satisfying the eligibility requirements.

Data recapturing

RSA holders, if registered before 1 July 2019, must have their records updated through the RSA data recapture exercise.

Dahiru said, “But it’s very important that RSA holders have done their recapture. When you have not done your data recapturing, we can’t process it.”

Insufficient 25 per cent contribution

The PenCom spokesperson said, “Where the 25 per cent the mortgage lender is asking for is equal to the 25 per cent of your RSA, definitely we will process. But if what mortgage lender is asking for is higher than what you can get from your PFA, you will have to look for the difference and pay and show evidence to your PFA.

“For instance, if your mortgage lender is looking for N2.5m and the mortgage is N10m, and the mortgage lender says bring 25 per cent as equity contribution, and your own 25 per cent in your RSA is only N1.5m, you will have to look for that difference of N1m and pay; then come with it with your offer letter for the property and the evidence that I have paid, then your PFA will give you the balance of N1.5m which is your 25 per cent.”

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