Former President of Ghana, John Mahama has appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to open Nigeria’s borders, saying that Ghana has been heavily affected by the closure of the borders.
Mahama said that for economic activities to resume in West Africa, Nigeria needs to reconsider its decision on the total border closure. He made this plea while delivering the seventh-anniversary lecture of investiture into The Realnews Hall of Fame and the unveiling of a book, titled: Pathways to Political and Economic Development of Africa.
According to the former president as reported by The Nation, the closure of the borders, especially the Benin border, was affecting many small and medium businesses, especially in Togo, Ghana and Cote D’Ivoire, which relied on inter-country trade.
“I am sure that businesses in Nigeria that rely on supplies from these countries are also suffering. With the signing of the joint border task force agreement between Nigeria and her neighbours, I will like to take this opportunity to appeal to Nigeria to open up her border so that economic activities can resume,” Mahama said.
While reacting to the shut down of shops owned by Nigerians by the Ghana Union of Traders’ Association (GUTA) as retaliation to the border closure, Mahama said,
“Back home in Ghana, I also look forward to our government’s intervention that brings an immediate cessation to the forceful and illegal closure of shops of foreigners, especially Nigerians, by members of the local trade associations.”
Mahama who is a former Chairman of the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) spoke on how he still has an abiding interest in the progress of ECOWAS and its people. In this light, he said that Nigeria being the home of ECOWAS and the largest economy in West Africa should not allow the objective principles for the establishment of ECOWAS to be lost.
Meanwhile, the Vice-Chancellor of Niger Delta University, Bayelsa State, Prof. Samuel Edoumiekumo, advised President Muhammadu Buhari not to yield to pressure to reopen the borders.
Edoumiekumo, who was also present at the lecture, said President Buhari should remain firm in his resolve to ensure economic growth and the country’s development as the border closure would generate more revenue for the nation and tackle smuggling.
2021 Budget: FG projects spending plan of N11.86 trillion and deficit of N5.16 trillion
This tops 2020 budgeted expenditure of N10.8 trillion.
The Federal Government is projecting to spend N11.86 trillion for 2021. This was disclosed by the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed at a virtual presentation of the 2021-2023 Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper (MTEF/FSP) held on Friday.
According to the finance minister, the government is planning to spend N11.86 trillion against revenue of N6.98 trillion meaning the government will have to grapple with a fiscal deficit of N5.16 trillion.
“The 2021-2023 MTEF&FSP is the pre-budget statement that provides the framework for the development of the 2021 budget. It is being framed against the backdrop of challenging global macroeconomic environment as well as domestic factors.
“We aim to keep the deficit within the three percent ceiling over the medium term and are therefore working on identifying new revenue sources and or cost of reduction”.
The minister noted that the 2021-2023 draft had been prepared against the backdrop of heightened global economic uncertainty.
Earlier today President Buhari signed the revised 2020 national budget of N10.8 trillion, which was passed by the National Assembly in June. The National Assembly passed a revised budget of N10.8 trillion on the 11th of June after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) approved a revised budget of N10.523trillion in May. 2020 Budget is based on a revised oil benchmark of $25 per barrel as against $57 while crude production was reduced from 2.18 million to 1.94 million barrels per day Budget deficit for 2020 is estimated at N5.365 trillion.
As of March 2020, the FG was running a 52% shortfall in the first quarter of the year with actual revenue collected of N950 trillion compared to budgeted revenue N1.96 trillion.
What this means: Nigeria is facing an unprecedented revenue crisis exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic and the crash in oil prices. At N5.16 trillion, Nigeria’s projected budget deficit will be 43% of spending and about 3.6% of GDP if the budget is passed. A budget deficit means the government will have to borrow heavily next year to fund its expenditure programs.
The government received a $3.4 billion funding from the IMF in April and expects another $3.5 billion from the World Bank in August 2020. The government also revealed it has no plans to access the commercial market for foreign debts as it takes advantage of lower interest rates in the domestic market.
Covid-19: Pfizer, BioNTech’s vaccine ready before end of the year
BioNTech is in partnership with Pfizer to develop a coronavirus vaccine.
The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of German biotech firm, BioNTech, has announced that the company and New York-based pharmaceutical giant, Pfizer’s Inc’s COVID-19 vaccine candidate is expected to be ready to obtain regulatory approval by the end of 2020.
The German biotech firm which is in partnership with Pfizer to develop this coronavirus vaccine is confident that it will be ready for regulatory approval by the end of the year.
The co-Founder and CEO of BioNTech, Dr Ugur Sahin, said that several hundred million doses could be produced even before approval and over 1 billion by the end of 2021, according to a wall street journal report.
The experimental vaccine which has shown a lot of progress against the fast-spreading respiratory illness in early-stage human testing is expected to move into a large trial stage that will involve 30,000 healthy participants later this month while waiting for regulatory approval.
According to an earlier report from Reuters, Pfizer and BioNTech are getting set to produce up to 100 million doses of the vaccine by the end of the 2020 and another 1.2 billion doses by the end of 2021 at sites in Germany and the United States.
It can be recalled that earlier this week, U.S. vaccine specialist, Novavax said in its statement that it will receive $1.6 billion from the federal government to support the development of its Covid-19 vaccine candidate as a new member of the government’s Operation Warp Speed (OWS) program, which aims to accelerate the development of a vaccine.
Guinea Insurance Plc gives optimistic Q3 earnings forecast in spite of COVID-19
Note that some companies have had to revise their earnings estimates due to pandemic.
Guinea Insurance Plc is being very optimistic, having projected a 78.6% rise in gross premium written to N1.8 in Q3 2020, up from N1 billion during the comparable period in 2019. The insurer also forecasted a profit after tax of N185.8 million for the period, indicating an expected better performance compared to N735 million loss recorded in Q3 2019.
The earnings forecast, which was sent to the Nigerian Stock Exchange earlier today, also estimated that reinsurance expense for Q3 will be at N337.5 million. Claims expenses, underwriting expenses, and other operating experiences were equally put at N331.3 million, N292.6 million, and N692.2 million, respectively.
Note that this forecast is coming amid the negative economic impacts wrought by the Coronavirus pandemic. But while a growing list of companies (including Guinness Nigeria Plc) has downgraded their 2020 earnings and profitability forecasts, Guinea Insurance is expecting growth and that is good.
In Q1 2020, Guinea Insurance Plc reported gross premium written OF N207 million and a profit after tax of N12.6 million. The company’s consolidated half-year 2020 financial has not been released and is expected sometime between this month and next month.
The company’s share price ended today’s trading on the Nigerian Stock Exchange at N0.20. Year to date, this stock has not recorded any price movement.