The Federal Government has disclosed plans to reduce the 2020 budget by as much as N1.5 trillion.
The disclosure was made by the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, while briefing State House correspondents at the end of the Federal Executive Council, (FEC) meeting presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari at the Council Chamber, Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Ahmed said that there will be a cut of 20% from the capital expenditure of the 2020 budget while recurrent expenditure will be reduced by as much as 25%. Recall that She had earlier in the month hinted at the possibility of reducing the 2020 budget due to the coronavirus outbreak.
According to Ahmed, Buhari had approved other far-reaching measures in the face of the current economic realities occasioned by COVID-19. One of those measures is the cut in crude oil benchmark from $57 per barrel to $30 per barrel in the revised budget. The global crude oil prices are now less than $30 per barrel.
Ahmed’s words: “We should cut down on the size of the federally funded upstream projects of the Petroleum sector. The reason being that we want to be able to receive more revenue by less reduction from NNPC.
“The reduction of the crude oil price from $57 per barrel to $30 means that we are going to get so much less revenue, almost 45 percent loss as we planned. And because of that, we have to amend a number of projections in the budget as well as in the MTEF to reflect our current reality.
“We also need to adjust Customs revenue which has been budgeted at N1. 5 trillion but we are adjusting it downwards because we anticipate that trade volumes will reduce and once trade volume is reduced, Customs revenue will be significantly impacted as a result.”
Speaking further, Ahmed said the government would continue to pay salaries and would not sack workers, but would not be recruiting or increasing its workforce size for the time being.
On concerns of the economy slipping back into recession, Ahmed said the budget cut would result in about 40 to 45% reduction and also it will affect states because it means FAAC will be significantly reduced.
“FAAC is just a pool of funds and we share what is realized, so it will affect the states as well. So we are expecting the states to take similar measures to amend the plans that we have made and bring them down to current realities.
“On plans to scale back VAT and excise duty, I am not making any commitment on that right now because these are provisions in the law in the Finance Act and as you know, we will, even in the amendment to the MTEF and the budget, have to engage with the National Assembly. The fiscal authorities are working with the fiscal authority team and we will get the President’s approval before we come up with what we will announce to the public.” Ahmed added.
FG discusses nation’s carrier, Nigeria Air with US Ambassador
The FG has held a discussion with the US government over the establishment of a national carrier for Nigeria.
The federal government has held a discussion with the government of the United States of America over the establishment of a national carrier for Nigeria.
This was disclosed by the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika via his Twitter handle after he held a discussion with the Ambassador at the United States Embassy in Abuja.
He tweeted, “We took the opportunity to discuss investments and opportunities in the aviation sector, including national carrier. The partnership looks promising. USA is the only country we have open skies with. Thanks, Ambassador Mary and the team.”
What you should know
In July 2018, the Federal Government unveiled the branding and livery for the new airline, Nigeria Air, and stated that the carrier would be inaugurated at the end of that year.
Sirika unveiled the carrier at a press conference during the Farnborough Air Show in London that year.
“I am very pleased to tell you that we are finally on track to launching a new national flag carrier for our country, Nigeria Air. We are all fully committed to fulfilling the campaign promise made by our President, Muhammadu Buhari, in 2015. We are aiming to launch Nigeria Air by the end of this year,” the minister had said.
He also stated that the government had obtained the Certificate of Compliance from the Nigerian Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission and would go into investor search.
SERAP asks Buhari to probe N39.5 billion duplicated, mysterious projects
SERAP has asked President Muhammadu Buhari to probe the reported N39.5 billion duplicated and mysterious projects inserted in the 2021 budget.
Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has asked President Muhammadu Buhari to probe the reported N39.5 billion duplicated and mysterious projects inserted in the 2021 budget.
This is to know if public funds have been diverted in the guise of implementing the projects and prosecute those allegedly involved including those from the executive and the National Assembly.
The request from SERAP follows a report from BudgiT last week, where they alleged that there are 316 duplicated capital projects worth N139.5 billion in the 2021 budget.
This disclosure is contained in a public statement issued by SERAP on Sunday, May 9, 2021, and can be seen on its website.
SERAP said that the investigation of the alleged duplicated and mysterious projects, which are part of the 2021 appropriation bill of N13.588 trillion, should establish whether public funds have been mismanaged, diverted or stolen in the guise of implementing these projects.
What SERAP is saying in its letter
In the letter dated 8th May 2021 and signed by SERAP, Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare said: “The misallocation of public funds for duplicated and mysterious projects has seriously undermined the ability of the indicted MDAs, and the government to ensure respect for Nigerians’ human rights through developing and implementing well-thought-out policies, plans, and budgets.”
The letter from SERAP partly reads, “BudgIT had in a report last week stated that there are 316 duplicated capital projects worth N39.5 billion in the 2021 budget. The duplicated and mysterious projects are contained in the 2021 appropriation bill of N13.588 trillion signed into law in December 2020.”
These damning revelations suggest a grave violation of the public trust, and Nigerians’ rights to education, health, water, sanitation, and clean and satisfactory environment because the indicted MDAs have misallocated public funds at the expense of the people’s access to basic public services, and enjoyment of rights.”
SERAP urges you to ask the heads of the MDAs involved to explain why they allegedly failed to ensure strict compliance with constitutional and international standards of transparency and accountability in the preparation, processes and decisions on their budgets, and to return any misallocated public funds to the public treasury.”
Investigating and prosecuting any allegations of mismanagement, diversion and stealing of public funds budgeted for the 316 duplicated and mysterious projects would allow your government to use the budget to effectively promote Nigerians’ access to essential public goods and services.”
Publishing the ‘implementation status’ of the duplicated and mysterious projects would allow Nigerians to hold their government to account in the spending of public funds. This is particularly true for marginalized and excluded groups, such as people living in poverty, women, children, and persons with disabilities, as the budget has a disproportionate impact on their welfare.”
We would be grateful if the recommended measures are taken within 14 days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter. If we have not heard from you by then, the Incorporated Trustees of SERAP shall take all appropriate legal actions to compel your government to comply with our request in the public interest.”
SERAP also urges you to direct Mrs Zainab Ahmed, Minister of Finance Budget and National Planning to publish full details of current ‘implementation status’ of the duplicated and mysterious projects, and any spending on the projects to date, including the 115 projects inserted in the budget of the Ministry of Health; the 23 projects inserted in the budget of the Ministry of Education, and 10 projects inserted in the budget of the Ministry of Water Resources.
The following ministries are reportedly involved in the duplicated and mysterious projects: Ministry of Health with 115 projects; Ministry of Information and Culture with 40 projects; Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development with 25 projects; Ministry of Education with 23 projects; Ministry of Transportation with 17 projects; and Ministry of Science and Technology with 17 projects.”
Others are the Ministry of Environment with 13 projects; Ministry of Power with 11 projects; Ministry of Labour and Employment with 11 projects, and Ministry of Water Resources with 10 projects.”
The letter was copied to Mr Malami; Professor Bolaji Owasanoye, Chairman Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC); Mr Abdulrasheed Bawa, Chairman, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC); and Mrs Ahmed, the Finance Minister.
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