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FG backtracks on subsidy removal says it is not on its card at the moment

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***Lawan tells labour to shelve planned protests as it’s no longer necessary

The Federal Government has soft-pedal on its initial plan to remove subsidy on petroleum products saying it is clear to even the blind and audible to the deaf that the situation of the country does not allow for that at the moment
Recall that while presenting the 2022 budget the Federal Government had infused in the budget provision for subsidy untill June 2022 when it wanted to remove the subsidy which was passed and assented to.
In seeking for a soft landing based on the outcry from Nigerians the minister of Petroleum Resources Timipre Sylva and his counterpart in the ministry of Finance Hajia Zainab Ahmad as well as the Group managing Director NNPC limited, Mele Kyari met with the national assembly leadership to seek an ammendment of the law to provide for an extension of subsidy provision beyond June 2022
The Minister of Finance, Budget and Economic Planning, Hajia Zainab Ahmed, said that the Federal Government had postponed the planned removal of subsidy on petroleum products till further notice.

The meeting was convened at the instance of the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan.

The Finance Minister said the Federal Government initially had the plans to remove subsidy on petroleum products from July this year.

She said that was the reason adequate provision was made in the 2022 national budget for subsidy payment till June.

She said, “Provision was made in the 2022 budget for subsidy payment from January till June. That suggested that from July, there would be no subsidy.

”The provision was made sequel to the passage of the Petroleum Industry Act which indicated that all petroleum products would be deregulated.

“Sequel to the passage of the PIA, we went back to amend the fiscal framework to incorporate the subsidy removal.

“However, after the budget was passed, we had consultations with a number of stakeholders and it became clear that the timing was problematic.

“We discovered that practically, there is still heightened inflation and that the removal of subsidy would further worsen the situation and impose more difficulties on the citizenry.

“Mr. President (Muhammadu Buhari), does not want to do that. What we are now doing is to continue with the ongoing discussions and consultations in terms of putting in place a number of measures.

“One of these include the roll out of the refining capacities of the existing refineries and the new ones which would reduce amount of products that would be imported into the country.

“We therefore need to return to the National Assembly to now amend the budget and make additional provision for subsidy from July 22 to whatever period that we agreed was suitable for the commencement of the total removal’

The minister for state petroleum Resources Timipre Sulva said
“As far as I am concerned at this point it is a legislative duty. 
“The law has been passed we are all aware but there is no law that is cast in stone. “It is clear to everyone that at this point in operationalizing the law is not possible within 6minths framework that has been provided for in the law and if that time frame provided for in the law is not feasible which has come to us as a result of operationalising the law then it is also a legislative responsibility now to see what can be done in extending that time frame for it to be in the purview of the law,  “Secondly the other legislative issue arising from it is the provision for the subsidy that is not there after June.  
It is very clear to the blind and audible to the deaf that it is not feasible at this time to remove subsidy.
“I know that some nay sayers, or political pundits want to bring politics into it but it is not within the contemplation of this administration now to remove subsidy.”

The president of the Senate Ahmad Lawan said the meeting ordinarily shouldn’t have been opened for media coverage however he indicated that anything that will interest the public is worth coverage 
The Senate President therefore urged the organised labour unions in the country to shelve their proposed nationwide protests as it was no longer necessary.

“There is need at one point to do away with subsidy but the President genuinely feel for Nigerians particularly the most vulnerable. Even though our economy is growing but we still have challenge getting better.
“Because of this feeling by the President and most of us in this administration believe that the issue of removal of subsidy should be handled with utmost care especially that sufficient planning needs to be done.
“Significant arrangement for absorbing the shock that will come with the removal should be done and the timing is such that the impacts and consequences will not add to hardships.

He said the sympathy for Nigerians is not about NLC.
 “We are talking about every Nigerian.  NLC is just an organised part of the system. Our concern is beyond NLC. 
“I am taking this opportunity to speak to TUC and NLC to shelve this their plan to go on strike or demonstration.  “It is totally unnecessary.  There is not going to be removal of subsidy so let us not create unnecessary tension where there should be none.
“Please forget about the 27th of January deadline.  We are supposed to come together and work assiduously to see that our country is stable that our people enjoy the benefits of Government programs and projects. “At the end of the day whatever decision we would be taking would be in the best interest of our people.”

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Economy

Edun harps on inter-agency collaboration to drive economic growth, attract investments

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To ensure full implementation of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s 8-Point Agenda which is aimed at boosting economic growth and development to attract foreign investors and expertise into the country, Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Mr. Wale Edun has urged Heads of Agencies and Parastatals under his Ministry to work together.
Speaking during a quarterly performance review briefing with Heads of Agencies and Parastatals in Abuja, the Minister emphasized the importance of synergy and effective implementation to achieve the goals outlined in the President’s blueprint.
Director of Information and Public Relations, Mohammed Manga in a statement quoted the minister to have described the gathering as very crucial benchmark where they can brain storm on where they need to get to and how they intend to get there

He highlighted the progress made so far under the present Administration and encouraged the Agencies and Parastatals within his jurisdiction to continue working together so as to drive economic growth and prosperity for all Nigerians.

He indicated that the meeting would also serve as a benchmark towards the implementation of the performance bond signed by Mr. President, which is aimed at reviewing the achievements made in the last one year, address challenges and chart a way forward for improved performance of the Ministry.

“We have all signed performance bonds. We all know the plan and blueprint, which are the eight point agenda of Mr. President. It has been categorised as a house. “The pillars are the fundamentals that you need for the Economy and society to thrive that is, security, rule of law, and at the very top is the roof, that is, the outcomes: food security and other measures of a good standard.
“Our collective efforts and shared commitment is not only pivotal in ensuring the efficient and effective management of the nation’s economy, but should also go a long way in facilitating the realization of the agenda of Mr. President*, he said

Edun explained further that the
call to action was imperative, especially as it is expected to galvanize the agencies to work collaboratively and efficiently towards achieving the objectives of the 8-point agenda.

The Minister pointed out that by working together, the Agencies can help create a conducive environment for economic growth, attract investors, and make opportunities available for Nigerians to thrive.

“President Bola Ahmed Tinubu led-Administration has helped stabilize the exchange rate and is working towards lower interest rates that would invite the bases for additional investments in the nation.

“It is, therefore, incumbent upon us to pursue the achievements of our deliverables with diligence and determination by establishing clear targets, timelines, and consequences for non- compliance with our respective Agencies/Parastatals.
“We can help to create a framework that incenticizes excellence and service delivery as well as build the needed synergy and partnership that can facilitate the implementation of the transformative economic policies of this administration.” Edun said

The Minister expressed optimism that with the calibre of persons heading the Agencies under his stewardship, the Ministry is sure to deliver on its mandate in compliance with the Renewed Hope Agenda of the present administration.

Earlier in her welcome address, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Finance, Mrs. Lydia Shehu Jafiya, stated that the
engagement would provide a unique platform for robust discussions, especially in the area of implementation of the transformative policies of the present administration, which she said, aims at improving the nation’s economy, promoting job creation, and poverty reduction as well as a safety environment that will attract investments into the country.

She assured that the Ministry will continue to provide an enabling environment for the full implementation of the policies, programmes and projects of the Federal Government, in line with its mandate.

Also speaking, the Ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Special Duties, Mr. Okokon Ekenam Udo advised the Agencies to collectively align their efforts with the fiscal goals set by the Federal Government with a view to ensuring the realization of its policy objective.

He therefore called on them to bring in their wealth of experience to bear in making sure that the Agencies deliver on their respective mandates in accordance with the policy thrust of the present administration.

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Economy

CUPP scribe expresses concern over exodus of foreign investors

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***Says, APC ABRACADABRA Propaganda can not solve the problem

The National Secretary of the Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP) High Chief Peter Ameh has bemoaned the downturn in the investment climate occasioned by insecurity that is causing apprehension among foreign investors who are now leaving Nigeria in droves to other African countries.
Ameh spoke against the backdrop of the News that Microsoft is closing its office in Nigeria which he said is very disturbing.
The organization announced that they will close their Ikoyi office this week.
Ameh quoted the Managing Divecter of Okomu Oli Palm Pic, Graham Holter, who said it is absurd that they pay over N12 billion in taxes to government annually and still are left to fend and seek security for equipment and personnel themselves.
“What kind of Investment-friendly environment are you providing?”
Ameh lamented that situation is devastating and there is no end in sight.
“70% of crisis the country is facing today is the result of insecurity. Government must take the bull by the horn to address it now before it’s too late but those in Government will rather prefer to be harassing Journalists and opposition parties/leaders.

‘Without effective Security Measures for the country we are in danger of losing Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) and at risk of losing the investors confidence in our economy.

“Security, good roads and train services will remain essential to ensure that we are able to protect our country from being abandoned by investors.”

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Economy

FG anticipates higher Investments, increased trade from G-24

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In its quest to bring tranquility to the tempestuous foreign exchange market the Federal Government has asked for investment and increased trading relationships from member countries of the G-24.
These will play a critical role in the country’s quest for growth as well as ensure a stable and growing economy.
Director of Information and Public Relations Mohammed Danjuma quoted the Minister of Finance and Co-ordinating Minister of the Economy, Mr Wale Edun, to have made the request at the ongoing World Bank-IMF Spring Meetings holding in Washington DC.

Represented by the Director General of the Budget Office of the Federation, Mr. Ben Akabueze, the Minister informed the G-24, a group of countries working together to coordinate the positions of developing countries on international monetary and financial issues and indeed the global gathering that Nigerian Government, on its part, has administered a cocktail of intervention programmes and potent policies which are already yielding desired outcomes.

He explained that
the efforts of the President Bola Ahmed Tinubu-led Administration towards repositioning the economy
were already yielding desired outcomes, which has significantly narrowed the gap between the exchanges at the parallel market and the Nigeria Foreign Exchange Market.

Edun said that Nigeria was well positioned to attract investments in various sectors such as manufacturing, agriculture, oil and gas, amongst others.

While responding to a question from a Russian journalist on areas of cooperation between the two countries, the Minister said that the last major investment of the Eastern European nation in Nigeria was the Ajaokuta Steel Company, which currently lies prostate over large sprawling greenfield.

He informed further that apart from Brazil, there is no country in the world with as much arable land as Nigeria, as such, the country should be a net exporter of food and not an importer.

Edun also justified the decision for the Dangote Refinery to work on meeting local demands of petroleum products before eyeing export markets.

“Does it make a meaning that domestic demand is not yet met and a company refines products and exports, while Nigeria goes and imports the same products from Europe?” he queried.

The Minister added that local refining would be encouraged until indigenous demand has been fully met, and then the nation can export products as well as earn foreign exchange from such exports.

On budget implementation, he said that the capital component of the 2023 supplementary budget was still being implemented and would run until June due to government’s determination to make impacts in various sectors.

The Minister added that the 2024 budget was being implemented as planned, assuring that the citizens would be better for it.

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