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Buhari seeks Senate approval for N895.84bn supplementary budget

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President Muhammad Buhari
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The Senate on Tuesday received a supplementary appropriation bill from President Muhammadu Buhari to approve the sum of N895.842,465,917 billion as supplementary budget for the 2021 fiscal year.

The bill was transmitted with a letter dated 15th June, 2021, and addressed to the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan.

President Buhari, in the letter which was read during the commencement of plenary, explained that the amount captured was proposed to fund the COVID-19 vaccine programme.

He added that part of the supplementary budget would be used to also fund health related expenditures for treatment of additional 50,000 patients under the Nigeria Comprehensive AIDS Program in states; as well as to procure additional equipment captured in this year’s capital expenditure on Defence and Security to tackle prevalent security challenges across the country.

The letter reads: “Let me seize this opportunity, to express my deep gratitude, for the cooperation and support, of the Leadership and Distinguished Members of the Senate, in our collective efforts to contain the COVID-19 Pandemic and address the various security and other challenges facing the country.

“It has become necessary to prepare the 2021 Supplementary Appropriation Bill considering the urgent need to make provision for procurement and administration of COVlD-19 vaccines.

“The availability of COVlD-19 vaccines and the procurement terms were still uncertain as at the time of finalising the 2021 budget. Hence, there was no provision in the 2021 Appropriation Act for the procurement and administration of COVID-19 vaccines.

“However, the Federal Ministry of Health and the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA) have now developed a Covid-19 vaccine programme for the country. Under the vaccine programme, 70% of eligible Nigerians are to be vaccinated between 2021 and 2022.

“In addition, our security and law enforcement agencies urgently need to procure additional equipment and other resources in response to the prevalent security challenges across the country.

“The Ministry of Defence has carefully scrutinized these procurement needs, which the military authorities claim to represent the minimum requirements to secure our country and address current external and internal security challenges.

“Furthermore, additional funds are required to meet our commitment to treat additional 50,000 patients under the Nigeria Comprehensive AIDS Program in States (NCAPS), as the amount provisioned in the 2021 Appropriation Bill for this purpose was inexplicably cut by the National Assembly.

“In order to address the urgent problem of oxygen availability in the country and avoid the potential loss of lives, provision was made for the procurement and installation of new oxygen plants nationwide and repairs of oxygen plants in FCT hospitals.

“It is also necessary to provide additional funds for Public Service wage Adjustment to cater for sundry wage-related issues in the health and other sectors, which if not resolved can add to the prevalent sense of instability in the polity.

“The Supplementary Budget request is for a total sum of N895, 842, 465, 917 (Eight Hundred and Ninety-‘Five Billion, Eight Hundred and Forty-Two Million, Four Hundred and Sixty-Five Thousand, Nine Hundred and Seventeen Naira) only.

“We propose to fund N45.63 billion of the N83.56 billion required for the COVlD-19 vaccine programme by drawing on existing World Bank loans (which would be restructured) as well as Other Grants totalling US$113.22 million.

“The balance of N37.93 billion required for COVlD-19 vaccines, salaries and other health-related expenditures totalling N41.69 billion and the N48.20 billion recurrent component of defence/security expenditure will be funded by drawing N135 billion from some Special Reserve/Levy Accounts, which will be captured as revenues to the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN).

“We propose to fund the balance of N722.40 billion for capital expenditure on defence/security and capital supplementation from new borrowings, in the absence of any supplementary revenue sources.

“Understandably, needs currently abound in many other sectors. However, we have limited the supplementary budget proposal to just these critical and emergency areas of need due to our severe fiscal constraints.

“All other needs would be deferred to the 2022 budget, which we plan to present in September of this years.”

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3rd time in a row CBN raises lending rate to rein in inflammation

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The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on Tuesday raised its main lending rate by 150 basis points to 15.50%, its highest level yet and more than forecast, forging ahead with efforts to rein in inflation and ease pressure on the currency.

The lending rate decision comes after annual inflation rose for a seventh straight month in August, to 20.52% from 19.64% in July.

The decision by the CBN’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) was the third time in a row the Apex bank would raise its interest rate.

With the inflation at its highest in 17 years, the CBN Governor Godwin Emefiele at the end of the meeting said the Committee had to continue with an aggressive stance.

According to the CBN governor, using the interest rate hike is the easiest and most preferred option, stressing that the option has been adopted globally.

“If you want to rein in inflation, the option is to raise the interest rate to a level that is equal or possibly higher than the inflation rate, so that inflation rate must lag policy rate,” Emefiele told a news conference

He further stated that if the inflation rate does not lag the interest rate, it becomes a negative interest rate and a disincentive to investors.

The Apex bank Governor is of the view that as long as inflation keeps rising, not raising interest rates will retard growth and leave the people poorer than they could have been.

“Therefore it is imperative that you must raise interest rate in order to rein in inflation,” Emefiele further said.

He, however, admitted that though raising interest rates may retard growth all the same but the reason for raising interest rates is not to help slow down inflation but compensate for an aggressive rise in inflation.

According to him, if the CBN does not raise the rate, consumption and expenditure would be affected because the purchasing power of individuals would be eroded or dissipated.

He added that the quantity of goods people will be able to buy would also shrink and this will invariably increase the level of poverty.

He, therefore, concluded thus: “You don’t have a choice but to raise interest rates.”

The Apex Bank adjusted Asymmetric Corridor at +100 & -200 basis points around the MPR (interest rate), raised the Liquidity Ratio to 30 per cent and also increased the Cash Reserve Ratio (CRR) of banks to a minimum of 32.5 per cent and stressed that commercial banks will be debited from their reserves by Thursday at the most.

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Export Rejects: NEPC, other Inter-Agencies on a fact-finding mission to UK

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In a bid to curb the incidences of export rejects, the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) is leading an Inter-Agency team to the United Kingdom (UK) as part of strategic effort to address the issue which constitute a major constraint to the growth of the non-oil export sector.

The National Food, Drug and Administration Control (NAFDAC), Nigerian Agricultural Quarantine Service (NAQS), Nigerian Customs Service (NCS), National Aviation Handling Company (NAHCO) Skypower Aviation Handling Company Limited (SAHCOL) Federal Produce inspection Service (FPIS) and Federation of Agricultural Commodities Association of Nigeria (FACAN) are among the Agencies participating on the fact-finding mission.

The Executive Director/CEO of NEPC, Dr. Ezra Yakusak who led the team lamented that these cases of rejection had resulted in stricter inspection regime on Nigerian exports in the importing countries and in some cases led to the suspension or ban of some products.

According to him “It also attracts unfavourable international media attention, gives the country a negative image as well as constitutes financial burden to the exporters who have to bear the cost of either reshipping the banned product to Nigeria or destroying the product.”

A statement by Ndubueze Okeke, the Head Cooperate Communication of the NEPC, the objective of the 5-day visit is to provide Nigerian export-regulatory and facilitating agencies the opportunity of observing the processes of agricultural commodities import procedures and interface with Port Health and Food Import Regulatory Agencies at the Border Control Points (BCPs) in the UK.

Other areas to be visited by the team are, Southampton Port (the second busiest port in UK), Spitafield Market – a one-stop aggregation and distribution centre for imported food in the UK as well as the Food Standards Agency (FDA), the parliament among others.

The team also held an interactive session with some Nigerian food importers in UK as part of effort to address the challenges encountered in importing food items from Nigeria to UK. It will be recalled that the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment (FMITI) Otunba Niyi Adebayo recently inaugurated a Technical Committee to address the incidences of export rejects with view to proffer solutions to the problem.

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SON Commends FAO, NCC on review of food standards

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The Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) has commended the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) and the National Codex Committee (NCC) for critical role played in the elaboration of food Standards at the International level especially at the various committees of the Codex Alimentarius Commission where Standards are adopted at the National level.

The Director General, Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) Mallam Farouk Salim disclosed on Thursday while speaking at the awareness and advocacy workshop organized by the National Codex Committee (NCC) in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations (UN).

for high level policy and decision makers and public presentation of the 4th Edition of the revised National Codex Committee Procedural Manual in Abuja said the review was apt in order to keep abreast with the growth of Codex activities.

Represented by his Chief of Staff, Prof. Olobayo Kunle, SON Director General said NCC has also contributed to the review of the Food safety policy and Food safety Bill in Nigeria.

“The National Codex Committee Procedural Manual was first prepared in line with CAC procedural manual published in 2002, with further revisions in 2007 and 2012 to guide the activities and improve functions of all the stakeholders involved for effective operations.

“The review of the NCC Procedural Manual was necessary to keep abreast with the growth of Codex activities over time, incorporate major changes, improve and strengthen Codex structure in Nigeria

“The National Codex Committee (NCC) Nigeria successfully applied for the Codex Trust Fund (CTF) 2 support to build strong, solid and sustainable national capacity to engage in Codex activities through the organization of annual awareness and advocacy workshops with political decision-makers, targeted competent authorities and other stakeholders to disseminate more information on Codex.

“The overall objective of the activity is to sensitize public decision-makers and competent authorities on the need to engage more in the national codex and to regularly provide all the support to increase its actions in favour of food safety at national level” he said.

The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) Representative to Nigeria, Fred Kafeero said since the inception of CAC, FAO has worked with World Health Organisation in the development of international food standards, guidelines, and codes of practices to protect the health of consumers and ensure fair trade practices in the food trade using the principles of risk analysis and scientific advice provided by joint FAO/WHO expert bodies and consultations.

Represented by the FAO Assistant Representative Administration, David Fehintola said its country office in Nigeria with support from the regional office for Africa has continued to partner the Government and the National Codex Committee towards creating effective and efficient policies and strategies to eliminate hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition in the country.

He said FAO believe that ensuring the supply of safe, quality and nutritious foods is as important as ensuring the availability of foods and food standardization as “Poor quality foods do not ensure food security” he said.

The FAO Representative to Nigeria said the agency has been supporting the National Codex Committee (NCC) in Nigeria, which has members from all the MDAs and the Private sector through the execution of the Codex Trust Fund 2 activities with a focus on the implementation of the Codex Strategic Plan 2020-2025.

“We, at FAO believe that it is vital that the NCC commits itself to the core values of the Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC) in its Inclusiveness, Collaboration, Consensus Building and Transparency in all its work.

“FAO in its support through the CTF2 project endeavors to ensure the participation of all Codex members in the country in standard setting process to ensure these core values are met.

“A lot has been achieved this year in terms of capacity building of codex members, advocacy, sensitization and public awareness as well as in the review, finalization and dissemination of the NCC procedural manual” he said.

 

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