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Economy : Senate ‘ll be rigid on increased revenues to reduce budget deficit, borrowings – Lawan

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SENATE-PRESIDENT
Senate President Ahmad Lawan
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Senate President  Ahmad Lawan, on Monday, said that revenue generating agencies of government are capable of generating and remitting N3 trillion naira annually to the coffers of the federal government if efforts are made to cut down on wasteful spendings.

Lawan made this known in an address delivered to declare open an interactive session “on the need to improve internally generated revenue of the Federal Government of Nigeria and Revenue Projections of the Agencies as Contained In the Appropriation Act 2020.”

The meeting was between the Senate Leadership and Members of the Committee on Finance and Revenue Generating Agencies of Government.

The Senate President, in his speech, said the purpose of the meeting was to explore means of increasing government revenues.

According to him, one of such ways was for the National Assembly to be rigid on increased revenue to cut down on the country’s budget deficit and borrowings, as well as prevent wasteful expenditures by agencies of government.

He assured that the upper chamber would provide the needed support through legislation to ensure that revenue agencies perform to meet and surpass their targets.

He said, “In 2022, the National Assembly assumed and rightly so, that our government owned enterprises can generate up to N3 trillion if we are of the mindset that we can achieve that and, of course, ensure that we oversight to stall any possibility of unwarranted expenditures by agencies of government.

“But that does not mean in any way that it is going to be some kind of investigation on what you do, but an encouragement of what you need to do.

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“In this meeting and subsequent ones, there should be no holds barred on discussions.

“Where an agency feels it is encumbered in any way from achieving its target, it should say so, so that we are able to prescribe the right solutions for it to perform.

“As a National Assembly, let me say that the Senate particularly will be stiff on generating more and more revenue.

“We will be rigid, we will continue to insist, because we believe that this is one sure and guaranteed way of reducing our deficit and borrowing.

Lawan explained that the drive by the upper chamber for more revenues to the coffers of government, would enhance the economy and facilitate infrastructural development.

“This Committee is modified, because the leaders of the Senate believe that we can do far better and we have seen signs when last year some of the agencies performed beyond expectation.

“So, it is an opportunity for us to save and enhance our economy and, of course, make Nigeria achieve more infrastructural development which is the goal of this administration and every Nigerian.

“We believe that when you (revenue agencies) generate the money, we (National Assembly) appropriate it.

“Prudence is of essence here, when we spend our money. And when we borrow, like the National Assembly has always tried to do, we borrow to treat specific projects and programmes of government”, the Senate President said.

Chairman of the Committee on Finance, Senator Solomon Olamilekan Adeola, in his welcome address, lamented that there was insufficient funds for the implementation of policies and projects captured in the 2022 budget of the federal government.

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He explained that the funds were derived partly from the revenue generated by the government owned enterprises and other independent revenues sources of the federal government.

According to the lawmaker, “there is an urgent need for all hands to be on deck on revenue generation for government, as well as prevent misuse and leakages of such revenue for frivolous purposes not sanctioned by the laws of the National Assembly.”

He advised that for government to reduce and eliminate deficit budgeting associated with the nation’s budget over the years, effort must be made to minimise borrowing to fund projects.

Revenue agencies present at the interactive session include: National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure, the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), National Steel Raw Materials Exploration Agency, Nigerian Postal Service, Lagos University Teaching Hospital, and Nigeria Customs Service.

Others were the Nigeria Immigration Service, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, Nigeria Prisons Service, Maritime Academy of Nigeria, National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), and Abuja Geographic Information Systems (AGIS).

Also present were the Federal Capital Territory Administration,  Energy Commission of Nigerians, Administrative Staff College of Nigeria, Nigerian Export Import Bank (NEXIM), Nigerian Ports Authority and the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology, Zaria.

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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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