Ms Patience Oniha, the Director-General, Debt Management Office (DMO), on Thursday reiterated the Federal Government’s commitment to bridging the nation’s infrastructure deficit to attract foreign investors into the country.
Oniha said this while delivering the keynote address at the 4th National Budget Roundtable and Panel Discussion at Covenant University, Ota, Ogun.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the budget roundtable was organised by the Centre for Economic Policy and Development Research (CEPDeR) of the institution.
The event had the theme: “National Budgeting for Economic Recovery and Sustainable Development in Nigeria.”
Oniha noted that most of the critical infrastructure built by the Federal Government had been funded from internal and external borrowings.
She said government borrowing was not necessarily bad if used to finance important developmental projects and programmes.
The director-general listed some of the infrastructure built by the Federal Government as the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, 2nd Niger Bridge, train station in Oddo, Lagos and Enugu airports changed from local to international.
“The Nigerian government has successfully utilised borrowing as a tool for economic recovery, to bring the economy out of cycles of recessions, first in 2017 and second in 2021.
“Government borrowing can also support other sectors of the economy that attract foreign investors and have multiplier effects on the country,” she said.
The director-general noted further that the nation’s current debt profile to GDP ratio was 22 per cent, adding that the maximum debt ratio to GDP of any country should be 40 per cent.
“The nation’s debt profile is fast growing as the country has a huge infrastructure deficit.
“However, the government is working tirelessly to diversify revenue sources to reduce pressure on crude oil, which is prone to volatility,” she said.
Oniha added that spending on infrastructure by the Federal Government was meant to create job opportunities for the youth.
In his welcome address, the Vice-Chancellor of the University, Prof Abiodun Adebayo, said the country’s natural and human resources endowment had placed it in a position to play a prominent role in the global economy.
Adebayo stressed the need for the socio-economic potential of the nation to be harnessed, so as to achieve meaningful economic growth.
“The nation’s economic growth is bedeviled by supply constraints such as a shortage of essential skills and appropriate technology to drive growth, energy, foreign exchange and unfriendly business regulations,” the vice-chancellor said.
The Country Director, BudgIT, Nigeria, Mr Gabriel Okeowo, stressed the need for the Federal Government to put necessary measures in place to meet revenue projection in the nation’s annual budget.
Okeowo noted that the country’s revenue short fall had hindered the implementation of some of the critical infrastructure.
“The country needs to fix its exchange rate, because it is adversely impacting on the nation’s debt profile,” he said.
Double trouble for Ahmed Idris: arrested by EFCC, suspended by Minister
The Accountant General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris has been directed to proceed on indefinite suspension over alleged laundering of N80 billion.
Idris, was suspended on Wednesday by Zainab Ahmed, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning.
In a letter dated May 18, 2022, the minister said the suspension “without pay” was to allow for “proper and unhindered investigation” in line with public service rules.
Ahmed Idris, was on Monday arrested by the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC). over alleged diversion and laundering of N80 billion.
Wilson Uwajaren, Head of Media and Public Information of the EFCC, stated that verified intelligence reports showed that Idris raked off the funds through bogus consultancies and other illegal activities using proxies, family members and close associates.
Uwujaren added that the funds were laundered through real estate investments in Kano and in Abuja.
According to EFCC, Idris was arrested after he failed to honour invitations by the Commission to respond to issues connected to the fraudulent acts.
NEPC, 13 trade promotion organisations shortlisted for WTOP award
The Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) has been nominated along side 13 other Trade Promotion Organisations (TPOs) for the 2022 World Trade Organisation (WTPO) Awards for Excellence in Trade Promotion.
A statement released on Monday by Ndubueze Okeke Head, Corporate Communications of the NEPC, it said Nigeria is poised to clinch the “Best Use of a Partnership”.
He said the NEPC has been shortlisted along with Apex Brazil, Jamaica Promotion Corporation, Qatar Development Bank-Tesder and Saudi Export Development Authority.
The WTPO Award which is scheduled to hold on 17th May, 2022 in Accra, Ghana is open to all national TPOs.
The statement also said, “NEPC acknowledged WTPO as it recognizes excellence in providing trade support to Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises MSMEs to become competitive in international trade.
“In 2018, Nigeria, through NEPC won the award for the ‘Best initiative to Ensure that Trade is Inclusive and Sustainable”.
The NEPC won that category with its Zero to Export initiative which builds capacity of would-be exporters and SMEs on export procedures and documentation as well as provide practical training on product sourcing and market access.
The NEPC said that the initiative had trained 560 SMEs.
The International Trade Centre Executive Director, Pamela Coke-Hamilton said, “At a time when small firms have been hit by supply chain disruptions, climate change crises and other socio-economic challenges, it important to show inspiring models that connect small firms to Trade opportunities that are Inclusive and sustainable”.
The Executive Director/Chief Executive Officer of NEPC, Dr. Ezra Yakusak will represent Nigeria at the Award Ceremony.
The statement further said, Austria, Canada, Malaysia, Tanzania is competing in the “Best use of Information Technology”, while Sri Lanka, Republic of Korea, Netherlands and Zimbabwe will compete for the “Best initiative to ensure that trade is inclusive and sustainable category”.
Skils acquisition: ITF, Sightsavers train 32 physically challenged on 8 set of skills
In fulfilling its mandate of promoting skills acquisition in the country, the Industrial Training Fund (ITF), in partnership with Sightsavers, an international non-governmental organization that promotes disability rights have trained and graduated 32 Nigerians on different skills.
The skills include, computer hardware, event management, catering, phone repair, photography and poultry management.
Sir Joseph Ari, Director General of the ITF, at the graduation ceremony in Abuja on Thursday, said that the agency has made the training of physically challenged persons a priority.
He said “Among the the 34 that started the training only 2 couldn’t continue, therefore making the graduands 32.
“There is a physically challenged Act today in Nigeria, therefore as an agency thatt caters for the growth and development of youths and women through skills acquisition, we have decided to focus on our attention on the physically challenged so they can acquire different skills and contribute their quota to national development because we believe there is ability in disability,”
Yahaya Manu, Area Manager, ITF Kaduna, who reppresented Ari, also charged the graduands to make good use of their start up parks provides to them by the agency.
“Now that you have acquired these special skills, I urge you to deploy it into judicious use so you can contribute your quota to the growth and development of the country, because the ultimate aim of this training is to reduce youth unemployment,, and the agency is always committed to support the physically challenged in any capacity” he further stated.
On his part, the country director of Sightsavers Nigeria, Dr. Sunday Isiyaku, said the rationale behind their partnership with the ITF is to transform the labour market system to be disability inclusive.
“We are building the disability confidence of employers, job readiness of young persons with disabilities and supporting government agencies to ensure their programs promote disability inclusive economic empowerment.
“While we have trained hundreds of persons with disabilities on soft and digital” skills, preparing and connecting them to formal job, we decided to partner with ITF to empower the graduates today in vocational training and prepare them for entrepreneurship,” he said.
He said the courses were carefully selected for the disability persons due to its relevance to the labour market while admonishing the graduands to apply the knowledge they have gathered during the training to start their business.