***endorses USD$57 per barrel oil benchmark, N410/US$1 Exchange rate
All is now set presentation of the 2022 Appropriations bill to the National Assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari as the Senate on Wednesday approved the 2022-2024 Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper (MTEF/FSP).
This is in tandem with the 9th National Assembly resolve to stick to the January to December budget cycle.
The passage of the 2022-2024 Medium Term Expenditure Framework was sequel to the consideration and exhaustive deliberation of a report by the Joint Committees on Finance; Local and Foreign Debts; Banking, Insurance and other Financial Institutions; Petroleum Resources (Upstream); Downstream Petroleum Sector and Gas.
The Joint Committee report was presented by Senator Solomon Olamilekan Adeola (APC, Lagos West), who chairs the Finance Committee.
The chamber during consideration of the report gave its nod to the Federal Government’s revenue projection of N8.36 trillion; and proposed expenditure of N13.98 trillion.
Accordingly, it also approved the daily crude oil production of 1.88mbpd, 2.23mbpd, and 2.22mbpd for 2022, 2023 and 2024, particularly “in view of average 1.93mbpd over the last 3 years and the fact that a very conservative oil output benchmark has been adopted for the medium term in order to ensure greater budget realism”.
The Senate in its recommendations approved the Benchmark oil price of USD$57 per barrel; adopted the Exchange Rate of N410.15/US$ by the Executive for 2022-2024; and gave its nod to the projected Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth rate of 4.20%; as well as 13% inflation rate.
In addition, the chamber approved fiscal deficit of N5.62 trillion; new borrowings of N4.89 trillion – an amount which includes Foreign and Domestic borrowing – subject to the provision of details of the borrowing plan to the National Assembly.
The Senate also approved other parameters such as Statutory transfers totaling N613.4 billion; Debt Service estimate of N3.12 trillion; Sinking Fund to the tune of N292 billion; Pension, Gratuities and Retirees Benefits of N567 billion.
Out of the Aggregate Federal Government’s Expenditure of N13.98 trillion, the upper chamber approved the sum of N6.12 trillion for Total Recurrent (Non-debt); N3.47 trillion as Personnel Cost for Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs); N3.26 trillion for Capital Expenditure (exclusive transfers); N350 billion Special Intervention (Recurrent); and N10 billion for Special Intervention (Capital).
The upper chamber in its report recommended that the Fiscal deficit estimate of N5.62 trillion also be sustained due to the Federal Government’s conservative approach to target setting and its determination to improve collection efficiency of major revenue generating agencies.
It further called on the Salaries and Wages Commission to review the salary structure of all Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), in other to come up with a new salary structure that will reflect the true financial position of the Agencies.
The chamber also demanded a continuous review of the Fiscal Responsibility Act to ensure that all revenues are remitted to the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) as at when due, in order to curtail frivolous deductions and diversion of funds by the MDAs.
It further maintained that all laws relating to mining businesses be reviewed as a matter of urgency, to ensure upward review of rates applied to royalties, ground rent and licenses renewal of all mining companies operating in Nigeria to ensure transparency in the collection of revenue by relevant agencies, as well as recommend stringent sanctions in proposed new laws to address illegal mining.
The Senate amid its recommendations also called on the Nigeria Customs Service to accelerate the process of installing scanners at all ports across the country to curb the issues of smuggling and underpayment of custom duties on imported goods which has resulted in huge loss of revenue to the government.
It also charged the Federal Government to urgently implement the Petroleum Industry Act recently assented to by the President in order to curtail the problems of smuggling and round-tripping of petroleum products imported into the country.
In addition, the chamber recommended that the proposed budget of Government Owned Enterprises (GOEs) be reviewed upward to show the reflection of their capabilities to generate more revenue as a result of the findings of the Joint Committee.
Consequently, it further recommended that the offices of the Accountant General (AGF), Auditor General of the Federation (AuGF) and Fiscal Responsibility Commission be strengthened in the area of staffing and proper funding of its activities to ensure optimal performance of their duties in order to adequately monitor the remittances of all government revenue.
The chamber posited that the Act establishing some MDAs such as – Nigeria Investment Promotion Council (NIPC), National Lottery Trust Fund Act, Bank of Industry Act, Bank of Agriculture Act, Energy Commission Act and Nigeria Nuclear Regulatory Commission – if reviewed and amended as a matter of urgency, would assist to generate more revenue to the coffers of government.
It also recommended that the Federal Government budget be reviewed and purged of some agencies with demonstrated capacity to stand on their own without any recourse to Federal Government of Nigeria budget.
The chamber gave example of such agencies to include the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) and Nigerian College of Aviation Technology, Zaria.
Senate turns down Buhari’s $700 Loan Request for Water Project
Senate Committee on Local and Foreign Debt has turned down President Muhammadu Buhari’s loan request to the National Assembly for Sustainable Urban and Rural Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene (SURWASH) under the Ministry of Water Resources .
This was coming barely twenty-four hours after the Ministry of Health appeared before the Committee to seek approval for $200 million for procurement of mosquito nets and Malaria medicines.
The lawmakers who took turn to fault the loan for Sustainable Urban and Rural Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene (SURWASH) demanded update of loans collected so far for the Water Projects in the Ministry.
According to the Chairman of the Committee, Senator Clifford Ordia three different loans have been approved for various water projects .
Ordia said , ” $450 million for the Ministry for water project being financed by Africa Development Bank and another $6 million loan under integrated program for Development also financed by Africa Development Bank and Gurara water project.
“You need to tell us what you are doing with $700 million for water projects.”
The Committee therefore agreed to summon the Minister of Water Resources, Adamu Suleiman to appear give explanation on the loans and state of loans collected so far
Speaking against the loan, Senator Obinna Ogba said that he will go against grant approval for the loan because some loans have been collected for water projects with no result.
“This loan, I don’t support this one again, enough is enough .”
Also kicking against the loan, Senator Ibrahim Oloriegbe asked to know the criteria for selecting benefiting states adding that details provided by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry is not enough to justify the loan .
Oloriegbe asked, ” What is the criteria for selecting benefiting states, the details you are providing is not enough, what are the projects you want to do with $640 million and how many water projects are you going to do.
“You are giving each state $3 million to develop personnel capacity do we need loan to do this function, you mean all states can’t do that on their own?.”
Senator Sani Musa while kicking against the loan advice the Committee to look at all the requests and pick the one that is necessary.
The Niger Senator said, “We should look at this loan and take the ones that are necessary and we should abandoned the one that are not necessary. We need to look at it very critically.”
Senator Brima Enagi also protested against the request for $700 million loan demanding for state of Gurara project from the Ministry.
Earlier, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Water Resources, Mrs Esther Didi Walson-Jack who was unable to give explanation to the previous loans approved for water projects told the Committee that Sustainable Urban and Rural Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene (SURWASH) will last for five years.
She added that $640 million will be used for the Project while the $60 million will be used for capacity building.
The Permanent Secretary said that the proposal was negotiated with World Bank on April, 2022 and was approved at Federal Executive Council (FEC) on August 11, 2021.
States that will benefited from the $700 loan from World Bank are Delta, Ekiti, Gombe, Imo, Kaduna, Katsina, and Plateau with counterpart funding of $175 million.
The programme will deliver improved water sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services to 2,000 schools and health care facilities and assist 500 Communities to achieve open defecation free status.
Senator Isa-Echocho flags off constituency projects, township road construction
By Janet Samuel
The Senator representing Kogi East senatorial district, Jibrin Isa-Echocho has commenced the construction of road projects in some major towns in his senatorial district as part of his constituency projects.
The township roads include, Ajagwumu, Odu Ofomu, Odu Ogboyaga and Alokoli among others in Dekina LGA of the state.
While declaring the ceremony of the commencement open, senator Isa-Echocho said the area has been neglected for so long, which has been affecting free flow of vehicles.
The lawmaker who expressed delight that the road will be fixed during his time, said he is optimistic that the project will be completed in no distance time.
He used the occasion to appreciate president Muhammadu Buhari and Governor Yahaya Bello led administration and the people of Kogi East senatorial district for the opportunity to serve
The Senator urged the communities to cooperate with the Contractor in ensuring timely delivery of the job as other communities who are yet to have modern roads will be attended to in no distance time.
In his remark, The Atamodu of Odu, His Royal Highness, Yahaya Salifu, while thanking the senator for delivering on his campaign promises prayed God for continuous wisdom for him to attract more democratic dividend to his Constituency.
He assured the contractors of the support from the communities during their stay.
He said his people being very hospitable will support them.
He added that he had already conferred with village chiefs(Gago’s) of the affected communities and beyond to let them know of the wonderful development adding that he has instructed them to give the contractors all the necessary support to make their job easy and tgeir stay a memorable one.
“As you can see, am here with my council Chiefs, community and youth leaders to show our commitment and enthusiasm towards these laudable projects”. He said.
Political leaders, traditional rulers and the youths from the area were there to graced the occasion.
In another development, the Senator has commenced the construction of 20 bed capacity hospital at Akpoli Imane of olamaboro local government Area of the statte.
Senate committee to meet CJN NBA, others over Custodial Centers’ decongestion
Apparently piqued by over crowding of custodial centres and the helpless situation of awaiting trial inmates, the Senate Committee on Interior has indicated that it will meet with the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad, the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) and other stakeholders.
The chairman of the committee, Senator Kashim Shettima (APC, Borno) gave the indication on Wednesday when officials of the Nigerian Correctional Service appeared before the panel for 2022 budget defence.
Senator Shettima said there are 66,000 inmates in custodial centres across the country, out of which 47,000 are awaiting trials.
He said the situation has resulted in congestion of the centres nationwide.
The lawmaker added that decongesting the custodial centres has become imperative to making them habitable and truly reform the inmates.
He said, “We have 66,000 inmates in the custodial cetres across the country, and 47,559 of them are unconvicted (awaiting trials).
“We can really solve this issue with required synergy with all the stakeholders, the judiciary, the legislature and the executive.
“We can easily decongest the prison and make it habitable and a place that will truly reform Nigerians, not to transform them into hardened criminals.”
The committee also said it would undertake an upward review of inmates’ feeding cost from N450 to N1000 per day.
The Nigerian Correctional Service, in its 2022 estimates, proposed the increment of the feeding cost from N450 to N750, citing high cost of food items.
But a member of the panel, Senator Chukwuka Utazi (PDP, Enugu) said the amount was grossly inadequate to feed the inmates.
“You are dealing with adults. How can they survive with that amount? When you send convicts to prisons, instead of reforming them, they become more hardened because of they way they are treated, particularly food,” Utazi said.
The chairman assured that the committee would make adequate provisions for the feeding of the inmates.
On the fortification of correctional centres against jailbreak, Shettima said: “This is something we emphasized. There are certain security issues that cannot be discussed in the open. But is it an issue we are squarely addressing.”
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