Connect with us


/">

BIG STORY

No Provision Yet for COVID-19 Vaccines In 2021 Budget, Says Finance Minister

Avatar

Published

on

Minister of Finance, Budget, and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, has said that there is no provision in the 2021 Budget to fund the acquisition of COVID-19 vaccines.

The minister, during a virtual presentation of the 2021 Budget in Abuja, however, explained that the federal government is working on the type and quantity of COVID-19 vaccines to procure, while her ministry and the Ministry of Health will meet to finalize an amount to be allocated to vaccine procurement within the next two weeks.

Also, the 2020 Finance Act recently signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari has exempted workers within the minimum wage bracket of N30, 000 from personal income tax.

The Act, which amended no fewer than 14 different fiscal laws, now extends the implementation of the Public Procurement Act to the National Assembly and the judiciary.

Nigeria is expected to receive about 100,000 doses of the Pfizer and BioNTech approved COVID-19 vaccines by the end of January.

In addition, the country, under phase two of its COVID-19 vaccination scheme, will get 42 million extra doses of vaccines through the COVAX facility.

The federal government is targeting to vaccinate about 40 percent of Nigeria’s population in 2021.

Ahmed expressed the commitment of the National Assembly to provide a supplementary budget for additional spending on COVID-19 vaccines if needed.

She said: “We agreed that the effort needed to be done so that we have clarity as to whether the provisions in the budget will be adequate or we have to make additional provisions by way of a special supplementary budget to make more provisions for COVID-19 vaccinations.”

Responding to a question on whether there was a provision for fuel subsidy in the 2021 budget, Ahmed stated that no such provision was made for it.
She also foreclosed subsidy on electricity due to the recent suspension of the hike in the electricity tariff.

The minister, however, added that the Finance Act, among others, exempts workers within the N30,000 minimum wage bracket and below from personal income tax deductions.

According to her, another key provision in the Act is the exemption of all micro and small companies earning N25 million or less as annual turnover from paying the Tertiary Education Tax.

In addition, the Act excluded commercial airline tickets, commercial aircraft spare parts and components; interests in land and buildings; animal feed and hire, rental or lease of agriculture equipment for agricultural purposes from a 7.5 percent Value Added Tax (VAT) charge.

She said: “The key guiding principle of the Finance Act 2020 is to ensure that there is a balance between broader macroeconomic strategies to attract investment, grow the economy, create jobs as well as provide immediate fiscal strategies for accelerated domestic revenue mobilization, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the domestic/global economic downturn.

“Specifically, the Finance Act 2020 adopts counter-cyclical fiscal policies in response to the COVID-19 pandemic by providing fiscal relief for taxpayers; reforms fiscal incentive policies to prioritize job creation and accelerate economic recovery and growth; and fosters closer coordination of monetary, trade and fiscal policies.”

Ahmed added that the 2020 Finance Act also provided for the establishment of a N500 billion crisis Intervention Fund as well as other sources approved by the National Assembly to fund the federal government’s expenditures.

Proceeds from unclaimed dividends of listed companies and unutilized amounts in dormant bank accounts outstanding for six years or more will also be channeled to the fund.

The unclaimed dividends and bank balances are subject to a perpetual trust to be managed by the Debt Management Office (DMO), with the governing council to be chaired by the finance minister and co-chaired by a nominee from the organized private sector who is of impeccable integrity and reputation.

Ahmed, however, added that genuine beneficiaries will be able to claim their funds back from the federal government at any time.

Speaking on the performance of the revised 2020 Budget, the minister said the federal government expended a total of N1.8 trillion on the execution of capital projects.

According to her, N1.8 trillion represents about 89 percent of the total provision for capital projects.

She explained that out of the amount spent, N118.37 billion was released for COVID-19-related capital expenditure.

Ahmed said while the federal government projected N9.97 trillion expenditure for 2020, it spent about N10.08 trillion, representing 101 percent performance.

Debt service, she also stated, gulped N3.27 trillion while personnel cost, including salaries and pensions, accounted for N3.19 trillion.

On the key assumptions of the 2021 Budget, the minister said the parameters were arrived at after a careful analysis of external domestic trends.

She noted that the crude oil price benchmark was retained at $40 per barrel although the World Bank forecasts $44 per barrel average crude oil price in 2021.

She added that crude oil production is projected to increase from 1.80 million barrels per day (mbpd) in 2020 to 1.86mbpd in 2021, as economies recover from a recession, and moderated by the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) quota agreements.

Ahmed stated that the aggregate revenue available to fund the N13.5 trillion 2021 budget is projected at N7.99 trillion (36.9 percent higher than the 2020 projection of N5.84 trillion).

To promote fiscal transparency, accountability, and comprehensiveness, she said the budgets of 60 Government-owned Enterprises (GOEs) are integrated in the federal government’s 2021 Budget proposal.

“In aggregate, 30% of projected revenues is to come from oil-related sources while 70% is to be earned from non-oil sources. Overall, the size of the budget has been constrained by our relatively low revenues,” she added.

According to her, the 2021 aggregate federal government expenditure (inclusive of GOEs and project-tied loans) is projected to be N13.59 trillion, which is 25.7 percent higher than the revised 2020 Budget.

Also, the recurrent (non-debt) spending is estimated to amount to N5.99 trillion, representing 44.1 percent of total expenditure, and 13.3 percent higher than the 2020 revised estimates (mainly reflecting increases in salaries and pensions).

The minister also explained that the deficit of N5.6 trillion will be funded via domestic and external borrowings of N2.34 trillion apiece.

She said N2.5 billion is also expected as privatization proceeds.

The budget also has an aggregate capital expenditure of N4.37 trillion or 32.2 percent of total expenditure, which is 62.9 percent higher than the 2020 Revised Budget, inclusive of the capital component of statutory transfers and GOEs.

At N3.32 trillion, the provision for debt service for 2021 is 24.5 percent of total expenditure and 12.6 percent higher than the 2020 revised budget.

The minister also put the provision to retire maturing bonds to local contractors/suppliers at N200 billion.

 

BIG STORY

Only God Can Give Victory Over Insecurity —– Femi Adesina

Avatar

Published

on

The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, says Nigerians who fail to commit the security situation into the hands of God could be guilty of indirectly prolonging the war against insurgency.

Adesina said this in an article on Thursday titled, ‘The Decent for the Indecent, the Just for the Unjust’.

The President’s aide noted that a short viral video showed a soldier and four others singing that victory is from God alone.

Adesina, however, said many Nigerians had failed to understand that only God gives victory.

He wrote, “But victory is from God alone. That is what we must realize as Nigerians. Do we ever pray for our troops in the frontlines? Do we remember those youths, our pride, and strength, faced by death daily, as we sleep in the comfort of our homes, ensconced in the tender bosom of our wives?

“As we pray; God give me money. Give me a car. Give me a promotion. Kill my enemies. Do it now. Do we ever remember our soldiers? Ere you left your room this morning, did you think to pray…did you pray for our soldiers? Victory comes from God alone. If you don’t pray, you may be guilty of prolonging the war in North-East, North-west, North-central, and all over Nigeria.”

The President’s spokesman said rather than understand the fact that only God can give victory, some Nigerians had become wailers.

“Yes, victory is from God alone. But do some people know? Does it ever enter into their consciousness? They only wail: ‘this insurgency war has lasted too long. The banditry has demystified our military. They are cowards. The top guns don’t even want the battle to end.

“They are making money in billions.’ Okay. Making money in billions and wasting our soldiers, our youths, our future, and hope, in their hundreds and thousands because of blood money. That is all some people see; permanent cynics and sceptics, who know nothing of altruism, and whose God is their belly. They think only of pecuniary gain, nothing else,” Adesina said.

He said as the nation marks this year’s Armed Forces Remembrance Day, Nigerians should seize the opportunity to pray for the military and encourage them and not run them down.

 

Continue Reading

BIG STORY

JUST IN: Lagos Okays School Reopening January 18

Avatar

Published

on

The Lagos State Government has affirmed its earlier pronouncement that all public and private schools in Lagos State below tertiary level should resume on Monday, January 18, 2021, for the second term 2020/2021 academic session.

This affirmation was made today by the Honourable Commissioner for Education, Mrs Folasade Adefisayo while noting that this is in line with the Federal Government’s resolution after reaching a consensus with relevant stakeholders.

Details later…

Continue Reading

BIG STORY

Drama As Pigeons Released By Buhari Refuse To Fly At Armed Forces Remembrance [VIDEO]

Avatar

Published

on

The doves, otherwise known as white pigeons, released by the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), at the Armed Forces Remembrance Day ceremony, refused to fly despite multiple attempts by the President thereby sparking a debate on social media on Friday.

The President had opened the birdcage at the National Arcade, picked up one of the doves, and thrown it into the air but the bird landed atop the cage and refused to fly.

Buhari, who was eager to let the white pigeons fly, opened the roof of the cage in a bid to send them all out but the birds remained adamant and decided to sit on top of the cage’s roof.

The President, who appeared tired of trying, soon left the birds and returned to his seat. Moments after the President had left, however, some of the birds flew.

The ritual of releasing doves is to commemorate the life of a departed loved one and is common at significant events like funerals or memorials. It also signifies peace.

Studies show that domesticated doves that are used to living in cages are not always keen on flying.

The Vatican stopped the ritual in 2014 when Pope Francis released two birds that would not fly out of the window of the papal apartment and required several attempts to get the birds to fly out over a crowd of spectators.

A similar incident occurred just the year prior at an event where Pope Benedict XVI released doves during a Holocaust remembrance event. The doves were attacked by a gull, with one dove being singled out and injured, according to Wikipedia.

In 2014, the doves refused to fly when former President Goodluck Jonathan freed them. The Spiritual Director of the Adoration Ministry Enugu, Rev Fr. Ejike Mbaka, described the incident at the time as a sign that God had abandoned Jonathan.

The refusal of the birds to fly on Friday, however, sparked thousands of comments on social media.

A former presidential aspirant of the All Progressives Congress, Adamu Garba, said the birds should be eaten if they cannot do what they were trained to do.

“The pigeons are tired and overtime became lazy, they don’t want to fly the spirit of The Nigerian Flag. We should roast them at Suya joint and deploy Crowwe for action,” he said.

Social media personality, Morris Monye, said the Department of State Services would have arrested the pigeons for embarrassing the President if they could.

“I guarantee you… If it was possible, the DSS would arrest the pigeons for such an affront on the President. But really, is there peace, harmony, and security in the land?” he asked.

A former Minister of Education, Oby Ezekwesili, who is a known critique of the President, also tweeted, “Hmmm. Even the pigeons in Nigeria.”

 

Continue Reading

Most Popular