Former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar has faulted President Muhammadu Buhari’s proposed N13.08 trillion 2021 budget, saying it contravenes the provisions of the Fiscal Responsibility Act, FRA.
Reacting in a statement made available to the newsmen Friday evening, Atiku identified loopholes, which in his estimation, are capable of stiffening growth and expansion of the nation’s economy next year.
The statement read: “The budget deficit in the proposal is ₦5.21 trillion. This amount is just over 3.5 per cent of Nigeria’s 2019 Gross Domestic Product, GDP.
“This is contrary to the Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2007, which provides in Part II, Section 12, subsection 1 that, “aggregate expenditure and the aggregate amount appropriated by the National Assembly for each financial year shall not be more than the estimated aggregate revenue plus a deficit, not exceeding three per cent of the estimated Gross Domestic Product or any sustainable percentage as may be determined by the national Assembly for each financial year.”
According to the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Presidential candidate in the 2019 election, “Nigeria had a GDP of approximately $447 billion in 2019. Three per cent of this amount is $13. 3 billion, which at the current official exchange rate of ₦379 to $1, gives you a figure of ₦5.07 trillion. So clearly, the budget deficit of ₦5.21 trillion, as announced by President Muhammadu, is above 3 per cent of our GDP and is therefore in contravention of the Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2007.”
The statement continued: “Even more disturbing is the fact that our GDP has fallen sharply from its 2019 figures, and has been projected by the World Bank and other multilateral institutions at somewhere between $400 billion and $350 billion. Meaning that in actual sense, the ₦5.21 trillion budget deficits is actually far above the 3% threshold stipulated by the FRA.
“That this escaped the notice of the Buhari administration shows a glaring lack of rigour in the formulation of the Budget; a very disturbing development.
“Furthermore, this deficit shows the precarious state of our national finances, which have since been overburdened by excessive borrowing on the part of the Buhari administration.
“It has not escaped my attention that the Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2007 makes provision for the National Assembly to raise the threshold of the budget deficit from 3 per cent to a higher figure. However, if this is done, they will be serving this administration’s interests, not Nigeria’s, because the Act says that such a threshold must be sustainable. Is it sustainable when our budget makes almost as much provision for debt servicing, as it does for capital expenditure?
“As such, I call on the President, to recall this budget, and recalibrate it to reflect the provisions of the Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2007, and the current economic realities of the nation. To do otherwise will not only be unpatriotic, it will also be catastrophic for our nation’s economy.”
NAICOM Licences Seven New Insurance Firms
By Sola Alabadan
The National Insurance Commission (NAICOM) issued operational licences to seven insurance companies in Abuja today, in line with Market Conduct & Business Practice Guidelines.
The new insurance firms are Heirs Insurance Limited (General), Heirs Life Assurance Limited, Stanbic IBTC Insurance Limited (life), Enterprise Life Assurance Company, FBS Reinsurance Limited, Salam Takaful and Cornerstone Takaful Insurance Company Limited.
The Commissioner for Insurance, Sunday Thomas, who gave the operational licences to the five firms at NAICOM Head Office, said the Commission has issued operational licences to the firms to operate insurance business.
According to him: “The National Insurance Commission (NAICOM) received applications from the under listed companies for registration as Insurance and reinsurance Companies to transact insurance and reinsurance business in Nigeria.
“In fulfillment of the statutory provisions of extant laws for the registration/licensing of insurance Companies, the general public is hereby informed that the Commission has commenced the process of registering the companies.
Consequently:” Heir Insurance Limited (General) has picked, Olaniyi Stephen Onifade as its Managing Director, Stanbic IBTC Insurance Limited, picked, Akinjide Orimolade as Managing Director; Heirs Life Assurance Limited picked Abah Okoriko and Enterprise Life Assurance Company Nigeria Limited picked Fumilayo Abimbola Omo.
“FBS Reinsurance Limited is led by the former Commissioner of Insurance, Fola Daniel. FBS is bringing together professionals with proven experience from the brokerage and underwriting units of the industry including Bala Zakariyau, the former managing director of Niger Insurance who currently plays in a support unit of the Nigerian aviation industry, Ahmed Olaniyi Salawu of the Standard Insurance Consultants, and Wole Oshin Bankole of the Custodian Investment Plc that has just taken a plunge into the property sector by taking a large chunk of the United Property Development Company, a subsidiary of the UACN Plc.
“These crops of professionals represent those with firm beliefs that there is a big insurance potential in Nigeria and indeed, the African continent. Others are Ebele Ofunneamaka Okeke, from Nnewi North, Anambra who rose to the position of the Head of Nigerian Civil Service before her retirement, and also, Yusuf Hamisu Abubakar, a lawyer, and an accomplished administrator and businessman with vast experience at the senior executive level in power and communication sectors.
“The reinsurance firm is required to pay the new N20 billion capitalisation stipulated by the commission under the reform exercise for it to start a business in the industry.”
Power: FG Ready To Support DisCos’ Initiatives – Minister
Mr Saleh Mamman, Minister of Power, says the Federal Government is ready to support any initiative by electricity Distribution Companies (DisCos) aimed at addressing the challenges facing the power sector.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Mamman spoke at the inauguration of Eko Electric Distribution Company’s (EKEDC) Supervisory Control And Data Acquisition (SCADA) System on Thursday in Lagos.
Mamman said : “I felicitate with and commend the EKEDC’s Board of Directors and management for this milestone.
“SCADA is one of the most advanced technologies in the power distribution business globally and I am optimistic that this event will translate to improved service delivery within EKEDC’s network.
“The inauguration of this SCADA system will help EKEDC monitor and respond quicker to faults and reduce the outage durations which would improve quality of service delivery to customers.”
According to him, the SCADA project will help the DisCo meet its set objectives under the recently executed Service Level Agreements with the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN).
He said the project would provide access to real time data that enables distribution system operators to make informed decisions that improve reliability and availability, consistent with the targets of the Service Based Tariff (SBT) regime.
Mamman said the FG was working assiduously to address the challenges of the power sector through initiatives such as the National Mass Metering Programme, the Siemens AG Power Project and upgrade of power infrastructure across the country.
Earlier, Mr Adeoye Fadeyibi, Managing Director, EKEDC, thanked the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for its support to the Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry which paved way for the SCADA project.
Fadeyibi said : “SCADA is a centralised computer system which represents the evolution of our network operations from the present physical monitoring, remote coverage and relay of network information.
“By contrast, SCADA innovatively gathers real time information, identifies loopholes or breaches in the network and transfers this data back to a central site where the necessary analysis and control is carried out.
“The result of this analysis is then displayed in a logical and organised fashion. The project involves monitoring, control, fault tracking, data analysis and operations optimisation of our high-tension network.
“As part of Eko DisCo’s effort to improve operational efficiency, revenue generation and reduction of our Aggregate Technical Commercial and Collection Losses, we have implemented the SCADA project to automate our electric power distribution network across our franchise coverage area.”
He said the achievement by the DisCo showed that the FG’s Power Sector privatisation programme was a laudable decision, as it had completely transformed the sector and the Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry.
Emirates Offers Travellers $500,000 Multi-risk Travel Cover
Emirates airlines has announced that it will provide travellers a multi- risk travel cover worth $ 500 , 000 on top of its current COVID-19 cover.
The airline stated that the new multi- risk travel insurance and COVID-19 cover will automatically apply to all Emirates tickets purchased from December 1 , and extend to Emirates codeshare flights operated by partner airlines , as long as the ticket number starts with 176.
Emirates Chairman and Chief Executive , Ahmed bin Al Maktoum was quoted as saying , “ Emirates was the first airline to offer complimentary global COVID -19 cover for travellers back in July , and the response from our customers has been tremendously encouraging.
“ We have not rested on our laurels and instead continued to look at how we can offer our customers an even better proposition. We are very pleased to be able to now provide this new multi- risk travel insurance and COVID – 19 cover , which is another industry first, to all our customers.”
He added, “ We aim to give our customers even more confidence in making their travel plans this winter and moving into 2021 by the launch of this feature .”
Highlights of the coverage include out -of – country emergency medical expenses and evacuation up to $ 500 ,000 , valid for COVID -19 ( contracted during the trip ) and other medical emergencies while travelling abroad.
It also involves trip cancellation up to $ 7 ,500 for non- refundable costs if the traveller or a relative ( as defined in the policy ) is unable to travel because they are diagnosed with COVID- 19 before the scheduled trip departure date , or for other named reasons – similar to other comprehensive travel cover products.