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Nigeria’s Debt To Hit N38.68tr By December 2021

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The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, has raised the alarm that Nigeria’s external and domestic debts may hit N38.68 trillion by December 2021.

She spoke on Tuesday at the budget defence session organised by the Senate Committee on Local and Foreign Debt at the National Assembly, Abuja.
The Minister noted: “The total public debt stock comprising the External and Domestic Debts of the Federal and State Governments and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) stood at N31.01trillion (USD85.90billon) as at June 30, 2020.
“It (debt) is projected, based on existing approvals, to rise to N32.51trillion by December 31, 2020 and N38.68 trillion by December 31, 2021.”
She noted the 2021 Appropriation Bill has a provision of N3,124.38 trillion for Debt Service and Domestic Debt Service has a provision of N2,183.49billion while External Debt Service has a provision of N940.89billion.
According to her, the 2021 Appropriation Bill provided for new borrowing of N4,281.17billion, which was broken down equally between Domestic Borrowing of N2,140.58 billion and External Borrowing of N2,140.58 billion.
On the plethora of abandoned road projects across the country, she explained that the current Sukuk fund of N162billion is for 45 roads cutting across the six geopolitical zones.
She added: “I’m one person that feels that we should just do this and take one major road in one geopolitical zone and finish (it).
“We were not able to do that because of the processes in which appropriation is made both at the executive as well as the legislative arms of government.
“But truly, if we were able to just take one or two projects at a time and complete it before going to the next one, it will be better.
“So what the contractor does is the bit that has been cut out for him to do in that particular area.
“Once the fund is released and it is finished, we stop again. That’s the consequence of these numerous projects that we put in the budget. It is not related to Sukuk-funded projects alone, it cuts across all the projects.
“You will see a road that costs, maybe, N5billion, and you will see a provision for N100million, N200million or 300million.
“Of course, the project will never finish. After two years, the contractor comes back and asks for variation, and the amount keeps growing.
“I wish that we get to a point when we sit down as a government and agree that let us select a few projects, finish them in 2020, and then in 2021, we select the next.
“So that on a geopolitical basis, those selections are done as a collective process.”

She also blamed abandoned road projects on the intricacies involved in the preparation of annual budgets at the executive and legislative levels.

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NERC: Over 1m Electricity Consumers Have Received Prepaid Meters

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Labour Warns FG Against Electricity Tariff Hike 

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The Nigeria Labour Congress faulted plans to allegedly sell the Transmission Company of Nigeria, saying it will lead to an increase in electricity tariff.

The NLC President, Mr Ayuba Wabba, said this in a statement titled, “This Kite will not Fly’’ on Friday.

Wabba explained that instead of allegedly planning to sell the transmission company, FG should focus on improving the electricity supply.

He described the attempt to hand over the TCN to a few ‘privileged’ Nigerians as self-serving, obtuse, odious, morally reprehensible and criminal.

The NLC president said, “The TCN is a strategic economic asset of immense national security implications. This is because the TCN traverses all nooks and crannies of Nigeria.

“It will be wrong that our country will be deliberately exposed to an avoidable vulnerability and thus, provide an opportunity to others to restrain the Nigerian state.

“We apprehend that the planned sale of the TCN is only an attempt to further confound the people and concurrently raise electricity tariff. Unfortunately, this time around, Nigerians have had enough.

“The government cannot promise improved power supply to consumers by the planned sale of TCN. The under-the-table scheming as transparent privatisation cannot pass muster.

“It is an unsavoury narrative for our country, that even the privatised assets, which have survived the rapacity of the new owners, have been turned into unrealisable collaterals for unpayable loans.

“This constitutes a bone stuck in the throat of financial institutions and sundry creditors.”

Wabba explained that the plan would “fundamentally weaken the security of the nation and above all, deprive the people of their age-old investments in the commanding heights of the Nigerian economy”.

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FG To Consider Death Penalty For Rail Vandals – Amaechi

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The federal government says it may consider a death penalty for vandals of critical railway equipment in the country.

Rotimi Ameachi, minister of transportation, stated this on Monday, during a town hall meeting on “protecting public infrastructure” in Abuja.

On May 8, the Nigeria Railway Corporation (NRC) announced the arrest of two persons suspected of vandalising rail tracks along the Kaduna-Zaria rail line.

Few days later, suspected vandals were arrested for destroying and carting away tracks and rail rods laid on a section of the Warri-Itakpe rail line.

On May 16, the Kaduna state police command said it arrested five suspected rail-trail vandals at Dalle Village of Jema’a LGA and recovered two trucks loaded with locomotive railway sleepers.

After the Warri-Itakpe incident, the senate asked the federal government and security agencies to ensure that those caught vandalising rail lines across Nigeria are given maximum punishment without a fine.

”I am not quantifying the material cost; what I am quantifying is the lives that will be lost,” Ameachi said at the town hall meeting.

“Imagine that a driver of a rail track is driving and suddenly bumps into a track that has been severed, what happens? It will derail.

“If it derails, can you quantify how many passengers that would have died in the course of one man thinking he is making money?

”Some people have recommended that since these people are killing people, if an accident happens people will die, so we should go back to the National Assembly and pass a law that does not only criminalise the action but consequences should be death.”

The minister also said track vandalism is carried out in collaboration with foreign partners.

”In Jos, they arrested a Chinese company that bought those tracks from them, went to court and found them guilty and fined them N200, 000. So there must be consequences as N200,000 is not enough,” he added.

“Lagos and the Western District recorded one, North Western 31, Northern District 10, North Eastern 43, Eastern 36 and North Central 50 incidents of vandalism. Abuja-Kaduna has 13, Warri-Itakpe 2 and Lagos -Ibadan nill.”

Amaechi, who frowned at traders selling items on railway tracks, especially in Port Harcourt and Lagos, advised individuals engaging in the practice to desist or face the penalties.

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