Nigeria Seeks Fresh N11 Trillion Loan, To Exceed Borrowing Limit In 2023
The Minister of Finance and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, has said the federal government will borrow over N11 trillion and sell national assets to finance the budget deficit in 2023.
She also said the government’s budget deficit is expected to exceed N12.42 trillion if it should keep petroleum subsidy for the entire 2023 fiscal cycle.
Mrs Ahmed disclosed this on Monday while appearing before the House of Representatives Committee on Finance to defend the 2023-2025 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and Fiscal Strategy Paper (FSP).
Explaining two scenarios of the budget deficit to the committee, the minister said the first option involves retaining the petroleum subsidy for the entire 2023 fiscal year.
According to her, in the first scenario, the deficit is projected to be N12.41 trillion in 2023, up from N7.35 trillion budgeted in 2022, representing 196 per cent of total revenue or 5.50 per cent of the estimated GDP. In this option, she added, the government would spend N6.72 trillion on subsidy.
Mrs Ahmed said the second option involves keeping subsidy till June 2023 and that this scenario will take the deficit to N11.30 trillion, which is 5.01 per cent of the estimated GDP. In this option, PMS subsidy is projected to gulp N3.3 trillion.
She noted that the first option is not likely to be achievable based on the current trend while the second option would require tighter enforcement of the performance management framework for government-owned enterprises that would significantly increase operating surplus in 2023.
The projected deficit under the second option, the minister said, is expected to be financed through new borrowings from local and international sources. This will include a total of N9.32 trillion in new borrowings, comprising N7.4 trillion from domestic sources and N1.8 trillion from foreign sources. The government is expected to generate N206.1 billion from privatisation proceeds and N1.7 trillion in multilateral project-tied loans.
PREMIUM TIMES had reported that the federal government would be spending N18.6 billion daily on PMS
The two proposals have budget deficits far above the stipulated threshold in the Fiscal Responsibility Act.
President of the Senate and Chairman of the National Assembly, Ahmad Ibrahim Lawan; Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt (Hon.) Femi Gbajabiamila, and President Muhammadu Buhari, during the 2020 Budget presentation by the President at the National Assembly on Tuesday, 8th October, 2019.
FILE: President of the Senate and Chairman of the National Assembly, Ahmad Ibrahim Lawan; Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt (Hon.) Femi Gbajabiamila, and President Muhammadu Buhari, during the 2020 Budget presentation by the President at the National Assembly on Tuesday, 8th October, 2019.
According to the existing Act, the deficit must not exceed 3 per cent of the GDP. However, the law makes provision for the President to cross the threshold with the approval of the National Assembly.
Section 12 (1and2) of the Fiscal Responsibility Act reads, “The estimate of:
1). 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.
2). Aggregate expenditure for a financial year may exceed the ceiling imposed by the provisions of subsection (1) of this section if in the opinion of the President there is a clear and present threat to national security or sovereignty of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
The government is projecting N19.76 trillion as total expenditure under option two, with projected oil daily production fixed at 1.69 million barrels per day at $70 per barrel. The exchange rate has been fixed at N435.57 to a dollar and inflation at 17.16 per cent.
Mrs Ahmed stated that crude oil production challenges and PMS subsidy deduction by NNPC Limited constitute a significant threat to the achievement of our targets, as seen in the 2022 performance up to April.
She noted that the draft MTEF/FSP was prepared against the backdrop of continued global challenges occasioned by lingering COVID-19 pandemic effects, as well as higher food and fuel prices due to the Russia/Ukraine war.
Creed III Actor Jonathan Majors Arrested For Assault
Creed III actor Jonathan Majors has been arrested on strangulation, assault and harassment charges.
Fidel Info reports that The New York Police Department said Mr Majors, who stars alongside Michael B Jordan in the recently released film, was involved in a domestic dispute with a 30-year-old woman on Saturday.
“The victim informed police she was assaulted,” a police spokesperson said.
Mr Majors was briefly taken into custody.
A lawyer for the 33-year-old actor denied any wrongdoing.
The NYPD said they were called around 11:14 local time after receiving a 911 call from an apartment in Manhattan’s Chelsea district.
They added the woman suffered minor head and neck injuries and was taken to hospital.
He was released from custody by Saturday night, an NYPD spokesperson told the Associated Press news agency.
In a statement, Mr Majors’ lawyer said the actor was “completely innocent” and alleged the star was the victim of the altercation involving a woman known to him.
Priya Chaudhry said: “We are quickly gathering and presenting evidence to the District Attorney with the expectation that all charges will be dropped imminently.”
“This evidence includes video footage from the vehicle where this episode took place, witness testimony from the driver and others who both saw and heard the episode, and most importantly, two written statements from the woman recanting these allegations.”
“All the evidence proves that Mr Majors is entirely innocent and did not assault her whatsoever.”
Mr Majors’ arrest comes just weeks after the actor presented an award at the Oscars.
His career took off after breaking through in 2019’s The Last Black Man in San Francisco, before going onto to star in Netflix western The Harder They Fall and Marvel Comics film Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania.
Mr Majors plays Jordan’s adversary in Creed III, a boxing film released earlier this month.
US Vice President Kamala Harris Kicks Off Africa Tour In Ghana
Vice President Kamala Harris was greeted by schoolchildren, dancers and drummers as she arrived Sunday in Ghana for the start of a weeklong visit to Africa intended to deepen U.S. relationships amid global competition over the continent’s future.
Fidel Info reports that Harris said “We are looking forward to this trip as a further statement of the long and enduring very important relationship and friendship between the people of the United States and those who live on this continent.”
The children cheered and waved Ghanaian and American flags as she stepped off her plane after an overnight flight. She smiled broadly and placed a hand on her heart as she passed by the dancers.
“What an honor it is to be here in Ghana and on the continent of Africa,” Harris said. “I’m very excited about the future of Africa.” She said she wanted to promote economic growth and food security and welcomed the chance to “witness firsthand the extraordinary innovation and creativity that is occurring on this continent.”
Ghana is one of the continent’s most stable democracies, but Harris is arriving at a time of severe challenges for the West African nation. Its economy, among the fastest growing in the world before the COVID-19 pandemic, faces a debt crisis and soaring inflation that is driving up the cost of food and other necessities.
A country of 34 million people that’s slightly smaller than Oregon, Ghana is also wary of threats from instability in the region. Burkina Faso and Mali have each endured two coups in recent years, and local offshoots of al-Qaida and the Islamic State group operate in the area known as the Sahel, which is north of Ghana.
Thousands of people have been killed and millions more have been displaced.
The fighting has created an opening for the Russian mercenary outfit known as Wagner, which maintains a presence in Africa despite participating in the invasion of Ukraine as well. Mali welcomed Wagner after it pushed out French troops that were based there, and there are fears that Burkina Faso will do the same.
The economic and security challenges will likely be discussed on Monday when Harris meets with Ghana’s president, Nana Akufo-Addo. They also are expected to hold a joint news conference.
The two leaders have met twice before, both times in Washington.
During their first meeting, in September 2021, Akufo-Addo said “our big challenge — and it is a challenge of all those who want to develop democratic institutions on our continent — is to ensure and reassure our people that democratic institutions can be a vehicle for the resolution of their big problem — that is economic development as the means to eradicate poverty on the continent.”
Harris is the highest-profile member of President Joe Biden’s administration to visit Africa this year. After Ghana, she plans to visit Tanzania and Zambia. She returns to Washington on April 2.
The expanded outreach is intended to counter China’s influence, which has become entrenched in recent years through infrastructure initiatives, lending money and expanding telecommunications networks. Ghana, for example, reached a $2 billion deal with a Chinese company to develop roads and other projects in return for access to a key mineral for producing aluminum.
Most of Harris’ events in Ghana will focus on young people. Africa’s population has a median age of 19.
On Monday, she plans to visit a skate park and co-working space that has a recording studio for local artists. Her husband, Doug Emhoff, who is accompanying her on the trip, will hold a town hall meeting with actors from a local television show and attend a girls basketball clinic.
In the evening, they will attend a state banquet with the Ghanaian president and first lady.
On Tuesday, Harris will give a speech and visit Cape Coast Castle, where enslaved Africans were once loaded on ships bound for the Americas.
Before leaving for Tanzania on Wednesday, Harris will meet with women entrepreneurs and Emhoff will tour a chocolate company that was founded by two sisters. The name of the company, ’57 Chocolate, is a reference to when Ghana became independent.
Cameron Hudson, an Africa expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said Ghana has been “a bright spot in the region” but “it’s facing some very stiff headwinds.”
He noted that the country’s south, where the capital of Accra is located, is primarily Christian, while the northern area is mostly Muslim, and there are fears that militants could expand their operations there.
“These terrorist groups are able to prey on existing fault lines within these societies,” he said.
Hudson said Ghanaian authorities have intercepted weapons shipments and human smugglers. Sometimes there are bursts of violence, and the number of incidents spiked last year.
Buhari Mourns Late Retd. Lt. Gen. Oladipo Diya
President Muhammadu Buhari has expressed his sorrow on the loss of Lt. Gen. Oladipo Diya, who led the military from 1993 to 1997 and served as vice chairman of the Interim Governing Council in 1994 under the Abacha government.
Fidel Info reports that He praised the late statesman “for his love, belief, and dedication to the country,” adding that “his services to the nation will never be forgotten.”
“Diya was known for his brilliance, exceptional organisational skills and discipline, and he displayed these virtues in the important roles he held in office as a military officer,” a statement signed by Buhari’s spokesman, Femi Adesina, read on Sunday afternoon.
The statement is titled ‘President Buhari pays tribute to General Diya’.
Diya, 79, passed away in the early hours of Sunday, as announced by his son, Oyesinmilola Diya.
The announcement read, “On behalf of the entire Diya family home and abroad; we announce the passing on to glory of our dear husband, father, grandfather, brother, Lt-General Donaldson Oladipo Oyeyinka Diya (retd).
“Our dear daddy passed on to glory in the early hours of March 26, 2023. Please keep us in your prayers as we mourn his demise in this period. Further announcements will be made public in due course.
Born April 3, 1944 at Odogbolu in Ogun State, Diya joined the Nigerian Defence Academy, Kaduna and fought during the Nigerian Civil War.
He was appointed Chief of General Staff in 1993 and Vice Chairman of the Provisional Ruling Council in 1994.
He served as the Chief of the General Staff under General Sani Abacha from 1994 to 1997. He was second in command and the de facto vice president of Nigeria.
Adesina said that the President honors General Diya for his daring and valiant military career in Nigeria as well as his devoted service to the nation as General Officer Commanding, 82 Division, Commandant, National War College (1991–1993), Chief of Defence Staff, and Military Governor of Ogun State from January 1984 to August 1985.
“The President recalls that Diya was known for his brilliance, exceptional organizational skills and discipline, and he displayed these virtues in the important roles he held in office as a military officer.”
“The President salutes the former Chief of General Staff for his love, belief and loyalty to the country he cherished so much and fought gallantly on the frontlines to defend her unity,” he added.
Buhari sent heartfelt condolences to Diya’s family, friends and colleagues, on behalf of the Federal Government.
He also prays that General Diya’s soul finds rest with his Creator, and may his contributions to the nation never be forgotten.
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