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Experts Demand Full Disclosure Of Alleged Missing N30trn

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Economic and financial
experts have called on the Federal Government to fully account for the N30 trillion alleged by  a former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Prof Chukwuma Soludo to have been stolen under the supervision of the Minister of Finance, Dr Nogozi Okonjo-Iweala.
The experts said the exchanges between Soludo and Okonju-Iweala had brought to the fore the lack of transparency in the management of the economy.
Soludo had in his response to Okonjo-Iweala rebuttal of his earlier criticism of the management of the economy under the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan alleged that over N30 trillion had been stolen or lost or unaccounted for or simply mismanaged under the supervision of the finance minister.
He alleged that about $60 billion was stolen in four years as a result of oil theft, adding that this was at a time of the cessation of crisis in the Niger Delta and the implementation of the amnesty programme by the federal government.
Soludo has in the statement asked the minister to tell Nigerians how much the amnesty programme cost and also the annual cost of protecting the pipelines and ensuring the security of oil wells.
The former CBN governor said the country’s exchange reserves should have been at least $90 billion by now and not the current $30 billion, adding that gross mismanagement had denied the country some $60 billion or another N12.6 trillion.
A Professor of Political Economy and management expert, Pat Utomi in a telephone interview with The Tide source said it was important to provide full accounting to the Nigerian people because that was the essence of stewardship.
“You need to give an account and the accounting needs to be as complete as possible.
“The bottom line is that we have not been very prudent in the use of public resources and there is no dispute about that” he said.
Utomi, who described the level of stealing in the country as “mindless” stressed the need to put in place systems to prevent such leakages.
According to him, the executive arm of government has done a lot of disservice to Nigerians even as he said the legislative arm has been worse.
“The amount of money we spend on our legislature is scandalous. It is they who should make laws that make it impossible for the kind of profligacy  that has taken place in the executive branch to continue” he said.
A Professor of Economics, Olabisi Onabanjo, University, Ago-Iwoye Ogun State, Sheriffdean Tella said “If we have not lost money through corruption, the foreign reserves should be higher than what it is currently and would have gone along way to cushion the effect of falling oil prices.
He called on economic manager to be transparent, while describing their polices as “voodoo” economics.
The Director, Centre for Petroleum, Energy Economics and Law, University of Ibadan, Prof Adeola Adenikinju said the exchange between former CBN governor and the finance minister showed that there were a lot of questions around the way the federal government had been managing the country’s resources.

General Manager, Rivers State Newspaper Corporation, Mr Celestine Ogolo (middle), addressing staff of the corporation, during the 2015 Dedication Service of the corporation in Port Harcourt, yesterday. With him are Pastor Nimah Simon Neebari (right) and Director, Publications, Mrs Juliet Njiowhor. Photo: Egberi A. Sampson

General Manager, Rivers State Newspaper Corporation, Mr Celestine Ogolo (middle), addressing staff of the corporation, during the 2015 Dedication Service of the corporation in Port Harcourt, yesterday. With him are Pastor Nimah Simon Neebari (right) and Director, Publications, Mrs Juliet Njiowhor. Photo: Egberi A. Sampson

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Nigeria’s Revenue-To-GDP Ratio Lowest, Private Sector Choking – World Bank

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Nigeria’s revenue-to-Gross Domestic Product ratio, which fell to between five and six per cent last year, is the lowest in the world, the World Bank said on Monday.
The Country Director for Nigeria, World Bank, Dr Shubham Chaudhuri, said this during a panel session at a virtual public sector seminar with the theme ‘Nigeria in challenging times: imperatives for a cohesive national development agenda’ organised by the Lagos Business School.
Chaudhuri, who stressed the need for private investment for the country to realise its potential, said the private sector in the country ‘is struggling to breathe’.
“In Nigeria, I think the basic economic agenda is about diversification away from oil because oil has really been like resource curse for Nigeria on multiple dimensions,” he said.
He noted the aspiration of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty by the end of the decade.
He said, “Nigeria is a country with tremendous potential. If you look at the synopsis for this panel, it suggests that Nigeria is at a critical juncture – almost at the moment of crisis.
“Despite all of that, Nigeria is still the largest economy in Africa. So, just think about the potential that Nigeria has because of its natural resources, but more than that, because of its dynamism and all of its population. Nigerians are more entrepreneurial by nature.
“No country has become prosperous and realised its potential, eliminated poverty without doing two simple things: investing in its people, and unleashing the power of the private sector in creating jobs by investing and growing business. And then, of course, the basic function of the state is to provide security and law and order.”
According to Chaudhuri, to invest in people entails basic services, basic education, primary healthcare and nutrition, among others.
He said, “On this, Nigeria at the moment ranks sixth from the bottom in terms of the human capital index that we produce every year.
“So, obviously, there is a huge agenda in terms of investing in human capital. Nigeria spends more on PMS (premium motor spirit) subsidy than it does on primary healthcare in a year, and we know who the PMS subsidy is benefitting.”
He indicated that despite the country’s huge potential to attract private capital, the non-oil part of the economy ‘is not growing that robustly and certainly not generating revenues that the government needs’.
Chaudhuri said, “So, we see as priorities investments in human capital. But for that, one needs revenues. And there again, Nigeria unfortunately has the distinction of having about the lowest revenue-to-GDP ratio in the world.
 ”The standard rule of thumb is that for government to provide the basic services and law and order, it needs between 15 to 20 per cent of GDP as being revenue, and this will be both at the federal and state levels combined.
“In Nigeria, it was eight per cent in 2019. In 2020, in the middle of the Covid-19 crisis and with the fall in oil prices, that went down to about between five and six per cent.
“So, domestic revenue mobilisation is huge. And then the third is enabling the space for private investment. You have to fix the power problem. Power is like the oxygen of an economy. In Nigeria, the private sector is struggling to breathe.”

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CBN Stops Sale Of Forex To BDCs

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The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) as announced immediate discontinuation of sale of Foreign Exchange (forex) to Bureau de Change (BDC) operators in the country.
Mr Godwin Emefiele, the CBN Governor , made this announcement yesterday, while presenting a communique from the apex bank’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) meeting in Abuja.
Emefiele said that the decision was informed by the unwholesome business practices of the BDCs, which he said had continued to put enormous pressure on the Naira.
He  said ,  henceforth,  the apex bank would sell forex to deserving Nigerians through the commercial banks.
“ The BDCs were regulated to sell a maximum of 5000  dollars per day,  but CBN observed that they have since been flouting that regulation and selling millions of dollars per day.
“The CBN also observed that the BDCs aid illicit financial flows and other financial  crimes.  The bank has thus, decided to discontinue the sale of forex to the BDCs with immediate effect.
“We shall, henceforth,  channel all forex allocation through the commercial banks,” he said.
He urged the commercial banks to ensure that every deserving customer got their forex demand,  adding that any bank found circumventing  the new system would be sanctioned.
“Once a customer presents all required documentation to purchase forex, the commercial banks should ensure they get the forex.
“Any customer that is denied should contact the CBN on 0700385526 or through the email- cbd@cbn.gov.ng “ he said.
The Tide source reports that stakeholders have been calling on the CBN and its MPC to take urgent steps to halt unending depreciation of the Naira.
Recently,  a past President of the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN),  Mr Okechukwu Unegbu,  urged the MPC to focus on policy decisions that would curb rising inflation and stabilise the Naira.

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RSG To Privatise Songhai, Fish Farms

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There are strong indications that the Rivers State Government has concluded plans to privatise the moribund Songhai Farm in Tai and Fish Farm in Buguma.
The State Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Amb. Desmond Akawor, gave this indication while appearing in a phone-in radio programme organised by Silverbird Communications in Port Harcourt at the weekend.
He explained that the previous administration in the state failed to put in place a sustainability programme for these farms, hence they went moribund.
In order to reverse the situation, he said that the present administration was now contemplating a rehabilitation scheme to be driven by a privatisation policy to enable those investments come on stream.
He said the scheme had reached an advanced stage and is to executed by the State Ministry of Agriculture.
On the issue of job creation, Akawor said the administration of Chief Nyesom Wike was using the various construction projects around the state to empower the youths.
He explained that the government had floated a special scholarship scheme in Law and Medical Sciences to create opportunities for young people in various professions.
He called on the opposition to desist from de-marketing the state through propaganda as it’s capable of scaring investors away from the state.
Akawor insisted that the Wike led administration has provided an enabling environment for businesses to thrive through infrastructure and improved security.

By: Kevin Nengia

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