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2016: FG Earmarks N6.08trn; To Recruit 500,000 Teachers …N438.4bn For Works, Power, Housing …Buhari’s Budget Is A Joke -Pat Utomi

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Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State (middle), acknowledging cheers from a jubilant crowd that trooped out to welcome him at Bishop Okoye Street in Mile 3 Diobu, Port Harcourt, during an inspection of road projects in the area on Monday

Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State (middle), acknowledging cheers from a jubilant crowd that trooped out to welcome him at Bishop Okoye Street in Mile 3 Diobu, Port Harcourt, during an inspection of road projects in the area on Monday

President Muhammadu Buhari has promised to recruit five hundred thousand teachers within the 2016 fiscal year as part of measures to tackle unemployment and to reduce illiteracy in the country.
Mr President in view of the lingering fuel scarcity yesterday tendered unreserved apology to Nigerians and promised that the problem would fizzle out soonest having directed the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation ( NNPC) to find alternative means of funding the subsidy regime.
Buhari made these disclosures during  his presentation of N6.08 trillion 2016 budget proposal yesterday  to a joint session of the National Assembly. He stated that the Federal Government will in collaboration with States and Local Governments to recruit  the 500, 000 teachers from the teeming population of unemployed undergraduates and holders of National Certificates of Education (NCE).
The recruitment of the teachers is captured in the 2016 budget proposal , under N300 billion voted for special intervention programme in the budget.
The N6.08 trillion budget as proposed by the President is predicated on $38 oil price bench mark, 2.2 million barrel of oil production per day and N197 to a dollar as exchange rate.
N1.8 trillion was voted for capital expenditure,  N2.65 trillion for recurrent expenditure and N3.86 trillion targeted revenue, The proposal runs on a deficit of N2.22 trillion..
Out of the N3.86 trillion targeted revenue, N1.45 trillion is proposed to be raised from non oil revenue, N1.51 trillion from Independent revenues while the balance of about N900 billion will be from the oil revenue.
The deficit of N2.22 trillion in the budget according to Mr. President would be financed by both domestic and external borrowings of N984 billion  and N900 billion respectively.
From the N1.8trillion capital expenditure Power , Works and Housing top every other vote with N433.4 billion allocation followed by Transport – N202.0 billion; Defence – N134.6 billion; and Interior – N53.1 billion.
According to Buhari, the huge  investments in infrastructure and security are meant to support reforms in the Agriculture, Solid Minerals and “other core job creating sectors of our economy”.
The Education sector on the other hand, has the highest allocation under the N2.35 trillion recurrent expenditure with N369.6billion, followed by Defence with N294.5 billion,  N221.7 billion for Health and N145.3 billion for the Ministry of Interior.
Speaking further on the proposed revitalization of the Education sector ? President Buhari said
“ As an emergency measure, to address the chronic shortage of teachers in public schools across the country, we also will partner with State and Local Governments to recruit, train and deploy 500,000 unemployed graduates and NCE holders. These graduate teachers will be deployed to primary schools, thereby, enhancing the provision of basic education especially in our rural areas”.
Under the special intervention find, the president also disclosed that the federal government intends to partner with State and Local Governments to provide financial training and loans to market women, traders and artisans, through their cooperative societies as Important platforms of creating jobs and providing opportunities for entrepreneurs.
His words , ‘“this  will ensure our teachers, armed forces personnel, doctors, nurses, police men, fire fighters, prison service officers and many more critical service providers are paid competitively and on time”
On the current fuel scarcity, he noted that . It is as a result of market speculators and resistance to change by some stakeholders.
” I have also directed the NNPC to explore alternate funding models that will enable us to honour our obligations in Joint Ventures (JVs) and deep offshore fields. We are confident that these measures can be achieved and will lower the burden that the traditional cash calls have imposed on our budget and cash flows as well as contribute towards shoring up our national reserves” He said.
President Buhari said the Budget represents a major step in delivering a new opportunity for Nigeria.
Earlier, the Senate President, Bukola Saraki as Chairman of the National Assembly, assured President Buhari of full cooperation and support of the federal parliamentarians for his change agenda and successful implementation of the 2016 budget.
His words : “Let me assure you Mr. President, that with the 8th National Assembly you have got a partner. An ally to help you steer the ship of State in the right direction for growth, transparency, accountability, equal opportunities, inclusion and fairness.
“We will stand by you and work with you to see Nigeria become the pride of all Nigerians home and abroad and earn the respect it deserves in the global arena”.
President Buhari came for the presentation with the members of the federal executive council and other appointees of the President, the Executive Governor of Nasarawa State,, and National Executive members of the All Progressives Congress.
Meanwhile, Nigerian Economist, Professor Pat Utomi yesterday stated that the 2016 national budget presented to the National Assembly was ‘a joke’.
President Muhammadu Buhari had presented the 2016 national budget which is estimated at over six trillion to the joint session of the National Assembly, yesterday.
“Putting it in a very awkward position, I consider the budget process a joke,” he said.
Utomi spoke on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily yesterday morning, few hours before the presentation of the budget by President Muhammadu Buhari before a joint session of the National Assembly.
He said the issue was not about making luxurious budget but argued that the major deterrent was always implementation.
“We somehow do not have the discipline of the budget process, we go through budget as public relations exercises because they are supposed to be done and decision makers go ahead to do whatever they want to do,” he said.
Proffering solutions to the problem of budget implementation, Professor Utomi said that “the goal is to achieve an execution premium, but if those who are responsible for it (the budget) really had no plan whatsoever to follow the budget, then, you are wasting your time.
“When those who are responsible for it, do not see long term goals in which the budget is just a piece in an unfolding set of activities that would reach a certain goal, there is no point of it.
“I think what has happened to us is that we got to a point of disconnect between the leadership elite, the political class, the bureaucratic elite and development aspirations of the Nigeria people,” he said.
Professor Utomi further said that the major reason why the budget isn’t working in Nigeria is ‘leadership’.
“There is low energy in leadership. we are not leading the country in the right direction.
“What the country is dealing with is a huge financing gap; we used to earn so much and now, we are earning this much, if we pretend that nothing has changed, then we would go into an economic spiral”, he added.
Similarly the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has described the N6.8 trillion 2016 federal budget presented by President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday as a big fraud.
The opposition party tagged the budget as executive conspiracy ironed towards mortgaging the future of Nigeria.
In a statement yesterday, by its National Publicity Secretary, Chief Olisa Metuh, the PDP frowned at President Buhari’s decision to borrow N2 trillion.
It described it as a height of recklessness and deceit from a government that thrives on propaganda.
The statement says, “It is obvious that this budget is an extension of the campaign promises of the APC government, presented as a manifesto filled with bogus promises which implementation will be inconclusive, thereby allowing the APC to once again deny their promises.
“There has never been any known economy in the world where government deliberately mortgage the future of its nation by borrowing excessively to finance partisan interests while hiding under bogus welfare programmes. This is moreso important as the APC in reeling out their bogus campaign promises never informed Nigerians that they would mortgage their future through excessive borrowing.
“We have it on good authority that this is the first in the series of APC borrowings which would leave the future generation of Nigerians under the burden of huge debts after four years.
“By all standards, the 2016 budget, the first major economic policy outing of this government, is completely unrealistic and duplicitously embellished with impractical predications, a development that confirms fears by economy watchers and investors that this administration is obviously ill-equipped for governance.”
“We are indeed shocked that President Buhari and his minister of information have come up with two different reasons for the current fuel crisis in the country. While we appreciate the President’s apology, we think it is high time he called this minister to order as his excessive propaganda and blame game are ridiculing this administration and the image of the nation.
“Furthermore, it is instructive to note the official endorsement of Mr. President to the devaluation of the naira as against his campaign promise of firming up the value of our currency even to the much vaunted one naira to one dollar. Does it mean that Mr. President lied his way to power, or that he did not understand the complexities of governance when he was making his false promises to Nigerians?” the PDP asked.
Continuing, the PDP said: “In future, there is need to regulate campaign promises so that we will not end up with a government that promises to climb Mount Everest with bare hands and end up mortgaging our future with orchestrated borrowings.
“Finally, we want to request Mr. President to once again to involve experienced and well-tested hands in the management of the economy and budgeting processes. This economy is not for Mr. President, neither is it for the APC. The progress of the economy is for all Nigerians and as such, due care should taken to save ourselves from unrealistic and deceptive programmes.”

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RSG, Not FIRS, Entitled To Collect VAT, Related Taxes In Rivers -Court

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The Federal High Court sitting in Port Harcourt has declared that it is the Rivers State Government, not the Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS), should collect Valued Added Tax (VAT) and Personal Income Tax (PIT) in the state.
The court, presided over by Justice Stephen Dalyop Pam, also issued an order of perpetual injunction restraining the Federal Inland Revenue Service and the Attorney General of the Federation, both first and second defendants in the suit, from collecting, demanding, threatening and intimidating residents of Rivers State to pay to FIRS, PIT and VAT.
Pam made the assertion while delivering judgement in Suit No. FHC/PH/CS/149/2020, filed by the Attorney General for Rivers State (plaintiff), against the Federal Inland Revenue Service (first defendant) and the Attorney General of the Federation (second defendant).
The court, which granted all the 11 reliefs sought by the Rivers State Government, stated that there was no constitutional basis for the FIRS to demand for and collect VAT, Withholding Tax (WHT), Education Tax and Technology Levy in Rivers State or any other state of the federation, being that the constitutional powers and competence of the Federal Government was limited to taxation of incomes, profits and capital gains, which do not include VAT or any other species of sales, or levy other than those specifically mentioned in Items 58 and 59 of the Exclusive Legislative List of the Constitution.
The judge dismissed the preliminary objections filed by the defendants that the court lacks jurisdiction to hear the suit and that the case should be transferred to Court of Appeal for interpretation.
Pam, who also dismissed objection raised by the defendants that the National Assembly ought to have been made a party in the suit, declared that the issues of taxes raised by the state government were issues of law that the court was constitutionally empowered to entertain.
He declared that after a diligent review of the issues raised by bothplaintiff and the defendants, the plaintiff had proven beyond doubt that it was entitled to all the 11 reliefs sought in the suit.
The court agreed with the Rivers State Government that it was the state and not FIRS that was constitutionally entitled to impose taxes enforceable or collectable in its territory of the nature of consumption or sales tax, VAT, education and other taxes or levies, other than the taxes and duties specifically reserved for the Federal Government by Items 58 and 59 of Part 1 of the Second Schedule of the 1999 Constitution as amended.
Also, the court declared that the defendants were not constitutionally entitled to charge or impose levies, charges or rates (under any guise or by whatever name called) on the residents of Rivers State, and indeed, any state of the federation.
Among the reliefs sought by the Rivers State Government, was a declaration that the constitutional power of the Federal Government to impose taxes and duties was only limited to the items listed in Items 58 and 59 of Part 1 of the Second Schedule of the 1999 Constitution as amended.
The Rivers State Government had also urged the court to declare that, by virtue of the provisions of Items 7 and 8 of the Part II (Concurrent Legislative List) of the Second Schedule of the Constitution, the power of the Federal Government to delegate the collection of taxes can only be exercised by the state government or other authority of the state, and no other person.
The state government had further asked the court to declare that all statutory provisions made or purportedly made in the exercise of the legislative powers of the Federal Government, which contains provisions which are inconsistent with or in excess of the powers to impose tax and duties, as prescribed by Items 58 and 59 of the Part I of the Second Schedule of the 1999 Constitution, or inconsistent with the power to delegate the duty of collection of taxes, as contained in Items 7 and 8 of Part II of the Second Schedule of the Constitution, were unconstitutional, null and void.
Lead counsel for the Rivers State Government, Donald Chika Denwigwe (SAN), who spoke to journalists after the court session, explained that the case was all about the interpretation of the Constitution as regards the authority of the government at the state and federal levels to collect certain revenues, particularly, VAT.
“So, during the determination of the matter, some issues of law were thrown up like, whether or not the case should be referred to the Court of Appeal for the determination of some issues.
“The court noted that the application is like asking the Federal High Court to transfer the entire case to the Court of Appeal. In which case, if the court so decides, there will be nothing left to refer back to the Federal High Court as required by the Constitution.”
According to Denwigwe, the court refused that prayer, and decided that the case was in its proper place before the Federal High Court, and was, therefore, competent to determine it.
Speaking on the implications of the judgement, Denwigwe said it was now, unlawful for such taxes as VAT in Rivers State to be collected by any agency of the Federal Government.
“In a summary, it is a determination that it is wrong for the Federal Government to be collecting taxes which are constitutionally reserved for the state governments to collect. The implication of the judgement is that the government (federal and state) as an authority under the constitution,should be advised by the judgement that it is the duty of all government authorities to comply with and obey the law so long as the court has interpreted it and said what that law is.
“So, in other words, the issue of Value Added Tax (VAT) in the territory of Rivers State and Personal Income Tax should be reserved for the government of Rivers State.”
Counsel to FIRS, O.C. Eyibo said he will study the judgment and advise his client.

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90% Of Money Laundered Via Real Estate, EFCC Reveals

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) says about 90 per cent of money laundering is done through the real estate sector.
The commission’s Chairman, Abdulrasheed Bawa, stated this while featuring on Channels TV’s Sunrise Daily, yesterday,
According to him, although the sector is monitored via the special control unit, more needed to be done.
According to Bawa, “One of the problems we have now is the real estate. 90 to 100 per cent of the resources are being laundered through the real estate.”
He said there are so many issues involved, but that they were working with the National Assembly to stop what he called “the gate keepers” as there would be reduction in looting if there is no one to launder the money.
Bawa, the EFCC boss, gave an example of a minister who expressed interest in a $37.5million property a bank manager put up for sale.
He said, “The bank sent a vehicle to her house and in the first instance $20million was evacuated from her house.
“They paid a developer and a lawyer set up a special purpose vehicle, where the title documents were transferred into.
“And he (the lawyer) is posing as the owner of the property. You see the problem. This is just one of many; it is happening daily.”
The EFCC chairman also revealed that he receives death threats often.
Asked to respond to President Muhammadu Buhari’s frequent “Corruption is fighting back” expression, Bawa said he was in New York, USA, last week, when someone called to threaten him.
“Last week, I was in New York when a senior citizen received a phone call from somebody that is not even under investigation.
“The young man said, ‘I am going to kill him (Bawa), I am going to kill him’.
“I get death threats. So, it is real. Corruption can fight back,” he said.
On corruption in the civil service, he said there were a lot of gaps, especially in contracts processing, naming “emergency contracts” as one.
Bawa said, “A particular agency is notorious for that. They have turned all their contracts to emergency contracts.”
However, he said, EFCC has strategies in place to check corruptions, one of which is “corruption risk assessments of MDAs”.
According to him, “I have written to the minister and would soon commence the process of corruption risk assessments of all the parastatals and agencies under the Ministry of Petroleum Resources to look at their vulnerability to fraud and advise them accordingly.”
Asked if the scope of corruption in the country overwhelms him, Bawa, the EFCC boss said, “Yes, and no.”

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We’ve Spent N9bn To Upgrade RSUTH, Wike Confirms

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The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, says his administration has spent N9billion in upgrading structures and installation of new equipment at the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital (RSUTH).
He said the fact that 40 per cent of the 2021 budget of the state is dedicated to provision of quality healthcare delivery was a further demonstration of the priority placed on the sector.
Wike made the explanation at the foundation laying ceremony for the construction of a Renal Centre at RSUTH, last Friday.
The governor said he made promise to Rivers people that the best would be provided to them in all sectors of the society within his capability because of the mandate they gave to him.
“As we came on here, I just looked around and I see the changes in this teaching hospital. I can say that we have put not less than N9billion in this teaching hospital.
“If you look at the budget, the health sector alone, what it’s taking from the Rivers State Government is not less than 40 percent of the 2021 budget.”
Speaking further, Wike said the state government cannot afford to implement free medical service programme in the present economic circumstance.
While dismissing the request for a subvention for RSUTH, Wike, however, commended the chief medical director and his team for their commitment to turnaround the fortunes of RSUTH.
“I have never seen anywhere that health services can be totally free. They’re telling me that people who come here can’t pay. I have never declared that this state is going to take over the health fees of anybody.”
Also speaking, the former Minister of Transport, Dr. Abiye Sekibo, who performed the flag-off, noted that Wike’s achievements in the health sector in particular, surpass what former governors of the state had done.
Sekibo said that the governor has given equal attention to every section of the health sector by providing complete health infrastructure that was positioning the state as a medical tourism destination in Nigeria.
Earlier, the Rivers State Commissioner for Health, Prof Princewill Chike, lauded Governor Nyesom Wike for his interest in the health of Rivers people.
He noted that the renal centre, when completed, would become another landmark development project in the health sector that would handle and manage all kidney-related ailments.
In his remarks, the Chief Medical Director of the Rivers State University Teaching Hospital, Dr. Friday Aaron, commended Wike for approving the renal centre.
Aaron explained that chronic kidney disease was a major burden globally with estimated 14 million cases in Nigeria.
According to him, over 240,000 of these cases require renal replacement therapy in the form of dialysis and renal transplant.
The CMD said the building that would house the centre was expected to be completed in six months and consists of two floors.
The ground floor, according to him, would house the haemodialysis unit with eight haemodialysis machines.
He further explained that the first floor of the centre would house the surgical component where most of the sophisticated equipment for kidney transplant would be installed.
Aaron said Wike has released the funds required to build, equip the centre as well as for the training of personnel locally and internationally.

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