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2019 Budget ’Il Reduce Inflation -Expert

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A financial expert, Prof Uche Uwaleke, yesterday said that the Federal Government’s decision to reduce the size of the 2019 budget to N8.73 trillion would reduce inflation threat.
Uwaleke, Head of Banking and Finance Department, Nasarawa State University Keffi, said in Lokoja that the decision was wise considering the country’s present fiscal realities.
The Federal Executive Council (FEC) on Oct. 24 approved a budgetary proposal of N8.73 trillion for 2019 fiscal year, N400 billion lower than the 2018 budget which stood at N9.12 trillion.
The Minister of Budget and National Planning, Sen. Udoma Udo Udoma, made the disclosure when he addressed State House correspondents at the end of FEC meeting.
Udoma said the council also approved the 2019/2021 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) Fiscal Strategy Paper (FSP).
According to him, the MTEF/FSP is designed to translate the strategic development objectives of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) to realistic and implementable budget framework for the medium term.
He said the key assumptions highlights being proposed for 2019 budget included oil price benchmark of 60 dollars per barrel, oil production of 2.3 million barrels per day, exchange rate of N305/1 dollar, and GDP growth rate of 3.01 per cent.
Uwaleke said that the decision to slow down government’s expansionary spending, especially in an electioneering year would pose less threat to inflation.
He added that the decision would reduce the fiscal deficit to Gross Domestic Product ratio in line with the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) target.
According to him, the reduction will curtail government borrowing in view of the present huge debt service burden which is clearly unsustainable at over 65 per cent of revenue.
“I think the decision to scale down on the size of the 2019 budget is wise considering the present fiscal realities in Nigeria.
“The only worrying aspect of the proposed 2019 fiscal framework is the significant reduction in capital expenditure,” Uwaleke said.
He noted that the 2017 budget implementation experience coupled with the revenue challenges being encountered in the execution of the 2018 budget called for a conservative approach to next year’s budget.
“For example, the 2017 budget implementation report recently released by the Budget Office speaks of adverse variances in key budget targets due mainly to shortfalls in actual revenue receipts resulting in huge fiscal deficit.
“The same scenario is playing out with regard to the 2018 budget in respect of which the Federal Government has just sought the approval of the National Assembly for about N2.8 billion to finance the budget.
“Much as the increase in recurrent spending ostensibly to accommodate the implementation of the minimum wage is justified, the Efficiency Unit of the Federal Ministry of Finance should intensify efforts at reducing MDAs overheads and avoidable wastages,” he said.

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Christmas Holidays: Schools Resume In Rivers, Today

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The Rivers State Ministry of Education has announced the resumption of both  public and private schools in the state for the second term 2019/2020 academic session with effect from today.
A statement from the  State Ministry of Education available to The Tide, said ahead of the resumption of schools, the  State Ministry of Education has reinstated its stand  that unapproved schools in state remain banned and should not open for resumption.
It will be recalled that the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom, had in last year set up a committee for accreditation and approval of private schools; a move designed to improve quality education in the state.
The committee, led by professor  Ozo Mekuri Ndimele, in its report denied accreditation/approval to 437 schools which did not meet set requirements for the operations of private schools.
“Subsequently,  the state government directed that all schools denied approval should discontinue operations forthwith”.
The statement quoted the state  Commissioner for Education, Professor Kaniye Ebeku, while  speaking on the resumption of schools over the weekend said  the directive on the ban of unapproved schools still subsists.
Professor Ebeku, however, advised parents and guardians of pupils and students not to patronize unapproved schools, adding that such schools are illegal and should not resume.
He warned that any of the unapproved schools found operating will be made to face appropriate sanctions in accordance with the relevant state laws..
The Education Commissioner further disclosed that the Rivers State Government has made adequate provisions for the maintenance and functioning of public schools in the state, and cautioned Heads of public primary and secondary schools in the state not to collect any fee from pupils and students.
”Any Principal or Head teacher that violates the directive will face appropriate disciplinary  measures” the statement stated

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School Feeding: FG Pays Food Suppliers In 33 States

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The Federal Government yesterday said it had paid suppliers of foodstuff and cooks in 33 participating states under the National Home Grown School Feeding Programme.
Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Farouq, said the payment, which was for January 2020, would ensure that the feeding of the 9.9 million pupils in the 33 states and the Federal Capital Territory starts immediately schools resume in two weeks time.
She explained that the payment covered the cost of feeding the school pupils in the participating states, adding that the funds were released in December to give the suppliers and cooks adequate time to procure and stock foodstuff.
Farouq said, “We believe that paying these funds early is critical to the success of the programme. We do not want any hitches and we want to ensure that the  school children are fed on time and without any excuses.”
The minister warned that the Federal Government would not accept any drop in the nutritional quality of the meals given to the children.
She said the Federal Government had gladly received reports of improved attendance in the schools and improved hygiene among the pupils.
These outcomes, according to Farouq, were some of the reasons for setting up the school feeding programme.
She noted that under the National Home Grown School Feeding Programme, a total of 9,963,726 pupils were fed in 54,942 schools across the country and were served by 107,862 suppliers and cooks.
The programme is one of the components of the National Social Investment Programme of the federal government.
The NSIP, which was previously under the Presidency, was recently moved to the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development.

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Monarch Cautions Youths Against Violence, Other Social Vices

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The Gom Mama of Mama Chiefdom in Nasarawa, Alhaji Mustapha Zubairu, has advised youths to shun violence and all other negative tendencies in their interest and for societal development.
Zubairu gave the advice yesterday when he received Wamba/Farin-Ruwa Youths Movement residing in Lafia, the state capital.
The traditional ruler said that if youths and other Nigerians could shun violence at all times, it would go a long way in not only promoting peace but would also ensure speedy development of the country.
“I want to thank you for the visit and for forming this group aimed at promoting unity and peaceful co-existence among yourselves and other Nigerians.
“This is because peace is the necessary requirement for the development of any society.
“Peace is priceless and non-negotiable; as no society or nation will achieve meaningful progress and development without peace.

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