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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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Rangers Retain 20 Players For Next Season

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Management of seven-time Nigeria league champions, Rangers International F.C have concluded plans to retain only twenty-two players that featured for the team in the fast winding-up 2018/2019 season.
General manager of the ‘Flying Antelopes’, Prince Davidson Owumi made this revelation, Monday, as preparations are on to welcome back the players from the two-weeks break sanctioned by the club.
The former NPL and Warri Wolves boss confirmed that the players whose services were needed for the coming season have been contacted and are expected back in the coal city next week.
“Yes, we have started preparations for the coming season as we have made contacts with the players needed to help us achieve our target both on the continent and domestic scene.
Only twenty-two of the players that featured for us in the ending season will be privileged to wear the club’s jersey in the coming season. Most of them have been reached and negotiations concluded. Those reached will be known as soon as they return from the break,” said Prince Owumi.
The General Manager further said, “I can also confirm that we have had successful discussions with some players that we hope will add some strength to the team as our target on the continent and domestic scene remain intact.”
It would be recalled that Rangers ended the 2018/2019 abridged NPFL season on the third position at the end of the season’ championship playoff while its forays on the 2019 Total CAF Confederations cup ended in the group stage.

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Group Condemns Spate Of Violence In Rivers

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A Port Harcourt based advocacy group, Advocacy for Peace, Good Governance and Social justice has condemned the spate of violence in Rivers State.
The president of the group, Mr. John Cement, who stated this while chatting with newsmen in Port Harcourt on Monday, warned that unless urgent measures are taken to step up security, hoodlums would continue to wreak havoc in the state.
Mr. Clement, who was speaking against the backdrop of the killing of two policemen at Timber Area of Port Harcourt, expressed regrets that the proliferation of small arms had remained unchecked.
He said everybody was a victim in a crisis situation.
Mr. Clement remarked that most hoodlums that were causing mayhem in the state, had infiltrated from neighbouring states with pockets of Rivers indigenes.
He called on the police to be proactive in order to maintain peace in the state.
Mr. Clement urged the police to make use of Criminal Investigations Department (CID) to locate the identity of criminals ravaging the state.
He noted if the police were able to have a data of criminals in the state, it would be easy for them to fish out hoodlums.
The president urged all to support the police in their effort to fish out criminals in the state.

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UK Alert: A’Ibom Says State Peaceful, Safe

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The Akwa Ibom State Government has faulted the UK government for the travel ban issued on its citizens tagging the state along with 20 others in Nigeria as unsafe in Nigeria.
In a letter signed by the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Dr. Emmanuel Ekuwem, the state government stressed that Akwa Ibom remains one of the most peaceful, safe and secure states in Nigeria.
The letter addressed to the British High Commissioner in Nigeria said it is incontrovertible and unvarnished fact that Akwa Ibom remains one of the most peaceful states in the country.
Recall that the British government had warned its citizens not to travel to 21 states in Nigeria because of kidnappings, terrorism, militancy and diseases.
In a statement posted on its website and updated on Monday, June 17, 2019, the FCO said frequent attacks by terrorist sect Boko Haram in the restive northeastern region of Nigeria, raids by armed bandits in the northwest and north-central states, kidnappings across Nigeria, fatal diseases like Ebola and Lassa fever and militancy in the south-south, have made Nigeria a dangerous destination for the rest of the world.
Making allusion to statement by the General Officer Commanding (GOC) of the 6 Division of the Nigerian Army, Major General Jamil Sarham during a courtesy call on the state Governor, Mr. Udom Emmanuel in October last year, the SSG said the GOC had commended the peaceful nature of the state and rated it as the most peaceful and violence-free of all the areas under his command.
“A similar sentiment was also expressed by Rear Admiral Apochi Suleiman, the commander of the Joint Task Force in the Niger-Delta region.
“The US Ambassador, W. Stuart Symington had visited Akwa Ibom State on two occasions within the last one and a half years. No Ambassador would visit a State that is considered unsafe.
“During the recently concluded Presidential/National Assembly, Gubernatorial and House of Assembly elections, in spite of the threat and boasts of the people on the opposite side of the political divide to unleash violence, the elections were adjudged peaceful, credible and free.
“The Commissioner of Police in charge of the elections in Akwa Ibom State, Ibrahim Kaoje in his report of the elections to the Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG) in charge of the Department of Operations stated that the elections in the State were conducted under the freest, credible and most peaceful atmosphere.
“The Emir of Kano, His Highness, Muhammadu Sanusi 11 during a courtesy visit to the State Governor, Mr. Udom Emmanuel, also commended the peace and security citizens enjoy in the State,” it said.
The SSG in the letter said that the state had been receiving droves of investors from all parts of the world into the State for the purposes of investing their ‘peaceful, safe and secure environment. The SSG stressed that all the above would not have been possible if the State is not safe, peaceful and secure.
“Finally, we wish to state emphatically and unequivocally that Akwa Ibom State is peaceful, safe and secure and remains an inviting location for foreign investors, and other Nigerians who daily troop to the State to enjoy our famed cuisines and the hospitality of our people,” it read.

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