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Experts Blast Buhari For Basing 2020 Budget On 7.5% VAT …As President Presents N10.33trn Budget, To Service Debt With N2.45trn …Budget’ll Impoverish, Mortgage Future Of Nigerians, PDP, CUPP Laments

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Some economic experts have expressed concern over the Federal Government’s decision to base the estimated revenue from Value Added Tax (VAT) in 2020 on 7.5 per cent instead of five per cent.
Dr Patricia Auta, an Economic Analyst, while reacting to the N10.33 trillion budget submitted to the National Assembly yesterday in Abuja said that the government had acted prematurely in using 7.5 per cent instead of five per cent.
He told our correspondent that the proposed hike in VAT would have to be approve by the National Assembly before it comes into effect, adding that it had not been done.
According to him, the government should not have used it in calculating its revenue estimates.
“It’s my opinion that the government cannot just assume that the National Assembly will approve the VAT increment from five per cent to 7.5 per cent.
“As much as it’s important for the government to increase its tax revenue, increasing VAT is not the right way to go.
“VAT is a multi-level tax on consumption and the burden rest on the final consumer and not the business so the people are the ones who will bear the brunt of the increase.
“Government needs to pay attention to expanding the tax net and ensure that businesses pay tax, especially those multinational companies. That’s where the money is,” she said.
Another expert, Mr. Jibrin Ibrahim said that the government was overly optimistic in their revenue targets, which includes the VAT component.
He said that as much as increasing revenue was important, it should not be done at the expense of the people.
Ibrahim also expressed his concern over the sum allocated to education and health compared to other sectors.
He said with the infrastructure gap in the education and health sectors, it was surprising that only N48 billion was budgeted for Education and N46 billion for Health, out of the N2.46 trillion earmarked for Capital Expenditure.
Ibrahim urged the National Assembly to examine the major components of the budget for the benefit and development of the nation.
President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday presented a budget proposal of N10.33 trillion to a joint session of the National Assembly.
Buhari puts the Federal Government’s estimated revenue in 2020 at N8.155 trillion, comprising oil revenue of N2.64 trillion, non-oil tax revenues of N1.81 trillion and other revenue of N3.7 trillion.
President Buhari said debt servicing in the 2020 budget will gulp N2.45trn, out of which local debts would take N296bn.
Overhead cost will be N426.6bn, he said.
Other estimates are N556.7 billion for statutory transfers; N2.45 trillion for debt servicing and provision of N296 billion as sinking fund.
The 2020 budget is based on an oil production estimate of 2.18 million barrels per day, oil price benchmark of 57 dollars per barrel and an exchange rate of N305 to a dollar.
Other benchmarks are: real Gross Domestic Product (GDP), growth rate of 2.93 per cent while inflation rate “is expected to remain slightly above single digits in 2020’’.
Mr. President during the declaration said that N125 billion was allocated to the National Assembly while N110 billion was allocated to the Judiciary.
For allocations to ministries, the president affirmed the following allocations to respective ministries.
Works and Housing – N262 billion, Transportation – N123 billion, UBEC – N112 billion, Defence – N100 billion, Agriculture – N83 billion, Water Resources – N82 billion, Education – N48 billion, Health – N46 billion, North East Development Commission – N38 billion, SIPs – N30 billion, FCT – N28 billion and Niger Delta – N24 billion.
However, Senate President, Ahmed Lawan in his speech charged all government ministries, departments and agencies to defend their proposals before lawmakers before the end of October.
He also said the lawmakers should ensure the budget got passed before the end of the year.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), in its reaction yesterday, said the N10.7trillion 2020 budget presented by President Muhammadu Buhari to the National Assembly would further impoverish Nigerians and mortgage the future of the nation and its citizens.
This is even as the party urged the legislature to redirect the fiscal proposal to serve the interest of the vast majority of Nigerians.
A statement issued by the party’s National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, described the appropriation bill as “hazy, showing streaks of padding, fraudulent duplication, replete with false performance indices, deceptive projections and inexplicable expenditure assertions which create openings for continued looting of our national patrimony by leaders of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and persons close to the Presidency.”
It read in part: “The PDP insists that it is inexcusable that despite the huge natural resources at President Buhari’s reach, he articulated an N10.7trillion budget that is completely lacking in concrete wealth creation strategy but relies on further squeezing of Nigerians through excruciating taxes, levies and agonizing tolls.
“The party described as unacceptable that the budget is skewed to serve the interest of the opulent, as projects that have a direct bearing on the wellbeing of the masses were not substantially accommodated in the overall expenditure profile.
The party also criticized the Buhari-led administration for “not being transparent in the mammoth allocations for alleged vague projects, particularly the Ministries of Works and Housing as well as Transportation, where allegations of diversion of public funds were endemic in the last budget.
“Standing with millions of Nigerian youths and women, our party rejects the paltry budgets of N48billion for Education and N46billion for Health, and urges the National Assembly to review the allocations in the interest of Nigerians.
“Furthermore, the PDP notes, as unacceptable that President Buhari, in his budget speech, could not give an account of his handling of the 2019 budget and had to resort to lame excuses and unsupported figures, particularly on the various unimplemented subheads in critical sectors of the economy.
“Moreover, Mr President failed to explain why his administration has remained hugely corrupt and how his Presidency depleted our foreign reserves to an all-time low of $41,852billion accumulated huge foreign and domestic debts and kept the naira at its knees at about N360 to $1 under his watch.”
The party also challenged the Presidency to make public the details of the Presidency allocation for Nigerians to “see the billion being spent to finance the opulent lifestyle of the Buhari Presidency, despite Mr President’s claims of prudence and sacrifice.”
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) also urged the National Assembly (NASS) to redirect the 2020 budget to areas that would better serve the interest of majority of Nigerians.
Ologbondiyan said that the budget as it is would further impoverish Nigerians and mortgage the future of the nation.
These, according to him, would create openings for diversion of public funds.
Also, the Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP) has described the 2020 Budget presented to the National Assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari as heavy buy lacking substance.
This came as it announced that it was heading for the court to challenge the planned increment in the Value Added Tax (VAT), by the Federal Government.
CUPP particularly said the budget was similar to a heavy travelling bag that has no substance in it.
In a statement issued by its spokesman, Ikenga Ugochinye, yesterday, the opposition political group, said it regretted to announce to the nation that with the budget presented by the president,” the days of the nation’s suffering are not any way close to an end.”
The statement reads, “The Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP), having listened critically to President Muhammadu Buhari’s 2020 Appropriation Bill as presented to the joint session of the National Assembly on Tuesday, regrets to inform Nigerians that the days of the nation’s suffering are not any way close to an end.
“The president has by today’s budget presentation shown that he has no formula to save the nation’s economy from the impending final ruins that his mismanagement has caused.
“Opposition parties see this fiscal document as an empty document that is not worth the paper on which it was written. It is full of rhetoric; Buhari’s appropriation bill can best be described as a heavy travel bag that is empty in substance or value.
“The CUPP notes that this document is a final weapon to consolidate Buhari’s next level of economic ruins, poverty, looting and visionlessness. It is a come and chop document meant to further impoverish many and prosper the privileged few.
”The ppposition rejects the inclusion of the illegal proposed increment in VAT as part of the 2020 budget expected source of funding. This has shown that the budget is built in the sky with no serious source of funding except taxing the people to death.
“The opposition coalition has therefore resolved to head to court this week to stop the planned insensitive move to tax the suffering citizens of Nigeria to death with the proposed increment in VAT from 5% to over 7%.
“The president should not force the suffering citizens to bear the consequences of his leadership failures.”

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COVID-19 Decisions Are Taken By State Security Council – Governor Wike

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Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike has stated that the State Security Council takes all decisions  in  the prosecution of the COVID-19 pandemic in the State.

Governor Wike who stated this on Tuesday when the Executive of the Nigeria Hotel Association, Rivers State Chapter paid him a courtesy visit at Government House, Port Harcourt pointed out that he has never taken any unilateral decision.

The State Chief Executive noted that all decisions taken by the State Government are for the overall good and interest of the Rivers people as no right thinking government would deliberately take decisions that would negatively affect the lives of the people.

 

“I don’t take decisions alone in the fight against COVID-19. All decisions are taken  by the State Security Council and they are for the overall interest of Rivers people.

” You know people applaud government decisions when it  suits them but when it does not favour them they say it is  politically motivated.

“Rivers State Government does not have anything against hoteliers in the state, but decided to shutdown their activities because some cases of  COVID-19 were recorded in hotels,” he stated.

Governor Wike also blamed the hoteliers for failing to assist government in providing relevant information regarding those that test positive of the coronavirus in their hotels.

According to him, adequate information would have helped  the State Ministry of Health and other relevant agencies to carry out proper contact tracing.

“Its not possible that the State Government will intentionally close down hotels. But what I see is that people play politics with everything.

“The  demolition of Prodest Hotel and Etemeteh Hotel in Eleme Local Government Area by the State Government became necessary because the owners failed to comply with  Executive Order 7,” he said.

 

The State Chief Executive stated that he is more pained than any other person in the state that churches and mosques are not holding their full religious activities because of COVID-19.

“I can’t believe that I will be sitting here as a Governor and take a painful decision that will make  churches and mosques not to hold full religious activities, ” he said.

The Governor lauded members of the State Chapter of Nigeria Hotel Association for identifying with government efforts in the fight against COVID- 19.

 

Earlier, the State Chairman, Nigeria Hotel Association, Mr. Eugene Nwauzi commended Governor Wike for leading the fight against coronavirus in the country.

Mr. Nwauzi noted that but for the efforts put in place by the Governor, the spread of COVID-19 would have taken a dangerous dimension in the state.

He however appealed to the State Government to  relax the ban on hotel businesses, assuring that all protocols put in place for the containment of the spread of the virus would be fully observed by hoteliers.
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RSG Cancels Lockdown Of Obio/Akpor, Port Harcourt Local Government

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? Imposes state-wide curfew 8p.m to 6a.m from June 2, 2020 till further notice
? Uncovers plan by one Bobosky to instigate violence in 6 LGAs
? Investigating alleged outbreak of coronavirus in Bonny LGA

Rivers State Government has cancelled the proposed lockdown of Obio/Akpor and Port Harcourt Local Government Areas scheduled to resume tomorrow.

Governor Nyesom Wike who stated this in a state-wide broadcast also announced the imposition of 8p.m to 6am curfew in the 23 Local Government Areas of the State with effect from June 2,2020 till further notice.

The Governor also revealed that government has uncovered plans by some criminal elements led by one Bobosky to cause security breaches in Khana, Eleme,Gokana, Tai, Oyigbo and Ikwerre Local Government Areas.

“After a comprehensive review of the measures taken and further considerations placed before us by well-meaning members of the public, the State Security Council has decided to cancel the proposed lockdown on Obio/Akpor and Port Harcourt Local Government Areas of the State.

“In essence, no part of Rivers State is or will be under any lockdown from this moment and this will be so, except where it becomes necessary again.

“As we all know, the regular washing of hands, religious wearing of face masks, keeping effective physical and social distance of between 1.5 to 2 meters from other people, completely avoiding touching of faces with unwashed hands, and cleaning of surfaces we regularly touch have been identified as some of the most effective measures against contracting this virus in the absence of vaccine, ” he said.

 

According to the Governor, government would re-enforce the decisions on the continuous implementation of the following measures throughout the State:

(i) All land borders, including all exit and entry routes into Rivers State shall remain closed to human and vehicular traffic, except those on essential services and duly exempted.

(ii) All residents must wear face masks or covering into any public space, including our roads, banks, shopping malls, shops, hotels and in any lawful social gathering.

(iii) The State task force and the security agencies have been directed to arrest and summarily prosecute any person seen on our streets or any other public place without wearing face masks.

(iv) All banks, motor parks, hotels, restaurants, shops, business centres, shopping malls, and offices must maintain social distancing and enforce the wearing of face masks in their premises.

 

(v) The State task force and security agencies have been directed to seal up, prosecute and confiscate to the State any bank, shopping mall, restaurant, shop, business place or office that fails to enforce social distancing and the wearing of face masks in its premises.

(vi) In addition to providing daily guest list to the Police and the Department of State Security, hoteliers must not host large gatherings, including parties and receptions. Defaulting hotels will be sealed-up and the owners summarily prosecuted.

(vii) All bars, beer palours, or drinking joints, night-clubs, viewing centres, open markets and cinemas shall remain closed until further notice;

(viii) Oil mill market in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area shall remain closed until further notice;

(ix) Oginigba Slaughter market in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area shall similarly remain closed until further notice.

 

(x) Mbiama market in Ahoada West Local Government Area shall also remain closed until further notice;

(xi) All public weddings, burials and large social gatherings shall remain banned.

(xii) Churches and other religious gatherings should continue to comply with the existing advisory on social distancing, initiate temperature checks and enforce the wearing of face masks during their activities;

(xiii) Dealers in Ikoku Spare Parts markets are warned for the last time to stop converting public roads to mechanic workshops or risk final closure.

(xiv) Similarly, no mechanic workshop should be found along Ikwerre road as Government will prosecute defaulters and confiscate any vehicle being repaired on any public road.

(xv) Private and commercial vehicles, including tricycles must continue to limit their passengers to the number earlier established and enforce the wearing of face masks by all passengers. Defaulters will be prosecuted and their vehicles confiscated by the Task force.

These measures, he said, are in the best interest of our State, to protect our lives, businesses, and jobs as well as, to prevent our troubled economy from suffering irreparable damage.

“This also means that, residents now bear much greater responsibility to stop and prevent our State from suffering the exponential and potentially devastating spread of the virus being experienced across the

“As 60% of the positive cases recorded in the State are connected with oil company workers, we have initiated a meeting with all the major oil companies to work out strategies on how we can stop this trend and stop the risk this category of workers now pose to the State.

“Government is also investigating the rumored or suspected outbreak of the coronavirus at Bonny Island.

 

“Our team of medical personnel led by the Commissioner for Health has visited Bonny Island and collected samples from suspected cases for analysis and immediate intervention should the results indicate the outbreak of the virus in the area, “the governor said.

The State Chief Executive also revealed that intelligence has intercepted a clandestine plan by some criminal elements led by Bobosky to cause security breaches in the State by instigating violence and burning down churches in Khana, Eleme, Gokana, Tai and Oyigbo Local Government Areas of the State.

He  assured all residents that the State Government is fully ready and prepared to deal with the situation and continue to guarantee the protection of lives and property throughout the State.

The Governor implored all residents to be vigilant and report all suspicious characters and movements in their neighbourhoods to security agencies.

 

“Leaders and vigilante groups in our communities are to work with the security agencies to enforce  curfew in their localities and arrest and prosecute anyone that violates the curfew order.

“We urge our people to stop the fake news on social media; stop the baseless bickering, the needless blame game, and the seditious rumours that does no good to our image or provide any solution to the common challenges that we face.

“Rather, we should all come together, put our fate in our own hands and work for the common good of all, whether as individuals, families or as communities,” he stated.

The Governor commended all health workers who have continued to put their lives at risk in the forefront in the battle against  COVID-19.

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Governor Wike Releases N450M To 2019 Presidential Election Violence Victims In Abonnema

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The State Chief Executive Nyesom Ezenwo Wike has released the sum of Four hundred and fifty million naira to the victims of the 2019 Presidential election violence in Abonnema.
Speaking during  a meeting preparatory to giving out the cash, Governor Wike  said the gesture is in fulfilment of his promise to the people of Abonnema  at the Church service to honour those who lost their lives, the injured and those who lost properties during the crisis.
Represented by the Secretary to the State Government Dr. Tammy Wenike  Danagogo, Governor Wike said no amount of money could adequately compensate the people for the harrowing experience they suffered in the hands of the Nigerian Army, stating that he appreciates the support and commitment of the People of  Akuku Toru Local Government Area before, during and after the elections. He said he would continue to execute programmes that would positively impact on the lives of the people of the  Area.
He assured them that the second phase of the Abonnema ring road would be commissioned before the end of June, stressing that the contractor has been fully paid.
According to him in the face of the Covid 19 Pandemic he has continued to stand by the People of the State by taking practical steps not only to protect Rivers People but to also provide palliatives to bring succour to the vulnerable and less privileged unlike the   selfish politicians in other political  parties who only visit the people to solicit for votes during elections but do not have the interest of the people at heart.
In his remarks the Amayanabo of Abonnema King Disrael  Gbobo Bobmanuel thanked  Governor Wike for fulfilling his promise to the Abonnema People, noting that the Governor has proven over the years that his word is his bond.
According to him the Governor is a man worthy of trust and support because he has fulfilled all his promises to the Abonnema People. He Advised beneficiaries to make judicious use of the Money the Governor has graciously given to them.
Earlier the Chairman of Akuku Toru Local Government Area Hon. Roland Sekibo who said he is still traumatized by the events that took place during the Presidential election in 2019 expressed gratitude to Governor Wike for his kind gesture, stressing that the People of his Local Government Area would continue to support the Governor in his quest to improve the lives of Rivers People.
Also speaking one of the beneficiaries Mr  Minamiango Romeo  who sustained gunshot injuries  expressed gratitude to Governor Wike for not abandoning them in their time of need and promised to continue to support his Administration and the leaders of the Local Government Area.
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