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Budget: FG Slashes Oil Benchmark To $30 Per Barrel

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The Federal Government has proposed the reduction of oil benchmark, upon which the 2020 budget was predicated, from $57 to $30 per barrel.
The Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, announced this yesterday after a meeting between the executive arm of government and the leadership of the National Assembly in Abuja.
The meeting was meant to review the 2020 budget and Medium Term Expenditure Framework, particularly against the background of the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic on the global economy.
The meeting, which lasted almost four hours, according to the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, was summoned to “discuss the proposed review of the 2020 budget and the Medium Term Expenditure Framework.”
The finance minister proposed a review of the 2020 budget using a $30 per barrel price benchmark as against $57 initially passed in December by the national assembly.
She said it was part of the measures to prepare for the worst-case scenario, as well as insulate the Nigerian economy against any form of unexpected crisis.
She also told the leadership of the national assembly that budgeted revenues for the Nigeria Customs Service have been reduced from N1.5 trillion to N943 billion “due to anticipated reduction in trade volumes”.
She also said, “The privatisation proceeds will be cut by 50 per cent, based on the adverse economic outlook on sales of the Independent Power Projects and other assets.”
Similarly, Ahmed disclosed that the Federal Government has undertaken cuts to revenue-related expenditures for the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation for several projects included in the 2020 Appropriation Act passed by the National Assembly in December 2019.
She said, “The Federal Government is working on Fiscal Stimulus Measures to provide fiscal relief for taxpayers and key economic sectors.
“We will incentivise employers to retain and recruit staff during the economic downturn.
“We will stimulate investment in critical infrastructure; review non-essential tax waivers to optimise revenues, and compliment monetary and trade interventions to respond to the crisis.”

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Declare State Of Emergency On Refineries, Oil, Gas Dealers Urge FG

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The Natural Oil and Gas Suppliers Association of Nigeria (NOGASA), yesterday, charged President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately declare a state of emergency on Nigeria’s ailing refineries with a view to bringing them back to life as quickly as possible.
The association lamented the disastrous impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on businesses and investors in the downstream sector leading to a loss of over N320billion.
The NOGASA spokesman Mr Ukadike Chinedu, said in a statement that the loss sprang from products purchased at government-specified prices and were compelled to sell at reduced prices, which could cover the costs of transaction.
‘Numerous businesses are dying in silence. A lot of them are no longer trading as a result of the heavy losses.
‘There is an upward slide on the graph of job losses in the sector.
NOGASA and its numerous members sacrificed significant resources during the height of the Covid-19 lockdown period to keep fuel supplies stable across the nation.
The association also made sure that its members safeguarded the livelihoods of their workers by not opting to lay them off during these past difficult months,’ he said.
NOGASA also urged the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) to abort its planned nationwide strike but pressure the government to repair the refineries, and also allow others to build private ones; to encourage a more robust competitive business environment.
NOGASA, he added, strongly believes that further disruptions in the currently-struggling economy will create far more problems for workers and businesses that employ them than it seeks to solve.
“It is in light of these and many other economic challenges and negative outcomes to the entire Nigerian economy that NOGASA appeals to the NLC/TUC to reconsider their proposed action over the increase in petroleum pump price and electricity rates by the government and engage the government constructively on finding a lasting solution to the issues aforementioned,” he noted.
He said: “NOGASA is seriously concerned about recent developments in the downstream sector of the industry, especially with growing adverse effects on their businesses, workers and the Nigerian economy at large.
“Some of these concerns are heavy losses of over N320billion investment from products purchases at government specified prices, and sales at compelled price reductions, which could not be justified by the costs of transaction.
“Numerous businesses are dying in silence. A lot of them are no longer trading as a result of the heavy losses. There is an upward slide on the graph of job losses in the sector.
“NOGASA and its numerous members sacrificed significant resources during the height of the Covid-19 lockdown period to keep fuel supplies stable across the nation.
“The association also made sure that its members safeguarded the livelihoods of their workers by not opting to lay them off during these past difficult months.”
Ukadike explained that while the association fully aligns with the NLC/TUC that the government should repair the refineries and also allow others to build private ones to encourage a more robust competitive business environment.
“While the association believes that there is great need for more sensitive considerations and far reaching negotiations and dialogue to resolve matters that affect us all, the association also uses this medium to appeal to government to declare a state of emergency on the refineries with a view to bringing them back to life as quickly as possible.”

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WTO: FG Seeks Iran’s Vote For Okonjo-Iweala

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The Federal Government is seeking the vote of Iran for its candidate, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala in the race to the World Trade Organisation’s (WTO) Director-General office.
The WTO is looking for a new director-general to replace Brazilian Roberto Azevedo, who stepped down a year earlier than expected at the end of August.
Nigeria’s Okonjo-Iweala is among the five cleared for the elections.
The others are Kenyan minister, Amina Mohamed; South Korean Trade Minister, Yoo Myung-hee; Saudi Arabia’s Mohammad Al-Tuwaijri; and British ex-minister, Liam Fox.
The Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Richard Adebayo told the Iranian Ambassador to Nigeria, Mohammed Alibak, that Okonjo-Iweala’s election victory would strengthen global trade and economies.
The minister stated that Nigeria would rely on Iran’s support for the election of Ngozi Okonjo-Iwela as the next DG for WTO, stressing that if elected it would be the first time an African will occupy the position since its establishment on January 1, 1995.
Adebayo further said the Bilateral Trade Agreements (BTA) earlier signed between the two countries in 2001, the Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (IPPA) in 2008, the establishment of the Nigeria-Iran Joint Commission in 2004, and the Iran Chamber, Industry, Mines, and Agriculture in 2016 should be sustained.
He assured the ambassador that Nigeria would work with Iran to improve on the current low trade volumes as both countries have great potential that can leverage on considering the fact that the two countries are oil-dependent economies.
He said, “We can also share knowledge and best practices on economic diversification and our national development goals as Buhari’s led administration is pushing to diversify the economy into the non-oil sector through various initiatives and a strategic partnership in the industrialization of key sectors that can boost efforts towards export of Iran and Nigeria.”

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FG Places Nine-Year Presidential Jet On Sale

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The Federal Government has put up for sale a jet in the presidential fleet, Hawker 4000 aircraft with registration number 5 N- FGX/ : RC 066.
The business-size jet which entered into service in December 2011, according to findings, has capacity for nine passengers and three crew members.
Further findings also indicate that only 73 Hawker 4000 aircraft were manufactured by Hawker Beechcraft between 2001 and 2013 and they were sold for $ 22 .91 m each as of 2012.
The Federal Government, in a published advert on Wednesday, disclosed that the aircraft with a range of 3 ,190 -nautical mile had flown for 1,768 hours.
It said the aircraft could be inspected at the Presidential Air Fleet ’s hangar located at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport , Abuja.
Interested buyers were requested to submit their closed bid to the Chairman , Committee for Sale of Aircraft , Office of the National Security Adviser, care of Special Services Office , Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation.
In an advertisement published in some national dailies on Wednesday, prospective buyers were directed to submit a refundable bank draft for $ 50,000 to the committee with the bid .
It also said that all the bids should be quoted in dollars.
The notice read: “Please note that all bids must be submitted within one week of this publication.
“Background check is required as a pre -qualification for the bid . Prospective bidders who want to inspect the aircraft will be granted access within one week from this advertisement”.
The Presidency had similarly in 2016 put up for sale two presidential aircraft , a Falcon 7 X executive jet and Hawker 4000, in line with the directive of the President that aircraft in the Presidential Air Fleet should be reduced to cut down on waste.
The government also said some aircraft in the fleet would be handed over to the Nigeria Air Force for its operations . It could not be confirmed if this had been done.

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