California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and lawmakers failed on Wednesday night to agree to balance the state’s budget by closing a $26.3 billion deficit, but officials said talks would continue.
The budget talks, which have lasted weeks, have stalled over a part of the governor’s plan to suspend a law on school funding, Karen Bass, the Speaker of the State Assembly, and California Senate President, Darrell Steinberg told reporters.
The legislature’s two top Democrats said budget talks would resume on Thursday.
Schwarzenegger, a Republican, had said earlier on Wednesday, he was hopeful a deal to resolve the lengthy budget crisis was near and might be reached by the end of the day.
“There’s no nastiness in the discussions, no blowups,” he said at a press conference. “There’s none of that, so I think we have a good shot of getting the budget done today.”
The state government began its fiscal year on July 1 facing a historic budget gap and a severe cash crisis.
California, which would be the world’s eighth largest economy if it were an independent nation, has issued IOUs to vendors as well as taxpayers owed refunds to save cash for servicing of state bonds and other priorities payments.
Among sticking points in negotiations are Schwarzenegger’s demands for a budget deal including changes to rules he says will prevent fraud in welfare programmes.
He has also proposed paring education spending by suspending a voter-approved measure that locks in funding levels for public schools. Democrats oppose both ideas and are especially concerned about education spending cuts.
The size of a budget reserve also is being discussed. A cash cushion may help the state sell short-term debt after a budget agreement is reached. “It’s all about being able to go out to the market after this is done,” Steinberg said.
State Senate Republican Leader, Dennis Hollingsworth said the state could use a reserve of up to $2 billion.
California’s IOU effort is also intended to calm Wall Street. Credit rating agencies have grown increasingly anxious about sagging state revenues propelled by the recession and double-digit unemployment.
Moody’s Investors Service on Tuesday cut its rating on about $72 billion of the state’s general obligation debt by two notches to Baa1, or three notches above speculative “junk” status. Moody’s said there may be further downgrades because the risk to priority payments — and eventually debt servicing payments to bondholders — is rising without a budget deal.
On July 6, Fitch Ratings cut its credit rating on California to BBB, just two notches above junk level.
Democrats have conceded there will be no tax increases in a budget deal as Schwarzenegger and anti-tax Republicans in the legislature’s minority have demanded and have accepted dramatic spending cuts to fill the state budget gap. “We have made very, very deep cuts,” Bass said.
NSE Begins Week On Negative Note, Loses N19.49bn
The Nigerian stock market began the week on a negative note as banking and consumer goods stocks, among others, triggered a N19.49bn loss.
At the end of trading on the floor of the Nigerian Exchange Limited , the NGX All-Share Index dropped by 0.09 per cent to end at 43,270.94 basis points, while the market capitalisation declined to N22.58tn.
Market activities were mixed as the total volume of shares traded decreased by 30.19 per cent while the value traded rose by 34.05 per cent.
A total of 213.13 million shares valued at N2.36bn were exchanged in 4,105 deals, compared to 305.32 million shares worth N3.58bn in 4,450 deals last Friday.
FCMB Group Plc topped the traded stocks in terms of volume, accounting for 27.43 per cent of the total volume of trades while Airtel Africa Plc emerged as the most traded stock by value, representing 28.81 per cent of the total value of trades on the exchange.
14 firms gained compared to 21 losers.
AIICO Insurance Plc was the biggest gainer for the day, topping the gainers’ chart with a price appreciation of 8.57 per cent to N0.76 per share.
It was followed by LivingTrust Mortgage Bank Plc with a rise of 7.95 per cent, ending the day at N0.95 per share.
Analysing by sectors, three of the five major indices closed lower, led by NGX Oil & Gas (-0.56 per cent), NGX Consumer Goods (-0.23 per cent) and NGX Banking (0.18 per cent).
But the insurance (0.82 per cent) and industrial goods (0.002 per cent) indices gained at the end of trading.
… Introduces TIES To Boost Business Loan
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has introduced the Tertiary Institutions Entrepreneurship Scheme (TIES), which provides undergraduates and graduates with a platform to access loans.
The TIES’ underlying aim is to provide access to capital for Nigerian undergraduates and graduates with innovative entrepreneurial and technological ideas from polytechnics and universities.
TIES intends to shift undergraduates and graduates away from white-collar job pursuits and towards a culture of entrepreneurship development for economic development and job creation.
In a national biennial entrepreneurship competition, the Developmental Component would be distributed in the form of awards to Nigerian polytechnics and universities.
The competition aims to increase undergraduates’ awareness and visibility of high-impact entrepreneurial/technological concepts, foster entrepreneurial talent hunts in Nigerian polytechnics and universities, and encourage commercially viable and transformative technologies.
Interested Nigerian polytechnics and universities shall apply to participate in the national biennial entrepreneurship competition on a dedicated online portal.
Outlining brief details of the project, potential impact and evidence of originality of project, CBN said it is an innovation for students entrepreneurs.
CITN Applauds FG, Tax Authorities On Fiscal Policy Decisions
The Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria (CITN) has lauded the Federal Government and tax authorities on the giant strides made on fiscal policy decisions and tax administration measures initiated this year in the area of Finance Act 2021 and the introduction of TaxPromax solution.
President of the institute, Adesina Adedayo, who gave the commendation at the institute’s yearly award ceremony at the weekend in Lagos, assured the government and tax authorities of aligning with the measures and promised to provide professional thoughts and insights on ways through which they could achieve an efficient and effective Nigerian tax system.
Adedayo emphasised the need to address the database, adding that without knowing who the tax-payers are, there is no way they can take money from unknown tax-payers.
Database is the aspect we have been emphasising on as an institute and in doing this, there are so many of pockets of data we have. All the data must be harmonised to have a simple unique tax-payers identification number,” he said.
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