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Senate Okays Buhari’s $5.513bn Loan Request

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The Senate on Tuesday approved President Muhammadu Buhari’s $5.513 billion external loan request to finance the revised 2020 budget.

The approval followed the presentation and consideration of the report of the Senate Committee on Local and Foreign Debts, Senator Clifford Odia (Edo Central) by the upper chamber.

Buhari had, in his letter of request, said the $5.513 billion external loan is to enable the Federal Government fund the 2020 revised budget.

However, the components of the external loan, which is to enable the Federal Government execute its priority projects and for projects to support state governments in stimulating their economy, which has been adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, was stood down by the Senate due to lack of requisite details.

A lender for the Federal Government’s priority projects as approved by the Senate is the African Development Bank (AfDB) – $125million to strengthen healthcare system and improve response to COVID-19 and $23 million for financing smallholder farmers to mitigate food security impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Others are $600million from the Islamic Development Bank to support response to challenges posed by COVID-19 and $500 million from the African Export-Import Bank to provide critical medical supplies to combat COVID-19.

Also, the Senate passed the 2020-2022 Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper (MTEF/FSP) of the Federal Government.

President Muhammadu Buhari had last Thursday, in a letter, urged the upper chamber to consider and approve the 2020-2022 MTEF/FSP.

The Senate approved the recommendation of the Senator Solomon Adeola-led Senate Committee on Finance that the price of crude oil put at $25 per barrel by the Federal Government, be increased to $28 per barrel.

The upper chamber also approved that the proposed daily oil production benchmark of 1.9 million barrel per day be reduced to 1.8mbd.

The Senate also backed the proposed exchange rate, which was moved by the Federal Government from N306 to one dollar to N360 per dollar.

This development invariably shows that the Senate has thrown its weight behind the devaluation of the naira.

However, other critical parameters like the exchange rate of N360 to a US dollar, 14.43 inflation growth rate and 4.42 GDPgrowth rate were retained.

Other assumptions retained are N5.09 trillion Federal Governmnet’s revenue, N10.51 trillion, N4.95 trillion fiscal deficit and N4.17 trillion new borrowings (including foreign and domestic borrowing).

Others are N398.5 billion as statutory transfers, N2.68 trillion for debt service, N272.9 billion as sinking fund and N536.7 billion for Pension and gratuities.

The Senate also retained other components of the proposal in the MTEF/FSP includingN10.51 trillion as total expenditure, N4.93 trillion as total recurrent, N2.83 trillion for personnel cost and N2.23 trillion for capital expenditure.

The Chairman, Senate Committee on Finance, Senator Solomon Adeola in his report, said the increase in the oil price benchmark from the proposed $25 to $28 was as a result of the recent upward trend of the price of crude oil in the international market.

According to him, the price oil per barrel is now $38 with a very strong indication that the price will rise to $40 or $45 per barrel.

President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, in his remarks after the passage of the MTEF/FSP, urged the Senate Committee on Privatisation to laise with the Bureau of Public Enterprise (BPE) in ensuring that the projected N260billion from proceeds of privatised agencies are realised and used to fund critical projects in the revised 2020 budget.

He faulted some special accounts being operated by the executive particularly the Natural Resources Development Accounts.

According to him, such accounts at this time of scarcity of funds, are not all necessary.

“Keeping monies in Natural Resources Development Accounts is more of waste than serving critical purposes,” he said.

He thereafter adjourned sitting to next week Tuesday for consideration and possible passage of the revised N10.509 trillion 2020 budget.

However, the intention of the Federal Government to borrow Euro 995million from the Export-Import Bank of Brazil to support Green Imperative and enhance the mechanisation of agriculture and agro-processing in the country, was put in abeyance by the upper chamber.

Also, the ongoing negotiation by the Federal Government with the World Bank for between $500million – $750 million for COVID-19 Action Recovery and Economic Stimulus Programme to support state-level efforts to protect livelihoods, ensure food security and stimulate economic activities, has not been approved.

Additionally, $500 – $750 million also being negotiated with the World Bank for State Fiscal Transparency and Sustainability Programme to provide fiscal support to the States was not approved.

The Committee said that it would consider the proposals when it gets requisite details on what the loans would be used for from the Minister of Finance, Budget National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed.

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Inside Nigeria

BREAKING: Nigerian Students Won’t Write 2020 WAEC — FG Declares

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Final year secondary school students in Nigeria won’t participate in the forthcoming West African Examination Council(WAEC) examinations, the Federal Government has declared.

The Minister of Education, Mallam Adamu Adamu, who disclosed this to State House Correspondents on Wednesday after the week’s virtual Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting, also said there is no date for school resumption yet.

He said he would prefer Nigerian students lose an academic year to expose them to dangers.

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BREAKING: Buhari Presides Over Sixth Virtual FEC Meeting

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Buhari

The sixth virtual Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting has commenced in the State House, Abuja, with President Muhmmadu Buhari presiding.

The Vice-President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo (SAN); Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr Boss Mustapha; the Chief of Staff to the President, Professor Ibrahim Gambari; and 11 Ministers are physically attending the meeting.

The Ministers at the Council Chambers include those of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed; Transportation, Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi; Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammmed; Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola (SAN); Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika; as well as the Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, Abubakar Malami.

Other Ministers physically present are those of Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio; Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyema; Special Duties, George Akume; Education, Adamu Adamu; and Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Zubairu Dada.

Before the meeting entered the main session, President Buhari called for a minute silence in honour of late ex-Sports and Youths Development Minister, Inuwa Abdulkadir.

Abdulkadir, who was a member of the recently dissolved National Working Committee (NWC) and National Vice Chairman (North-West) of the All Progressives Congress (APC), died on Monday.

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BREAKING: Senate Passes Bill To Make Tenure Of IGP Single 4-Year Tenure

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The Senate on Tuesday passed a bill that will make the tenure of office of the Inspector-General of Police by a single four-year term.

According to the Senate, the action became imperative to enable for a secured tenure of plan
a serving Inspector- General of Police, just as it passed that the community policing be strengthened.

The Senate has changed the name of “Nigeria Police” to Nigeria Police Force” as presently in use in view of the failed constitution alteration attempt to amend the name.

The Bill which was read the third time and passed, was a sequel to the consideration of the report on Police ACT CAP P19 LFN 2004( Repeal and Re-enactment) Bill, 2020( SB.181) presented by the Chairman, Senate Committee on Police Affairs, Senator Dauda Haliru Jika, APC, Bauchi Central.

The Upper Chamber has also approved that on the Appointment and Removal of the Inspector-General of Police, the provisions of the constitution in line with Section 2l5 of the l999 constitution (as amended) should be retained, as any proposal contrary to this provision will require constitution alteration for it to be viable.

The Senate resolved that the Police abide and enforce certain constitutional provisions, particularly fundamental rights at persons in Police custody under chapter 4 of the l999 constitution (as amended) and other international instruments on Human rights to which Nigeria is a signatory (including of provisions that reiterate the importance of fundamental human rights and advocating for their observance).

The Senate also passed that it should he made binding on the lnspector-General of Police to adhere to policing plans. The national policing plan should be made with inputs from the Police Force Headquarters and all the various Police formations nationwide before the end of each financial year, setting out priorities, objectives, cost implications and expected outcomes of Policing for the next succeeding financial year in order to change budgeting from a top-down approach to a bottom -up approach.

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