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Engineers should lead Nigeria’s economic diversification agenda

By Anthony Areh

Mr Obadiah Nkom, the Director-General, Nigeria Mining Cadastre Office (MCO), on Wednesday said that engineers should take the lead in actualising the Federal Government’s economic diversification agenda.

Nkom said this in Abuja, while receiving Executive Committee members of the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE), Maitama branch.

He called on Nigerian engineers to support government’s economic diversification plans to make the nation great.

“The engineering profession is one of the oldest professions cutting across many fields.

“The different disciplines in the engineering profession have the capacity to actualise government’s diversification policy to boost economy.

“It is about putting our heads together to go to work. Professional bodies should be able to work together to ensure that Nigeria becomes a great nation,’’ he said.

The director-general urged the NSE to take steps to set a standard for the profession and ward off quacks from parading themselves as engineers.

He pledged the support of his office for all professional activities of the branch.

On activities of the MCO, Nkom said that the office, which had the responsibility of administering mining licenses had issued more than 5000 licenses so far.

“At the MCO, we shoulder the responsibility of administration of mineral titles all over the country.

“We supervise and regulate the mineral sector by issuing licenses to interested companies. As of today. we have issued 5276 valid mining licenses across the country.

“Our deliverables are simply licensing and making sure that Nigerians are able to key into the diversification programme of the government,” the director-general said.

The Chairman of the NSE, Mr Oladipupo Mabogaje, had earlier said that the branch was committed to upholding the dignity of the engineering profession.

He said that the visit was informed by the need to collaborate with the cadastre office in the area of mentorship of young engineers.

He said that the MCO should also support the branch in the area of entrepreneurship for young engineers to get them engaged.

Nigeria’s N13.08trn budget bill presented before NASS

By Tanko Mohammed

Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday presented the 2021 budget proposal of N13.08trillion to the National Assembly for consideration and passage into law.

The president, who was accompanied by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, some cabinet members and presidential aides, arrived the premises of NASS at about 11.03p.m.

He explained that the total aggregate revenue projected for the 2021 budget was N7.86 trillion with a deficit of N5.2 trillion, representing 3.4 per cent of the GDP.

He said the deficit would be financed mainly by new borrowing, totalling N4.28trillion.

Buhari stated that the total revenue available to fund the 2021 federal budget was estimated to N7.886trillion which included grants and aids of N354.85billion as well as revenues of 60 government owned enterprises.

According to him, the budget, which is described as a budget for Economic Recovery and Resilience, is based on an estimated oil price benchmark of 40 dollars per barrel, daily oil production estimate of 1.86 million barrels (inclusive of condensates of 300,000 to 400,000 barrels per day) and an exchange rate of N379 per dollar.

“Based on the foregoing fiscal assumptions and parameters, total federally distributable revenue is estimated at N8.433 trillion in 2021. Total revenue available to fund the 2021 Federal Budget is estimated at N7.886 trillion.

“This includes Grants and Aid of N354.85 billion as well as the revenues of 60 government-owned Enterprises.

According to him, oil revenue is projected at N2.01 trillion and non-oil revenue is estimated at N1.49 trillion.

“As you will observe, the format of the 2021 Appropriation Bill has been

modified to include budgeted revenues, no matter how small, for each MDA, to focus on internal revenue generation.

“Accordingly, I implore you to pay as much attention to the revenue side as you do to the expenditure side.

He stated that N3.12trillion had been earmarked for debt servicing in 2021 as against N2.1trillion in 2020

The president, who reviewed the performance of the 2020 budget so far, said the budget was amended in response to the challenges occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“As at July 2020, the Federal Government’s actual revenue available for the budget was N2.10 trillion.

“This revenue performance was only 68 percent of our pro-rated target in the revised 2020 budget.

“At N992.45 billion, oil revenue performed well above our budget target, by 168 per cent. Non-oil tax revenues totalled N692.83 billion, which was 73 percent of the revised target.’’

6,000 Cooperative Societies registered in Ekiti

By Anthony Areh

Ekiti Commissioner for Trade and Industry, Chief Muyiwa Olumilua, on Wednesday said that some 6,000 Cooperative Societies had so far been registered by the state government.

The Commissioner gave the information in his office in Ado-Ekiti, during a visit by the Southwest Coordinator for Project Delivery Office, Dr Akintola Ademola.

Olumilua, however, said that out of the registered cooperative societies, only 4,000 were active.

He called on all societies to register officially, and urged those already registered to come for re-validation at the ministry.

“Registering your cooperative societies with the government will enable such societies to benefit from “Special Intervention” programmes provided by government and other organisations.

“Any disbursement of funds will be made through the cooperative societies to their various members,” the commissioner said.

Olumilua said that such intervention opportunities abound in organisations such as the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), International Monetary Fund (IMF), African Development Bank (AfDB), Bank of Industry (BOI) and World Bank, among others.

He called on the people to always show interest in such intervention funds, so that many would benefit and boost the economy of the state.

Earlier, Ademola said he was in the state to create awareness on how to benefit from post COVID-19 Survival funds being disbursed by the CBN.

According to the coordinator, the beneficiaries of the fund are supposed to be the artisans, transporters (such as commercial motorcycle riders, tricycle riders, Cab drivers), vulcanizers and barbers among others.

Akintola said that each of the beneficiaries would have to register through their various trade unions, which would ultimately provide a database for the state.

He said that each of the beneficiaries would be given grants ranging from N30, 000 to N50, 000.

In his remarks, Mr Idowu Isaac, the President, Association of Traders and Craftsmen, Ekiti Chapter, said he had mobilised members of the association to key into the programme and benefit from it.

Enterprises urge government to scale up investments ahead of AfCFTA

By Tanko Mohammed

The Nigerian Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (NASME), has urged government to scale up investments in infrastructure, manufacturing and agriculture to boost the capacity of Small and Medium Enterprises for the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

Mr Eke Ubiji, Executive Secretary of NASME made the remarks on Wednesday in Lagos.

AfCFTA encourages a single continental market for goods and services, with free movement of business persons and investments, is scheduled for take-off in January 2021.

The NASME Executive Secretary said the level of preparedness of SMEs would impact their activities and abilities to exploit the potentials and opportunities of the AfCFTA, to ensure a thriving and sustainable economy for Nigeria.

Ubiji stressed the need for value addition through processing, and an enlarged agriculture output for food security and export.

This, he said, would engender Nigeria’s self-sufficiency in food production.

“To build a thriving and sustainable economy, a lot of works need to be done in the following areas of infrastructure, injection of more funds into manufacturing and agriculture and the MSME Sector.

“Interest rate needs to be addressed and stabilised and government needs to create more employment opportunities amongst others initiatives. The introduction of survival fund is a good initiative.

“Payroll support is good to help companies that have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

But it should be made to be very inclusive. Its inclusivity will help in reducing poverty.

“For agriculture, what is needed now is value addition through processing especially with the emergence of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (ACFCTA).

“These initiatives should be cascaded to the states and local government areas,” he said.

Ubiji also advised government to reconsider its position on the recent fuel increment.

According to him, while the issue of energy sufficiency is very critical to economic growth, the recent fuel price hike was unhealthy for the economy.

He harped on the need for the expansion of the nation’s transportation system, particularly marine transport infrastructure.

“Expanding transport and other relevant infrastructure is vital to building a virile and thriving economy.

“There is urgent need for more road infrastructure, rail infrastructure, and the need to expand our marine transport infrastructure.

“There is also very urgent need for government to inject more funds into education, health and increased productivity of Nigerians.

“Good and strong legislations will help to address all these points,” he said.

AfDB commits to support investments from Japan

By Tanko Mohammed

The African Development Bank (AfDB) has expressed its readiness to support investments from Japan to initiate inclusive and sustainable development in the continent.

Mr Samuel Higenyi Mugoya, AfDB’s Director, Syndications, Co-financing and Client Solutions said this during a webinar for Japanese private sector, in a statement released on its website on Wednesday.

The meeting was aimed at providing information to the Japanese private sector on doing business in Africa.

“Africa’s challenge today is to attract more private investors who can join forces with local partners in order to create added value and thus initiate inclusive and sustainable growth.

“In this context, Africa needs much more investment from Japan. The African Development Bank is ready to support this,” Mugoya said.

The bank urged Japanese investors to collaborate with local partners in Africa to enable it stimulate growth on the continent.

Mugoya recalled that the private sector’s importance to Africa’s development was recognised during the 7th Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD7) held in 2019.

He also emphasised recent examples of co-financing operations such as a loan to the Ghana Cocoa Board extended by the bank and the Japan International Cooperation Agency under the Enhanced Private Sector Assistance initiative.

He said another project, Mozambique’s LNG Area 1 Project, was jointly financed by the Japan Bank for International Cooperation and Nippon Export and Investment Insurance.

Nobumitsu Hayashi, the Deputy Governor of the Japanese Bank for International Cooperation explained the leading role that the AfDB had played in discussions around the Mozambique LNG project.

Hayashi said that the corporation could support the Japanese private sector in Africa by leveraging its extensive network and urged participants to proactively invest in the continent.

Atsushi Mimura Deputy Director-General of the International Bureau of Japan’s Ministry of Finance, outlined the overall relationship between the AfDB and the government of Japan.

“The Japan Bank for International Cooperation and the Japan International Cooperation Agency are committed to building a closer relationship with the bank through co-financing operations.

“Large investment demand is expected for infrastructure including the health sector, and Africa has high growth potential in the post-COVID-19 phase,” Mimura said.

Takashi Hanajiri, the bank’s Director of its Asia External Representation Office, explained the role and activities of the office and highlighted the bank’s flagship Africa Investment Forum.

Hanajiri said the forum was a strategic platform for attracting capital to Africa.

The AfDB members of staff made presentations on the Enhanced Private Sector Assistance initiative, a partnership between the bank and the Japanese government, the bank’s private sector operations.

The presentations also addressed investment opportunities and successful private sector operations in the power and renewable energy sectors.