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2020 budget massive taxation – Abaribe

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The Senate Minority Leader, Enyinnaya Abaribe (PDP, Abia South), Wednesday described the 2020 budget as a budget of massive taxation.

The fiery lawmaker also said the 2020 budget presented by President Muhammadu Buhari is not sustainable.

He made the statements at plenary during deliberations on the Appropriation Bill.

Among other things, Abaribe condemned the names given to the Bill, the increase in VAT as well as the increase in the production of crude oil.

In his words, “Very many things were put and jumbled together: budget of fiscal consolidation, investing in critical infrastructure…and so forth. In other words, putting everything together like that reminds us of what Shakespeare said: a tale full of sound and fury signifies nothing,” he began.

At this point, he was interrupted by the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, who reminded him that it was not a literature class.

“I want to suggest a name to those who wrote this speech for the president that this is nothing but a budget of taxation,” he continued.
Again, Lawan interrupted him. “I just want to appeal to you to talk to what was read in the budget speech.”

Abaribe, however, re-emphasised the proposed name for the bill.

“This is a budget that is based on taxation. Its is based on 7.5 per cent increase in VAT, based on several other increases.

“How would you talk about job creation when you do not invest in what will create jobs? Debt servicing as a component is higher than capital expenditure. Two trillion for capital expenditure, 2.4trn for debt servicing.

“The projected growth that they put in the budget was 1.9 per cent, less than the population growth of 2.6 per cent. So, if we look at it globally, we are still struggling. We may have to take over and direct the economic policy of this government. having seen that they have not done anything and they have failed,” he said.

It would be recalled that Buhari had on Tuesday proposed N10.33 trillion for the federal government’s budget for next year.

One assumption of the budget is that Nigeria will use nearly a quarter of the budget (N2.5 trillion) to repay debts the government owes locally and internationally.

The budget was also prepared on the assumption of $57 per barrel with crude oil production of 2.18 million barrels per day.

Buhari also presented the Finance Bill to the National Assembly for consideration and passage into law.

The Bill seeks to increase the Valued-Added Tax rate from five per cent to 7.5 per cent.

The lawmakers commenced debate on the Appropriation Bill and it was the turn of the Minority Leader to speak.

The lawmaker also said the nation’s projection for the cost of oil may be off the mark.

“I know that our people were happy when there seem to be a little problem in the Middle East with Iran which will lead to a spike in the oil price. But that seen to have gone down, which means that our projection for the cost of oil may also be off the mark.

“Second one is our projection for the production level daily. Last year, the average production level was 1.8 million barrel per day. Why don’t we just keep it there? Why must we go up to 2.1 only to be disappointed at the end of the day?,” he said.

The lawmaker then pleaded with his colleagues to look at facts before accepting the bill which he said is not sustainable.

“I know that you have promised the executive that we are going to work very well with the executive to produce the budget but I plead with my colleagues to look at the facts. You cannot run away from facts.

“The facts say this is not a sustainable budget. The facts say that if we need to change, we must be able to look at the critical fundamentals of this budget speech and make adjustments as due,” he said.

On his part, Lawan said Mr Abaribe’s presentation was laced with inaccurate information.

“That brilliant presentation was laced with inaccurate statistical information but all the same, you are entitled to your opinion.”

The presentation of the 2020 budget sparked reactions from Nigerians and political parties. While the All Progressives Congress said the budget is aimed at consolidating the gains of the administration, the Peoples Democratic Party, however, said the budget will further impoverish Nigerians.

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National dailies: 10 things to know this Wednesday morning

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Good morning! Here is today’s TIMELY POST bulletin from Nigerian Newspapers:

  1. The Debt Management Office has said that Nigeria public debt stands at N25.7trn up by N3.32trn in one year as at the end of June 2019. It also said that while the Federal Government owed N20.42trn as at June 30, 2019, the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory debt portfolio stood at N5.28trn.
  2. National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), has said the renewal of the National Identity Card will cost three thousand naira (N3,000) as well as charging the sum of N5,000 for card replacement payable through remita. This, however, drew angry reactions from Nigerians, who described the new policy as wicked and callous on the side of the government.
  3. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has projected that Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth will remain weak in 2019. The fund stated this in its World Economic Outlook (WEO) for October 2019, released at the ongoing IMF/World Bank Annual Meetings in Washington DC.
  4. Chairman, Senate Committee on Army, Senator Ali Ndume, has faulted the N99.87 billion capital expenditure allocation for Ministry of Defence in the 2020 national budget. Ndume said that the amount is less than one percent of the N10.33 trillion budget proposal for 2020 fiscal year. The lawmaker noted that the country is in a war and if such ‘paltry sum’ is presented for the entire defence and not just the Army, it shows that the federal government is not serious about ending the insurgency war.
  5. The meeting between the organised labour and representatives of the Federal Government have been moved till Wednesday, Oct. 16, to allow for sorting out of all grey areas of contention. It was gathered that the organised labour had shifted its earlier position from 29 per cent to 25 per cent for grade levels seven to 14, while for levels 15 to 17 now 20 per cent, which was earlier 24 percent.
  6. Nigeria Senate President, Dr Ahmad Ibrahim Lawan on Tuesday announced President Muhammadu Buhari’s request for approval of N10 billion for Kogi State. In the letter, Buhari said, the amount was expended on projects on behalf of the Federal government which he was seeking the refund through promissory notes and bonds. The letter also explained that 23 other states with authorised expenditures on behalf of the Federal government have been previously refunded, noting that Kogi State would be refunded on prompt approval of the Parliament.
  7. The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, has kicked against President Muhammadu Buhari decision to seek the permission of the Senate to approve over N10bn for Kogi State. PDP called on the National Assembly to invoke its statutory powers and directly channel the N10.069 billion Presidential funds for payment of salaries and pensions of suffering Kogi State workers. The party said it was scandalous that Buhari Presidency, with its claims of transparency and integrity, would seek to mislead the National Assembly by asserting that the fund is for projects done by the state government on behalf of the Federal Government.
  8. Senate President Ahmad Lawan has declared the Federal Government would be $1.5billion richer next year following the passage of the Deep Offshore and Inland Basin Production Sharing Contract (PSC) (Amendment) Bill by the Senate.
  9. Chairman of the Senate committee on Army, Senator Ali Ndume, has disclosed that a total of 847 Nigerian soldiers had lost their lives to the Boko Haram insurgency in the last six years. Ndume said the Army high command gave the casualty figures to the committee last Thursday.
  10. The Senate has adjourned plenary for two weeks to engage Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs) in defence of their 2020 budget. The President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan announced the adjournment during Tuesday’s plenary.

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Labour, FG meeting ongoing for final resolution over new minimum wage implementation

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The meeting between the organised labour and representatives of the Federal Government has been moved till Wednesday, Oct. 16, to allow for sorting out of all grey areas of contention.

A top labour official, who pleaded anonymity, hinted that the organised labour had shifted its earlier position from 29 per cent to 25 per cent for grade levels seven to 14, while for levels 15 to 17 now 20 per cent, which was earlier 24 per cent.

The Federal Government has made its earlier position to shift from levels seven to nine to 17 per cent and levels 10 to 14 at 15 per cent.

It also shifted that of levels 15 to 17 to 12 per cent.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that the organised labour is demanding 29 per cent salary increase for officers on salary levels 07 to 14 and 24 per cent adjustment for officers on salary grade levels 15 to 17.

But the Federal Government had presented a proposal of 11 per cent salary increase for officers on grade levels 07 to 14 and 6.5 per cent adjustment for workers of grade levels 15 to 17.

At a meeting in Abuja, the Head of Service, Mrs Folashade Yemi-Esan, expressed hope that the meeting would get to a logical conclusion when it reconvenes on Wednesday.

“Today, the Labour side has discovered that there is just one side on the welfare of workers, we have worked very well together today.

“Both sides have made a lot of contentions, but we discovered that there are some grey areas that need to be ironed out.

“Some documents and information are being sourced that they are providing, by the grace of God tomorrow, discussion will continue and we believe that we will be able to get everything resolved.”

Speaking the end of the meeting, Deputy President of NLC, Comrade Amaechi Asugwuni, who spoke on behalf of the organised Labour, urged to the Federal Government to shift grounds for agitation ahead.

According to him, the matter is a straight forward matter, negotiations is ongoing we actually thought the meeting will be concluded today but that prediction was not successful, therefore, adjournment became necessary.

” To the best of our knowledge, the struggle will still continue, tommorow, we will meet by 2p.m, and that meeting will determine the fate of the parties, we expect that we close that meeting positively.

“So far, commitment has been shown, but we believe that the areas that are still in contest are critical, therefore, we urge the government also on their part see how they can shift ground positively to integrate the agitations ahead.”

Those at the meeting include: the NLC General Secretary, Comrade Emma Ugboaja, Musa Lawal Ozigi of the TUC, Nuhu Toro (TUC) Lawal Alade Bashir as well as Comrade Musa Abbas while in attendance at the meeting with the Joint National.

Others are: Director General of the Budget Office, Ben Akabueze, Acting Chairman of the National Salaries Income and Wages Commission, Ekpo Nta.

Labour had resorted to the strike option, from Oct. 17, following an apparent inability of the government and labour to find a way out of the minimum wage logjam.

The minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, said there is the need for organised labour to set the records straight to workers to understand that current economic realities may not accommodate percentage increase on the minimum wage.

According to him, continued threat of strike action from the organised labour was an intimidation of government and antithetical to the International Labour Organisation principles on negotiations and Collective Bargaining Agreement.

“I will also not seat and watch labour intimidate government. If you dangle strike, it is intimidation and ILO Convention does not permit it.

“People should negotiate freely. If government threatens you in the course of negotiation, it is intimidation.

“We cannot allow government to shut down the economy because it wants to pay salaries and wages.

“The 2020 budget of N10.3trillion has N3.8trillion as personnel cost without overhead.

“If you add running cost and other incidental costs, the total recurrent budget as presented to the National Assembly has taken 76 per cent. Where do we get the money to build roads, airport, rails, health centres, schools etc.

“It is a matter of balancing a budget that is 76 per cent recurrent and 24 per cent capital, for me, it is nothing to cheer about.

“In the 76 per cent, government has captured N200 billion for consequential adjustment for the minimum wage and so on. These are all part of personnel.

“N160 billion is for consequential adjustment of the minimum wage and not total package of workers’ salaries. Everybody has to make sacrifice. We must plug leakages.”

He stressed the need for all workers to be incorporated into the Integrated Payroll Personnel Information System (IPPIS) to reduce ghost workers in the public service.

“The number of workers, 1.4 million or 1.5 million out of 200 million people take 33 per cent of the budget which has deficit. It is important we know this. It is up to us to use all the money to pay salaries and the economy will grind to a halt and be like Venezuela.”

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Buhari seeks N10bn approval from Senate for Kogi

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Nigeria Senate President, Dr Ahmad Ibrahim Lawan on Tuesday announced President Muhammadu Buhari’s request for approval of N10 billion for Kogi State.

In the letter, Buhari said, the amount was expended on projects on behalf of the Federal government which he was seeking the refund through promissory notes and bonds.

The letter also explained that 23 other states with authorised expenditures on behalf of the Federal government have been previously refunded, noting that Kogi State would be refunded on prompt approval of the Parliament.

“I am seeking approval of the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria for N10 billion being expenditures on projects executed in Kogi State on behalf of the Federal government. ”

“Take note also that the said expenditure was authorised by the Federal Government which other 23 States of the Federation have also been refunded.”

Senate President, Dr Ahmad Ibrahim Lawan referred the letter to Senate Committee on Foreign loans and debts to turn in report in two weeks.

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