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Good News! We are Not Removing Fuel Subsidy – FG

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states Nigerian Govt allocation N606 billion local Councils

We will not remove Fuel Subsidy without another social safety net package,” the minister said.

Finance Minister Zainab Ahmed yesterday reiterated government’s resolve not to remove fuel subsidy. She made the emphasis against the backdrop of long queues emerging at some filling stations amid the fear that a removal was imminent.

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Finance Minister - Zainab Ahmed on Fuel Subsidy

Finance Minister – Zainab Ahmed on Fuel Subsidy

Mrs. Ahmed spoke during a joint briefing with Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Godwin Emefiele and Minister of Budget and National Planning Udoma Udo Udoma on the sidelines of the 2019 IMF/World Bank Spring Meetings in Washington DC.

“There is no plan to remove subsidy now because we have not yet found an alternative package to subsidy. We will not remove subsidy without another social safety net package,” the minister said.

She noted: “One of the issues that always comes up in the report, especially by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as a corporate body, is how we handle fuel subsidy. In principle, the IMF is saying fuel subsidies are better removed, so that you can use the resources for other important sectors. In principle, that is a fact. But in Nigeria, we don’t have plans to remove fuel subsidy at this time because we have not yet designed buffers that can enable us to remove fuel subsidy and provide cushions for our people. So, there is no plan to remove subsidy. We will be discussing with various groups. If we have to, what are the alternatives? We have not yet found viable alternatives. So, we are not yet at the point of removing fuel subsidy. Therefore, every rumour on plans to remove subsidy should be discarded.”

The minister revealed that part of the takeaways from the Spring Meetings was the discussion of additional financing assistance on climate change and power.

In his remarks, Emefiele expressed hope that Nigeria’s economy would lead growth in the African sub-region from the current 1.8 per cent to three per cent, and attain the CBN’s single digit inflation target of between six and nine per cent.

According to him, significant gains have been recorded in terms of financial inclusion, which today is around 64 per cent, close to the 80 per cent target by 2020.

He further allayed the fear of adverse consequences on Nigeria’s economy arising from Brexit discussions. Britain’s trade relationship with Nigeria was not as high as that of China and the United States, he explained.

Udoma said that during talks with officials of the International Finance Corporation (IFC), he asked support for Nigeria’s efforts at leveraging private sector capital to fund critical infrastructure.

“At the State of the African Region, discussions centered on the role of regional cooperation in tackling fragility in Africa. A major takeaway was the need to pay attention to women empowerment and education of the girl child, as these have positive implications in dealing with fragility and reducing conflicts. As you know, investing in our people and the issue of girl-child education are some of the objectives of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan,” said Udoma.

Ahmed’s reassurances came as the leadership of the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) and the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association (PENGASSAN) warned that the advice by the IMF to remove subsidy would destabilise the nation.

The oil workers described a statement on boosting Nigeria’s economy credited to IMF’s media chief for Africa as injurious to the citizenry. It created panic buying, hoarding of petroleum products, and pushed up the prices of goods and services, they said.

The general secretaries of NUPENG Olawale Afolabi and PENGASSAN Okugbawa Lumumba said yesterday that the statement was poisonous and wondered why IMF was still advising the government to inflict more hardship on the people.

“We empathise with them (Nigerian workers) and will not turn blind eyes to any further attempt to increase their pains and impoverish them further. It is quite bewildering and baffling that IMF is not considering the pains and agonies Nigerians went through, even to achieve the acknowledged gains of 2018, with almost two-thirds of the world’s hungriest people among Nigerians,” the secretaries said in a statement.

The Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPRA) meanwhile has allayed the fear of Nigerians of any scarcity of fuel.

In a statement by PPRA Executive Secretary Abdulkadir Saidu, the agency insisted the country has sufficient deposit of petrol to meet demands.

“The agency wishes to assure Nigerians to disregard panic buying as there is adequate product supply in the system to meet the demands of consumers,” it said.

It added: “PPPRA, in line with its mandate to regulate petroleum products supply and distribution as well as establish an industry data bank, has continued to monitor products supply in the sector in line with best practices.

“Thus, PMS average daily supply for the year 2017, 2018 and 2019 are about 46 million, 54 million and 56 million litres respectively. These indicate an improved level of supply in 2019.

“Based on the available data, there is adequate supply of PMS with over 21 days sufficiency. PPPRA therefore urges fuel consumers across the country to desist from panic buying as the agency would continue to monitor the supply situation and take every step required to ensure that there is no disruption in the supply chain.”

Also, the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) vowed it would from today clamp down on petrol dealers hoarding or diverting products in Ekiti State.

The Ekiti command said it would not allow “unscrupulous dealers” to create artificial scarcity in the state over a non-existent anticipation that the official pump price would be increased.

“We are starting the operation on Monday and those sabotaging the system will be arrested and brought to justice. We realised that some petrol dealers have created long queues and artificial scarcity and we ready to address the issue,” Commandant Solomon Iyamu told journalists in Ado Ekiti, the state capital.

He added: “If we get to your petrol station and we find that it has as high as 10,000 litres of petrol in its pits but the dealer is not selling, then he is liable and such person will face the law.

“We learnt from good authorities that a very high number of our petrol stations are now hoarding the product. Some are also selling above N145 per litre. These are issues we will tackle squarely.”

In a related development, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) raised the alarm over increasing vandalisation of its pipelines, saying the trend has affected the distribution of petroleum products.

Group Managing Director Maikanti Baru stated this in Enugu at the weekend during the company’s Day at the ongoing 30th Enugu International Trade Fair.

He called on Nigerians to support the corporation in its effort to secure pipelines in the interest of the country.

He stated that in December alone, 257 pipeline-vandalised points were recorded. Ibadan – Ilorin, Mosimi – Ibadan and Atlas Cove – Mosimi network accounted for 90, 69 and 57 compromised points or approximately 34 per cent, 26 per cent and 22 per cent.

“Aba – Enugu pipeline link accounted for seven per cent, with other locations accounting for the remaining 11 per cent of the pipeline breaks. I implore you as good citizens of this country to keep an eye on our assets for common good. Acts of vandalism are economic sabotage that has led to wanton destruction of innocent lives and the environment. Let us join hands to end the scourge,” said Baru.

courtesy: Leadership

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Buhari meets new EFCC chairman Bawa in Aso Villa

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The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), has met with the new Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Abdulrasheed Bawa, at the Presidential Villa in Abuja on Thursday.

Though details of the closed-door meeting have not been revealed, photos from the meeting were shared on the official Twitter handle of the Nigerian Government.

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“President @MBuhari received in audience the newly appointed @officialEFCC Chairman, Abdulrasheed Bawa at the State House, Abuja,” the photos were captioned.

Bawa who was nominated for the EFCC job by Buhari was yesterday confirmed by the Senate after a screening session.

During the screening, he addressed the allegation that some assets belonging to the anti-graft Commission in Port Harcourt were sold by him.

“I never sold a single truck at the Port Harcourt office; the head office handled that at the time,” he said.

“When I took over the Port Harcourt office, they had 34 convictions but when I got there, we recorded 216 convictions.

“Anybody that is familiar with the processes of the EFCC knows that the chairman doesn’t have the power to sell an asset but the secretary of the agency.”

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Biden Revokes Trump’s Immigrant Visa Ban

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President Joe Biden has revoked former President Donald Trump’s order that limited the number of new work visas for temporary foreign workers in the United States amid the coronavirus pandemic.“The suspension of entry imposed in Proclamation 10014… does not advance the interests of the United States.

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“To the contrary, it harms the United States, including by preventing certain family members of United States citizens and lawful permanent residents from joining their families here,” Biden said in the order provided by the White House on Wednesday. In June 2020, Trump signed a proclamation that suspended certain categories of non-immigrant work visas as part of an effort to revive the U.S. economy amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The list includes H-1B visas for work in high-tech industries and a range of others for low-skill workers, interns, teachers, and company transfers.

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Maina: Court Refuses To Grant Ex-pension Boss Bail

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The Federal High Court, Abuja, on Thursday, refused to grant a former Chairman of the defunct Pension Reformed Taskforce Team, Abdulrasheed Maina, bail.

Justice Okon Abang, held that Maina’s application for bail lacked merit.

Justice Abang also said though it was at the court’s discretion to grant bail, the ex-pension reformed boss did not deserve bail after jumping the first bail.

The judge added that Maina did not place sufficient materials before the court to convince the court that he deserves the second bail.

He said the medical report brought from the University of Abuja Teaching Hospital showed that Maina was not under any medical emergency.

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The judge said Maina was not only a flight risk but a proving risk, having fled to the Republic of Niger and Chad in violation of the court order.

“He has disappointed the court,” he said.

Justice Abang, who refused to grant Maina’s application for an order directing the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to release his confiscated property, including a BMW Car, also dismissed his request for an order to set aside the Nov. 18 and Dec. 4, 2020 orders.

The court on November 18, 2020, ordered the trial of Maina in absentia after he jumped bail.

Also on December 4, 2020, the court ordered Maina to be remanded in prison custody pending the hearing and final determination of his matter.

But Maina, who jumped bail last year and fled to the Republic of Niger before his rearrest, had on December 24, 2020, applied for another bail. Maina, through his lawyer, Anayo Adibe, on Jan. 20, approached Justice Abang in a motion on notice.

He argued that the application became necessary over his worsening health condition.

In the motion, the ex-pension boss told the court that he had reasonable and responsible sureties who were willing to act as sureties if granted bail.

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