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Governors, CBN differ on bailout repayment

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Governors and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) were not on the same page on Thursday over the repayment plan for bailout loans.

The governors, under the auspices of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) sought for further deferment of the repayment of the loans taken from the Federal Government.

The repayment ought to start this month.

But CBN Governor Godwin Emefiele cautioned on the consequences of any further delay.

A statement by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Office of the Vice President, Mr. Laolu Akande, said the NGF asked for the deferment at the National Economic Council (NEC) meeting.

NGF Chairman and Ekiti State Governor Dr. Kayode Fayemi made the request on behalf of his colleagues.

Insisting that the states should begin the repayment, Emefiele stressed that there were challenges arising from delays particularly as it concerned auditing.

The statement reads: “On the Budget Support Facility, State Governors restated their request to defer the repayment of the loans, which was to have started this month.

“Ekiti State Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, who is also Chairman, Nigeria Governors’ Forum, reported interactions with the Finance Minister and the CBN Governor regarding the matter.

“The CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, also emphasized the importance of the timely repayment of loans, especially those owed to commercial banks, indicating the challenges inherent in a further delay in payment, including audit concerns. He said the repayment of the commercial loans should resume this month.

“In addition, the Vice President stated that he will be holding a meeting soon with representatives of the State Governors, the Finance Minister and the CBN Governor to resolve the issue raised.”

A session was devoted to the Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA), where reports and financial statements, including the audit, were presented.

NSIA Managing Director Uche Orji disclosed that the authority had recorded a 343% growth in comprehensive income of about N160.06 billion in 2020 compared to N36.15 billion in the previous year and 33% growth in Net Assets, rising up to N772.75 billion from the previous N579.54 billion.

Orji told the Council that the authority achieved core income of N109 billion compared to N33.07 billion in 2019, excluding forex gains of N51 billion in 2020 and N1.29 billion in 2019.

NEC also received a presentation on the Digital Switch Over (DSO) by the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed. He stated that it was the International Telecommunications Union, ITU, that decided on member states switching off analogue television transmission to ‘go digital’.

The DSO will be taking off first in Lagos, Kano and Rivers states, he stated.

The Council also received an update on Nigeria’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic by the Director General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu.

According to Ihekweazu, in the last two months, there has been reduction in the number of cases globally, stating that even India has also experienced reduction in its infection rates in the last five days.

He added that in Nigeria the total number of cases as at yesterday, May 19, 2021, was 165,809, while number of cases tested was 2,002,653, with 7,323 active cases. It was also disclosed that discharged cases were now 156,419, while there had been 2,067 deaths.

Minister of State for Budget and National Planning Clem Agba gave the Council the monthly update on the various federation accounts.

According to him, as at May 18, 2021, the Excess Crude Account (ECA) stood at $72,413,574.70; Stabilisation Account was N24,741,213,941.88; the Development of Natural Resources Account was N23,650,579,140.23.

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UAE makes U-turn, reinstates ban on Nigerian flights

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Less that 48 hours after announcing resumption of flights to Nigeria, Emirates, the UAE flag carrier, has again announced indefinite suspension of flights to Nigeria.

The UAE authorities had initially fixed Wednesday, June 23, 2021, for resumption of flights to Nigeria.

But in a statement on its website on Monday, the airline said, “In line with government directives, passenger flights to and from Nigeria (Lagos and Abuja) are suspended with effect from 21 June 2021 until further notice.”

The airline had on Saturday announced resumption of flights, which were suspended in March over diplomatic row on COVID-19 protocols.

The Dubai’s Supreme Committee of Crisis and Disaster Management had lifted the ban on Nigeria and also removed the rapid antigen test and said passengers from Nigeria would only be required to possess negative PCR test.

“We look forward to facilitating travel from these countries and supporting various travelers’ categories.

“We will resume carrying passengers from South Africa, Nigeria and India in accordance with these protocols from 23rd June,” Emirates had announced.

But it made U-turn on Monday with a new travel update indicating that Lagos and Abuja flights would no longer resume on Wednesday as earlier announced.

Emirates said, “Customers travelling to and from Lagos and Abuja will not be accepted for travel. Customers who have been to or connected through Nigeria in the last 14 days are not permitted to board from any other point to the UAE.

“We regret the inconvenience caused, and affected customers should contact their booking agent or Emirates call centre for rebooking. Emirates remains committed to Nigeria, and we look forward to resuming passenger services when conditions allow.”

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CAC boss denies N6.54bn fraud allegation

The Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) has denied claims of alleged N6.542 billion fraud and other allegations by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC).

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CAC Boss Denies N6.54bn Fraud Allegation

The Registrar General/Chief Executive, Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), Alhaji Garba Abubakar, has expressed the commission’s commitment to the anti-corruption war of the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, adding that it will not in any way be party to corrupt practices.

He said the CAC would continue to work hard to achieve the objectives for which it was established to the satisfaction of its customers and stakeholders.

Abubakar spoke against the backdrop of alleged abuse of power and financial impropriety among others leveled against the management by the CAC staff union under the aegis of the Amalgamated Union of Public Corporation , Civil Service Technical and Recreational Services Employees (AUPCTRE).

He vowed that the commission would not be distracted by mischief makers bent on running down the organisation.

The commission in a statement said contrary to the claims by the union, the registrar-general had declared his assets before the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) in accordance with provisions of the laws of the land, pointing out that it was laughable that the claimants were raising doubt over the content of asset declaration they are not privy to. “It behooves on them to establish any case of wrong declaration,” it stated.

On the alleged inflation of consultancy fees for tax reconciliation, the commission in a statement issued over the weekend by the Director of Public Affairs, CAC, Duke Ukaga, said the tax consultant was engaged long before the appointment of Abubakar, adding that the former’s fees was based on the percentage of savings made to the commission as contained in his engagement letter.

The commission said the consultant was able to renegotiate the commission’s tax liability, saving about N600 million in the process.

The commission, among other things, denied accusations of abuse of power, financial impropriety and commercialisation of promotion examination in the commission.

According to it, “The 2019 examination was held on October 10, 2020, at JAMB CBT Centres in Abuja, Kano and Lagos. A total of 394 staff members sat for the 2019 promotion examination.

“The result of the examination was published the same day at the commission’s website upon receipt from JAMB.

“At the end of the final collation, a total of 258 candidates were successful and promotion letters were issued to the staff upon approval by the board of the commission. It is highly mischievous for anybody to claim that the process was commercialised.”

The management further clarified that the allegations are “figment of imagination of the AUPCTRE who could still not accept the reality of losing checkup dues of over N2 million monthly from the commission following the stoppage of checkup dues deduction in respect of senior staff.”

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Nigeria’s economy recovering from COVID-19 impact – IMF

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International Monetary Fund (IMF) has announced that Nigeria’s economy is gradually recovering from the negative impact of COVID-19.

This is as it cautioned the federal government to keep reliance on CBN overdrafts for deficit financing within legal limits.

The Fund also urged the government continue to make efforts to strengthen budget planning and public finance management practices to allow for flexible financing

The IMF, in a statement at the end of its virtual meetings with the Nigerian authorities to discuss recent economic, financial developments and outlook, described the recent removal of the official exchange rate from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) website as “encouraging”.

IMF mission, however, noted that both unemployment and inflation rates remain elevated.

The mission said following the sharp output contractions in the second and third quarters, gross domestic product (GDP) turned positive in Q4 2020 and growth reached 0.5 per cent year-on-year in Q1 2021 — supported by agriculture and services sectors.
“Nevertheless, the employment level continues to fall dramatically and, together with other socio-economic indicators, is far below pre-pandemic levels. Inflation slightly decelerated in May but remained elevated at 17.9 per cent, owing to high food price inflation,” the statement reads.

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