2020 Budget: FG Too Hasty Slashing Oil Benchmark to $25—Udemezue
By Dipo Olowookere
An economic expert, Mr Orji Udemezue, has faulted the second reduction of the crude oil benchmark for the 2020 budget by the federal government.
In May 2020, the central government slashed the threshold to $25 per barrel from the $30 per barrel it was first reduced to in March 2020 from the initial $57 per barrel when the budget was signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari.
When the 2020 Appropriation Bill was signed last December, the price of oil was averagely around $60 per barrel, but it started to crash this year when Saudi Arabia and Russia started a price war and then the Coronavirus pandemic. At a point this year, the commodity was sold for $11 per barrel.
In late April, oil producers in the world came together and agreed to cut supply by 10 percent or 9.7 million barrels per day so as to lift prices.
The agreement took effect on May 1, 2020 and the cut has been very effective because the price of crude oil has since picked up and as at yesterday, it traded at $39 per barrel.
Speaking recently on federal government’s decision to further slash the benchmark to $25 per barrel, Mr Udemezue said government was too quick to cut the threshold from $30 per barrel, arguing that it was should have been left alone.
“The federal government, in my opinion, was too hasty in slashing the crude oil benchmark,” the Managing Director of Flame Academy & Consulting Limited said on Channels TV’s Business Morning monitored by Business Post last month.
According to him, government should have known that the prices of crude oil will continue to rise as economic activities continue to pick up due to the ease in the lockdowns across nations of the globe.
“It was there for them to begin to see that the demand for oil will pick up and right now, it is somewhere around $30 per barrel (on May 8). It will continue to go up as more activities continue occur,” he said.
According to him, crude price, apart from the Saudi/Russia price war, was mostly affected by COVID-19, which put many economies into a “self-induced coma.”
He said if the central government had put all these into consideration, it should have known that oil will surely pick up before the end of the year, wondering why the haste in reducing the benchmark again after the first one nearly three months ago.
However, he advised government to start to think of life without oil because that reality is already staring at the country. He asked policy makers to think out of the box so as not to get stranded at the end of the day.
“Many global airlines have begun to look at more efficient, less fuel efficient, more fuel efficient aircraft, so they’re going to be replacing the aircraft.
“There have also been innovations around electric motors, alternative energy, climate change concerns and all of that,” he said.
Subsidy Removal: CNG at N130 Per Litre Cheaper Than Petrol—IPMAN
By Adedapo Adesanya
The Independent Petroleum Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) has advised Nigerians to begin to look into the direction of Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) as an alternative energy source to cushion the effect of subsidy removal.
The National President of IPMAN, Mr Chinedu Okorokwo, made this known in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Wednesday, as the federal government continues its dialogue with the organised labour over the hike in the price of premium motor spirit (PMS), otherwise known as petrol.
On May 29, 2023, during his inaugural speech, President Bola Tinubu said the payment of subsidy for fuel had ended because there was no provision for it in the 2023 budget beyond June 30.
His announcement triggered the hoarding of fuel by marketers, and when the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited increased the price of the product across its retail outlets, prices of food, transportation and services went up, forcing the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) to threaten a nationwide strike, which was supposed to start today but was stopped by the National Industrial Court.
At a meeting on Monday night between the government and the labour unions, it was agreed that the adoption of CNG as an alternative fuel would be the best option, and it was agreed that the CNG conversion programme earlier planned in 2021 should be revived.
CNG, which is a gas mainly composed of methane and produces less emission, is the cleanest burning fuel operating today with less vehicle maintenance and longer engine life.
In the interview with NAN, Mr Okoronkwo said bringing CNG, which was cheaper than even firewood, as an alternative energy, would create relief for the government and its citizens.
“We have also discovered that bringing an alternative that is cheaper than even firewood which is CNG, will not only create relief for the government and its citizens but it is environmentally friendly.
“The CNG is abundantly available in Nigeria than anywhere in Africa.
“In the Niger Delta region, you see billions of tonnes of gas flare being wasted daily, these are huge amounts that should be accruing to our GDP, but we are wasting it because there is no market for it.
“So, we are asking the government to create the market. How do you create the market?
“What Egypt and India did was to give soft loans to be paid back within stipulated periods; from there, you can get vehicles to use gas instead of fuel,” he said.
“There’s a franchise for the bottling of CNG so that an average woman in the kitchen can use it,’’ he added, noting that the introduction of CNG would cushion the effect occasioned by the high price of fuel currently as a litre of CNG would not cost more than N130.
He advised that repairing the local refineries as well would reduce the impact of the removal as it would eliminate the cost of importation and exportation.
Nigeria Upgrades Tax-to-GDP Ratio to 10.86% From 6%
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) has disclosed that Nigeria’s tax to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ratio has been upwardly reviewed to 10.86 per cent from the 6 per cent earlier reported to reflect better data sources and improved estimation using the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) manual.
The OECD manual is an improvement over the System of National Accounts (SNA 2008) classification of taxes.
Although the System of National Accounts conceptual framework and its definitions of the various sectors of the economy are reflected in the OECD’s classification of taxes, the OECD classifications provide the maximum disaggregation of statistical data on what is generally regarded as taxes by tax administrations.
In a disclosure, the statistics office said the country’s total tax revenue compared with its GDP was at that level in 2021, higher than 8.40 per cent in 2020, which was impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the previous year, the ratio was 10.20 per cent, marginally lower than the 10.36 per cent recorded in 2018 but higher than the 9.02 per cent in 2017.
The NBS said the revised computation considered more comprehensive coverage of data at the federal, state, and local government levels and revenue items not previously included in the computations, particularly relevant revenue collected by other government agencies.
The review of the tax-to-GDP ratio was initiated by the Federal Inland Revenue Service, which collaborated with the Federal Ministry of Finance and the NBS for better measurement of the ratio.
The data used were sourced from the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation (OAGF), FIRS, NBS, the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), the Joint Tax Board (JTB), and other relevant agencies of government that collect revenue.
VFD Group Intends to Join Nigerian Exchange
By Adedapo Adesanya
VFD Group Plc has announced its intention to list its shares on the Nigerian Exchange Group (NGX) to allow it to gain access to public equity markets, increase its visibility, and strengthen its financial position.
VFD Group Plc is a leading proprietary investment company with a proven track record of generating attractive returns for its investors through a variety of investment strategies.
The company has a diverse portfolio of investments in various sectors, including banking, technology, media, energy, and real estate. The group has been listed on the NASD OTC Securities Exchange since 2020.
Speaking on this big step, Mr Nonso Okpala, Group Managing Director of VFD Group, stated, “We are excited to take this next step in the evolution of our company.”
“Listing on a major stock exchange will give us access to a larger pool of investors, enhance our profile, and provide superior returns to our investors,” he added.
However, its listing on the NGX is subject to regulatory approvals and market conditions.
VFD Group noted that it would provide additional updates as the listing process progresses.
At the close of business on Tuesday, the securities of the organisation closed on the NASD OTC exchange at N244.88 per unit, the same rate they finished in the preceding trading session.
Business Post reports that the NASD was created to provide an avenue for public companies to transition smoothly into the country’s main stock exchange.
However, it has witnessed the movement of firms from the NGX to the NASD, especially due to the very strict regulatory requirements of the former.
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