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Senate Wants 20% of National Budget For Constituency Projects

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Senate Wants 20% of National Budget For Constituency Projects

By Dipo Olowookere

The Nigerian Senate is requesting for 20 percent of the national budget earmarked for constituency projects ostensibly to be handled by them.

These projects are what the lawmakers use as their empowerment programmes in their various areas.

These include construction of feeder roads, boreholes, market stalls, schools rehabilitation, sewing machines, grinding machines, knitting machines, motorcycles, tricycles and others.

Already, a bill to make this a law for the executive to do this has passed second reading at the Senate.

If this bill becomes law, it means the constituency projects will get at least N1.4 trillion from the proposed N7.3trillion budgeted for 2017 fiscal by President Muhammadu Buhari pending approval from the National Assembly, which will get the appropriation from Mr Buhari next Wednesday.

At the floor of the Senate on Thursday, where the bill was debated, its sponsor, Mrs Stella Oduah, noted that, “One of the unique features of our democratic journey so far is the concept of ‘Constituency Projects’.

“Available statistics show that 70 percent of Nigerians live in the rural areas and the intention of the bill is to ensure that good governance is delivered to these crucial areas.

“The bill is also intended to correct the top-bottom approach of governance and replace it with the bottom top approach. Constituency project in recent time is one of the ways to attract federal presence to our people.”

Mrs Oduah argued that if not for these projects, majority of federal constituencies would not have a single federal project due to lopsided nature of project allocation in the budget.

“The constituency project is not peculiar to Nigeria alone. There are similar mechanisms in other developing countries.

“For instance, the constituency development fund has been institutionalized in Kenya, Uganda, India and Tanzania,” the former Aviation Minister turned Senator said.

Also, the Chief Whip of the Senate, Mr Olusola Adeyeye said, “This is not money given to Senators or Reps, it is money meant for specific projects. At the moment, it is N100 billion for 109 Senatorial Districts and 360 Federal constituencies. That is 1.5 percent of the Federal Budget.”

In his remark, the Senate President, Mr Bukola Saraki, said constituency projects ensure equity in the distribution of federal projects.

“I don’t think there is anything that ensures equity in the country like the constituency projects. Our responsibility is to provide the projects to our constituencies, full stop,” Mr Saraki said.

The Senate President then referred the bill to the committees on Finance and Appropriation for further legislative actions with a 4-week time frame.

Dipo Olowookere is a journalist based in Nigeria that has passion for reporting business news stories. At his leisure time, he watches football and supports 3SC of Ibadan. Mr Olowookere can be reached via dipo.olowookere@businesspost.ng

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Economy

Introduction of Capital Gains Tax Could Discourage Investors—Popoola

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By Aduragbemi Omiyale

As part of efforts to raise more funds for the provision of critical infrastructure in the country, the federal government recently introduced the capital gains tax.

This was embedded in the 2021 Finance Act and it required the payment of capital gains tax on transactions worth over N100 million.

The chief executive of the Nigerian Exchange (NGX) Limited, Mr Temi Popoola, applauded this initiative of the government but warned that it could discourage investors, especially the high net-worth individuals (HNIs) and institutional investors, who carried out such heavy deals.

Mr Popoola, who spoke a few months ago at the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG) Fiscal Policy Roundtable, called for a balance.

He admitted that the capital gains tax is in line with the government’s drive towards an increased tax bracket but was only worried about the adverse effect the laudable policy could have on the economy in the long run.

However, Mr Popoola commended the economic policy direction of the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, noting that it was an indication of the government’s commitment to driving non-oil revenues into the country.

The NGX chief said the tenets of the 2021 Finance Act brought a lot more clarity on investment such as the Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT), Capital Gain Tax (CGT) and securities lending transactions.

According to him, investing in real estate investment brings a lot of potential gains and “if you look at our market today, all our assets class has helped to boost investors’ confidence.”

He stated that the Finance Act will boost the capital market and the economy, reiterating NGX’s commitment to adhering to government policy and driving growth in the capital market.

However, he further stressed that the introduction of excise taxes on non-alcoholic beverages and the education tax could also affect the economy.

According to him, these taxes could hamper the ability of companies affected by these developments to raise capital and pay dividends to investors because the policies are coming at a time the economy was undergoing a recovery.

Business Post reports that the event, which precisely took place in March 2022, was put together by NESG to access the impact of the 2021 Finance Act on the economy.

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Economy

Inflation in Nigeria Jumps to 16.82% in April 2022

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By Aduragbemi Omiyale

The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) on Tuesday disclosed that inflation in Nigeria increased by 16.82 per cent in April 2022 from the 15.92 per cent recorded in March 2022.

However, on a year-on-year basis, the rate moderated by 1.3 per cent as inflation was 18.12 per cent in the corresponding month of 2021.

The NBS disclosed that the percentage change in the average composite consumer price index (CPI) for the 12 months period ending April 2022 over the average of the CPI for the previous 12 months period was 16.45 per cent, 0.1 per cent lower than the 16.54 per cent recorded in March 2022.

It also stated that in the month under review, the urban inflation rate increased to 17.35 per cent (year-on-year) in April 2022 from 18.68 per cent recorded in April 2021, while the rural inflation rate increased to 16.32 per cent in April 2022 from 17.57 per cent in April 2021.

On a month-on-month basis, the urban index rose to 1.78 per cent in April 2022, up by 0.02 from the rate recorded in March 2022 at 1.76 per cent, while the rural index also rose to 1.74 per cent in April 2022, up by 0.01 from the rate that was recorded in March 2022 at 1.73 per cent.

The corresponding 12-month year-on-year average percentage change for the urban index is 17.01 per cent in April 2022, lower than 17.10 per cent reported in March 2022, while the corresponding rural inflation rate in April 2022 is 15.91 per cent compared to 16.00 per cent recorded in March 2022.

In the report, the stats agency said in April 2022, the composite food index rose by 18.37 per cent in contrast to the 22.72 per cent achieved in April 2021, attributing the increase to a hike in the prices of bread and cereals, food products n.e.c, potatoes, yam, and other tubers, wine, fish, meat, and oils.

On a month-on-month basis, the food sub-index increased to 2.00 per cent in April 2022, up by 0.01 per cent points from 1.99 per cent recorded in March 2022, the report added.

It was further stated that the average annual rate of change of the food sub-index for the 12-month period ending April 2022 over the previous 12-month average is 18.88 per cent, 0.34 per cent points from the average annual rate of change recorded in March 2022 at 19.21 per cent.

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Economy

OTC Securities Exchange Closes 0.02% Lower

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By Adedapo Adesanya

The NASD Over-the-Counter (OTC) Securities Exchange closed marginally lower by 0.02 per cent on Monday on the back of a price depreciation in Central Securities Clearing Systems (CSCS) Plc.

The stock, which was the only price loser yesterday, went down by 5 kobo or 0.29 per cent to sell at N16.95 per unit compared to the previous session’s N17.00 per unit.

At the close of transactions, it reduced the market capitalisation of the OTC securities exchange by N250 million to N1.05 trillion from N1.06 trillion and sliced the NASD Unlisted Securities Index (NSI) by 0.19 points to 807.56 points from 807.75 points.

Business Post observed that the level of activity during the session was low as the volume of securities recorded a decline of 99.8 per cent to 61,131 units from 7.5 million units, the value of trades also depreciated by 99.8 per cent to N4.6 million from N2.2 billion, while the number of deals remained unchanged at 11 deals.

AG Mortgage Bank Plc closed the session as the most traded stock by volume (year-to-date) with 2.3 billion units worth N1.2 billion, CSCS Plc was in second place with 661.6 million units worth N13.9 billion, while Food Concepts Plc held the third position with 94 million units worth N77.8 million.

But the most active stock by value (year-to-date) was CSCS Plc with 661.6 million units valued at N13.9 billion, VFD Group followed with 9.4 million units valued at N2.9 billion, and AG Mortgage Bank Plc with 2.3 billion units valued at N1.2 billion.

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