By Modupe Gbadeyanka
The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, has explained why the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari has embarked on huge borrowing since he came into power on May 29, 2019.
The Minister, in a statement issued by her Special Adviser on Media and Communications, Mr Yunusa Tanko Abdullahi, on Monday disclosed that the borrowing has increased because of Mr Buhari’s desire to invest in public infrastructure, which will boost the economy and attract foreign investors like MoneyBrighter and others.
Mrs Ahmed said the President, recognising the importance of infrastructure from his first day in office, prioritised infrastructure provision and upgrade by ensuring that resources are adequately mobilised for infrastructure provision.
She noted that engaging in such huge public investment in infrastructure requires a management system and structure that will ensure that government gets value for money spent, hence, the need to set up public investment management units.
“In a developing economy such as ours, the provision of infrastructure is usually a cardinal objective. This is mainly due to the multiplier effect of the provision of roads, rails, schools, hospitals, etc. on the growth and development of the economy,” she said.
“This is even very compelling given that the government has had to increase its borrowing to fund these public investments in infrastructure owing to revenue challenges. Thus, because public investment refers to government’s spending on infrastructure, its management literally means the process of handling expenditures to ensure that government gets value for its investments,” Mrs added when she spoke at a two-day retreat held last week by the Budget Office of the Federation (BOF)/National Assembly Appropriation Committee on the Budget Process with focus on Strengthening Public Investment Management (PIM).
The Minister submitted that strengthening public investment will come easy with commitment, loyalty and collaborations between the parliament and the Ministry.
“For us to have a strong public investment management system that will help us reduce our infrastructure deficit, deepen our PFM reforms and assist in achieving the goals of our medium to long-term development plans, the executive and the legislature must perform their separate roles effectively while also collaborating to ensure overall success.
“The role of both the executive and legislative cannot be overemphasised. As we all know; the budget is the main fiscal policy instrument through which public investment in infrastructure is carried out by the government.
“Besides, ensuring adequate provisions of resources for public investment in infrastructure in key sectors of the economy is one of the key points of our medium-term expenditure framework which forms the basis for preparing the annual budget in line with provisions of the Fiscal Responsibility Act 2007,” she said.
“Since the coming on board of this administration, the BOF has taken several steps aimed at ensuring allocative efficiency of resources as well as transparency in budget implementation and reporting.
“For example, the government’s commitment to achieving transparency in public expenditure is reflected in the progress that we have made since the country signed up to the open government partnership (OGP) in May 2016 as the 70th member country,” she added.
The Minister also noted that the oversight role of the legislative arm of government is particularly important for strengthening the public investment management system.
“Irrespective of the budgetary allocations, the lack of quality spending will erode the objectives of such high allocations.
“As such, the legislature, using its instrumentality of the oversight function, can help improve the quality of government’s spending on infrastructure. This usually complements the monitoring efforts of the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning,” she noted further.
Mrs Ahmed disclosed that PIM Units have now been established across the Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) region, noting that, “These units are usually located in a country’s Ministry of Finance or the Ministry of Planning or Economic Development.
“Their purpose is to strengthen the appraisal, selection and implementation of infrastructure projects that many countries are (or will be) using to boost the economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Nigeria Rakes N174.9bn from 2020 Marginal Field Bid Round
By Adedapo Adesanya
The Nigerian Upstream Regulatory Petroleum Commission (NURPC) has disclosed that the 2020 marginal field bid round, which was concluded last year, has so far yielded about N174.944 billion, with owners of 30 fields having partially paid and two fields stalled by court cases.
The new commission further stated that 20 companies that won the bids had partially paid up, among those who won the 57 oilfields.
In May 2021, the Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), which transmuted into NURPC with the enactment of the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA), concluded the 2020 marginal oilfield bid round, the first successful exercise since 2003, when 24 assets were put on offer.
The process which culminated in the presentation of letters to the bid winners in Abuja by the industry regulator, started in June 2020, with 57 marginal fields spanning land, swamp and offshore put up for lease by the federal government.
Marginal fields are smaller oil blocks typically developed by indigenous companies and have remained unproduced for a period of over 10 years.
Some of the companies which emerged winners at the time included: Matrix Energy, AA Rano, Andova Plc, Duport Midstream, Genesis Technical, Twin Summit, Bono Energy, Deep Offshore Integrated, Oodua Oil, MRS and Petrogas.
A few others that succeeded in crossing the hurdle and had fully satisfied all conditions were: North Oils and Gas, Pierport, Metropole, Pioneer Global, Shepherd Hill, Akata, NIPCO, Aida, YY Connect, Accord Oil, Pathway Oil, Tempo Oil, Virgin Forest among others.
The process was hailed as a big win for local oil and gas companies in the country, which had a good outing during the ceremony as 100 per cent of the beneficiaries of the exercise were indigenous entities.
Nigeria last conducted marginal field bid rounds in 2003, with 16 of the fields contributing just two per cent to the national oil and gas reserves.
The commission also stated that its target revenue for 2022 remained N3.38 trillion, substantially exceeding its 2021 revenue projection of N3 trillion and that of 2020 which was pegged at N1.746 trillion.
In a presentation it made to the Senate Committee on Petroleum, Upstream, led by Mr Bassey Akpan, during an oversight meeting at its headquarters in Abuja, the agency led by Mr Gbenga Komolafe, explained that it hit N1.99 trillion revenue in 2020, surpassing its forecast of N1.746 trillion by about 13.98 per cent.
But in 2021, with a revenue target of N3.066 trillion, the commission pointed out that it generated N2.711 trillion, achieving 88.45 per cent of its revenue forecast which is usually paid into the federal government coffers.
It stated that in spite of the reduced fiscal provision in the PIA, the organisation was set to achieve its desired revenue target for 2022.
Furthermore, the NURPC lamented that with the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) production quota of 1.683 million bpd in January and 1.701 million barrels per day in February, it is only able to pump 1.396 million barrels per day currently, leading to a loss of at least 115,926 million barrels per day on a daily basis, put at roughly $300 million monthly.
“We are losing about 115, 926 barrels per day, so that literally translates to roughly about $300 million and that’s a huge loss to a nation that actually requires these funds,” he stated.
Mr Komolafe attributed the underperformance to mostly oil theft, sabotage, vandalism as well as technical issues, including ruptures associated with the assets.
“But the larger percentage is due to crude oil theft and as a commission we know the impact of this and recognising our regulatory role, we have been able to reach out to other operators as to what we can do about this.
“We are trying to put in place an industry-wide initiative to ameliorate the situation and we are expecting to go live in terms of implementation in collaboration with the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) and the other stakeholders,” he added.
However, he stated that despite the encumbrances, it would continue to promote an enabling environment for investment in the upstream petroleum sector, establish, monitor and regulate as well as enforce environmental measures and optimise government’s take from the country’s hydrocarbon resources.
In addition, the commission vowed to ensure compliance with the terms and conditions of leases and licences granted, enforce all laws relating to upstream operations as well as maintain a petroleum industry data bank.
Mr Komolafe, responding to issues raised by the senators on the environmental degradation in the Niger Delta, stated that there are provisions in the PIA which provide for remediation.
He stated that the commission recognises that the job was enormous and had set up an internal committee to liaise with the senate steering committee to work on regulations for the industry.
The agency’s chief executive stated that if fully implemented, the PIA would take care of issues connected with the environment, adding that while some pollutions are attributable to normal oil operations, others could be credited to sabotage by other parties.
AfDB to Establish Onion Commodity Exchange in Sokoto
By Adedapo Adesanya
The Sokoto State Governor, Mr Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, has revealed that the African Development Bank (AfDB) will soon facilitate the establishment of an Onion Commodity Exchange in the state.
According to the Governor, this was part of the outcomes of a high-level meeting he and some of his Commissioners had with the management team of the bank last week in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire.
A statement signed by his media aide, Mr Muhammad Bello, said the Governor made this known at the closing of a three-day training for budding entrepreneurs in the state last week, adding that his administration was dedicated to supporting indigenous farmers.
The realisation of the plan will make such an establishment the 15th of its kind in Africa and the fourth in the country after the Abuja Securities and Commodity Exchange, Lagos Commodities and Futures Exchange; and AFEX Commodities Exchange Limited.
In economic parlance, trading in exchanges includes derivatives contracts, such as forwards, futures, options and spot trades- focusing on immediate delivery.
It could also be traded on interest rates, foreign exchange futures, freight contracts instruments and environmental instruments.
According to the statement, Mr Tambuwal revealed that “during our visit to the AfDB, we had engagements with them and agreed that an Onion Commodities Exchange will be established in Sokoto with the help of the bank on the framework and technical support.”
He said the potential for onions trade abounds in the state, thus putting it in the topmost position of states cultivating the commodity in the country.
He cited an example of an individual in Abidjan, who transacts over N2.8 billion onion trade annually from Sokoto-Côte d’Ivoire, elaborating that the result of a survey he commissioned has revealed that from onion trade alone, the state engages in an annual transaction of between N250 and N300 billion.
Over the past few months, several stakeholders have been looking at how to push the onion species produced in the country to one of the best in the world.
Experts note that because of its strong pungency, it is exported to many countries including France, Japan, India, Niger Republic, Ghana and others.
GSK Consumer Healthcare Business Not Worth Than £50bn—Unilever
By Dipo Olowookere
Unilever Plc has said it will not increase its £50 billion bid for the acquisition of GSK Consumer Healthcare business owned by GlaxoSmithKline, which was earlier rejected by the company.
In a statement issued last Saturday, GSK confirmed that it “received three unsolicited, conditional and non-binding proposals from Unilever” for the acquisition of its consumer healthcare arm, which is jointly owned by GSK and Pfizer, with GSK holding a majority controlling interest of 68 per cent and Pfizer 32 per cent.
According to GSK, the acquisition value of £50 billion comprising £41.7 billion in cash and £8.3 billion in Unilever shares was below the true value of the business.
The offer was rejected, according to the company, because the consumer healthcare business was “fundamentally undervalued” as the business has great “future prospects”, which was not factored into the proposals.
“The board of GSK is strongly focused on maximising value for GSK shareholders and has carefully evaluated each Unilever proposal.
“In doing so, the board and its advisers assessed the proposals relative to the financial planning assessments completed to support the proposed demerger of the business in mid-2022, including the sales growth outlook,” a part of the statement noted.
But reacting to the rejection in a statement on Wednesday, Unilever said it does not feel that the value of the GSK consumer business is worth more than its £50 billion valuations and because of that, it would not increase it.
“We note the recently shared financial assumptions from the current owners of GSK Consumer Healthcare and have determined that it does not change our view on fundamental value,” the statement said.
Unilever said, “Accordingly, we will not increase our offer above £50 billion,” noting that it will continue to maintain “strict financial discipline to ensure that acquisitions create value for our shareholders.”
“Unilever also reiterates its commitment to continuing to improve the performance of its existing portfolio through its ongoing focus on operational excellence, its upcoming reorganisation and by rotating the portfolio to higher growth categories,” it added.
Unilever and GSK both have subsidiaries in Nigeria and are also listed on the local stock exchange.
Business Post reports that on Wednesday, shares of Unilever Nigeria closed flat N13.20, while GSK rose by 0.84 per cent to N6.00 from N5.95.
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