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2023-2025 MTEF/FSP: 11.3 trillion Deficit Poses Fresh Threat To Nigeria’s Economy

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The Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and the Fiscal Strategy Paper (FSP) for the 2023- 2025 which received the Senate’s attention through its Committee on Finance chaired by Senator Solomon Adeola Olamilekan last week, laid bare not prospects, but challenges that would confront Nigeria in the 2023 fiscal year.

The MTEF/FSP is a policy document that speaks to the budgetary needs of the individual Ministries, Departments and Agencies of government, thus, it’s a preview of the annual appropriation to be soon laid before the joint session of the upper and lower legislative houses.

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Traditionally, the presentation of the annual budget precedes the passage of MTEF/FSP at both Chambers. Though President Muhammadu Buhari was expected to present the 2023 budget in the first week of October, 2022, but for lack of space due to the ongoing N30 billion National Assembly Complex renovation, the budget documents would separately be submitted to the upper and lower legislative Chambers.

The separate submission, which President Buhari will not be physically present, was confirmed on Tuesday by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila after the resumption of lawmakers from a two-month annual recess.

READ ALSO: Nigeria’s Debt Hits N42.8trillion

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The MTEF/FSP public hearing afforded the Finance Committees of lower and upper Chambers to interrogate Chief Executives of the agencies of government on the next year proposal submitted to the Budget Office of Federation before they were made available to lawmakers for legislative debate.

The week-long MTEF/FSP public debate in the Senate, DAILY POST, observed, unearthed gross under performance of some Ministries, Departments and Agencies of government, even after over 70% 2022 budgetary releases to them by the Federal Ministry of Finance. The gross under performance, particularly the revenue generating agencies, in the reasoning of Senate Committee on Finance members would put the budget deficit of N11.03 trillion at risk. The total budget for 2023, which was sighted penultimate week by DAILY POST in Abuja, stood at N19.76 trillion, out of which the Federal government would have to source for funds to finance about 60% of the total budget.

Chairman of the Committee, Senator Solomon Adeola Olamilekan after listening to presentation by some revenue generating agencies which could not meet their annual target, threatened that the National Assembly may give effect to ‘the Stephen Orosonye Report’ which recommended the merger of over 400 parastatals of government to save cost.

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He urged the heads of government agencies to wake up to their responsibilities, vowing that funds must be raised to fund the deficit. He stressed the readiness of the parliament to amend the relevant provisions of the Finance Act 2021 as amended to assist revenue generating agencies of government in generating revenues.

The lawmaker insisted that the FG cannot go cap in hand to borrow, while he insisted that heads of revenue generating agencies must be creative enough to generate funds to cater for the deficit.

He said: “Heads of revenue generating agencies should look for other sources of revenue generation to reduce borrowing and ultimately the deficit in the nation’s budget.

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“Any agency that fails to meet its targeted revenue generation has outgrown its usefulness and will be reduced to a department under the relevant Ministry.”

The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed had expressed concern on the budget deficit, citing the plethora of challenges confronting the nation and the inability of government agencies to generate funds.

The Minister disclosed that over 70% of the 2022 budget has been released to various government agencies, a feat she said was in line with President Muhammadu Buhari’s determination to properly fund agencies of government.

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A member of the Committee and Senator representing Niger East Senatorial district, Sani Musa, pointed out that the challenges facing the oil and gas industry in Nigeria, would pose a serious handicap to the government in view of the fact Nigeria runs a monolithic economy.

Musa added that the government must begin to look away from oil and gas to other things as an alternative means of funding its 2023 budget.

READ ALSO: Debt Servicing Gulps N13.17tn Under Buhari, Education Suffers

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“The budget of this country has been in deficit and the only thing we can do is to amend so many things in the Finance Act,” he said.

Meanwhile, the full scale oil theft in the Niger Delta, which has crippled Nigeria’s ability to meet its 2.2 million barrels of crude oil OPEC quarter, was a source of concern to all stakeholders.

DAILY POST

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They’ve Hidden Plans – Mixed Reactions Trail CBN’s New Naira Notes

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Nigerians have shared divergent opinions on the recently released new banknotes by the President Muhammadu Buhari administration.

The Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, on Wednesday announced the entry of the new notes into the country’s financial space.

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The CBN boss, while explaining the features of the redesigned notes, told State House Correspondents that it was in line with global best practices, noting that it was mandatory for the naira to be redesigned and re-issued every five to eight years.

The last time the bank redesigned the naira was in 2014 when it changed the design of just the 100 naira note to commemorate Nigeria’s centenary.

According to him, it is regrettable that the naira has not been redesigned for the past 19 years owing to lack of political will from previous administrations.

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“In the past, I have to confess that attempts by the CBN to redesign and re-issue the naira notes have been resisted. It is only President Muhammadu Buhari that has exhibited the courage to do so,” he stated.

Emefiele said it was the mandate of the CBN to redesign and re-issue the notes, stressing that the exercise would become a regular trend after five to eight years.

Meanwhile, Nigeria has in recent years undertaken the redesigning of her currency for various reasons.

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READ ALSO: Why I Approved Redesign Of Naira Notes – Buhari

For instance, in response to the expansion in economic activities and to facilitate an efficient payments system, the ₦100, ₦200, ₦500 and ₦1000 banknotes were introduced in December 1999, November 2000, April 2001 and October 2005 respectively.

On 28th February, 2007, as part of the economic reforms, ₦20 was issued for the first time in a polymer substrate, while the ₦50, ₦10 and ₦5 banknotes, as well as ₦1 and 50K coins were reissued in new designs, and the ₦2 coin was introduced.

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On 30th September, 2009, the redesigned ₦50, ₦10 and ₦5 banknotes were converted to polymer substrate following the successful performance of the ₦20 (polymer) banknote. Thus, all lower denomination banknotes were now printed in the polymer substrate.

Speaking on the development, Godwin Emefiele, added that the move to introduce newly designed notes became imperative following the abnormalities bedevilling Nigerian financial, monetary and security systems.

The circulation of the new designs will begin on December 15, 2022.

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But the introduction of the new naira banknotes has received a lot of reactions from Nigerians .

Some economic experts have pointed out that apart from the change in colour of the redesigned N200, N500 and N1000 naira notes, its security features have been enhanced.

But the presidential candidate of the African Action Congress, AAC, Omoyele Sowore knocked President Buhari and Emefiele, accusing them of playing Nigerians by redesigning the banknotes.

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Sowore slammed Buhari, saying that no significant change occurred to the naira, and it seems Nigerians have been deceived again.

For Shehu Sani, a former Nigerian lawmaker, it was only a colour change that was introduced in the new notes, saying, “If it’s Naira colour, the CBN should have just engaged Snapchat.”

A senior lecturer of the Department of Economics, Kaduna State University, Professor Abdulmalik Abdulkadir, said with the current redesign of banknotes, embezzlement of public money by those in position of power, would be minimised

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Speaking to Journalists in Kaduna on Wednesday, Prof Abdulmalik noted that since the new notes are yet to be in circulation, what everyone is after is how to change the old currency which may soon fade away.

READ ALSO: JUST IN: CBN Gov, Emefiele Explains Features Of New Naira Notes

According to him, some public servants in positions of authority are also scared of stealing public funds as they would be caught anytime, anywhere.

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Few Nigerians, who spoke to our correspondent on the streets of Abuja, also shared their thoughts. While some of them believe that it is a good way to stop politicians from money laundering ahead of the 2023 general elections, some others feel it is a waste of time.

Jennifer Adimso said, “I’m surprised that people still believe in this government and their policies. You’re talking about preventing politicians from laundering money but that’s a lie. Who is Emefiele working for? He is working for the APC. In fact, he is a member of the APC. He was contesting for the APC presidential primary if not for the pressure from Nigerians.

“In fact he went to court to challenge Nigerians against him. He is working for his party and if anybody is planning to launder money, it is APC. You’ll see bullion vans parked in the compound of some individuals and no one will question them. I believe they have some politicians they’re targeting. They’ve concluded their plans. These people think way ahead of us. Changing the colours of the N200, N500 and N1000 notes is just another way to distract Nigerians. Nothing more.”

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David Sam Ade said, “All I can say is that the colour of those banknotes have changed. I’m not an expert to know the security features but all I can tell you is that the change won’t contribute anything. Now tell me, will it change the prices of garri, rice, yam, onions and other food items in the market? Buhari and his team are bent on deceiving Nigerians. We can’t wait for their tenure to end. People are suffering and all you can do is change the colour of money. It makes no sense to me. The reason why Emefiele is still there as the CBN governor is because he’s as clueless as the President himself.”

Pastor Jewel Abianso said, “Nigerians should be prayerful. Nigeria is drifting under the current government. See, the redesigning of the naira note may be good to many of us but we may not know the idea behind it. The question is why is it happening now? They said it is to stop money laundering against the election but how do we know the other underlying reasons? When a government has established itself on deceit, it becomes difficult to know when it is taking a good measure that would be beneficial to its people. I believe Nigeria has more significant problems than changing the colour of some currency denominations. Once again, I’ll encourage Nigerians to pray hard ahead of the forthcoming elections. Let’s pray for change and to have a government we can trust.”

Meanwhile, Abdulrasheed Bawa, Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), had described the development as apt and commendable.

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He said it was “a well-considered and timely response” to the challenges of currency management.

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Naira Redesign: Buhari, Emefiele Played Nigerians, Only Changed Dye Of Currency – Sowore

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The presidential candidate of the African Action Congress, AAC, Omoyele Sowore on Wednesday, knocked President Muhammadu Buhari and the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Godwin Emefiele, over the newly-redesigned naira notes.

Sowore accused Buhari and Emefiele of playing Nigerians by redesigning the naira.

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In a tweet, the AAC presidential candidate described the president and the CBN governor as crooks.

He stressed that no significant change occurred to the naira, and it seems Nigerians have been deceived again.

Buhari had unveiled the redesigned N200, N500 and N1000 notes at the commencement of the weekly meeting of the Federal Executive Council (FEC).

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The new Naira notes will become legal tender commencing from December 15, while the old ones will cease to be legal tender effective February 1, 2023.

READ ALSO: JUST IN: CBN Gov, Emefiele Explains Features Of New Naira Notes

This is the first time in 19 years that Nigeria will be redesigning some of her currency notes.

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Sharing a photograph on Twitter, Sowore expressed disappointment at the development.

He wrote: “@GodwinIEmefiele of the @cenbank, and @MBuhari just played Nigerians over the fraudulent so-called redesign of the Naira. Nothing was “redesigned” just a change of dye. Crooks! #WeCantContinueLikeThis.”

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JUST IN: CBN Gov, Emefiele Explains Features Of New Naira Notes

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The Central Bank of Nigeria Governor, Godwin Emefiele has explained the features of the redesigned notes.

Emefiele told State House Correspondents that it was in line with global best practices, noting that it was mandatory for the naira to be redesigned and re-issued every five to eight years.

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According to him, it is regrettable that the naira has not been redesigned for the past 19 years owing to lack of political will from previous administrations.

“In the past, I have to confess that attempts by the CBN to redesign and re-issue the naira notes have been resisted. It is only President Muhammadu Buhari that has exhibited the courage to do so,” he stated.

Emefiele said it was the mandate of the CBN, to redesign and re-issue the notes, stressing that the exercise would become a regular trend after five to eight years.

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His words,”After today, the CBN will begin to redesign and reissue the naira for every five to eight years”

The CBN governor said that Nigeria has gone cashless and that security agencies would monitor people making withdrawal at the counter to know how much withdrawn and also monitor the usage of the money.

He debunked insinuations that the policy was targeted at anyone, especially the political class.

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READ ALSO: JUST IN: FG Unveils Redesigned Naira Notes To General Public [PHOTOS]

He said that the CBN was determined in ensuring that the provision of the law on volume of money one should carry is followed.

“The world has moved to cashless economy and the CBN has moved to cashless economy. We will restrain the volume of cash someone will withdraw over the counter. We will follow up with the person’s data to know the reason for such withdrawal,” he said.

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Commenting on calls for extension of time for the usage of old notes, the CBN boss said, “we will not go with people that want extension of time. From today, this currency that was reissued will become a legal tender.”

Emefiele also said there is no local government area in the country where there is no bank agent, insisting that there is over one million points across the country that people should go and deposit the old notes.

The CBN boss also boasted that the new naira notes cannot be counterfeited because of the features in them.

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