World Bank Decries N2.9tr Petrol Subsidy, Scheme Ends Next Year
The Federal Government has come under heavy criticism by the World Bank for continuing to spend on petrol subsidy, which it says is on track to cost N2.9 trillion this year.
The bank’s Country Director for Nigeria, Shubham Chaudhuri, who spoke on Monday at a panel session during the 27th National Economic Summit, said the country could channel the money being spent on subsidy to primary healthcare, basic education and rural roads.
“This year, Nigeria is on track to spend N2.9tn on PMS subsidy, which is more than it spends on health,” he said.
Also speaking at the session, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, said the Federal Government had made provision for petrol subsidy till the end of June next year.
“In our 2022 budget, we only factored in subsidy for the first half of the year; the second half of the year, we are looking at complete deregulation of the sector, saving foreign exchange and potentially earning more from the oil and gas industry,” she said.
READ ALSO: Why Petrol Subsidy Should Go – Sylva
The World Bank director, who likened Nigeria to a malnourished individual needing urgent treatment, said some critical decisions need to be made now for the country to realise its potential.
He said :“I think the urgency of doing something now is because the time is going in terms of retaining the hope of young Nigerians in the future and potential of Nigeria. The kinds of things that could be done right away – the petrol subsidy; yes, I hear that six months from now, perhaps with the PIA(Petroleum Industry Act) coming into effect, this will go away.
“But the fact is can Nigeria even afford to wait for those six months? And there is a choice: N3tn to PMS subsidy which is depriving states of much-needed revenues to invest in basic services.”
The Chairman, Presidential Economic Advisory Council, Prof. Doyin Salami, said he had argued for a long time that subsidy really needed to go.
He said :“With the PIA essentially it makes illegal petrol subsidy and yes, there is a period where NNPC and the new regulatory agencies must calibrate themselves, but at the end of this period – and I think it is about six months, which explains why the minister has said for the first half of the year, there is provision.
READ ALSO: World Bank Blacklists 18 Nigerians, Firms Over Alleged Corrupt Practices
“My view will be if we could get it done sooner than that, it will be excellent. It releases money. The key point is simply this: we are now, any which way, at the tail end of that conversation, except if we choose not to obey the law. My sense is we will obey the law and subsidy will be gone.”
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NLC Directs Officials To Monitor Banks Over Cash Scarcity
The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) has directed its officials across the country to go round and monitor cash dispensing situations at the commercial banks.
This is coming ahead of today’s National Executive Council, NEC meeting, leaders of orfficials of state councils of NLC and industrial union affiliates are to take pictorial evidence of the actual situations at the banks, “whether the banks are dispensing cash or not, and report same to the NLC headquarters.”
The monitoring which ends by 12.30 pm will enable the NEC meeting that will commence by 1:00 p.m.at the Labour House, Abuja, takes a final decision on tomorrow’s planned nationwide strike over the cash crunch in the country.
The National leadership of NLC gave the directive yesterday (Monday, March 27).
An official of NLC who spokelsaid, “Yes, the directive was given yesterday. Union leaders are to go around their areas to monitor commercial banks this Morning before 12.30pm and show pictorial evidence of the situation at the banks.
“Whether they are dispensing cash or not. The pictorial evidencesl are to be forwarded to Congress headquarters to be us assess the activities of Commercial banks before the NEC meeting by 1pm to enable us take a final decision on tomorrow’s planned industrial action.”
BREAKING: Old N200, N500, N1,000 Notes Remain Legal Tender Till Dec 31 – CBN
In compliance with a ruling of the Supreme Court, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has declared that old N200, N500, N1,000 banknotes remain legal tender till December 31, 2023.
The apex bank’s Acting Director of Corporate Communications, Isa AbdulMumin spoke in a statement on Monday. This is coming 10 days after the Supreme Court ruled that old naira notes should co-exist with new ones till the end of the year.
“In compliance with the established tradition of obedience to court orders and sustenance of the Rule of Law Principle that characterized the government of President Muhammadu Buhari, and by extension, the operations of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), as a regulator, Deposit Money Banks operating in Nigeria have been directed to comply with the Supreme Court ruling of March 3, 2023.
“Accordingly, the CBN met with the Bankers’ Committee and has directed that the old N200, N500 and N1000 banknotes remain legal tender alongside the redesigned banknotes till December 31, 2023.
“Consequently, all concerned are directed to conform accordingly,” the statement read.
The highest court of the land had on March 3 ordered that old N200, N500 and N1000 notes remain valid till December 31, 2023.
This was after 16 states of the federation instituted a suit to challenge the legality or otherwise of the introduction of the policy.
The 16 states led by Kaduna, Kogi and Zamfara had prayed the apex court to void and set aside the policy on the ground that it is inflicting hardships on innocent Nigerians.
The Supreme Court subsequently ruled that President Muhammadu Buhari’s disobedience of its February 8 order is a sign of dictatorship, adding that the President breached the Constitution of the Federation in the way he issued directives for the re-designing of the Naira by the CBN.
After the March 3 judgement by the Supreme Court, the Presidency, CBN and the AGF kept mum, throwing many bank customers and Nigerians into confusion as the ruling of the apex court contradicted the directive of the President on February 16 that old N500 and N1000 notes are banned and old N200 notes remain valid till April 10.
However, the Presidency broke its silence on Monday, saying the President never told the CBN and the AGF not to obey the order of the apex court.
“The CBN has no reason not to comply with court orders on the excuse of waiting for directives from the President,” the Presidency noted.
According to the Presidency, the President is an absolute respecter of the rule of law and that the “negative campaign and personalised attacks against the President by the opposition and all manner of commentators is unfair and unjust.”
The CBN had extended the deadline for the swap of old N200, N500, and N1,000 from January 31 to February 10 following complaints by many Nigerians but the Supreme Court, after a suit filed by the states, held that the Federal Government, the CBN, commercial banks must not continue with the February 10 deadline pending the determination of a notice in respect of the issue.
However, the President, in a national broadcast on February 16, directed the apex bank to release old N200 notes into circulation to co-exist with new N200, N500 and N1,000 banknotes for 60 days — by April 10, 2023. He also said old N500 and N1,000 banknotes cease to be legal tender in Nigeria.
There has been a flurry of reactions and stark criticisms against the President’s directive including from governors of his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Governors Nasir El-Rufai (Kaduna), Abubakar Badaru (Jigawa), Rotimi Akeredolu (Ondo), Umar Ganduje (Kano); Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila; Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo; and many stalwarts of the ruling APC have openly censured and faulted the President’s directive, arguing that it has no grounds because the case is before the apex court.
Leading Senior Advocates of Nigeria like Femi Falana and Mike Ozekhome have equally faulted the President’s move, saying he cannot overrule the apex court of the land.
CBN Asked Banks To Receive Old Naira Notes – Soludo
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has asked commercial banks to dispense and accept old naira notes as deposits, according to Anambra State Governor Charles Soludo.
Soludo, a former CBN governor, made this known in a statement he posted on his social media handles.
He explained that the Governor of CBN, Godwin Emefiele gave the directive at a Banker’s Committee meeting on Sunday.
He added that Emefiele personally confirmed the directive to him.
According to him, residents should report banks refusing to accept the old notes.
“Commercial banks have been directed by the Central Bank to dispense old currency notes and also to receive the same deposits from customers. Tellers at commercial banks are to generate the codes for deposits, and there is no limit to the number of times an individual or company can make deposits.”
“The Governor of the CBN gave the directive at a Bankers’ Committee meeting held on Sunday, 12th March 2023. The Governor, Dr Godwin Emefiele, personally confirmed the above to me during a phone conversation on Sunday night. Residents of Anambra are therefore advised to freely accept and transact their businesses with the old currency notes (N200, N500; and N1,000) and the new notes”, the statement added.
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