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NASS Passes N8.916tn Budget, Proposes N23.7bn for Lawmakers’ Severance

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The National Assembly on Tuesday passed the 2019 Appropriation Bill, raising the size by about N17bn from the N8.83tn proposed by the Executive to N8.916tn, with N23.7bn earmarked for lawmakers’ severance gratuities and allowances.

The key components of the budget, as passed by the parliament, include N502,058,892,965 for statutory transfers, against the N492.36bn proposed; N2,254,014,113,092 for debt service, against the proposed N2.14tn; N4,055,940,383,684 for recurrent (non-debt) expenditure, against the proposed N4.04tn.

Although a sinking fund of N120bn was proposed for the retirement of maturing bonds to local contractors, the lawmakers approved N110bn.

While the sum of N2.031tn (including capital supplementation but excluding the capital component of statutory transfers) was proposed, the lawmakers approved N2,094,950,709,632 “for contribution to the Development Fund for Capital Expenditure for the year ending on December 31, 2019.”

The Senate and House of Representatives Committees on Appropriations, in their reports considered concurrently by the chambers, had recommended a total budget estimate of N8,906,964,099,373.

Both the Senate and the House of Representatives, however, resolved to add N10bn to the Service Wide Vote for the rehabilitation of Zamfara State over the destructions caused by bandits in the North-West state.

The lawmakers also raised the amounts voted to other items in the budget, raising the total proposed amount of N8,826,636,578,915 to N8,916,964,099,373, a difference of about N90.3bn.

A close observation of the estimates passed by the House showed that under Statutory Transfers, the National Assembly raised its budget from the proposed N125bn to N128bn. The legislature got N139.5bn appropriation in 2018.

Under Recurrent (Non-Debt) Expenditure, N1bn was voted for severance benefits to retired heads of government agencies and parastatals, and N2.3bn for the entitlements of former Presidents/Heads of State, Vice-Presidents and Chiefs of General Staff.

Also, about N23.7bn will be spent on “severance gratuity for outgoing legislators and legislative aides, allowances for incoming legislators and legislative aides, and induction programme/inauguration of the Ninth Assembly.”

The sum of N22,682,832,166 was appropriated for the payment of outstanding terminal benefits of Nigerian Airways’ ex-workers.

Operation Lafiya Dole and other special operations by the Armed Forces got N75bn.

Under the executive sub-column, the Presidency will get N430.8bn for recurrent and N18bn for capital expenditures.

Earlier during consideration of the bill at the House, a member from Kano State, Mr Damburam Nuhu, noted the large amount allocated to the Office of the National Security Adviser as against what came to sections of the National Assembly. He said it was important for Nigerians to note that one office got as much as N86bn.

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Price of Cooking Gas Hits N7,000 As NLNG Rues Poor Facilities

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The management of the Nigeria LNG Limited has said that marketers do not have enough infrastructure to take up its Liquefied Petroleum Gas supply.

In an earlier PUNCH report, the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association had said that the major cause of the rising cost of cooking gas was lack of adequate supply.

The marketers claimed that foreign investors underestimated demand in the Nigerian market resulting in marketers venturing into importation of the product.

They advocated that the government should let NLNG supply more gas to the market to reduce the costs.

Reports from consumers revealed that the cost of refilling a 12.5-kilogramme cylinder of LPG had risen to as high as N7000 in some states.

The marketers had also urged the government to remove cooking gas from the list of commodities subject to the payment of value added tax.

The marketing manager of NLNG, Austin Ogbogbo, in a response to the claim made by the IPMAN said that the marketers did not have enough infrastructure to take up the gas the company supplied.

He said, “NLNG has grown its capacity from 50,000 metric tonnes per annum to 450,000 metric tonnes per annum of LPG in the past 14 years.

“Nigeria needs 1.2 million metric tonnes per annum, but even the 450,000 we produce cannot be absorbed by the market’s current infrastructure.

“We only operate in the midstream sub sector of the industry so we are only responsible for supplying to the market.

“The downstream players are responsible for the distribution to the end users, and also building the infrastructure to ensure it is done efficiently. It is out of our scope.”

He assured the public that the company would grow its LPG capacity if it confirmed that distributors could take up additional supply.

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FirstBank Expands International Money Transfer Network, Reinforces Commitment to Customer Service

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In furtherance of the need to expand diaspora remittance inflow into the country, First Bank of Nigeria Limited has increased its network of International Money Transfer Operators (IMTOs), targeted at easing the accessibility of its customers to receive money from close to 100 countries across the world in a safe and secured manner. With over 750 branches across the country, customers can receive money from the nearest FirstBank branch closest to them.

Over the years, FirstBank has been in partnership with Western UnionMoneyGram, Ria, Transfast, and WorldRemit. The bank is also in partnership with other IMTOs which include Wari, Smallworld, Sendwave, Flutherwave, Funtech, Thunes and Venture Garden Group to promote remittance inflow into the country, thereby putting Nigerians and residents at an advantage in receiving money from their families, friends and loved ones across the world.

Beneficiaries can receive remittance in US dollars in any of our over 750 branches spread across the country. Customers without an existing domiciliary account can have dollar account automatically created for their remittances. You can also receive inflow directly into your account through Western Union.

In addition, FirstBank has launched its wholly owned remittance platform named First Global Transfer product to promote the international transfer of funds across its subsidiaries in sub-Saharan Africa. These subsidiaries include FBNBank DRC, FBNBank Ghana, FBNBank Gambia, FBNBank Guinea, FBNBank Sierra-Leone, FBNBank Senegal.

Reiterating the Bank’s resolve in promoting diaspora remittances, regardless of where one is across the globe, the Deputy Managing Director, Mr Gbenga Shobo said “at FirstBank, expanding our network of International Money Transfer Operators is in recognition of the significant roles diaspora remittances play in driving economic growth such as helping recipients meet basic needs, fund cash and non-cash investments, finance education, foster new businesses and debt servicing.

We are excited about these partnerships, as it is essential to ensure our customers are at an advantage to receive money from their loved ones and business associates, anywhere they are, across the world.”

FirstBank pioneered international funds transfer and remittances over 25 years ago and has been at the forefront of promoting cross border payments in the country, having started the journey with Western Union Money Transfer. The Bank’s wealth of experience and operation in over 750 locations nationwide gives it the edge in the market.

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Unity Bank Collaborate to Fund N15.5bn Equipment for Julius Berger

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Unity Bank Plc, in company of other banks has facilitated a credit facility of N15.5bn for the acquisition of trucks and equipment to Julius Berger Plc.

The group Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of SCOA Nigeria Plc, Dr Massad Boulos, has appreciated the gesture.

A statement from SCOA said that SCOA presented 33 MAN platform trucks and equipment to Julius Berger to be deployed for the construction of the 380 kilometre Abuja-Kaduna-Kano roads.

The banks that funded the acquisition were Unity Bank Plc, Heritage Bank Limited, Zenith Bank Plc, Providus Bank Limited, Wema Bank Plc, United Bank for Africa Plc, Union Bank Plc and Coronation Merchant Bank Limited.

Boulos said, “I commend Unity Bank, their MD and the members of the executive management; and the entire team of banks who have worked closely with us on this project.”

Mr Ralph Brendicke, the representative of the MD of Julius Berger Nigeria Plc, Dr Lars Richter, said the trucks and other equipment would help the company expand its field capacity and increase the speed of execution leading to timely completion of the highly anticipated project.

The MD/CEO of Unity Bank Plc, Mrs Tomi Somefun, represented by the Directorate Head, Lagos and South West Zone, Mr Wale Ogunride, was quoted as saying, “We looked at the strategic importance of this project and how such infrastructure could contribute to stimulating economic activity and decided that Unity Bank must play its part.

“Unity Bank will continue to provide support to such projects as we have been doing in other critical sectors of the economy such as agriculture.”

In a separate statement, the Executive Director of Wema Bank, Mr Oluwole Ajimisinmi, was quoted as saying that his bank was delighted to be one of the institutions to support SCOA in the project.

He also encouraged and solicited for more local content in order to create more jobs.

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