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Senate Approves 2019 Expenditure Framework, Fiscal Strategy

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The Senate on Tuesday, passed the 2019 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and Fiscal Strategy Paper (FSP).

The MTEF and FSP are documents that provide the framework of designing a budget as enshrined in section 11 (3)of the Fiscal Responsibility Act, 2007.

President Muhammadu Buhari had on November 6, 2018, sent a letter to the National Assembly detailing the provisions of the two documents.

In it, he made proposals for budget deficit, crude oil benchmark price, exchange rate, among others.

The Chairman Senate committee on Finance, John Enoh who presented said the committee maintained the daily production output of crude oil at 2.3 million barrel per day, USD $60.0/6 as crude oil benchmark price, N305/1US$ as the exchange rate and N500 billion as special intervention fund – as proposed by the president.

On crude oil production, the committee advised that target be achievable due to the “continuous effort of all stakeholders in checkmating the issues of oil facilities vandalism and other vices associated with such regard.”

The committee, however, reduced the proposal for the budget deficit largely financed by borrowing from N1.86 trillion to N1.64 trillion.

It was recommended that the Central Bank of Nigeria continue to adopt strategies on exchange rate that will aid in the “strengthening of the Naira and bridging the gap between the official and parallel market rate of the foreign exchange.”

The committee also urged relevant agencies to continue exploring way of generating additional revenues to bring down the fiscal deficit.

Other suggestions from the committees asked that “the Federal Government should harness the full optimal potential of the Federal Ministry of Mines and Steel Development in terms of Revenue Generation to minimise the level of borrowing.

“The Federal Government should consider reducing the granting waivers and exemptions while ensuring that the Nigerian Customs Service personnel are at all oil terminals for accountability and the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) should consider increasing Tax on luxury goods and services.

“Twenty per cent operating surplus to be remitted by Government owned Enterprises should be deducted at source.”

The Senate’s approval comes weeks after Minister of Budget and National Planning, Udoma Udoma, appeared before the Senate to explain why the federal government made slight adjustments on the 2019 MTEF/FSP approved by the Executive Council of the Federation.

He said the adjustment was to accommodate some ‘unanticipated expenditure items’ in the 2019 budget proposals and the adjustments only affected the projected expenditure.

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Napoli Consider Renaming Stadium after Diego Maradona

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Napoli are considering renaming their stadium in memory of Diego Maradona after the club legend died aged 60.

Maradona, regarded as one of the greatest footballers of all time, forged a strong bond with the Italian club and its supporters during his seven-year spell between 1984 and 1991.

The forward, who inspired Argentina to World Cup glory in 1986, joined Napoli from Barcelona and won their only two Serie A titles – in 1987 and 1990 – along with the Coppa Italia and UEFA Cup.

Napoli president Aurelio de Laurentiis confirmed following Maradona’s death that the club will discuss renaming their stadium in his honour, combining its current title with his full iconic name, Sky reports.

“We can consider the idea of calling our stadium San Paolo-Diego Armando Maradona,” De Laurentiis told French sports channel RMC Sport.

Naples Mayor Luigi De Magistris supported the proposal that the city’s San Paolo Stadium be renamed for Maradona, who scored 81 goals in 188 appearances for the club.

“We are already putting it together this morning, taking the first steps to dedicate Naples stadium to Maradona,” De Magistris said.

The Mayor added: “We’re hoping to make it coincide with the resumption of games with fans.”

Fans gathered outside the stadium, which was lit in memory of Maradona’s time at the club, in the southern Italian city on Wednesday evening.

Tributes have poured in from the world of football and beyond, with three days of national mourning underway in Argentina.

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Implement People’s Demands Or Set Nigeria on Fire, Wike Tells Buhari

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Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to prove to Nigerians that he is ready to do the people’s requests.

The governor said the President will set the country ‘on fire’ by not implementing some of the requests voiced out by leaders during the recent discussions with the presidential delegation led by the Chief of Staff to the President, Ibrahim Gambari.

The PUNCH had reported that Gambari led ministers and federal lawmakers to meetings with leaders of the six geopolitical zones as a way of addressing concerns raised in the aftermath of the #EndSARS protests.

Gambari and the presidential delegation had met with governors and leaders of the South-South geopolitical zone in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, on Tuesday.

At the meeting, the South-South leaders including the Rivers State governor demanded the restructuring of the country in line with the principle of true federalism, saying it will guarantee peace, security and stability in the country.

Giving an update on the meeting on Thursday morning, Wike said the President still has time to implement the will of the people and etch a legacy for himself.

The governor spoke today on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily programme monitored by The PUNCH.

He said, “I am not a pessimist. I don’t believe that because you didn’t do what you agreed to do yesterday, therefore, you will not do what you agree to do today. Even if he (Buhari) has not done what he told Nigerians he would do, he can say, look, I promised Nigerians yesterday, I didn’t do that and that is affecting my integrity and so, for people who know me, I will implement what I have said.

“People have raised the issue that they don’t think anything will come out of the dialogues. I don’t agree with them. I believe that if the President does not do it, given the opportunity he has now, he will be putting Nigeria on fire.”

Continuing, Wike said political will to implement what the people want is key in governance.

According to him, the President has to show leadership by listening to Nigerians and by implementing the people’s requests.

“He may not necessarily implement everything the people may want but let the people see the concrete evidence that under President Buhari, he has been able to implement one, two, three, four demands by the people.

“If he (Buhari) doesn’t take this opportunity now to implement some of these requests, I don’t think it will be very good for Nigerians and for his legacy,” the governor added.

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Legendary Football Star, Diego Amando Maradona Dies at 60

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Diego Maradona, one of football’s greatest-ever players, has died. He was 60 years.

The 1986 World Cup winner had surgery to remove a blood clot on the brain earlier this month. The Argentine Football Association confirmed he had died this afternoon.

“The Argentine Football Association, through its president Claudio Tapia, expresses its deepest sorrow for the death of our legend, Diego Armando Maradona. You will always be in our hearts,” they said.

Another of football’s greats, Pele, has led the tributes to: “Certainly, one day we’ll kick a ball together in the sky above.” Follow latest updates and reaction here.

Dr Leopoldo Luque, Maradona’s personal physician, said the former player had shown signs of improvement after a successful operation three weeks ago.

Dr Luque said Maradona “laughed” and “grabbed my hand” just a day after he had the procedure.

“Diego is without any type of neurological deficit, without any type of complication associated with surgery,” Luque said, addressing reporters at the clinic’s door.

“He has an excellent post-operative period, the laboratory parameters even improved.

“The first impression is it is favourable, but it is difficult to evaluate.”

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