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Military Implores NASS To Ensure Availability Of Funds For Research, Development

The Director-General, Defence Research and Development Bureau, AVM Ubrufih Uzezi, on Tuesday, March 30, appealed to the National Assembly to increase its annual budgetary allocation for research and development.

Uzezi made the appeal when the Senate Committee on Defence, led by its Chairman, Sen. Aliyu Wamakko visited the bureau in Abuja, for oversight.

Providing a breakdown of the bureau’s budget performance for 2019 and 2021, Uzezi lamented the paucity of funds for research and called for more funds to be allocated to the bureau.

He said that an upward review of the funds for research would enable the military to effectively prosecute the war against insurgency in the North-East, as well as tackle other security challenges in other parts of the country.

“The money appropriated has been well spent and for the things we are doing, a lot has to do with funding to solve a lot of problems that our troops are facing in the North-East, North-West and North-Central; the issue of insurgency, banditry.

“For the 2019-2020 budget you will see that very paltry sum was given to research and development. Research and development cost a lot of money,” Uzezi said.

The director-general further said that Nigeria was experiencing a lot of insecurity, especially in the North-East, which required the military to prosecute with superior firepower; pointing out that the military research centre was expected to be the driving force.

“Our country is going through very challenging times and the armed forces is at the fore of resolving the challenges that we are facing.

“And for any armed forces to function effectively, they need equipment, they need capabilities that are technology-dependent.

“I believe that those who initiated the idea of a bureau like this to be established, foresaw and indeed there is no country that can attain self reliance in technology without research and development”.

In his opening remarks, Chairman of the committee, Aliyu Wamakko said the visit was aimed at carrying out a first-hand assessment of the military facility with a view to understanding its challenges.

“We are here as part of our mandate to have an assessment of the constraints. We want to also hear about your 2019 and 2021 capital budget. We are concerned about the security situation, what is being done and what the constraints are. We are here to have a first hand assessment”, he said.

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Development

Borrowing Threatening Nigeria’s Debt Sustainability- DMO

Debt issuance and management supervising agency, Debt Management Office (DMO) has alerted Nigerians to the country’s debt sustainability being under threat.

A statement released by the agency revealed that while Nigeria’s loans may still be within acceptable range of the country’s economic size, the ability to sustainably meet the obligations on such loans is now under threat.

The DMO also revealed Nigeria is still within its benchmark limit of 40 per cent debt-to-GDP ratio even with a total public debt stock of N42.8 billion by the first half of this year, which is about 23.06 per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Products (GDP).

Director General, Debt Management Office, Ms Patience Oniha who commented on the review of revenue budgets and actuals against actual debt service over the past eight years, said the debt service-to-revenue ratio is “high”.

Speaking at the annual conference of the Capital Market Correspondents Association of Nigeria (CAMCAN) over the weekend, Oniha said;

“Dependence on borrowing and low revenue base are now threatening debt sustainability.”

She also disclosed that Nigeria’s low revenue base compounded by dependence on crude oil resulted in budget deficits over the past decades, putting pressure on the country’s debt sustainability.

Oniha added;

“Nigeria’s public debt stock has grown consistently over the past decades and even faster in recent years. Consequently, debt service has continued to grow.

“The outlook shows that both the local and international markets are becoming tighter and interest rates are rising, thus priority should be less on borrowing and more on revenues from oil and non-oil sources.”

The DMO DG also said that while efforts at increasing non-oil revenue are yielding positive results, urgent actions are required to moderate the level of new borrowings and ensure that the public debt is sustainable.

Oniha who further revealed that most countries around the world have placed more emphasis on taxation as a principal source of funding for the government, Nigeran government should, as a matter of urgency, rationalise expenditure and accelerate the growth in revenues, including implementation of strategic actions to boost tax administration and efficiency.

The DMO DG also advised that “borrowing should be tied to projects and some of the projects should generate commensurate revenues to service loans used to finance them”.

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Development

At Annual Bankers Dinner, Emefiele Says Inflation A Global Trend

Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr Godwin Emefiele, has said the steady increase in headline inflation from 15.60 per cent in January to 20.77 per cent in September was consistent with global trends.

Emefiele said this at the 57th Annual Bankers Dinner, organised by the Chartered institute of Bankers Nigeria (CIBN), on Friday in Lagos.

The dinner had the theme, “Radical Responses to Abnormal Episodes: Time for Innovative Decision-making” wass appropriate and well timed.

He also said headline inflation soared to 20.77 per cent in September, indicating eight consecutive months of uptick, and that the upward momentum was after a successive period of decline in 2021, due to balanced monetary policy actions.

He said upside pressure on consumer inflation re-emerged during the year, as global conditions complicated existing local imbalances to undermine price stability.

“Food remains the major component of domestic consumer price basket. The annualised uptick in headline inflation mirrors the 6.21 percentage points upsurge in food inflation to 23.34 per cent in September.

“During this period, core inflation also resumed an upward movement from 13.87 per cent in January to 17.60 per cent.

“In addition to harsh global spill overs, exchange rate adjustments and imported inflation; inflation was also driven by local factors such as farmer herder clashes in parts of the food belt region,” he said.

Emefiele said during the early part of 2020, the world economy experienced the most significant downturn last witnessed since the Great Depression following the outbreak of theCOVID-19 pandemic.

He said the effect contracted global GDP by about 3.1 per cent in 2020, and commodity prices went into a state of turmoil as the price of crude oil plunged by over 70 per cent.

He said as the world struggled to recover topre-pandemic conditions, the global economy was yet again hit by another adverse occurrence with the eruption of the Russian-Ukraine war.

He said the war, along with the sanctions placed on Russia by the US and its allies, led to a spike in crude oil prices.

He said in the attempt to contain rising inflation, advanced markets such as the US, began to increase their policy rates, which led to a tightening of global financial market conditions along with a significant outflow of funds from emerging markets.

“The subsequent strengthening of the US dollar further aggravated inflationary pressures, along with a weakening of currencies, and depletion of external reserves in many emerging market countries.

“Today close to 80 per cent of countries have reported heightened inflationary pressures due to a confluence of some of the factors mentioned above,” said Emefiele.

He explained that central banks in emerging markets and developing economies, in a bid to contain rising inflation were also compelled to raise rates, which was expected to lead to a tapering of global growth over the next year.

“In fact, the short-term global growth projections by the IMF have been downgraded three times in 2022 and is likely to be below the 3.2 per cent and 2.7 per cent estimates for 2022 and 2023, respectively.

“Average growth among advanced economies is projected to plunge from 5.2 per cent in 2021 to 2.4 per cent in 2022 and 1.1 per cent in 2023.“Estimated output growth in emerging markets, is expected to slow from 6.6 per cent in 2021 to 3.7 per cent apiece in 2022 and 2023,” he said.

He said in view of the food, energy, and cost-of-living crises in many countries, there were growing restrictions on food exports from many countries.

“As at the last count, about 23 countries, mainly in advanced economies, according to the World Bank have banned the export of 33 food items. “Seven other countries have additionally implemented various measures to limit food exports,” said Emefiele.

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Development

Despite Challenges, Nigeria’s Economy Growing Under Buhari- Minister

The President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration  has recorded economic growth despite global and local shocks.

This was the view experienced by Mr Clem Agba, minister of state for budget and national planning, at a sensitisation programme on the Nigerian Labour Force Survey (NLFS), and the Nigerian Living Standards Survey (NLSS) organised by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) in Abuja.

He said some of the economic gains made by the regime were in education, health and the general welfare of the people.

The minister, represented by Faniran Sanjo, the director of the social development department in the ministry, urged Nigerians to focus on the successes recorded by the government.

He said the global and local shocks include COVID-19, the Russian-Ukraine crisis, security challenges and the climate change effects disaster in recent times.

Mr Agba said it was important to disregard the negative opinion that the government had thrown more people into poverty or had done nothing to mitigate the effects of the global challenges.

“My advice, therefore, is to focus more on comparative analysis of the situation in other countries, particularly in Africa and Europe, to appreciate the efforts of the government of Nigeria,” Mr Agba explained.

The minister added, “For example, in Ghana, Ethiopia and Rwanda, inflation was reported at 40.4 per cent, 31.7 per cent and 31 per cent, respectively, in October 2022. While the inflation figure recorded in the UK was at its highest rate of 11.1 per cent, the highest since October 1981.”

The minister explained that with the high rate of inflation in the above-listed countries, Nigerians could envisage the negative effect on household consumption and poverty levels.

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