By Kingsley Alu, Mark Itsibor, ABAH ADAH and Tunde Oguntola, Abuja –
The federal government will this week release another N750 billion capital vote from the 2017 budget to ministries, department and agencies (MDAs) for execution of capital projects in the country.
Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, who disclosed this yesterday said the sum of N450 had been released for capital expenditures within the last five months of passage of the budget.
“Last year, we released about N1.3 trillion of capital. So far this year, we have released N450 billion. But this week we will release another N750 billion. That will take us again to about N1.2 trillion by the end of the year”, the minister said while addressing a business delegation from France in her office in Abuja.
Adeosun told the delegation led by Philip Labonne that, while Nigeria is on the part to recovery, “it’s a new type of economy we are trying to build”.
Earlier, Mr. Labonne who congratulated the federal government for the recovery plan it is carrying out inquired of the minister on the nation’s economic strength, areas of growth, and stability of the naira.
Responding to his request, Adeosun said, “ We see growth in a number of sectors. We see growth in health, simply due to the sheer size of our population. We see growth in services, banking. We see opportunities in manufacturing and in power. In fact, there is fully no sector of the Nigerian economy that doesn’t have growth”.
She told the delegation that the federal government is trying to provide the enabling infrastructure to turn the potentials of opportunities in the country into reality.
“Based on macro fundamentals, the naira is fairly priced and we think there will be stability in the naira pricing, which of course allows you to plan”, the finance minister told the delegation from the various sectors.
Labonne also expressed delight over the stability of the naira, which he said brings more expectations and benefits around business table.
The investors have portfolios from various sectors, including oil and gas, energy, logistics, health, banks, services and Agriculture. Apart from the federal government, the business delegation is also billed to meet with different private sector operators in Lagos.
…To Issue New Import Quota For Sugar Refineries
Meanwhile, the federal government may release the new sugar import quota for sugar refineries in the country involved in the Backward Integration Programme (BIP) in the sugar sub-sector by January next year.
The National Sugar Development Council (NSDC) said this followed the conclusion of the review of the BIP implementation by its monitoring groups for the sugar refineries.
Executive secretary of the Council, Dr. Latif Busari, disclosed this at the weekend during the review of the council’s activities in 2017 and projections for 2018.
He however said that the Council would have to wait for the approval of President Muhammadu Buhari by January.
Busari noted that the 2018 sugar projections for the country was revised downwards by the council to 1.58 million metric tons from the 1.6 million metric tons initially projected in the Sugar Master Plan because of the attack on Savannah Sugar Plantation in Numan, Adamawa State.
The Council also said the metric tons would be distributed among the operators based on individual performance.
Busari said, “The attack on Numan happened on December 4, 2017, with the herdsmen destroying all the work that has been done in the three plantations. It is a very serious issue.
“There will be serious challenge in production if the Savannah issue is not resolved on time. About three fields in the savannah are already burnt”.
He further disclosed that other investors were coming on stream to help boost sugar production in the country.
“We have other investors coming in; two in Jigawa State and some in Edo. We also have some small sugar mills that are coming up. We call them mini plants and we have one currently in Oyo State and another in Sokoto State”, he said.
Busari said the Council is collaborating with the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), Customs and the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) in its efforts to check smuggling of sugar into the country.
…Targets Additional 1,129mw Electricity In 2018
The federal government hinted yesterday that it is expecting additional 1,129 Mega Watts from generating plants that will go on stream next year.
At the moment, the country generates about 7,000 Megawatts.
The Minster of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola (SAN), gave the hint while addressing stakeholders at the 22nd Power Sector stakeholders meeting hosted by Geregu 1 power plant in Kogi State.
The Minister also noted that the N701bn payment assurance scheme initiated earlier in the year to help in the realisation of the incremental power policy of the federal government has started yielding positive results.
Fashola also noted that as at the time he visited the Geregu plants in 2016, only one of the tree turbines were working due to shortage of gas, saying the fact that all the tree turbines now have some gas and are working, leading to improved supply, shows the scheme has helped significantly.
According to the minister, generating companies now feel safer, as they can now invest and recover their money readily.
“Generation has reached an all-time high of 7,000 mega watts (MW) which is far different from what it was in January, meaning there has been progress”, Fashola said.
The minister who acknowledged the effort of the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) in increasing its wheeling capacity to 5, 155mw by Friday, December 18, 2017 said that it is a milestone in the journey to incremental power.
He added that the distribution companies (DisCos) have not been left behind, even as he observed that the problem now is much more with under-capacity to distribute as much as what is wheeled, leaving over 2000mw stranded at a time when the people are yearning for more power.
Fashola continued: “One of the reasons why we cannot allow this power to continue being stranded is that Nigerians need more power and more power is expected in the in-coming year, 2018 as Azura power plant and the several others will be ready to put more power on the grid, even as mini-grids and other off-grid sources are expected to come on stream.
“To me, what people should be looking at now is not lack of power but where to locate those who will use the available power so that there will no more stranded power”.
Speaking earlier, the managing Director of Geregu power plant, Engr Adeyemi Adenuga said since Geregu 1 was transferred to the private management upon privatisation in 2013, the new management has invested over $94 billion to achieve the progress made so far.
According to Engr Adenuga, what Geregu needs now are more loads that would match its generating capacity.
He therefore urged that the meeting looks into how to increase its load.
On his part, the Executive Governor of Kogi State, Yahaya Bello, who expressed his appreciation to the Minister and President Muhammadu Buhari for what has been achieved so far in terms of power called for massive investment in the distribution subsector of the value chain.
Our Support For Creative Industry Paying Off – Lai Mohammed
Meanwhile, the federal government has said that the increased attention and support being given the creative industry by the current administration has started yielding fruits.
Speaking at the premiere of a movie titled, Wedding Party 2, in Lagos, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, listed the pioneer status granted to the industry, the stepped-up anti-piracy campaign and the decision to seek stimulus capital for the industry from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) as some of the federal government’s efforts at boosting the industry.
He recalled that shortly after the Creative Industry Financing Conference held in Lagos earlier in the year, he led a delegation of the film industry stakeholders to the Inspector General of Police, which resulted in the formation of anti-piracy units in all the 36 states of the federation
‘’The subsequent extensive piracy raids have now resulted in the confiscation of pirated films worth hundreds of millions of Naira. In fact, criminal prosecutions of culprits have now started”, Mohammed, said.
He also recalled how shortly after the conference the federal government granted pioneer status to the Creative Industry to reduce financial burdens on new investments and encourage both foreign and local investments into the film industry.
Mohammed congratulated Ms. Mo Abudu and all those involved in the production of ‘Wedding Party 2’, saying with the blockbusters being churned out by Nigerian film producers, ‘’we can formally announce to the world that a true film industry has arrived in our Nollywood’’.
The minister has also declared the arrival of a new dawn in the nation’s creative industry
‘’I am totally encouraged that Nigeria is indeed on track with all the capabilities to diversify our economy in order to create jobs and boost our Gross Domestic Product. It is great to note that the Creative sector is taking the lead to achieve this’’, he said at the opening of the musical, ‘Fela and the Kalakuta Queens’, at Terra Kulture, in Lagos on Sunday.
He said the vibrancy in the sector is largely due to the collaborative efforts of the public and private sectors, which the likes of Ms. Bolanle Austen Peters, founder of Terra Kulture, have leveraged with impressive results.
The minister congratulated Ms. Austen Peters, her management team and all the creative talent involved in the making ‘of ‘Fela and the Kalakuta Queens’.
‘’This production will no doubt take us to another level in our achievements and I want to assure you that this government is with the Creative sector all the way’’, he added.