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N’Assembly sends budget details to Buhari

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The National Assembly Joint Committee on Appropriation laid the details of the 2016 budget on Wednesday.

The details of the budget were submitted to the Office of the Clerk to the National Assembly, Mr. Salisu Maikasuwa, around 5.07pm by the Chairman, House Committee on Appropriation, Mr. Abdulmumin Jibrin.

Following the procedure, Maikashuwa will transmit the 1,800-page document to President Muhammadu Buhari.

Speaking after laying the details, Jibrin told journalists that the committee worked for days to clean up the budget and break down the details.

Jibrin stated that having completed its assignment, the National Assembly expected Buhari to play his own part by signing the budget, which was passed on March 23.

Asked whether the details were exactly the content Buhari submitted to the National Assembly, Jibrin replied that the legislature used its power of appropriation to allocate resources in the budget.

He added, “We have worked on the details. Naturally, there will be inputs from the lawmakers and there will be inputs from the executive.

“Our job is to find a middle course. We have done our part and we expect Mr. President to play his own part.”

The Senate and the House had passed a harmonised budget of N6.06tn on March 23.

The Appropriation Bill was forwarded to the Presidency within 24 hours of the passage by the National Assembly.

However, Buhari declined to sign the bill, insisting on seeing the details before appending his signature to the budget.

The respective appropriation committees of the Senate and the House quickly acknowledged the President’s position, but observed that he could have signed and still get the details later.

The President stood his ground, insisting on getting the details.

The committees later assured Buhari that the details would get to him in a week’s time.

The harmonised figure of N6.06tn passed by the National Assembly was about N17bn less than the initial N6.07tn proposed by Buhari.

The National Assembly had retained most of the projections of the President, including the $38 proposed as the crude oil benchmark.

Oil price improved marginally to between $40 and $41 per barrel when the budget was passed on March 23.

Meanwhile, lawmakers on Wednesday asked President Buhari to guard against the pressure of assigning top administration officials to read the details of the 2016 budget before passing over their findings to him.

They said the President should be prepared to read the details himself, else he might still face the problem of discrepancies in figures he had tried to avoid by delaying the signing of the budget.

One of the members, who is the Chairman, House Committee on Public Petitions, Mr. Uzoma Nkem-Abonta, said information passed to the President could still be distorted if he had to rely on the same bureaucrats who introduced the distortions to read the details to be sent to him by the National Assembly.

Nkem-Abonta spoke in Abuja just as the budget details were laid by the joint committee.

He stated, “Will President Buhari read the details of the budget by himself or some persons will look into the details for him?

“If he is not going to read the details himself, I am afraid, he may not avoid what he has been running away from -that there should be no errors.

“If someone has to do the reading for him, what is the guarantee that other errors will not be added? The President seems pre-occupied that he really cannot read the details himself.

“We know that he was once beaten and doesn’t trust anybody anymore. But, will he read it himself?”

Nkem-Abonta also spoke on the proposed bid to delete Host Community Fund from the Petroleum Industry Bill, warning that it could only worsen the restiveness in communities where crude oil production took place.

Meanwhile, in a statement by the committee, which is jointly chaired by Senate Danjuma Goje and Jibrin, it explained that the details were delayed because of the errors and discrepancies that came with the budget from the Executive.

The joint committee commended Buhari for showing leadership by intervening to penalise some of the bureaucrats who introduced the errors into the budget.

“Some officials in the executive branch have also been removed from their duty posts because of these glaring lapses. That happened because the President took direct responsibility and got involved in the process, not only to ensure synergy between the executive and the legislature but that we could both arrive at a budget that is implementable for the good of all Nigerians”, it added.

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WAIVER CESSATION: Igbokwe urges NIMASA to evolve stronger collaboration with Ships owners

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…Stresses the need for timely disbursement of N44.6billion CVFF***

Highly revered Nigerian Maritime Lawyer, and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mike Igbokwe has urged the Nigeria Maritime Administration and safety Agency (NIMASA) to partner with ship owners and relevant association in the industry to evolving a more vibrant merchant shipping and cabotage trade regime.

Igbokwe gave the counsel during his paper presentation at the just concluded two-day stakeholders’ meeting on Cabotage waiver restrictions, organized by NIMASA.

“NIMASA and shipowners should develop merchant shipping including cabotage trade. A good start is to partner with the relevant associations in this field, such as the Nigeria Indigenous Shipowners Association (NISA), Shipowners Association of Nigeria (SOAN), Oil Trade Group & Maritime Trade Group of the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA).

“A cursory look at their vision, mission and objectives, show that they are willing to improve the maritime sector, not just for their members but for stakeholders in the maritime economy and the country”.

Adding that it is of utmost importance for NIMASA to have a through briefing and regular consultation with ships owners, in other to have insight on the challenges facing the ship owners.

“It is of utmost importance for NIMASA to have a thorough briefing and regular consultations with shipowners, to receive insight on the challenges they face, and how the Agency can assist in solving them and encouraging them to invest and participate in the maritime sector, for its development. 

“NIMASA should see them as partners in progress because, if they do not invest in buying ships and registering them in Nigeria, there would be no Nigerian-owned ships in its Register and NIMASA would be unable to discharge its main objective.

The Maritime lawyer also urged NIMASA  to disburse the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF)that currently stands at about N44.6 billion.

“Lest it be forgotten, what is on the lips of almost every shipowner, is the need to disburse the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (the CVFF’), which was established by the Coastal and Inland Shipping Act, 2003. It was established to promote the development of indigenous ship acquisition capacity, by providing financial assistance to Nigerian citizens and shipping companies wholly owned by Nigerian operating in the domestic coastal shipping, to purchase and maintain vessels and build shipping capacity. 

“Research shows that this fund has grown to about N44.6billion; and that due to its non-disbursement, financial institutions have repossessed some vessels, resulting in a 43% reduction of the number of operational indigenous shipping companies in Nigeria, in the past few years. 

“Without beating around the bush, to promote indigenous maritime development, prompt action must be taken by NIMASA to commence the disbursement of this Fund to qualified shipowners pursuant to the extant Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (“CVFF”) Regulations.

Mike Igbokwe (SAN)

“Indeed, as part of its statutory functions, NIMASA is to enforce and administer the provisions of the Cabotage Act 2003 and develop and implement policies and programmes which will facilitate the growth of local capacity in ownership, manning and construction of ships and other maritime infrastructure. Disbursing the CVFF is one of the ways NIMASA can fulfill this mandate.

“To assist in this task, there must be collaboration between NIMASA, financial institutions, the Minister of Transportation, as contained in the CVFF Regulations that are yet to be implemented”, the legal guru highlighted further. 

He urged the agency to create the right environment for its stakeholders to build on and engender the needed capacities to fill the gaps; and ensure that steps are being taken to solve the challenges being faced by stakeholders.

“Lastly, which is the main reason why we are all here, cessation of ministerial waivers on some cabotage requirements, which I believe is worth applause in favour of NIMASA. 

“This is because it appears that the readiness to obtain/grant waivers had made some of the vessels and their owners engaged in cabotage trade, to become complacent and indifferent in quickly ensuring that they updated their capacities, so as not to require the waivers. 

“The cessation of waivers is a way of forcing the relevant stakeholders of the maritime sector, to find workable solutions within, for maritime development and fill the gaps in the local capacities in 100% Nigerian crewing, ship ownership, and ship building, that had necessitated the existence of the waivers since about 15 years ago, when the Cabotage Act came into being. 

“However, NIMASA must ensure that the right environment is provided for its stakeholders to build and possess the needed capacities to fill the gaps; and ensure that steps are being taken to solve the challenges being faced by stakeholders. Or better still, that they are solved within the next 5 years of its intention to stop granting waivers”, he further explained. 

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Breaking News: The Funeral Rites of Matriarch C. Ogbeifun is Live

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The Burial Ceremony of Engr. Greg Ogbeifun’s mother is live. Watch on the website: www.maritimefirstnewspaper.com and on Youtube: Maritimefirst Newspaper.

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Wind Farm Vessel Collision Leaves 15 Injured

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…As Valles Steamship Orders 112,000 dwt Tanker from South Korea***

A wind farm supply vessel and a cargo ship collided in the Baltic Sea on Tuesday leaving 15 injured.

The Cyprus-flagged 80-meter general cargo ship Raba collided with Denmark-flagged 31-meter wind farm supply vessel World Bora near Rügen Island, about three nautical miles off the coast of Hamburg. 

Many of those injured were service engineers on the wind farm vessel, and 10 were seriously hurt. 

They were headed to Iberdrola’s 350MW Wikinger wind farm. Nine of the people on board the World Bora were employees of Siemens Gamesa, two were employees of Iberdrola and four were crew.

The cause of the incident is not yet known, and no pollution has been reported.

After the collision, the two ships were able to proceed to Rügen under their own power, and the injured were then taken to hospital. 

Lifeboat crews from the German Maritime Search and Rescue Service tended to them prior to their transport to hospital via ambulance and helicopter.

“Iberdrola wishes to thank the rescue services for their diligence and professionalism,” the company said in a statement.

In the meantime, the Hong Kong-based shipowner Valles Steamship has ordered a new 112,000 dwt crude oil tanker from South Korea’s Sumitomo Heavy Industries Marine & Engineering.

Sumitomo is to deliver the Aframax to Valles Steamship by the end of 2020, according to data provided by Asiasis.

The newbuild Aframax will join seven other Aframaxes in Valles Steamship’s fleet. Other ships operated by the company include Panamax bulkers and medium and long range product tankers.

The company’s most-recently delivered unit is the 114,426 dwt Aframax tanker Seagalaxy. The naming and delivery of the tanker took place in February 2019, at Namura Shipbuilding’s yard in Japan.

Maritime Executive with additional report from World Maritime News

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