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Nigeria’s President Buhari Signs 2021 Budget

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Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday signed the 2021 Appropriation Bill of N13,588,027,886,175 into law.

The president’s action followed the earlier passing of the bill by the National Assembly on December 21 during an emergency session convened for the purpose of passing the budget.

The signing of the budget is also in line with the president’s promise to return the nation to the January to December Budget circle.

The budget estimate was increased by the sum of N505, 607,317,942 from the estimate of N13, 082, 420, 568,233 presented to the joint sitting of National Assembly by President Buhari on Oct. 8, 2020.

The signed budget comprises a total Capital Supplementation of N1,060,751,051,650.

Statutory Transfer stands at N496,528,471,273; recurrent Expenditure of N5,641,970,060,680 and Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth rate of 3.00 Per cent.

It also provides N3,324,380,000 trillion for debt servicing while N5,641,970,060,680 is for Recurrent Expenditure; and N4,125,149,354,222 for Capital Expenditure.

The president also signed the 2020 Finance Bill into law.

Witnessing the signing of the budget are the Vice-President, Yemi Osinbajo, Senate President Ahmad Lawan and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila.

Others at the Council Chamber were the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, some cabinet ministers as well as few top government officials.

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Health

Bread Crisis: Libya’s Central Bank Rejects New Letters of Credit for Flour

Governor of the Central Bank of Libya (CBL) Al-Siddiq Al-Kabeer emphasised that the letters of credit, which were opened in 2020 for the supply of flour, were appropriate for the amounts consumed in Libya.

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In response to the Head of Presidential Council, Fayez Al-Sarraj’s regarding requests for new letters of credit to import flour, the Governor of the Central Bank of Libya (CBL) Al-Siddiq Al-Kabeer has on Sunday issued a statement.

Al-Kabeer emphasised that the letters of credit, which were opened in 2020 for the supply of flour, were appropriate for the amounts consumed in Libya.

The General Union of Bakers in Tripoli shut down all bakeries in the city on Saturday, citing an increase in the price of ingredients. This move was justified by the union’s head, Saeed Boukhreiss who claimed the new prices were necessary due to the new prices of flour being linked to lack of supply by the mills’ company.  

The Governor explained that the PM’s call represents a grave breach of the country’s financial law and public spending controls, stipulated in the 2015 Libyan Political Agreement (LPA). He further stated that the state’s balance of foreign exchange with the Libyan Foreign Bank (LFB) is linked to sovereign revenues.

Al-Kabeer also countered rumours suggesting that it had opened letters of credits for importing unnecessary food items.

He further reminds the GNA officials on their obligation to control the country’s borders and ports to curb the smuggling of subsidised goods, especially flour and fuel.

Bakeries reopened Monday after the Bakers’ Union reached an agreement with the control authorities. Bread prices have been impacted largely by flour shortage, the prices of wheat which increased globally by 40% and the new exchange rate of the Libyan dinar to U.S. dollar on the confectionary sector. Bakeries may face dire straits in the coming months if state authorities do not resolve the problem satisfactorily.

In 2018, inflationary pressure and dwindling oil prices among other factors saw bakeries in Tripoli abruptly shut for two weeks, thereby triggering a food crisis around bread – a staple for many Libyans.

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Central Africa Politics

Constitutional Court Confirms C.A.R President Touadera’s Re-election

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The Constitutional Court of the Central African Republic (CAR) on Monday confirmed the re-election of President Faustin-Archange Touadera.

CAR held its presidential elections on 27 December 2020. On January 4, authorities announced preliminary results of the vote, saying Touadera won 53.92 per cent but the opposition asked the Constitutional Court to cancel the ballot and order a re-run.

The opposition had cited “massive fraud’’, insecurity and low voter turnout as marring the elections.

However, on Monday, the constitutional court announced that Touadera won his second term with 53.16 per cent of the vote; Anicet Georges Dologuele had 22% of the vote, repeating his second-place finish in the 2016 election.

The poll was held under threats from armed groups, which formed a new alliance, known as the Coalition of Patriots for Change, and launched attacks in the provinces, vowing to “march on Bangui,’’ the capital.

The government accused former president Francois Bozize of instigating the unrest to attempt a coup.

Touadera, 63, first took the helm of affairs in the country in 2016 after a civil war that left thousands of dead and drove hundreds of thousands from their homes.

Two-thirds of the impoverished country is in the hands of armed groups, and Touadera relies on help from UN peacekeeping forces and military support from Russia and Rwanda.

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East Africa Politics News

Uganda Turns on Internet Connection Days After Shut Down, Social Media Remains Blocked

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Uganda on Monday switched on the internet after shutting it down on January 13, fearing that it would be used to spread messages of hate and violence ahead of the country’s general elections held on January 14.

Ofwono Opondo, government spokesman said that the internet is only switched on after data collected indicate that there will be no violence.

“Internet was switched off because people wanted to spread messages of hate and violence, as well as discredit the integrity of our elections,” Opondo said.

“We think now people have come to terms with the results. However, we remain on alert,” he added.

On January 13, a day before the country had its presidential and parliamentary elections, the internet was switched off.

“Whatever was done was done for the good of the country. The opposition was affected and the ruling party was also affected. Even the general public was affected,” Opondo said.

Although Ugandans are celebrating the resumption of internet services after a shutdown was imposed ahead of last week’s election, social media platforms remain blocked and are only accessible using Virtual Private Networks (VPN).

President Yoweri Museveni, who won an unprecedented sixth term in office, accused the platforms of being biased.

In the Thursday election, Museveni won with 58.64 per cent of the tallied votes while his closest rival Robert Kyagulanyi scored a mere 34.83 per cent.

The presidential race was contested by 11 candidates, only one of them was female.

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