Chairmen of the Senate and House of Representatives committees on Appropriation, Senator Danjuma Goje and Representative Abdulmumin Jibrin said the February 25 target for the passage of the 2016 budget is no longer realistic.
The two lawmakers said that the National Assembly observed during the ongoing budget defence that government ministries have padded their budgets and because of this, lawmakers require more time to thoroughly work on the budget.
At a budget defence session on Tuesday, the Customs Comptroller General and the Minister of Finance got into an argument over what he said is the poor remuneration for Customs officials.
Issues such as these, which have been playing out in the budget defence sessions, have led the National Assembly to postpone the date which it set for the passage of the 2016 budget.
The Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Appropriation said that lawmakers also observed complaints from different quarters arising from the imbalance from the capital allocation. The National Assembly has however not come out with a new date when the 2016 budget would be passed.
In January this year, hundreds of copies of Nigeria’s 2016 budget had gone missing at the country’s parliament.
The new delay is likely to worsen Nigeria’s economic crisis as it deals with the impact of plunging oil prices.
MTN Nigeria selects Gemalto for first commercial rollout of GSMA Mobile Connect authentication service
Gemalto (Euronext NL0000400653 GTO), the world leader in digital security, has been selected to provide its LinqUs Mobile ID platform to MTN Nigeria. This new project, operated for MTN in SaaS mode by Gemalto Allynis Services, marks the first commercial rollout of SIM based services delivering convenient mobile authentication for all mobile users. Compliant with the latest GSMA standards, Mobile Connect, ‘MTN Token’ is available immediately to MTN Nigeria’s 70 million subscribers and positions the operator as the country’s foremost provider of secure digital identification and authentication.
MTN Token offers their users a universal digital ID combined with a mobile-based second factor authentication, for easy and secure web service access, payments and financial transactions validation. When using MTN Token for eCommerce, banking, insurance, ePublic and corporate networks services, the user’s mobile phone number is employed as the username.
Depending on the level of protection required by the service provider, the process is completed by simply pressing OK on the handset, or entering a unique user-selected PIN code.
Any service provider in Nigeria can now easily adopt MTN Token services to dramatically strengthen protection of online services against identity theft and cybercrime. It also enables the operator to offer a convenient digital journey to its customers, removing complex registration and log-in processes, while sparing them the hassle of remembering new username/password combinations.
MTN Token leverages the secure SIM vault, creating a trusted environment for sensitive data and transactions, without the initial infrastructure investment required by in-house implementations.
“With the launch of MTN Token, we are the first private provider of secure online identity and positioned as a warrant of digital ID and authentication in Nigeria,” said A’isha Umar Mumuni, General Manager, Products & Innovation at MTN Nigeria. “As our network of service providers adopting MTN Token grows, the solution will deliver significant reductions in fraud whilst easing the frustration often experienced by consumers on their digital journeys.”
“The long-established partnership between MTN Nigeria and Gemalto is the perfect foundation for this ground-breaking project,” said Eric Claudel, President for Middle East & Africa at Gemalto. “Bridging the gap between security and convenience, Mobile Connect represents the future of user authentication. It also fully supports operators in monetizing new value added services
Nigeria’s vision 2020 to be likely updated
Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, hinted of the ministry’s plans to update Nigeria’s Vision 20:2020 agenda with a view to taking account of development priorities and the ‘Change Agenda’ of the current administration.
She added that the move was targeted at enabling the country’s long-term development agenda align with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
She drew the attention of the senators to some outstanding bills awaiting approval at the National Assembly.
Nigeria’s $25b Infrastructural Fund Gains Traction
The plan of the Nigerian government to raise a $25 billion Infrastructural Fund from the global community and establish long term bankable projects is gaining traction, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo says.
At a meeting with a delegation of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry on Tuesday, the Vice President said: “We have seen considerable, favourable interests from some Sovereign Wealth Funds and other nations”.
Explaining the idea of the Fund to the delegation, Professor Osinbajo said that the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority, which manages the country’s Sovereign Wealth Fund, was leading the project.
He stated that the Infrastructural Fund would create opportunity for commercial partners to participate in the building of the nation’s infrastructures alongside the Federal Government.
This would be done through the establishment of bankable projects that involves such commercial partners.
One of the partners, the China-Exim Bank has agreed to finance the railway projects linking Lagos to Kano and Lagos to Calabar.
“We expect these will generate some economic activities and create jobs,” he stressed.
“No Easy Choices”
The Vice President also reiterated the Federal Government’s determination to raise revenue internally to fund the budget, including an expansion of VAT coverage but not an increase of the VAT rate.
“At 20% coverage the VAT coverage now, the Federal Government intends to do much better giving a boost to the country’s tax revenues,” he said.
A statement by the Vice President spokesman, Laolu Akande, said that the delegation of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry was led by Mrs Nike Akande who declared the support of the Chamber for the Federal Government’s fight against corruption and acknowledged that in the current economic situation that the Buhari presidency was having to deal with “there are no easy choices”.
Mrs Akande, a former federal Minister for Industry, called on the Central Bank of Nigeria to find a foreign exchange regime that would boost the confidence of investors and remove uncertainty.
The Vice President told the delegation that the Federal Government was focussed on finding solutions to the economic situation, through a focus on building infrastructure and also diversifying the economy, especially through agriculture.
He said that the government was also focussing on creating an enabling environment for business and investments in Nigeria to thrive.
Emphasis On Power
Professor Osinbajo also received a delegation from the Association of Licensed Telecoms Operators of Nigeria (ALTON).
He praised the telecom operators, stating that “there is no question at all about the importance and contribution of the sector especially since the 2001 privatisation”.
The Vice President pointed out that the telecom sector was one of the sectors in the economy that had created a significant impact.
He reiterated the Federal Government’s resolve to develop critical infrastructure in Nigeria, especially in the power sector which was an area of concern expressed by the operators at the meeting.
“The 2016 budget has a lot of emphasis on power, infrastructure, and we are hoping to make considerable progress, with fairly consistent spending on infrastructure over the years, we’ll fare better,” he told ALTON members.
Earlier, the Chairman of the association, Mr Gbenga Adebayo, presented an industry report to the Vice President entitled “the Socio-Economic Impact of Telecoms in Nigeria.”
Adebayo also expressed concern of the telecom operators on ‘multiple taxes’ and some of their equipment destroyed by insurgents in the Northeast.
He told the Vice President that the industry had recorded over 120 million subscribers since 2001.
Responding to the concern raised about taxation, the Vice President encouraged the telecom operators to be diligent in the payment of taxes and avoid delinquency, while suggesting that judicial or legislative options be considered in the resolution of what the operators described as ‘multiple taxation’.
While observing the important role of the telecom industry and acknowledging its contributions to the economy, the Vice President sought the cooperation of the telecom companies in national security issues.