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President Buhari Rejects $1bn Ajaokuta completion fund bill, seven others

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President Muhammadu Buhari has declined assent to the Ajaokuta Steel Company fund Bill transmitted to him by the National Assembly in February.

The Bill stipulated the Federal Government should set aside $1 billion from the Excess Crude Account for the immediate completion of the moribund Ajaokuta Steel Company.

President Buhari also withheld assent to seven other Bills passed by the National Assembly and transmitted to him for assent.

Senate President, Bukola Saraki, on Tuesday read separate letters, which informed the upper chamber about the decision of President Buhari to withhold assent to the Bills.

Buhari cited several reasons including infractions on extant laws, duplication of responsibilities of existing agencies, to financial constraints for his decision to decline assent to the Bills.

In a letter dated 19th March, 2019, he explained he declined assent to the Ajaokuta Completion Fund Bill because “appropriating $1billion from the Excess Crude Account” as decided by the National Assembly, “is not the best strategic option for Nigeria at this time of budgetary constraints.”

Buhari said: “The nation cannot afford to commit such an amount in the midst of competing priorities with long term social and economic impact that the funds can be alternatively deployed towards.

“Bills, which seek to make appropriation of revenues to fund public expenditure should be consolidated in the annual Appropriation Act such that these proposals pass through the traditional scrutiny that budget proposals are subjected to by the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Budget and National Planning and the National Assembly.

Furthermore, as the Excess Crude Account Funds belong to the Federation, it would be proper to consult with the National Economic Council where the States are represented.

“Relevant stakeholders such as the Ministries of Mines and Steel Development, Industry, Trade and Investment were not fully consulted.

“The inputs of key stakeholders are necessary to create the optimal legal and regulatory framework as well as institutional mechanism to adequately regulate the steel sector.”

In another letter dated 27th March, 2019 Buhari cited provisions of Section 32 of the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency Bill 2018 as reasons for his refusal to assent to the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency Bill.

He said: “Section 32 of the Bill, introduces (I) a 2.5% levy on the profit before tax of the target companies which will increase the tax burdens of the companies while offering no direct benefit to them : (ii) a1% levy on imports which will also add to the cost of doing business in the country , (iii), a 5% levy on luxury goods which duplicates efforts by the Federal Ministry of Finance to raise excise on such goods in a more sustainable manner to the benefit of the Federal Government treasury “, he said .

He noted that if signed into law, the Agency will have similar objectives to the Bank of Industry particularly with regard to the funding of Small and Medium Enterprises.

He said: “Accordingly, it is important to streamline its functions to avoid a duplication or overlap of functions with other government institutions performing similar functions aside the likelihood of increasing public re-current expenditure by the proposed creation of new public sector bodies. ”

Other affected Bills include the Nigerian Aeronautical Search and Rescue Bill 2018, Chartered Institute of Training and Development of Nigeria (Establishment) Bill 2018 and Federal Mortgage Bank of Nigeria Bill 2018.

The National Housing Fund Bill 2018, National Institute of Credit Administration Bill 2018 and National Bio- Technology Development Agency Bill 2018, were also affected.

On each Bill, President Buhari gave reasons for his decision to withhold assent

 

 

 

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Huawei to invest $150 million in digital talent devt

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Huawei says it plans to invest US$150 million in digital talent development over the next five years, noting that the programme will be beneficial to about 3 million youths.


“We are announcing Huawei’s Seeds for the Future Program 2.

0. As part of our commitment to continuously develop talent, we will invest US$150 million in this program over the next five years and help college students and young people improve their digital skills. This program is expected to benefit another 3 million people,” said Huawei’s Chairman Liang Hua.


The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Pantami, stated that “Nigeria is positioning to be the continent’s leader in digitalisation. Burkina Faso already has a ministry of digital economy but we have so many advantages” The advantages, according to him, include the country’s population and location, the contribution of the ICT to Gross Domestic Product, and the level of the ICT literacy among Nigerians.


He added that the government would henceforth be proactive in the ICT through effective application of emerging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things, Robotics, and Virtual Reality.


He noted that in a few years, Nigerians might no longer need to travel to India or other foreign countries for medical treatment, as surgeries could be performed on patients anywhere in the world by means of 5G technology.


He urged the 10 Nigerian students selected from different institutions for the Huawei internship programme to see themselves as future entrepreneurs in order to make the best of the opportunity.


“The ICT has the potential of employing and lifting millions of Nigerians out of poverty,” the minister added.
He commended Huawei for investing in the youths as part of its corporate social responsibility engagements.


The Managing Director of Huawei Technologies Nigeria Limited, Mr Trevor Liu stated that Nigeria has the largest population in Africa. These youth are the continent’s greatest resource which will power the economy in the future.


Huawei partners with the Nigerian governments, education institutes and industry to equip the future leaders with the latest knowledge at the highest global levels and provide them opportunities to apply the knowledge in order to achieve a better future for the continent.

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