The balance in the excess Crude Account (ECA) where Nigeria pays the difference between its budgeted benchmark oil price and actual receipts was stuck at $72.41 million as May 2021, flat from the April 2021 levels but down 78 percent from December 2019 levels of $324.97 million.
This was one of the major highlights when the Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Mr. Clem Agba, gave a presentation at yesterday’s National Economic Council (NEC) chaired by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN.
The meeting of the Council comprises the 36 State Governors, the Federal Capital Territory Minister and the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), besides other Federal Government officials.
NEC also received a presentation on the Digital Switch Over (DSO) by the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed. He stated that it was the International Telecommunications Union, ITU, that decided on member states switching off analogue television transmission to ‘go digital’.
The DSO will be taking off first in Lagos, Kano and Rivers States, he stated.
According to him, the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) and the DSO Ministerial Task Force are tasked with ensuring that Nigeria ‘digitizes’ and develop a public information and awareness campaign to inform citizens about DSO/FreeTV.
The Minister disclosed that the switch-over has a revenue generation potential of N20 billion annually; and that the funds will enable the NBC support and upgrade DSO initiative, as well as fund local producers.
The Council also received an update on Nigeria’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic by the Director General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu.
According to the DG, NCDC, in the last two months there has been reduction in the number of cases globally, stating that even India has also experienced reduction in its infection rates in the last five days.
He added that in Nigeria, the total number of cases as at yesterday, May 19, 2021, was 165,809, while number of cases tested was 2,002,653, with 7,323 active cases. It was also disclosed that discharged cases were now 156,419, while there had been 2,067 deaths.
According to the NCDC boss, the “transmission rate in the country is low,” adding that attention is now on tracking the new B1.617.2 variant from India. He said there are only three such cases identified in Nigeria so far.
He added that focus should remain on the protocols to stop the spread of the virus, while the health authorities and agencies will keep an eye on tracking the Indian variant. Governments and leaders in the society are also urged to discourage pandemic fatigue and stick to the COVID-19 safety protocols.
On the Budget Support Facility, State Governors restated their request to defer the repayment of the loans, which was to have started this month. Ekiti State Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, who is also Chairman, Nigeria Governors’ Forum, reported interactions with the Finance Minister and the CBN Governor regarding the matter.
The CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, also emphasized the importance of the timely repayment of loans, especially those owed to commercial banks, indicating the challenges inherent in a further delay in payment, including audit concerns. He said the repayment of the commercial loans should resume this month.
In addition, the Vice President stated that he will be holding a meeting with representatives of the State Governors, the Finance Minister and the CBN Governor to resolve the issue raised.