Akpabio cancels Dubai trip amid Nigeria’s COP28 delegation size … – Tribune Online

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•Finance Minister, Teriba, others propose measures to raise revenue

President of the Senate, Godswill Akpabio, on Tuesday, shelved a scheduled trip to Dubai, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) following the criticisms that trailed Nigeria’s 1,411 delegation to the climate change conference.

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The figure of 1,411 comprised government officials, representatives of the private sector and civil society organisations, though the Federal Government has since clarified that it only took care of the bills of 422 on the list.

The parliamentary version of the conference, otherwise known as the Conference of Parties (COP-28), was set to open on Tuesday, and legislators from around the globe were expected to attend.

However, following the criticisms that greeted the high number of the Nigerian delegation to the COP-28, Akpabio, who was billed to fly out of the country to attend the session, quickly cancelled the trip.

The Senate President, who addressed a one-day retreat on the 2024 budget in Abuja on Tuesday, told the gathering that out of fear of being attacked verbally by Nigerians for travelling for the same conference again, he opted to shelve it and concentrate on the defence of the budget by Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs).

The retreat, with the theme ‘Budget and Budgeting Processes: Delivering improved Outcomes in 2024’, was organised by the Senate Committee on Appropriation.

“I have decided to stay back and I asked somebody from Cote d’Ivoire to represent me there,” he told the gathering.

On the N27.5 trillion budget, Akpabio said the National Assembly was determined to pass it in a record time in order to keep to the January -December budget cycle.

Akpabio, who stressed that strengthening revenue generation to fund the budget was a key concern, urged all ministers and heads of MDAs to ensure that they honoured their allotted days for appearances.

“Revenue drive is key and all the revenue agencies must rise to the occasion by plugging the loopholes of leakages.

“The Senate and the House of Representatives are determined to pass the budget. If you don’t come on time, there is no way we can pass the budget,” he stated.

Speaking earlier, the Chairman of the committee, Sen. Solomon Olamilekan, enjoined MDAs to cooperate with the National Assembly to achieve the plan of passing the budget early.

“That the National Assembly said it would pass the budget in a record time does not mean that the legislature should be taken for granted. Passing the budget depends on the cooperation of the MDAs. Any MDA that fails to come to the defence will be given zero allocation.

“This is an opportunity for stakeholders to engage deeply with each and contribute meaningfully to the growth of the nation,” Olamilekan said.

The Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Mr Wale Edun, spoke of cheaper funding sources for the country, including climate change financing.

He explained, “We need to quickly optimise our resources. The world is turning in a new direction. We too are turning to CNG. We too are thinking of electric vehicles to drive our economy and be in the global trend.”

A Professor of Economics, Ayo Teriba, recalled the challenges inherited by the administration of President Bola Tinubu but noted that in terms of revenue performance, the administration did well within the short time it came on board from May 29.

For instance, he said as of July, there was a revenue shortfall of 20%. However, Teriba informed the session that the gap was closed when revenue for the 2023 budget grew to N5tn within five months and an additional N3.5tn by November, bringing the total revenue to N8.5tn, above the projected N8tn.

“This, to me, means that the N18tn projected for 2024 will be met”, he further stated.

Recommending measures to shore up revenue for the 2024 budget, Teriba listed “Non-tax revenue” resources, including investing in “idle assets” as well as the railways, power sector and real estate.

“The current regime inherited a debt of N89tn. Let us concentrate on the journey forward by funding capital expenditure 100 per cent in order to generate investments that will keep us away from borrowing,” he added.


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