President Muhammadu Buhari on Thursday submitted a revised 2020 budget of ₦10.51 trillion ($29.19 billion) to the National Assembly for approval. The coronavirus pandemic and an oil price plunge have magnified headwinds in Africa’s biggest economy, which relies heavily on crude sales for government revenues. The problems triggered a decline in growth and large financing needs as well as weakening the naira currency. The government has said since March that the budget passed in December would be revised down. It must be approved by lawmakers, who can make changes, before being sent back to the president to pass into law after he has agreed to any revisions. Amid the steep fall in global oil prices, the government previously said this year’s budget would shrink by about 15%. The proposal sent to both chambers on Thursday is only marginally lower than the record ₦10.59 trillion budget approved in December by Buhari. It follows the inclusion of new items, much of which is related to healthcare as part of the country’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. The revised budget includes local and foreign borrowing, including $5.51 billion from multilateral lenders. The National Assembly had recently approved a loan of ₦850 billion while another of $22.79 billion, which the Senate has already approved, is pending before the House.
The Central Bank of Nigeria unexpectedly cut its benchmark lending rate to 12.5 percent from 13.5 percent, the central bank governor Godwin Emefiele said on Thursday. This is the first rate cut since March 2019 and the largest since 2015. Emefiele said seven out of the 10 members of the bank’s monetary policy committee backed a cut by 100 basis points while two voted for 150 basis points and one voted for 200. The country’s economy could contract in the second and third quarter this year, the governor said, but recover in the fourth quarter with the fiscal and monetary policy measures put in place by authorities. This is even as the country faces economic challenges from the novel coronavirus pandemic and sharp falls in oil prices, which have triggered a sharp decline in growth. The CBN has kept interest rates tight for the last two years to curb inflation, support the naira and attract foreign investors to its debt market.
Some gunmen killed over 60 people when they attacked the Garki, Katuma and Kuzari villages in Sabon Birni Local Government Area of Sokoto State on Wednesday night. The number of people that died may rise as more corpses are being deposited at the mortuary of Sabon Birni General Hospital. Reports. According to SaharaReporters, those who sustained life-threatening injuries are currently receiving treatment at General Hospital, Sabon Birni. Gunmen have frequently attacked the local government and which has forced hundreds of people to flee their villages. 18 people were killed in another attack at Faji, Lanjegu, Kadaye, Marakawa and Garin Ahmadu villages, about 15 to 20 kilometres from Sabon Birni town on Monday. Some residents of the affected villages alleged that some of the armed attackers were herders, who used the occasion as their response to farmers’ efforts to prevent them from destroying their farms by grazing their heard. Since the beginning of 2020, a growing number of residents in Sabon Birni LGA have fled their homes while those, who had stayed back, had formed vigilante groups to protect their communities.
The cost of exporting goods by air freight from East Africa has fallen as the number of flights from the region has increased, encouraging exporters who recently complained that airlines, which had lost passengers amid lockdown, had doubled their charges for air cargo. In April, cargo flights from Uganda’s Entebbe International Airport had dropped from 45 planes, carrying 210 tonnes per day, to just two aircraft transporting 35 tonnes. This is according to the airport’s ground handling service National Aviation. In recent weeks exporters complained that airlines across the region had reacted to the low capacity, by doubling the cost of air freight to Europe, to about $7(£5) a kg at all airports. However, over the last two weeks, there have been more flights – with Nairobi handling 12 and an average of six a day at Entebbe, according to the BBC. The trend is also reported at other East African airports. Kenya Airways, which manages Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi, says capacity has increased, making demand easier to meet, which has led to air cargo charges being reduced to levels last seen before the Covid-19 pandemic. Frequent air cargo operators in the region include the Middle East carriers Emirates Etihad and Qatar, the European airlines Lufthansa, British Airways and Martinair, plus the African airlines Ethiopian, and Rwandair.