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Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has announced that it generated N311.2 billion revenue in the first quarter of 2019.

This was contained in a document released in Abuja by the office of the Public Relations Officer of the service, Joseph Attah, showing the revenue generated between January and March.

A revenue target of N887 billion was set for NCS in 2019 by the federal government.

However, the Comptroller-General of Customs, Hameed Ali, had promised that the figure would be surpassed as the management had earlier set a higher target for the organisation.

The NCS generated about N116.5 billion in January, N84.9 billion in February, and N109.8 billion in March.

It showed that the revenue, which is from; import duty, levy, exercise duty and other fees, was gotten from the 29 various commands of the service across the country.

Apapa Customs’ command has the highest revenue generated followed by Tincan.

Ogun State Command of NCS had, earlier in the month, announced that it generated N3,258,628,190 revenue in the first quarter of 2019.

The command’s Area Comptroller, Michael Agbara said the command intercepted 1.8 tons of cannabis sativa (Indian hemp), 12,720 bags of foreign rice, 83 units of “tokunbo” vehicles, 446 kegs of vegetable oil, 4 units of motorcycle and 778 pairs, three jumbo and six sacks of used foot wears, within the period.

Former President Jimmy Carter told a church congregation this weekend that he had spoken with President Donald Trump about China on Saturday, and said the commander in chief was worried that Beijing had outpaced its global rivals.

According to Emma Hurt, a reporter for NPR affiliate WABE, Carter spoke of the call during his regular Sunday School lesson at Maranatha Baptist Church in his hometown of Plains, Georgia.

Carter, 94, said Trump was worried that “China is getting ahead of us,” and suggested the president was right to be concerned.

He told the congregation that Trump feared China’s growing economic strength. Economic modeling indicated that China would overtake the U.S. as the world’s strongest economy by 2030, and many experts have said that we were already living in what has been dubbed the “Chinese Century.”

Carter said he did not “really fear that time, but it bothers President Trump and I don’t know why. I’m not criticizing him this morning,” he added, to laughs from fellow churchgoers.

Carter—who normalized diplomatic relations between Washington and Beijing in 1979—suggested that China’s breakneck growth had been facilitated by sensible investment and buoyed by peace.

“Since 1979, do you know how many times China has been at war with anybody?” Carter asked. “None. And we have stayed at war.” The U.S., he noted, has only enjoyed 16 years of peace in its 242-year history, making the country “the most warlike nation in the history of the world,” Carter said. This is, he said, because of America’s tendency to force other nations to “adopt our American principles.”

In China, meanwhile, the economic benefits of peace were clear to the eye. “How many miles of high-speed railroad do we have in this country?” he asked. While China has some 18,000 miles of high-speed rail, the U.S. has “wasted, I think, $3 trillion” on military spending. “It’s more than you can imagine. China has not wasted a single penny on war, and that’s why they’re ahead of us. In almost every way.”

“And I think the difference is if you take $3 trillion and put it in American infrastructure you’d probably have $2 trillion leftover. We’d have high-speed railroad. We’d have bridges that aren’t collapsing, we’d have roads that are maintained properly. Our education system would be as good as that of say South Korea or Hong Kong,” Carter told the congregation.

Before he left the pulpit, Carter noted, “I wasn’t comparing my country adversely to China. I was just pointing that out because I happened to get a phone call last night.”

The Trump administration remains locked in a costly trade war with China, though Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said Saturday the end could be in sight. “I think we’re hopeful that we’re getting close to the final round of concluding issues,” Mnuchin told reporters, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Meanwhile, military tensions remain over Chinese territorial claims in the South China Sea and its continued insistence that the independent island nation of Taiwan will eventually fall back under Beijing’s control.

Nigeria’s inflation rate has dropped to 11.25 percent year on year for March 2019, the National Bureau of Statistics, NBS, said on Tuesday.
 
According to the report released by the bureau, the inflation rate for the month of March is 0.06 percent lower than the 11.31 per cent recorded in February 2019.
 

The report further states that on a month-on-month basis, the index increased by 0.79 per cent in March. The report also revealed that this was 0.06 percentage points higher than the 0.73 per cent recorded in February.

For urban inflation, the rate increased by 11.54 per cent year-on-year in March 2019 from 11.59 per cent recorded in February, while the rural inflation rate increased by 10.99 per cent in March from 11.05 per cent in February.

The NBS however said the urban index on a month-on-month basis, rose by 0.81 per cent in March, up by 0.05 percentage points from 0.76 per cent recorded in February, while the rural index rose by 0.77 per cent in March, up by 0.06 percentage points from the 0.71 per cent recorded in February.

The NBS further revealed food index rose by 13.45 per cent in March compared to 13.47 per cent in February.

According to the report, the rise in the food index was caused by increases in prices of bread and cereals, meat, fish, potatoes, yam and other tubers, oils and fats, and soft drinks, vegetables, and fruits.

The report lists Kebbi, Zamfara, Taraba, Kwara, Cross River and Delta as the states with the highest increase in prices.

Inflation was however highest on a month on month basis in Kogi (1.91 per cent), Plateau (1.77 per cent), and Lagos (1.63 per cent).

Nasarawa (0.26 per cent), Kwara (0.16 per cent) and Enugu (0.13 per cent), the report said recorded the slowest rise.

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has disclosed that the Nigerian economy recorded about $5 billion foreign investment inflows post-general elections in February/March 2019.

The governor of the apex bank, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, revealed this on Friday in Washington DC, USA.

The CBN Governor added that the apex bank was committed to ensuring that the Nigerian financial system was not only sound, but able to support the real sector in boosting Nigeria’s growth and development, while continuing to attract foreign investors.

He said: “Although monumental feats have been achieved by the CBN in various aspects of development finance, foreign exchange management, financial inclusion and payments system in the past five years, challenges remain.”

He added, “Since its establishment, the CBN has recorded about $35 billion in autonomous forex inflows through this Window alone. As a result, exchange rate pressures eased considerably across all markets as the rates converged to about N360/$ and the distortive premium almost eliminated.

The Federal Government of Nigeria recently projected key assumptions in running the 2019 budget.

Director-General, Budget Office of the Federation, Mr. Ben Akabueze, rolled out the figures for the key assumptions during a public hearing on the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF)

The hearing was organised by the House of Representatives Joint Committee on Finance, Appropriation, Aids, Loans and Debt Management headed by Babangida Ibrahim, yesterday, in Abuja.

Akabueze said the 2019 budget is expected to run at nominal Gross Domestic Product, GDP, of 139.65 trillion and 3.01 percent of GDP growth.

He noted that other key assumptions of micro-framework of the budget are based on a projection of 2.3 mbpd oil production, oil price benchmark of $60pb, exchange rate of N305 to a dollar, 9.98 inflation rate and 119,28 trillion nominal consumption.

Similarly, Economic Recovery Growth Plan (ERGP) also projected oil production at 2.4mbpd, oil price benchmark of $50pb, exchange rate of N305 to a dollar, 13.39 inflation rate, 106, 03 trillion nominal consumption, 126, 36 trillion nominal GDP and 4.5 percent GDP growth rate.

“As at the end of 2018, Federal Government aggregate revenue was N3.96 trillion, which is 55 percent of the budget and which is higher than the 2017 revenue,” he said.

While explaining the parameters, he placed oil revenue at N2.32 trillion, 77 percent of budget and 64 percent higher than 2017; Company Income Tax, CIT, of N637, 25 billion, 80 percent of budget and 1.7 percent higher than 2017 and Customs Collection of N303, 91billion, 94 percent of budget and 16 percent higher than 2017.

He added that “Notwithstanding the softening in the international oil prices in late 2018, the opinion of most reputable oil industry analysts is that the downward trend is not necessarily reflective of the outlook for 2019.

‘’Currently, the average Brent oil price projection for 2019 by 32 different institutions with relevant expertise is still about $69/b,’’ he explained.

He mentioned that President Muhammadu Buhari had directed the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to take all possible measures to achieve the targeted oil production of 2.3 million barrels per day.

South Sudan on Friday opened an investment conference, the first dedicated to post-war funding as the country emerges from five years of brutal civil conflict.

The conference, dubbed “Doing Business in South Sudan,” aims to connect international corporations, individuals and private equity to South Sudan’s investment opportunities, said event organiser, Akol Nyok.

The day-long conference would enable government officials, local and international investors to take part in presentations, networking sessions and panel discussions.

“There is the need for transfer of information between people doing business in South Sudan and people externally,’’ Nyok said.

He added that the event could serve as a medium to provide people with practical information on doing business in the country.

“We believe that the private sector is the key to growth, and we think that as young people, we should play a role on how we can create jobs, how we can bring investment and how we can increase opportunities in this country,’’ he said.

According to the World Bank, South Sudan is the most oil-dependent nation in the world, with oil accounting for around 60 per cent of its gross domestic product (GDP).

However, after the young nation descended into civil war in late 2013, oil production fell from 350,000 barrels per day (bpd) in 2011 to less than 130,000 bpd in 2014 amid soaring inflation and economic crunch.

Outside the oil sector, the country has high potential in agriculture, which largely remains unexploited as only four per cent of South Sudan land is under cultivation, according to a report by KPMG in 2017.

South Sudan is also home to more than 30 million livestock such as cattle, goats and sheep.

Nyok said in spite obstacles hindering investment in South Sudan, the September 2018 peace agreement provides opportunities for business to pick up in the conflict-torn country if it can hold.

“Five years from now, I see a network of South Sudan entrepreneurs, international entrepreneurs spanning continents and I see a network that provides investment opportunities in South Sudan,’’ he said.

Zimbabwe’s inflation rose to a new 10-year high of 59.39 per cent year-on-year in February from 56.9 per cent in January, the statistics agency Zimstats said on Friday.
 
Zimstats said in Harare that the inflation was pushed by increases in the price of basic goods.
 
On a monthly basis, prices increased by 1.67 per cent in February, compared to 10.75 per cent in the previous month.
 
Zimbabwe’s Central Bank Governor, John Mangudya had said on Monday that annual inflation rate should fall to between 10 and 15 per cent by the end of the year.
 
However, economists said the figure could be higher due to price pressures from the exchange rate and a drought.
South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa and Zimbabwe’s president Emmerson Mnangagwa arrive for bilateral talks in Harare, Zimbabwe, on Tuesday (March 12 2019). Picture: Philimon Bulawayo/Reuters
President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Tuesday South Africa was ready to help Zimbabwe revive its economy, but within its means, while the two neighbours consider options that could see Harare receiving some financial assistance.
 
A dearth of US dollars in Zimbabwe has fanned shortages of fuel, drugs and food, choking an economy yet to recover from the disastrous rule of Robert Mugabe, who was removed in a coup in 2017.
 
South Africa said in January that it had turned down a request in December from its southern African neighbour for a $1.2 billion (about R17 billion) loan.
 
But in a joint communique issued after a meeting between Rampahosa and Zimbabwe’s president Emmerson Mnangagwa and officials, the two countries said they were looking at increasing a standing credit facility between central banks of the two nations.
 
Under the facility, Zimbabwe can access R100 million from South Africa’s central bank.
 
“Other financing options beyond this are also being explored, for example a facility from South African private banks to the Zimbabwean private sector and guaranteed by the South African government with an appropriate counter-guarantee from the Zimbabwean government,” the communique read.
 
Ramaphosa had earlier told the meeting that Zimbabwe, which also faces a severe drought this year, deserved support from the rest of the world to help reboot its economy.
 
He repeated his previous call for sanctions against Zimbabwe to be lifted.
 
Zimbabwe says US sanctions, which were extended by another year by President Donald Trump last week, throttle its ability to access funding from lenders like the International Monetary Fund and World Bank and raise its political risk profile.
 
“South Africa, Mr President, stands ready to render support to Zimbabwe within our means in your quest for economic renewal,” Ramaphosa said, without giving details on whether this would entail financial help.
 
“We want to see meaningful support being given by international development partners to Zimbabwe because Zimbabwe does deserve the support that the world can give.”
 
South Africa is Zimbabwe’s largest trading partner and home to millions of Zimbabweans who flocked to the country amid an economic meltdown during Mugabe’s rule.
 
Mnangagwa pledged to protect South African businesses operating in Zimbabwe, which range from mining to manufacturing to construction.
 

South Africa’s central bank says rising fuel and electricity prices posed a domestic risk to the inflation outlook and impact on its 2019 growth.

The apex bank governor, Lesetja Kganyago, gave the remarks on Wednesday after the latest fourth-quarter data showed an annualised growth of 0.8 per cent.

Besides, Kganyago said the impact of the volatile Rand currency and tightening global financial conditions were also being monitored for possible inflationary impacts.

The governor, however, maintained that he expected the economy to grow by 1.7 per cent this year and two per cent in 2020.

The South African government is forecast to be hit by a tax revenue shortfall of almost R43 billion for the tax year ending next month, Finance Minister Tito Mboweni indicated in his budget speech on Wednesday.
 
There were pronounced risks to the local economic outlook with the main risk of concern being power utility Eskom and its financial woes, the 2019 budget review report indicated.
 
The report indicated that government tax revenue for the 2019 fiscal year would come in at R43 billion under the target set at the 2018 budget speech.
 
“There are pronounced risks to the economic outlook. The main risk of concern is Eskom. Failure to fully implement the reconfiguration of Eskom could lead to a negative market reaction that would prompt capital outlflows, with greater pressure on the rand. It would also perpetuate weak investor confidence and reduce economic growth,” the report said.
 
In the worst case scenario, National Treasury is forecasting negative 1% growth this year while its best-case scenario is just over 2% growth.
 
Mboweni cut the National Treasury’s forecast for economic growth for this year from 1.7% to 1.5% due to “fragile recovery in employment and investment, and a less supportive global trade environment”.
 
By 2021, the National Treasury’s best-case scenario is growth of 3% and its worst-case scenario is 1%.
 
“The economic and revenue outlook has deteriorated since the October 2018 medium-term budgetary policy statement and funding pressures from state-owned companies have increased,” the medium-term budgetary policy statement said.
 
“Several other state-owned companies are also in financial distress and have requested government support. As a result, the contingency reserve has been revised up by R6 billion in 2019/20 and any funding provided will be offset by the sale of non-core assets. Additional reforms to strengthen the governance, finances and operations of state-owned companies will be announced in the months ahead,” the 2019 budget review report said.
 
State companies that are looking for bailouts include the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) and Denel.
 
“Several state-owned companies face negative cash flows and are financing operations from debt, which has become increasingly difficult to raise. This moves them perilously close to default unless they receive some form of recapitalisation.”
 
In another worrying sign, debt owed to municipalities is increasing. At the end of March, debt owed to municipalities is forecast to climb to almost R159 billion from almost R99 billion at the end of March 2015.
 
Of debts owed by municipalities that are more than 90 days in arrears, Eskom is the major creditor – it is owed R12.8 billion – followed by water boards with R6.4 billion.
 
“From July 2018 to June 2019 municipal financial year, 113 municipal councils adopted unfunded budgets, up from 83 the prior year.”
 
The government is expecting to issue $2 billion (about R28 billion) in debt by the end of the 2019 fiscal year.
 
Over the next three years, the government will raise an additional $8 billion (about R114 billion) in global capital markets.
 
“This year’s budget underlines the National Treasury’s continued commitment to these requirements in a difficult environment in which economic growth remains weak, public debt and debt-service costs have accelerated and governance and operational concerns are manifest across the public sector,” the review report said.
 
“Weak economic performance and residual problems in tax administration have resulted in large revenue shortfalls,” the report said.
 
“The deteriorating financial position of state-owned companies has put additional pressure on the public finances,” the report added.
 
“The government’s efforts to reform state-owned companies and the launch of the infrastructure fund are expected to increase growth and investment in the year ahead,” the 2019 budget review report said.
 
For the 2020 fiscal year, consolidated government expenditure is forecast to R1.83 trillion.
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