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NASS pledges support towards reducing Nigeria’s housing deficit

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NASS pledges support towards reducing Nigeria’s housing deficit

The National Assembly says it will give necessary support to stakeholders in housing sector towards reducing Nigeria’s housing deficit.


Sen. Sam Egwu, Chairman, Senate Committee on Housing, made the pledge at the opening of a workshop, with a theme “Emerging Trends in Real Estate Development in Nigeria’ organised by the Real Estate Developers Association of Nigeria (REDAN), on Thursday in Abuja.

He said the committee would give priority to bills seeking to address challenges in the housing sector so as to make suitable, adequate and affordable housing available to all Nigerians.

He urged the association to recommend necessary bills for consideration and advised it to redirect housing investment to low income earners.

“For real estate developers to effectively play their role in delivering affordable housing to citizens, they must understand the emerging trends in real estate development globally.

“Unfortunately, the organised private sector seems to have catered only for the middle and upper classes with little or nothing to meet the housing needs of low income earners.

“I urge you to look in the direction of low income earners to reduce the current overwhelming housing deficit and provide affordable housing to majority of Nigerians at that level.

“You are encouraged to explore the advantages of using locally sourced building materials to develop cost effective houses that majority of the country’s low income earners can afford.

“As against the conventional very costly building materials that has made housing unaffordable to majority of Nigerians,” he said.

Rev. Ugochukwu Chime, the President, REDAN said the training, was to give participants insight into the realms of how best to do business with less stress, risk and impact positively the development of the economy.

He said the association was involved in capacity building for all practitioners in the sector which included artisans and other direct home construction personnel need be trained and retrained to increase their competencies in constructing durable homes.

“The training is part of the process of dimension and de-risking the real estate value chain and operating environment. We must support government in fighting criminality and our members must comply with extant laws.

“That is why our Code of Conduct is tailored towards ensuring compliance with Anti-Money Laundering and Combating the Financing of Terrorism () rules.

“The rating of the real estate sector as a medium high risk area for money laundering and terrorism financing is very dangerous and worrisome.

“The support and collaboration of all well-meaning Nigerians is urgently needed to curb this menace,’’ Chime said.

He said the association was partnering with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to stem the element of fraud and terrorism financing and money laundering to weed out fraudsters from the sector.

He said he was optimistic that the programme which was the first of its kind by the association would move the real estate sector to another sphere of integrity.

Mr Femi Adewole, the Managing Director, Family Homes Funds, a participant, whose organisation recently commissioned close to 11,300 homes targeted at low income earners said the training was apt and well thought out.

He said it would go a long way to build the capacity and skills of those in the sector and at the same time create awareness to refocus attention to the housing needs of the common citizens even those in the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps.

Mr Adesemoye Adedeji, Group Head, Analytic, Projects and Special Examination, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) said the organisation was making efforts to ensure that monetary policies that would encourage mortgage was put in place.

He added that though inflation had a role to play in the rate of interest being charged by banks, the CBN was doing all that was possible to ensure that loans for housing come to a single digit rate.

NAN reports that the training was the first to be organised by the association and it would be followed by another in Lagos on Nov. 20 and Nov. 22 in Owerri, Imo state.

NAN also reports that REDAN is the umbrella body of the organised real estate sector, recognised by the Federal Government since 2002 and saddled with the responsibility of facilitating the delivery of affordable mass housing for Nigerians.

Edited by Celine-Damilola Oyewole/Ali Baba-Inuwa

Onuegbu Perpetua: is a graduate and a professionally trained journalist, with experience in national news reporting/editing and verification at the News Agency of Nigeria. NNN is a Nigerian online news portal that publishes breaking news in Nigeria, and across the world. Our journalists are honest, fair, accurate, thorough and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting news in the best interest of the public, because truth is the cornerstone of journalism and they strive diligently to ascertain the truth in every news report. Contact: editor[at]nnn.com.ng

Oil & Gas

Address host communities’ issues in new PIB – Expert

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Mr Ken Henshaw,  Executive Director,  Center  for Social Studies and Development (CSSD)  says a decent  Petroleum Industry Bill  (PIB) must address  major concerns that will  drive economic growth of oil producing communities and the country at large.


Henshaw made this known at a Virtual Masters class on Precept 5 of the Nigerian Natural Resource Charter (NNRC) in Abuja on Sunday.

He said it was unfortunate that over the years,  various forms of benefits transfer to oil-producing communities, put in place by the Federal Government had failed to address the exploitation, degradation and deprivation suffered by the communities.

He named the benefits transfer to oil-producing communities to include the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) Ministry of Niger Delta,  the 13 per cent Derivation Fund and Ecological Fund.

The News Agency of Nigeria recalls that the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva had on July 14,  announced that the PIB would be sent to the NASS in two weeks.

NAN also reports that the National Assembly said it was  expecting the new PIB  soon for deliberations.

Henshaw said that passage of a decent PIB bill that addressed the concerns of citizens must ensure benefit sharing mechanisms that translated to tangible benefits for people in the region.

According to him, it has to ensure Implementation of the National Petroleum Policy and end to all environmentally dangerous practices in the sector.

“Amendment of NOSDRA Act to increase its capacity to carry out its activities without relying on oil companies.

“Engendering trust by ensuring meaningful participation in extractive resource projects,’’ he said.

On the 13 per cent derivative paid to oil producing states, he said that it had not impacted the communities as the accounts were domiciled with the state governments.

This, he  said, has made it difficult to monitor its use for the development of the region.

He said that some states like Edo, Delta and Imo had created some special commission for implementation of projects which nerve worked but rather promoted corruption in the system.

“The continuous failure of government to ensure local impact to ensure benefits are properly transferred,  will not bring any change,” he said.

He said that the recent Global Memorandum of Understanding (GMoU) introduced in the system should be explored effectively to help benefit transfer mechanism.

He called for the overhaul of benefit transfer mechanisms, like the Niger Delta Development Commission and 13 per cent derivation fund, adding that strengthening issues in the GMOUs and ensuring that they were put into law should be key.

“A decent PIB can tackle all these for the effective growth and development needed in the country,’’ he added.

Edited By: Chioma Ugboma/Sadiya Hamza (NAN)

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China Loan: Amaechi says Nigeria will pay back in 20years

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Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi says Nigerian government has the capability to pay back loans collected for the construction of rail projects within the stipulated period of 20 years.


Amaechi, in a statement on Saturday, said China was the only country giving out loans with a low interest rate of 2.8 per cent.

He said no country in the world would give out a loan without a guarantee to pay back such loans.

“The trade agreement between Nigeria and China, the ministry of transportation does not take loan, everything about loan is directed to the Ministry of Finance, so,  I couldn’t have signed any loan because I don’t take loan.

“What I signed is what is called commercial contract, which is contract between the Federal Government and CCECC as a contractor, the contract between Nigeria and China is usually signed by the ministry of finance.

“Whether is the ministry of finance that signed it or the ministry of transportation, the issue is that nobody will give you loan free of charge.

“There must be an agreement and such agreement must contain some terms, that doesn’t mean that you are signing away the sovereignty of the country, no country will sign out its sovereignty.

“What clause 8 says is, I expect you to pay according to those terms we have agreed, if you don’t pay, don’t throw your immunity on me when I come to collect back the guarantee that was put forward, that is all.

“We are paying the loans. In the same National Assembly sitting, they were told that of the 500million dollars loan, we have paid 96 million dollars already, Nigeria is already paying.

“And the 500 million dollars was not taken by us, it was taken by President Goodluck Jonathan in his term and that clause was there.

“Nigeria has the capacity to pay back for the period of 20 years at 2.8 per cent, which country will give you that loan? Secondly, these loans are not given to us, they are paid directly to the contractors.

“Once they sign that the job has been done, they pay the contractors and that has never happened before and this project are in place. Are they trying to rubbish the fact that there is a railway from Abuja-Kaduna?

“There is no loan in Nigeria, either internal or external that is not approved by the National Assembly, none.

Chinese government will not even give you a loan without an approval by the National Assembly because if they give you a loan without the approval from NASS that is no loan,” Amaechi explained.

The minister further said the government needed the loans to boost infrastructure in the country.

According to him, the sovereign guarantee and sovereign immunity clause raised by the NASS is a term used to ensure that loans collected are paid back.

The minister said in the case of a default, only the assets constructed with such a loan would be taken back.

He said: “What you do is you give a sovereign guarantee and that guarantee is the immunity clause they are talking about.

“When we say, I give you a sovereign guarantee and we get immunity clause, the immunity clause is that, if tomorrow I am not able to pay and you come to collect the items we have agreed upon, that these are the items that am putting down as guarantee, I can waive my immunity and say no you can’t touch it am sovereign country.

“So, they are saying, if you are not able to pay, don’t stop us from taking back those items that will make us recover our funds. So, is China our father that will give us money for free?

“It is a standard clause in every agreement whether is America we signed it with, whether is Britain, any country would want to know that they can recover their money.

“Anybody that is saying he doesn’t know what a sovereign guarantee or immunity is, too bad for the person, because it simply means in trade that I am not giving you this loan free of charge.

“Just like you go to the bank to collect a loan, the moment you don’t pay they go after your assets you put down, that is all about the clause, the Chinese can never come and take over Aso rock and become President or Minister.

” And if the assets you put down become depreciated then you negotiate which assets they can go after. Chinese will never take over what was not constructed with the loan.”

Amaechi noted that it would be unconstitutional to take a loan not approved by the NASS, but for confidentiality in government he would have published the clauses generating the dusts.

The minister while asking the reason for the investigation by the NASS added that they were aware of all the loans.

He said:” The Chinese is just asking us to show them the evidence that we will pay back, which is the immunity clause. If we don’t pay, they can take back their assets.”

On the Zambia experience, where the country could not meet up with its loan agreement, the minister said that the Chinese government will never take over infrastructure that was not constructed from the money taken.

He also acknowledged that the finance ministry in a payment plan had started paying back some of the loans collected.

He said the payment plan was the responsibility of the ministry of finance, and the Ministry of transportation was supposed to implement the contract.

“They are meeting the requirements, at any point in time that we need to pay, we’ll pay. 1.6 billion dollars was taken to fix Lagos to Ibadan, we are asking for 5.3 billion dollars to fix from Ibadan to Kano.

“3.2 billion dollars to fix Port Harcourt to Maiduguri, then Lagos to Calabar which is about 11.1billion dollars, if those things were done when we had money, the infrastructure will be here today? The answer is no,” Amaechi added.

The minister, however, called on the National Assembly and Nigerians to appreciate government effort in providing infrastructure in the country.

Amaechi noted that the Itakpe /Warri rail project in the South South,  which was abandoned for thirty four years by successive governments was fully rehabilitated by the present administration without seeking for loan.

Edited By: Yakubu Uba/Felix Ajide (NAN)

 

 

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NASS investigation may frustrate Chinese loan for rail projects -Amaechi

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The Minister of Transportation, Mr Rotimi Amaechi, says the ongoing National Assembly investigation may frustrate the loan agreement between Nigeria and China to finance the Port Harcourt to Maiduguri rail project.


Amaechi, who stated this in a statement on Wednesday in Abuja, said the Chinese government had said if there are issues the negotiations will not be concluded.

“The investigation being carried out by National Assembly may frustrate the loan agreement between us and China on the Port Harcourt to Maiduguri rail project.

“So, if tomorrow we are unable to construct Port Harcourt to Maiduguri railway because we didn’t get the loan, it is because of the investigation by NASS.

“I told the National Assembly that they can investigate but they should allow us get the loan first.

“If they stop the work from Ibadan to Kano, it is because of the investigations, same with Lagos to Calabar railway.

“If you think there is corruption, investigate corruption. What we are saying is that we should conclude negotiation first because there is pressure affecting the Chinese government in which they are talking to us directly.

“So, for me, what is primary here should be national interest.

“We have the approval to construct the Lagos-Ibadan, Lagos-Kano and Lagos-Calabar rail lines; we are also at the point of negotiating for the loans.

“Summoning us to the National Assembly to come and address the loans would look like the government is no longer interested in the loan,’’ he said.

On plans to repay the loans, the minister said that profit generated from the train service would be used through a special account to be opened for that purpose.

Amaechi, however, debunked insinuations that the Chinese loan was being paid directly to the Nigerian government to execute the rail projects.

“One good thing about the loan we are collecting is that they are not paid to us, they are paid directly to the contractors who execute those projects,’’ he explained.

On insecurity on Nigerian waterways, Amaechi said that it was time for the federal government to address the issues of companies making money from insecurity in the country.

He, however, said that the ministry was set to address the issue by executing the 195 million dollars contract meant to address the problem of insecurity on the waterways.

Edited By: Johnson Eyiangho/Ismail Abdulaziz (NAN)

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Oil & Gas

Delay in passage of PIB affects exploration, investments- NAPE

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Mr Alex Tarka, President, Nigerian Association of Petroleum Explorationists (NAPE) says the delay in the passage of Petroleum Industry Bill  (PIB) has negatively impacted exploration in the oil and gas sector.


Tarka made this known at Virtual workshop on Leveraging fiscal regulations to attract Investments in the Petroleum sector, on Thursday.

He said that there was the need for policy that would help drive the expected investments and stimulus in the upstream oil and gas sector for employment generation and economic growth.

The News Agency of Nigeria recalls that the Minister of State for petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva had on July 14 announced that the PIB would be sent to the NASS in two weeks

NAN also reports that the National Assembly (NASS) said it is expecting the new PIB  soon for deliberations and debate  to begin on the much-awaited piece of legislation

He said there was need for aggressive exploration in the country noting that new fiscal policy of the PIB must reduce government participation to enable investors to participate.

He said that currently only the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) had been involved in exploration in the country.

This, he said, was not good for the sector with the role oil and gas sector played in the economic development of the country.

NAPE president noted that government must ensure that it stuck to the date it had proposed in the presentation of the PIB to the National Assembly and ensure that its speedy paasage.

“Due to lack of PIB, no exploration is currently going on in the country, only NNPC is the one operating; this is not good for the industry.

“The industry especially the upstream needs a lot of palliatives, waivers and stimulus  to operate to enable it sustain employment .

“We need policies in place to get thing done properly,’’ he noted.

Tarka  further noted that delay in passing PIB had driven away  many investors to the sector adding that the quick passage of the bill would show the seriousness of Nigerian government in developing the sector.

“Exploration is expensive, especially here, so as an investor, if I don’t see any seriousness by government to show how safe my investment will be, I will keep it elsewhere.

“Until PIB is passed, investors will continue to look elsewhere to invest, so, there is no better time than now  to rob minds on this issue and get the bill passed,’’ he added.

Edited By: Maureen Atuonwu (NAN)

 

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