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Nigeria to Conduct Population Census in 2022, First in 16 Years

A national population and housing census, which was last held in Nigeria 15 years ago, will hold in the country next year, thanks to the N178.09 billion approved for the

A national population and housing census, which was last held in Nigeria 15 years ago, will hold in the country next year, thanks to the N178.09 billion approved for the exercise in the 2022 Appropriation Bill.

The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, who made the disclosure during the public presentation and breakdown of Budget 2022 in Abuja on Friday, stated that President Muhammadu Buhari would make a proclamation on the planned 2022 headcount soon.

Ahmed explained that the recent review of the 2022-2024 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) was motivated by a number of factors, including the need to provide the funds for the headcount.

The last population census held in 2006, puts the nation’s population at 140 million people, but was plagued by political interference, from design through to implementation.

Since then, Nigeria has not conducted a population census, relying on estimates from Worldometre, an arm of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs.

In December 2020, the National Population Commission (NPC) announced that an estimated 206 million people were living in Nigeria, an increase of eight million people in two years, against the 198 million it announced in 2018.

The finance minister also revealed an additional N100 billion in the 2022 Budget estimates to enable the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) prepare for the conduct of the 2023 general elections.

Giving further insight into why the MTEF was reviewed, the minister said the increase in the expenditure side was also motivated by the need to provide for additional critical expenditures, as well as the need to present a more comprehensive FGN Budget.

Other critical expenditures in the 2022 budget estimates include N400 billion for National Poverty Reduction and Growth Strategy; N50 billion Police Operations Fund; and N37 billion additional provision for debts accruing from the electricity bills of ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs).

The minister further disclosed that N517.5 billion was proposed as additional Multi-lateral/Bi-lateral Project-tied Loans; N54 billion for the National Agency for Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI), which represents 1% FGN Share of Federation Account; and N305.99 billion for TETFUND (funded by the Education Tax).

Ahmed said the fiscal numbers were preliminary and would be updated “as the reconciliation process is concluded.

She disclosed further that N2.88 trillion went into debt servicing between January and August this year, out of a total expenditure of N8.14 trillion recorded in the first seven months out of 2021.

The sum of N2.75 trillion was for overhead cost, while N1.75 trillion was expended on capital projects.

According to her report, government generated N3.9 trillion so far this year, comprising Company Income Tax (CIT) of N547.5 billion; Value Added Tax collections of N235.7 billion, Customs collections of N338.6 billion and other revenues which amounted to N1.7 trillion.

She disclosed that with a debt servicing cost of N2.88 trillion and total revenue of N3.9 trillion, the federal government spent about 73 per cent of its revenue on debt servicing within the past eight months.

She said, “For the 2021 performance, between January and August, revenue generated was N3.93 trillion which was 73 per cent of the prorated target. Out of this amount, CIT and VAT collections were N547.5 billion and N235.7 billion respectively, representing 121 per cent in the case of CIT and 148 per cent in the case of VAT of the prorated target.

“On the expenditure side, N8.14 trillion representing 84 per cent of the N9.71 trillion prorated expenditure from January to August had been spent.

“This performance includes expenditure estimates of Government Owned Enterprises (GOEs), but doesn’t include project tied loans

“Of the expenditure, N2.89 trillion was utilised for debt servicing, while N2.57 trillion was utilised for personnel cost, including pension and gratuities. As at the end of August 2021, N1.75 trillion had been expended on capital projects, of this amount, N1.723 trillion represents 81 per cent of the aggregate provision for Ministries Department Agencies’ capital prorated, while N36.01 billion is expenditure from GOEs.

“So the story here is that the revenue performance aggregate is 73 per cent but the fact is that the non-oil revenue is performing very well above the target, while the oil and gas revenue are lagging.”

The finance minister also revealed that the federal government borrowed a total of N3.65 trillion between January and August to finance its N4.3 trillion fiscal deficit, stressing that the balance was covered by privatisation proceeds and drawdown of bilateral and multilateral-tied loans.

On the proposed N16.39 trillion 2022 aggregate budget proposal, with N10.132 trillion revenue projection and N6.26 trillion fiscal deficit, the minister said N3.60 trillion was for debt service, N6.829 trillion for non-debt recurrent expenditure, and N4.892 trillion for capital expenditure.

Ahmed said: “To promote fiscal transparency, accountability and comprehensiveness, allocations to TETFUND and the budgets of 63 GOEs are integrated in the FGN’s 2022 Budget proposal.

“In aggregate, 34.9% of projected revenue is to come from oil-related sources while 65.1% is to be earned from non-oil sources.”

According to her, N3.331 is projected for oil-related revenue, N1.816 trillion, independent revenue, N924.31 billion from other revenue sources, and N1.728 trillion retained GOE revenue.

The minister also disclosed that N23 billion “is proposed for Sinking Funds, N768 billion for Statutory Transfer.”

On the sectors with the highest allocation in 2022, the sum of N2.41 trillion was proposed for Defence, comprising the military, police, intelligence and paramilitary agencies.

Infrastructure (including Works and Housing, Power, among others) comes next with N1.45 trillion, followed by Youth, Women and Social Development with N921 billion.

A sum of N873.93 billion is proposed for the education sector with another N108 billion for the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC).

Ndubuisi Francis in Abuja

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