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Demand For African Commodities Falling -ECOWAS

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Commissioner for Social Affairs and Gender, Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Dr Siga Jagne, has said that the demand and prices for African commodities are falling.
Jagne said this at a meeting of labour general assembly of the ECOWAS with the theme “strengthening social dialogue for the promotion of decent work in the ECOWAS region” yesterday in Abuja.
She added that by extension the demand and prices for West African commodities were affected by the fall, adding that capital flow were declining and promised of increased aid had not materialised.
According to her, the ECOWAS region has a population of approximately 391 million with a combined Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of approximately 676.1 billion dollars.
She stated that member states of ECOWAS were majorly low-income countries with gross national income per capital ranging from 3,678 dollars in Cape Verde to 452 dollars in Niger.
This, she said, led to a regional median gross national income per capital of 1,608 dollars in 2018.
According to her, these low incomes per capital figures are indicative of generalised poverty due to the limited resources to cater for the basic needs of the growing regional population on a sustainable basis.
She noted that majority of youths in the ECOWAS region did not have stable economic opportunities, noting those between the ages 15 and 24 had lower employment rate than adults by around 20 per cent.
Jagne stated that the problem was not just unemployment but underemployment, which according to her peaked at over half of youth in the labour force in the region.
“Women are also severally affected by low employment rate, as the gender gap between men and women in gainful employment continues to widen in the region.
“In addition, due to poor infrastructure, workers in rural areas are less involved in labour force participation,’’ she said.
Secretary General, Organisation of Trade Union in West Africa (OTUWA),Mr John Odoh, said that the level of social protection in the region include progress in gender mainstreaming.
He said that the commission had a lot to do to accomplish in West Africa and the rest of the world, adding that the commission should come out with proposal that would be beneficial to the region.
Odoh said that the assembly must work to ensure improved standard of living condition of the region and its workforce.
Deputy Director, International Labour Organisation (ILO), Mrs Cynthia Olajuwon, said that the region could not claim ownership of development if it was exclusively funded by others.
She stated that social dialogue must be mainstreamed into the things dragging the region backward such as unemployment, insecurity, low wage among others.
She said that some of the great things happening in Africa and West Africa showed that ECOWAS had gone far, adding that the global agenda on social dialogue had been promoted.
Olajuwon said that the African Union at the level of Head of States adopted the provision of employment as a key continental agenda.

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Implementation Of 7.5% VAT Begins, Feb 1

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The Federal Government will from February 1 begin the implementation of 7.5 per cent Value Added Tax espoused by the finance law.
The law, according to the government will take effect after all the necessary administrative procedures must have been completed, especially the gazette of the Act by the Federal Ministry of Justice.
The Minister of Finance, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, confirmed the development in Abuja at the inauguration of the board of the Federal Inland Revenue Service, last Thursday.
She said the February 1 commencement date had put to rest every speculation regarding the take-off date of the new VAT regime.
The minister said once a bill is signed into law, it takes effect immediately, but noted that there were certain administrative procedures and formalities to be finalised before commencement.
The VAT increase which is meant to help government achieve its revenue projections for the 2020 budget is a part of the tax reforms included in the 2019 Finance Act.
She said with the Act, there would be more revenue to finance key government projects especially in the areas of health, education and critical infrastructure.
She said, “The implementation of the Value Added Tax is to take effect from February 1, 2020, after all the necessary administrative procedures have been completed, especially the gazette of the Act by the Federal Ministry of Justice.”
The minister’s remark however, contradicts an earlier claim by the Accountant General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris, who said the new VAT increment took effect from January 13 when the 2020 Finance Act was signed.
The minister told the members of the FIRS board that the responsibility bestowed on them was critical to the smooth operation of the various tiers and arms of government in Nigeria and, by implication, the well-being of the Nigerian people.
The newly appointed Executive Chairman of the FIRS, Mr Muhammad Nami, vowed to reposition the service for improved performance.
Nami said he would implement policies that would ensure maximum increase in tax revenue.
He said as tax administrators and custodians of the Nigerian tax system, the FIRS had a responsibility to implement all tax policies and laws in a manner that would ensure optimal benefits to the nation.
In achieving these objectives, he said his agenda to reposition the FIRS for better service to taxpayers would be anchored on four cardinal pillars.
These include rebuilding FIRS’ institutional framework by strengthening the capacity of departments and units to deliver on their mandates and robust collaboration with stakeholders to eliminate critical bottlenecks in the tax system.
Others are to build the FIRS into an institution that supports Nigeria’s longing to become an investment destination and to make the FIRS an agency in which its people, processes and technologies are all geared towards a clear goal.
In order to achieve these agenda, he said within the next three months, a lot of initiatives would be implemented.

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Nigeria’s Debt Profile Now Hits N26.22trn

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The Federal Government and the 36 states as well as the Federal Capital Territory owed a total N26.22tn as of September 30, 2019, the Debt Management Office has disclosed.
The amount indicated that the total public debt rose by 2.02 per cent in the 12 months from September 2018, when the federal government, the states and the FCT owed a total of N25.7tn.
The Director- General of the DMO, Patience Oniha said this at a ‘Presentation on Public Debt to Stakeholders’ in Abuja.
She explained that the figures for December 2019 were not ready, adding that the DMO saw the need to make some clarifications concerning the country’s debt profile.
“There has been so much about debt in the public forum and we want to clarify some of the issues,” Oniha said.
Noting that the National Assembly approved all the borrowings made by the federal government, the DMO boss suggested that all Nigerians were collectively responsible for the debt since they were represented at the National Assembly.
She said, “Borrowing is not approved by one man. It is not determined by one man.
“Borrowing is not ad hoc there are laws and laid down provisions for borrowing.”
She added that the public debt stock was cumulative, involving borrowings made by previous administrations.
According to Oniha, the devaluation of the exchange rate, brought about by the economic downturn, considerably hiked the country’s debt profile.
“Exchange rate devaluation increased external debt stock by over N1tn,” she noted.
Oniha explained that the total public debt as of September 2019 included promisory notes amounting to N821.65bn which had been issued to settle the Federal Government’s arrears to oil marketing companies and state governments.
According to her, the issuance of the promisory notes was in line with the promisory programme approved by the Federal Executive Council and the National Assembly.
The DMO boss said out of total new borrowing of N1.61tn provided for in the 2019 Appropriation Act, only the domestic component of N802.82bn was raised due to the late passage of the budget.

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UK-Africa Investment Summit Begins In London, Today

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The maiden edition of UK-Africa Investment Summit begins today in London.
The event which will be hosted by the British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, according to the organisers is expected to bring together African leaders, international business chief executives and heads of international organisations “to create new partnerships that will deliver more investments and jobs” to the benefit of people and businesses in African countries and the United Kingdom.
President Muhammadu Buhari arrived London last Friday to participate in the inaugural summit
A statement by Special Adviser to President Buhari on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina in Abuja, last Thursday said apart from highlighting new perspectives on UK-Africa Partnership for Prosperity, issues of Sustainable Finance and Infrastructure; Trade and Investment; Future African Growth Sectors and Clean Energy and Climate, are expected to dominate presentations and discussions during the summit.
“With the expected take-off of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) in mid-2020, the London investment summit will provide Nigeria with the opportunity to project itself as a leading investment destination for new industries.
“In addition, the summit will deepen Nigeria-United Kingdom investment ties post-Brexit given that Africa currently represents just two per cent of British trade activity, with Nigeria accounting for only 10 per cent of that total,” the statement said.
Adesina said the Nigerian delegation to the investment meeting would further showcase what the federal government has gone through policies and legislations to improve the investment and business climate in the country.
While in the United Kingdom, President Buhari is expected to hold a meeting with the Head of the Commonwealth, Prince Charles in Glasgow, Scotland.
“The President and his delegation will also have bilateral meetings with Prime Minister Johnson as well as heads of multilateral organisations”, Adesina added..
President Buhari is accompanied to the summit by Governors Yahaya Bello, Muhammad Inuwa Yahaya and Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia, and Gombe states, respectively.
Also on the presidential entourage are the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama; Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Otunba Niyi Adebayo; the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed; the National Security Adviser (NSA), Maj-Gen. Babagana Monguno (retd); and the Director-General, National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Ambassador Ahmed Rufai Abubakar.
President Buhari is expected back in Abuja on Thursday.

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