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Application Portal: Agents, Importers Accuse SON Of False Claims

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Importers and freight forwarders have insisted that the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) portal application collapsed for over a month, even as they accused the agency of misleading the trading public with false information.
This is coming barely three days after the SON debunked claims by some freight forwarders over a purported collapse of its online application portal for the operations of Conformity Assessment progr-amme, SONCAP, for processing of SON regulated imports into Nigeria.
A statement from the office of the Director General, Osita Aboloma, alleged that it was importers who failed to comply with the pre-shipment process that were crying wolf on accumulation of demurrage on their consignment.
In a statement signed by the Head, Public Relations, SON, Mr Bola Fashina, and made available to our correspondent in Lagos, SON said its portal was recently upgraded.
But maritime operators debunked the claim, saying it is a ploy by SON to cover up its shortcomings and incompetence.
According to some maritime operators who spoke with our correspondent in Lagos, the SON portal had collapsed since November 2019, and it was just in February 2020 that it was fixed.
Though SON agreed that it experienced breakdown, no detail was given as to how long it lasted.
It was gathered that the agency upgraded its portal without consulting the Nigeria Customs Service which in turn created technical hitches for freight agents to access its portal.
Speaking on the development, the President General Association of Air Freight  Forwarders and Consolidation (NAFFAC), Prince Bakare Adeyinka, in a chat with some journalists in Lagos, lamented that the system collapse had already led to demurrage at the ports.
Adeyinka maintained that the ugly development has affected the businesses of both importers and exporters in the international trade chain.
According to him, billions of naira has been lost to the system collapse since it began, stating that no agency of government has risen to the occasion.
He expressed fear that the demurrage accrued from the breakdown would lead to increase in the price of goods in the markets as importers would likely pass the extra charges to the final consumers.
“The SON network downturn has been an issue for more than three weeks now and has affected a whole lot of importers and exporters in the ports”, he said.

 

Nkpemenyie Mcdominic, Lagos

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COVID 19: ‘Lifting Of Curfew’ll Boost Rivers Economy’

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A traditional ruler in Rivers state, Eze (Dr) Sylvanus Ogbueri, has commended the Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, for relaxing the curfew imposed in some parts of the state capital, saying it would impact positively on the business community in the state.
Eze Ogbueri, who is the Onwa of Omuma ethnic nationality, said that the action of the governor shows that he listens to the feelings of the people, unlike most other political leaders in the country.
The monarch said that Governor Wike deserves commendation because of his exemplary actions since the advent of coronavirus.
“His swift intervention made it possible for the virus not to spread beyond the index case.
“Relaxing the curfew has given petty traders who are not affected by the lockdown to operate and find ways of providing for their families in this difficult period”, he said.
The traditional ruler urged the people of Omuma to comply with the directives of the state government aimed at curtailing the spread of the virus.
“You must observe primary hygiene by washing your hands regularly, observe the social distancing, no meetings, no family visits, and no going to markets and other directives by the government”, he said.
He also commended the Chairman of the Omuma Local Government Council, Hon Christian Nwuiwu, and the representative of Omuma constituency in the Rivers State House of Assembly, Hon Emeka Nwogu, for working round the clock to ensure that the state government’s directives were obeyed.
Chief Ogbueri called on the people of the state to be patient and make necessary sacrifices, expressing hope that the difficult era of coronavirus would be over and people will return to their normal way of lives.

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Buhari Approves Withdrawal Of $150m To Support June FAAC Disbursement

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President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the withdrawal of 150 million dollars from the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) Stabilisation Fund to support the June 2020 FAAC disbursement.
The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, disclosed this during a news conference on the fiscal stimulus measures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and oil prices fiscal shock in Abuja, yesterday.
Ahmed said that the fund was also to address these emerging fiscal risks that the pandemic had caused.
She noted that the Stabilisation Fund was created for such emergencies and was to be utilised for this purpose while the government was also exploring other options to augment FAAC disbursements over the course of the 2020 fiscal year.
She explained that based on the fiscal assumptions underpinning the 2020 Appropriation Act, monthly Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC) disbursements to the Federal and State Governments were projected at N888.5 billion.
She said, however, that due to the significant drop in international oil prices, FAAC monthly disbursements had declined in recent months to N716.3 billion in January and N647.4 billion in February 2020.
According to her, their experience shows that monthly average FAAC receipts must average at least N650 billion for the federal and state governments to meet their current obligations. Unfortunately, they project that monthly receipts may decline to below N400 billion, over the next three to six months.
“Mr President has also approved that the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning should engage with the CBN to agree on a Debt and Interest Moratorium for States on Federal Government and CBN-funded loans, in order to create fiscal space for the States, given the projected shortfalls in FAAC allocations,” he said.

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Nigeria To Source N2.67trn Additional Fund For COVID-19

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The Federal Government will be sourcing for over N2.67trillion to fully execute the COVID- 19 stimulus. This is aside the N500 billion already earmarked for the stimulus package.
Addressing journalists on the details of the COVID- 19 stimulus, yesterday, Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, said Nigeria would draw down her facility with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) totalling $3.4 billion in addition to $2.5 from the World Bank, $1 billion from the African Development Bank and $150 million from the Stabilisation fund of the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA).
The N2.67 trillion, she said, does not include what the government will access from the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) and dividends expected from Nigerian Liquified Natural Gas (NLNG).
According to Ahmed, Nigeria has a contribution of $3.4 billion with the IMF and we are entitled to draw up to the whole of that $3.4 billion no less. We have in the first instance applied for that maximum amount, then in the process when we negotiate we might get the maximum amount or less.
“That is the amount of our contribution with the IMF and this is the provision that IMF has made for every member country that you can apply for between 50 to 100 per cent of your contribution to the IMF.
This money from the IMF, she explained: “is a programme that has no conditions attached to IMF programmes and this is not an IMF programme. Up to date, we were told that up to about 80 countries have applied to draw from their contributions to the IMF.”
Other sources of fund the government hopes to draw from to meet the challenges of the coronavirus, the minister said, include a “request from the World Bank for $2.5 billion; from the African Development Bank (AfDB) $1billion.”
The request made to the IMF, World Bank, IDB, and the AfDB, she said, “are request for the nation both for the Federal Government as well as the state”.
In order to address the emerging fiscal risks, as a result of the drop in the international oil prices and global outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19), President Muhammadu Buhari has given a number of approvals.

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