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Nigeria May Enter Recession In Six Months –Minister

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The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, has warned that the Nigerian economy may slide into recession if the coronavirus pandemic continues for the next six months.
She stated this during her appearance on Channels Television’s Politics Today where she spoke on steps being taken by the government to cushion the impact of the pandemic on the nation’s economy.
She said: “We are hopeful that this pandemic will be limited in time. If it is an average of three months, we should be able to close the year with positive growth.
“But if it goes longer than that, six months, one year, we will go into recession.”
The warning came as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said the global economy has entered recession over the ravaging impact of the COVID-19 on different countries.
The Managing Director, IMF, Kristalina Georgieva, who said this while making an opening remark during a conference call of the International Monetary Fund and Financial Committee, declared that no fewer than 80 countries had approached the Fund for help.
She said: “We have reassessed the prospect for growth for 2020 and 2021. It is now clear that we have entered a recession, as bad as or worse than in 2009.
“We do project recovery in 2021, in fact, there may be a sizeable rebound, but only if we succeed with containing the virus, everywhere, and prevent liquidity problems from becoming a solvency issue.
“A key concern about a long-lasting impact of the sudden stop of the world economy is the risk of a wave of bankruptcies and layoffs that not only can undermine the recovery but can erode the fabric of our societies.”
She added: “We have seen an extraordinary spike in requests for the IMF emergency financing, some 80 countries have placed requests and more are likely to come. Normally, we never have more than a handful of requests at the same time.”
Georgieva disclosed that the executive board of the IMF had already approved the first of the emergency requests for the Kyrgyz Republic, a record fast disbursement.
Reacting to the IMF chief’s submission on global recession and how it would affect Nigeria, experts agreed that if the deadly disease persisted, the nation’s economy would face a serious crisis.
The Managing Director, Afrinvest Securities Limited, Mr Ayodeji Ebo, said: “If this COVID-19 persists for the next six months and oil prices remain below $30 per barrel, then Nigeria may be in a crisis”.
“In addition, if the pandemic significantly spreads in Nigeria, business activities will seriously slow down.”
A professor of capital market studies, Uche Uwaleke, said that disclosure by the IMF chief about global economic recession would affect Nigeria’s economy negatively.
He said that Nigeria’s revenue from oil would be seriously affected.
He said, “The implication for Nigeria is that world trade had dropped; trade between Nigeria and other countries will suffer; there will be more capital flight because foreign investors will move to an economy that is safer.
“It has implications for export particularly oil which would lead to lower revenue for Nigeria; our trade and investment will also fall. If care is not taken, except the CBN continues to defend the naira, it will affect exchange rate.”
To survive the economic crisis, he said, “We need to produce and prioritise our spending by spending more on food and purpose import substitution.”
In his comments, a professor of economics at the Olabisi Onabanjo University Ago-Iwoye, Ogun, Sheriffdeen Tella, said it would take a while before the global economy could recover due to the pandemic.
He said, “There is no production in the last two weeks and when there is no production, a lot of industries will be shut down and it will cause a drawback.
“There are also uncertainties as to when production will start in many parts of the world. So, we are already in recession as it were.”

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Rivers Indigenes Protest Sack Of Porters At PH Airport

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Rivers State indigenes, especially those from the communities that host the Port Harcourt International Airport, have decried the sack of trolley operators, otherwise known as porters, by the airport management.
Some of the aggrieved indigenes who spoke to The Tide on the matter alleged that 80 percent of the trolley operators at the airport are Rivers indigenes.
They described the sack of the trolley operators as a calculated attempt by the airport management to deny the indigenes the opportunity to work at the airport.
Reacting to the matter, a travel agent and indigene of one of the host communities , Mr Handsome Ibeche, alleged that Rivers indigenes were not given fair treatment at the airport, especially in the area of employment.
He further alleged that employment opportunities meant for Rivers indigenes were hijacked by outsiders, saying all employments, including those of junior workers, are carried out in Abuja and Lagos.
“Look at what is happening here now, the trolley operators who are mostly indigenes have been sacked.
“What we are seeing now is that management has taken their jobs, and has given them to few of their own brothers who are not even from Rivers State. What do they want others to do with their families?”, he asked.
Another indigene, Chris Ogbonna, said that the airport management did not do well in its decision to retain only non indigenes in the trolley operations which, he said, was capable of generating a revolt against the management.
“You can count in all the departments, both junior and senior staff, how many of them are Rivers indigenes. And for free, I can tell you that they want to silence indigenes here, because this is the only place one can say the indigenes are managing to survive with, but look at what has happened”, he said.
One of the sacked trolley operators, Mr Jonathan Amadi, told The Tide that he never envisaged the sack .
According to him, he stopped his electronics maintenance workshop to start the trolley job at the airport, only for him to be relieved of the job by the airport management.
He, however, expressed optimism that the airport management would soon recall him and other sacked porters.
When our correspondent contacted the Head, Corporate Affairs of the airport , Mr Kunle Akinbode, for response, he said that the airport management only carried out the order handed down to it by the Ministry of Aviation and Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria.

 

By: Corlins Walter

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European Council Approves Debt Relief For African Countries

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The European Council yesterday approved a set of conclusions in response to a call made in October 2020 to prepare a common approach in respect of debt relief for African countries.
According to a press statement made available to The Tide, the conclusions highlight the increasing debt vulnerability in low-income countries, particularly in Africa, and underscore the European Union’s support for a coordinated international approach on debt relief efforts for African countries.
The Council welcomed the G20 – Paris Club Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI), which offers a temporary debt moratorium to the poorest countries to help them manage the severe impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and its extension until 30 June 2021 with the possibility of a further extension by six months.
It commits to a full and transparent implementation of this initiative.
The Council also recognised that for countries with unsustainable debt levels, further debt relief may be required. It also welcomed the G20 agreement on a ‘Common Framework for Debt Treatments beyond the DSSI’ as a major step forward in the sovereign debt restructuring international architecture.
“In this context, it advocates the negotiation of debt restructuring where necessary, on a case-by-case basis, while ensuring strong conditionality on public financial management, anti-corruption frameworks and domestic resource mobilisation in the context of an International Monetary Fund (IMF) programme,” the statement said.
The Council stressed that debt transparency was critical for a sound assessment of debt sustainability, debtor government accountability, and to enable informed decisions for borrowers and creditors in the context of debt relief efforts.
“It takes the view that all public debt data should therefore be disclosed and supports international efforts aimed at strengthening debt transparency in low-income countries,” the statement concluded.

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‘FG Concedes N1.02trn Import Duty Waiver In Three Years’

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The Federal Government says it has conceded about N1.024 trillion import duty waivers, concessions and grants to drive economic growth in the country in the past three years.
Minister of Finance, Budget and Planning,  Mrs Zainab Ahmed, made this known at a one-day sensitisation on Digitisation of Import Duty Exemptions Certitificate (IDEC) on Monday, in Kano.
The minister, represented by the Kano State Commissioner of Finance, Shehu Na-Allah Kura, said the waivers were granted to businesses and corporate organisations between 2011 and 2015.
Ahmed said: “For the records, between 2011 and 2015; government conceded about 1.024 trillion through the grant of only four types incentives, namely:
”Import duty waivers, concessions, grants, N503.587 billion; Value Added Tax (VAT) waiver, N227.789 billion; Pioneer Status on non-oil companies, N73.511 billion, and Pioneer Status PPT on oil companies, N219.545 billion.”
The minister said the government also granted approximately N341.94 billion waivers between August 2017 and August 2019.
She said the basis for providing these incentives was to stimulate economic growth and overall development.
Ahmed said that the implementation of the automated IDEC was critical to the Federal Government’s economic reform programme to promote transparency, accountability and ease of doing business for sustainable development.
”Up till March 2020, we processed the grant of the IDEC incentives manually. Thus, the process was quite cumbersome, tedious, time consuming and it was beset with undue human interface with attendant challenges.
”The automated IDEC portal will deliver benefits online with the ministry’s Strategic Revenue Growth Initiative (SRGI),” Ahmed said.
She said that it would improve revenue profile, block leakages, cut financial losses associated with current duty exemption process and standardisation of waivers.
The automated IDEC, she said, would guarantee ease of doing business, ensure effective tracking of fiscal incentives granted, improve process efficiency and accountability by reducing turnaround time from 60 to only three days.
Ahmed urged participants to contribute in the deliberation to generate constructive feedback to facilitate fine-tuning the programme.
Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Finance,  Alhaji Ahmed Aliyu, said about 1,000 certificates were issued since inception of the automated IDEC portal.
Aliyu, represented by the Director Information and Public Relations of the ministry, Mr Hassan Dodo, said the certificates were issued to government and private organisations.
The Controller General of Custom, Hameed Alli said the sensitisation exercise was a pragmatic approach, adding that it would serve as testimony for Nigeria’s movement toward an enviable position in trade facilitation and ease of doing business.
Alli, represented by Commandant, Nigeria Customs Training College, Kano, Lawrence Banye, said the introduction of the e-Customs Project signaled the beginning of the end-to-end automation of NCS services and procedures to ensure total automation of trans-border trade activities.

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