David Cameron yesterday began to outline his new Europe policy following a decision from the Czech constitutional court that is likely to lead to the Lisbon treaty being implemented throughout the European Union within days.
The Conservative leader said he was “very disappointed” by the Czech court decision.
He also implied that, if the treaty does come into force, the Tories will drop their proposal to put it to a referendum. He said he would announce details of his new policy “probably later this week”.
All EU countries apart from the Czech Republic have already ratified the Lisbon treaty and the only person stopping it coming into force has been the Eurosceptic Czech president, Václav Klaus, who said he would not sign while the treaty was still being challenged in the Prague courts.
But this morning the Czech constitutional court dismissed objections lodged by a group of Czech senators who claimed the treaty launches a European superstate and is incompatible with the Czech constitution.
Klaus did not issue an immediate response, but he has previously said that he would not continue to oppose the treaty if it won the approval of the constitutional court and he is now expected to sign the treaty shortly.
In an interview on LBC yesterday , Cameron said he was “disappointed” by the Czech court’s decision.
“I hope, of course, [Klaus] doesn’t sign the treaty but I suspect time is running out,” the Conservative leader said.
Tory Eurosceptics have been alarmed at reports that the party may sidestep its pledge to hold a referendum if the Czech Republic agrees to ratify Lisbon. But Cameron told LBC that he would be entitled to drop his referendum pledge after ratification because the treaty would cease to exist and instead be part of European law.
“I believe we should have a referendum, and we’ve campaigned for it, we’ve fought for it, we’ve put it up front and centre at election campaign after election campaign, we’ve challenged the prime minister about his broken promise in the Commons, we’ve tried to persuade other European countries not to sign the treaty, because we think the British people should be allowed a referendum,” Cameron said.
“But if the treaty is signed, if it is implemented, if it is put in place by all 27 countries, then clearly the situation will have changed and we’ll have to address that changed situation. It won’t be a treaty any more; it will be part of European law.”
Cameron added: “If this treaty becomes law, it becomes law along with all the other treaties that have been passed into European law and we’ll have to explain what a Conservative government would do to try and make sure that Britain had her rights protected and defended properly.”
Cameron said that he would announce his next step “later this week”, although the influential Tory website ConservativeHome said that Cameron ought to respond yesterday to prevent a backlash from Eurosceptics gaining momentum.
There have been reports that Cameron would promise that a Conservative government would change the law to ensure that any new EU treaty needed to be approved by a referendum.
Gordon Brown said today that he hoped that the Lisbon treaty would be ratified by the Czechs “very soon” in the light of yesterday ’s court decision.
Brown also said that he hoped ratification would allow the EU to stop arguing about constitutional issues and to instead focus on issues such as employment, growth and security.
“I hope that we can set aside years of constitutional and institutional debate and years of having to deal with institutional issues and that we can move forward and deal with the main issues that the European Union must now face,” Brown said.
The treaty will streamline EU decision-making procedures and create the post of EU president, which Brown wants to go to Tony Blair.
Yesterday Chris Bryant, the Europe minister, told BBC News that Cameron would be “fibbing” if he promised to renegotiate Britain’s relationship with the EU because there was no support from other EU countries for a move of this kind.
“One cast-iron guarantee has already rusted,” said Bryant, referring to Cameron’s promise to hold a referendum. “Any other guarantee that he issues this week won’t be worth the paper it’s written on.”
Army Chief Lauds NIMASA Boss Over Performance
The Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt Gen Faruq Yahaya, has commended the Director General of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Bashir Jamoh, over his efforts in transforming and promoting the transportation sector as president of the Chartered Institute of Transport Administration of Nigeria (CIoTA).
He gave the commendation recently, during the 4th National Transport Summit of the Institute in Abuja.
Yahaya, who was represented by Maj. Gen. E. Akerejola, commended the President and members of CIoTA for the many economic sectors it touched: from facilitating international trade, through supporting food security, to enabling industrial and infrastructural development.
In the same vein, the Nigerian Army and other security agencies pledged their support to the growth and improvement of the country’s transportation sector to international standards, expressing their willingness to collaborate with CIoTA to achieve this feat.
The COAS stated that the theme of the summit, “Transport Safety and Security Administration in Nigeria”, was also timely, saying it is “an important aspect of the Transportation sector which has often been overlooked by many, including the transport professionals and academia.
“Over the years, the transportation sector has witnessed series of issues and challenges ranging from poor infrastructure, poor regulations, limited specialised professional training institutions, lack of effective and efficient transport policies, intra industry squabbles among transport professionals, to unethical behaviours, poor working condition amongst others,” he said.
He reassured the Institute of the Nigerian Army’s resolve to support the transportation sector wherever necessary.
On his part, President CIoTA and DG of NIMASA, Dr. Bashir Jamoh, whose speech was read by Prof Samuel Odewumi, noted that the theme for this year’s summit is focused on safety and security of the transportation sector in Nigeria.
In his words: “We were able to achieve the Chartering of the Institute, Renewed Advocacy, Vigorous Membership Drive and Certification. This year’s summit focuses on Safety & Security on all modes of transportation, hence we must all work together as stakeholders and custodians of the transportation sector of Nigeria.
“Safety and security are paramount to achieving a robust and intermodal transport regime in Nigeria.
“CIoTA as the only statutory professional association in charge of the Transportation Industry in Nigeria, therefore, deserves to be accorded its place in nomination of members into relevant agencies and in consultations for policy formulation and implementation strategies. It is the right thing to do.
“As a Chartered Institute, our role is very huge; with great opportunities and challenges. Let’s focus on the job at hand”.
By: Nkpemenyie Mcdominic, Lagos
Revenue Challenges: DMO Sues For Efficient Tax Administration
As part of efforts to tackle revenue change in the country, the Debt Management Office (DMO) has called for the operation of an efficient and effective tax administration in Nigeria
Director-General of the agency, Ms Patience Oniha, who made the call in a statement made available to journalists, stressed on the need for Nigeria to operate such efficient tax administration system, that will tackle loopholes in revenue generation of the country.
According to her, a lot of loopholes are noticeable in the current tax system, which has given room for evasions and all sorts of sharp practices, causing hiccups in the public revenue management system.
She said revenue challenge remains one of the most critical policy issues of the Federal Government which is currently threatening the nation’s debt sustainability.
“The country needs to operate an efficient tax administration that would ensure greater compliance to remittances devoid of all forms of evasions in the system,” she said.
Recall that the current revenue problem is compounded by leakages such as an increase in oil theft and petrol subsidy, both of which have significantly reduced the revenue from oil sales that used to account for the bulk of government revenue.
Oniha noted that the outlook of both the local and international markets was becoming tighter with rising interest rate.
The DMO boss, therefore, stressed the need for the country to urgently moderate its new borrowings and ensure that public debt is sustained by accelerating its revenue base to shore up non-oil revenue and rationalising expenditure of the nation.
By: Corlins Walter
214m Persons Subscribe To Telecoms In Nigeria
Active telecommunication subscribers in Nigeria have now increased to 214.35 million as at October this year, according to data from the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC).
The latest NCC statistical records so far obtained shows that this is the highest number of recorded telecoms subscribers in the nation since the total number of subscribers peaked at 207.58 million in October 2020, some months before the SIM-NIN linkage.
The record has revealed that more subscribers were getting new SIMs in a bid to circumvent restrictions on SIMs that had not been linked with their National Identification Numbers, which was the major reason for the growth in 2022.
One of the major service providers in Nigeria, MTN, in its third quarter release through the Chief Executive Officer, Karl Toriola, said the average daily gross connection was 48.1 per cent above the pre-directive level, partly driven by the cohort of subscribers who were initially restricted and opted to register new SIMs.
“Combined with increased usage from the existing base, these have supported an acceleration in the service revenue growth recovery and mitigated the impact of churn on the base”, he said.
Also looking at the predictions in the industry among the global industry’s stakeholders, Nigeria has a sizeable number of its population under the age of 18, which is indicating that its subscriber growth would remain strong for the foreseeable future as more young consumers crossed into adulthood and subscribed to mobile services.
Given the growing population, it is expected that 18 million new Nigerians will become unique telecoms subscribers even by 2025, and as Mobile connectivity is at the core of connectivity in Nigeria, with the majority of online services accessed through mobile channels in the nation.
Records have shown that mobile ecosystem also supported more than 3.2 million jobs (directly and indirectly) and made a substantial contribution to the funding of the public sector, with $16bn raised through taxes on the sector, and this will grow in coming years.
However, inspire of this growth, many will not have access to telecom service, just as the Federal Ministry of Communications and Digital Economy had said that about 31.6 million Nigerians live in areas without telecoms coverage.
The absence of such coverage, according to the ministry, had enabled criminal activities and insecurity in these unserved areas to thrive.
By: Corlins Walter
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