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G20 Policy Makers Express Fear For Economy

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Leading policymakers were unusually candid on Friday in voicing fears that the euro zone’s financial and banking woes could derail the global economic recovery.

The troubles of Greece and other heavily indebted European governments dominated conversations ahead of a meeting of finance ministers and central bankers of the Group of 20 of the world’s top developed and emerging economies, Canadian Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said.

“It is essential to ensure continued recovery that Europe fix its banks. It is essential that certain vulnerable European nations follow through with major fiscal consolidation, and get the job done,” Flaherty told reporters in Busan, South Korea.

Gatherings such as the G20 are typically an opportunity for officials to radiate confidence, especially when financial markets are in a nervous state, as they are now.

But Flaherty was not alone in his warnings.

“We can’t afford to be complacent,” South Korean Finance Minister Yoon Jeung-hyun told the opening session.

“Without further and ongoing action from us, the recovery may not remain on track and we may not be able to achieve strong, sustainable and balanced growth,” he said.

South African Planning Minister Trevor Manuel said he could not think of a more challenging time than the present for the Group of 20. Decisions needed taking, he said, to banish the spectre of a double-dip recession.

“It’s important that we all understand just how fragile the recovery is,” Manuel, himself a former finance minister, said.

As ministers got down to work, police boats patrolled near the beach hotel where they are meeting.

Authorities have steeped up security in the southern port city in the face of war-like rhetoric on the divided peninsula after the South accused North Korea of sinking one of its warships.

The 16-nation euro zone is bailing Greece to the tune of 110 billion euros after Athens lost the confidence of bond markets and was unable to roll over its vast debts.

The euro zone, working with the International Monetary Fund, is also putting together a 750 billion euro (910 billion dollars) safety net for other member countries with big debts in case they too fail to find buyers for their bonds.

A forced debt restructuring would inflict heavy losses on euro zone banks.

Investors first responded enthusiastically to the May rescue package, but the euro has since slumped on doubts about the capacity of southern European states to plug holes in their budgets.

World stock markets have shuddered at the prospect that Europe’s woes could derail a recovery from the deepest financial crisis since the 1930s.

“Just when we thought we had turned the corner there are clouds on the horizon,” World Bank Managing Director Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala told Reuters.

But U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner sounded a more optimistic note.

“The world economy came into this period of concern about Europe with stronger underlying momentum and growth than many people expected, and we’re in a much stronger position to get through this,” Geithner told CNBC television en route to Busan.

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FOI Act Implementation Bothers BPST Boss

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The Director-General, Bureau of Public Service Reforms, Dr Dasuki Arabi, has expressed regrets that the implementation of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) has remained very low since the law was enacted.
The BPSR boss made the observation during a workshop held on Wednesday in Abuja on the appraisal of Freedom of Information Act.
Arabi said the Act was meant to entrench transparency and openness in governance through improved compliance to annual reporting obligations of public institutions.
“It is also expected to guide and improve compliance of public institutions in proactive disclosure of mandatory publication requirements, as well as empower citizens, the right to access information held by the state.
“Regrettably, since the introduction of the FOI Act, it is evident that the level of compliance among public institutions still remains low.
“While the level of engagement by citizens still remains insignificant and in some cases fraught with misunderstanding between the State and Non-State actors,” he added.
Arabi, therefore, said that the workshop was to resolve some of the grey areas around FOI, as well as foster a harmonious relationship between the State and Non-State actors towards the implementation of the Act.
He said good governance and transparency would only thrive in the country when citizens access to Information is assured.
The DG emphasised that the FOIA provided platform for inclusiveness that sought to hold leaders to account and feed into the decision making process.
Arabi said that the Bureau had worked assiduously towards the implementation of the Act and was making efforts to ensure that it was institutionalized across the public sector.
He said that the interventions were in the areas of training public service workers and development of feedback mechanism through which a portal for application and responses for FOI request were deployed.
Others, he said, are score-card for ranking the performances of websites of public institutions using specific benchmarks, including FOI portal.
“Creating platforms for citizens engagement with Civil Societies Organizations on topical issues of government through the BPSR flagship programmes such as the monthly Lunchtime Seminar series,” he added.
Arabi said that the Bureau had also deployed information technology to provide innovative means to improve record keeping and management using intranet and Electronic Data Management Systems.
He continued that they were working in conjunction with the Nigeria Economic Summit Group to gauge the perception of citizens on public policies.
In her remarks, the National Coordinator, Open Government Partnership (OGP), Nigeria, Dr Gloria Ahmed, said making information open was a hallmark of democracy and a basic human right.
She said that the FOIA has given citizens the opportunity to access information as regards government policies and reforms.

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FCTA Harmonises Mobile Adverts, Haulage System Against Double Taxation

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The Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA), Department of Outdoor Advertisement and Signage (DOAS), has launched the FCT/State Mobile Advertisement and Haulage permits for 2023 financial year.
Permanent Secretary, FCTA, Mr Olusade Adesola, while launching the system sought the cooperation of the business owners in the FCT, in order to achieve the objective of the initiative.
Adesola said the move was part of efforts to facilitate the ease of doing business drive in the nation’s capital.
He commended DOAS for the initiative. aimed at improving institutional cooperation and partnerships with the critical stakeholders.
Adesola warned: “FCTA would no longer tolerate acts of thuggery in the collection of taxes, as there are better ways of doing such, which will ensure the attainment of ease of doing business.”
He commended the leadership of Area Councils for resolving to synergise with DOAS to streamline the system.
The Permanent Secretary said the proliferation of collection authorities for mobile advertisements had led to serious loss of Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) in the FCT.
Earlier, the Executive Chairman, Kwali Area Council, Danladi Chiya, said although Area Councils have the constitutional right to collect such advertisements, they have no issue with FCTA over the establishment and mandate of DOAS.

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LASG Begins Vehicle Parking Lanes Demacation

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The Lagos State Parking Authority (LASPA) has revealed it will today commence creating additional Vehicle Parking Lanes in some selected locations across the State.
The Authority stated that all efforts have been geared towards improving the parking system of the State.
Speaking on the planned initiative on Friday in Ikeja, the General Manager of LASPA, Mrs. Adebisi Adelabu, stated that the vehicle parking lane mark exercise, which will begin with designated streets within Surulere, Ikoyi, Lekki, Obalende, Ikeja and Victoria Island axis of the State, is a step towards improving street parking from 2023.
Adelabu noted that the Parking Lane Markings will further guide motorists and pedestrians on appropriate parking regulations and spaces, minimise indiscriminate parking, confusion and uncertainty, while conveying a range of information to residents on parking procedures within each specified environment.
According to her, the lane markings will also include special consideration for people living with disabilities and signposts for parking directives, among other features.
The General Manager, however, solicited the understanding of residents within the locations who might be affected by any inconvenience the process might cause, assuring that the government is working rigorously in regulating and improving the parking culture as part of its Traffic Management and Transportation Agenda to ensure parking is convenient, safe and secure across the state.
Recall that the Authority had recently unveiled plans to begin full implementation of parking policy in the second quarter of 2023 and has continued to sensitise the public on the need to embrace the parking culture.

By; Nkpemenyie Mcdominic, Lagos

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