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What FG’s N2.3 trillion stimulus package meant for – Osinbajo

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THE ECONOMY :
• What FG’s N2.3 trillion stimulus package meant for – Osinbajo

Nigeria’s Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo has said the Federal Government’s N2.3 trillion stimulus package is designed to mitigate the shock, tackle the vulnerabilities, create and protect jobs, as well as rescue businesses and reposition the economy.

Osinbajo spoke while delivering a keynote address at the 61st annual conference of the Nigerian Economic Society (NES), themed “African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) in Post COVID-19 Era: What Next for Nigeria?”

“Our projections showed that without the stimulus, the economy was set to contract by -4.4% in 2020, but with implementation, including ramping up local production, we should be able to limit the negative growth to -0.59%.

“Let me be clear, our desire to ramp up local production is not a call to autarky but rather an expenditure switching approach which can complement the AfCFTA desire to deepen regional value-chains,” said.

Referring to Nigeria’s experience with the COVID-19 pandemic, Osinbajo said, “indeed, one thing that has become clear from our experiences of the last few months is the need for a vibrant and successful AfCFTA.

“The pandemic has exposed our dependence on commodity exports to other parts of the world and on the import of manufactured goods from them. As at 2017, intra-Africa trade in goods was $135 billion, which was just about 15% of Africa’s total trade. This is in sharp contrast to trade in other regions, which is as high as 70% in the European Union and 60% in Asia.

“The imposition of export bans, including on food items by some countries and the disruption of global supply chains at the height of the pandemic, showed just how exposed and vulnerable African countries are because of limited productive capacity and a lack of regional value chains.”

The Vice President then noted some of the proactive steps taken by the Federal Government to participate effectively in the AfCFTA.

In his words: “The Federal Government is investing heavily in power, road, rail and port infrastructure projects. It is also why we are taking active steps to improve the business environment and to facilitate trade across our borders, including through the implementation of the National Trading Platform or Single Window Project. Part of that project is the installation of scanners at our ports.

“Government also realizes, of course, that it needs to be able to enforce trade rules and apply trade remedies so that our partners in the AfCFTA, especially our neighbours, do not take undue advantage of our large market. You will be glad to know that the National Action Committee on the implementation of the AfCFTA, which is chaired by the Honourable Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, is actively seized with these matters.”

Osinbajo, however, said, one of the many ways by which Africa could maximize its benefits was to ensure that trade negotiations with the rest of the world be based on the free trade agreement rather than deals separately endorsed by regional economic blocs.

According to him, “One important objective of the AfCFTA is to overcome the economic fragmentation of the continent by bringing the regional economic blocs together in a common arrangement. This being the case, African countries should look to negotiating trade treaties with other parts of the world on the basis of AfCFTA rather than through arbitrarily designed regional blocs. African countries should not allow themselves to be lured into arrangements which do not serve their long-term development objectives.”

Speaking further about how the agreement could bolster trade and development on the continent, the Vice President said, “we must, of course, continue to bear in mind, especially here in Nigeria that the AfCFTA is not a magic wand that automatically brings about

“The reality is that if care is not taken, trade liberalization can expose the Nigerian economy to unfair competition and sharp trade practices, with adverse consequences for our producers who might have to close down their businesses, and for our workers who would then lose their jobs.

“Successful implementation of the AfCFTA requires financing to address various implementation challenges and to promote arrangements in support of integration. For instance, in addition to making up for potential losses of tariff revenues, African countries will face implementation costs, including undertaking reforms, establishing new trade-related bodies, improving and upgrading existing facilities.

“Finding the resources to undertake these activities at a time like this when we lack fiscal space will, of course, prove to be very difficult for Nigeria and other African countries. Our economists should accordingly help to come up with innovative financing solutions for our economies.”

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APPOINTMENT OF WTO CHIEF IN DOUBT AFTER KEY MEETING CANCELLED

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APPOINTMENT OF WTO CHIEF IN DOUBT AFTER KEY MEETING CANCELLED

• Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala had been expected to be confirmed as leader on Monday

By Richard Partington

The race to find a new leader of the World Trade Organization has been thrown into renewed uncertainty after the cancellation of a key appointment meeting following the US presidential election.

The Geneva-based WTO, which acts as an international arbiter for trading disputes, said it had put off a meeting scheduled for Monday that had been called to appoint Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as its next director general.

Donald Trump’s administration opposed her selection in one of its final acts before the US election, despite the former Nigerian finance minister securing the overwhelming backing of the WTO’s 164 members.

The special meeting of the trade body’s general council had been convened to take a formal decision on the appointment. Officials had been set to put forward Dr Okonjo-Iweala as the candidate most likely to attract a majority, after most countries expressed a preference for her over South Korea’s Yoo Myung-hee.

Okonjo-Iweala had moved a step closer to becoming the first woman and the first African to be director of the global trade watchdog after securing backing from the EU, China, Japan and Australia. Liam Fox, the leading Brexiter and former international trade secretary, had run as the UK government’s preferred candidate but failed to win enough support from other countries to reach the last two in the process.

Trade experts said Joe Biden defeating Trump in last week’s election may have led to countries calling for a delay in the WTO leadership race, with the aim of securing the Biden White House’s backing for Okonjo-Iweala after he takes charge in January.

The delay in selecting a new WTO director general comes at a fragile moment for the world economy amid the second wave of Covid-19, and after years of criticism of the WTO and calls for reform from Trump.

The WTO said the meeting would be postponed until further notice, during which time the organisation would continue undertaking consultations with delegations from countries around the world to pick a new leader.

It said in a statement: “For reasons including the health situation and current events, delegations will not be in a position to take a formal decision on 9 November.”

  • TheGuardian

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UNITED ARAB EMIRATES LIFTS VISA RESTRICTION ON NIGERIANS, SAYS GOVERNMENT

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UNITES ARAB EMIRATES LIFTS VISA RESTRICTION ON NIGERIANS, SAYS GOVERNMENT

BY SAHARAREPORTERS, NEW YORK

The United Arab Emirates has agreed to resume visa issuance to Nigerians, the government has said.

Hadi Sirika, Minister of Aviation, announced this via his Twitter handle on Wednesday.

He disclosed that the move was to allow Emirates Airlines resume operations in Nigeria

He said, “UAE has written to state that they agree to issue visas to Nigerians, consequently decision has been reached to allow Emirates to fly into Nigeria.

“Commencement of the Visa issuance is condition precedent. Please bear with this unusual situation. Many thanks.”

  • SaharaReporters

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UK RETURNS $100,000 CONFISCATED FROM DUPED NIGERIAN BUSINESSMAN

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UK RETURNS $100,000 CONFISCATED FROM DUPED NIGERIAN BUSINESSMAN

Mr Danu had protested the seizure of the money saying it was his legitimate earning and that he declared it with customs.

The United Kingdom has returned the sum of $100,000 confiscated by airport security from Nigerian businessman, Nasiru Danu, after a court gave judgment in his favour in a confiscation suit.

Court documents and banking details seen by this newspaper showed that the money was paid with interest that accrued in the last one year as ordered by a magistrate court on September 7.

Mr Danu was intercepted by officials of the United Kingdom Border Force and Immigration officials on arrival at the London airport on September 13, 2019 after his then newly-acquired Maltese passport with which he travelled there turned out to be fake.

The businessman, PREMIUM TIMES gathered, was duped of $35,000 by a ‘travel agency’ which offered to help him obtain a Maltese passport. Unknown to him the passport delivered to him by the agency was fake.

On returning to Nigeria, Mr Danu petitioned the State Security Service (SSS) over the passport fraud and his resultant arrest and deportation from the UK.

The SSS later referred the case to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) which is now pressing charges against one Rabbi Okpara.

PREMIUM TIMES had in December reported how Ms Okpara was docked by the EFCC before an FCT High Court for allegedly defrauding Mr Danu and other unsuspecting Nigerians.

Ms Okpara is the owner of Green Valley Concept Limited, a purported travel agency.

EFCC investigators said Ms Okpara used her travel agency to lure unsuspecting members of the public to buy into a sham travel/residency arrangement in Malta.

The EFCC said Ms Okpara in her statement to the agency admitted to liaising with a third party, one Mr Ugbaja, in obtaining these fake travel document for her clients.

Count one of the charges reads: “That you Rabbi Okpara and Jude Ugbaja(at large) sometime in August 2019, within the jurisdiction of this honourable court conspired between yourselves to do an illegal act, to wit; causing to be used as genuine forged documents, thereby committed an offence contrary to section 3(6) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act, CAP, MI7 laws of Federation Nigeria, 2004 and punishable under the same act.”

Count two reads: “That you Rabbi Okpara, Jude Ugbaja ( at large), Green Valley Concept Ltd and Palmary Travels and Tours Ltd, sometimes in August 2019 in Abuja within the jurisdiction of this honourable court forged a maltase passport with the name Nasiru Haladu Danu with number 9647443 dated 27 April/AVR 2018 with intent that it be used as genuine; thereby committed an offence contrary to 320(a) of the Penal Code, Law of the Federation 1990 and punishable under section 322 of the same law.”

Seized cash returned

Aside deporting Mr Danu to Nigeria on his arrest at the airport in September, the UK authorities also took possession of $100,000 found on the businessman.

The businessman had protested the seizure of the money saying it was his legitimate earning and that he declared it appropriately with customs authorities in Nigeria before travelling with it to the UK.

Mr Danu also explained that he travelled with that amount of cash because his credit card had failed him repeatedly, leaving him stranded on a number of occasions.

But despite his explanations, the UK authorities seized the cash and approached a court for confiscation hearing.

However, the legal team for Mr Danu challenged the UK Border agency’s move to permanently confiscate the money. They succeeded.

“The court found that the security officials were wrong to seize the money as the money was from legitimate income which was not intended for an unlawful purpose and should therefore be returned to the owners,” said Mr Danu’s lawyer, Femi Joshua.

Mr Danu’s Nigerian Bank account was credited with the money with interest in two tranches of $50,471 on September 23, according to documents seen by PREMIUM TIMES.

When contacted Tuesday, Mr Danu said he was pleased that the court noted that he was a victim of crime by a syndicate which swindled him and sold him a fake passport.

“The court saw that I am a legitimate and honest businessman and that the cash found on me were legitimately earned and properly declared,” Mr Danu said.

  • PremiumTimesNg

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