The Niger State House of Assembly Adhoc Committee on COVID-19, on Thursday in Minna requested an updated information and financial activities of the state Task Force Committee on COVID-19.
The Chairman of the Committee, Alhaji Malik Bosso, made the request when members of the committee interfaced with the state Task Force Committee on COVID-19, headed by Alhaji Ahmed Matane, Secretary to the State Government.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the Assembly had in June set up an ad-hoc committee to embark on legislative oversight to the various COVID-19 isolation centres and interface with the task force committee on its activities.
Bosso said that the previous presentation made by the task force chairman when he appeared before the plenary was different from the one presented to the committee.
“We are not satisfied with the document you submitted to us today. We have observed that figures are repeated on narrations.
“Your presentation is conflicting with the previous one. We are not satisfied with the explanation.
“For instance in your last presentation, you said you spent about N795 million. Today you said you have spent about N808 million.
”The last time you said you paid N85 million to AEDC to improve electricity supply during the lockdown and expended N76 million on fumigation of the entire state.
“Now, you are saying those monies were not part of the COVID-19 money expended. Again, we have seen repetition of some of the items you said you procured; we need more explanation on that,” he said.
Bosso, however, said the chairman should reconcile all accounts and come back on July 9, with correct information so as to keep the public informed with information on COVID-19 pandemic.
Alhaji Bashir Lokogoma, Member, Representing Wushishi Constituency, expressed disappointment that some of the activities were not directly handled by the Task Force Committee on COVID-19; such as the fumigation and payment of N85 million to AEDC.
“I am a little bit confused that you said you didn’t carry out activities that have direct bearing on COVID-19. Why should the activity of fumigation to contain the spread of the coronavirus not be part of your activities?
Responding, Matane, admitted that there was a computational error in figures on the document presented to the committee, saying that the figures would still change as their activities were still ongoing.
He appealed to the committee to be patient with the task force as it would keep updating the document from time to time.
Matane explained that the money paid to the AEDC and the fumigation were not part of the activities of the task force but were done by the Ministries of Works and Environment, saying that those activities were still part of COVID-19 palliatives.
Edited By: Chidinma Agu/Adeleye Ajayi (NAN)
Australia records deadliest day of pandemic as Melbourne cases surge
Australia’s second-most populous state of Victoria has experienced another record-breaking daily increase in COVID-19 cases and related deaths, making it the country’s deadliest day of the coronavirus pandemic.
The state recorded 725 new virus cases and 15 COVID-19-related deaths, including a man, aged 30 years, Australia’s youngest coronavirus victim, Victorian Premier, Daniel Andrews, said on Wednesday.
Both figures mark the worst day of the pandemic for the state, as well as nationally, since the pandemic started.
The death toll from the virus in Victoria is now 162, while it is 247 nationally.
Most of the new cases and deaths overnight were in Victoria’s capital city, Melbourne.
For more than a month, Victoria has consistently recorded triple-digit daily case numbers amid a second wave that broke out in Melbourne in late June.
The state’s previous record was 723 new cases on July 30.
Earlier this week, Andrews declared a state of disaster and imposed tough new restrictions on Melbourne, including a night-time curfew and closing down businesses, retail shops and manufacturing.
Andrews said, on Wednesday, that essential workers will be required to show they have a permit to leave their homes if asked by the Police from Thursday onwards.
While healthcare workers and police officers can use their official identification, all others have to apply for the permit online.
Restrictions, which are in place until Sept. 13, also prohibit residents from travelling more than five kilometres from their home to go grocery shopping or exercise.
All recreational activities and weddings have been banned and face masks are mandatory.
Edited By: Abdulfatah Babatunde (NAN)
Dollar slips as yields dive on recovery worries
The dollar fell in Asia on Wednesday, hitting a five-month low on the yuan.
A hardening perception that the United States recovery is lagging Europe has buttressed the euro, which has repelled a rebound in the dollar and rose back above $1.18 on Wednesday.
At the same time speculation that stalemate over fiscal policy in Washington could leave the Federal Reserve with more to do, has hastened a steady decline in United States yields – undermining the dollar more broadly.
Sterling, the Australian dollar and the kiwi all climbed back toward pre-pandemic highs, while the yen rose and gold soared as real yields plumbed record lows.
“United States economic outperformance, relative to the eurozone and Japan, is no longer guaranteed given the damage from the COVID-19 pandemic,’’ said Tai Hui, J.P. Morgan Asset Management’s chief strategist in Asia.
“Dollar interest rates are also converging to other developed economies’ interest rates, which means that the dollar is less appealing,’’ Hui said.
He added it is difficult to see the Fed easing policy ahead of its global peers.
The Australian dollar led gains among the majors with a 0.4 per cent rise to $0.7189.
Ten-year Australian government debt now yields about 31 basis points more than 10-year United States government debt, up from 16 basis points two months ago.
The New Zealand dollar rose 0.3 per cent to $0.6646, catching some support from a surprise dip in the jobless rate.
The yen rose 0.1 per cent to 105.60 per dollar and sterling edged higher to $1.3091.
Even the Chinese yuan, which had struggled to capitalise on the dollar’s weakness amid simmering Sino-United States tensions, forged higher to a five-month top of 6.9570 per dollar in onshore trade.
Other Asian currencies also made gains, notably the Malaysian ringgit, which was stronger than 4.2 per dollar for the first in five months.
The dollar has been sliding since March, but its prime antagonist in recent weeks has been the euro, which in July posted its best month in almost 10 years.
That has the common currency more or less back where it began life in 1999 and has many investors convinced it can keep climbing as a Europe-wide fiscal relief package anchors recovery and allays perennial worries about the bloc’s stability.
“Right now, looming long-term negative United States issues – like the dollar’s reserve status as the United States and China decouple – are at the forefront of FX concerns and not the euro’s structural problems,’ said Deutsche Bank strategist, Alan Ruskin.
“The door to $1.20+ remains wide open,’’ he said.
For now, eyes are on Washington where White House negotiators have vowed to work “around the clock” with congressional Democrats to try to reach a deal on coronavirus relief by the end of this week.
Investors expect steady services growth in Europe and a slowdown in the United States in hiring, with surprises on any front likely to illuminate the apparent divergence between Europe and the United States
Analysts at ING have also noted that equity investors have yet to really buy into the European recovery story – and say a pile-in could provide even more support to the currency.
“Buy-side surveys suggest that investors are still heavily overweight United States equities, especially tech stocks, and are minded to rotate into the Eurozone and see the euro as cheap,’’ said ING’s global head of markets, Chris Turner.
“If that rotation comes to pass … then euro/dollar may be a $1.25 story after all.’’
Edited By: Abdulfatah Babatunde (NAN)
Oil prices snap four-day winning streak as COVID-19 cases grow
Oil prices fell for the first time in four days on Wednesday, slipping from as much as five-month highs as mounting coronavirus cases worldwide and in the United States undercut market confidence about a potential pickup in fuel demand.
Brent crude was down four cents, or 0.1 per cent, at $44.39 a barrel by 0449 GMT.
It finished 0.6 per cent higher on Wednesday – the highest close since March 6.
West Texas Intermediate oil was down eight cents, or 0.2 per cent, at $41.62 a barrel.
The contract ended Tuesday trading 1.7 per cent higher, its highest close since late July.
Coronavirus cases continued to rise in the United States, and deaths are at more than a 1,000 a day while dozens of states have had to pause or scale back plans to reopen their economies.
Still, a big fall in United States inventories of crude oil provided a bottom to prices.
Crude inventories were down by 8.6 million barrels in the week to Aug. 1 to 520 million barrels, compared with analysts’ expectations for a drop of three million barrels.
Official figures from the United States Department of Energy are due out later on Wednesday.
“It would be safe to say that United States crude oil inventories are in a firm downward trend,’’ if the official numbers confirm last week’s drop, ING Economics said in a note.
Helping support sentiment were signs that talks between Democrats in Congress and the White House on a new package of coronavirus relief started moving in the right direction, although the two sides remain far apart.
United States factory data this week also showed an improvement in orders, which some analysts saw as offering relief to concerns about risks to any recovery.
Japan’s services sector contracted for a sixth consecutive month in July, data showed on Wednesday.
Edited By: Abdulfatah Babatunde (NAN)
Mobile Police Training School, not personal asset of I-G – Police
The Police say the Mobile Police Training School in Nasarawa State was a national security legacy project and not a personal asset of the Inspector General of Police (I-G), Mr Mohammed Adamu.
The Force Public Relations Officer (FPRO), Mr Frank Mba, disclosed this in a statement on Tuesday in Abuja.
Mba said establishing the school in Endehu, Nasarawa State, was informed by overriding national security consideration on the need to strengthen the operational capacity of the special forces of the Nigeria Police Force.
He said that the IGP had not used his office to threaten Mobile Police Commanders into generating millions of naira monthly through illegal means for the project.
”It is on record that the parcel of land where the institution was sited was donated to the Police with the full complement of the Certificate of Occupancy by the Governor of Nasarawa State.
“The acquisition of the land was, therefore, without any financial commitment by the Police.
”The construction of the facility was achieved with the support of the Nasarawa State Government and well-meaning corporate bodies within the context of their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).
”All the support so extended were not in cash but in form of donation of materials,” he said.
Mba said that the only involvement of some Squadron Commanders was to ensure the delivery of some of the construction materials so donated by the corporate bodies.
He said the construction of the project through corporate intervention was a demonstration of the commitment of the Force leadership to meet its obligations to citizens.
According to him, this is not the first time corporate organisations and governments at all levels are assisting the police to bridge operational and infrastructural gaps.
Edited By: Chidinma Agu/Maharazu Ahmed (NAN)