Philip Muema, Chairperson of Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Kenya Centre for Public Finance and Tax Board made the plea.
Muema told a tax forum in Nairobi that Kenya is unable to meet its revenues targets because a large proportion of its population is outside the tax net.
“The government is yet to come up with taxation structures that can capture incomes of those in the informal sector.
“The informal sector provides the bulk of the employment opportunities in the country,’’ Muema said.
He observed that the country’s online tax platform has so far captured approximately 5.7 million individuals out of the estimated population of 45 million.
Muema urged the government to leverage data from the mobile payment platforms to increase its tax revenues.
He said Kenya’s tax revenues are mainly driven by income taxes and, therefore, efforts should be made to diversify sources of revenues and especially indirect taxes.
Thomas Kibua, Director of Academic Affairs at the Strathmore Institute for Public Policy and Governance, said that the government can increase its tax revenues through adequate provision of basic services to the public.
“If citizens can see where their tax revenues are going, they will be more likely to pay taxes and avoid tax evasion schemes,’’ Kibua said.
Analysis: Experts say Turkish-Russian differences surface in Libyan conflict
Russian top officials postponed a visit to Turkey at the last minute on Sunday, highlighting their differences on the Libyan conflict, where the two countries have taken a lead in efforts to find a solution to the oil-rich nation’s near decade-long conflict, analysts said.
Meetings with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu planned in Istanbul will take place “at a future date,” Turkey’s Foreign Ministry said on Sunday, a day after announcing that the two ministers were set to come for talks.
The Foreign Ministry in Moscow separately said the two sides are “actively working to support a settlement in Libya.” No reason has been mentioned for the cancellation of this meeting where Libya was supposed to be the main focus.
Experts think that recent gains in Libya by Turkish-supported forces lay at the core of tensions amid statements from the United Nations that warring sides had begun new peace talks.
“This last minute cancellation is the signal of problems in Libya where Turkey has upped it stakes after recent battle victories on the field. It seems that Turkey’s hand is stronger than before compared to Russia,” Oytun Orhan, coordinator at the Ankara-based Center for Middle Eastern Studies (ORSAM), told Xinhua.
Ankara and Moscow support opposing sides in civil wars in Syria and Libya. Ankara is providing military and diplomatic support to Libya’s United Nations-recognized administration, the Government of National Accord (GNA), while Russia backs rival militia commander Khalifa Haftar.
In Syria, the Russian-backed government aims to retake northern province of Idlib from Islamist militants, while Turkey has vowed to never let that happen, sending thousands of troops there to protect its national interests and avert a new influx of refugees on its soil.
“Turkey doesn’t seem ready to any concessions in Libya where its hand is stronger now with battleground gains around the strategic town of Sirte,” indicated Orhan.
Russia, on the other hand, he said, is trying to force Ankara to a compromise in Libya by using the Idlib card, organising air raids against Turkey-backed forces positions in northern Syria, Orhan stressed.
“There is an ongoing arm wrestling between Russia and Turkey in Syria and Libya,” argued this expert, emphasizing that he doesn’t expect these tensions to simmer in both war theaters into a direct confrontation.
In recent months, Russia and Turkey have taken the lead in efforts to find a solution to Libya’s crisis, hoping in the process to carve out spheres of influence for themselves in the North African nation.
Turkish support for the GNA has allowed it to turn the tide and repel a year-long offensive by eastern-based renegade commander Khalifa Haftar, which Russia, the United Arab Emirates, and Egypt back.
The postponed Istanbul talks were supposed to broker a deal which would pave the way of a ceasefire in Libya.
This is not the first time that Russia and Turkey have attempted to broker a ceasefire in Libya, but this time with the United States showing interest to support its NATO ally, Turkey, in the oil-rich nation.
In January, GNA Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj and Haftar visited Moscow as part of Russian-Turkish efforts to secure a lasting ceasefire. However, Haftar, bolstered by his battlefield successes at the time, refused to sign the agreement.
The Moscow meeting was followed a week later by a separate summit, this time hosted by Germany.
Turkey’s prime motivations for entering the war in Libya was a contentious maritime border demarcation agreement it signed with the GNA that expanded its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) in the resource-abundant eastern Mediterranean.
Several European nations have opposed Turkey’s Libyan ambitions. France escalated over the weekend its stance towards Ankara in Libya, saying that it is “acting in an unacceptable way by using NATO, and France cannot tolerate this.”
Observers think that both Ankara and Moscow have to make concessions at further stages in Libya to secure their gains and prevent an escalation of tensions that would be detrimental to both sides.
“Conditions have drastically changed in the Libyan theater since January and it’s very obvious that Turkey and Russia should engage in a new round of talks if they intend to renew their joint commitment for peace and stability of Libya,” political commentator Serkan Demirtas told Xinhua.
The GNA, backed by Turkey’s military and drones, remarked this expert, is continuing its advance to gain the control of Sirte and al-Jufra airbase. It wants to expand its control along the shoreline and around the Oil Crescent to further consolidate its military gains. It won’t likely stop until these objectives are met.
Nevertheless, Demirtas insisted that a renewed Turkish-Russian political dialogue seems to be the best solution to reach peace in Libya. “Just like in Syria, there is no military solution to the Libyan question either,” he added.
Use public affairs to mitigate effect of COVID-19 on organisations — Experts
Some experts have advised corporate organisations to use public affairs personnel to mitigate unexpected developments caused by the negative effects of COVID-19.
They gave the advice during a webinar hosted by Re-Ignite Public Affairs with the theme: Managing the Public Affairs Function Post COVID-19.
The session was moderated by the Group Managing Director of CMC Connect Limited (Perception Managers), Yomi Badejo-Okusanya.
Speaking at the webinar, Sade Morgan, Corporate Affairs Director, Nigerian Breweries Plc, said that COVID-19 had really challenged a lot of companies to work differently with stakeholders.
“We have seen a lot of changes in the way we work, Nigeria has gone digital, which in a positive way has brought about a lot of efficiency.
“This crisis has particularly put corporate affairs at the heart of businesses, because we are the ones trying to secure business continuity in different ways.
“We are delivering communication again on various internal engagement platforms to keep organisations motivated,” Morgan said.
Concerning government relations, she said organisations needed to understand that the government could not do it all.
Morgan said that public affairs’ role was to ensure that government had full visibility of what was going on and drive business continuity, thus keeping economic activities going
Also, Olufemi Awoyemi, Chairman, Proshare Nigeria, said that public affairs function was now the number one priority for any organisation or practising firm that was providing services.
“Public affairs functions cannot be over emphasised because there will always be a board coalition of the private sector which allows organisations to step up to the importance of palliative.
“It is the public affairs sector that birth the private sector Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACOVID), he said.
Commmenting, Ade Adefeko, Vice President, Corporate and Government Relations, Olam Nigeria, said there was need for the private public affairs sector to understand government agencies to be able to design appropriate strategies in engaging them.
Also, Emeka Oparah, Vice President, Communications and Corporate Social Responsibility, Airtel Nigeria, charged public affairs managers to collaborate and coordinate more during this challenging period to motivate businesses.
“This period shoud teach public affairs personnel to engage, exchange contacts and resources in order to be able to network with the right people.
“We need to understand organisations and people to be able to articulate business issues seamlessly,” he said.
Edited By: Cecilia Odey/Wale Ojetimi (NAN)
Experts urge more awareness on mental illness
The Head, Clinical Psychology Department, Federal Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital, Yaba, Lagos State, Dr Tayo Ajirotutu, on Wednesday called for more awareness on mental illness in Nigeria.
Ajirotutu made the call, as the lead presenter, at the inaugural virtual meeting on suicide, organised by the ‘Suicide Is No Solution’ (SIN), a Non-Governmental Organisation, in Ibadan.
The theme of the meeting is “Talking Suicide 1.0: Causes, Signs and Prevention”.
Ajirotutu said that death by suicide had been on for decades and generations but that it had become a serious issue in Nigeria in the past four years.
Ajirotutu said that individuals, with suicidal tendencies and signs, must be referred to experts.
He noted that religious organisations and schools should train counsellors on the required skills to counsel people with depression.
“Suicide begins with thoughts and behaviours and it is the second leading cause of death, especially among the youths.
“The signs include someone either talking about killing himself, feeling of hopelessness, loneliness and rejection or having no reason to live as well as low self-esteem.
“Financial factors, traumatic reasons, prolonged stress, relationship and education issues, inability to meet targets, issues at work, home or religious organisations are other causes of suicide,’’ the psychologist said.
While commending the SINS’ initiative, Ajirotutu warned that the issue of suicide could not be confidential as family members and mental health experts must be involved.
“If you want to kill yourself, identify why you want to and look for another way out rather than taking your own life.’’
Also speaking, Dr Stella Bassey-Okoronkwo, a US-based Psychiatrist, said that mental health awareness was one thing Nigeria must go all out to make more people know about it.
Bassey-Okoronkwo said that mental illness existed and people with such must be given the right counselling and recommendation.
“People struggling with depression, drug abuse, alcohol use disorders and anxiety have a higher incidence of contemplating suicide in the United States
“We lose over 800,000 people yearly globally to suicide and we lose a lot more during late spring and early summers in the United States,’’ she said.
Bassey-Okoronkwo, who is Medical Director, Centre for Emotional Health, Virginia, the United States, listed the warning signs to look out for in persons attempting suicide.
Such signs are the persons’ inability to express their feelings, disrespectful, more destructive, withdrawal from family, drinking excessively, aggressive, low energy and being more impulsive and reckless.
The psychiatrist advised that when any of the warning signs is noticed, such a person must be referred for counselling.
Also, Mrs Funso Adegbola, a lawyer and founder, The Vale College, Ibadan advocated for a repeal of the section of the law that stipulates prosecution for attempted suicide.
She called on psychiatrists association, health professionals, Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) and interest groups to join hands in ensuring the law was repealed.
Adegbola said that individuals, who attempted suicide, should go for mental rehabilitation and not prison.
She also suggested that the shortage of psychiatrists in Nigeria should also be addressed.
While contributing, Mrs Idy Toye-Arulogun, SINS’ Project Lead, said the meeting aimed at reducing suicide to the barest minimum by increasing awareness level and a better understanding of suicide amongst Nigerians.
Toye-Arulogun said that the meeting had helped to educate SINS’ volunteers and people on the causes, signs, and prevention of suicide.
Mrs Ajoke Okonu, who contemplated suicide at 16, said she fought the thoughts since she was four-years-old, but that she did not commit the crime for the love of her mother.
“I wanted to take my life as a result of my parent’s broken marriage.
“I was physically abused, molested and when I could no longer hold it, I held the knife in the kitchen several times but my mother’s love held me back,’’ she said.
Mrs Ibiyemi Faturoti, the co-Founder, LePhare Consultants, urged anyone contemplating suicide to know that there was someone out there who cares and ready to help.
Faturoti said that suicide should not be considered as an option during life’s struggles.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the discussants agreed that the government, at all levels, should ensure that schools have at least one psychologist on their staff list.
They added that the staff should be a counsellor and mental health practitioner.
They also agreed that religious bodies should create a mental health unit, manned by mental health experts at their religious centres to reduce the rate of suicide in the country.
The discussants said that the law, punishing individuals who attempted suicide should be reviewed.
They said that such individuals rather needed care and support, and not prosecution.
They also said that there should be adequate training for counsellors in schools and religious organisations to manage youths, especially those with signs of depression that could lead to suicide.
Edited By: Chidinma Agu/Abdulfatah Babatunde (NAN)
Roundup: Experts say China’s white paper on COVID-19 fight of global scientific value
The Chinese government released the white paper to keep a record of the country’s own efforts to fight the virus, to share its experience with the rest of the world, and to clarify its ideas on the global battle, according to the white paper.
Lee Hee-ok, director of the Sungkyun Institute of China Studies at Sungkyunkwan University in South Korea, said that after the COVID-19 outbreak, the Chinese government’s effective governance and strong anti-epidemic measures enabled China to contain the novel coronavirus rapidly.
Noting that China adopted an assistance method of pairing 16 cities in Hubei Province that have been hardest hit by COVID-19 with a Chinese province or municipality, Lee said such an approach has established a robust mutual aid network for epidemic prevention and control.
Besides, the timely opening of makeshift hospitals has made it possible to treat COVID-19 patients with mild symptoms quickly and on a large scale, which has played an important role in blocking the early spread of infectious diseases, Lee added.
From Jan. 24 to March 8, China rallied 346 national medical teams, consisting of 42,600 medical workers and more than 900 public health professionals to the immediate aid of Hubei and the city of Wuhan, said the white paper.
Ronnie Lins, director of the China-Brazil Center for Research and Business, said he was impressed by the fact that medical personnel across China travelled to Wuhan to fight the epidemic, adding that only concerted action by the whole society could effectively prevent and control the epidemic.
In its battle against the novel coronavirus, China has always adhered to a scientific attitude and used high-tech means such as big data and artificial intelligence, Lins said.
China’s white paper on the country’s battle against COVID-19 is an invaluable scientific and medical resource, said Alfredo Bruno, head of the National Reference Center of Influenza and Other Respiratory Viruses at Ecuador’s National Institute for Public Health Research.
“From the beginning, China strove to swiftly detect the virus and genetically sequence it,” Bruno said, noting China’s National Genomics Data Center posted that information on a global genome data bank.
“That allowed every country to be able to develop the diagnostic tools that in turn allowed them to rapidly detect the novel coronavirus, in contrast to other epidemics,” the expert said.
Countries should support each other and join hands to contain the spread of the virus, and protect the health and wellbeing of people across the globe, said the white paper.
Bruno praised China’s donations to many countries impacted by the pandemic as having “been of great help.”
He said he “completely agree(s)” with China’s call for greater global cooperation to overcome the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The only way we can tackle it is for all of us to unite regardless of political beliefs and social conditions,” said Bruno.