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FG approves $1bn loan from China Exim Bank to finance phase II of Gurara power project

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The Federal Executive Council (FEC) has approved the financing of the Gurara Hydro Power Project II by the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) to the tune of one billion dollars.

The Minister of Water Resources, Alhaji Suleiman Adamu disclosed this when he briefed State House correspondents at the end of the council’s meeting, which was presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari.

According to him, the Gurara II power project has the potential of 360 Megawatts of electricity.

“On the need to explore the potentials of the Gurara II Hydro Power Project, which has the potential of 360 Megawatts of electricity, Council approved for us to take this project to FOCAC for possible financing by the China Exim bank at the cost of about a billion dollars.

He said the Council also approved a revised cost of the project to N5.7 billion for the completion of Nkari Dam in Akwa Ibom State.

He said: “On the need to complete Nkari dam in Akwa Ibom State, we sought approval for a revised estimated total cost of the project and this was approved at about N5.7 billion.’’

He further disclosed that the Council approved the appointment of a consultant for the supervision of Gari Irrigation Project in Kano and Jigawa States, which hitherto abandoned for 17 years.

He also said Cabinet gave approval for the Rise Estimated Total Cost for completion of Ile-Ife dam in Osun State at the cost of N10.4 billion.

“We got approval for the Rise Estimated Total Cost (RETC) for the completion of Ile-Ife dam in Osun State.

“This is a dam project that was started in 2004 and abandoned and we are looking forward to completing it.

“So, Council has approved the RETC in the sum of about N10.4 billion so we hope that with the approval, the contractor will resume on sight and work will be continued, with the hope that it will be completed in 24 months,” the minister stated.

The Minister of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Mr Audu Ogbe, who also briefed the correspondents on the outcome of the meeting, disclosed that the council approved N9.4billion for the purchase of grains which would be stored in Silos across the country.

He said: “We have a memo approved in council for purchase of grains to reinforce the grains reserve.

“Everywhere in the world Silos are owned by government into which they purchase grains at the end of harvest. The average is usually between two and three per cent of all grains grown.

“In this case we have got approval to buy sixty one thousand tons of maize, millet and Sorghum and the purchasing will begin shortly.

“We also informed council of the problem we have with Nigeria grains, especially maize, sesame and groundnut. An infestation called aflatoxin, which the Minister of Health confirmed is a very big threat to the liver and the kidney of most consumers.

“Luckily, IITA has found a product which they produce in large quantities which they now send to Africa for treating the farms, the Silos and the sacks in which we put the grains to eliminate aflatoxin.

“The product which they produce is called afflasafe. We buy the grains, treat the Silos and store the grains in Silos so that if there is emergency anywhere in the country, or there is a shortage, a flood and there is no food, we can draw from what we have in the Silos and distribute to the needy areas in the country.’’

He further explained that his ministry would be purchasing grains grown in the last season.

“First of all at the time of harvest usually around November, December, January, most of the grains we have in this country are not dry enough.

“If you buy and put them in poly bags or dump them in Silos, it begins to gather moles and moles are source of cancer.

“We have pressure from some companies which operate in this country that we should allow them to import maize on the grounds that our maize are not of good quality and we said no you must buy local maize, because we are dealing with the challenge of afterthought.

“Because there is still the tendency to prefer to import what we produce and the policy of this government is let’s use what we produce and save our foreign exchange which is why in the last three and half years we have saved 21 billion dollars on import,’’ he said.

The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola, also revealed that the council approved N7.197 billion for inter-change and pedestrian bridge at Abaji in Abuja.

“My ministry presented two memos. One was for the construction of an inter-change and pedestrian bridge at Abaji in Abuja for N7.197 billion to address the perennial problem of accidents in that place which was approved by council.

“The second memorandum was for the procurement of 200,217 meters by Yola Electricity Distribution Company Under the Meter Asset Providers  Scheme.

“As you might know, Yola Electricity Distribution Company is the DISCO that was surrendered to by the original holder.

“So it’s under the Federal Government’s management. So they are buying 200,217 meters for consumers under their franchise which covers Adamawa, Borno, Taraba and Yobe States.

“The cost of those meters is N11.208 billion. It is to be funded from the judgment sum that I previously briefed you about two years ago that council approved a compromise from an old meter’s supply dispute since 2003.

“So, that money is in a bank, it has been there, so that is where these meters would be funded from and as consumers pay back the meters as they are supplied, the money goes back into that account.”

Edited by Felix Ajide

 

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Interview: CABI expert sees “strong commitment” in ecological conservation in China

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China, with its “strong commitment” in ecological conservation, has achieved some “remarkable outcomes” in its long-term national strategy for promoting sustainable development, an expert from Centre for Agriculture and Biosciences International (CABI) said.

“We applaud the Chinese government for its strong commitment and increasing investment in ecological conservation in recent years,” Dr Hariet L. Hinz told Xinhua in an interview ahead of World Environment Day, a UN campaign celebrated every year on June 5 to raise awareness about the protection of the environment.

China has highlighted ecological civilization as a long-term national strategy for promoting sustainable development, aiming at achieving harmony between people and nature, and by pursuing green development and guiding the transformation of production methods and lifestyle of the entire society,” said Dr Hinz, co-director of China MARA (Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs)-CABI European Joint Laboratory.

China‘s immense efforts in fighting pollution, restoring forest land and protecting wildlife are commendable,” said Dr Hinz, who is also the country director of CABI Switzerland.

To conserve the environment, China has adopted measures including massive tree-planting and coral restoration campaigns, clamping down on illegal wastewater discharge, treating polluted rivers and launching public education activities.

“Some of China‘s national ecological sustainability and protected area programs are among the world‘s largest, and they together have achieved remarkable outcomes,” said Dr Hinz.

“What other developing countries can learn is that to make these programs succeed requires strong political will and foresight to balance economic development with environment protection, the development of a sound policy and legislation framework, substantial financial commitment, mindset change, and public education and awareness-raising etc,” said Dr Hinz.

Dr Hinz also believes that international collaboration is “of paramount importance” to the development of greener agriculture in China and beyond.

CABI, headquartered in Britain, is an international, inter-governmental, not-for-profit organization that improves people’s lives worldwide by providing information and applying scientific expertise to solve problems in agriculture and the environment.

With a close partnership for over 30 years, China and CABI have achieved outstanding results through the establishment of joint laboratories in China and Switzerland and implementation of many joint research and development cooperation projects.

“In addition to those projects benefiting China directly, the joint labs have also assisted in introducing China‘s green plant protection products/techniques to developing countries under the umbrella of South-South cooperation and the Belt and Road Initiative,” Dr Hinz said.

Many of these programs have helped pave the way for more sustainable crop production, as well as establishing a better environment and healthier lives for the farm households in the target region, according to Dr Hinz.

(XINHUA)

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China’s Mammoth Foundation donates COVID-19 testing equipment to Latvia

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China’s Mammoth Foundation in Shenzhen donated key laboratory equipment to a biomedical research center in Latvia on Friday.

Professor Janis Klovins, director of the Latvian Biomedical Research and Study Center, who received the BGI Fire Eye lab equipment on behalf of the center, described the donation as a very important addition to the center’s capabilities in COVID-19 research, specifically viral sequencing.

According to Klovins, with the new equipment, the center’s capacity could be raised to over 200 samples per week from the current 32.

Klovins believed that the Chinese equipment will be highly useful in other COVID-19 research projects as well. It is expected to help with automation of nucleic acids extraction and improvement of work efficiency of Latvia’s virus detection.

Among the 115,461 COVID-19 tests performed in Latvia so far, 1,085 tests have come back positive, according to the latest data released on Friday by the Latvian Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

The donation was coordinated by the Chinese Embassy in Latvia and the Latvian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

(XINHUA)

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Bangladesh conducts 2nd special flight to bring COVID-19 medical aids from China

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Bangladesh Air Force (BAF) has conducted its second special ferry flight to bring home COVID-19 medical aid supplies from China, the Inter Service Public Relations (ISPR) said.

The ISPR, a department under the defence ministry, said in the statement on Thursday that the transport aircraft returned to Dhaka from China on Wednesday with medical aids.

It said the Chinese medical supplies consisted of face masks, protective gloves, face shields, electronic thermometers, medical safety glasses and goggles.

Earlier on April 19, BAF conducted its first special ferry flight to bring COVID-19 medical aids from China.

(XINHUA)

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Senior Lao official hails high-quality construction of China-Laos railway

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A senior Lao official has spoken highly of the progress achieved in the ongoing construction of the China-Laos railway.

Bounthong Chitmany, a politburo member of the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party‘s central committee, on Thursday visited China Railway No.2 Engineering Group (CREC-2)’s main construction sites in Lao capital Vientiane and was briefed on the project.

On behalf of the Lao government, Bounthong, also Lao deputy prime minister, noted that he was satisfied to see the high-quality and high-speed progress of the railway construction.

The senior Lao official vowed that the Lao side will, as always, provide support and convenience for the construction of the railway to ensure the the project will be completed as scheduled.

According to the Laos-China Railway Co., Ltd. (LCRC), a joint venture based in Vientiane, in charge of the railway’s construction and operation, the railway offline civil engineering has entered the final stage and the construction of the online track, the communication and signal, the M&E (mechanical and electrical) engineering and the station building have been fully commenced.

The progress of the project meets the timetable of opening to traffic in December 2021, the LCRC general manager Xiao Qianwen said on Thursday.

Participating Chinese enterprises have fulfilled their social responsibilities during construction, actively carrying out cultural exchanges, donating for disaster-hit local communities and flooded areas, and assisting localities with anti-epidemic supplies, according to Xiao.

The China-Laos railway is a strategic docking project between the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative and Laos‘ strategy to convert from a landlocked country to a land-linked hub.

The 414-km railway, with 198-km tunnels and 62-km bridges, will run from Boten border gate in northern Laos, bordering China, to Vientiane with an operating speed of 160 km per hour.

The electrified passenger and cargo railway is built with the full application of Chinese management and technical standards.

The project started in December 2016 and is scheduled to be completed and open to traffic in December 2021.

(XINHUA)

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Economic Watch: China leverages monetary tools to channel funds into real economy

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China‘s central bank introduced two new monetary policy instruments this month to directly channel funds into the real economy, another sign that the country’s monetary policy will not slide into quantitative easing.

The People’s Bank of China (PBOC) said that, starting this week, it would use 400-billion-yuan (about 56.37 billion United States dollars) of a special re-lending quota to purchase 40 percent of inclusive loans to small and micro businesses, issued by local banks from March 1 to Dec. 31.

Another policy instrument that the PBOC introduced allows small and micro businesses to apply for deferring their inclusive loan repayments, maturing by end-2020 to March 31, 2021, with penalty payment exempted.

Both policy instruments are aimed at helping small and micro enterprises maintain cash flow, gain easier access to loans, and lower the financing cost, the central bank said. It added that these tools are more market-oriented, inclusive and direct, compared to previous policies.

The PBOC‘s move came just days after Chinese Premier Li Keqiang emphasized that China‘s measures of a sizable scale are designed to provide vital relief to businesses and to revitalize the market.

China‘s previous measures to recover the economy in the face of challenges brought on by the novel coronavirus pandemic were seen by some as below expectations.

In response to such viewpoints, Li told a press conference after the conclusion of the annual national legislative session, that the government will not flush China‘s economy with liquidity.

China will ensure that measures taken are well-focused and effective, and the prescription is precise, said Li.

The central bank’s innovative monetary tools are an example of how China is striving to make small and micro businesses — an important part of the real economy — truly benefit from government policies, according to market analysis.

Direct purchase of inclusive loans will lower the debt costs of banks and help with replenishing liquidity, said Li Qilin, chief economist of Yuekai Securities, adding that small firms can then get more credit support.

According to the PBOC, the 400-billion-yuan funds will be offered to local banks via an intermediary special-purpose vehicle, which won’t charge interest for banks, making it effectively interest-free.

Local banks will be encouraged to issue new inclusive small and micro credit loans of nearly 1 trillion yuan, compared to over 300 billion yuan issued last year, the central bank estimated.

By offering local banks incentives equal to 1 percent of the principal to be extended, the central bank said it expected to provide a total of 40 billion yuan, at most, to support about 3.7 trillion yuan in extended loans.

Other enterprises with special difficulties, such as foreign trade companies, could discuss possible loan extension timelines with their banks, the PBOC has said.

Pan Gongsheng, vice governor of the PBOC, said the two new instruments are short-term policies created at a special time, and are different from quantitative easing in nature and scale.

Compared with some developed economies, China still has space for normal monetary policy to support the economy, Pan said.

(XINHUA)

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Singapore’s PM warns of United States-China power rivalry impact on Asia 

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Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has expressed fears that rising tensions between the United States and China can undermine security and economic growth across Asia.

In an article published on Thursday, Lee, therefore, called on both sides to pull back from confrontation.

The prime minister flagged his concerns in an article titled, “The Endangered Asian Century” in the United States journal Foreign Affairs, which has a history of running essays by policymakers.

Fearing that smaller Asian countries could be forced to take sides if intransigence grows between the world’s two biggest economies, Lee called for cooperation between the United States and China, even as tensions endure over the coronavirus, trade, the disputed South China Sea, Taiwan, and Hong Kong.

“The two powers must work out a modus vivendi that will be competitive in some areas without allowing rivalry to poison cooperation in others,” Lee implored.

China is the biggest trading partner for much of Asia and could soon overtake the United States as the world’s biggest economy – raising concerns about a looming and potentially-debilitating arm-wrestle for supremacy in Asia.

“If Washington tries to contain China’s rise or Beijing seeks to build an exclusive sphere of influence in Asia – they will begin a course of confrontation that will last decades and put the long-heralded Asian century in jeopardy,” the Singapore leader wrote.

Noting that Singapore is the only country aside from China that is home to an ethnic-Chinese majority, Lee said that the U.S’. presence in Asia “is welcome”.

“Asia has prospered because Pax Americana, which has held since the end of World War II, provided a favorable strategic context,” Lee wrote.

Edited By: Emmanuel Yashim (NAN)

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Interview: Uzbekistan could benefit from China’s experience in reducing poverty, expert says

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锁定域名

China‘s experience in reducing poverty could inspire Uzbekistan to address its own problem in this regard, a Uzbek Sinologist said here on Friday.

The concept of building a moderately prosperous society, or “xiaokang,” in China by 2020 is “playing an important role in reducing poverty,” Ismatulla Bekmuratov, a professor of the Tashkent State Institute of Oriental Studies, told Xinhua in an interview.

The concept “underlines a kind of ‘road map’ for the gradual overcoming of poverty in China and this experience can be applied in Uzbekistan as well,” Bekmuratov said.

Bekmuratov praised China‘s success in reducing poverty, referring to the more than 700 million people who have risen from poverty in the country, which led to a sharp drop in the total number of impoverished worldwide.

Chinese‘s provision of social guarantees including education, medical care and housing to poor families, and opportunities for the poor to run their own family businesses are worth learning, Bekmuratov said.

Poverty reduction remains a high priority for Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev since he came into power in 2016. This week, Mirziyoyev instructed the government to set up a new institution to address poverty in the country.

Around 4-5 million people or some 12 to 15 percent of the population in Uzbekistan now live below the poverty line, according to the president.

(XINHUA)

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We learn much from China in fighting COVID-19 pandemic: Israeli expert

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Israel has learned a lot from China in combating the COVID-19 pandemic and hopes there will be more scientific cooperation between Israel and China in the future, said Dina Ben-Yehuda, dean of School of Medicine at Hebrew University. Commenting on China‘s performance in its fight against the pandemic, she said Chinese physicians and scientists were “wise enough and responsible enough” to publish information, which helped the world save lives. She stressed the pandemic is a battlefield that leaves no place for competition and everybody has to work together to make changes.

(XINHUA)

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Pakistan adheres to one-China policy: foreign ministry

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Pakistan reiterated its longstanding position on Thursday that it adheres to one-China principle regarding a decision to make a national security laws for Hong Kong by the Chinese top legislation body.

Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Aisha Farooqui was responding to a question when asked that China is set to make national security laws for Hong Kong to safeguard national security.

Pakistan’s position on Hong Kong is consistent and clear. Pakistan adheres to one-China policy. Hong Kong is a part of China and it is important for China to safeguard its sovereignty, territorial integrity, and protect the lives of its citizens,” Farooqui said at her weekly press briefing in Islamabad.

“We reaffirm that matters related to Hong Kong are China‘s internal affairs. We believe it is important to uphold international law and adhere to the basic norm of non-interference,” she further said.

(XINHUA)

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