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Economy

FIRS to impose VAT on online transactions, says Fowler

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The Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) says it will soon begin collection of Value Added Tax (VAT) on online transactions.

The Chairman of the agency, Mr Babatunde Fowler, made the disclosure in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria in New York on Saturday.

Fowler said: “soon, we will ask banks to impose VAT on online transactions for purchases of goods and services.

“Not that it is something new; it actually should be in existence.

“We will certainly follow up to make sure that every VAT that is due to be collected is collected.”

He explained that the move was part of measures by FIRS to meet its N8 trillion revenue target for 2019.

Fowler said the agency had started taking action against companies and businesses that refused to embrace the Federal Government’s tax amnesty programme.

According to him, FIRS hopes to generate between N750 billion and N1 trillion from the clampdown, which includes closure of defaulters’ bank accounts.

“We are going after everybody. I am sure you have heard that we have placed lien on some accounts of defaulters that have a billion naira turnover annually.

“So certainly, we are not leaving anyone out of the tax net,” he said.

Officially known as the Voluntary Asset and Income Declaration Scheme, the tax amnesty programme was launched in 2017.

It gave tax defaulters a one-year period of grace to declare and settle their unpaid taxes.

There have been complaints by some taxpayers of being wrongly targeted by FIRS in the clampdown.

Asked to comment on that, Fowler admitted, blaming it on “administrative error,” arising from the huge number of accounts involved.

“Well, there is certainly one or two instances where we made administrative error, but when you are looking at over 50,000 accounts, there is a tendency that sometimes an error might be made.

“For those that we made errors on, I wrote them personally apologising and of course we lifted the lien on their accounts.”

On plans by the Joint Tax Board to raise the country’s tax population to 45 million, Fowler said the agency was relying on multiple information sources.

These, according to him, include the country’s Bank Verification Number database and sister agencies with relevant information.

Foreign

Australian science agency announces research of 3D print stents in world-first

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Australia’s national science agency said researchers have made it possible to 3D print tailor-made stents for blocked or narrow arteries in a world-first.

The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) announced the breakthrough on Thursday, describing it as a “paradigm shift” for the 16-billion-Australian-dollar (11 billion U.S. dollars) global stent manufacturing industry.

The team of scientists at CSIRO’s Lab22 made the breakthrough using Selective Laser Melting, a 3D printing process that allowed them to create complex products with high geometric accuracy that are patient specific.

It means that nitinol stents, which are used to keep arteries open, could be made on-site under the direction of a surgeon to suit an individual patient’s requirements.

Until now surgeons have been restricted to “off-the-shelf” stents for operations.

The ability to 3D print stents is expected to improve sizing options, preserve essential anatomy, and enable diameters and shapes to suit individual patient requirements, according to CSIRO.

“Nitinol is a shape-memory alloy with superelastic properties,” CSIRO Principal Research Scientist Sri Lathabai said in a media release.

“It’s a tricky alloy to work with in 3D printing conditions, due to its sensitivity to stress and heat.

“We had to select the right 3D-printing parameters to get the ultra-fine mesh structure needed for an endovascular stent, as well as carefully manage heat treatments so the finished product can expand as needed, once inside the body.”

A new company has been established to oversee commercialization of the technology.

(XINHUA)

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Politics

Lagos to produce first forensic dentist in West Africa — Commissioner

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The Lagos State Commissioner for Establishments, Training and Pensions, Mrs Ajibola Ponnle, says the state’ s Public Service will soon be producing the first forensic dentist in the whole of West Africa.

Ponnle made this known on Wednesday in Ikeja during the Year 2020 Ministerial Press Briefing to commemorate the first year in office of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu.

She said the massive investment of the state government in the area of human capacity development of its workforce was already attracting global attention.

‘The state public service will be producing the first forensic dentist in the whole of West Africa soon,” the commissioner said.

She said the state government sponsored one of its staff from the Ministry of Health to study at Masters  level, in Legal Medicine and Forensic Dentistry outside the country in order to bridge an identified gap in the state public service.

“Once the staff completes his course of study, he will be the first forensic dentist (new skill and area of specialisation) in West Africa and this points to the massive investment in human capital development that the present administration is embarking on,” the commissioner said.

Ponnle said the Lagos state government was committed to building a 21st workforce that would deliver dividends of democracy to Lagosians across every area of human needs.

She said that this was by directing its training and capacity development programmes to both generic and technical areas of competency.

According to her, one of the notable achievements and innovations to training programmes under the administration of  Sanwo-Olu is the introduction of on-line learning programmes starting with Webinar series.

Ponnle said this ensured that capacity of the entire workforce were developed even during the period of state-wide lockdown order.

The commissioner disclosed that within the past few months that the Webinar initiative started, 11 different series had been held, 10 Generic and one job specific for teachers.

‘There was also a Virtual Launch of the pilot of the Lagos State Learning Management System (LMS) with over 10,000 members of staff uploaded, giving access to over 500 training courses.

The pilot Phase of Executive Coaching Programme for Executive Council Members was also launched with 30 per cent of cabinet members enrolled.

‘The initiative was in partnership with International Coaching Federation accredited coaches, whereby cabinet members are offered one-on-one coaching sessions to provide support in developing their personal, professional and political aspirations,” she said.

Ponnle said the launch of the Learning Management System and the various Webinar series were aimed at achieving a paradigm shift from learning being an event to being a continuous process.

She said that this would ensure a workforce that was equipped with relevant skills, knowledge and competencies to deliver the dividends of democracy to the teeming population of the state.


Edited By: Chioma Ugboma/Wale Ojetimi (NAN)

 

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Foreign

Lesotho former first lady arrested in murder case

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Lesotho’s former first lady, Maesaiah Thabane, was on Wednesday arrested  over the murder of the previous wife of her husband and former prime minister, Thomas Thabane, police said.

Lesotho’s Appeal Court revoked her bail last week on suspicion that procedure was not followed correctly when her bail was granted.

Thabane was transferred to court, where she wore a fur coat and black protective anti-coronavirus mask, a Reuters witness said.

The date for a new bail application was set for June 6.

Maesaiah Thabane was being charged with ordering the killing of Lipolelo Thabane, her love rival, who was shot dead near her home in Lesotho’s capital, Maseru, in June, 2017.

Maesaiah Thabane was released on bail in February.

Lipolelo was estranged from Thomas Thabane at the time of the murder.

The case had been causing growing political instability in the independent mountain kingdom of two million people encircled by South Africa before Thomas Thabane resigned as prime minister in May.

He is also a suspect in the murder. He denies any involvement and has yet to be formally charged.


Edited By: Halima Sheji/Wale Ojetimi (NAN)

 

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Foreign

Australia set for first recession in 29 years

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Australia is on the brink of entering its first recession in three decades after gross domestic product (GDP) fell in the first quarter of 2020.

Data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) on Wednesday revealed that the Australian economy shrank by 0.3 percent in the March quarter as a result of the bushfire crisis and early stages of the coronavirus pandemic.

It marks the first quarter of negative growth since 2011 and with COVID-19 set to have a bigger economic impact in the second quarter of 2020 it means that Australia is certain to enter a state of recession, defined as two consecutive quarters of GDP contraction, for the first time since 1991.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said that in the context of the bushfires and the pandemic Australia’s economy has been remarkably resilient.

“Seen in this context, the fact that the Australian economy only contracted by 0.3 per cent shows the Australian economy‘s remarkable resilience,” he said.

Prior to the full effects of coronavirus hitting Australia, GDP growth fell to 1.4 percent in the 12 months to March 2020 – the lowest annual growth figure in more than a decade.

“This was the slowest through-the-year growth since September 2009 when Australia was in the midst of the Global Financial Crisis and captures just the beginning of the expected economic effects of COVID-19,” ABS chief economist, Bruce Hockman, said in a statement.

(XINHUA)

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Health

NIMR, Mobihealth launch first home COVID-19 self-swab test

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The Nigerian Institute of Medical Research (NIMR), Yaba, Lagos, in partnership with the Mobihealth on Tuesday launched the first home Teleconsultation COVID-19 self-swab test in the country.

Prof. Babtunde Salako, Director-General of NIMR, said the do it yourself swab testing would help to increase the number of testing.

Today, NIMR and Mobihealth launched a do it yourself swab sampling to expand coverage and the number of test per day via telemedicine approach run by Mobihealth,” Salako twitted.

The News Agency of Nigeria recalls that NIMR had earlier in a statement said the partnership would help to pilot research into the efficacy of developing telemedicine guided COVID-19 home self-swab test sample collection.

It said the programme would involve 2,000 sample collection over a period, while individuals will be guided on how to conduct a self-swab test sample collection.

The institute added that the objective is to collect rapidly and safely in order to test large samples of people for the virus.

The statement said the system will limit face to face testing and reduce the spread of infection, especially among health workers.

Mobihealth, in partnership with medical logostics firms and Lifebank, will facilitate the contactless smooth delivery and collection of self-swab test to the subject home.

Mobihealth is an international innovative telemedicine and digital healthcare platform with a mission to provide everyone on the planet timely access to quality healthcare services from around the world.

NAN reports that the institute started a drive through testing of COVID-19 on March 30, in strong partnership with Lifebank, led by Temie Giwa-Tubosun.

NIMR was established in 1977 to conduct research on diseases of public health importance in Nigeria.


Edited By: Olagoke Olatoye (NAN)

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Foreign

China completes first Mount Qomolangma airborne gravity survey

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China announced on Tuesday that it has completed the first high-precision airborne gravity survey for Mount Qomolangma and its surrounding region as the aircraft of the mission safely returned to Lhasa, the capital of Tibet.

By bringing the complicated gravity survey instruments into the air, the survey will provide data for the region’s geoid surface with centimeter-level accuracy, thus contributing to a more precise measurement of the height of the world‘s highest peak.

This is the first time China has conducted such a survey and it will fill the gap in relevant data, said Chen Bin, chief of the Mount Qomolangma airborne survey project.

An airborne remote-sensing measurement for the region is in progress and will provide decimeter-level three-dimensional outcomes for the region’s topography.

The entire airborne survey is expected to be completed in early June if weather permits, according to Chen.

The aircraft for the gravity survey has been installed with world-class equipment, some of which were domestically-developed, he noted.

The airborne survey is part of China‘s ongoing mission to remeasure Mount Qomolangma, with the final height to be based on a variety of survey data, including data from a global navigation satellite system (GNSS) satellite survey.

(XINHUA)

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General news

Ogun Assembly passes 2 bills as Legislative, Judiciary Funds bills scale first reading 

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Ogun House of Assembly on Tuesday passed the State Technical and Vocational Education Amendment Bill, 2019 and State Official Order of Precedence of Public Officers and other Persons Bill, 2019.

The two bills were passed during plenary in Abeokuta following the Committees’ reports.

The Chairman, Committee on Education, Ademuyiwa Adeyemi (APC-Abeokuta South II) and his counterpart on Establishment and Public Service Matters, Mrs Modupe Mujota (APM – Abeokuta North) presented the reports.

The chairmen, thereafter, moved the motion for the adoption of the reports, seconded by Abayomi Fasuwa (APC – Ijebu North East) and Oludaisi Elemide (APC-Odeda) after which the bills were read and adopted Clause-by-Clause by the Committee of the whole House.

The motions for the third reading of the bills were later moved by the Majority Leader, Yusuf Sheriff (APC-Ado Odo Ota 1), seconded by Ganiyu Oyedeji (APM-Ifo 11) and the Deputy Speaker, Oludare Kadiri (APC- Ijebu North 11) respectively.

Mr Deji Adeyemo, the Acting Clerk of the Assembly, thereafter, did the third reading of the bills before the members.

Responding, the Speaker, Mr Olakunle Oluomo (APC-Ifo 1), directed that clean copies of the bills be forwarded to Gov. Dapo Abiodun for his assent.

Meanwhile, the Ogun State Legislative Funds Management Law, 2020 and State Judiciary Funds Management Law 2020, were read for the first time by the clerk of the assembly before the lawmakers.


Edited By: Ifeyinwa Okonkwo/Adeleye Ajayi (NAN)

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General news

Gov. Makinde’s first year achievements impressive, says Oyo CAN

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The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Oyo State Chapter, has said that Gov. Seyi Makinde’s achievements in the last one year was impressive.

Pastor Benjamin Akanmu, State Chairman of CAN, made the commendation while addressing newsmen on Tuesday in Ibadan.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that Makinde had on May 29, rolled out the achievements of his administration in the first year, listing hundreds completed and ongoing projects.

“For our governor in Oyo State, it’s time of praise and commendation. Of course, no parents will bash or condemn a child that returns home with excellent report card, it’s impossible.

“Makinde deserves our praise if we put into consideration how his administration has positively affected lives of the masses in the state.

“To us, his report card is impressive and we congratulate the governor and his team for moving to the second year with enviable report card,” Akanmu said.

He said that the perspective for which they rated the governor’s performance defer from that of politicians, contractors or some other groups, saying they were not likely to be on the same page with him.

He said that the basis for which they rated the governor’s achievement as very impressive was the administration’s

direct impact on the masses and by extension, standard of living in general.

The CAN chairman said that the governor would always have the backing of the masses and civil servants, having being able to commit their regular remuneration to the welfare of their children and other associated bills.

According to him, pensioners and civil servants are able to settle outstanding bills, the purchasing power of the common man has been lifted because civil servants and retirees can afford to meet up with their needs.

“And that’s the only thing that has the power to set people free from the boundage of poverty and live better.

”Also, death rate among the pensioners and public servants has reduced drastically because they can afford necessities,” he said.

Akanmu noted that over 75 per cent of the population source for means of livelihood on daily basis, appreciated the governor’s decision not to lockdown the state during the rainy season considering its comparative advantage in agriculture.

“Let me tell you this, our position on his one year in office is also premised on the laid down principles of our Lord Jesus Christ, which mandates us to care more for the survival of people around us, especially the poor,” the cleric said.

The cleric advised the governor to embrace everyone, see criticism as motivating ladder and not to relent on his past achievements.

The CAN chairman further urged him to spread out his tentacles to touch other sectors and improve on those he had already started work on.

“We all know he cannot satisfy everyone, but larger percentage of the population should be able to speak well of his administration. He shall work harder than before, give checks and balances priority in his administration.

“Never embark on anti-people’s policies. Secure at least 75 per cent of their support for every policies to be introduced. There must be regular interaction between the governor and the people,” he said.

Akanmu urged the governor to be more vigilant and conscious of his environment while dissociating himself from sycophants.

He called on him to evolve a system that would ensure his lieutenants who failed to live up to expectations in the last twelve months are re-examined and their stories rewritten.


Edited By: Chinyere Bassey/Felix Ajide (NAN)

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Foreign

Over 200 arrested during first night of statewide curfew in Arizona

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Phoenix Police said Monday that more than 200 people were arrested during the fourth consecutive night of protest over the death of George Floyd in downtown Phoenix, capital city of the United States state of Arizona.

Arizona Governor Doug Ducey signed an executive order Sunday noon, declaring to impose a statewide curfew lasting from local time 8:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m., from May 31 to June 8.

The order prohibits people from “using, standing, sitting, traveling or being present on any public street or in any public place, including for the purpose of travel” with some exceptions.

“At the request of local leaders and in coordination with state and local law enforcement, I’m issuing a statewide Declaration of Emergency, with a curfew in place starting at 8:00 p.m. tonight and effective for one week.” the governor also tweeted at noon.

However, local ABC15 news channel reported that many protesters remained in the Phoenix Police Department headquarters after the official protest was over and curfew started, holding signs, taking a knee and chanting outside of the building.

The police then declared unlawful assembly in the area and used tear gas against protesters.

Police on Monday did not give information about property damage from Sunday’s demonstrations, but disclosed that more than 200 adults and over 10 minors were arrested, with charges including rioting, unlawful assembly, disorderly conduct and curfew violation.

(XINHUA)

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