ONCCIMA tasks 9th Senate on legislative bite for ease of doing business




Awka, June 11, 2019 The Onitsha Chambers of Commerce, Industry Mines and Agriculture (ONCIMMA) has called on the 9th Senate to make laws that would enhance the Ease of Doing Business (EoDB) in Nigeria for fast economic growth.

The Chairman of ONCIMMA, Mr Don Ebubeogu, made the call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria on Tuesday in Awka.

NAN reports that the 9th Senate was inaugurated on Tuesday with Sen. Ahmed Lawan and Sen. Ovie Omo-Agege as President and Vice-President respectively.

Ebubeogu said though the Federal Government through the Vice-President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, has been working to evolve better businsess environment, there was need to make pieces of legislation for its sustainability.

The chambers chairman identified poor maritime, multiple tax, internal custom checks and inefficient transport system as some of the challenges.

“Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo has been championing the EoDB mantra but it lacks sustainability and bite, so, I call on the Senate to look at those proposal and make laws to back them up,” he said.

The industrialist said that rather than develop more ports in Lagos, the Federal Government should work on Onne, Calabar and Warri ports to ease movement of good in and out of the country as well as circulation within the country.

Ebubeogu said the high landing cost of goods in Lagos ports and dumurage occasioned by delay in clearing and evacuation was contributing hugely to inflation.

According to him, the situation in Lagos ports has become unattractive that importers now prefer Republic of Benin and other neighbouring countries’ ports because of their cost effectiveness.

The ONCIMMA president said Customs officials should be restricted at the borders as their internal operations impede the flow and of transportation of goods.

“Building another port in Lagos is just postponing the evil day, the concentration of ports in Lagos is simply killing our nation’s economy, the government should just make sincere efforts to develop the ports in Onne, Uyo, Calabar, Warri and others to decentralise economic activities.

“The implication is that the cost of these inconvenience is transferred to end users and that is higher cost of goods,” he said.

The ONCIMMA chairman said there must be a legal template for Trade and Commerce and economic transformation of the country.


Focus on women, youth to stimulate financial inclusion



The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) says  focus on women and youth would help stimulate financial inclusive growth in the country.

Mrs Aisha Ahmad, Deputy Governor, Financial Systems Stability Directorate of CBN, made the assertion at the Enhancing Financial Innovation and Access (EFInA) 2019 Financial Inclusion Conference in Lagos on Monday.

She discussed on the topic : ”Financial Inclusion as a Tool to Unlock Nigeria’s Potential and Enable Inclusive Economic Growth”.

She described inclusive growth as being productive, long term, broad-based to provide all sectors of the society with economic opportunities.

Ahmad  said that for growth to be sustainable, it must be inclusive and  the poor in particular must have access to resources that would enable them to earn incomes and improve their livelihoods.

Women financial economic inclusion aligns with my career and personal goals and I feel it is important to acknowledge what EFInA is doing across countries by providing data.

This data will help policymakers and practioners to develop initiatives that drive financial institutions to ensure financial inclusion.

Since the global financial crisis, we have not seen growth advance to global financial level, and the recent trade war and geographical tension are not helping this matter.

Now, promoting inclusive growth is declared global government priority.

However, I think, for Africa, there is a particular need for the continent in this respect,” she said.

Ahmad said that the country’s growth was arguably fragile even with it being the largest economy in Africa, rich in oil and gas and other natural resources which give government 90 per cent revenue.

It is now obvious that elevation and contribution of all citizens including youths, women and other marginalised of the economy maybe the key to the significantt rapid growth and beginning to sustain it.

Financial literacy, actions lined up from now to 2020 will help, and policymakers need to put this at the forefront of their objectives,” she said.

Mr Segun Akerele, Chairman, Board of Directors, EFInA, said that EFInA Financial Inclusion Conference was an annual event which sought to engage stakeholders in the financial sector to identify opportunities to promote financial inclusion.

According to him, building an inclusive financial sector will help to put in place  enabling national policy and regulatory environment that fully meet stakeholders need to strengthen economic inclusion for the unbanked and underbanked segment.

It will seek to catalyse the creation of inclusive financial services for the excluded population by combining commercial objectives with social ones through local policy and practice innovations.

“With the theme, we hope to examine the transformative power of financial inclusion and its potential to accelerate inclusive economic growth through poverty reduction, employment generation and wealth creation,” he said.

Edited by: Ijeoma Popoola

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 Abia commissioner presents N136.6 bn budget breakdown to House Assembly for approval



The Commissioner for Finance in Abia, Dr Aham Uko, on Monday presented a breakdown of  the 2020 Appropriation Bill, totalling N136.6 billion, to the state House of Assembly for approval.

In a speech, Uko told the lawmakers that the state keyed into the State’s Fiscal Transparency, Accountability and Sustainable programme of the World Bank/Federal Government as well as the Open Government Partnership Initiative.

He said that they had ensured that the content of the budget clearly spoke to specific projects that had the capacity of contributing to the development agenda of the government.

He said that the bill, christened “Budget of Economic Repositioning”, was put together to address the aspirations and needs of the people.

He said that the N136.6 billion draft was made up of N66.8 billion, representing 48.9 per cent  as recurrent expenditure, and N69.8 billion, representing 51.1 per cent, as capital expenditure.

According to him, the 2020 buget outlay is slightly less than the N140.2 billion of the 2019.

Uko said that the moderate decrease was occasioned by government’s resolve to formulate a fairly more realistic budget consistent with historical revenue trajectory, while working hard to improve revenue generation and expenditure management approach.

He said that the expected total Consolidated Revenue in the 2020 fiscal year stood at N106.9 billion, made up of inflows from Independent Revenue and the Statutory Allocation from the Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC).

The commissioner further said that the expected revenue from FAAC was N67.2 billion, representing 62.8 per cent of the aggregate expected revenue to the state.

He said that the budgetary allocations were linked to the Five Pillars Agenda of  Gov. Okezie Ikpeazu’s administration, which included Health, Education, Commerce and Industry, Agriculture and Oil and Gas.

A further breakdown of the budget shows that the sum of N7.3 billion was earmarked for Health, N6.5 billion for Education, N4.4 billion for  Commerce and Industry, N15 billion for Oil and Gas, while N975 million was for Agriculture.

Uko said: “We intend to reposition the state economically through strategic interventions in selected sectors.

“We also intend to pursue specific reforms that will accompany and strengthen these interventions and involve the citizenry a lot more in the implementation and monitoring of the budget process.”

The Speaker, Mr Chinedum Orji, said that the Seventh Assembly was committed to ensuring that the intention of the budget was achieved.

Orji charged the commissioner to aim at a baseline of 70 per cent implementation and to work toward a continued increase in the capital expenditure more than the recurrent one.

Nigeria News Agency reports that Gov. Okezie Ikpeazu presented the 2020 budget estimate to the house on November 18.

(Edited by: Sam Oditah)

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Harnesssing of mines sector key to industrial development — Gov. Ihedioha



Imo Governor, Chief Emeka Ihedioha, says that no country can develop industrially without harnessing her mines and metal sector.

Ihedioha stated this at the 2nd Nigeria Metallurgical Industry Stakeholders’ Forum (MISF) organised by the Federal Ministry of Mines and Steel Development for South-East stakeholders on Monday in Owerri.

The Nigeria News Agency reports that the two-day seminar had the theme, “Building Local Capacities for the Development of the Nigeria Metal Sector.”

Ihedioha, who commended the ministry for the choice of Imo as host, said the theme was in tandem with the Rebuild Imo Agenda of his government which main trust was to revive the power sector for industries to thrive.

He said most industries depended on the metal sector, adding that any country that ignored the metal sector does so at her own risk, pointing out that the metal sector contributed to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of countries.

The governor noted that the state was committed to the growth and development of its technical and industrial sector, adding that in most developed economies the metal sector was the highest employer of labour.

He called on the Federal Government to improve on the steel capacity of the country for it to achieve much and by extension connect Owerri and Onitsha to the rail line.

Ihedioha urged the participants to take advantage of the programme and dedicate themselves to finding solutions to the technical and steel need of the country.

Earlier, Dr Uchechukwu Ogah, Minister of State, Ministry of Mines and Steel Development, said the theme was in tandem with federal government’s resolve to vigorously pursue the diversification of the economy inter-alia the minerals and metals sector of the Nigerian economy.

He noted that the metal industry formed the bedrock on which the industrialisation and development of any nation of the world was built.

The minister said that without the steel and other metal industry, no meaningful technological advancement would be achieved.

Virtually, all other sectors of the economy rely on the metal sector in one way or the other to thrive, including power, agriculture, transportation, industry, electricity/electronics, construction, roads, and housing,” he said.

Ogah pointed out that Nigeria’s interest in the development of iron and steel industry dated back to 1958, with further action taken in the immediate post-independence era.

According to him, other countries that started their metallurgical sector in a similar way like Nigeria have been able to lift their economies from third world poverty and starvation due to the industrialisation they had achieved via a well-developed metallurgical industry.

He identified these countries to include South Korea, Algeria, Tunisia, India, Egypt, Libya, Pakistan, Turkey, Iran and Irag.

Ogah described metallurgy as the branch of science and technology concerned with the study of the properties of metals, their production and purification.

He added that mineral processing, physical metallurgy, smelting, extractive metallurgy and steel production were all metallurgical processes.

The minister said that the metal sector had to be positioned to amongst others improve the power, transportation, construction industry, manufacturing, agricultural sectors, and the mining and mineral processing.

He solicited for local and foreign private investments in these areas and many other sectors, assuring that government would create the enabling environment.

The desire of the federal government of Nigeria to diversify the economy from a mono-product economy predominantly dependent on oil and gas revenues to other sectors such as minerals and metals is well known to you.

Aside the seven strategic minerals (Iron ore, Lead/Zinc, Gold, Baritas, Bitumen and Limestone) every local government in Nigeria has one or more minerals located in it,” he said.

The minster identified other advantages of the metal industry on other sectors of the economy to include foreign exchange earnings and sustenance, contribution toward increasing the Gross Domestic Product, creation of job opportunities and acquisition of technical skills leading to technology transfer to Nigerians.

Others were exploitation of the abundant metal ore deposits and associated minerals to meet local demand and possible exports of surplus, springing up of economic activities in down-stream metallurgical industries and the mineral sector of the national economy and the mechanisation of the agricultural sector through the production of agro-processing plants and farm implements.

Edited by: Chioma Ugboma/Wale Ojetimi

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Ministry pledges support for WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement implementation



The Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment on Monday pledged to provide the needed support for the successful implementation of the World Trade Organisation’s (WTO) Trade Facilitation Agreement (TRA).

Mrs Mariam Katagum, the Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment made the pledge when the National Trade Facilitation Committee visited her in Abuja.

She said there was the need to engage heads of relevant agencies with a view to contributing their quota to ensure full implementation of the agreement.

Earlier, the Acting Chairman of the Committee, Mr Aliyu Abubakar said that full implementation of the agreement became imperative in view of the need for Nigeria to join other signatories to the agreement to simplify trade procedures.

According to Abubakar, all members of WTO will simplify their trade procedures and there will be reduction of tariff and non-tariff arrears which will give market access to our traders.

It will actually help us in terms of diversification of our economy.

This will also promote economic growth and development because Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) operators will be able to access foreign markets through the trade facilitation that simplifies processes and procedures.

So there is a window for our SMEs and our markets and there is also reduction in time of doing business.

Where ever you go, the length of time will be shortened so it will be better for you and you stand to gain from short time of doing business,’’ Abubakar said.

He further said that the publications on TFA portal would provide traders the needed information that would guide their operations.

If you go to our TSA portal, it is easier for you to get information to do a lot of trading.

We have implemented some parts of the agreement but we still need to do more because we have obligation to implement the whole of the agreement and the committee is working to implement all the agreement,’’ he said.

On her part, Alice Stephens, the Senior Private Sector Specialist, World Bank Group, said that the bank would provide support in three key areas to facilitate implementation of the agreement by Nigeria.

She listed effective risk management, capacity building among agencies saddled with border management and transparency as the areas the World Bank would provide support toward the implementation of the agreement.

Nigeria News Agency recalls that Nigeria ratified the Trade Facilitation Agreement in 2017, making it the 107th World Trade Organisation member to do so.

Edited by: Ese E. Ekama

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Plateau transport ministry generates N36.9m in 9 months



The Plateau Ministry of Transportation said it had generated over N36.9 million as revenue between January and September, 2019.

Malam Mohammed Abubakar, the Commissioner in charge of the ministry, made this known in Jos on Monday.

Abubakar spoke when he led other management staff of the ministry to defend its 2020 budget before the state House of Assembly Standing Committee on Works and Transport.

According to him, the monies were generated from garage fee, towing fee, vehicle registration and road traffic violation, among others.

We were expected to generate N299 million worth of revenue for the 2019 fiscal year.

But we were able to generate over N36.9 million between January and September.

This represents 12.3 per cent of the total projection,” he said.

The commissioner gave an assurance that the ministry would generate more funds for government in 2020.

He explained that by the time the state Road Traffic and Vehicle Inspection Agency comes on board, the ministry’s revenue profile would improve.

He, however, decried shortage of manpower, vehicles and funds, as factors inhibiting the ministry’s optimal performance.

The number of staff we have in the ministry is grossly inadequate.

We have 13 offices in the state and we have just 55 staff to man these offices.

Over time, paucity of staff has affected our performance and so, we call on government to employ more hands for the ministry,” he said.

The Chairman of the committee, Mr Amorudu Useni, urged the ministry to step up its game and generate substantial revenue for government.

Useni advised the ministry to block all leakages to ensure revenues generated did not end in private pockets.

This ministry is key and government expects huge revenue from it.

“So, I advise that you step up, block all possible avenues where revenues can be diverted to enable a substantial amount gets into government coffers, ‘’ he said.

Edited by: Kamal Tayo Oropo/Adeleye Ajayi

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NSE: Market indices open new week with 0.65% loss



Stock crucial market indicators opened trading on Monday with a loss of 0.65 per cent.

The Nigeria News Agency reports that the market capitalisation lost N84 billion or 0.65 per cent to close at N12. 877 trillion against N12. 961 trillion on Friday.

Also, the All-Share Index which opened at 26,855.52 dipped 174.21 points or 0.65 per cent to close at 26,681.31.

Analysts at Afrinvest Limited said: “We maintain our bearish stance for the market, although the current low prices of stocks present opportunities for bargain hunting.”

Also, Mr Ambrose Omordion, Chief Operating Officer, InvestData Ltd., said that market performance would be mixed in the new week due to profit taking.

Omordion said that discerning investors should take advantage of the current low stocks valuation to position for medium to long term.

Market breadth was negative, with five gainers compared with 28 losers.

A breakdown of the price movement chart shows that Guaranty Trust Bank recorded the highest loss to lead the laggards’ pack, shedding 90k to close at N29 per share.

Cadbury trailed with a loss of 85k to close at N9.05, while Berger Paint dropped 75k to close at N6.75 per share.

Dangote Cement was down by 70k to close at N142, while C &I Leasing declined by 55k to close at N5.40 per share.

Conversely, Eterna led the gainers’ table growing by 20k to close at N3 per share.

Mansard followed with a gain of 15k to close at N1.80, while Cornetstone Insurance gained 5k to close at 68k per share.

NPF Microfinance Bank added 4k to close at N1.15, while Fidelity Bank increased by 2k to close at N2. 04 per share.

However, investors traded 192.684 million shares worth N3.55 billion achieved in 3,594 deals.

This was against 197.04 million shares valued at N3.53 billion transacted in 3,989 deals on Friday.

Zenith Bank was the most active stock during the day, exchanging 24.23 million shares worth N450.06 million.

It was followed by UACN with an account of 19.62 million shares valued at N154.33 million, while Dangote Cement traded 12.86 million shares worth N1.80 billion.

FBN Holdings sold a total of 12.25 million shares valued at N79.01 million, while FCMB Group exchanged 10.02 million shares worth N17.92 million.

Edited by: Tayo Ikujuni/Wale Ojetimi

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224 communities benefit from FG’s cash transfer in Kuje



Transfer , on Monday said that 224 communities in Kuje Area Council of the FCT had benefited from the Federal Government’s conditional cash transfer in the last quarter of 2019.

Ms Binta Isah-ismail, Head of Operations, NCTO cash Transfer Unit Programme, made this known on behalf of the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Social Investment, Maryam Uwais, in Abuja,

Uwais told a delegation led by the Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice (ANEEJ), tasked with monitoring distribution of cash to beneficiaries, that the process was made open as a sign of transparency to mark the world anti-corruption day.

We are marking the world anti-corruption day; for us at NCTO, this is a message that the recovered funds  from the Abacha loot is being utilised to eradicate poverty among Nigerians.

Kuje is one of the councils in Abuja that we are currently paying. We have more than 8,000 beneficiaries; we are covering three Area Councils of Abaji , Kwali and Kuje. In Kuje, we have cumulatively over 224 communities that are benefitting.

The modality has been a very transparent process; the beneficiaries you are seeing are from the national register from where we target the people that contextualise what poverty is.

We pay N10,000 per beneficiary for each payment circle which is usually every two months. That means every month a beneficiary is entitled to N5,000; so today, they received N10,000 which is for two months,” she said.

Executive , had said that the group was the facilitator of the project focusing on Monitoring Asset Recovery in Nigeria through Transparency and Accountability (MANTRA project), funded by the International .

We are using the International Anti-corruption Day to send a strong signal to highlight the benefit of getting assets returned to Nigeria.

As you can see, the poorest of the poor are the ones benefitting and for us it is remarkable and it reminds us of the Sustainable Development Goal 16 where the whole world agreed to use recovered assets to finance sustainable development.

This sends a strong signal that it is not business as usual; that if people steal public money, it  can be recovered and returned to the poor,’’ he said.

Ugolor said he was satisfied with the process of distribution, adding that the cash transfer gave the poor the opportunity to benefit directly from the government since they were the victims of corruption.

He, however, said that the group observed some challenges in its second field monitoring of the project which it would compile and send to the federal government to address them properly, to help in strengthening the system.

Ms Sonia warner, UK DFID’s Senior Governance Adviser responsible for anti-corruption in Nigeria, said that the MANTRA project was being supported to ensure that citizens benefited from looted funds.

Warner said that so far, the money was being put to good use, with beneficiaries confirming that they were using it for business, school fees and for basic home needs.

She said that the UK government would continue to work with the federal government to recover more loot.

Ayuba, State Cash Transfer, said that the process of selection started at the  community level where state operation coordinating units in collaboration with community volunteers selected poor households.

Ayuba said that the list was then transferred to the national level where it was entered into the register then sent back to the state cash transfer unit for field data capturing and enrolment .

“This payment point has about 426 beneficiaries, but in the whole of Kuje Area council, 2,426 beneficiaries  will be paid 10,000 each,” he said

Mr Ndaman Dantanni, a beneficiary, commended the government for the initiative, adding that he formed a cooperative unit with his friends who took turns to collect.

The process enabled us to have money in bulk to do businesses and engage in other things,” he said.

Mrs. Ajuma Akuda, a widow, said that prior to the cash transfer, she was a labourer at building construction sites.

With the proceeds from this initiative, I run a business and can cater for my children,” she said.

Edited by: Chioma Ugboma and Ephraims Sheyin

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NITDA harps on workable environment for IT entrepreneurship, universal healthcare coverage



Development has restated its commitment to enabling environment for the development, sustenance of technology innovation, universal healthcare coverage and entrepreneurship in the Information Technology (IT).

The Director-General of NITDA, Mr Inuwa Abdullahi, gave the assurance on Monday in Kaduna, at the opening ceremony of the 6th International Conference on Information Technology and Economic Development (ICITED).

News Agency of Agency reports that the three-day conference was organised by State , in collaboration with the International Information Technology and Development Association (IITEDA).

The theme of the conference is: ‘Information and Communication Technology for Sustainable Development Goal – 3, Health and Wellbeing’.

The DG, who was represented by Dr Usman Abdullahi, the Director of IT infrastructure solutions of NITDA, said that the agency was set up to implement the National ICT policy for the country.

He added that being part of the agency’s responsibilities, NITDA is mandated to develop, regulate and provide advisory services to all ICT tools in the country.

At NITDA, we are pursuing initiatives and policies that will drive the growth of the Nigerian digital economy and ensure we are not only technology consumers, but technology producers.

There is no key sector in the economy that doesn’t work with ICT, narrowing it down to entrepreneurial development, it is one of the critical strategic priorities.

We set up a specific office for ICT entrepreneurship and innovation which focuses on building the entrepreneurial skills of the citizens and a number of programmes we roll out the entrepreneurial capacity of our youths.

We also intervene and provide centers across the county, we have over 900 centres in higher institutions, in secondary schools and communities with the aim of enhancing the entrepreneurial capacity of our youths.” he said.

The DG, however, said that health and well-being, especially in relation to the conference, is focused on health, agriculture and education.

He added that the three items are very critical to the well-being of the people, you must be healthy and well educated to have the requisite skills to be productive.

We have collaborated with the Ministry of Health, institutions and other agencies to ensure a wide universal health care coverage across the states”, the DG said.

The vice chancellor of KASU, Prof Muhammad Tanko, advised the youths to leverage on many ICT platforms to improve their technology innovation and entrepreneurship skills.

Tanko, who was represented by the deputy vice chancellor academics, Prof. Abdullahi Ashafa, urged other public institutions to key into the many NITDA initiatives for the country to achieve a common goal of building a knowledge-based economy.

Edited by: Tukur Muntari.

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Buhari orders OAGF to publish daily treasury statements



President Muhammadu Buhari has directed the Office  of the Accountant General of the Federation (OAGF) to, henceforth,   publish daily treasury statement to keep to the ethos of financial transapancy of his administration.

Buhari gave the directive on Monday in Abuja at the inauguration of Federal Government’s Financial Transparency Policy and the opening of Treasury Portal.

Nigeria News Agency reports the event coincides with International Anti- Corruption Day set aside by the United Nations Convention Against Corrutpion.

Represented by the Minister of state, Ministry of  Niger Delta , Senator  Tayo Alasoadura, Buhari specifically  ordered the Treasury Office  in the OAGF and all accounting officers to  publish daily payments reports in the new portal.

The President noted that the directive was to drive home the seriousness his administration attached to financial transapancy in management of public sector fund across Ministries,  Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of government.

“Henceforth, every single transaction of government must be made public.

“The OAGF must publish a daily treasury statement which will provide information about what came into the national purse and what went out every single day.

“With these reports, the treasury will publish payments of at least  N10 million while all MDAS must publish payments above  N5 million made out of all public funds under their purview.

“The information to be published must include; the MDA that is responsible for the payment, the beneficiary, the purpose and amount of each payment.

” The Accounting Officers must be responsible for providing answers to any question from the public relating to transactions completed by entities under their charge,” he said.

To drive home the enforcement of financial transapancy across  all MDAS, the President further directed them to  publish monthly budget performance reports.

He said the  reports must include performance of the budget in various dimensions including MDA’s functions and economic activities performed by all federal government agencies.

The President further charged the OAGF to publish monthly fiscal accounts detailing fiscal performance of the federation including receipts from all the collection agencies and payments out of the federation account.

He directed that the publication must be done within 14 days after the end of each month.

On her part, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed  said that the inauguration of financial transapancy and open treasury portal marked another milestone in government’s effort to deepen tranparency and curb corruption in public sector.

Ahmed said that the  new policy and the Single Treasury Account being implemented since 2015 are inline with government resolve to fight corruption and build peoples confidence.

Ahmed said prior to approval of financial portal by Federal Executive Council ( FEC), her ministry ensured that all MDAs got sensitised to the new financial policy.

She disclosed that the portal was developed  in-house, not by any Consultant, stressing that the government expected full compliance not later than three months.

The minister also disclosed  that the ministry had put complaint  committee on the implementation, compliance and effectiveness

Edited by: Ese E. Ekama

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