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Prudent Energy Handball Premier League is of good standard, HFN vice-president says

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Kwashi Thompson, the Vice-President of Handball Federation of Nigeria (HFN), on Friday described the ongoing Prudent Energy Handball Premier League as a standard competition to be proud of.

Thompson told the News Agency of Nigeria in Abuja that the national league competition was comparable to others globally.

He said the standard of the league had given room for surprises where “underdogs had been stunning bigger teams’’.

“The league, as it is, is not predictable because of its standard. Every team is ambitious and competitive,” Thompson said.

The federation vice-president also went on to score the HFN high in its management of both the sport in Nigeria and the league competition, saying this showed the game has improved.

He pointed out that it was Nigerian handball team’s effort at the African level that helped to earn the continent an additional slot at the Handball World Cup.

Thompson then assured that the federation would continue to strive to take giant strides both in Africa and globally.

NAN reports that the ongoing 2019 Prudent Energy Handball Premier League kicked off on May 13 in Abuja and will end on May 25.

(Edited by Adeboye Ajayi and Olawale Alabi)

Politics

N850bn loan approval: PDP wants NASS to ensure prudent use, prompt repayment

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The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has called on the National Assembly to ensure the prudent use of the N850 billion loan it approved for the Federal Government on Tuesday.

 

The party, in a statement issued by its National Publicity Secretary, Mr Kola Ologbondiyan, in Abuja also advised the presiding officers of the Senate to ensure prompt repayment of the loan.

 

Ologbondiyan expressed concerns over what he described as hasty approval of the N850 billion loan as requested by  President Muhammadu Buhari.

He said that the party was concerned that in spite of the huge natural and human resources at the disposal of the country, government was still accumulating loans, without repayment plans.

Ologbondiyan also expressed worry over the transparency and management of the country’s loans.

“The PDP, therefore, charges the Senate Presiding officers to note that in approving this loan, the nation holds them responsible to ensure strict oversight monitoring of the handling of the money.

“This is especially as it is being sourced from the capital market, which hosts investments by private individuals and firms.

“The Senate must ensure judicious use of the funds as well as prompt repayment.

“This is because our nation cannot afford any default, as such is capable of crippling the capital market and worsening the economic hardship already being faced by Nigerians,” he said.

Ologbondiyan advised the Federal Government to articulate innovative ways to create wealth and plug wastes, instead of resorting to borrowing.

He said what was expected of the government at a time such as this was to immediately cut on luxury.

The PDP spokesperson also advised the government to slash the number of presidential appointees, cut down huge allowances  and maintain a lean budget that would centre on health, research and growth of the economy among other critical needs.

“The PDP, therefore, urges all stakeholders, particularly fiscal transparency groups, the Nigeria Corporate World and management of the capital market to protect Nigerians by closely monitoring the performance of the loan.

“This is to guarantee effective management and prompt repayment,” Ologbondiya said.

Edited By: Kamal Tayo Oropo/Felix Ajide (NAN)

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Foreign

News Analysis: Italy’s “prudent” second-phase quarantine rules balance economy, health

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Nearly 50 days after he announced Europe’s first peacetime national lockdown to confront the coronavirus, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte revealed the first major steps toward what one analyst said would be a “delicate balancing act” between economic and health needs.

Speaking late Sunday, Conte outlined a series of steps that would gradually restart the European Union’s third-largest economy.

The development, which Conte dubbed “Phase 2,” comes amid the strongest evidence yet that Italy’s national lockdown announced by Conte on March 9 is starting to have its desired effect.

The two-day death toll of 593 from Sunday to Monday was lower than any other two-day period since March 14-15, while the number of new coronavirus infections and the number of patients in intensive-care units continue to trend downward. The number of new recoveries outnumbered new infections in Italy two times in the last six days, something that had not happened even once since both were in single digits in the earliest stages of the outbreak.

Conte said the first major steps toward reopening the economy would start May 4, the day after the terms of the latest lockdown decree expire. The lockdown is scheduled to be further eased in steps: first on May 18, and again on June 1. But Conte also warned the steps could be pushed back or even canceled if evidence starts to show the spread of the virus again picking up momentum.

“We are about to embark on the phase that involves living with the virus,” Conte said Sunday. “We must be aware of the risk that the contagion’s curve could go back up in some parts of the country. The risks are there, and we must take them on, methodically and rigorously.”

“Conte is caught between a rock and a hard place,” Riccardo Puglisi, an economist in the Department of Political Science at the University of Pavia, told Xinhua. “He’s forced into a delicate balancing act between the health of the economy and the health of Italians.”

“It’s very difficult to tell Italians to stay inside, we’re a very social population,” he said. “But it would be a big mistake to open things too quickly. If that happened, he might have to tell everyone to go back in a month later.”

Marco Leonardi, an economist with the Department for the Study of Labor and Welfare at the State University of Milan, applauded Conte’s decision-making reflected in Sunday’s national address.

“It’s important that Conte listened to the doctors, who can speak with a kind of certainty,” he said in an interview. “That’s not the case with the economists, who can’t be so sure they’re right.”

According to the plan Conte announced, starting May 4 Italians will be allowed to visit family members in small numbers, and parks, factories, and building sites will be allowed to reopen. People will be allowed to move within the region where they reside but not to leave it. Funerals that were prohibited without special permission can he held, though attendance will be limited to 15 people. Bars and restaurants previously limited to delivery services will be allowed to conduct take-away services. Conte also set a price cap for face masks starting May 4 at half a euro (0.55 U.S. dollar).

Two weeks later, on May 18, retail shops will be allowed to open, along with museums and libraries. Sports teams will be allowed to practice together.

On June 1, two weeks further beyond the previous deadline, restaurants, bars, and hairdressers will be allowed to reopen.

At each step, those participating in any public activity will be required to wear protective masks and stay at least 1 meter away from others.

Francesco Daveri, a professor of macroeconomics at the SDA Bocconi University School of Management, said that the rules in general terms were “in line” with what the government has done so far — both in terms of being “prudent” and in terms of “ambiguity.”

He noted that the rules allow someone to visit their sister or brother but not their romantic partner, that sports teams can practice but there’s no sign of when they’ll play.

“There is an ambiguity that allows for certain flexibility in the way they are applied,” Daveri told Xinhua. “This is an Italian solution that offers some predictability but which allows the rules to be adjusted as we go along based on circumstances.”
(XINHUA)

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Oil & Gas

Low oil prices: Expert tasks FG on prudent spending

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Prof. Wumi Iledare, former President Nigerian Association of Energy Economics (NAEE), has advised the Federal Government to spend prudently to avoid breakdown of the nation’s economy as global oil price continues to crash.

Iledare said in an interview with News Agency of Nigeria in Abuja on Tuesday that the economy was already in an abysmal situation.

NAN reports that West Texas Intermediate (WTI), the North American Benchmark, on Monday fell to the negatives in trading.

Also, Western Canadian Select (WCS), was below zero at one point but has recovered to around eight dollars a barrel.

The Nigeria Bonny light also fell to 11 dollars in the market on Monday.

“Eleven dollars per barrel is about 50 per cent of the unit technical cost and the 11 dollars does not cover the unit operating cost of a deepwater barrel.

“ It is really producing a barrel at a loss. At low oil price, gross revenue at the same production level is dismal, meaning low royalty revenue, low tax revenue implying a significant budget deficit.

“Government of states like the federal government is major employers of labour, wages or salaries may not come on time if they come at all.

“Capital budget for infrastructure would have to be shelved. Nigeria is certainly in an abysmal situation.

“Recession is inevitable and perhaps, it may take two to three years to reverse it.

“The way out in the short run is prudent spending targeted at local consumption and putting on hold in the short run spending that will take a while to generate economic output for the national economy,’’ he said .

Iledare, a Professor of Petroleum Economics and Policy Research, said that the situation required gradual opening up the economy without jeopardising safety.

He also suggested that unnecessary foreign spending should be suspended unless absolutely necessary.

According to him, government must avoid borrowing to support pre-bendalistic life style.

“Bloated budget overhead must be rationalised if not eliminated.

“It is okay to borrow money to sustain access to energy but not for free energy consumption that benefits elite who are able to pay for it.

“The low oil price provides a means to bury subsidy for ever. But this must be by an act of National Assembly and not Executive order on the pages of newspapers,’’ he added

He noted that if NNPC remained the sole importer of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) – petrol – the price at the depot must be regulated but pricing at the retail end must be deregulated.

He added that there should be no guaranteed or equalised margin at the distribution stations.

“In the long run, this is to think of diversifying sources of government revenue and downsising government economic activity.

“This is why I continue to advocate the passing of the Petroleum Industry Governance Bill (PIGB).

“It is almost a year since the new administration started, nothing has come to fruition on Petroleum Industry reform,’’ he said

Iledare said that the backbone of Nigeria’s economy remained the oil and gas industry, noting that the effect of its collapse would be worse in the long run on the economy than the Coronavirus pandemic.

“ Venezuela is a good learning experience,’’ he said

Edited By: Johnson Eyiangho/Donald Ugwu (NAN) 

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Economy

COVID-19 : Prudential Zenith Life Insurance unveils benefits for affected customers

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Prudential Zenith Life Insurance on Sunday announced benefits designed to address the negative impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, which had claimed thousands of lives globally.

In statement in Lagos, the company said that the benefits would  apply for a period of 45 days beginning from  April 3.

The company said  that customers who had purchased or who would purchase any of its products such as My Family Protection Plan, My Family Protection Plan Premier, My School Fees Protection Plan, PZL Term Assurance, PZL Hospital Plan and My Savings Plan-Premier, would enjoy diagnosis benefit.

It said that under the benefit,  a customer  diagnosed with COVID-19 would be entitled to N38,000 and a treatment benefit of N9 000 daily for a maximum period of 25 days to cater for losses or incidental expenses.

The company said it had reduced the normal waiting period from six months to 14 days for the benefits to apply to any new customer, while for existing customers, the additional benefits would  apply  immediately.

“Also, for any customer who has bought a policy from the company and who is diagnosed with COVID-19 or who is formally retrenched as a result of a business having to close due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it will provide a three-month premium holiday.

“This means that the policy will not lapse and the customer will still enjoy the protection benefits of his policy even if he is unable to pay his regular premium during this period.

“This is in addition to any death benefits that are payable when due, as the company does not exclude death caused by COVID-19 under any of its policies,” it said

According to the insurance company, the policy exclusions to the additional offering include that it is not liable to pay claims if treatment is for any reason other than the contraction of the COVID-19.

The company said it would  not also pay claims if  after the start of the policy, the covered person would travel to any country with active community transmission of COVID-19.

It said the policy would not also take effect if the covered person was in self-isolation or hospitalised but had not been officially diagnosed and hospitalised by the state.

The insurance company, however, said that the benefits would be provided for all clients who qualified  with active policies.

Edited By: Chioma Ugboma/Ijeoma Popoola
(NAN)

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Economy

Africa Prudential profit after tax drops to N1.68bn in 2019

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Africa Prudential Plc, a share registration and investor services firm, on Tuesday announced a profit after tax of N1.68 billion for the financial year ended Dec. 31, 2019.

The company’s audited result released by the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) showed that the profit after tax was lower when compared with N1.95 billion achieved in 2018.

Also, the profit before tax dropped by 0.2 per cent to N2.39 billion in contrast with N2.49 billion posted in the corresponding period of 2018.

Its gross revenue stood at N3.90 billion against N4.49 billion in 2018, indicating a drop of 13 per cent.

The company explained that the reduction was on the back of 89 per cent drop in interest paid on borrowings which affected its finance cost by 88 per cent.

Total assets closed at N18.65 billion from N21.27 billion in 2018.

The company during the period under review is proposing a dividend of 70k per share to its shareholders.

Also, shareholders’ fund stood at N8.28 billion decreasing by 3.6 per cent year-on-year from N8.60 billion in 2018.

Commenting on the result, Mr Obong Idiong, the company’s Managing Director, described 2019 as a challenging year for both money and capital markets.

“2019 was a challenging year in the money and capital markets, as businesses struggled to deliver positive results due to the drastic reduction in interest rates on treasury bills and other money market instruments.

“We were also affected by this decline which caused our gross earnings to fall by 13 per cent year-on-year.

“We remain dedicated to delivering quality registrar business to our clients while we slowly transition into digital technology,” Idiong said.

He noted that the company’s Innovation Lab during the period introduced a number of innovative products to the market.

According to him, these include a new version of EasyCoop, an enterprise resource solution for cooperative societies, and EasyMall, a cooperative market place.

“We have also continuously strived to improve how we currently serve our clients as evident in the recent upgrade of our Customer Experience Center and introduction of new customer channels.

“Our digital transformation journey is on course as we change the way we create, deliver and capture value.

“The future is digital technology-driven, which is why we are integrating all our processes into a seamless system that offers world-class solutions to our customers and creating new revenue lines.

“In the long-run, this would reduce our huge exposure to capital market activities which has been on a decline of late.

“Our company would continue to innovate not only to improve capital market interactions, but also to improve our top line in order to deliver superior value to all stakeholders,” he said.

Edited By: Tayo Ikujuni/Oluwole Sogunle

 

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Education

Delta NUT chairman tasks Board members to be prudent

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 The new executive members of the Delta Teachers Social Security and Investment Scheme (DSTSSIS- Spring Board) have been advised to work hard and justify the high level of confidence reposed in them by teachers.

Mr Titus Okotie, Chairman, Delta chapter of the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT), gave the advice on Monday at the inauguration/ swearing in of the executive at the Teachers’ House, Asaba.

Okotie urged them to maintain a high level of prudence in the management of resources of the scheme.

He also advised them to work strictly within the ambits of financial regulations and bylaws of the scheme.

“I wish to express my gratitude to the outgoing executive for their giant strides in repositioning the scheme toward impacting more positively on teachers in the state, who are the major subscribers.

“I salute the founding fathers of the scheme for initiating the idea of a dependable welfare scheme for teachers in the state to fall back on after retirement from active service.

“The Delta Government deserves commendation for graciously approving the scheme in 1999 and for the continued support in meeting the yearnings of retired teachers and next-of-kin of deceased members.

“I charge the new executive to ensure proper liaison with the standing Committee and the State Wing Executive Council (SWEC) in the execution of teachers-oriented projects.

“On no account should any new project be embarked upon without the completion of already existing ones,” Okotie said.

The chairman assured teachers in the state that the scheme should continue to live up to its expectations in the prudent management of resources.

Also, Mrs Elohor Onovughe, the newly inaugurated Board Chairman said she was grateful for the privilege to serve the teachers in the state.

“On behalf of all the board members inaugurated today, I pledge our loyalty to serve on the board with uttermost commitment and dedication,” she said.

Edited By: Kamal Tayo Oropo/Olagoke Olatoye

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Foreign

FAO pledges support for prudent use of antimicrobials in Africa

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The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) on Monday pledged support to enhance the prudent use of antimicrobials in Africa’s farming systems.

Scott Newman, Senior Animal Health and Livestock Production Officer at FAO Regional Office for Africa, said the support will help reduce antimicrobial resistance in agricultural systems and the environment.

“The misuse of these drugs, associated with the emergence and spread of antimicrobial-resistant micro-organisms, places everyone at great risk and poses a threat to public health, sustainable food production and potentially to biodiversity and ecological systems,’’ Newman said.

He said that the sheer magnitude and complexity of the antimicrobial resistance and antimicrobial pollution calls for a coordinated and integrated approach to eradicating the challenge.

Newman urged a multi-sectoral approach inclusive of the public and animal health sectors, the agricultural production sectors, environment and ecosystem sectors to contain antimicrobial resistance.

He noted that antibiotics in the environment can affect the overall composition and diversity of the microbial community crucial for the performance of important ecological functions such as nutrient cycling, decomposition and primary productivity in both aquatic and terrestrial environments.

Antibiotics present in the environment at low concentrations can accumulate in human populations through long-term exposure to drinking water, food or consumer goods with unknown health consequences, according to Newman.

He said that antimicrobials play a critical role in the treatment of diseases of humans, farm animals (aquatic and terrestrial) and plants.

“We are supporting responsible use of antimicrobials because their use is essential to food security, human well-being and to animal welfare.’’

He urged African countries to improve awareness on antimicrobials, develop the capacity for surveillance and monitoring, strengthen governance and promote good practices in food and agricultural systems, including the prudent use of antimicrobials.

Due to the dangers posed by antimicrobials, FAO, World Health Organisation and the United Nations Environment Programme developed the tripartite work plan on antimicrobials targeting 10 countries including Kenya, Burkina Faso, Senegal and Zimbabwe in support of the Global Action Plan on antimicrobials. (Xinhua/NAN)

AIB

Edited by Abdulfatah Babatunde

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General news

Defence chief tasks attachés, aides on prudent utilisation of resources

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The Chief Of Defence Staff, Gen. Gabriel Olonisakin, has urged Nigerian Defence Advisers and Attachés to ensure prudent and judicious utilisation of resources allocated to them in their various places of assignment.

Olonisakin made the call at the closing of the Defence Advisers and Attachés 2019 Annual Conference on Friday in Abuja.

Olonisakin, who was represented by the Chief of Policy and Plans, Defence Headquarters, AVM M.A Balogun, said the call was in view of dwindling government resources.

Nigeria News Agency reports that the theme of the conference was “Enhancing Inter Agency Collaboration in Response to Current and Anticipated Threats in Nigeria’s Security Environment: Role of the Defence Attaches System.”

He said that the authorities had taken cognisance of the administrative constraints facing the various defence sections as discussed during the conference.

“I would like to assure you that the agency, in conjunction with Ministry of Defence, DHQ and services headquarters, will do all that is within their powers to alleviate the identified challenges.

“This is in order to ensure that you carryout your jobs with little or no stress.

“I will thus urge you all to ensure prudent and judicious utilisation of resources allocated to you in view of dwindling government resources,” he said.

Olonisakin sad that the conference had enabled the participants to articulate and produce a number of resolutions that would enhance the productivity of the defence section.

He said the conference also articulated resolutions in areas of evolving collaborations among security agencies towards combating the nation’s contemporary security challenges as well as developing synergy among them.

“Be reassured that these resolutions will be given the attention they deserve at the appropriate quarters,” he added.

He also called on the attachés to deploy the knowledge they acquired during the conference and contribute more effectively to the performance of their sections.

“In the last 13 days, the defence attaches and advisers have been taken through a refresher training, which culminated in the defence advisers annual conference.

“The idea of the refresher training is to bring the skills of the defence advisers up to date for increased and effective performance of their duties.

The annual conference had in attendance, the defense attachés/advisers deployed to different countries of the world as well as top military chiefs and past Chiefs of Defence Intelligence.

Edited by Ejike Obeta/Sadiya Hamza

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Foreign

South Sudan peace monitors call for prudent management of public funds

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South Sudan peace monitors on Wednesday said the review of the public finance management (PFM) laws would next week facilitate the effective implementation of the reforms stipulated in the peace deal.

Augostino Njoroge, Interim Chairperson of the reconstituted Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission said that the review of PFM laws would be done ahead of the formation of a new unity government.

Njoroge said critical and effective use of resources during the transitional period would spur the growth of the economy and facilitate national reconstruction.

“Given the importance of the economic and financial sector to the implementation of the agreement, it is essential that experts and stakeholders, including the PFM institutions, are fully involved in the reform.

“Experts and others should be involved in identifying the areas where reforms are needed as well as the actual reforms,’’ Njoroge said.

According to the revitalised agreement on the resolution of the conflict in the Republic of South Sudan, the transitional unity government is mandated to carry out radical reforms and transformation of public financial management systems to ensure transparency and accountability.

Salvatore Garang Mabiordit, Finance Minister of South Sudan, said the necessary reforms to the PFM sector would strengthen fiscal responsibility, accountability, and control in the management of public funds during the next three-year transitional period.

The minister was speaking during the first opening day of the experts and stakeholder’s two-day workshop on the review of PFM sector laws organised by the National Constitutional Amendment Committee. (Xinhua/NAN)


Edited by Fatima Sule/Abdulfatah Babatunde

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