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Public Holidays: CBN reschedules MPC meeting

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The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has rescheduled its Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) meeting from Monday and Tuesday May 25 and 26 to Thursday, May 28.

The CBN Director, Corporate Communications Department, Mr Isaac Okorafor, made this known in a statement in Abuja on Thursday.

Okorafor explained that the reschedule of the meeting was due to the declaration of May 25 and May 26 as public holidays by the Federal Government to commemorate the Eid-el Fitr.

He said for the avoidance of doubt, CBN had put necessary machinery in place for the meeting to now hold for only one day on account of the ongoing COVID-19 national lockdown.

He added that this step taken was also to align this meeting with extant rules of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 and advisories from other relevant agencies.

The director, however, regretted all inconveniences these changes would have caused stakeholders and general public.

Edited Wale Ojetimi

Foreign

Public transportation allowed to reopen across Uganda

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Face coverings to be mandatory on public transport in England as UK COVID-19 deaths hit 39,904

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Face coverings will be compulsory on public transport in England from June 15 to help contain the transmission of the novel coronavirus, British Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said Thursday.

Chairing Thursday’s Downing Street daily briefing, Shapps said people are required to wear face coverings on buses, trains, tubes and other modes of public transport from June 15 as COVID-19 is still a “very real threat” and the “fight still goes on to defeat it”.

Noting that this measure is for England, he said he expects Scotland and Wales to introduce similar face coverings rule for rail passengers.

The measure was welcomed by many transport unions.

Mick Whelan, general secretary of the Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen, a British trade union representing train drivers, said it is “a sensible step”.

“The instruction to wear face coverings to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus will ease the concerns of people travelling, and working, on the transport network,” said Whelan.

According to the Office for National Statistics, transport workers who have regular contact with members of the public are at particularly high risk of dying from coronavirus. Bus drivers are more than twice as likely to die from coronavirus as average working-age men.

Shortly after Shapps’ announcement, Nicola Sturgeon, first minister of Scotland, reminded Scots that the Scottish government already strongly advised their use on public transport and in shops.

“A reminder that @scotgov already strongly advises the use of face coverings in shops and public transport. As I said earlier today, we are considering making it mandatory. However, no need to wait for that — please do it now (unless you have, eg, asthma),” she said on her Twitter account.

Another 176 COVID-19 patients have died in Britain as of Wednesday afternoon, bringing the total coronavirus-related death toll in the country to 39,904, said Shapps.

The figures include deaths in all settings, including hospitals, care homes and the wider community.

(XINHUA)

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General news

Kaduna Electric urges public to disregard energy allocation on social media

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The management of Kaduna Electric has called on the general public to disregard the content of a publication making the rounds on social media about its Kaduna purported energy allocation schedule.

Mr Abdulaziz Abdullahi, Head Corporate Affairs of the company, made this known on Thursday in a statement posted on the company’s official Twitter handle.

He said that the publication was not authorised by the management of Kaduna Electric and its contents did not reflect the company’s energy allocation schedule to its franchise states.

“All investigation has been launched to ascertain the source of the publication and appropriate disciplinary measures shall be meted to any staff found responsible for such misconduct.

Kaduna Electric remains committed to providing adequate power supply to all its franchise states which comprise Kaduna, Sokoto, Kebbi and Zamfara at all times especially at this difficult time occasioned by COVID-19 pandemic,” he said.


Edited By: Edwin Nwachukwu/Maharazu Ahmed (NAN)

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UN chief hopes for COVID-19 vaccine as global public good

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United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Thursday expressed the hope that a COVID-19 vaccine will be seen as a global public good, or a people’s vaccine.

COVID-19 is the greatest public health crisis of our generation. Right now, there is no vaccine. As we work together to develop one, there is an important lesson we need to understand. A vaccine, by itself, is not enough. We need global solidarity to ensure that every person, everywhere, has access,” Guterres said at a virtual global vaccine summit.

A COVID-19 vaccine must be seen as a global public good, a people’s vaccine, which a growing number of world leaders are calling for,” he added.

At the summit, Guterres called on participants to make three key commitments: find safe ways to continue delivering vaccinations, even as COVID-19 spreads; use the networks of vaccine-delivery to deliver a range of other primary health services; make sure a COVID-19 vaccine reaches everyone when it becomes available.

“Diseases know no borders. That is why a fully-funded GAVI (Vaccine Alliance) will be critical to ensure we continue the progress toward the Sustainable Development Goals,” said Guterres.

Twenty million children are missing their full complement of vaccines, and one in five has received no vaccines at all, he noted.

Under the shadow of COVID-19, their plight is even more desperate, he added, warning that the gaps in global vaccine delivery could grow wider. 

(XINHUA)

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Osun Assembly pledges improved public works, transportation

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The Osun House of Assembly says it will give priority to ensuring that public works and the transportation system in the state are more functional for the benefit of residents.

Mr Taofeek Badamasi, the Chairman, House Committee on Public Works and Transport, stated this at an interactive session with officials of the state’s Ministry of Public Works and Transport at the House of Assembly in Osogbo.

Badamasi said the meeting was necessary to discuss common goals for the development of the state and not to witch-hunt anybody.

He also requested for documents from the ministry’s officials on the schedule of state projects and details of road contracts awarded.

In their various comments, members of the committee requested for clarifications on construction of primary healthcare facilities across the state.

Responding, the Special Adviser to the Governor on Public Works and Transport, Mr Toke Olaniyan, explained that lack of funds was the major hindrance in completing some ongoing projects in the state.

He, however, listed Oba Adesoji Aderemi East bye-pass, Osogbo Stadium fence and some primary health centre facilities among the ongoing projects in the state

(
Edited By: Folasade Adeniran/Mufutau Ojo (NAN)
)

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France’s public deficit to reach 11.4 pct of GDP in 2020: minister

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France‘s public deficit in 2020 will reach 11.4 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) due to the costly measures to cushion the health crisis’ impact on economic activities, Minister of Public Action and Accounts Gerald Darmanin said on Thursday.

“We’re in debt, and more and more so, because we have chosen to save the French economy,” Darmanin told France 2 television. “With a projected 11 percent GDP contraction, we’re going to have a 11.4 percent budget deficit.”

The minister expected this year’s budget gap to reach 220 billion euros (246.44 billion U.S. dollars), adding that “France has never had such a level of budget deficit.”

France’s 2019 budget gap stood at 72.8 billion euros, amounting to 3 percent of GDP. The government previously expected this year’s budget gap to hit 9 percent of GDP.

“We have spent a lot of money to guarantee workers’ wages, support liberal profession and traders. We have updated the budget law three times in six months to improve French economy‘s ability to support (sectors hard hit by the coronavirus crisis),” said the minister.

The French government is mobilizing 450 billion euros, representing 20 percent of the country’s GDP, to help companies stay afloat through the virus outbreak, which consists in large part of tax and payroll charge deferrals, in addition to specific plans to rescue the worst-hit sectors, such as tourism and auto industry. (1 euro = 1.12 U.S. dollar)

(XINHUA)

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Features

Public-Private Partnership as panacea to road development

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Public-Private Partnership as panacea to road development

A News Analysis by Naomi Sharang, News Agency of Nigeria

Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialisation and foster innovation is one of the cardinal goals of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The United Nations (UN) has also underlined the importance of delivering quality infrastructure by stakeholders for enduring development in that regard.

Analysts note that the backbone for the development of any nation includes its physical infrastructure, comprising roads and bridges, power generation plants, power transmission and distribution networks and water, among others.

They note that providing infrastructure projects requires huge capital and tend to exert a strain on financing such projects by governments.

According to them, it will not be out of place for governments with limited resources to lookout for alternative financial, managerial and technical resources to deliver essential public infrastructure via partnership.

The Federal Government has, therefore, proposed a public-partnership partnership to assist it in tackling the odds against the delivery of quality infrastructure.

The Senate Committee on Works Chairman Adamu Aliero says the committee, as part of its statutory responsibility to citizens, recently embarked on oversight to ascertain the delay in completion of some of the roads that were awarded to contractors by the Federal Government.

Some of the roads listed for inspection by the committee include the Abuja-Kaduna-Zaria-Kano dual carriageway, Lagos-Ibadan expressway, Sagamu-Ikorodu road and Lagos-Ota-Abeokuta road, among others.

For the Abuja-Kaduna-Zaria-Kano dual carriageway, the contract was awarded on Dec. 20, 2017 to Julius Berger Plc. at a contract sum of N155.48 billion and has three sections — Zuba-Kaduna, Kaduna-Zaria and Zaria-Kano road.

Aliero who led the committee members on inspection of the road said that work began on Zuba-Kaduna, Kaduna-Zaria and Zaria-Kano road on May 21, 2018 and it is to be completed on May 21, 2021.

“We are not happy with the slow pace of work. The work is done at snail speed, Nigerians are worried as the road cut across three geopolitical zones of North-Central, North-West and North -East.

“It is a very important road in terms of the economic gains of the zones; the delay is unacceptable; there is no enough mobilisation on the part of the contractor,’’ he observed.

He called for public-private partnership to assist government in provision of roads as critical infrastructure.

“Going by what is happening now in the budget, there is no way the Federal Government can fund well more than 522 roads,’’ he said.

Aliero said that the Senate would amend laws to make Public-Private Partnership (PPP) initiatives attractive to boost investments in roads and other infrastructure to bridge infrastructure deficit.

The senator also called on private investors to key into the tax credit scheme to ensure quality road delivery to improve the economy.

While inspecting the Lagos-Ibadan expressway, Aliero said that the Federal Government was concerned about attracting investments to the country.

Aliero said that PPP was an alternative means of funding road infrastructure which business owners should adopt for the good of the nation.

The National Assembly is already seriously thinking of intervention legislatively by amending our laws to make investments and PPP more attractive.

Already PPP is on the top agenda of the 9th Senate; and indeed the entire National Assembly, we will encourage the private sector to go into construction of infrastructure, not only roads but also railways and power,’’ he said.

He commended the tax credit scheme adopted by the Dangote Group for the Apapa-Oshodi-Ojota-Oworonsoki Expressway project and advised other businessmen to key into it.

“If this is done, it will facilitate the rehabilitation or reconstruction of the road sector in the country instead of relying on the annual budgeting of rehabilitating or constructing.

“The road will be built by the private sector and they can recover their money through payment of taxes with an arrangement with the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS)’’, he said.

He commended the quality of reconstruction and rehabilitation work and the technology being used on the Apapa-Oshodi-Ojota-Oworonsoki Expressway to make it durable.

He also expressed satisfaction at the adequate mobilisation of equipment and personnel on various sections to deliver the project on schedule.

“This is the way to go because this is a road linking two major sea ports in the country; Tincan Island and Apapa port and this is where haulage of heavy goods is being ferried to different parts of the country apart from Lagos.

“Most of the imports from the north pass here before they eventually go to the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway.

“Some will go to South-East through Benin expressway some even to South-South, to different parts of the North-Central and North-East.

“It is a major road which should be constructed very well and we are very pleased with what we have seen.

The progress of work is good and we have no doubt that if the contractor maintains the pace, the project will be completed and delivered on time,’’ Aliero said.

Similarly, Gov. Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna State, noted that the Abuja-Kaduna-Zaria-Kano road was a very important road that was at the heart of Nigeria and it had deteriorated to the point that something had to be done.

el-Rufai, however, noted that with an annual budget of N169 billion for federal highways, it was clear that alternative sources of funding must be found.

Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos noted that the state government had advertised for construction of the fourth mainland bridge through PPP

The fourth mainland bridge is supposed to be like a ring road, it is supposed to be a 37- kilometre bridge and super highway.

“We have got expression of interest by both local and international companies. They are now at various levels of procurement,’’ he said.

Also, Gov. Dapo Abiodun of Ogun said that public-private partnership was fundamental to the economic growth of the country.

The Lagos State governor and I observe that these roads are common to both of us and affecting the economy of both states and the quality of life of our people.

“What we should do is how to encourage a public-private sector partner to come and partner and let us tell the Federal Government to transfer some of the south- west roads.

“We requested that these roads, Sagamu-Ikorodu and Lagos-Ota-Abeokuta be transferred to us because they are commercial roads and we will privatise them and we will not revert to the Federal Government for any refund,’’ he said.

However, stakeholders are optimistic that before the end of 2030 when the SDGs are supposed to be achieved, critical infrastructure such as road development would also be realised.

The SDGs set in 2015 by the United Nations General Assembly are a collection of 17 global goals designed to be a blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all.(NANFeatures)

**If used, please credit the writer as well as News Agency of Nigeria

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Turkey’s largest thematic aquarium boosts measures on hygiene, public safety after reopening

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TURKEY-ISTANBUL-AQUARIUM-REOPENING” src=”https://nnn.com.ng/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/139114332_15912687683501n.jpg” sourcename=”本地文件” sourcedescription=”网上抓取的文件”>

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People visit the Istanbul Aquarium in Istanbul, Turkey, June 3, 2020. Turkey‘s largest thematic aquarium in Istanbul has boosted its measures on hygiene and public safety after it was reopened on Monday. (Photo by Osman Orsal/handout via Xinhua)

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Uganda further eases COVID-19 restrictions, reopens public transport

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Uganda on Thursday further eased its COVID-19 restrictions, reopening public transport among other measures, after over 70 days of lockdown.

Public transport has been allowed to reopen across the country, excluding districts neighboring other countries, in a bid to stop the importation of the disease.

All passengers must wear face masks and sanitize their hands before entering and embarking from vehicles, according to government procedures.

The move comes a week after private transport was allowed to resume, with vehicles allowed to carry just half of their capacity in an effort to encourage social distancing.

Shops, hotels and restaurants have already resumed operations, alongside strict observations of social distancing guidelines and the wearing of face masks.

The country’s borders remain closed to passenger traffic, though cargo freight is allowed.

Other restrictions, such as a ban on public gatherings and a night curfew, still remain in place.

Uganda has so far registered 507 confirmed COVID-19 cases with 82 recoveries and no deaths, according to the ministry of health.

(XINHUA)

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