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Coronavirus: FG prepares fiscal stimulus package

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The Federal Government has drawn up a stimulus package to cushion the impact of the dreaded Corona Virus.

Under the stimulus plan, Federal Government will re-introduce the 2012 corporate tax (exemption of profits) order granting job-creation tax rebates for employers.

Also contained in the stimulus plan will be the acceleration of construction of over 700km of roads and bridges under road infrastructure tax credit scheme.

Others are promoting consumer-spending, fiscal strategies and policies; accelerating ease of doing business-related fiscal reforms.

These were contained in a statement by the Special Adviser to the Minister of Finance, Mr. Yunusa Tanko Abdullahi.

The Finance Minister was quoted to have said that the fiscal policy coordination will review sectors that are eligible for pioneer tax holiday incentives under Industrial Development (Income Tax Relief) Act. (“IDITRA”).

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Other reviews to be made include: “review of fiscal incentives under the national automobile policy; review of process and approvals of import duty exemption certificates; tax expenditure studies and evaluation of current suite of fiscal incentives.”

The stimulus package is contained in the Nigerian proposed integrated policy framework.

To get the buy-in of the legislature, the Finance Minister solicited for the support and cooperation of the Senate and House of Representatives to meet the emerging national emergency posed by COVID-19 and the oil price decline.

According to the finance minister, “the framework is to be complemented by a fiscal stimulus package to cushion the impact of the crisis on the most vulnerable individuals and communities, financed by concessional borrowings as well as fiscal policy reforms to rationalize tax expenditures.”

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Other components of the framework include, implementing the Finance Act, 2019 and proposing a Finance Bill, 2020 and other key economic-related laws to institutionalize the reforms.”

The Finance Minister also raised the point about key issues and challenges in achieving sustainable, inclusive and diversified growth and development.

According to her, “the key issues and challenges, are fiscal dependencies on oil revenues (downside risks for oil production and international oil price volatility); prioritizing expenditure (especially investments in infrastructure and human capital against fiscal risks from subsidies); and managing inflationary pressures amid faltering growth.

Addressing the impact of external developments like COVID-19, oil price decline, global trade tensions, African Continental Free Trade Agreement, (AfCFTA) etc., Ahmedd said there are key execution priorities.

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These key execution priorities she said include, “considered stimulation of economic activity to create jobs and increase household consumption; prioritizing investments in critical infrastructure and human capital development to unlock latent growth potential of Nigerians (especially our Youth).

Others are:

“Accelerating the recovery in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth and stemming inflationary pressures; raising revenues and resources to finance critical expenditure, service debt and meet other obligations; increasing oil and non-oil revenues to finance priority capital and recurrent expenditures; and enhancing fiscal consolidation to rebuild fiscal buffers and increase resilience against fiscal shocks.”

Coronavirus

Monkeys attack lab assistant, escape with COVID-19 samples

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A gang of monkeys attacked a laboratory assistant and escaped with a batch of coronavirus test samples, it has been reported.

The bizarre incident saw the troop of primates launch their assault near Meerut Medical College in Delhi, India.

According to local media, the animals then snatched COVID-19 test samples from three patients and fled.

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One of the monkeys was later spotted in a tree chewing one of the sample collection kits, the Times of India reported – adding that test samples from the patients had to be taken again.

It is the latest example of the highly intelligent, red-faced rhesus macaques taking advantage of India’s nationwide lockdown to combat the spread of coronavirus.

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While they have proved an increasing problem in urban areas of the country in recent years, lockdown measures in the last two months have emboldened the monkeys.

Reports have shown them congregating in parts of Delhi normally crowded with humans.

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Covid-19: Uganda records 36 new cases toll now 317

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Covid-19: Uganda records 36 new cases toll now 317

Uganda has recorded 36 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the total number of infections to 317, the country’s Health Ministry said late Thursday.

Out of the 2,230 samples collected from cross-border cargo truck drivers and communities, 24 Ugandan truck drivers and 12 close contacts of previously confirmed cases under quarantine tested positive for the virus, the ministry said in a statement.

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READ ALSO: JUST IN: Nigeria records182 new COVID-19 cases, total now 8,915

Twenty-six foreign truck drivers, who tested positive at the country’s common border entry points, were handed over to their country of origin, it said.

Out of the 317 COVID-19 cases, 69 have recovered and no one has died of the respiratory disease in the country, according to the health ministry.

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FG to use hotels, schools as quarantine, isolation centres

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Covid-19: Prepare for the worst- FG tells Nigerians

The Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, said the Federal Government would require hotels and school dormitories as quarantine and isolation centres because of a shortage of hospital beds.

The minister noted that there were four levels of COVID-19 patients ranging from those on quarantine with zero or mild symptoms to those that would need to be in the intensive care unit.

The minister said,

“We have sadly recorded 254 deaths, most of them are persons associated with other ailments, confirming the general observation that risks are higher for those with illnesses such as hypertension, diabetes and non-communicable diseases.

“We need to continue increasing bed capacity to match the probable number of patients, so that we do not experience horrific scenes of bed space shortages seen in some European hospitals.

“In event of overflow, we can require hotels and school dormitories to be prepared for level 1 which is quarantine, and level 2, is isolation of COVID-19 positive with zero or mild symptoms, to free hospital beds to be dedicated to level 3 which are moderate to severe cases and level 4 which is for the high dependency and the intensive care unit.

“I, therefore, call on activists and philanthropists to work with state governments to scale up non-pharmaceutical measures and beef up infrastructural assets for isolation and treatment in their states.”

Ehanire said Nigeria would review its participation in the World Health Organisation solidarity trial. He also stated that proposals for trial of local remedies for COVID-19 had been sent to the relevant research and testing agencies for scientific evaluation.

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He stated,

“The Madagascar herbs have been received at the Ministry of Health, and were found to consist of two varieties; one labelled to be for prevention and the other for treatment. Samples have been given to three agencies of the Ministry of Health and also to the Ministry of Science and Technology.

“These are normal processes for new preparations to be approved for use in Nigeria, and include toxicological and efficacy tests and clinical trials. Government will investigate all genuine efforts to find homegrown solutions to the pandemic.”

The minister said Madagascar’s drugs had been sent to NAFDAC, National Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development, and the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research.

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