As the COVID-19 pandemic affecting the Nepali economy hard leaving many people jobless, the Nepali government has announced that health, education, economic recovery and employment will be key priority for the budget for next fiscal year 2020-21.
After a prolonged focus on physical infrastructure, the Nepali government is focusing on social sectors such as health and education after the COVID-19 pandemic showed the inadequacy of health infrastructure in Nepal.
By presenting Policies and Programmes of the government for the next fiscal year at the joint session of parliament – House of Representatives and National Assembly on Friday, Nepali President Bidya Devi Bhandari said that the necessary infrastructure would be developed in the areas of health and education to deliver international standards services in these areas.
The Policies and Programmes indicates what types of annual budget would be presented by the government for the next fiscal year 2020-21 which will begin in mid-July. Nepali government will present the budget for next fiscal year on May 29.
In the health sector, the Nepali government plans to increase the number of health institutes, increase their capacity and develop infrastructure and human resources. Improving quality of education from public educational institutes, focus on technical education and expansion of online education are priorities in the education sector, according to the Policies and the Programmes.
Realizing that many Nepali migrant workers who are employed in Gulf nations, Malaysia and India could return home due to the impact of the COVID-19 on the economies of host countries, creating employment opportunities for them would be another focus of the Nepali government.
The Policies and Programmes states that potential unemployed people would be mobilized in the areas of commercial farming, physical infrastructure projects, local infrastructure, small and medium enterprises, productive industries, construction and service sectors.
According to Nepal’s Ministry of Labour and Social Security, more than 400,000 migrant workers are expected to return home due to the impact of the COVID-19 in the host countries.
The Nepali government has also planned to introduce a recovery plan of the tourism sector badly affected by the pandemic, the Policies and Programmes says.
The Nepali government has not set any economic growth target for the upcoming years, taking into account the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on the economy. Last year, the Nepali government had vowed to achieve double digit growth in four years.
“At a time when the economy of many countries is contracting, Nepal has been able to manage the risk. The economy will be strengthened and will be made more productive,” the Policies and Programmes says.
Central Bureau of Statistics, Nepal’s central statistics body, said late last month that Nepal’s economy could grow by just 2.27 percent, the lowest growth projection in the last five years, against the target of 8.5 percent in the current fiscal year. In the last three fiscal years, Nepal has achieved growth over 6 percent.
Edo 2020: PDP Reps caucus condemn seige on governors by security agents
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), caucus in the House of Representatives has condemned the clampdown on its governors by security officers in Edo ahead of Saturday’s governorship election.
The leader of the caucus, Rep. Kingsley Chinda (PDP-Rivers), in a statement said that such activities of security agencies were not acceptable.
The lawmaker said that duty of security agents is to ensure the safety of lives and property and not to cause chaos in the state.
“The caucus finds the current siege on governors by men of the Nigeria Police force and other security officials as disturbing and unacceptable ahead of the election.
“As a democratic society, Nigerians should be given the right to free movement, association and above all right to vote leaders of their choice to govern the affairs of the state in the interest of the people.
“However, security agencies have abandoned thier core duties to laying siege on governors who are out to perform thier legitimate duties in Edo.
“The caucus wishes to draw the attention of Mr president to immediately wade into the matter and allow the people of Edo to vote leaders of their choice.
“We also want to use this medium to draw the attention of the nation and the International community of the security siege on PDP governors in Benin City,” Chinda said.
Chinda said that in as much as governors and other public officials elected on the platform of the All Progressive Congress (APC), had the liberty to stay in Benin City, PDP governors must not be harassed or stampeded to leave the state.
Edited By: Donald Ugwu
Facebook announces opening of new office in Lagos
Facebook on Friday said it would be opening an office in Lagos, Nigeria, as part of its continued commitment and ongoing investment in Africa.
Facebook, in a statement made available to newsmen in Lagos, said this would be its second office on the African continent.
It said the opening of the new office was aimed at supporting the entire Sub-Saharan Africa region.
The office, it said, was expected to become operational in 2021.
According to Facebook, it will be the first on the continent to house a team of expert engineers building for the future of Africa and beyond.
It said the office would be home to various teams servicing the continent from across the business, including Sales, Partnerships, Policy, Communications as well as Engineers.
Commenting, Ime Archibong, Facebook’s Head of New Product Experimentation, said: “The opening of our new office in Lagos, Nigeria presents new and exciting opportunities in digital innovations to be developed from the continent and taken to the rest of the world.
“All across Africa, we are seeing immense talent in the tech ecosystem and I am proud that with the upcoming opening of our new office, we will build products for the future of Africa, and the rest of the world, with Africans at the helm.
“We look forward to contributing further to the African tech ecosystem.
“The investment of the new Facebook office follows the 2018 opening of NG_Hub, its first flagship community hub space in Africa.
“The hub was opened in partnership with CcHub, and the 2019 opening of a Small Business Group (SBG) Operations Centre in Lagos, in partnership with Teleperformance, “Archibong said.
Kojo Boakye, Facebook’s Director of Public Policy, Africa said that the new office in Nigeria presents an important milestone which further reinforces the company’s ongoing commitment to the region.
“Our mission in Africa is no different from other parts of the world, which is to build community and bring the world closer together.
“I am excited about the possibilities that this will create, not just in Nigeria, but across Africa,” Boakye said.
The policy director said since the opening of its first office in 2015, Facebook had made a number of investments across the continent, aimed at supporting and growing the tech ecosystem.
Boakye noted that the support includes the recent rollout of its SMB Grants programme in Nigeria and South Africa.
He said thia was aimed at supporting over 900 businesses by providing a combination of cash and ad credits to help small businesses as they rebuild from COVID.
Nunu Ntshingila, Regional Director, Facebook Africa, said: “We are delighted to be announcing our new office in Nigeria.
” Five years on from opening our first office on the continent in Johannesburg, South Africa, we will continue to invest in and support local talent, as well as the various communities that use our platforms.
“The office in Lagos will also be key in helping to expand how we service our clients across the continent,” Ntshingila said.
Edited By: Oluwole Sogunle
Ministry to intensify awareness on importance of ozone layer protection
The Minister of the Environment, Dr Mohammad Abubakar, on Friday said the ministry would intensify its awareness on the importance of the protection of the ozone layer through the effective collaboration of relevant stakeholders.
Abubakar made this known at a ministerial briefing on the commemoration of 2020 International Day for Preservation of Ozone Layer with the theme, “Ozone for Life,’’ in Abuja.
He said that the ministry was also committed to the training and monitoring of technicians in the affected sectors on ozone-friendly technologies.
The Minister said the theme has two connotations that needed a healthy ozone layer to protect lives and the environment, as well as safeguarding future generations to come.
Abubakar said that the ministry, in collaboration with the United Nation Development Programme, (UNDP), the United Nation Industrial Development Organisation, (UNIDO), the World Bank and the UN Environment Programme, were the agencies implementing Ozone Depleting Substances (ODS).
“In line with the protocol`s ODS phase out schedule, we have assisted over 600 large, Small and Medium-Scale Enterprises in the foam, refrigeration and air conditioning, aerosols, fire protection and solvent sectors.
“The assistance is to convert to ozone-friendly substances and technologies.
“This resulted in 100 per cent phase out of over 4,000 metric tonnes of ODS, with high ozone depletion potentials.
“About 26 institutions, (polytechnics and government technical colleges) were identified and equipped to serve as training centres on good refrigeration practices.
“We have also trained the trainers from the identified centres and developed training manuals on good refrigeration practices.
“These have led to the training of more than 10,000 refrigeration technicians in the refrigeration servicing sector.
He said that the ODS phase out activities were achieved with support from the multilateral fund for the implementation of the Montreal protocol.
Abubakar noted that the ministry was implementing the protocol`s Hydrochlorofluorocarbon (HCFCs) project.
He said that the project was targeted at phasing out HCFCs gases R-22 and 141b, mainly used in Nigeria as refrigerants and blowing agents in the refrigeration, air conditioning and foam sectors respectively.
The minister said that the ministry was committed in the implementation of multilateral environmental agreements that the country was a party to.
According to him, the upgrade of a system house at Vitapur Nigeria Ltd (a subsidiary of vitafoam Nig. Ltd), for the formulation of ozone friendly systems in the manufacture of rigid polyurethane foam was completed in 2019.
“I am glad to inform Nigerians that I will be commissioning this particular project on Sept. 22.
“The plant which is one of the two such in Africa, the other being in South Africa, will supply ozone friendly substances to downstream end-users in the rigid polyurethane foam sector.
He said that the benefit of the project was to provide ozone friendly and low global warning potential blowing agent in the production of rigid foam.
The Minister said the ministry would be engaging in capacity building activities on maintenance and servicing of space cooling to avoid spread of COVID 19 while minimising impacts of energy efficiency and climate.
He said the ministry was currently preparing to commence the implementation of stage 2 of the Hydrochlorofurocarbons Phase Management Plan (HPMP).
The Minister added that the government of Italy has offered support as a bilateral partner.
Abubakar said that the stage 2 was built upon the achievement of the previous stage, aimed at achieving the complete phase out of HCFC-141b in foam related applications.
He explained that Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer was adopted in 1985 and entered into force in 1988.
The Minister added that the binding instrument to ensure compliance with the provisions of the convention was also adopted on Sept. 16, 1987, which became the Montreal Protocol on substances that deplete the ozone layer.
“Since then, Sept. 16 has been set aside to commemorate the international day for the preservation of the ozone layer by the global community, in line with the UN General Assembly Resolution,’’.
The minister, however, appreciated the efforts of UNDP, UNIDO, World Bank, UN Environment, the government of Italy and other relevant agencies for their support and cooperation in the implementation of projects.
Earlier, Mr Jean Bakole, Country Representative and Regional Director of UNIDO, said that the office would continue to support the government in promoting inclusive and sustainable industrialisation development.
Bakole, who was represented by Mr Oluyomi Banjo, an environment expert in the UNIDO, thanked the minister on the achievement of all the projects across the country.
Edited By: Idonije Obakhedo
Akran of Badagry, a symbol of tradition, culture — Lawmaker
The lawmaker representing Badagry Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives, Rep. Babatunde Hunpe, on Friday described the Akran of Badagry, Aholu Menu Toyi 1, as a symbol of tradition and culture.
In a congratulatory message on the monarch’s 84th birthday celebration, the federal lawmaker described Akran as a leader who had excelled in promoting unity and peace among the people.
“Akran is a symbol of tradition and culture, a perfect example of humidity, justice and equity.
“Sir, you stand tall today and always for your selfless, immeasurable contributions to the cause of humanity.
‘May the good Lord continue to grant you more wisdom and understanding as you celebrate many more years on the throne of your forefathers.
“Once again, we celebrate you on this joyous day of happiness and fulfillment,” Hunpe said.
The lawmaker prayed that the king’s years on earth be long and his wisdom ever increasing.
Edited By: Wale Ojetimi