Press focuses on government’s decision not to lock down economy due to rise in Delta variant, others

The decision of the Nigerian government not to lock down the economy due to the rise in the Delta variant…

The decision of the Nigerian government not to lock down the economy due to the rise in the Delta variant of COVID-19 in the country is one of the trending stories in Nigerian newspapers on Friday.The Vanguard reports that the Nigerian Government said yesterday that though the Delta variant of COVID-19 is on the rise in the country, it would not lock down the economy.

But experts said though they agreed with the government, they blamed it for failing to enforce COVID-19 protocols, which had led to rising cases.

This came as the Nigerian High Commission in London in the United Kingdom was yesterday shut after officials tested positive for COVID-19.

It will be recalled that the infection rate of the variant had spiked since it was first discovered in Nigeria in June, with daily infection rates as high as between 500 and 790 as at Wednesday, August 11, 2021.

But medical experts, including Nigeria Academy of Science, National President of the Association of Medical Laboratory Scientists, (AMLSN), Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN), Nigerian Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) said government should enforce the COVID protocols to stop the spread of the virus.

The spread of the virus is coming as at least 22 states of the federation are battling cholera, which has infected over 30,000 persons with more than 1,000 deaths.

The Punch says that some stakeholders including the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria and the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry on Thursday warned against the misuse of funds to be generated from tolls on selected federal roads.

The Federal Government is going to reintroduce toll plazas on the Lagos-Ibadan, Abuja-Lokoja, Enugu-Port Harcourt dual carriageways and on more than 10 other federal roads across the country, it was learnt on Thursday.

On Wednesday, the Federal Executive Council approved the reintroduction of toll collections on selected dual carriageways across the country.

The Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, who disclosed the approval, explained that Nigerians would pay N200 or N500 at the toll stations depending on the particular vehicle, once the exercise begins.

One of our correspondents gathered on Thursday that all the 12 federal roads currently up for concession under the Highway Development and Management Initiative of the Federal Government would be tolled.

The HDMI was created by the Federal Ministry of Work and Housing to develop and manage the country’s federal road network through private sector investment, maximising the use of assets along the right of way.

The newspaper reports that the Nigerian Government has commenced the implementation of new rates for vehicle number plates and driving licence across the country.

According to the Joint Tax Board, Nigerians will now pay N18,750 for standard private and commercial number plates against the old rate of N12,500. Fancy number plate which was N80,000 is now N200,000; motorcycle number plate is N5,000 from N3,000 while articulated number plates (three plates) attract N30,000 from N20,000.

For these rates, the minimum increase is 50 per cent. Out of series number plate has also been revised to N50,000 from N40,000 while government fancy number plate is N20,000 against the former N15,000 rate.

Driving licence (three years) was raised to N10,000 from N6,000, excluding bank charges; licence for five years is N15,000 from N10,000 while motorcycle/tricycle driving licence (three years) goes for N5,000 from N3,000 while the one for five years attracts N8,000 from N5,000.

The decision was taken at the 147th meeting of the JTB, which held in Kaduna on March 25. A letter by the JTB titled ‘Implementation of the revised rates for vehicles number plates and driver’s licence in Nigeria’, dated July 30, 2021 and signed by the board secretary, Obomeghfe Nana-Aisha, directed various federal and state agencies to commence the implementation of the rates.

The Sun says that to ensure fair distribution of the nation’s scarce foreign exchange (forex) to genuine end-users, the Central of Nigeria-led Bankers Committee yesterday, threatened severe sanctions for saboteurs of the new foreign exchange policy of the apex bank.

Speaking at a media briefing after its meeting Thursday, the Group Managing Director of GTCO, Mr Segun Agbaje, via Zoom, alongside Mr Herbert Wigwe GMD of Access Bank, Mrs Ireti Samuel-Ogbu of Citibank, Mrs Yemisi Edun, FCMB , Mrs Tomi Somefun , Unity Bank and Mr Wole Adeniyi, the managing director of Stanbic IBTC as well as the Director of Banking Supervision of the CBN, Mr Haruna Mustafa, warned that the CBN will not be lenient on individuals or banks caught engaging in or encouraging fraudulent transactions as the forex policy commences digital transactions.

For fraudulent individuals, “the likely punishment is that your account will be PNDed. And if you understand that, you will not be able to do anything in the banking system”, he stated. As for what will happen after it becomes fully digitised, he said.

ThisDay reports that the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, yesterday disclosed that a case study has revealed that N1.8 trillion worth of used vehicles were imported into the country between October, 2018 and September, 2019.

The minister revealed that Nigeria was the hub of stolen as the Vehicle Identification Number (VIM) of vehicles in the country were usually unregistered, hence automobiles within the shores of Nigeria cannot be traced.

Ahmed, who spoke in Abuja, yesterday, at a seminar on the National Vehicle Registry Policy of the federal government, said it was in a bid to address these challenges and more that her ministry launched the National Vehicle Registry (VREG).

Since her ministry is saddled with the responsibility of managing the nation’s finances and revenue streams, Ahmed stated that in the midst of dwindling revenue orchestrated by falling oil prices, a mono-economy further worsened by revenue leakages from unplugged loopholes such as Customs duty payment evasion, it became imperative that the government be responsive to these issues.

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