Press focuses on World Bank report on Nigerian children, COVID-19, others

The World Bank report that an estimated 4,000 Nigerian children lost one or both parents between March 2020 and July…

The World Bank report that an estimated 4,000 Nigerian children lost one or both parents between March 2020 and July 2021 due to COVID-19-associated death is one of the trending stories in Nigerian newspapers on Friday.The Vanguard reports that World Bank has said an estimated 4,000 Nigerian children lost one or both parents between March 2020 and July 2021 due to COVID-19-associated death.

This came as the Director-General of World Trade Orgaisation, WTO, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, dismissed the current inequity in vaccine distribution by developed countries as unacceptable.

The Bank stated this in its latest blog post co-authored by Laura Rawlings, lead economist at World Bank and Susan Hillis, a senior technical advisor, CDC COVID-19 International Task Force.

The report, titled, ‘’For every two COVID-19 deaths, one child loses a caregiver. We must do more to address the orphan crisis,” said the children left behind had been practically invisible.

According to the report, nearly two million children have been orphaned since the global pandemic started in 2020.

The report said: “By the end of June 2021, because of COVID-19, our estimates show that nearly two million children aged under 18 years have lost a mother, father, and/or grandparent caregiver who lived in their household.

“The economic, developmental, and psychological impacts on these children will reverberate across generations, a tragic legacy of COVID mortality. The COVID crisis will leave many unwanted legacies.”

The Guardian says that the Government’s failure to revive steel companies and equally develop indigenous petrochemical plants have stalled the local automotive development agenda, leading to loss of $10 billion yearly to large scale importation of fully-built motor vehicles and allied components used for local assembling.

For instance, steel accounts for about 60 per cent of raw materials used in automobiles, while petrochemicals are used for plastics and foam used in vehicle interiors.

Despite being an oil-producing nation, non-existent refining capacity continues to undermine the country’s capacity to provide feedstock for allied industries.

In the alternative, local manufacturers are heavily dependent on imported spare parts, put at 80 percent of the entire vehicle components and valued at over $10 billion (about N5 trillion) in capital flight yearly.

The Federal Government had introduced the National Automotive Industry Development Plan (NAIDP) in 2013 to revive local assembling and car manufacturing over a period of time. But more than seven years after, the local manufacturing dream remains aspirational.

The Punch reports that purchasing Managers Index revealed that the Nigerian economy contracted in May, according to data obtained from the Central Bank of Nigeria on Thursday.

The personal statements of some members of the Monetary Policy Committee indicated that the PMIs for the manufacturing and non-manufacturing sectors contracted in May.

“Manufacturing and non-manufacturing PMIs contracted in May 2021, despite growth of the manufacturing sector in Q1:2021, points to the possibility of the buildup in the inventory of finished goods, as a result of low purchasing power,” an MPC member, Folashodun Shonubi, said.

Shonubi, who is the deputy governor, operations directorate at CBN, Mr Folashodun Shonubi, advocated for a widening of the scope and coverage of the development finance interventions, targeted at household and small businesses to address the challenge of low aggregate demand and encourage further productivity.

He said, “The increasing need to refocus the economy and look beyond oil stares us in the face, as many jurisdictions scale down further investments involving use of fossil fuel. “Interestingly, the speed and source of our recovery underscored the fact that recent economic downturn was strictly on account of external shock and not due to a weakness in domestic macroeconomic fundamentals.”

The newspaper says that the Federal Government has stated that the COVID-19 pandemic has wiped off 20 percent from the $25bn annual diasporan remittances to Nigeria.

The government noted that various targeted programmes were being implemented to shore up the deficit. Disclosing this at a press briefing in Abuja on Thursday to announce the 2021 Diaspora Day celebration scheduled for July 25, the Chairman, Nigerians in Diaspora Commission, Abike Dabiri-Erewa, said the home remittances were over 83 percent of the national budget and 6.1 percent of the Gross Domestic Product.

The World Bank had said remittances by Nigerians in the Diaspora declined by 27.7 percent in 2020. It had also put remittances into the country in 2019 at $21.45bn.

She explained that the remittances serve as economic buffers and safety nets to families for school fees, feeding, hospital bills and many other social support systems.

According to her, 30 percent of the remittances are channeled into investments including real estate, commercial businesses and others.

Responding to a question on the impact of the pandemic on the remittances, Dabiri-Erewa stated, “The COVID-19 pandemic has reduced the annual Diasporan remittances by 20 percent but don’t forget that we are also coming up with different programmes.

ThisDay reports that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) yesterday disclosed that its much-anticipated digital currency will be launched on October 1.

CBN Director, IT Department, Mrs. Rakiya Mohammed, revealed this during a private webinar, explaining that the banking sector regulator had been conducting research towards the launch of digital currencies since 2017.

She added that the central bank may conduct a proof of concept before the end of the year. The move to adopt the electronic currency was first disclosed by the CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, during the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) in May.

He had said a digital currency will soon become a reality in the country, adding that the central bank had already set up its committee which was working on the concept.

The CBN governor had further restated the determination of the apex bank to drive the e-Naira project during the recent 306th Banker’s Committee meeting, pointing out that the process was ongoing.

The Leadership says that the Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) has advised the Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC) and other government bodies against alleged plans to impose a N100,000 levy on bakeries and other businesses.

Dr Al-Mujtaba Abubakar, ACCI president, in a statement issued yesterday in Abuja, called the attention of the Abuja area council to the current high inflation rate. Mr Ahmed Haruna, AMAC director of public health, has explained that the new levy was subject to negotiation with an approved partner of the council.

He said that the levy was for discharge of “harmful hazardous substances” into the air, water and land by the bakeries.

According to him, failure to comply with the directive is a “punishable offence”, and could lead to the arrest of the operator and suspension of the bakery’s activities.

The ACCI said that the imposition of such levies would further increase the cost of doing business in the territory.

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