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World Bank approves $2.185b to fight poverty, corruption in Nigeria

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THE World Bank has approved $2.185 billion to support six projects that it says would boost the country’s development.

According to a statement, the bank said the projects would include improving immunisation, enabling a stronger business environment for the private sector, expanding the digital economy to promote job creation, and increasing public and private sector capacity on governance and social and environmental safeguards.

The global bank also approved Nigeria’s digital identity ecosystem project along with five others, aimed at assisting the country to empower citizens, especially marginalised groups, to access welfare-enhancing services. The national digital identity ecosystem project is focused on enhancing the national Identity system’s legal and technical safeguards to protect personal data and privacy.

A statement by the bank explained that the project “will support the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) to increase the number of persons who have a national identification number (NIN) reaching about 150 million in the next couple of years.

“This will enable people in Nigeria, especially marginalised groups, to access welfare-enhancing services. The project will also enhance the ID system’s legal and technical safeguards to protect personal data and privacy.

“This is financed through an International Development Association (IDA) credit of $115 million and co-financing of $100 million from the French Agency for Development and $215 million from the European Investment Bank.”

Its President, David Malpass, said the country is critical to the bank’s poverty eradication programme.

”Nigeria is central to the World Bank Group’s mission of tackling extreme poverty. The World Bank is carefully targeting its support on high impact projects as the country works to tackle corruption and lift 100 million of its people out of poverty,” he said.

Shubham Chaudhuri, World Bank Country director for Nigeria, said the projects will deliver better services to Nigerians in the area of health, infrastructure, among others.

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Lagos set to restart economy with now ‘Register-to-open’ guidelines

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‘We’ve Sacrificed Our IGR To Prevent Job Loss’ – Sanwo-Olu
 
Lagos State Government has set the process of re-opening its economy in motion, with the rollout of Register-to-Open guidelines. Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu said the State Government daily battles the reality of balancing reactivation of economic activities and the continuation of the State’s response to contain the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
 
The Governor said the battle to stop the ravaging virus in Lagos had subjected the State to a delicate situation of having to manage hunger resulting from weeks of slowdown in economic activities and also the movement of consumer goods to keep the economy afloat.
 
He said the four-page Register-to-Open guidelines were the major part of the measures initiated to achieve phased re-opening of the State economy, adding that Government had offered incentives that will affect its Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) in order to prevent job loss in critical industries that provide employment for a large number of labour.
 
Sanwo-Olu disclosed this development while speaking at a webinar organised by First Securities Discount House (FSDH) Group, with the theme: “A Global Pandemic: Local Realities and Peculiarities – A View from the Frontlines”. The Governor was a panelist in the online discussion that also featured Governors of Kaduna and Edo states, Mallam Nasir el-Rufa’i and Godwin Obaseki.
 
The webinar had about 1,200 people who participated from across the globe. 
 
Sanwo-Olu said the State Government remained committed to tackling COVID-19 and breaking the cycle of its transmission, but added that there was need to address hunger and job loss that could arise from prolonged lockdown of the economy.
 
He said: “We have been caught in a very delicate situation between managing COVID-19 on one hand and managing hunger and sustaining an economy that is not only depended on commercial activities in Lagos alone, but also other States across the federation. We have had weeks of engagement with players in fast-moving consumer goods sector and part of the measures we are taking is that, we are giving them additional clearance to work for longer hours.
 
“Besides, we initiated what we called Register-to-Open, which is a thorough guideline to help the residents ahead of the full re-opening. Some of the things we will be seeing in the four-page guideline is, how we want to manage space at various places of business and what numbers of personnel and clients we expect at a given period, which must be based on the sizes of the facilities. As we prepared for this phased re-opening, we are giving priority to sectors that have higher number of labour.”
 
The Governor, however, maintained that the re-opening would not be done in haste, but said construction and manufacturing sectors would be accorded high priority for full re-opening, given the large number of employment they generate. He added that entertainment, hospitality and aviation industries would be considered in the second phase of intervention.
 
Sanwo-Olu said the weeks of inertia in the economy also had significant impact on Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), stressing that millions of small-scale businesses operating in the State could completely fold up if the economy is not fully reactivated. 
 
In addition to granting three-month moratorium to MSMEs that applied for loan facilities at the Lagos State Employment Trust Funds (LSETF), Sanwo-Olu said the State Government had started to compile data of registered MSMEs in the State for operational support that would cushion the effect of economic slowdown on their businesses.
 
He said: “The other part of our intervention is our conversation with big corporations in various sectors on the requirements they may want from us to ensure that they do not retrench their staff in this emergency period. This conversation is very important. The companies have given us a retinue of incentives they want us to give and these are the things that will affect the State’s Internally Generated Revenue (IGR). We are willing to make this sacrifice to prevent loss of livelihood for millions of our citizens.” 
 
In the course of the lockdown, Sanwo-Olu said the State Government provided palliatives for over 800,000 households, pointing out that there was need to bring succour to residents that live on daily wage. 
 
The Governor said people must trust the Government on the management of the coronavirus and data being churned out.
 
Answering a question on the biggest consequence which COVID-19 had on State economy, Sanwo-Olu said: “Lagos has been affected both on the healthcare and economy sides. We have had to take a deep dive into our budget and have about 25 per cent cut, which is not very good number for us. This is the time we need to continue to spend to stave off pressure on our citizens. However, we need to be prudent at this time and cut unimportant expenditures. Salary is one thing we cannot even touch.
 
“In terms of direct economy, entertainment industry, hospitality, land transportation and aviation businesses have been affected significantly. These sectors are large employers of labour. We are thinking through on how to reset these sectors in a graduated manner and bring back the economy on the full swing.”

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See why twitter may consider permanent work-from-home model for employees

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The microblogging site, Twitter, announced on Tuesday that it could allow employees to continue to work from home indefinitely even after the end of the coronavirus crisis.

Twitter said it is one of the first companies to actualize the stay-at-home model toward the beginning of March and the choice to permit workers to proceed with telecommute much after the COVID-19 pandemic follows the way that its work-from-home measures during the lockdown had been a triumph.

Human resource personnel for the tech giant, Jennifer Christie, disclosed this in a Twitter blog post.

She said if employees were in a position to work from home and they wanted to continue to do so forever, Twitter would make it possible.

Twitter’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Jack Dorsey, also confirmed this in an email sent to the employees, on Tuesday.

“Twitter was one of the first companies to go to a work from home model in the face of COVID-19, but we don’t anticipate being one of the first to return to offices.

“We were uniquely positioned to respond quickly and allow folks to work from home given our emphasis on decentralization and supporting a distributed workforce capable of working from anywhere.

“The past few months have proven we can make that work. So if our employees are in a role and situation that enables them to work from home and they want to continue to do so forever, we will make that happen,” Christie’s posted.

She also noted that in the next few months, opening offices will be the decision of the tech company, when and if the employees come back, will also be theirs.

“With very few exceptions, offices won’t open before September. When we do decide to open offices, it also won’t be a snap back to the way it was before. It will be careful, intentional, office by office and gradual.

“There will also be no business travel before September, with very few exceptions, and no in-person company events for the rest of 2020. We will assess 2021 events later this year,” Christie added.

According to media reports, several other tech companies, including Google, Microsoft, and Amazon, have adopted the work from home model.
The company said offices would remain closed until at least September, “with very few exceptions.”

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CBN removes temporary suspension On Cheques Clearing

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The Central Bank of Nigeria(CBN) on Monday lifted the suspension placed on cheque clearing by the Deposit Money Banks.

This was disclosed in a circular to all the DMBs and Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System issued on Monday, titled, ‘Temporary suspension of cheque clearing in the Nigerian clearing system’, which was signed by its Director, Banking Services Department, Sam Okojere.

The circular in part read, “In furtherance of its efforts in the development of a safe and efficient payment system in Nigeria, the bank in collaboration with relevant stakeholders has reviewed the need for cheque clearing to accommodate users of cheque as one of the payment instruments in Nigeria, despite the lockdown of some states and the Federal Capital Territory.

“In view of this development, the bank hereby lifts the temporary suspension of cheque clearing in Nigeria. Consequently, cheque instruments will be allowed to pass through the clearing system, with effect from April 28, 2020.”

The CBN had earlier suspended the clearing of cheque instruments in the Nigerian clearing system with effect from March 31, due to the lockdown mandated by the Federal Government in Lagos, Ogun and the Federal Capital Territory.

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