The Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, has called for the establishment of Aviation Development Fund so that the sector can be in consonance with international standards and best practises.
Sirika, who spoke at the public hearing on the six Aviation Executive Bills at the National Assembly on Tuesday, stated that the Aviation Development Fund being proposed with friendly interest rate would help the sector address its enormous financial challenges.
Some of the bills being considered are “A Bill for an Act to repeal the Civil Aviation Act, 2006 and to Enact the Civil Aviation Act for the Regulation of Civil Aviation in Nigeria and for Other Related Matters; “A Bill for an Act to repeal the Nigerian College of Aviation Technology Act and to Enact the Nigerian Aviation Technology Act to provide for its organisation, control and operation and for related Matters.
Also included is a Bill for an Act to repeal the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency Act for the purpose of providing effective Air Navigation.”
The Aviation Minister while responding to concern over inadequate safety equipment at the nation’s airport, passenger comfort and the perceived indifference of the regulatory agency, the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority, has however reiterated that the strategic sector was battling with paucity of fund.
Sirika said:” In the wisdom of the Ministry, we saw that we need huge fund to deal with capital intensive projects, including what Nigerian Airspace Management Agency, NAMA, Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria, (FAAN) will require.
“We need huge amount to put them in place. Of course, we need adequate security around the airport to deal with intruders.
“If we are able to find this money and deal with these items, what we will be addressing is the sustainability of the items.
“We need Aviation Development Fund, where these money can be kept, where we are cocksure that these fund with little interest can be tapped. All we would then need is to boost our Internally Generated Revenue, (IGR).
“This Fund will help us with passenger comfort, safety around the airport. This volume of capital can be deployed to ensure that every aviation equipment are available at our airports. ”
The Aviation Minister who re-echoed his concern over the failure of airline operators under the aegis of Airlines Operators of Nigeria, (AON) to remit their service charge, has recommended for an automated payment system that would take care of cold war over default in remittance by members of the AON.
In his presentation, Director General of NAMA, Fola Akinkuotu who expressed delight over the proposed amendment of the Bill establishing NAMA, said that it would boost the much-needed improvement, efficiency to improve safety in our airspace.
Also in his presentation, Aviation Security Consultant and Secretary General of Aviation Security Round-table Initiative, Group Captain John Ojikutu (retd) who called for a review of the sharing formula of the remittance to the NCAA, which he insisted was skewed against other stakeholders in the sector, asked, “What is NCAA doing to be taking 58 per cent?”
Power: FG Ready To Support DisCos’ Initiatives – Minister
Mr Saleh Mamman, Minister of Power, says the Federal Government is ready to support any initiative by electricity Distribution Companies (DisCos) aimed at addressing the challenges facing the power sector.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Mamman spoke at the inauguration of Eko Electric Distribution Company’s (EKEDC) Supervisory Control And Data Acquisition (SCADA) System on Thursday in Lagos.
Mamman said : “I felicitate with and commend the EKEDC’s Board of Directors and management for this milestone.
“SCADA is one of the most advanced technologies in the power distribution business globally and I am optimistic that this event will translate to improved service delivery within EKEDC’s network.
“The inauguration of this SCADA system will help EKEDC monitor and respond quicker to faults and reduce the outage durations which would improve quality of service delivery to customers.”
According to him, the SCADA project will help the DisCo meet its set objectives under the recently executed Service Level Agreements with the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN).
He said the project would provide access to real time data that enables distribution system operators to make informed decisions that improve reliability and availability, consistent with the targets of the Service Based Tariff (SBT) regime.
Mamman said the FG was working assiduously to address the challenges of the power sector through initiatives such as the National Mass Metering Programme, the Siemens AG Power Project and upgrade of power infrastructure across the country.
Earlier, Mr Adeoye Fadeyibi, Managing Director, EKEDC, thanked the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for its support to the Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry which paved way for the SCADA project.
Fadeyibi said : “SCADA is a centralised computer system which represents the evolution of our network operations from the present physical monitoring, remote coverage and relay of network information.
“By contrast, SCADA innovatively gathers real time information, identifies loopholes or breaches in the network and transfers this data back to a central site where the necessary analysis and control is carried out.
“The result of this analysis is then displayed in a logical and organised fashion. The project involves monitoring, control, fault tracking, data analysis and operations optimisation of our high-tension network.
“As part of Eko DisCo’s effort to improve operational efficiency, revenue generation and reduction of our Aggregate Technical Commercial and Collection Losses, we have implemented the SCADA project to automate our electric power distribution network across our franchise coverage area.”
He said the achievement by the DisCo showed that the FG’s Power Sector privatisation programme was a laudable decision, as it had completely transformed the sector and the Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry.
Emirates Offers Travellers $500,000 Multi-risk Travel Cover
Emirates airlines has announced that it will provide travellers a multi- risk travel cover worth $ 500 , 000 on top of its current COVID-19 cover.
The airline stated that the new multi- risk travel insurance and COVID-19 cover will automatically apply to all Emirates tickets purchased from December 1 , and extend to Emirates codeshare flights operated by partner airlines , as long as the ticket number starts with 176.
Emirates Chairman and Chief Executive , Ahmed bin Al Maktoum was quoted as saying , “ Emirates was the first airline to offer complimentary global COVID -19 cover for travellers back in July , and the response from our customers has been tremendously encouraging.
“ We have not rested on our laurels and instead continued to look at how we can offer our customers an even better proposition. We are very pleased to be able to now provide this new multi- risk travel insurance and COVID – 19 cover , which is another industry first, to all our customers.”
He added, “ We aim to give our customers even more confidence in making their travel plans this winter and moving into 2021 by the launch of this feature .”
Highlights of the coverage include out -of – country emergency medical expenses and evacuation up to $ 500 ,000 , valid for COVID -19 ( contracted during the trip ) and other medical emergencies while travelling abroad.
It also involves trip cancellation up to $ 7 ,500 for non- refundable costs if the traveller or a relative ( as defined in the policy ) is unable to travel because they are diagnosed with COVID- 19 before the scheduled trip departure date , or for other named reasons – similar to other comprehensive travel cover products.
FG Moves To Exempt Minimum Wage Earners From Income Tax
The Federal Government said that with the proposed Finance Bill 2020, minimum wage earners will be exempted from the Personal Income Tax in order to reduce the impact of inflation on Nigerians.
The government also said that the exemption and other items in the proposed Bill, alongside various economic policies and incentives would ensure the resilience of the Nigerian economy to exogenous shocks.
The assurance was given by President Muhammadu Buhari in his speech delivered virtually by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, on Monday at the opening session of the 26th Nigerian Economic Summit Group Conference themed: “Building Partnerships for Resilience”.
President Buhari said, “We are proposing in the new Finance Act that those who earn minimum wage should be exempted from paying income tax.
“These provisions which complement the tax breaks given to small businesses last year will not only further stimulate the economy but are also a fulfillment of promises made to take steps to help reduce the cost of transportation and the impact of inflation on ordinary Nigerians.”
Explaining the role of the private sector in building a resilient economy, President Buhari said “this government has always emphasised that the private sector has a key role to play in our efforts to build a more resilient and competitive economy as expressed in the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan.
“Private companies in design, construction, logistics, and finance are very much engaged in our infrastructural projects in power and rail as well as road and bridges and the installation of broadband infrastructure which is an essential requirement if Nigeria is to participate actively and benefit from the 4th Industrial Revolution.”
Continuing, the President added, “…it is clear that we must diversify the economy away from dependence on crude oil exports, speed up human capital development and improve on infrastructure. Above all, our economy must be made more resilient to exogenous shocks.
“It is important for the private sector to play a key role as we work together to identify national priorities and try to influence our future national trajectory.”
He gave insights into the collaboration between the CBN, the Nigerian Sovereign Wealth Investment Authority (NSIA), and other stakeholders in the creation of an Infrastructure Company (Infraco) Fund to address some of the nation’s critical infrastructure needs.
“It goes without saying that partnerships remain essential to attract the resources for building a solid national infrastructural base. I am pleased to inform you in this regard that we are working actively with the Central Bank, Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority and State Governments under the auspices of the National Economic Council to design and put in place a N15 trillion Infraco Fund which will be independently managed.
“The Infraco Fund will help to close the national infrastructural gap and provide a firm basis for increasing national economic productivity and growth,” the President explained.
Restating the commitment of his administration to sustaining collaborations with the private sector in addressing challenges, President Buhari said “if there is one single lesson to be learnt from the COVID-19 pandemic, it is that partnerships are essential for credible responses with lasting effects.”
According to him, “Our national journey to economic prosperity is a long one, so we must all certainly work together. As we saw, partnerships were essential when we were faced with the serious challenge of combatting COVID-19.
“We saw the key role that partnerships played in our national effort to combat the COVID-19 crisis. While Federal and State Governments worked together to manage the health response and ensure the establishment of isolation centres and availability of test kits, personal protective equipment, and medicines, the private sector also played an active role as individual entities, and also worked together in groups like the Coalition Against COVID-19.”
During the speech presentation, the Vice President responded to the issue of import duties raised by some speakers at the summit. The Vice President noted that “the point of the reduction in levies on motor vehicles, commercial vehicles for transportation is to reduce the cost of transportation by reducing the cost of vehicles.”
He explained that “with subsidy removal and the increase in fuel price and the pass-through to food prices, transportation costs had to be reduced. Now the automotive policy is directed at localising the production of vehicles. So the logic was to increase the duty and levies so that local production becomes more competitive. But the annual demand for vehicles is about 720, 000 vehicles per year. Actual local production is 14,000 vehicles a year.
“So, the problem is that at the current rate of production, we will not meet the serious national needs and this will just mean higher prices of vehicles and greater strain on other sectors of the economy that depend on transportation. But we are not giving up on the local auto industry.
“Two important things to note; the first is that we still have a relatively high duty at 35%, so there is still a disincentive for importation. Second is that we are promoting policy that the government must buy only locally manufactured cars.”
The opening session of the summit featured presentations by speakers including Chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum and Governor of Ekiti State, Mr Kayode Fayemi; Governor Aminu Bello Tambuwal of Sokoto State; Chief Executive Officer of MainOne, Ms Funke Opeke; and the Chief Executive Officer of GIG Group, Mr Chidi Ajaere; among others.