Facebook has said it would support media houses with $100 million investment as the pains of Coronavirus pandemic bite harder.
The fund, according to the social media firm, is meant for media firms that the pandemic is affecting their finances, despite the growing views in the first quarter of 2020.
It is expected to be an intervention for news reportage and decline in ad revenues.
The tech giant said the $100 million would be divided into two. “$25 million in emergency grant funding for local news through the Facebook Journalism Project, and $75 million in additional marketing spend to move money over to news organizations around the world.”
Facebook said journalists were being affected financially by the COVID-19 pandemic, so with the COVID-19 Community Network grant program, journalists will continue covering “important stories”.
But the first round of the grant went to 50 local newsrooms in the US and Canada.
How the fund is being utilised: With the Facebook grant, local media houses with paywall (fee) on their Coronavirus-related stories will begin to offer the COVID-19 contents for free in order to spread awareness of the virus.
Also, reporters of the funded local media will be assisted with financial aid to help them travel and engage in remote work while covering rural areas within states.
“We’re building on this work and will direct a portion of these funds to publishers most in need in the hardest-hit countries,” Facebook said in a post.
The company added that, “This commitment builds upon $300 million we’ve committed already to serving journalists around the world through diverse and inclusive news programs and partnerships, including Report for America, the Pulitzer Center, the Community News Project and the Facebook Journalism Project’s Local News Accelerator training program.
“If people needed more proof that local journalism is a vital public service, they’re getting it now. And while almost all businesses are facing adverse financial effects from this crisis, we recognize we’re in a more privileged position than most, and we want to help.”
UK moves to seize $39 million from Ibori’s lawyer over role in former Governor’s case
The lawyer who was convicted alongside Ibori may lose his financial asset to the British government.
British prosecutors have moved to seize about $39.3 million (30.8 million pounds) from a London lawyer, who helped former Delta State Governor, James Ibori, in looting and laundering illegal funds from the oil-rich state.
The British lawyer, Bhadresh Gohil, was sentenced to 10 years in prison, following his conviction in 2010 on 13 counts of money-laundering, and other offenses, over his role in the fraud and money laundering case of James Ibori, who was the former governor of Delta State, from 1999 to 2007.
It can be recalled that the former Delta State Governor, James Ibori, was extradited to the United Kingdom from the United Arab Emirates in 2011, and subsequently got convicted on 10 counts of fraud and money laundering. He was handed a 13-year jail term.
Gohil, who was then a partner at a firm in the London district of Mayfair, helped Ibori siphon these stolen funds, through shell companies and offshore accounts. He bought assets such as an English country house and a $20 million private jet. However, the police authorities caught up with the men before the jet was delivered.
The lawyer was also said to have masterminded a fraud, in which $37 million in fake consultancy fees was stolen from two Nigerian states, in connection with the sale of their stakes in a telecoms company in the country.
The outcome of the case was hailed in Britain and described as a victory for the fight against corruption, while also pledging to return stolen funds to the Nigerian government.
However, the confiscation proceedings against the two culprits have dragged on for almost 10 years, and repeatedly delayed by appeals and complications.
In Ibori’s case, the hearing took place at London’s Southwark Crown Court in January, and prosecutors asked the court to make a confiscation order of 117.7 million pounds against Ibori. The judge has yet to hand down his decision.
A hearing on Gohil’s case is ongoing at the same court. Lead prosecution counsel, Jonathan Kinnear, on Thursday began setting out the details of what he said was Gohil’s criminal benefit. He will have a chance later in the hearing to call witnesses, and give evidence to dispute the prosecution case.
Trade remedies needed for African free trade implementation – Tola Onayemi
Onayemi said Trade remedies would protect the market from getting flooded by subsidized goods of foreign companies.
Trade remedies to protect Nigerian producers from unfair and injurious trade practices from foreign companies that harm domestic industries are key factors for the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
This was disclosed by Tola Onayemi, Head, Trade Remedies Unit National office for Trade Negotiations on Thursday at the AfCFTA Sensitization Seminar organized by the National Action Committee of the implementation of the agreement.
Mr. Onayemi said Trade remedies would protect the market from getting flooded by subsidized goods of foreign companies which would be sold below competitive prices for Nigerian producers. “Trade remedies is not protectionism, it’s protection against unfair trade practices,” he said.
He added that the remedies are policy tools used by governments to take remedial action against unfair trade practices by companies and countries which cause injury to domestic industries, after a rules-based investigation.
Onayemi cited WTO and AfCFTA Trade laws which make provisions for trade remedies in trade agreements. He cited Article 17,18,19 and 20 AfCFTA Protocol on Trade in Goods and Annex 9 of the AfCFTA Protocol on Trade in Goods and the CFTA Guidelines implementation of Trade Remedies in accordance with the relevant WTO agreement. He said the AfCFTA and WTO laws protect against Anti-dumping, which are only applied after a careful analysis has been taken by the host nation.
Before an application of a trade remedy policy tool can be investigated, there must be an existing legislation/regulation and an Investigating authority recognized by international organizations as the body responsible to investigate and recommend appropriate remedies for each unfair practice. If the investigation has been carried out, and there is proof of government subsidies on the product entering the host market, the difference in price is added at the border, before the goods enter the market.
He added that the key features of any Trade Remedy Mechanism include:
- Technical and Investigation based
- Independent of any Policy-making Arm
- Full Notification and Disclosures ( to WTO/AfCFTA, all Importers, Exporters, Home Countries of investigated importer).
On Nigeria’s Trade Remedy implementation policies, Onayemi mentioned a 3-month On-The-Job-Training for Country Trade Remedy experts held from April-June 2018, the Set-up and meetings of EMT committee on Trade Remedies in 2018, also in 2018 Approval of Nigerian Trade Remedies Infrastructure by EMT and Basic technology frameworks for Trade Remedies Investigation in December 2019.
Outstanding tasks include the Signing and Publication of Legal Framework of Nigerian trade remedies and the Deployment and launch of Trade Remedies Electronic Platform with integration by the Nigerian Customs, NBS and Finance.
Trade facilitations, key to AfCFTA implementation – Customs
The Customs boss said Nigerian exports have suffered setbacks relating to Rule of Origin issues.
Nigerian customs says the facilitation of trade requirements ranging from Pre-Arrival processes to Electronic Payments of duties would be important for the AfCFTA implementation for Nigeria.
This was disclosed by Abdullahi Babani of the Nigerian Customs Service represented by HJ Swomen (Comptroller Import and Export) on Thursday at the AfCFTA Sensitization Seminar organized by the National Action Committee of the implementation of the agreement.
Mr Swomen said the Customs is working to integrate systems with West African neighbours to prevent dumping of goods through Rules of Origin measures.
“Liberalization of 90% of tariff lines will affect customs revenues. About 85% of import come from outside Africa, leaving about 15% from the continent, but the agreement is an opportunity for Nigeria to boost exports and production,” he said.
He added that Nigerian exports have suffered setbacks relating to Rule of Origin issues and urged for a mutual exchange of data between Customs administrations in the continent.
He said that the Nigerian Customs has already begun cooperating with its counterparts like the ECOWAS Common External Tariff (CET) and the Joint Committee on Commerce Agreement signed with Benin Republic in 2004.
However, challenges still exist in the form of engagements with the Beninese Customs on Cross Border Trade Facilitations including joint border posts, mutual escort of transit goods and the interconnection of systems of both parties, which is on-going.
On requirements need for Trade facilitation he said the Customs Service has upgraded its Pre-Arrival processing, Electronic Payment, Expedited release of perishable goods, provisional release of relief materials and Dispute resolution mechanisms.