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Business News

Okonjo-Iweala pledges to ease restrictions on Covid-19 vaccine supplies

The WTO DG has pledged to help ease trade restrictions on Covid-19 vaccine supplies.

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Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala disclosed that part of the role she will play as the World Trade Organisation boss is to reduce export restrictions to make vaccine acquisition and production more inclusive.

The WTO DG and Nigeria’s former Finance Minister disclosed this during a meeting with the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 in the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Boss Mustapha on Tuesday in Abuja.

“The main reason we are here is really to see how the WTO can support Nigeria, in improving its economy. ‘We are in a pandemic and of course, you cannot advance the economy until you take care of the health aspects,” she said.

READ: Okonjo-Iweala will validate the global mandate of repositioning and strengthening the WTO – Buhari

She said the WTO came to discuss with the Presidential Task Force on what is happening in relation to the arrival of the COVID vaccines, how it is being distributed, and the challenges.

“Part of the challenges we’ve had in this pandemic is the fact that some of our member countries put export restrictions on the movement of medical supplies, equipment, and even supplies to make vaccines.

“So one of the things that WTO can do is to work with members to reduce these export restrictions. If you take vaccines, for instance, I’ll just give you one number from the manufacturer of Pfizer, the Pfizer BioTech vaccine.

READ: Covid-19: Nigeria’s COVAX supplies on its way soon – Okonjo-Iweala

”We had a meeting with the manufacturers a couple of days ago in Geneva and their representative said that it takes 280 components to manufacture their vaccine. And it’s in a supply chain that involves 19 countries.

”So in the supply chains, so many of our products, medical products are global. And so when a country puts export restrictions on one, it means that you slow the production everywhere, that’s where the WTO comes in,” she said.

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Mustapha disclosed that “developing economies stand to benefit if they learn from the lessons of this adverse impacts and look at their systems, their governance system, their economic foundations. He urged that this is an opportunity to improve economic inclusion to develop agendas and policies.”

READ: What Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala plans to do as DG of WTO

In case you missed it

  • Recall Nairametrics reported Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is visiting Nigeria for a week to assist entrepreneurs and improve the economy.
  • Nairametrics reported yesterday that Okonjo-Iweala stated Nigeria should start looking at establishing the capacity for manufacturing vaccines locally.
  • She also added that her role at the World Trade Organisation would be used to support women entrepreneurs, and MSMEs, and all the marginalized and excluded.

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Business News

ABCON asks CBN to check impact of cryptocurrencies on diaspora remittances

The association also noted that the apex bank needs to address other issues driving the patronage of cryptocurrency exchanges for remittance transfers.

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ABCON disagrees with those calling for naira devaluation

The Association of Bureau De Change Operators of Nigeria (ABCON) has asked the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to introduce measures that will neutralize the positive effects of cryptocurrencies as a channel for diaspora remittances.

This is to redirect diaspora remittances away from cryptocurrency exchanges to official channels and also protect such against potential disruptions.

This call was made by ABCON during its Quarterly Economic Review for the first quarter of 2021 where it commended the CBN for the N5/$ rebate scheme introduced to encourage diaspora Nigerians to use official channels to remit their funds.

However, the association noted that the apex bank needs to address other issues driving the patronage of cryptocurrency exchanges for remittance transfers.

What ABCON is saying in their statement

The association in its statement said, “It is noteworthy that public acceptability for cryptocurrency exchanges are rising which could be quite accountable for the wide drop in diaspora inflows to Nigeria. Insecurity in the country is giving it greater prominence as investors and citizens are finding Cryptocurrency a safe haven for their wealth in case of any eventuality.

In most Emerging Markets Bitcoin transfers surged last year, as the pandemic exposed the cheaper and more efficient digital remittance services. Migrants sending money across borders to their families prefer the minimal transaction costs of cryptocurrency exchanges against the exorbitant costs of traditional money transfer companies like Western Union.”

According to ABCON, “Cryptocurrency transactions are faster than the conventional transfers, which require passing through banks reliant SWIFT, the sluggish, half-century-old interbank messaging system that handles cross-border payments.

These exchanges override the political complications of official channels. The global reach of cryptocurrencies avoids the inflation risk inherent to official currencies, especially in politically unstable countries reliant on fickle foreign investors.

Thus, while we commend the efforts of CBN in introducing the package of Five Naira for One Dollar transfer, it can be seen from the analysis above that the challenges exceed just non-payment of foreign currency by the IMTCs and the exchange rate. Strategies that satisfy the most sensitive of these advantages of Cryptocurrency exchanges must be introduced to redirect flows to the official channel.”

ABCON also expressed concerns over the country’s huge unemployment rate, urging the government to apply radical approaches with the use of both conventional and unconventional economic and political tools to redress the trend.

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What you should know

  • It can be recalled that the apex bank had about 2 months ago, warned the Deposit Money Banks, Non-Financial Institutions and other Financial Institutions against doing business in crypto and other digital assets.
  • The CBN directed financial institutions to immediately close the accounts of persons or entities transacting in or operating cryptocurrency exchanges, warning of severe regulatory sanctions in the event of any breach of the directive.
  • The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) had a few days ago, revealed that it is working with the CBN for a better understanding and regulation of cryptocurrencies in the country.

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Companies

Unilever earmarks N62 million as remuneration to its Non-Executive Directors in 2021

Unilever Nigeria has fixed its remuneration to the Non-executive Directors of the company in 2021 at N62 million.

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Unilever Overseas increases stake in Unilever Nigeria Plc

One of Nigeria’s leading FMCG companies, Unilever Nigeria Plc, is set to pay out a total of N62 million as remuneration to its Non-Executive Directors for the year ended December 31, 2021.

This disclosure was made by the leading consumer goods company as one of the key resolutions that would be considered and passed at the Company’s ninety-sixth (96th) Annual General Meeting, which will hold on Thursday 6 May 2021 at 10.00 am.

The famed manufacturer of Sunlight detergent also revealed that in addition to the N62 million remuneration, sitting allowances will be paid at standard agreed rates for each meeting attended and the Chairman of the company will be entitled to a vehicle allowance of N12 million gross per annum.

Short-term benefits paid by Unilever in 2020 to its Directors

Despite the fact that Unilever Nigeria Plc has not paid its shareholders dividends for about two years now, the FMCG company paid out short-term benefits of about N511 million and N73 million to its Executive and Non-Executive Directors in 2020 respectively, compared to a sum of N590 million and N59 million it paid out in 2019 respectively. The members of the leadership team, excluding the Executive Directors of the company, were paid a total of N867 million short term benefits in 2020, down from the N1.04 billion they received in 2019.

On the flip side, the total payout as wages and salaries to the company’s employee in 2020 was N5.05 billion, this is down from the N5.99 billion which the company paid out in 2019.

In case you missed it

According to a recent result by Unilever Nigeria Plc, the company made a loss of about N492 million in the first quarter of 2021. This figure is 144.1% lower when compared to the profit of N1.114 billion made by the company in the corresponding quarter of 2020.

Unilever’s revenue however surged by 45.7% during the quarter. However, the growth in the cost of sales, and the huge 63.3% increase in marketing and administrative expenses pressured the profits down to a loss of N492 million in the first quarter of 2021.

What you should know

  • Shares of Unilever Nigeria Plc are currently valued at N12.95 per share, placing the YTD loss in the shares of the company at -6.83%.
  • Unilever Nigeria Plc is the sixth most valuable consumer goods company listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange, with a robust market valuation put at N74.4 billion, higher than Guinness Nigeria Plc, NASCON Allied Industries Plc and PZ Cussons.
  • The shares of the top FMCG brand is trading 23.8% lower than its 52-week high price of N17, and 23.3% higher than its 52 week low of N10.5.

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