Nigeria: Press highlights shortage of oxygen in public hospitals, others

APA – Lagos (Nigeria)

The alarm raised by the Nigerian Government over the shortage of oxygen in public hospitals as the second wave of COVID-19 takes foothold on Africa and the suspension of Value Added Tax on airfares and other air transport services are some of the leading stories in Nigerian newspapers on Thursday.

The Guardian reports that as the second wave of COVID-19 takes foothold on Africa through its newly mutated form, the Federal Government has been warned of the need to address the shortage of oxygen in public hospitals.

The Chief Medical Director (CMD) of Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Idi-Araba, Prof. Chris Bode, in an emergency press conference yesterday, warned of dire consequences, as “the mutated form is deadlier and more easily transmitted.”

The warning came as Nigeria’s major teaching hospitals — university of Nigeria Teaching Hospital (UNTH) Enugu and LUTH reported an acute shortage of Oxygen, an important material for keeping COVID-19 patients alive while on treatment.

The Guardian found that the oxygen plant at the UNTH, Ituku, Ozalla, Enugu, which malfunctioned recently had not been put back to use at press time.

Despite the spike in COVID-19 infections, patients and institutions do not go there to purchase oxygen, even when the hospital is the only test centre in the state. Oxygen is not currently sold at the UNTH, even as the hospital relies on other medical institutions for treatment of cases requiring oxygen.

The newspaper says that about three years after a similar order, the Federal Government has again suspended the deduction of 7.5 percent Value Added Tax (VAT) on airfares and other air transport services.

The latest suspension order, scheduled to take effect on January 1, 2021, is contained in the 2020 finance act recently signed by President Muhammadu Buhari.

A member of the bill drafting committee and West Africa Tax Lead, PwC Nigeria, Taiwo Oyedele, confirmed the development via a tweet yesterday.

The government had earlier suspended five percent charges on imported commercial aircraft and spare parts.

The Nigerian Government in June 2018 issued an executive order on the suspension of VAT in air transport. The Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) claimed to be unaware of such a directive, hence it was never implemented.

ThisDay reports that the Board of Access Bank Plc yesterday said its Zambian subsidiary, Access Bank (Zambia) Limited has completed the acquisition of Cavmont Bank Limited, following fulfilment of the key conditions precedent including regulatory approvals.

The merger of Cavmont into Access Bank Zambia will take place before the end of January and Access Bank Zambia will emerge as stronger, well-capitalised banking franchise with improved scale and capacity to deliver best-in-class financial services in the Zambian market.

“Growing our presence in Zambia remains a strategic priority for Access Bank and with the conclusion of the proposed merger with Cavmont, the bank looks forward to realising the synergies from the transaction and achieving further growth of the combined platform to the benefit of all stakeholders,” the bank said.

The Nation says that Nigeria’s Defence Minister Maj.-Gen. Bashir Magashi (retd.) has pleaded with the United States of America (USA) to fast-track the release of the combat action Super Tucano Aircraft procured by the Federal Government to boost military operations.

Magashi spoke yesterday when the Secretary of U.S. Air Force, Barbara Barrett, led a five-man delegation to the Ministry of Defence in Abuja.

Special Assistant to the Minister on Media and Publicity, Mohammad Abdulkadri, announced this in a statement.

The minister said the quick delivery of the aircraft would help the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) to demystify the criminal elements in their various hideouts in the forests.

He also said the Nigeria Defence Space Administration would be equipped technologically through a partnership with the U.S Space Force to enhance its capabilities to fight insecurity in the country.

Barrett said Nigeria was a destination of choice in Africa for partnership in harnessing space assets through the instrumentality of science and technology in national defence.

The Punch reports that the Nigerian Government plans to borrow unclaimed dividends and funds in dormant account balances of Deposit Money Banks.

It disclosed this under Part XII of the Companies and Allied Matters Act in the signed Finance Act 2020. Under Part XII of the Act, it was stated that dividends were special debts due to and recoverable by shareholders within 12 years, and actionable only when declared.

The Act stated that dividends that were unclaimed after 12 years should be included in the profits that should be distributed to the other shareholders of the company.

It noted that notwithstanding subsections (1) and (2), dividends of a public limited liability company quoted on the Nigerian Stock Exchange, which had remained unclaimed for a period of six years or more from the date of declaring the dividend shall be immediately transferred to the Unclaimed Funds Trust Fund.

The Nation says that oil marketers yesterday accused the Federal Government of paying lip service to the implementation of total deregulation of the downstream oil sector, especially as it affects domestic consumption of premium motor spirit (PMS) or petrol.

The government had, a long time ago, deregulated the market of diesel, aviation fuel and cooking fuel known as kerosene.

Acting under the aegis of Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN), the group faulted the meddlesomeness of the government at interfering with the pump price of the product, a situation it said is antithetical to the spirit of deregulation.

Its Chairman, Tunji Oyebanji, in a telephone conversation, said as the situation stood today, the Federal Government is still determining the pump price of the product in the market, arguing that the preference of the marketers is an authentic deregulation in which case, the market forces of demand and supply determine the prices that are agreeable to the final consumers.

Oyebanji, who is the CEO of 11 Plc, said what the Federal Government says is different from what it does. He said: “What the government says is that it wants deregulation. However, we from time to time we see situations that are confusing such as the announcement that the government and labour have agreed to a certain reduction in the pump price of petrol.


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