By Kestér Kenn Klomegâh
The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared monkeypox a new global health emergency after 20,000 cases were reported in 77 countries. Some 75 people have died in the 11 African countries where the disease was recorded, according to the latest reports in late July. It said monkeypox is an “extraordinary” situation that qualifies as a global health emergency.
Despite these few deaths last month and signs that it would spread further, Africa is fighting monkeypox without vaccine the same as it has been with Covid-19. A surge in monkeypox infections has particularly been reported since early May outside the West and Central African countries where the disease has long been endemic.
The vast majority of deaths due to monkeypox have been registered on the African continent. Africa remains the only part of the world with no doses of the vaccine, according to the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“Let us get vaccines onto the continent,” acting head of the African Centre for Disease Control, ACDC, Ahmed Ogwell, said in a weekly media briefing pointing to another instance of 1.3 billion people on the continent without access to a vaccine, as in the Covid-19 pandemic.
Reports said that monkeypox has been established in parts of central and west Africa for decades, but it was not known to spark large outbreaks beyond the continent or to spread widely among people until May when authorities detected dozens of epidemics in Europe, North America and elsewhere.
Ogwell said the Africa CDC has engaged with international partners in attempts to obtain vaccines, and while he said “good news” is expected in the coming days, “we cannot be able to give you a timeline.”
Even doses of the smallpox vaccine, which has shown effectiveness against monkeypox, are not available in Africa, Ogwell said. “The solutions need to be global in nature,” he said, in a warning to the international community. “If we’re not safe, the rest of the world is not safe.”
The Covid-19 pandemic and the global hoarding of vaccine doses were a jolt to African leaders, who quickly joined together in an unprecedented effort to obtain doses and establish the production of more vaccines on the continent.
WHO’s Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said there were about 16 million doses of approved vaccine available, but only in bulk, so it would take several months to get them into vials. His organization is currently urging countries with stockpiles to share vaccines while supply is constrained. It, however, estimates that between 5 million and 10 million doses of vaccine will be needed to protect all high-risk groups.
It has said it is creating a vaccine-sharing mechanism for protection against monkeypox, but the organization has released few details, so there’s no guarantee that African countries will get priority. No countries have yet agreed to share any vaccines with the health organization.
WHO, however, warned against discrimination. “A failure to act will have grave consequences for global health,” Lawrence Gostin, the director of the WHO Collaborating Center on National and Global Health Law, said on Twitter.
Health officials have emphasized that monkeypox can infect anyone in close contact with a patient or their contaminated clothing or bedsheets. Researchers are still exploring how it spreads but believe it’s mainly through close, skin-to-skin contact and through contact with bedding and clothing that touched an infected person’s rash or body fluids.
Another report also pointed to the fact that monkeypox has been a globally neglected public health problem in parts of Africa for decades, but cases began to be reported outside countries where it is endemic in May. It generally causes mild to moderate symptoms, including fever, fatigue and painful skin lesions that resolve within a few weeks.
In Africa, monkeypox mainly spreads to people by infected wild animals like rodents in limited outbreaks that typically have not crossed borders. In Europe, North America and elsewhere, however, monkeypox is spreading among people with no links to animals or recent travel to Africa. In the U.S. and Europe, the vast majority of infections have happened in men who have sex with men, though health officials have stressed that anyone can contract the virus.
FG Raises N130bn from Sukuk Sales for Road Infrastructure
By Aduragbemi Omiyale
A total of N130 billion has been raised from the sale of Sukuk for the construction and rehabilitation of road infrastructure across the country.
Business Post reports that on November 21, 2022, the Debt Management Office (DMO) opened for subscription N100 billion Sovereign Al ’Ijarah Sukuk.
However, because of the strong appetite shown by the diverse investors, the size of the offer was increased to N130 billion.
According to a statement issued by the DMO, the exercise recorded over 165 per cent subscription level.
The agency described this as “evidence of investors’ confidence in the use and impact of Sukuk in the construction and rehabilitation of road infrastructure across the country.”
It stated that offers were received for the debt instrument, sold at a rental rate of 15.64 per cent per annum, from retail investors, banks, pension fund administrators, assets/fund managers, insurances companies, ethical funds, Takaful operators/non-interest banks, stockbrokers, government agencies, high net worth individuals, trustees and unit trusts.
The DMO assured subscribers of the Sukuk that “the proceeds of the 2022 Sovereign Sukuk, like the previous Sukuk issue proceeds, will be used solely for the construction and rehabilitation of key road projects through the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing and the Federal Capital Territory Administration.”
It thanked the investors for supporting the federal government’s infrastructure development efforts through Sukuk financing.
“The strong participation of retail investors, ethical funds and non-interest financial institutions in this Sukuk offering attest to the fact that the Government’s objective of promoting financial inclusion through admitting more retail investors and ethical funds into the financial system is being achieved,” it stated.
The debt office promised to “work to sustain the laudable achievements recorded so far in the use of Sukuk issue proceeds for the construction and rehabilitation of Nigerian roads, and thereby, continue to enhance ease of commuting and doing business, safety on our roads, job creation, economic growth, and prosperity of our nation.”
Nigeria Sells Retail Bonds for 13.26% at N1,000 Per Unit
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
The Debt Management Office (DMO) has commenced the sale of the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) savings bonds for December 2022.
The retail bonds are sold monthly to low-income earners and other interested investors as a way to raise funds from the capital market to finance budget deficits.
For this month’s sale, the debt office is offering the papers in the usual 2-year tenor and 3-year tenor at a coupon rate of 12.255 per cent and 13,255 per cent per annum, respectively.
Subscriptions for the notes started on Monday, December 5, 2022, and will close on Friday, December 9, 2022, according to details of the exercise released by the DMO.
The interest would be paid to subscribers quarterly, i.e., March 14, June 14, September 14, and December 14, while the bullet repayment would be made at the maturity date.
The savings bond is sold at N1,000 per unit, and investors are required to purchase at least N5,000 and a maximum of N50 million.
Intending investors would be expected to contact their brokerage companies on how to purchase the debt instrument.
The retail bonds are backed by the full faith and credit of the Nigerian government and are charged upon the general assets of the country.
The investment tool qualifies as a security in which trustees can invest under the Trustee Investment Act.
It is also a liquid asset for liquidity ratio calculation for banks and qualifies as government securities within the meaning of the Company Income Tax Act (CITA) and Personal Income Tax Act (PITA) for tax exemption for pension funds, amongst other investors.
New Cash Withdrawal Limits Will Expose Tax Evaders—Oyedele
By Adedapo Adesanya
The Fiscal Policy Partner and African Tax Leader at one of the country’s leading consultancy companies, PwC, Mr Taiwo Oyedele, has said the new cash withdrawal limits introduced by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) would expose tax evaders, individuals and micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in Nigeria.
In a series of tweets seen by Business Post, the tax maverick said that with the restrictions placed on cash withdrawals, many people would be forced to carry out transactions using electronic payments, and small businesses that currently operate mostly on cash would become visible to the tax authorities.
It had been reported the apex bank on Tuesday moved to limit the amount of cash withdrawals Nigerians can make with benchmarks placed at several channels, including over-the-counter, point of sales (POS), and automated teller machines (ATMs).
He explained that the policy would trigger various tax obligations, including income tax, value-added tax (VAT), and Pay-As-You-Earn for small businesses and individuals.
On Income tax, he wrote that “If your business is registered as a company, you may be liable to CIT depending on your annual turnover (i.e. no CIT if your turnover below N25 million, 20 per cent if your turnover is between N25 million to N100 million 30 per cent if your turnover is more than N100m) in addition to Education Tax at 2.5 per cent.
“If your business is not registered as a company, then you will be liable to personal income tax based on graduated taxable income bands between 7 per cent and 24 per cent.”
On VAT, he explained that, “All businesses are required to register for VAT and charge 7.5 per cent on their goods and services except those with annual turnover below N25 million.”
For PAYE, Mr Oyedele explained that employees earning more than N30,000 per month are liable to PAYE, which must be deducted and paid to the tax authority by the employer on a monthly basis.
To this, he noted, “You may also be liable to other statutory contributions such as pension depending on your staff strength.”
For individuals, he noted that as they carry out more transactions, this will make them susceptible to transparency as it will make it easier for the government to track those who are tax evaders.
“The more transactions you make electronically, the more the tax authorities will get the intelligence to track your income and net worth, making it easier to fish you out if you are a tax evader.”
He then advised small business owners to register with relevant tax authorities like the Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS) and the state internal revenue services where they operate.
Further, the PwC official called on SME operators to open a separate bank account for their business, “or dedicate one for that purpose if you already have a business account) and don’t mix business with personal transactions.”
The government, on its part, he said, needs to sensitise the general public, especially small business owners, adding that the CBN should ensure a proper handshake with the fiscal authorities.
“For instance, the conditions for excess cash withdrawals could include Tax Identification Number,” he opined.
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