Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe Resigns Due to Health Reasons
Japanese longest-serving Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, has announced his resignation after battling health issues for years.
Abe, 65, became Japan’s prime minister in 2012 and immediately introduced what is now known as Abenomics’ economic policy structured based on monetary easing, fiscal stimulus through government spending and structural reforms.
In April 2013, using Abenomics (conned from Abe and Economics), Bank of Japan announced ¥60 to ¥70 trillion yearly bond-buying program to ease economic hardship and stimulate growth from within. This led to 55 percent increase in the value of the Japanese stock market just a month after BoJ introduced Quantitative Easing (QE).
The central bank increased its quantitative easing to ¥80 trillion in 2014 as survey results showed 74 percent of Japanese praised the prime minister for putting an end to Japan’s prolonged recession.
On Friday, Abe said he stepped down because he did not want his illness to get in the way of critical decision and apologised to the Japanese people for failing to complete his term in the office.
He said “I made a judgement I should not continue my job as a prime minister.”
“I would like to sincerely apologise to the people of Japan for leaving my post with one year left in my term of office, and amid the coronavirus woes, while various policies are still in the process of being implemented.”
While it is unclear when the Prime Minister would formally resign, the Nikkei declined by 2.25 percent on Friday before closing 1.41 percent lower at 22,882.65 as investors fear Abe’s resignation might bring an end to Japan’s stable economy.
“The Nikkei will likely head to around 21,000, a level where its price-to-book ratio will be 1.0,” said Takatoshi Itoshima, a strategist at Pictet Asset Management.
“Japanese stocks tend to do well under a long, stable government and that was especially the case for Abe. Foreign investors may also worry what will happen to the relationship between the government and the Bank of Japan.”
East African Countries to Discuss Economic Recovery and Investments Promotion this Week in Kigali
More than 100 decision-makers and economic stakeholders will gather in Kigali this week to discuss the road to social and economic recovery and how to attract investments in East Africa. The meeting known as the 25th session of the Intergovernmental Committee of Senior Officials and Experts (ICSOE), will take place from 27 to 29 October 2021.
The ICSOE is the annual gathering of the office for Eastern Africa of the UN Economic Commission in Africa (UNECA) organised in collaboration with the Rwanda Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning. The theme of this year’s meeting is: “Strengthening resilience for a strong recovery and attracting investments to foster economic diversification and long-term growth in Eastern Africa”.
Dr Mama Keita, Director of UNECA in Eastern Africa said that the Covid-19 pandemic has weakened the economic conditions of all countries in the region. She stressed that the ICSOE meeting will provide a platform for various stakeholders from governments to have a conversation with experts and private sectors on the needed economic recovery and on how to re-ignite the engines of trade and investment.
Dr Uzziel Ndagijimana, Minister of Finance and Economic Planning said that this meeting is timely and significant. “This is the time for Rwanda to discuss with other countries of the region the potentials and the ability to rise and be responsive to the socio-economic challenges, exacerbated by the Covid-19 crisis.
According to Ms Keita, the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) is undoubtedly critical to support the recovery from the severe adverse impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic, increase the economic multiplier in the region and will help countries to build back better, grow their economies and create jobs that foster inclusive growth.
The participants at the meeting will discuss thematic issues such as deepening Regional Value Chains, environment for investment Opportunities and Interlinkages between peace, security and development.
The subregional office for East Africa of UNECA serves 14 countries: Burundi, Comores, RD Congo, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Rwanda, Seychelles, Somalia, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda.
Federal Government to End Petrol Subsidy by June 2022 as World Bank Condemns N2.9 Trillion Funding
The Minister of Finance, Budget, and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, said the Federal Government had made plans for petrol subsidy only up to the end of June 2022.
The minister disclosed this while speaking at the 27th National Economic summit on Monday in Abuja.
She said the Federal Government only factored in subsidy for the first half of the year. In the second half of the year, the Government is looking at complete deregulation of the sector, thereby saving foreign exchange and potentially earning more from the oil and gas industry.
This comes as the World Bank decried the continued spending by the Nigerian Government on petrol subsidy, which it said is on track to gobble up to N2.9 trillion this year. The Country Director for the World Bank in Nigeria, Shubham Chauduri speaking at the National Economic Summit, said the country could channel money being spent on petrol subsidy to primary healthcare, basic education, infrastructure such as rural roads, and industries.
He went on to say that Nigeria is on track to spend N2.9 trillion on Petrol subsidy this year, more that is spent on health in the country, and likened Nigeria to a malnourished individual needing urgent treatment.
He said “I think the urgency of doing something now is because time is going in terms of retaining the hope of young Nigerians in the future and potential of Nigeria. The kinds of things that could be done right away – the petrol subsidy; yes, I hear that six months from now, perhaps with the Petroleum Industry Act coming into effect, it might go away. But the fact is, can Nigeria afford to wait six months? There is a choice being made; N2.9 Trillion to Petrol subsidy which is depriving states of much-needed revenue to invest in basic services.
Meanwhile, the Chairman of the President Economic Advisory Council, Prof Doyin Salami, said he had argued for a very long time that petrol subsidy needs to go.
A petrol subsidy is a program in which the Government or any other organization pays for a portion of gasoline, heating oil, or some other fuel. Nigeria is the biggest producer of crude oil in Africa but still needs to import Petrol, this situation made subsidizing petrol necessary as the exchange rate in which it is being imported puts the price out of the reach of the average consumer.
FIRS Proposes Road Infrastructure Tax
The Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) says it is proposing the introduction of Road Infrastructure Tax in Nigeria, to make the informal sector contribute to building a modern society.
The Executive Chairman of the FIRS, Muhammad Nami, disclosed this on Thursday while receiving a delegation of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) led by its National President, Chris Isiguzo, in his office, in Abuja.
Mr. Nami reportedly said the proposed Road Infrastructure Tax, to be administered by FIRS, will provide the government with adequate funding for road construction, rehabilitation, and maintenance, as well as providing the needed security for roads in the country.
According to the FIRS Executive Chairman, “The only way to make the informal sector contribute to building a modern society is by making them pay when they use the roads.” He stated.
“That is why we are proposing that government should consider introducing Road Infrastructure Tax in Nigeria.“
He noted that “in many jurisdictions, road users pay for the use of road infrastructure as such it shouldn’t be seen as an additional burden on our citizens because it has the potential of making life better for all of us.”
Speaking further, Mr Nami stated that Nigeria’s economy presently relies heavily on non-oil revenues to discharge its statutory responsibility of paying salaries and providing social amenities to the citizenry.
“Without the tax that you pay governments at all levels would not be able to fulfill their mandate to the electorates. Tax money also helps to ensure the roads you travel are safe and always in good condition,” he said.
Mr. Nami also stated that despite sharp practices by some companies who were in the habit of evading taxes, by shifting their capital and profits to tax havens, as well as low revenue from Petroleum Profit Tax, due to the shortfall in crude oil production among other factors, the FIRS has been putting forward critical reforms that have been yielding positive impact on the Service’s operations.
“Adopting technology in tax administration is crucial in improving domestic revenue mobilization in view of dwindling oil prices in order to avoid falling into a debt crisis. It is against this backdrop that the TaxPro-Max became the channel for filing Naira-denominated tax returns effectively from 7th June 2021.
“The TaxPro-Max enables seamless registration, filing of returns, payment of taxes and automatic credit of withholding tax as well as other credits to the Taxpayer’s accounts among other features. The technology also provides a single-view to Taxpayers for all transactions with the Service,” Mr. Nami explained.
The tax agency official also noted that the management of the Service had established two critical units, the Intelligence, Strategic Data Mining & Analysis Department (ISDMA) and the Tax Incentive Management Department (TIMD) as part of institutional reforms to generate more revenue and forestall revenue leakages.
“While the TaxProMax will serve as the flagship tool for mining data, it will be complemented by other tools that the Intelligence, Strategic Data Mining and Analysis Department department may deploy, with the data engineers in the Department carrying out necessary distillations.
“Management also established the Tax Incentive Management Department to manage, implement and report on tax incentives as provided by relevant extant laws and regulations. The TIMD is specifically in charge of the tax affairs of companies/enterprises enjoying tax exemptions and holidays. Companies enjoying Pioneer incentives, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), Cooperative Societies, companies in Export Processing Zones (EPZ), Free Trade Zones (FTZ), Oil and Gas Export Processing Zones (OGEFZ), those engaged in Downstream Gas Utilization and all others enjoying tax holidays are being managed by the TIMD to forestall revenue leakages, such that these companies/enterprises do not use their status as a cover to earn taxable income and refuse to pay tax on such income,” the FIRS chief said.
He added that the service created 10 Value Added Tax (VAT) Regional Coordination Offices across the country to drive the collection of VAT.
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