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China and EU Seek Partnership: Xi Jinping Proposes Key Trade Alliance

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Shipowners

Chinese President Xi Jinping expressed his desire for China and the European Union (EU) to become key trade partners and foster trust in supply chains, during a meeting with EU leaders in Beijing.

The talks marked the first in-person summit between the two sides in four years and addressed a range of economic concerns, including data flows and market access.

Xi emphasized China’s commitment to high-quality development and opening up, positioning the EU as a crucial partner in economic and trade cooperation.

He envisioned the EU as a trusted collaborator in industrial and supply chain cooperation, aiming for mutual benefits and win-win results.

The summit delved into longstanding issues, such as efforts by Europe to “de-risk” its supply chains and the EU’s anti-subsidies investigation into Chinese-made electric vehicles.

China criticized the investigation, urging the EU to avoid using it for “trade protectionism.”

Xi called for the elimination of interference between China and the EU, a statement likely directed at the United States, which has taken actions, including enlisting the Netherlands, to curb China’s development of high-end semiconductors.

The EU leaders, Ursula von der Leyen and Charles Michel, described their conversation with Xi as “good and candid.”

They discussed the main challenges amid increasing geopolitical frictions, emphasizing a commitment to balanced trade relations and pledging to enhance people-to-people exchanges.

During the meeting, Italy formally informed China of its exit from the Belt and Road Initiative, highlighting ongoing strains between the EU and China.

Xi discussed Belt and Road with EU leaders, expressing a willingness to connect it with the EU’s Global Gateway infrastructure plan.

However, deep issues remain, including Russia’s war in Ukraine, trade imbalances, and Chinese overcapacity exported to Europe.

Jens Eskelund, president of the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China, stressed the need to address these issues to foster a positive relationship between Beijing and Brussels.

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Government

Ekiti Governor Unveils Multi-Billion Naira Relief Programmes Amid Economic Crisis

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Biodun Oyebanji

Ekiti State Governor, Mr. Biodun Abayomi Oyebanji, has announced a comprehensive relief package aimed at alleviating the hardship faced by the people of the state.

The relief programs encompass various sectors to cushion the impact of the economic downturn.

One of the key initiatives entails clearing salary arrears amounting to over N2.7 billion owed to both State and Local Government workers.

This move signifies the government’s commitment to addressing the financial burdens faced by its workforce.

Furthermore, Governor Oyebanji has approved a substantial increase of N600 million per month in the subvention of autonomous institutions, including the Judiciary and tertiary institutions.

This augmentation is intended to enable these institutions to implement wage awards in alignment with State and Local Government workers’ salaries.

In addition to addressing salary arrears, the relief programs extend to pensioners, with the approval of payments totaling N1.5 billion for two months’ pension arrears.

Moreover, an increase in the monthly gratuity payment to state pensioners and local government pensioners will provide additional financial support, totaling N200 million monthly.

The relief initiatives also encompass agricultural and small-scale business sectors.

The allocation of funds for food production and livestock transformation projects underscores the government’s commitment to enhancing food security and economic sustainability at the grassroots level.

Governor Oyebanji emphasized that these relief programs are part of the state’s concerted efforts to mitigate the adverse effects of the economic downturn and foster shared prosperity.

The comprehensive nature of the initiatives reflects a proactive approach towards addressing the challenges faced by Ekiti State residents.

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President Tinubu Orders Immediate Settlement of N342m Electricity Bill for Presidential Villa

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President Bola Tinubu has directed the prompt settlement of a N342 million outstanding electricity bill owed by the Presidential Villa to the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC).

This move comes in response to the reconciliation of accounts between the State House Management and the AEDC.

The AEDC had earlier threatened to disconnect electricity services to the Presidential Villa and 86 Federal Government Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs) over a total outstanding debt of N47.20 billion as of December 2023.

Contrary to the initial claim by the AEDC that the State House owed N923 million in electricity bills, the Presidency clarified that the actual outstanding amount is N342.35 million.

This discrepancy underscores the importance of accurate accounting and reconciliation between entities.

In a statement signed by President Tinubu’s Special Adviser on Information and Strategy, Bayo Onanuga, the Presidency affirmed the commitment to settle the debt promptly.

Chief of Staff Femi Gbajabiamila assured that the debt would be paid to the AEDC before the end of the week.

The directive from the Presidency extends beyond the State House, as Gbajabiamila urged other MDAs to reconcile their accounts with the AEDC and settle their outstanding electricity bills.

The AEDC, on its part, issued a 10-day notice to the affected government agencies to settle their debts or face disconnection.

This development highlights the importance of financial accountability and responsible management of public utilities.

It also underscores the necessity for government entities to fulfill their financial obligations to service providers promptly, ensuring uninterrupted services and avoiding potential disruptions.

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Abuja Electricity Distribution Company Issues Ultimatum to 86 Government Agencies Over N47bn Debt

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Power - Investors King

The Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC) has issued an ultimatum to 86 government agencies, including the Presidential Villa, owing a collective debt of N47 billion.

The notice comes as a response to the prolonged failure of these agencies to settle their outstanding electricity bills.

According to the public notice released by the AEDC management, some of the highest debts are attributed to prominent entities such as the National Security Adviser (owing N95.9 billion), the Chief of Defence staff barracks, and military formations (indebted to the tune of N12 billion).

Also, several ministries, including the Ministry of the Federal Capital Territory and the Ministry of Power, have sizable outstanding bills.

The AEDC has expressed its frustration over the inability of these government bodies to honor their financial obligations despite previous attempts to facilitate payment.

In response, the company has warned of imminent disconnection of services if the outstanding debts are not settled within 10 days of the notice.

The outstanding debts are attributed to various factors including the devaluation of the naira, cash scarcity resulting from demonetization programs, high inflation rates, removal of fuel subsidies, and foreign exchange challenges.

These financial burdens have adversely impacted the operations of the AEDC, contributing to a loss of N99 million in foreign exchange alone.

As the deadline for payment approaches, government agencies are under pressure to address their outstanding debts to avoid service disruptions.

The AEDC remains steadfast in its commitment to ensuring that all entities fulfill their financial obligations, underscoring the importance of prompt payment for uninterrupted electricity services.

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