The British government on Monday said it had taken the necessary steps required by law to participate in European Parliament elections in May, but that this did not mean it was inevitable Britain would take part.
Britain is due to leave the EU on Friday, but Prime Minister Theresa May has asked the EU for a further delay to Britain’s exit date while she seeks to reach a compromise with the opposition Labour Party in order to get her Brexit deal passed.
“As a responsible government today we have taken the necessary steps required by law should we have to participate,” a government spokesman said in a statement.
“It does not make these elections inevitable, as leaving the EU before the date of election automatically removes our obligation to take part.”
Similarly, Nationalist anti-immigration parties plan to join forces following next month’s EU parliamentary election, looking to create a new bloc to shake up the EU, officials from four groups said on Monday.
The move shows growing confidence amongst far-right and sovereignist parties that for the first time since the EU was formed 60 years ago they can win enough seats in parliament to have a major say in how the continent is run.
“We want to reform the EU and the European parliament, without destroying them. We want to bring radical change,” said Joerg Meuthen, the Chairman of the Eurosceptic Alternative for Germany party (AfD).
Meuthen said that the EU parliamentary bloc would be called the European Alliance for People and Nations.
It will initially involve at least 10 parties drawn from the three groups that currently house various nationalist forces.
Monday’s event was organised by Italian Deputy Prime Minister, Matteo Salvini, who heads the right-wing League and has been the driving force in persuading like-minded politicians to ditch their previous divisions before the May 26 EU election.
“We can propose a new Europe because we have never governed (in Brussels),” Salvini said. “Our goal is to be decisive, to nominate new commissioners in the new commission,” he added.
However, it was not immediately clear if two of Europe’s biggest national conservative forces — Poland’s governing Law and Justice party (PiS) and Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s Fidesz party — would be willing to join the group.
Europe’s myriad sovereignist parties share the broad goals of returning power to EU member states and further curbing immigration.
However, they often have very different economic and social policies, making it hard to create a coherent group within the EU parliament.
Besides the AfD, the conservative Finns Party and the rightist Danish People’s Party have also pledged to support the initiative.
Salvini said his current EU allies, including Marine Le Pen’s National Rally in France, would take part, too.
“If we succeed with the initiative we launched today, it will be an historic achievement,” said Anders Vistisen, a European parliamentarian with the Danish People’s Party.
“The only powers, who have been winning by us being divided into three different groups have been the europhiles of Brussels, the old establishment parties, who worked toward a U.S. of Europe,” he said.
Salvini said he planned to hold a rally in Milan on May 18 to bring together his new alliance.
Although all the speakers on Monday confirmed they were united in supporting tougher border controls to prevent illegal immigration, there appeared to be little common cause on other issues, such as economic policy.
The AfD has previously denounced the big-spending budget plans of Salvini and the Italian government.
Other northern European nationalist groups have been highly critical of what they see as southern European fiscal profligacy.
“It is clear that (our) parties have different approaches, but that doesn’t matter right now. What is important is we need to protect Europe,” said Finns Party official Olli Kotro.
The Federal Government on Monday announced the introduction of Value Added Tax (VAT) on lottery and gaming activities and automate collection from operators in the Lottery sector.
This was disclosed by the Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) Babatunde Fowler at a stakeholders’ engagement session with lottery and gaming operators in Lagos.
Fowler explained that the 5 per cent VAT was not a tax to be borne by operators, but their customers
Fowler said. “Tax has to do with law and the law says that for every transaction that is VATable, 5 per cent should be charged. You have to be aware that we are automating collection in all industries.
‘’This is not a tax on the business, but on a bettor who hopes to win. You also have to realize that 85 per cent of VAT goes to the state, which is supposed to be closer to us. In this case, we are all winners,” Fowler said.
According to him, the bill is then settled through the online platform, as the software allows operators to file VAT returns and is flexible enough to accommodate disputation over the figures, which operators can resolve with the FIRS through the provision of documents to back such claims.
Speaking on behalf of lottery and gaming operators, Mr Akin Alabi, founder of Nairabet, argued that the FIRS should have consulted operators before taking the decision to impose 5 per cent VAT and the automation of collection.
Reacting, Fowler said ‘’This is not a tax on the business, but on a bettor who hopes to win. You also have to realize that 85 per cent of VAT goes to the state, which is supposed to be closer to us. In this case, we are all winners.’’
A long-standing dispute between the Tanzanian government and brokers in the cashewnut trade seems to have ended amicably after President John Magufuli ordered they be paid alongside farmers.
The traders, who used to buy the crop in Mtwara, Lindi and Ruvuma under the system locally known as Kangomba, were cut out of the chain when the government took control of the trade to ensure value for the farmers.
Last year, the government put in place a verification system to guarantee the legality of the claimants of the cashewnut crop in the leading producing regions, with people with over three tonnes of the crop required to show their farms where the nuts were grown.
The verification led to large stockpiles of cashewnuts.
The order, given by President Magufuli in Mtwara town this past week for the release of Tsh50 billion ($20 million) to 18,103 cashewnut growers, came as a relief to the brokers. However, there is a catch: They must first confess to the exploitation of farmers.
The president said that since the government directed the Tanzania Agricultural Development Bank to purchase all cashewnuts last year, Tsh578.8 billion ($249.8 million) has been paid for 156,865 tonnes of the cash crop from 373,379 farmers who had less than 1,500kg each.
Source: East African
The Federal Government says it has signed an agreement with the Islamic Development Bank (ISDB) for the funding of the National Hajj Commission and the nation’s textile industry.
The fund described as Technical Assistant financing pact, is a $523,823 (N185.95m) grant while the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria would get $243,823 and the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment gets $280,000.
The details of the deal was given in a statement on Monday by the Media Adviser to the Minister of Finance, Paul Ella.
According to the statement, the agreement was signed by the finance minister, Mrs Zainab Ahmed on behalf of the Federal Government at the 44th ISDB Group Annual Meeting held in Marrakesh, Morrocco.
The President of ISDB, Dr Bandar Hajjar signed on behalf of the bank.
The Minister explained that part of the money budgeted for Hajj Commission would cover capacity building SBD logistics.
She added that the grant would improve cotton and textile production.
She said, “The Technical Assistant Agreement Grant of $243,823.0 to the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria is for capacity building/equipment and logistics upgrade.
“TA grant of $280,000 to the Federal Ministry of Industry Trade and Investment is for the improvement of cotton, textile and garment value chain,” she stated.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa's government, has begun registering former commercial white farmers who lost their land under the chaotic land redistribution exercise.
In a statement Sunday, the Ministry of Lands said it was identifying and registering former white farm owners who want to participate in the interim advance payments scheme. The scheme according to the statement is targeting those "in distress."
The programme is being coordinated by Commercial Farmers Union (CFU) and the Compensations Steering Committee (CSS) representing former farm owners according to the statement.
"The ad-hoc Compensation Working Group, comprising government officials and the representatives of former farm owners, is currently working towards the compensation and establishing the compensation quantum figure for farm improvements based on an agreed method of valuation," the Ministry headed by former Air Force chief Perrance Shiri said.
The statement added that the latest move reflected government's commitment to settling its side of the bargain.
"Given the significant progress made to-date, it is anticipated that this comprehensive farm improvements valuation will be completed by end of May 2019.
"Reflecting government's commitment to compensate former farm owners, for farm improvements and recognising that a larger number of farmers are still to be compensated government allocated RTGS$53 million in the 2019 National Budget for interim advance payments," said the statement published in the State media.
"These interim advance payments will be made to former farm owners affected by the land reform programme and who are in financial distress."
In a separate statement the CFU said it has developed a form which applicants will complete. The form according to the statement does not jeopardise future claims for full compensation.
"As this is a limited fund, it is hoped that those who are not in financial distress do not take up the offer so as maximise the effect on others not so fortunate," said CFU.
"Whether you take it up or not, does not alter your rights to be compensated in any way, except that what you receive now will be deducted from your final computation."
In his inauguration speech in 2017 President Emmerson Mnangagwa, promised to compensate over 4000 former white farmers whose land was forcibly taken away under the fast track land reform program. While the former farm owners have been demanding full compensation, government has passed a law that provides for payment in respect of developments only.
Credit: New Zimbabwe