Agba: FG is committed to police reforms, youth empowerment

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Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Prince Clem Ikanade Agba, has assured Nigerian youths of President Muhammadu Buhari’s commitment to their demand for comprehensive reforms of the Nigeria Police.

Agba, during his on-going ministerial engagements with various stakeholders in Edo State, urged the youths to observe the state hearings of the 37 Judicial Panels of Inquiry and Restitution investigating alleged police brutality.

Due to the public holiday, supposedly, on Thursday, the scheduled meeting with the Deputy Governor, Philip Shaibu could not hold.

He said during his prepared remarks for the statewide engagement, which he spoke to in the Palace of the Oba of Benin  that  while waiting for the outcomes of these government actions, the youths should take advantage of the numerous programmes and opportunities that the Federal Government had crafted for Nigerians especially with them (youths) in mind.

According to him, “The Federal Government in July, this year, approved a N75 billion Youth Fund for which we have already appropriated N25 billion in the 2021 budget submission to the National Assembly.

“The aim is to support youths to actualize their innovative and entrepreneurial ideas in growing their businesses and becoming self-reliant.  The registration portal for the N75 billion Nigeria Youth Investment Fund (NYIF) has now been officially unveiled, thereby paving the way for interested young Nigerians between the ages of 18 and 35 years old to apply.”

According to him, “Successful applicants will undergo five days of compulsory online training, which is free.  Fund approval will range from N250,000 to N5,000,000 with a spread across group applications, individual applications, working capital loans set at 1 year, and term loans set at 3 years.

“These are the requirements: phone number, gender, residential address, geo-political zone, state of origin, local government area, educational level and select preferred training centre.

“The fund was carved out as we noticed disenfranchisement of the youths when it comes to participation in government facilities.  We also noticed that a lot of the criteria were too stringent, thus reducing accessibility.  Therefore, the criteria for the NYIF are very simple for potential beneficiaries who must be Nigerian citizens, 35v years or younger, have fundable business idea, have a registered business (those with unregistered businesses can also apply) and should be able to present recognized means of identification and guarantors.”

Agba said that government was also supporting Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in many tracts , pointing out that “a guaranteed off-take scheme for MSMEs will safeguard 300,000 existing jobs in 10,000 MSMEs and sustain local production.

“The Government will purchase priority products made by MSMEs over a three-month period to ensure that they do not fail and that jobs are not lost to the global and national economic slowdown.

“Government has put in place measures and initiatives principally targeted ast youths, women and the most vulnerable groups in our society, through which government is: paying three months salaries of the staff members of 100,000 MSMEs; paying for the registration of 250,000 businesses at the Corporate Affairs Commission, which will be distributed by states, and Edo has 6,606 allocated to it; giving a grant of N30,000 to 100,000 artisans; and guaranteeing a market for the products of traders.”

The minister saisd that for the private sector, some of the plans included the activation of the provisions of Finance Acts 2019 in which businesses with a turnover of less than N25 million would not be required to pay tax while those with a turnover of between N25 million and N100 million would pay reduced Companies Income Tax (CIT) of 20 percent instead of the prevailing rate of 30 percent.

Other notable measures, according to him, included: extension of deadlines and suspension of penalties for filing tax returns; incentives to employers to retain and recruit staff members during the economic meltdown; removal of tariff on importation of meters with a view to eliminating completely estimated billings; and support to industries affected by the pandemic such as the aviation, hospitality and road transport sectors.

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