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Senate places 75% import duties on importation of syringes, needles

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Tunde Opalana, Abuja

The Senate has ordered a hike in importation duties on syringes and needles into the country and therefore recommended 75 percent port duties.

This is as the upper chamber mandated full implementation of the policy on usage of locally manufactured syringes and needles by federal government owned hospitals and health institutions across the country.

The two directives were meant to protect local manufacturers, give them enabling environment to contribute to the revenue base of the nation and to reduce unemployment.

These mandatory recommendations followed the consideration and approval of the reports of the Senate Committee on Health presented by chairman, Sen. Yahaya Oloriegbe (Kwara Central).

According to the chairman, the committee discovered that majority of the imported syringes and needles are substandard, unsterile (used and rewashed syringes from Asian continent) hence endangering the lives, health and safety of Nigerians.

He said “despite several policies of the Federal Government especially the introduction of 75% import duties on imported Syringes and Needles to deter importation, the Nigeria Customs Services has not been able to enforce this effectively, thereby leading to mass importation of cheap, substandard and
unsterile syringes and needles.

“Importation of syringes and needles is killing local manufacturers making them to lay off staff and preventing them from contributing effectively to the economy.

“NAFDAC regulates seven (7) products including Syringes and Needles. NAFDAC has a 5+5 policy which means at the end of 5 years the importer must migrate from importation to manufacturing. This policy is just 2 years in operation hence it has not been applied to this sector.

” The Federal Ministry of Health lacks policy on the procurement and utilization of Syringes and Needles by government-owned Hospitals and agencies. This has led to government-owned hospitals to sometimes procure and use substandard Syringes and Needles in their hospitals and medical centres.

“Compulsory requirement for manufacturers to register to pre-qualify for the World Health Organisation’s certification costs about $1.5bn. This has been an impediment to local manufacturers attaining this status and preventing their being patronized by organisations using donor funds”.

The committee therefore recommended that “the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment should finalise the process of approval of the Backward Integration Policy(BIP) (for the sector) by the Federal Executive Council and commence the implementation of the Policy by 1#t August 2021.

That “as a matter of urgency, the Federal Government should fully implement 75% import duties on the Importation of syringes and needles and put stringent measures to the defaulters thereby encouraging local manufacturers and ensuring employment opportunities. Towards this end, the Nigeria Customs Services should enforce this policy.

“The Federal Ministry of Health should develop a policy on the procurement and utilization of Syringes and Needles by government hospitals and offices by 1st July 2021. That is within six (6) weeks all Federal Government owned hospitals are to use locally manufactured Syringes and Needles in order to strengthen local manufacturing.

“The Federal Ministry of Health should develop and implement a Policy Guideline that will ensure that all hospitals projects and programmes funded with the government of Nigeria’s funds to procure and use Syringes and Needles approved by relevant Nigerian Regulatory Bodies without a requirement for World Health Organisation’s pre-qualification.

The Senate also asked syringes and needles manufacturers to take the advantage of the Central Bank of Nigeria’s Special Intervention Fund for the Health sector to improve and extend their capacities.

Recalled that the Medical Device Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MDMAN), producers of syringes and needles sought the intervention of both the Senate Committee on Health and of Industry Trade and Investment on the implementation of exiting policies meant to protect local manufacturers.

The association in its petition, had alleged that government at all tiers were not patronizing local manufacturers but instead patronize foreign syringes and needles.

President of the Medical Devices Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MEDMAN), Mr Akin Oyediran had during interface with the Senate committees and the Health minister, Dr. Osagie Ehanire and NAFDAC Director General, Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye said the implementation of the policy would stop importation of low quality medical devices that may expose patients to health dangers.

Oyediran explained that the Backward Integration Policy (BIP) entails Nigerian manufacturers’ right to produce syringes for local market and can import same to meet local demands if their factories could not produce enough quantity to satisfy local needs .

READ ALSO: Igala Will Not Be Part Of Biafra – Group Tells Nnamdi Kanu

He said, “We have the capacity to produce the required syringes and needles that we need in the country.

“One of the manufacturers in Nigeria, the Jubilee Syringe of which I am the MD is the largest manufacturers of Syringes in Africa.

“The local manufacturers are actually the highest supplies of syringes and needles for hospitals. There is no point in why government hospitals should use imported syringes when we have locally manufactured ones.



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KQ resumes Mumbai flights after 4 months

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KQ resumes Mumbai flights after 4 months


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A Kenya Airways aircraft at JKIA. FILE PHOTO | NMG

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Summary

  • Kenya Airways will on Thursday resume flights to Mumbai, ending a four-month hiatus that was occasioned by increased cases of Covid-19 in the Asian state.
  • The airline in a notice to its customers yesterday said it will resume its operations on the route on September 16, 2021 with the first flight departing Jomo Kenyatta International Airport at 7am to arrive in Mumbai at 3:45 pm.

Kenya Airways #ticker:KQ will on Thursday resume flights to Mumbai, ending a four-month hiatus that was occasioned by increased cases of Covid-19 in the Asian state.

The airline in a notice to its customers Monday said it will resume its operations on the route on September 16, 2021 with the first flight departing Jomo Kenyatta International Airport at 7am to arrive in Mumbai at 3:45 pm.

The airline will then resume full operations on the route on September 20, flying three times per week on the Indian route, which is one of the most lucrative destinations on its network.

Passengers on the route will part with Sh46,000 ($419) for one-way air ticket on economy class seats from Nairobi to Mumbai- prices that are relatively the same compared to what it was charging before the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Welcome back onboard! Fly from Nairobi to Mumbai starting Thursday 16th September with normal schedules resuming from Monday 20th September 2021,” said the airline in a notice to its customers yesterday.

KQ Suspended passenger flights to and from Mumbai on April 30 until further notice, following a government directive on travel between India and Kenya due to a Covid-19 crisis in that country.

The airline said on Friday that passengers who had booked tickets after May 1, the date of the last flight from Mumbai to Nairobi, will have to change their plans.

Affected passengers, KQ said, could also take vouchers for the value of their fare for future travel within 12 months.

India has seen soaring infection rates in the recent days, since the discovery of a new virus variant. Last month, India put on lockdown one of the states following a spike in cases of Covid-19.

Other countries that have banned flights to India include France, the UK Bangladesh, Oman and Hong Kong that have banned travel to and from India or asked their nationals coming from the Asian country to isolate themselves in government-approved hotels.

India has so far detected 33,264,175 corona virus cases with the number of deaths hitting 442,874 as at September 13.

A large number of patients from Kenya also travel to India every year for specialised medical treatment, especially cancer care, helping to drive medical tourism in the densely populated country that boasts affordable and easily accessible healthcare.



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Lower import volumes push mitumba prices to new highs

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Lower import volumes push mitumba prices to new highs


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Man pulls a cart loaded with second-hand clothes at Gikomba Market in Nairobi. FILE PHOTO | NMG

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Summary

  • Traders paid Sh100,527 on average per tonne of the used clothes, popularly called mitumba, compared to Sh96,286 the previous year.
  • Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) banned importation of the clothes from late March through mid-August in a bid to contain the spread of the life-threatening coronavirus infections.
  • Findings of the Economic Survey 2021 suggests dealers shipped in 121,778 tonnes of mitumba in 2020, a 34.02 percent fall compared with 2019 and the lowest volumes since 2015.

The average price of a tonne of second-hand clothing items imported into the country crossed the Sh100,000 mark for the first time last year on reduced volumes in the wake of safety protocols and guidelines to curb spread of coronavirus.

Traders paid Sh100,527 on average per tonne of the used clothes, popularly called mitumba, compared to Sh96,286 the previous year.

Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) banned importation of the clothes from late March through mid-August in a bid to contain the spread of the life-threatening coronavirus infections.

Findings of the Economic Survey 2021 suggests dealers shipped in 121,778 tonnes of mitumba in 2020, a 34.02 percent fall compared with 2019 and the lowest volumes since 2015.

Last year’s drop was the first dip since 2011 when 76,533 tonnes were shipped in compared with 80,423 tonnes the previous year, the official data collated by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) shows.

The import bill for the merchandise amounted to Sh12.24 billion, a drop of 31.11 percent, or Sh5.53 billion, year-on-year.

TIn imposing the temporary ban on used clothes, Kebs had applied a standard which prohibits buying second-hand clothes from countries experiencing epidemics to ensure disease-causing microorganisms are not imported into Kenya.

Higher quality and relatively lower prices for mitumba has continued to drive demand for used clothes at expense of locally-made products amid higher margins enjoyed by traders largely operating in informal markets.

The lucrative second-hand clothing market has seen traders from China —a key source market for the merchandise —open shops in Gikomba, Kenya’s largest informal market for mitumba, in recent years to cash in rising demand.

Earnings from exports of articles of apparel and clothing accessories fell 5.32 percent to Sh32.92 billion last year compared with 2019, data indicates.



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Court backs Atwoli union in horticulture membership feud

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Court backs Atwoli union in horticulture membership feud


Cotu boss Francis Atwoli

Cotu boss Francis Atwoli. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Summary

  • A trade union that is led by the long-serving Central Organisation of Trade Unions (Cotu) boss Francis Atwoli has survived an attempt to stop it from representing over 60,000 workers in the horticulture industry.
  • Newly registered Kenya Export, Floriculture, Horticulture, and Allied Workers Union (Kefhau) had filed as a case in the Employment and Labour seeking to bar the Atwoli-led Kenya Plantation and Agricultural Workers Union (KPAWU) from representing workers in the industry.

A trade union that is led by the long-serving Central Organisation of Trade Unions (Cotu) boss Francis Atwoli has survived an attempt to stop it from representing over 60,000 workers in the horticulture industry.

Newly registered Kenya Export, Floriculture, Horticulture, and Allied Workers Union (Kefhau) had filed as a case in the Employment and Labour seeking to bar the Atwoli-led Kenya Plantation and Agricultural Workers Union (KPAWU) from representing workers in the industry.

Mr Atwoli is the secretary-general of KPAWU. The rival union claimed KPAWU had encroached on its area of workers’ representation.

Justice James Rika, however, dismissed the claim and ruled that the dispute should have been taken through conciliation, and was therefore presented in court prematurely.

He also stated that Kefhau must go beyond its registration and recruit sufficient members from the employers, to be granted recognition and organisational rights.

“Registration on its own, does not afford the claimant (Kefhau) recognition. Until there is proof that Kefhau has satisfied Section 54 of the Labour Relations Act, the status quo must be maintained,” said the judge.

“Kefhau must recruit at least 50 percent plus one, of the unionisable employees in the floriculture and horticulture industry, members of the Agricultural Employers Association to be considered for recognition,” he stated.

He noted that there is a Recognition Agreement and CBA, binding Mr Atwoli’s union and Agricultural Employers Association, affecting 73 Flower Growers Group of employers, and over 60,000 employees.

“It is objectionable for Kefhau to be allowed organisational rights, and the legitimacy to receive trade union dues and agency fees, from over 60,000 employees, just on the strength of registration as a trade union,” said the judge.

Kefhau wanted the court to declare that it is the sole trade union, which is allowed by its constitution to carry out activities in the export floriculture and vegetable industry, and an order restraining Mr Atwoli’s from representing workers in that area.



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