Global body urges govt to develop policies on food, water security

watergoal image_web_page• Nigeria, Singapore to sign air service, tax pact 

PIQUED by water and food crises bedeviling African countries, a global body, the Global Water Partnership (GWP), has urged the Nigerian government to urgently develop a national policy that would guarantee food and water security in the country.

The body, which made the call following a report by the International Institute for food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) on Hunger 2014 that the sub-Saharan Africa is one of the most affected areas in the world regarding food security, expressed worry over the looming water and food crises in the African continent, which it attributed to the security challenges in the sub-region, namely the Lake Chad Basin and the South Sudan crisis and the challenges posed by climate change resulting to low yield in agriculture.

The GWP however tasked African leaders to develop an elaborate agriculture development plan with a view to effectively mobilise domestic resources towards food security and poverty reduction.

The Chairman, Global Water Partnership- Nigeria, Dr. Hassan Bdliya, who spoke yesterday in Abuja during a National Consultation on Food Security and Water in sub-Saharan Africa, pointed out that the United Nations (UN) is worried at the looming food and water crisis in the African continent.

In another development, Nigeria’s Ambassador to Singapore, Ambassador Nonye Rajis-Okpara, yesterday said Nigeria and Singapore have concluded plans to sign agreements to strengthen their bilateral air services and curb double taxation on investments in both countries. Rajis-Okpara, who disclosed the plan in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) yesterday in Abuja, said the agreement would be sealed on August 4 in Singapore.

She said it would ensure that passenger air carriers from Nigeria and Singapore would have the authority to operate any number of air services between and beyond both countries.

According to her, the double taxation component of the agreement would clarify the taxing rights on different incomes and investments arising from cross-border economic activities involving the two nations, saying the agreements would also encourage reduction or exemption of tax on certain types of income.

Bdliya noted that in the pursuit of sustainable development to eradicate hunger and ensure water for all, the UN Open Working Group on Sustainable Development made a proposal for a dedicated goal on food security which is Goal 2 – end hunger, achieve food security and improve nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture.

He said water and its important role and impact on food security should be seen in the wider context of the nexus between water, soil energy and food security, which is recognised as a pillar of inclusive growth and sustainable development.

Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Water Resources, Mr. Musa Istifanus, noted that the final draft of the report on food security and water by high level panel of experts has provided opportunity for concerned countries and government to discuss pertinent issues bordering on water and food security, noting that the objective was to create a cross sectoral dynamics for innovative implementation capable of optimising linkages between food security and water, adding that Nigeria has begun its internal broad stakeholders engagement process to stimulate an integrated stakeholders’ input into the Global Water Partnership -West Africa.

The ambassador further said: “The main barrier in the negotiation of agreement is the concession of mutual privileges. The two countries must be satisfied that the agreement guarantees that both parties are equal beneficiaries.

“However, the absence of a national carrier in Nigeria to reciprocate the agreement is a major problem but that would be taken care of.

“Singapore seeks to promote an environment where enterprises thrive, ideas flourish and innovation prevails. “Singapore supports the introduction of new aviation technology, products and processes and works with the industry to develop and enhance its capabilities.”

Rajis-Okpara said that an investment promotion and protection agreement would also be signed between Nigeria and Singapore. According to her, the agreement would seek to ensure non-discrimination, fair and equitable treatment for Nigerian investors and investments in Singapore and vice versa, among other provisions.

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