Nigeria to bar flights from countries that block Nigerians – Minister

Photo: Aviation Minister, Hadi Sirika. Credit: Africa Daily News

Nigeria will block flights from countries that do not allow Nigerian flights to land due to coronavirus restrictions, Aviation Minister, Hadi Sirika said on Thursday.

“The principle of reciprocity will be applied,” Sirika told reporters. “If you ban us from coming to your country, the same will apply the other way.”

A spokesman for the minister said Sirika was referring to landing rights for aircraft, and not the nationals of the countries.

The director-general of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority said that authorities were still drafting the list, but added that the European Union was among those barring Nigerians.

Nigeria earlier this week announced plans to resume international flights on Aug. 29. All but essential international flights were halted in late March in an attempt to stem the spread of the virus.

The resumption will begin with four flights daily coming into both Lagos and Abuja, but Sirika said that initially the number of passengers would be limited to 1,280 a day.

Nigeria has 50,488 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and has recorded 985 deaths.

…revenue rose in July boosted by oil and tax receipts

Nigeria’s gross revenues rose to 676.41 billion naira in July from 653.35 billion naira in June due to higher crude oil sales and tax receipts, accountant general Ahmed Idris said.

The price of oil, Nigeria’s main export, fell sharply early this year as the coronavirus outbreak hit demand, cutting government revenues, weakening the naira and creating a large financing gap for the country.

The global oil benchmark Brent has since recovered from a 21-year low below $16 in April. OPEC member Nigeria relies on crude oil sales for two-thirds of government revenue.

The government said oil revenues with sales tax increased in July, while corporate taxes and import duty decreased. The government also said the balance on its oil surplus savings account stood at $72.41 million as at Aug. 19.

Income from crude sales and value-added tax (VAT) made up the bulk of the government’s gross revenues.

Companies in Nigeria have seen profits slump, especially in the second quarter when the government imposed a lockdown to slow the spread of the virus. Also, restrictions on international travel and dollar shortages have hurt imports.

In February, Nigeria increased VAT to 7.5% from 5% to boost revenues, seen among the lowest in the world. Lower government revenues could worsen Nigeria’s debt to revenue ratio this year.


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