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Home Office Resisting Calls To Vet Asylum Seekers Work In The UK

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Asylum Seekers

Home Office resisting calls to let asylum seekers work in the UK

Priti Patel’s department is resisting growing demands to allow asylum seekers to work following a public intervention from her cabinet colleague Dominic Raab to say that he would be “open-minded’ about the proposal.

Labour leader Keir Starmer, Conservative MPs and refugee charities have all called for the Home Office to allow 70,000 current claimants to seek employment after the justice secretary said a rule change could help to solve the UK’s current labour shortage.

But in testy comments that reveal frustration at Raab’s words, a senior Whitehall source said that if applications to seek employment were allowed, it would “create a pull factor for illegal immigration like never before”. “It would drive a coach and horses though our legitimate immigration system. We would see people who want to come here to work avoiding the system by just arriving and claiming asylum, before starting work the next day,” the source said.

Most asylum seekers are not allowed to work while their case is considered and instead rely on the government for housing and essential living needs. The Home Office has been reviewing the rules around allowing asylum seekers to work for three years.

The latest data shows that over 70,000 people were waiting for a UK decision on their initial asylum application – up 73% over the past two years despite a decline in the number of applicants.

Meanwhile, resettlement of refugees has not increased at the same rate. Only 308 refugees were resettled in Q2 2021, compared to a quarterly average of over 1,400 from 2016 to 2019.

MPs including the leader of the opposition increased pressure on Patel on Thursday to be as open-minded as Raab. Starmer told the Guardian the government should consider changing rules which “defy the common sense test”.

“I met a Syrian doctor who … was unable to work, because the claim hadn’t been properly processed. He desperately wanted to use his skills to help the community that made him very, very welcome and he was prohibited from doing so. That defies the common sense test,” he said.

Reacting to Starmer’s comments, a Whitehall source said: “Allowing asylum seekers to work will see more people making dangerous journeys to enter our country illegally. It’s as simple as that.”

Andrew Bridgen, the Conservative MP for North West Leicestershire, said he would also allow asylum seekers to work because their claims are taking too long – in some cases more than a year – to process. “They should be allowed to work because the system is not working properly. I would like to see their applications to be processed a lot faster,” he said.

The Tory MP for Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner, David Simmonds, has been at the forefront of a campaign to allow asylum seekers to work and aid integration. “Because asylum seekers cannot work whilst they wait for a decision on their claim, and if successful are given just 28 days to move into new accommodation and find work or apply for universal credit, there are currently significant barriers to successful integration,” he wrote in PoliticsHome in April.

The former foreign secretary was asked by the Spectator magazine on Thursday whether he would support the measure given the current labour shortage. “I would be open-minded about it,” he replied.

“If [asylum seekers] learn the language and they can work, they integrate much better and they make a positive contribution.”

Responding, Stuart McDonald, the SNP’s home affairs spokesperson in parliament, wrote on Twitter: “A very rare but welcome occasion on which I can agree with Dominic Raab! How can Priti Patel continue to resist the overwhelming logic?”

UK policy is more restrictive than those in most comparable countries. EU law requires member states to grant asylum seekers access to work after they have been waiting for nine months for a decision on their claim. Canada and Australia allow asylum seekers to work immediately. In the USA, they are eligible to work after six months.

In 2020, Germany received the highest number of asylum applicants in the EU, with 122,015 applicants. France received 93,475 applicants. In the same period, the UK received the fifth largest number of applicants, 36,041. This represents only the 17th largest intake when measured per head of population.

Dr Peter William Walsh, researcher for the Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford, said: “The backlog in processing asylum claims has increased sharply in recent years and is currently nine times higher than it was a decade ago. For almost all of these people, it would be illegal for them to take a job – 80% of cases are not addressed within six months, and many people wait more than a year.”

Enver Solomon, CEO of the Refugee Council, said: “Thousands of skilled and talented people live on limited financial support in limbo awaiting a decision on their asylum claim for months or years on end desperate to be able to work to contribute to our communities. It’s vital they’re given this chance.”

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Naira depreciates further to N614/$ at parallel market

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Naira depreciates further to N614/$ at parallel market

The Nigerian naira has dropped to N614 against the dollar at the parallel section of the foreign exchange market.

The figure signifies a depreciation of N7 or 1.2 percent compared to the N607 it traded last two weeks.

Bureaux De Change operators (BDCs), popularly known as ‘abokis’, who spoke to TheCable in Lagos on Tuesday, said they purchase the greenback at N608/$, make a gain of N6, and then sell at N614.

At the official market, the naira also depreciated by 0.21 percent to close at N421/$ on Monday, according to information obtained from FMDQ OTC Securities Exchange — a platform that oversees official foreign-exchange trading.

Nigeria operates multiple exchange rate windows ranging from the importers and exporters window (I&E) window, where forex is traded between exporters, investors, and purchasers of forex, the SMEIS window where forex is sold to importers, and others.

International organisations such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) have constantly advised the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to unify the official and parallel market exchange rates.

But Godwin Emefiele, the CBN governor, had said that despite advice offered by IMF and the World Bank, developing economies such as Nigeria had the liberty of adopting “homegrown solutions to their economic problems.

According to him, the managed floating exchange rate, which allows the CBN to intervene in the market when there is a supply shock, would be in place as long as supply exceeds demand.

“They want us to free the exchange rate. And you do know that this has some impacts on the exchange rate itself,” he had said.

“When you allow that to happen, you will have an uncontrollable spiral on the naira.

“But what managed float means is that we have some measures in place to help control the spiral.”

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FG, states in trouble, as NNPC again fails to remit, despite N470.61bn revenue

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FG, states in trouble, as NNPC again fails to remit, despite N470.61bn revenue

These are challenging times for the federal and state governments as one major source of income to the federation account seems to be totally cut off.

On Monday, The National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPC) revealed it failed to remit monies to the federation account in May 2022 despite making N470.61 billion.

This is the fifth straight month NNPC has failed to credit the federal account while exporting crude at an average price of $100 per barrel.

Details of the June FAAC report obtained by The Harmattan News showed NNPC since the start of the year made N1.897 trillion, over N234.1 billion more than the expected revenue.

Sadly, however, NNPC said all the revenue had gone into various expenditure which includes petrol subsidy, oil search, Pipeline Security & Maintenance cost, National Domestic Gas Development and Nigeria Morocco Pipeline cost among others.

As expected, the bulk of the expenditure, N1.27 trillion, went toward recovery (also known as petrol subsidy).

In fact, NNPC said it has budgeted another N617 billion for petrol subsidy in June.

The report reads: “The Value Shortfall on the importation of PMS recovered from May 2022 proceeds is N327,065,907,048.06 while the outstanding balance carried forward is N617bn .”

“The estimated Value Shortfall of N845,152,863,012.97bn (consisting of arrears of N617bn plus estimated May 2022

Value Short Fall of N227,721,200,478.23) is to be recovered from June 2022 proceed due for sharing at the July 2022 FAAC Meeting,” it added.

The development means states have a tough road ahead and will have to look inwards to cover for the drop in federal allocations.

Already, some states have announced plans to slash workers’ salaries over dwindling income.

Kano Sate has already announced plans to slash workers’ salaries, following in the foot steps of the Ekiti State government that announced civil servants’ and political appointees’ salaries will be slashed in response to the present economic reality in the country.

Ekiti went further to suspend minimum wage implementation with no date of resumptions.

The Harmattan News had recently reported that pension contribution from governments dropped to a 16-year low in the first quarter of 2022.

From recent developments, it is more likely the figure will tank further.

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Nigerian govt to auction N225bn bond as search for funds continues

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Nigerian govt to auction N225bn bond as search for funds continues

Federal government bonds worth N225 billion would be auctioned today, Monday, June 20, 2022, by the Debt Management Office (DMO) at the primary market.

The debt instrument is being sold by the central government to raise funds to finance the 2022 budget deficit and in today’s exercise, the DMO is offering the notes in three tenors.

The debt office is anticipated to sell the FGN bonds at double digits to make the asset class more attractive to investors.

In a circular published on its website and obtained by The Harmattan News, all three maturities are re-opening, meaning they are from the previously sold bonds.

The circular noted that N75 billion worth of a 10-year bond with maturity in 2025 would be offered for sale at the auction. Another N75 billion worth of a 10-year note maturing in 2032 is up for grabs and N75 billion worth of a 20-year instrument with maturity in 2042 would be sold.

Intending subscribers would be expected to reach out to primary dealer market makers to buy the bonds for N1,000 per unit subject to a minimum subscription of N50 million and in multiples of N1,000 thereafter.

The interest would be paid by the government semi-annually, while the bullet repayment will be done on the maturity date.

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