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Ministry Official Alleges Neglect of Calabar Port

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From a money spinner, the Calabar Port is turning into a revenue loser following its littering with wrecks and an abandoned rig worth millions of dollars.

Activities were low. Two “critical” wrecks and the abandoned Delta Queen Rig were seen there.

A senior official of the Ministry of Finance (FMoF), who pleaded not to be named, said the Federal Government and the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) should put the port into good use to revamp the economy.

The port, he alleged, has become an avenue for siphoning public fund.

He urgedPresident Muhammadu Buhari to direct the Minister of Transport, Mr Rotimi Amaechi, and the NPA to transform the port because of its importance to the nation.

The official said the port used to ba a money spinner. He told The Nation that between 2008 and last year, NPA generated $117,178,000 and over N2.2 billion from the port.

The breakdown of the amount generated in dollars and naira as exclusively obtained by The Nation is as follows: $26,529,000 and N203,438,000 in 2008.

Between 2009 and 2011, it was $37,522,000 and N898,737,000. In 2012 and 2013, it made $26,946,000 and N581,109,000. Between 2014 and last year, the port realised $26,197,000 and N540,942,000.

The official said: “It is sad that the multi-billion dollar investment at the port was rendered useless by the past management of the NPA.

“The amount generated between 2008 and last year by the agency showed that if the NPA is compelled to pay adequate attention to the port, more revenue would accrue to the government.

“If the several billions of naira collected by the NPA were judiciously invested in dredging the port, the channel will not remain shallow and difficult for big vessels to approach.

“It is sad that up till today, its channel remains shallow, and investors at the port have continued to count their losses,” the official said.

He accused some top past NPA officials of only interested in awarding contracts for dredging and re-dredging of the port without corresponding development of its infrastructure.

He alleged that poor work was done on the dredging of the channel.

The government, the official, lost a lot of revenue through the frequent dredging of the port.

But investigation revealed that the port has a comparative distance advantage to the Northeast than any port in the country.

While the distance between Cross River and Taraba states is 711km and the transit time is nine hours, 58 minutes; the distance from Port/Harcourt, Warri and Lagos to Taraba is 773km, 901km and 1,160km, and it takes 10 hours, 49 minutes; 12 hours, 4 minutes and 14 hours 24 minutes from each of the states to Taraba.

Findings also revealed that the distance from Cross River to Gombe state is 983km and the transit time is 13hrs,58mins; the distance from Port/Harcourt, Warri and Lagos to Gombe is 1,060km, 1,034km and 1,240km respectively, and it takes 14hrs, 15mins; 14hrs, 40mins and 16hrs 39mins from each of the states to Gombe.

Also, the distance from Calabar to Bauchi is 910km and the transit time 13 hours, 14 minutes. Whereas the distance from Port Harcourt, Warri and Lagos to Bauchi is 965km, 939km and 1,145km, and it takes 13 hours, 10 minutes; 13 hours, 36 minutes and 15 hours 34 minutes from each of the states to Bauchi.

Investigation further showed that the distance between Calabar and Adamawa is 865km with 11 hours, 57 minutes transit time. But the distance from Port Harcourt, Warri and Lagos to Adamawa is 927km, 1,055km and 1,314km, and it takes 12 hours, 49 minutes; 14 hours, 4 minutes and 16 hours 23 minutes from the states to Adamawa.

The story is the same from Calabar to Borno and Yobe states.

“There is no gain saying that Calabar Port is very strategic to the economic development of Nigeria particularly the Northcentral, Southsouth and Southeast regions of the country.

“Besides, when functional, it will increase the volume of vessel traffic and cargo throughput in the port, decongest Lagos ports and reduce cost of doing business for Calabar-based businessmen who spend additional transport cost to take delivery of their consignments in Lagos and Onne ports.

“The port is strategically located for imports and exports for distribution to other ports along the West/Central and Southern African coastline. The location of Calabar Free Trade Zone (CFTZ) in close proximity with the port speaks volumes for itself,” the official said.

He identified erosion, the length and the dredging of the 84km channel, the wrecks, the abandoned rig, insufficient tugs and pilot cutters, the deplorable Calabar/Itu/Aba road and the low height limitation of the Ikom bridge as the port’s major challenges, which should be fixed by the government to turn it to profit.

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

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Economy

IMF Staff Completes Virtual Mission to Lesotho

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Lesotho has been struggling with the fallout from the pandemic and a sharp decline in revenues from the Southern African Customs Union (SACU); The authorities and the mission team made significant progress in their discussions on policies that could be supported by the IMF under a financial arrangement.

A team from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), led by Mr. Aqib Aslam, conducted a series of virtual missions, most recently from September 7 to October 15, 2021, to discuss the authorities’ economic and financial program and their request for IMF financial support.

The authorities and the mission team had productive discussions on policies that could be supported by the IMF under a financial arrangement. The program under discussion would aim to support a durable post-pandemic recovery, restore fiscal sustainability, strengthen public financial management, and ensure the protection of the most vulnerable. Other key structural reforms to be implemented include strengthening governance and fostering private sector investment to spur inclusive growth and employment over the medium term.

At the end of the visit, Mr. Aslam issued the following statement:

“Lesotho has been experiencing twin economic shocks resulting from the pandemic and a decline in revenues from the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) that have proved to be highly volatile. Public expenditures have been increasing while SACU revenues were buoyant but have not adapted to their decline and the limited growth in other revenue sources. At the same time, the economy has been in recession since 2017. The resulting fiscal and external imbalances, if left unaddressed, would continue to put pressure on international reserves and lead to government payment arrears.

“Discussions emphasized the need to support a robust and inclusive post-pandemic recovery. To this end, the mission discussed with the authorities a number of options for containing the fiscal deficit to a level that is sustainable and can be fully financed. The team noted that the adjustment should be focused on expenditure measures while boosting poverty-reducing social spending to protect the most vulnerable. Complementary actions include efforts to broaden financial access and inclusion; strengthen financial supervision; modernize the legal frameworks for bank lending, business rescue, and restructuring, and digitalize payment systems.

“On the fiscal front, efforts should focus on addressing the public sector wage bill, which is one of the largest in the world compared to the size of the economy; saving on public sector and official allowances; better targeting education loans; streamlining the capital budget and initiating gender-responsive budgeting. Discussions also considered measures to modernize tax policy and improve domestic revenue mobilization. The mission noted the need to address long-standing PFM issues to ensure the provision of reliable fiscal data, the integrity of government systems, and the sound use of public resources.

“Significant progress was made during the visit, and discussions will continue in the coming weeks. If agreement is reached on policy measures in support of the reform program, an arrangement to support Lesotho’s economic program would be proposed for the IMF Executive Board’s consideration.

“The IMF team thanks the authorities for their hospitality and constructive discussions.”

The IMF mission met with Prime Minister Majoro, Minister of Finance Sophonea, Central Bank Governor Matlanyane, and other senior government officials. The team also met with representatives of the diplomatic community, private sector, civil society, and multilateral development partners.

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Nigeria’s Inflation: Prices Increase at Slower Pace in September 2021

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Prices of goods and services moderated further in Africa’s largest economy, Nigeria in the month of September 2021, the latest report from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) has revealed.

Consumer Price Index (CPI), which measures the inflation rate, grew at 16.63 percent year-on-year in September, slower than the 17.01 percent rate achieved in the month of August.

On a monthly basis, inflation rose by 1.15 percent in September 2021, representing an increase of 0.13 percent from 1.02 percent filed in August 2021.

Food Index that gauges price of food items grew at 19.57 percent rate in the month, below the 20.30 percent rate recorded in August 2021.

The increase in the food index was caused by increases in prices of oils and fats, bread and cereals, food product N.E.C., fish, coffee, tea and cocoa, potatoes, yam and other tuber and milk, cheese and egg.

However, on a monthly basis, the price of food index rose by 0.20 percent from 1.06 percent filed in August 2021 to 1.26 percent in September 2021.

The more stable twelve months average ending in September 2021 revealed that prices of food items grew by 0.21 percent from 20.50 percent in August to 20.71 percent in September.

Prices of goods and services have been on the decline in Nigeria in recent months, according to the NBS. However. on masses are complaining of the persistent rise in prices of goods and services across the nation.

Some experts attributed the increase to Nigeria’s weak foreign exchange rate given it is largely an import-dependent economy.

 

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Global Debt Rises by $27 Trillion to $226 Trillion in 2020 – IMF

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IMF - Investors King

The pandemic has led to an unprecedented increase in debt—issued by governments, nonfinancial corporations, and households the IMF estimated in the latest Fiscal Monitor report. In 2020 global debt reached $226 trillion and increased by $27 trillion, the IMF estimated Wednesday  (October 13) in Washington, DC.

High and growing levels of public and private debt are associated with risks to financial stability and public finances, said Vitor Gaspar, Director of the IMF’s Fiscal Affairs Department.

“According to preliminary estimates from the Global Debt Database, global debt by governments, households, and non-financial corporations reached $226 trillion. That represents an increase of $27 trillion relative to 2019. Both the level and the pace of increase are record highs. We know that high and rising debts increase risks to financial stability and public finances,” Gaspar said ahead of the Fiscal Monitor release.

Gaspar emphasized that countries with a high credibility fiscal framework benefit from better bond market access. They also experience lower interest rates on sovereign bonds.

“A strong message from the fiscal monitor is that fiscal credibility pays off. Countries that have credible fiscal frameworks benefit from better and cheaper access to bond markets. That’s a precious asset to have in an uncertain and difficult times like COVID 19. Fiscal credibility pays off!,” added Gaspar.

He also recognized that while the international community has provided critical support to alleviate fiscal vulnerabilities in low-income countries, still more is needed.

“In 2020, the IMF’s rapid financing and the G20 Debt Service Suspension Initiative contribute to make resources available to the countries that need it the most. But more is needed. With a general allocation of SDRs of $650 billion, liquidity has been provided, but much more could be achieved if rich countries would make part of their resources available to the developing world. By doing so, donors would be contributing to fighting the pandemic and to the achievement of sustainable and inclusive growth,” said Gaspar

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