- Government Moves to Tackle Corruption at Nigerian Ports
Plans are in the pipeline by the Federal Government to deploy its anti-corruption mechanisms to significantly reduce the menace of fraudulent and criminal activities at the Nigerian ports.
This comes as the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), is currently studying the various tariffs across ports in West Africa, with a view to determining how competitive Nigerian ports are compared to its neighbours.
An October 2016 report identified corruption, which is closely linked to the inefficiencies at the ports, as costing Nigeria the loss of about N1trillion annually.
These corruptive tendencies also contribute in making the Nigerian ports among the most expensive in the world due to the legion of charges ports users are being subjected daily.
If these multi-challenges are resolved, experts believe Nigeria will be on the path to becoming the maritime hub in West Africa, as being clamoured for.
Already, the Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Hadiza Bala Usman, has confirmed that the Presidential Advisory Committee on Anti-Corruption will soon open an office in the NPA in line with a report submitted by the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) on the corruption index in ports administration.
Usman, who is also a member of the Presidential Advisory Committee on Anti-Corruption, affirmed that the Authority will embark on strong anti-corruption measures in 2017.
The move will further sanitise the sector and enhance smooth operations and clearance of cargo at the ports. Many illegal payments that contribute to making Nigerian ports charges non-competitive in West African region would be eradicated and enhance the ease of doing business at the ports.
The NPA boss, who visited major customs agents and freight forwarders last weekend, also assured that the Authority will interact more with stakeholders in 2017, in order to keep abreast with happenings at the various ports.
To this end, she said the NPA would introduce quarterly stakeholders meetings to know what is on ground at the ports, and be better informed on the plight of operators.
Usman also acknowledged the need to block revenue leakages to make the ports more competitive in the area of appropriate pricing.
To this end, she said there was the need for government to look into corruption at the ports and how to plug the leakages.
She further said the NPA is currently studying the tariff structures across ports in West and Central Africa, with a view to determining how competitive Nigerian ports are compared to its peers in these regions.
Usman promised that in the event that Nigerian ports turn out to be more expensive, the agency will advise the Federal Government to reduce charges to enable more cargoes come into the nation’s ports.
The National President of ANLCA, Prince Olayiwola Shittu charged the NPA MD to address some of the problems at the ports, which he itemised to include: corruption, bad roads, and high port charges at the port leading to un-competitiveness of Nigerian ports, compared to neighbouring West African ports.
“We want to appeal to you to use your God-given approach to battle corruption at the ports,” he said.
Meanwhile, the British High Commission and the NPArecently resolved to work together to improve port development in Nigeria.
The British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Paul Arkwright, who was at NPA headquarters last Friday, promised to assist the authority to address the challenges facing Nigerian port industry.
Usman also pledged stronger relationship with United Kingdom’s companies operating in the Nigerian maritime sector, adding that NPA would welcome any assistance that would boost port efficiency from Britain, to fast track the ports development.
Arkwright, who identified piracy as one of the major challenges in the country’s maritime industry said that Britain would make significant contribution to enhance operational efficiency in the port.
He stressed the need to support NPA towards finding a lasting solution to the issue of piracy in the country’s waters.
Gold Gained Ahead of Joe Biden Inauguration 2021
Gold price rose from one and a half month low on Tuesday ahead of President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration on Wednesday.
The precious metal, largely regarded as a haven asset by investors, edged up by 0.2 percent to $1,844.52 per ounce on Tuesday, up from $1,802.61 on Monday.
He said, “The key factor appears to be the (U.S.) currency.”
As expected, a change in administration comes with the change in economic policies, especially taking into consideration the peculiarities of the present situation. In fact, even though Biden, Janet Yellen and the rest of the new cabinet are expected to go all out on additional stimulus with the support of Democrats controlled Houses, economic uncertainties with rising COVID-19 cases and slow vaccine distribution remained a huge concern.
Also, the effectiveness of the vaccines can not be ascertained until wider rollout.
Still, which policy would be halted or sustained by the incoming administration remained a concern that has forced many investors to once again flee other assets for Gold ahead of tomorrow’s inauguration.
Crude Oil Holds Steady Above $55 Per Barrel on Tuesday
Brent Crude oil, against which Nigerian crude oil is priced, rose from $54.46 per barrel on Monday to $55.27 per barrel as of 9:03 am Nigerian time on Tuesday.
Last week, Brent crude oil rose to 11 months high of $57.38 per barrel before pulling back on rising COVID-19 cases and lockdowns in key global economies like the United Kingdom, Euro-Area, China, etc.
While OPEC has left 2021 oil demand unchanged and President-elect Joe Biden has announced a $1.9 trillion stimulus package, experts are saying the rising number of new cases of COVID-19 amid poor vaccine distribution could drag on growth and demand for oil in 2021.
On Friday, Dan Yergin, vice-chairman at IHS Markit, said in addition to the stimulus package “There are two other things that are going with it … one is of course, vaccinations — in the sense that eventually this crisis is going to end, and maybe by the spring, lockdowns will be over.”
“The other thing is what Saudi Arabia did. This is the third time Saudi Arabia has made a sudden change in policy in less than a year, and this one was to announce (the) 1 million barrel a day cut — partly because they are worried about the impact of the surge in virus that’s occurring,” he said.
Also, the stimulus being injected into the United States economy could spur huge Shale production and disrupt OPEC and allies’ efforts at balancing the global oil market in 2021.
Crude Oil Pulled Back Despite Joe Biden Stimulus
Crude oil pulled back on Friday despite the $1.9 trillion stimulus package announced by U.S President-elect, Joe Biden.
Brent crude oil, against which Nigeria’s oil is priced, pulled back from $57.38 per barrel on Wednesday to $55.52 per barrel on Friday in spite of the huge stimulus package announced on Thursday.
On Thursday, OPEC, in its latest outlook for the year, said uncertainties remain high in 2021 with the number of COVID-19 new cases on the rise.
OPEC said, “Uncertainties remain high going forward with the main downside risks being issues related to COVID-19 containment measures and the impact of the pandemic on consumer behavior.”
“These will also include how many countries are adapting lockdown measures, and for how long. At the same time, quicker vaccination plans and a recovery in consumer confidence provide some upside optimism.”
Governments across Europe have announced tighter and longer coronavirus lockdowns, with vaccinations not expected to have a significant impact for the next few months.
“The complex remains in pause mode, a development that should not be surprising given the magnitude of the oil price gains that have been developing for some 2-1/2 months,” Jim Ritterbusch, president of Ritterbusch and Associates, said.
Still, OPEC left its crude oil projections unchanged for the year. The oil cartel expected global oil demand to increase by 5.9 million barrels per day year on year to an average of 95.9 million per day in 2020.
But also OPEC expects a recent rally and stimulus to boost U.S. Shale crude oil production in the year, a projection Investors King experts expect to hurt OPEC strategy in 2021.
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