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FG Orders Kachikwu to End Fuel Scarcity by Weekend

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  • FG Orders Kachikwu to End Fuel Scarcity by Weekend

The Federal Government has ordered the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, to ensure that the fuel scarcity currently being experienced across the country does not extend beyond this weekend.

The directive was given to the minister on Wednesday during the weekly meeting of the Federal Executive Council presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

President Muhammadu Buhari, who is currently on an official visit to Kano State, could not attend the meeting.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, made the government’s position known while answering questions from State House correspondents at the end of the meeting.

He said Kachikwu was initially scheduled to join him at the briefing but could not do so because he needed to attend an important meeting as part of efforts aimed at resolving the fuel supply crisis.

Mohammed allayed the fears in some quarters that the government might be planning to increase the pump price of Premium Motor Spirit, also known as petrol.

He added that Kachikwu assured members of the council that the country had enough stock of petrol that could last till the end of January 2018.

Mohammed said, “One, the government has no intention at all to increase the pump price of PMS. Two, the minister (Kachikwu) assured the council that we have enough products till the next one month, even till the end of January.

“Thirdly, this is the winter period. There is always more demand for refined petroleum products during the winter period in the colder countries, this is what we are experiencing now.

“The council gave him (Kachikwu) a matching order that this fuel scarcity should not last beyond this weekend and they are going to work very hard to ensure that it is curtailed. He assured council that there is actually no cause for alarm.”

The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation on Wednesday did not respond to enquiries as to what it was doing to clear the fuel queues in many states across the country.

Efforts to get the corporation’s spokesperson, Ndu Ughamadu, to state if the oil firm had met with marketers in order to address the lingering fuel scarcity were not successful, as he neither picked calls to his mobile telephone nor replied a text message sent to him on the matter.

It was observed that black marketers of PMS had returned to the streets of Abuja and neighbouring states, selling the product in plastic containers at higher prices.

One of our correspondents observed that the black marketers sold a 10-litre worth of petrol for as high as N2,500, in contrast to N1,450 it would have cost at the pump.

Petrol seekers also formed long queues in front of the few filling stations that dispensed the product on Wednesday, as many other outlets did not dispense PMS.

In Lagos, fuel depots, including that of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation at Ejigbo, recorded low activities as loading dropped, though the queues in filling stations were not as long as the situation was on Tuesday.

The media had reported on Tuesday that many of the private depots in Apapa, Lagos, where many marketers get petroleum products from for distribution to other states, did not have PMS while those that had were doing “skeletal loading.”

During a visit to some of the depots on Wednesday, many dealers were stranded as they complained that they had not been able to get PMS after making payments for the product.

It was gathered that loading at the NNPC’s Ejigbo depot had dropped by about 50 per cent with about 20 to 30 tankers getting petrol daily, compared to 50 to 60 before now.

The Executive Secretary, Depot and Petroleum Products Marketers Association, Mr. Olufemi Adewole, said some of the depots decided to reduce the rate of loading so as to spread it over a longer period.

He stated, “Ask the NNPC how many of their ships have come in this week, then you will know whether we have received products or not. If the NNPC tells you that they have one ship coming in, the petrol inside the NNPC vessel is eight days plus before it gets to any petrol station.

“If the NNPC tells you it has products on the vessel, add a minimum of five days before it gets to the depots.”

A top official at one of the depots in Lagos, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said no new vessel had come to any jetty in Apapa this week, adding that a vessel belonging to the NNPC was being expected to berth on Thursday or Friday.

He said, “The import vessel always brings from 30 to 35 million metric tonnes. There is currently a vessel at Oando SPM that has been discharging petrol to major marketers, including Oando, Total and MRS, since last week.

“The PPMC has promised us that within the next 48 hours that a vessel will come in.”

Meanwhile, the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, Lagos State Chapter, has said its members in the state and parts of Ogun State will no longer withdraw their services next week.

Last week, the association had accused the NNPC of under-supplying its members with petrol, adding that they might be forced to shut their filling stations by December 11 if the situation persisted.

A statement made available on Wednesday, quoted the IPMAN Chairman in Lagos, Alhaji Alanamu Balogun, as announcing the suspension of the plan at the end of a meeting of oil marketers held at the Ejigbo secretariat the day earlier.

Balogun said the suspension followed a strong appeal by the NNPC, which had arranged a meeting with the IPMAN officials for December 14 in Abuja.

He noted that IPMAN yielded to the NNPC’s appeal because of consideration for members of the public who engaged in panic buying of petroleum products since the announcement of the service withdrawal notice.

Balogun said the meeting with NNPC officials would determine whether or not the withdrawal of service would still hold.

“But we don’t want to be seen by the government and the public as economic saboteurs, because we have a stake in the economic stability of this great country,” he added.

IPMAN faulted the statement by the NNPC’S Group General Manager, Public Affairs Division, Mr. Ndu Ughamadu, that there was enough fuel storage at the Ejigbo satellite depot, and that the ex-depot price of petrol remained at N133.38.

“Mr. Ughamadu should rather come to Ejigbo and find out the true position of things instead of staying in Abuja and saying what is not correct,” the statement said.

Meanwhile, the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency on Wednesday stated that it had no plan to increase the price of petrol despite the current scarcity of the product.

The PPPRA is the agency of the Federal Government that fixes the prices of petroleum products like petrol, kerosene and diesel.

It said in a statement issued in Abuja that it had confidence that the NNPC would handle the current situation at filling stations well as there was enough products in the country.

The agency said, “The PPPRA has observed the sudden reappearance of queues and the attendant discomfort felt by the general public and stakeholders across the country. We want to use this medium to assure all Nigerians that there is no need for apprehension or panic buying.

“We are confident that the NNPC, being a major supplier of petroleum products into the system and the supplier of last resort, can ensure uninterrupted supply of petroleum products into the market and the corporation has given assurances in this regard.

“The PPPRA, therefore, urges fuel consumers across the country to be calm as there is no plan by the government to review the pump price of Premium Motor Spirit.”

The agency said it would continue to monitor the supply situation and take every step required to ensure that there was no disruption whatsoever in the system.

“The PPPRA again wishes to assure all stakeholders and members of the public of uninterrupted products supply and distribution, pursuant to the overall goal of facilitating a vibrant and robust downstream oil and gas sector,” it added.

In Rivers State, motorists faced a hard time in Port Harcourt and its environs on Wednesday.

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.

Economy

Gov Emmanuel Attracts $1.4b Fertilizer Plant to Akwa Ibom

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The Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Mr. Udom Emmanuel has signed an agreement for the citing of a multi billion fertilizer plant in his State.

Governor Emmanuel was part of a Nigerian delegation led by the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva, that visited Morocco to set out the next steps of the $1.4 Bln fertilizer production plant project launched in June 2018.

The agreement between the OCP Africa, the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority and the Akwa Ibom State Government will birth one of the biggest investments in the fertilizer production industry worldwide.

The signing ceremony took place at the Mohammed VI Polytechnic University (UMP6).

Mr. Emmanuel signed one of the agreements of the partnership, which covers a memorandum of understanding between OCP Africa, the Akwa Ibom State in Nigeria and the NSIA on land acquisition, administrative facilitation, and common agricultural development projects in the Akwa Ibom State.

Speaking while signing the agreement, Governor Emmanuel said, “Our state is receptive to investments and we are prepared to offer the necessary support to make the project a reality.

“With a site that is suitably located to enable operational logistics and an abundance of gas resources, all that is left is for the parties to accelerate the project development process”, Mr. Udom said.

The agreement reached between the Nigerian Government and the OCP further links OCP, Mobil Producing Nigeria (MPN), the NNPC, the Gas Aggregation Company Nigeria (GACN), and the NSIA.

The two partners agreed to strengthen further their solid partnership leveraging Nigerian gas and the Moroccan phosphate.

This project will lead to a multipurpose industrial platform in Nigeria, which will use Nigerian gas and Moroccan phosphate to produce 750,000 tons of ammonia and 1 million tons of phosphate fertilizers annually by 2025.

The visit of the Nigerian delegation to Morocco takes place within the frame of the partnership sealed between OCP Group and the Nigerian Government to support and develop Nigeria’s agriculture industry.

Following the success of the first phase of Nigeria‘s Presidential Fertilizer Initiative (PFI) and the progress of the fertilizer production plant project launched in 2018 by OCP and NSIA, the Moroccan phosphates group and the Nigerian government delegation have agreed on the next steps of their joint project which is rapidly taking shape.

Several cooperation agreements were inked on Tuesday at the Mohammed VI Polytechnic University (UM6P) by OCP Africa and the Nigerian delegation. Through these deals, OCP reaffirms its unwavering support of agricultural development initiatives in Nigeria including PFI.

OCP Africa and the NSIA have agreed, inter alia, to set up a joint venture which will oversee the development of the industrial platform that will produce ammonia and fertilizers in Nigeria.

The OCP has also pledged to supply Nigerian famers with quality fertilizers adapted to the needs of their soil at competitive prices and produced locally.

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ICPC Says Nigeria Loses $10bn to Illicit Financial Flows 

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The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) says Nigeria accounts for 20 per cent or 10 billion dollars (N3.8 trillion) of the estimated 50 billion dollars that Africa loses to Illicit Financial Flows (IFFs).

Chairman of ICPC, Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye, said this during a virtual meeting to review a report on IFFs in relation to tax, Mrs Azuka Ogugua, spokesperson for ICPC, said in a statement released in Abuja on Friday.

The ICPC Chairman said, “the African Union Illicit Financial Flow Report estimated that Africa is losing nearly 50 billion dollars through profit shifting by multinational corporations and about 20 per cent of this figure is from Nigeria alone.”

The ICPC boss explained that taxes played “very strategic role in the nation’s political economy.”

He said the objective of the meeting was to improve on the awareness on IFFs, especially in the areas of taxation.

The ICPC boss added that the meeting would give participants the opportunity to openly discuss how to effectively use the instrumentality of taxation to curb IFFs through risk-based approach.

“Risk-based approach, that is: monitoring and audit; due process in tax collection; structured tax amnesty framework skewed in public interest; data privacy; timely resolution of audits and payment of tax refunds and intelligence sharing among revenue generating, regulatory and law enforcement agencies,” he said.

Owasanoye also stated that for the contemporary tax man to remain relevant, he must build his capacity in areas of technology management, solution architects and an astute relationship manager.

The Executive Chairman of Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) Mr Muhammad Nani, expressed concerns that IFFs posed a serious threat to the Nigerian economy as the act robbed the nation of resources that were needed for development.

Nani declared that tackling IFFs would expand the country’s tax base and improve revenue generation, which was required for development.

He consequently pushed for policy reforms that would make it difficult for “capital flights” from occurring so that the country would be placed on the path of growth.

Other discussants at the event identified weak regulatory framework, opacity of financial system and lack of capacity amongst others as some of the factors that fuelled IFFs.

The discussants emphasised the need for capacity building of relevant stakeholders as one of the ways to stamp out illicit financial flows.

They commended ICPC for leveraging its corruption prevention mandate to open a new vista in IFFs discourse in Nigeria. (NAN)

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African Development Bank, Egypt Signs Agreements Worth €109 Million to Transform Sewage Coverage in Rural Areas

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The African Development Bank Group has signed financing agreements of €109 million with the Government of Egypt to improve sanitation infrastructure and services for rural communities in Luxor Governorate in Egypt’s Upper Nile region.

The financing consists of a €108 million loan from the Bank, and a grant of €1 million from the Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Initiative (RWSSI) – an Africa-wide initiative hosted by the African Development Bank.

The funding, provided in a challenging global context, will help meet the Egyptian government’s financing requirements in the light of the COVID-19 pandemic, and support a sound water and sanitation infrastructure base, a key enabler for the country’s inclusive development.

The Integrated Rural Sanitation in Upper Egypt-Luxor (IRSUE-Luxor) project is set to boost sewage coverage in the region from 6% to 55%, improving the quality of life of citizens, including women and children, who are most affected by poor sanitation.

“Promoting efficient, equitable and sustainable economic development through integrated water resources management is a priority for the Government of Egypt. The IRSUE-Luxor initiative unlocks the socio-economic development potential for inclusive and green growth,” said Rania Al-Mashat, Minister of International Cooperation, who signed the agreements on behalf of the Egyptian government.

About 22,000 households (240,000 inhabitants) will benefit from on-site and off-site facilities, through an integrated system of sewerage networks, sludge treatment and wastewater treatment plants.

IRSUE-Luxor contributes to the National Rural Sanitation Program established by the Ministry of Housing, Utilities and Urban Communities, which aims to expand nationwide access to sanitation services from 34% currently to 60% in 2030.

The project also complements the national Haya Karima (Decent Life) initiative that aims to help rural communities across Egypt access essential infrastructure services to improve their living conditions and livelihoods.

Furthermore, the project includes a staff training component to strengthen performance within the Luxor Water and Wastewater Company.

“This intervention is not just about infrastructure development. An essential part of the project is supporting ongoing sector reforms,” said Malinne Blomberg, the Bank’s Deputy Director General for North Africa.

One of several initiatives supported by the African Development Bank in Egypt to optimize the use of the country’s water resources, IRSUE-Luxor will enable about 30,000 cubic meters of treated wastewater per day to be discharged into drainage and irrigation canals and re-used to enhance agricultural output.

The initiative is in line with the Bank’s water sector policy, which promotes efficient, equitable and sustainable development through integrated water resources management. In addition, the operation supports tariff regulation to achieve full cost recovery, which is one of the basic principles of the Bank’s water sector policy.

The partnership between Egypt and the African Development Bank Group dates back more than half a century. More than 100 operations have been deployed, mobilizing more than $6 billion across multiple strategic sectors.

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