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Fuel Scarcity: Commuters Stranded, Fares Rise

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  • Fuel Scarcity: Commuters Stranded, Fares Rise

Commuters, motorists and other users of Premium Motor Spirit (petrol) faced tougher conditions on Tuesday as the latest round of fuel scarcity in the country got worse, with its attendant negative impacts on transportation and businesses.

Some frustrated Nigerians narrated to our correspondents their ordeals while trying to get petrol at the few filling stations that were selling the product in Lagos, Ogun, Abuja and Owerri.

Our correspondent who visited the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation depot in Ejigbo, Lagos, learnt that only 28 tankers loaded PMS on Tuesday, down from between 40 and 50 tankers daily before the scarcity began, while many private depots in Apapa were still without the product.

Commuters were seen at many bus-stops struggling to get commercial vehicles to different destinations, even as transport operators increased the fares by as much as 100 per cent on most routes.

The long queues of desperate motorists at some filling stations in parts of Lagos spilled onto the roads and caused gridlock, making commuters to suffer more pain.

A commercial vehicle driver, Mr. Obinna Jonathan, said, “We don’t know where this country is heading to because we experience fuel scarcity every year, especially in December. Since morning, I have been looking for fuel. Even yesterday (Monday), I know how I struggled to get N3,000 worth of fuel, which I used to convey passengers.

“It is really affecting my work because as a commercial driver, if I don’t have fuel in my vehicle, I can’t work; I am not going to put water in the tank. The government should really look into this issue because we are suffering in this country. I am even tired of this country; if I see a way to get out of this country, my brother, I will just vanish from Nigeria. Believe me, we are suffering in this country.”

Another transporter, Mr. Muftau Badmus, who was seen pouring petrol from a jerry can into his tricycle at Cele Bus-Stop, along the Apapa-Oshodi Expressway, said he got to a filling station at around 5:30am and did not get fuel until around 2pm.

“I have told myself that after using up the fuel I bought today, I won’t come out tomorrow. The government should help us to solve this scarcity because the poor people are the ones suffering now. All the government people are not suffering but we that voted for them are the ones feeling the pain,” he lamented.

With sweat running down her face as she sat in her car waiting at a filling station along Okota Road to get petrol, Mrs. Kate Chukwu did not hide her frustration over the situation in the country.

She said, “I have been in the queue for over one and half hours just to get fuel. It is really outrageous and frustrating that we even have to pay an extra N200 to get the fuel. It is really bad because now I am supposed to be at home cooking, but I am here waiting to get fuel.

“Last Sunday, in my church, they said we should pray for our country. But I refused to pray because I know that my prayer cannot solve Nigeria’s problems; we have a lot of things that are not in order.”

A motorist, Mr. Sunday Isong, said the struggle to get petrol had disrupted his plan to travel to Cross River.

He stated, “Today, I am very confused and tired; I have been running up and down the whole day to get fuel. My car stopped at a particular point because of fuel. I started moving up and down with a jerry can, looking for fuel. I was eventually able to buy five litres of fuel for N1,200, which I put in the car to enable me to run around to see where I can get more fuel.

“I don’t know what is happening in this country. In some stations, they are not selling to vehicles but to those with jerry cans so that they can get extra money. The government should quickly do something about this. Our country has crude oil; so I don’t know what is causing fuel scarcity.”

Mr. Yemi Adewole, who runs a laundry business, alleged that many of the filling stations had the product but were reducing the rate at which they sold it so as to profiteer from the situation.

Meanwhile, the Department of Petroleum Resources said in a statement that it had come to its notice that some depot owners were selling PMS to unlicensed bulk buyers and some retailers at prices above the approved ex-depot prices, adding that some retail outlets were hoarding the product or selling at above the industry-set cap price.

The Zonal Operations Controller, Lagos, DPR, Mr. Wole Akinyosoye, said, “These actions are clear violations of the Petroleum Act, 1969 and extant regulations, and they exacerbate the current supply challenges by bringing unnecessary hardships on the consumers.”

He added that the agency had been punishing the errant operators and warned that penalties would be imposed on any operator engaging in illicit acts.

“We are also assuring the public that the government is doing everything to ensure the restoration of normalcy to the sector,” he added.

In Owerri, the Imo State capital, a litre of petrol sold for N200 on Tuesday instead of the approved price of N145.

This is even as the prices of goods and services, especially transportation fares, have increased by between 80 per cent and 100 per cent.

Most residents of the city called on the Federal Government, through the DPR and the state’s Ministry of Petroleum Resources, to caution the independent petroleum marketers in the state.

A commercial driver in Owerri, who gave his name as Johnson Emmason, flayed the owners of filling stations in the state for what he called arbitrary increase in the pump price.

Meanwhile, the NNPC said on Tuesday that it had started releasing 470 trucks of PMS to Abuja and Lagos despite the persistent queues for the product by motorists at the few filling stations that dispensed it.

In Abuja and neighbouring states of Kaduna and Nasarawa, the queues for petrol persisted on Tuesday, as hundreds of motorists struggled to get the product.

Is the CEO/Founder of Investors King Limited. A proven foreign exchange research analyst and a published author on Yahoo Finance, Businessinsider, Nasdaq, Entrepreneur.com, Investorplace, and many more. He has over two decades of experience in global financial markets.

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South Africa’s Inflation Rate Holds Steady in May

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South Africa's economy - Investors King

South Africa’s inflation rate remained unchanged in May, increasing the likelihood that the central bank will maintain current borrowing costs.

According to a statement released by Statistics South Africa on Wednesday, consumer prices rose by 5.2% year-on-year, the same rate as in April.

The consistent inflation rate is expected to influence the decision of the six-member monetary policy committee (MPC), which is set to meet in mid-July. The current benchmark rate stands at 8.25%, a 15-year high, and has been held steady for six consecutive meetings.

Central Bank Governor Lesetja Kganyago has repeatedly emphasized the need for inflation to fall firmly within the 3% to 6% target range before considering any reduction in borrowing costs.

“We will continue to deliver on our mandate, irrespective of how our post-election politics plays out,” Kganyago stated earlier this month in Soweto. “The only impact is what kind of policies any coalition will propose. If the policies are not sustainable, we might not have investment.”

While money markets are assigning a slim chance of a 25-basis point rate cut in July, they are fully pricing in a reduction by November.

Bloomberg Africa economist Yvonne Mhango anticipates the rate-cutting cycle to begin in the fourth quarter, supported by a sharp drop in gasoline prices in June and a rally in the rand.

The rand has appreciated more than 3% since Friday, following the ANC’s agreement to a power-sharing deal with business-friendly opposition parties and the re-election of President Cyril Ramaphosa.

In May, the annual inflation rates for four of the twelve product groups remained stable, including food and non-alcoholic beverages.

However, transport, alcoholic beverages and tobacco, and recreation and culture saw higher rates. Food prices increased by 4.3% in May, slightly down from 4.4% in April, while transport costs rose by 6.3%, up from 5.7% and marking the highest rate for this category since October 2023.

The central bank’s cautious stance on monetary policy reflects its ongoing concerns about inflation.

Governor Kganyago has consistently voiced worries that the inflation rate is not decreasing as quickly as desired. The MPC’s upcoming decision will hinge on sustained inflationary pressures and the need to balance economic stability with fostering growth.

As South Africa navigates its economic challenges, the steady inflation rate in May provides a measure of predictability for policymakers and investors alike.

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Ghana Reports Strong 4.7% GDP Growth in First Quarter of 2024

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Ghana one cedi - Investors King

Ghana’s economy showed impressive growth in the first quarter of 2024 with the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) expanding by 4.7% compared to the same period last year, according to Government Statistician Samuel Kobina Annim.

This represents an increase from the 3.8% growth recorded in the previous quarter and should provide a much-needed boost to the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) as the nation approaches the presidential elections scheduled for December 7.

The positive economic data comes amidst a challenging backdrop of fiscal consolidation efforts under a $3 billion International Monetary Fund (IMF) rescue program.

The government has been working to control debt through reduced spending and restructuring nearly all of its $44 billion debt.

This includes ongoing negotiations with private creditors to reorganize $13 billion worth of bonds.

The latest GDP figures are seen as a vindication of the NPP’s economic policies, which have been under fire from the main opposition party, the National Democratic Congress (NDC).

The opposition has criticized the government’s handling of the economy, particularly its fiscal policies and the terms of the IMF program, arguing that they have imposed undue hardship on ordinary Ghanaians.

However, the 4.7% growth rate suggests that the measures taken to stabilize the economy are beginning to yield positive results.

Analysts believe that the stronger-than-expected economic performance will bolster the NPP’s position as the country gears up for the presidential elections.

“The growth we are seeing is a testament to the resilience of the Ghanaian economy and the effectiveness of the government’s policies,” Annim stated at a press briefing in Accra. “Despite the constraints imposed by the debt restructuring and IMF program, we are seeing significant progress.”

The IMF program, which is designed to restore macroeconomic stability, has necessitated tough fiscal adjustments.

These include cutting government expenditure and implementing structural reforms aimed at boosting economic efficiency and growth.

The government’s commitment to these reforms has been crucial in securing the confidence of international lenders and investors.

In addition to the IMF support, the government has also been focused on diversifying the economy, reducing its reliance on commodities, and fostering sectors such as manufacturing, services, and technology.

These efforts have contributed to the robust growth figures reported for the first quarter.

Economic growth in Ghana has been uneven in recent years, with periods of rapid expansion often followed by slowdowns.

The current administration has emphasized sustainable and inclusive growth, seeking to ensure that the benefits of economic progress are widely shared across all segments of the population.

The next few months will be critical as the government continues its efforts to stabilize the economy while preparing for the upcoming elections.

The positive GDP growth figures provide a strong foundation, but challenges remain, including managing inflation, creating jobs, and ensuring the stability of the financial sector.

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World Bank Commits Over $15 Billion to Support Nigeria’s Economic Reforms

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The World Bank has pledged over $15 billion in technical advisory and financial support to help the country achieve sustainable economic prosperity.

This commitment, announced in a feature article titled “Turning The Corner: Nigeria’s Ongoing Path of Economic Reforms,” underscores the international lender’s confidence in Nigeria’s recent bold reforms aimed at stabilizing and growing its economy.

The World Bank’s support will be channeled into key sectors such as reliable power and clean energy, girls’ education and women’s economic empowerment, climate adaptation and resilience, water and sanitation, and governance reforms.

The bank lauded Nigeria’s government for its courageous steps in implementing much-needed reforms, highlighting the unification of multiple official exchange rates, which has led to a market-determined official rate, and the phasing out of the costly gasoline subsidy.

“These reforms are crucial for Nigeria’s long-term economic health,” the World Bank stated. “The supply of foreign exchange has improved, benefiting businesses and consumers, while the gap between official and parallel market exchange rates has narrowed, enhancing transparency and curbing corrupt practices.”

The removal of the gasoline subsidy, which had cost the country over 8.6 trillion naira (US$22.2 billion) from 2019 to 2022, was particularly noted for its potential to redirect fiscal resources toward more impactful public investments.

The World Bank pointed out that the subsidy primarily benefited wealthier consumers and fostered black market activities, rather than aiding the poor.

The bank’s article emphasized that Nigeria is at a turning point, with macro-fiscal reforms expected to channel more resources into sectors critical for improving citizens’ lives.

The World Bank’s support is designed to sustain these reforms and expand social protection for the poor and vulnerable, aiming to put the economy back on a sustainable growth path.

In addition to this substantial support, the World Bank recently approved a $2.25 billion loan to Nigeria at a one percent interest rate to finance further fiscal reforms.

This includes $1.5 billion for the Nigeria Reforms for Economic Stabilization to Enable Transformation (RESET) Development Policy Financing, and $750 million for the NG Accelerating Resource Mobilization Reforms Programme-for-Results (ARMOR).

“The future can be bright, and Nigeria can rise and serve as an example for the region on how macro-fiscal and governance reforms, along with continued investments in public goods, can accelerate growth and improve the lives of its citizens,” the World Bank concluded.

With this robust backing from the World Bank, Nigeria is well-positioned to tackle its economic challenges and embark on a path to sustained prosperity and development.

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