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Coronavirus – Angola: Confronting the COVID-19 Pandemic and the Oil Price Shock

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COVID-19 Vaccine

The COVID-19 pandemic and the shock from the falling price of oil have put severe pressure on Angola since the country’s second review under the Extended Fund Facility (EFF) in December 2019.

Only months after the conclusion of the second review in December 2019, the COVID-19 pandemic reached Angola, ushering in economic and health crises. The decline in oil prices further strained the economy, which is heavily reliant on oil exports. The economic downturn and social distancing to contain the spread of the virus have been damaging, especially given the large informal sector.

A swift response to the crisis

The Angolan authorities adopted timely measures to tackle the challenges arising from the COVID-19 shock. Measures to protect public health included quarantine, social distancing, closing of borders with limited exceptions, closures of schools, restaurants, and public events, and limited transportation. The government recently approved a prudent supplementary budget for 2020 using a conservative oil reference price. It has also introduced a comprehensive set of fiscal and monetary measures to support economic activities.

Fiscal measures

On relief to help vulnerable people:

• Tax exemptions of value-added tax (VAT) and customs duties on goods imported under humanitarian aid and donations.

• VAT tax credit for imported capital goods and raw materials for producing essential consumption goods.

• Interest-free, deferred payment option for social security contributions.

• Regulation of prices for a list of medical goods.

On government spending:

• Freeze of 30 percent of purchases on nonessential goods and services.

• Reduction in the number of ministries from 28 to 21.

• Suspension of selected, nonessential capital expenditures.

• Decrease in travel and real estate investments.

Monetary measures

• Additional liquidity support to banks and a liquidity line to buy government securities from nonfinancial corporations.

• A credit-stimulus program.

• Temporary suspension for debt service payments.

• Requirement for banks to provide credit to importers of essential goods.

A proactive external debt management

The government needs to safeguard its ability to continue to service its debt on schedule, even under the current trying circumstances. The government has therefore availed itself of the G20 Debt Service Suspension Initiative. They have also secured selected debt reprofiling operations with some of their large creditors.

Financial support from the IMF

On September 16, 2020, the IMF’s Executive Board approved the third review under the EFF and additional financial support to Angola to help mitigate the impact of the crises. Accordingly, the IMF has provided $1 billion to Angola, bringing its total expected financial support to about $4.5 billion under the three-year program. The authorities are strengthening their public financial management to improve accountability for the funds received from the IMF and debt relief from creditors.

The path to recovery

It is important for Angola to continue to stabilize the economy, control inflation, keep the reform momentum, and safeguard financial stability. It is also crucial to persevere with structural reforms, such as privatization, improvement in governance in state-owned enterprises, and strengthened legal frameworks. These reforms will help improve the business environment and pave the way for foreign direct investment and growth-enhancing economic diversification.

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.

Government

UK Government Has Approved Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine

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The United Kingdom on Wednesday Approved Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine

British government on Wednesday became the first country to approve Pfizer and BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for use, according to the UK government.

The vaccine will be rolled out from next week and the first dose could be administered as early as December 7th, stated people familiar with the matter.

Last week, the UK government announced it had ordered 40 million doses of Pfizer and BioNTech COVID-19 and appointed Nadhim Zahawi, the current junior business minister, as the minister responsible for the deployment of the vaccines.

British government on Wednesday morning said, “The Government has today accepted the recommendation from the independent Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) to approve Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine for use” 

“The vaccine will be made available across the UK from next week.”

Matt Hancock, Health Secretary, revealed that the programme would commence early next week.

“It is very good news,” Hancock said.

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Zabarmari Massacre: Buhari to Provide More Resources for the Nigerian Military

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President Muhammadu Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari has promised to provide more resources to the military in the aftermath of the Zabarmari massacre.

On Saturday, Boko Haram killed 43 people with around 70 people still missing in Zabarmari, a village in Borno State.

Reacting to the massacre, Buhari, through his official Twitter handle @MBuhari said “Nothing is more important than ensuring the security of lives and property of Nigerians. Everything is secondary when security is at stake. I will ensure that more resources are made available to the military and other security agencies to prosecute the war against terrorism.

“As we mourn all the lives lost in Zabarmari, the Armed Forces have been given the marching order to take the fight to the insurgents, not on a one-off, but on a continuous basis, until we root out the terrorists.

“We will intensify our cooperation with neighbouring countries on bilateral and multilateral levels, to ensure that there is no hiding place for the terrorists.

“As I noted earlier, the massacre by Boko Haram in Zabarmari is nothing short of senseless, barbaric, gruesome and cowardly. It reinforces our resolve to root out all forms of insurgency and insecurity not just in Borno but everywhere across Nigeria.”

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Boko Haram Kills Rice Farmers in Borno State, Northeast Nigeria

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Rice farmers were killed on Saturday morning in the Northeast Nigeria by suspected Islamist militants, Boko Haram, according to a Reuters Report.

The report also noted that 30 of the people killed were beheaded while over a dozen others were still missing.

However, resident of the Zambarmari Village where the attacks took place said a total of 70 people were feared dead.

Another resident and Amnesty International were quoted as saying at least 10 women were among those missing.

In another statement by Edward Kallon, the United Nations’ humanitarian coordinator in Nigeria, it was armed men on motorcycles that led the brutal attack on civilians harvesting their fields.

Armed men on motorcycles led a brutal attack on civilian men and women who were harvesting their fields,” Edward Kallon stated.

“At least 110 civilians were ruthlessly killed and many others were wounded in this attack,” he added, noting that several women are believed to have been kidnapped.

“The incident is the most violent direct attack against innocent civilians this year. I call for the perpetrators of this heinous and senseless act to be brought to justice,” Kallon said.

On Sunday, Governor Babaganan Umara Zulum of Borno State, who was at the burial told journalists that at least 70 farmers were killed on Saturday.

The Governor, therefore, called on the Federal Government to recruit more Civilian Joint Task Force members, Soldiers and civil defence fighters to protect farmers in the region.

He added that people are facing desperate choices.

In one side, they stay at home they may be killed by hunger and starvation, on the other, they go out to their farmlands and risk getting killed by the insurgents,” he said.

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