FG Has Put Electricity Hike on Hold for Two Weeks and Announced Palliatives for Workers
The Nigeria Labour Congress and the Trade Union Congress have suspended the strike scheduled to commence today (Monday).
This followed an agreement reached with the Federal Government at a meeting which started at 8.30pm on Sunday and ended at 2:50am this morning.
After exhaustive deliberations on the issues raised by the labour centres, the meeting agreed to suspend the application of the cost-reflective electricity tariff adjustments for two weeks.
The Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, read the five-page communique signed by the representatives of the government and labour.
The NLC President, Ayuba Wabba; and his Trade Union Congress counterpart, Quadri Olaleye, amongst others signed on behalf of Organised Labour while the Minister of Labour, Chris Ngige; Minister of State Petroleum, Timipre Silva; Minister of State Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo (SAN); Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed; and the Secretary to Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha and others, signed on behalf of the government.
Olaleye confirmed the development in an interview on Monday morning.
He said, “Definitely correct. We just left a press conference. We signed a document to suspend the action for two weeks for the government to implement those things that we agreed in the agreement. So, we are suspending for two weeks.
“We don’t need a notice again to re-convene if there is a need to do that.”
The parties agreed to set up a technical committee comprising Ministries, Departments, Agencies, NLC and TUC.
It would work for a duration of two weeks effective September 28, to examine the justifications for the new policy “in view of the need for the validation of the basis for the new cost-reflective tariff as a result of the conflicting information from the fields which appeared different from the data presented to justify the new policy by NERC; metering deployment, challenges, timeline for massive rollout.”
The members of the committee include the Minister of State Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo (SAN) as Chairman; Minister of State Power, Godwin Jedy-Agba; Chairman, National Electricity Regulatory Commission, James Momoh; Special Assistant to the President on Infrastructure, Ahmad Zakari as the Secretary.
Other members are Onoho’Omhen Ebhohimhen, Joe Ajaero (NLC), Chris Okonkwo (TUC) and a representative of electricity distribution companies.
The committee’s terms of reference are to examine the justification for the new policy on cost-reflective electricity tariff adjustments; to look at the different DISCOs and their different electricity tariff vis-à-vis NERC order and mandate; examine and advise government on the issues that have hindered the deployment of the 6 million meters, among others.
“During the two weeks, the DISCOs shall suspend the application of the cost-reflective electricity tariff adjustments,” the communique noted.
It also noted that the FG has fashioned out palliatives that would ameliorate the sufferings that Nigerian workers may experience as a result of the hike in cost electricity tariffs and the deregulation of the downstream sector of the petroleum industry.
The palliatives will be in the areas of transport, power, housing, agriculture and humanitarian support.
The meeting also resolved that the 40 per cent stake of government in the DISCO and the stake of workers should be reflected in the composition of the DISCO’s boards.
It agreed that “an all-inclusive and independent review of the power sector operations as provided in the privatization MoU to be undertaken before the end of the year 2020, with labour represented.
“All parties agreed on the urgency for increasing the local refining capacity of the nation to reduce the overdependency on importation of petroleum products to ensure energy security, reduce cost of finished products, increase employment and business opportunities for Nigerians.”
To address this, the parties resolved that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation should expedite the rehabilitation of the nation’s four refineries located in Port Harcourt, Warri and Kaduna to achieve 50 per cent completion by December 2021, while timelines and delivery for Warri and Kaduna will be established by the inclusive steering committee.
“To ensure commitment and transparency to the processes and timelines of the rehabilitation exercise, the management of NNPC has offered to integrate the national leadership of the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers and Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association into the steering committee already established by the corporation,” the communique stated.
It added that a validation team comprising the representatives of the NNPC, Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission, NUPENG and PENGASSAN would be established to monitor progress of the rehabilitation of the refineries and the pipelines/strategic depots network and advice the steering committee periodically.
It also said that post-rehabilitation, NNPC shall involve the PENGASSAN and NUPENG in the process of establishing the operational model of the nation’s refineries.
The statement added, “The Federal Government will facilitate the delivery of licensed modular and regular refineries, involvement of upstream companies in petroleum refining and establishing framework for financing in the downstream sector.
“NNPC to expedite work on the Build, Operate and Transfer framework for the nation’s pipelines and strategic depots network for efficient transportation and distribution of petroleum products to match the delivery timelines of the refineries as agreed.”
The government and its agencies agreed to ensure delivery of 1 million CNG/LPG AutoGas conversion kits, storage skids and dispensing units under the Nigeria Gas Expansion Programme by December 2021 to enable delivery of cheaper transportation and power fuel.
A governance structure that will include representatives of organized labour shall be established for timely delivery.
To cushion the impacts of the downstream sector deregulation and tariffs adjustment in the power sector, the FG agreed to announce in two weeks a specific amount to be accessed by workers with subsequent provision for 240,000 workers under the auspices of NLC and TUC for participation in agricultural ventures through the Central Bank and the Ministry of Agriculture.
The timeline will be fixed at the next meeting.
The meeting further resolved that the FG will facilitate the removal of tax on minimum wage as a way of cushioning the impacts of the policy on the lowest vulnerable.
The government would also make available to organized labour 133 CNG/LPG-driven mass transit buses immediately and provide to the major cities across the country on a scale up basis thereafter, to all states and local governments before December 2021.
“On Housing, 10 per cent to be allocated to Nigerian workers under the ongoing Ministry of Housing and Finance initiative through the NLC and TUC,” the communique disclosed.
Nigeria Allotted $3.35bn From IMF’s Special Drawing Rights(SDRs)
Nigeria has secured about $3.35 billion as part of a historic general allocation of Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
This is part of the general allocation of about SDR456 billion – an equivalent of $650 billion – by the IMF Board of Governors.
This will help to boost liquidity in Nigeria that is currently battling declining revenue.
The allocation which was approved on Monday aims to boost global liquidity at a time when the world is grappling with the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
“This is a historic decision – the largest SDR allocation in the history of the IMF and a shot in the arm for the global economy at a time of unprecedented crisis,” said IMF Managing Director, Kristalina Georgieva.
Although it is not a currency, the SDR is an international reserve asset created by the IMF to supplement the official reserves of its member countries.
It is a potential claim on the freely usable currencies of IMF members and can provide a country with liquidity. The SDR is defined by the US dollar, Euro, Chinese Yuan, Japanese Yen, and the British Pound.
The amount allocated to Nigeria is as a result of the exchange rate of reference which is 0.702283 SDR to a dollar as of July 1, 2021, and Nigeria has 2.4545 billion SDRs.
“The SDR allocation will benefit all members, address the long-term global need for reserves, build confidence, and foster the resilience and stability of the global economy,” the IMF managing director added.
“It will particularly help our most vulnerable countries struggling to cope with the impact of the COVID-19 crisis.”
According to the IMF, the general allocation of SDRs will become effective on August 23 and the newly created SDRs will be credited to IMF member countries in proportion to their existing quotas in the Fund.
It stated that about $275 billion (about SDR 193 billion) of the new allocation will go to emerging markets and developing countries, including low-income countries.
UN Chief Welcomes Historic’ IMF Liquidity Boost for Governments in Need
As the COVID-19 crisis continues to exacerbate restrictions on government spending throughout the world, the UN chief on Tuesday welcomed the decision by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to approve a $650 billion allocation of Special Drawing Rights to “boost liquidity”.
Secretary-General António Guterres issued a statement on the policy change towards Special Drawing Rights or SDRs, a type of foreign reserve asset that is IMF defined and maintained, as additional funding that could help to pay down debts.
He also underscored that economies not in need of access to cash should “consider channeling these resources to vulnerable low and middle-income countries that need a liquidity injection by replenishing the IMF’s Poverty Reduction and Growth Trust Fund”.
Yesterday’s IMF’s allocation makes new borrowing available to the fund’s 190 member countries, roughly in proportion to their share of the global economy.
“This is a historic decision – the largest SDR allocation in the history of the IMF and a shot in the arm for the global economy at a time of unprecedented crisis”, said IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva.
“The SDR allocation will benefit all members, address the long-term global need for reserves, build confidence, and foster the resilience and stability of the global economy. It will particularly help our most vulnerable countries struggling to cope with the impact of the COVID-19 crisis.”
Halting debt default
The Secretary-General stressed that it is also “critical to quickly establish the proposed Resilience and Sustainability Trust at the IMF…[for] a comprehensive response and recovery, including providing more support for vaccinations and debt management and to support the efforts of developing economies in restructuring for inclusive growth”.
Last month, he urged the world’s largest economies to spearhead a global COVID-19 vaccination plan and expand debt relief to developing countries battered by the pandemic.
Bulwark against default
He also advised supporting a new $50 billion IMF investment roadmap aimed at ending the pandemic and driving a fast recovery.
As many developing countries are “teetering on the verge of debt default”, the UN chief encouraged the G20 leading industrialized nations to channel unused SDRs to the Fund’s new resilience and sustainability plan, for these nations.
“Special Drawing Rights also need to be considered as additional funding, not deducted from Official Development Assistance”, he reminded.
IMF Approves Largest SDR Allocation In History to Boost Global Liquidity
The Board of Governors of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has approved a general allocation of Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) equivalent to US$650 billion (about SDR 456 billion) on August 2, 2021, to boost global liquidity.
“This is a historic decision – the largest SDR allocation in the history of the IMF and a shot in the arm for the global economy at a time of unprecedented crisis. The SDR allocation will benefit all members, address the long-term global need for reserves, build confidence, and foster the resilience and stability of the global economy. It will particularly help our most vulnerable countries struggling to cope with the impact of the COVID-19 crisis,” IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said.
The general allocation of SDRs will become effective on August 23, 2021. The newly created SDRs will be credited to IMF member countries in proportion to their existing quotas in the Fund.
According to the IMF, about US$275 billion (about SDR 193 billion) of the new allocation will go to emerging markets and developing countries, including low-income countries.
“We will also continue to engage actively with our membership to identify viable options for voluntary channeling of SDRs from wealthier to poorer and more vulnerable member countries to support their pandemic recovery and achieve resilient and sustainable growth”, Ms. Georgieva said.
One key option is for members that have strong external positions to voluntarily channel part of their SDRs to scale up lending for low-income countries through the IMF’s Poverty Reduction and Growth Trust (PRGT). Concessional support through the PRGT is currently interest-free.
The IMF is also exploring other options to help poorer and more vulnerable countries in their recovery efforts. A new Resilience and Sustainability Trust could be considered to facilitate more resilient and sustainable growth in the medium term.
In April last year, Nigeria collected $3.4 billion—equivalent to 100 percent of its quota— under the IMF’s Rapid Financing Instrument, RFI, to tackle the funding gaps created by COVID-19, especially when the crude oil market stagnated.
The financial support, approved by the IMF Executive Board on April 28, 2020, provided critical support to shore up Nigeria’s healthcare sector and shielded jobs and businesses from the shock of the COVID-19 crisis while helping to limit the decline in the nation’s external reserves.
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