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FUEL SCARCITY: Nigerian Airlines give 3 days to shut down, want rights to import jet fuel

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The effect of recent fuel scarcity in Nigeria is hitting harder on citizens of the West African country as its airline operators on Monday said they have only three more days to fly due to the high cost of aviation fuel.

The scarcity began in the first week of February 2022 when the Nigerian government says it found an unsafe quantity of methanol in Premium Motor Spirit  (PMS) imported into the country, and cited that as the reason for fuel shortage that has led to hard times for many Nigerians.

One of the airline operators, Mr Allen Onyema, the CEO of Air Peace, who spoke on behalf of the operators, said at a public hearing of ad hoc committee of the lower chamber of Nigeria’s legislature, the House of Representatives. The committee is investigating the scarcity of aviation fuel in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital.

Slamreportafrica.com reported last week the price of diesel has hit a record high at ₦625 per litre in filling stations after it jumped from ₦ 430 to ₦545 two days earlier. The product was sold for as low as ₦ 420 two weeks ago.

Diesel currently sells for ₦720 at the deports, the price is as high as ₦800 at some filling station in the country.

Onyema accused aviation fuel marketers of not speaking the truth about the actual landing cost of aviation fuel, adding that if drastic measures were not taken, the least air ticket would go for as high as N120,000.

He urged the House of Reps to give operators of airlines the license to import aviation fuel, saying this would reduce the unnecessary burden on the citizenry.

“What we are asking from the government is to give us the right to import aviation fuel. What others use in insuring one plane is what we use in insuring three planes in Nigeria, so the Nigeria airline is dead on arrival,” he said.

The Group Managing Director of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) Ltd, Mr Mele Kyari, said that it would consider granting licenses to operators of airlines to import aviation fuel.

Kyari also agreed that aviation fuel would now be sold at N500 per litre contrary to the current N670 per litre.

Meanwhile, Mr Ugbugo Ukoha, the Executive Director for Distribution System for Storage and Retailing Infrastructure in the Nigeria Midstream and Downstream Regulatory Authority, said that Nigeria had an excess supply of Aviation Turbine Kerosene (ATK).

He said the country had sufficient products that could go round, adding that the scarcity and the high cost remained the marketers’ challenge.

Committee reactions…

Hon. Ahmed Wase, the Deputy Speaker of the House of Reps, said that the committee was only after the fact, as it was poised to protect the interest of Nigerians.

“We are not willing to compromise what is in the interest of our country,” he said.

He, however, chided the marketers for speaking the language they did not understand in order to cover up some facts.

According to him, the marketers’ analyses are not correct based on the fact at the committee’s disposal.

He also queried why some government agencies would not be telling the truth about the scarcity and the high cost of aviation fuel, saying “we should be seen to protect the interest of Nigeria and not otherwise”.

He said that the committee would ensure that the right thing was done in the interest of the country, adding that the basic tenet of governance remained the welfare of the people.

Hon. Toby Okechukwu, the Minority leader of the House, however, raised questions on what determined the marketers prices and why they were hoarding the product.

Okechukwu said that such actions by marketers were bringing a lot of dysfunction to the country’s economy.

“If we are saying that the landing cost of aviation fuel is N450 from the Central Bank of Nigeria who approved it,” he said.

He also accused the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) Ltd. of not knowing those managing the products.

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IMF Chief, Ceyla Pazarbasioglu, to visit China over Africa’s growing debt profile

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As the debt profile of many African countries continues to rise, the International Monetary Fund strategy chief, Ceyla Pazarbasioglu will travel to China next week for another high-level meeting.

Her travel is part of efforts to press the world’s largest sovereign creditor for quicker progress on debt restructurings for countries in need.

The IMF chief had called for debt restructuring arrangements for Zambia and Chad to be completed shortly.

Pazarbasioglu said it was critical to move forward and that “outreach to China next week is very important, at the highest levels.”

“It’s moving – very slowly, but it’s moving,” Pazarbasioglu said, noting that the participation of mining company Glencore Plc in the Chad treatment was also “a very good sign” that “even the most difficult private sector participants” were participating.

She said the Paris Club of official bilateral creditors had taken years to hammer out their debt relief processes, and China was learning, although she noted that the debt issues facing borrowing countries now were acute.

“The problem we have is that we don’t have that time right now because these countries are very fragile and dealing with debt vulnerabilities,” she said. “What we need is speed.”

Pazarbasioglu said the IMF would continue to press for changes to the Common Framework, including a freeze in debt payments when countries apply for a debt treatment, as well as clearer procedures and timelines for action, and ensuring comparable treatment for private creditors.

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Botswana central bank predicts fall of inflation rates, maintains monetary policy

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Botswana’s central bank has predicted that the country’s inflation rate will gradually fall back within its target range by 2024.

The bank is predicting that inflation will fall back within the 3%-6% range in the third quarter of 2024. The prediction has made it keep its monetary policy rate unchanged at 2.65% on Thursday.

The bank’s governor, Moses Pelaelo while speaking at a news conference said “the domestic economy will continue to perform below capacity in the medium term and therefore not pose any inflationary pressures.”

The inflation rate in the Southern African country dipped to 13.1% year on year in October from 13.8% in September but is still far above the central bank’s 3%-6% preferred band.

“The drop in inflation in the past months is due to the dissipating effects of previous increases in administered prices,” Pelaelo said.

According to the World Bank, Botswana’s reliance on diamonds and a public sector-driven model makes the economy vulnerable to external shocks, as diamonds contribute over 80% of total exports and are a major source of fiscal revenues.

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