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Ramadan: Currency value depreciates as food prices hit roof in Egypt

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As the annual Ramadan fast of the Muslim faith kicks in, there has been a surge in the price of food which has made the local currency has lost 17% of its value.

A resident of Cairo, Mahmoud Khaled, told newsmen that “people’s joy in welcoming Ramadan is different this year as this is the second Ramadan after Covid-19. Yes, some prices are rising a bit and are different from other places, but people are shopping because they are happy that Ramadan is here and that the once-a-year season has arrived”.

Another resident, Dalia Amr, confirmed the increase in food prices.

“Yes, the prices might be higher but the people are shopping (for Ramadan goods) like every year because they like to do something new and be happy as they welcome Ramadan”,

Egypt is a leading importer of wheat from Ukraine and Russia. The conflict between the two countries is affecting supplies. Last month, africanewswatch.com reported an announcement by Egypt’s Prime Minister, Mostafa Madbouly, that the country will diversify its sources of wheat to avoid relying on what he described as “specific sources” for this product.

As part of an effort to resuscitate the economy the Egyptian government has also started talks at the International Monetary Fund over a new assistance package, the third in six years.

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Zambia: Govt restates commitment to policies that will unite citizens

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Zambia’s government has restated its commitment to implementing policies that will further unite the citizens.

This assurance was given by Vice president Mutale Nalumango while responding to a question in Parliament from the MP representing Mongu Central, Oliver Amutike, who wanted to know what the government was doing to preserve the unity of the country.

Nalumango said all the actions undertaken by President Hakainde Hichilema and his administration, such as the implementation of the decentralisation policy, were evidences that all parts of the country was receiving development equitably and aimed at uniting the country.

She noted that the President’s commitment to uniting the country could be seen through the various appointments which had been made starting with Cabinet Ministers, Permanent Secretaries, Board of Directors, among others.

“Even parties according to the constitution must show the face of Zambia, even this government was deliberate that every part of Zambia is involved, so in the formation of government yes, the President has done what needs to be done,” Nalumango said.

She added that unfair distribution of wealth in any country breeds conflicts and with this realisation, President Hichilema had ensured that the decentralisation policy was implemented expeditiously through the Constituency Development Fund (CDF).

Also speaking on issues surrounding stolen Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) maize at the Zambia National Service (ZNS) deport in Kasumbalesa, the vice president vowed that no such products would find themselves in the Zambian market.

“Although thieves stole the GMO maize destined for the Democratic Republic of Congo, government would ensure that it does not find itself on the local market for consumption,” she emphasized.

Nalumango said the remaining maize stocks under the care of the Zambia National Service were safe and that security had been beefed up to protect the commodity.

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‘Nigerian govt will go after economic saboteurs,’ Information Minister vows

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The Nigerian government says it will go after saboteurs of the country’s economy in the face of challenges which have led to hardship, poverty and escalating cost of living.

Minister of Information and Culture, Mohammed Idris, who made the vow in a statement on Friday, said the resolve of the government was to prevent enemies of the country from derailing the President Bola Tinubu’s administration’s reforms from yielding the required fruits.

“Since the removal of the petrol subsidy, petrol importation has dropped by fifty percent, amounting to one billion liters monthly, according to data released by the National Bureau of Statistics.

“On a related note, crude oil production is rising steadily, increasing to an average of 1.55 million barrels per day in Q4 2023, from 1.22 million barrels per day in the preceding quarter.

“Also, monthly receipts by States from the Federal Accounts Allocation Committee (FAAC) have surged since the subsidy removal, giving governments at all levels billions of Naira in extra headroom to deliver the dividends of democracy to Nigerians.

“It is instructive that the removal of the petrol subsidy was one policy decision that all the three major candidates were unanimous on, in their campaign messaging. It is therefore mystifying to see people who had argued stridently for the removal, now pretending to be against it today. This insincerity does not bode well for our country and our democracy.

“Relevant regulatory and security agencies have been directed to remain vigilant to ensure that malpractices capable of undermining our currency are averted and that those engaged in these acts are brought to book. The government will not allow its efforts to be jeopardised.

“President Tinubu’s second most far-reaching pronouncement was his promise that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) would work towards a unified exchange rate.

“In line with his vision for a more transparent and equitable monetary policy, yet without jettisoning its operational independence, the CBN took the very bold step of loosening control of foreign exchange rates, allowing access to foreign exchange to take place at market rates determined on the principle of ‘willing seller willing buyer.’

“As a government, we are not under any illusion that these policy moves are silver bullets, or that nothing else is required. We understand that these are foundational fiscal and monetary policy moves, upon which we must now build the superstructure of true economic growth and prosperity.

“As respected economists and experts have acknowledged, these foundational reforms will be difficult and painful for Nigerians in the short term.

“The problems that we are solving are no doubt multifaceted, intertwined, and deep-rooted, requiring creative, strategic, decisive, and multi-pronged solutions. These bold moves being implemented are in full alignment with what is required.

“Nigerians should rest assured that the government will continue to take further steps to stabilize the naira and safeguard our economy.

“We will continue to seek the patience and understanding of Nigerians as we push through these difficult times, into a season of abundant benefits and truly renewed Hope. As the President never fails to emphasize, these headwinds we are facing are only temporary, and, collectively, we will surely overcome them.

“The President and his team are and will remain resolutely committed and focused on the task of bringing immediate relief and enduring prosperity to all Nigerians.

“The CBN has been proactive, initiating a comprehensive strategy to enhance liquidity in the forex market. In addition to unifying the rates, the bank has also cleared a significant amount of outstanding Forex obligations, and outlined new operational mechanisms for commercial banks, Bureau De Change (BDC) operators and International Money Transfer Operators (IMTOs).

“It is heartwarming to note that we are starting to see the results. Indeed, the naira is stabilizing, and the foreign exchange market is seeing a surge of inflows.

“Sadly, as with any effort to reform and sanitise a system entrenched in long-term malpractice, the CBN’s efforts have been met with ferocious resistance from speculators and other unscrupulous players within and outside our country, who profit from dysfunction and opacity.”

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