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W’Bank, IMF Plan Debt Reduction for Nigeria, Others

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The President of the World Bank Group, Mr. David Malpass, has said he is in talks with the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Ms. Kristalina Georgieva on how to provide debt reduction and succour to Nigeria and other International Development Association (IDA) countries that had been hit by the COVID-19.

The plan is to ensure that COVID-19 doesn’t plunge the IDAs into debt crisis.

Malpass disclosed this during a virtual media briefing yesterday at the ongoing Annual Meetings of the IMF/World Bank in Washington.

Also at a separate media briefing, the Managing Director, IMF, Georgieva, estimated that the cumulative funding needed for Africa between now and 2023 to get out of the COVID-19 health and economic crisis would be about $1.3 trillion.

She also urged IMF member-countries to grant additional concessionary loans and low-interest financing to Africa to aid the continent bridge the financing deficit.

Speaking about an impending global debt crisis, Malpass said: “The tendency in past debt crises is for countries in debt distress to go through a series of ineffective debt rescheduling that leaves them weaker. Creditors may eventually allow them to get to a debt reduction process, but at a tremendous cost to the poor. We need to work better and faster this time.

“While there’s been G20 discussion of a common framework on debt treatment, it’s important that it not just kick the can. Given the urgency of the debt crisis, the IMF and World Bank have proposed that we undertake a joint action plan on debt reduction for the most indebted IDA countries. We’ll discuss it this week with governors during our annual meetings. It’s urgent to make rapid progress on a framework because the risk of disorderly defaults is rising.”

He added: “The scale of the challenges ahead is staggering; so, we need to do more. With the strong support of its shareholders, IDA has frontloaded IDA-19 resources to the fullest possible extent as a key part of the surge in our commitments this fiscal year.

“However, IDA lending would have to decline in the next two years even though the latest forecasts, including those just announced by the IMF, suggest that the reduction in economic activity will extend well into subsequent years. We are proposing to IDA Deputies later this month a $25 billion supplemental COVID Emergency Financing Package. We’ll be grateful, as always, for your support.”

He further said the bank had approved $12 billion for COVID-19 vaccines.

He said: “On a positive note, I am happy to announce that yesterday afternoon, our board approved a package of up to $12 billion to expand our fast-track COVID response for the purchase and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, tests and treatments.”

While responding to questions on what was needed for countries in Africa return to the path of economic growth, Georgieva said: “The continent of Africa is being severely hit and as a result over the next years between now and 2023 – $1.3 trillion financial gap and that is what Africa needs. Out of this, as of today, we still do not know how we would fill $245 billion.

“We have to make it possible raise resources for Africa with Africa and for that, we need the African countries themselves to concentrate on ambitious reforms to make themselves more attractive for investment from the private sector and also to be more capable to mobilise domestically finances for the recovery from the crisis for growth in the future. We also need the international partners of Africa to do more.

“The fund in the last six months has done 10 times more than what we do in an average year.

We have provided to the continent of Africa $26 billion in emergency financing and other types of financing and of this, close to $16 billion went to Africa.”

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Coronavirus

COVID-19: US to have enough vaccines for vulnerable Americans by end of 2020

The US said it is likely to have enough safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines to inoculate Americans by the end of 2020.

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The United States, On Wednesday, revealed that the country is likely to have enough safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines available to inoculate the most vulnerable Americans by the end of 2020.

The U.S. government is cautiously optimistic that one or two vaccines, likely from Pfizer Inc or Moderna Inc, will be available by the end of the year, and can begin to be distributed to Americans, officials said during a news conference.

This was disclosed by the US Secretary of Health and Human Services, Alex Azar, on Wednesday, October 22, 2020.

Azar said he expected that all seniors, healthcare workers, and first responders would be able to receive vaccines as soon as January, with the rest of the American public able to get vaccines by April.

Companies participating in the U.S. government’s effort to develop vaccines for COVID-19, dubbed “Operation Warp Speed”, have begun developing manufacturing capabilities even before any vaccination has been authorized by regulators.

Backstory

It was reported that in an open letter, the Chief Executive Officer of Pfizer Inc, Albert Bourla, disclosed that it could seek emergency authorization to use the COVID-19 vaccine in the US by late November, after the US Presidential election.

The coronavirus outbreak has been worseningin recent weeks as cold weather pushes Americans indoors, raising the chance of contracting the virus. Some 38 U.S. states and two territories have reported rising case counts. More than 8 million Americans have been infected with the novel coronavirus and more than 200,000 have died.

What this means

This announcement rules out the assertion by US President, Donald Trump, that a COVID-19 vaccine would be ready before the Presidential election. However, this news is still a huge boost for the country, which has been one of the most hit globally from the pandemic.

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Business

BRT owners, Primero says they lost N100 million to #ENDSARS protest

Primero Transport Services (PTS) Ltd, the owners of BRT Busses have lost over N100 million in 6 days due to the #ENDSARS protest

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Primero Transport Services (PTS) Ltd, the owners of BRT Buses have lost over N100 million in 6 days due to the #ENDSARS protest which has ravaged Nigeria’s economic capital of Lagos in the last 10 days.

According to a report from the News Agency of Nigeria, PTS Head, Corporate Communications, Mr. Mutiu Yekeen, said that the company made a lot of losses between Oct. 16 and Oct. 21.

“We are hoping something better will come out of the situation because, presently, the situation has impacted negatively on our business in terms of revenue generation. We have lost over N100 million in the last six days but we decided to stop operations to avoid damage to our vehicles and also for the safety of commuters as an organization. We value our customers more importantly; that is why we stopped operation due to the volatility of the state especially in Ikorodu. If you listen to the news this morning, you will discover that people cannot travel from Ikorodu to any part of Lagos,” Yekeen said.

Things got worse for BRT on Wednesday after suspected hoodlums burnt several buses at the Oyingbo/Iddo terminal in Lagos. According to NAN, a large number of new BRT buses yet to be deployed to routes but parked in the terminus situated behind the railway line in Oyingbo, have all been consumed by the raging fire.

Several government-owned buildings and assets were torched by protesters across Lagos including Police Stations. The suspected hoodlums also set ablaze buildings belonging to private businesses while several shopping malls were looted.

What this means: Following the curfew imposed across the state and the subsequent arson of the company’s buses and terminals, it is unlikely that they will return to business anytime soon.  The losses will likely continue and could lead to a request for a bailout if the company is to sustain operations.

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HOSPITALITY & TRAVEL

UK announces closure of visa application centres in Nigeria

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The UK government has announced the closure of its visa application centres in Nigeria following the violence that has trailed the #EndSARS protest.

In a statement released on Wednesday October 21, it was gathered that the centres will be closed for a minimum of 48 hours. Applicants with booked appointments have been asked to reschedule their appointment till next week.

The statement read;

 ‘Important: Closure of our Visa application centre’ on its website said the centres will be closed for 48 hours “at a minimum”.

“Due to the ongoing protest in Nigeria and for the safety of both staff and applicants, our Nigeria centres will be closed for 48 hours at a minimum.

“For applicants with booked appointments within this period, please you will need to reschedule your appointment for next week, from 26th October 2020.

“We will continue to post regular updates on this page, so please keep checking back for the latest information on reopening. We sincerely apologise for the inconvenience and thank you for your understanding.”

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