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World Bank applauds FG on petrol subsidy removal

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The World Bank has applauded the removal of petrol subsidy in Nigeria was an important step amid the COVID-19 crisis, Themoneymetrics reports.

The bank, in its ‘Africa’s Pulse’ report entitled ‘Charting the road to recovery’, said countries in sub-Saharan Africa were seizing the opportunity created by the crisis to accelerate the structural reform agenda.

“The COVID-19 crisis is not being wasted among countries in the region… In Nigeria, the government has taken important steps to reform its subsidy regime,” it said.

The World Bank noted that the Nigerian government had eliminated petrol subsidy and established a market-based pricing mechanism with no price ceilings.

It said “The gasoline (petrol) price is set monthly by the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency from market-based costs.

“When international petroleum product prices start to recover, the PPPRA will allow price increases accordingly.”

On September 8, the Federal Government’s removal of petrol subsidy and the increase in electricity tariff were in line with reforms being sought by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

In a report on August 17, Reuters quoted sources as saying that the World Bank was unlikely to approve a much-needed $1.5bn for Nigeria in August as planned due to concerns over desired reforms.

Reuters said fuel subsidies and electricity tariffs were also being discussed, adding that a banking source said the loan could not be approved until October.

The World Bank projected on Thursday that sub-Sahara Africa’s real GDP would contract by 3.3 per cent this year, after expanding by 2.4 per cent in 2019.

It said, “In Nigeria, after expanding 1.9 per cent year-on-year in 2020 Q1, real GDP contracted by 6.1 year-on-year in 2020 Q2, with growth in the oil and non-oil sectors falling.

“The near-term outlook is subject to considerable uncertainty as the economy continues to grapple with the effects of the pandemic.”

The report said activity data suggested that the rebound in activity that started in Q3 2020 might have stalled.

“Investment remains weak amid high uncertainty. Growth is projected to fall by 4.1 per cent in 2020 and remain subdued at 0.3 per cent in 2021,” it added.

According to the World Bank, although Nigeria’s public debt level is projected to rise, it is expected to remain below 30 per cent of GDP in 2020.

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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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