Oil marketers in Nigeria have cried out over the continued delay by the Federal Government in paying subsidy arrears accrued to them.
According to the Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria, MOMAN and the Depot and Petroleum Products Marketers Association of Nigeria, DAPPMAN, the delay is impacting negatively on their businesses.
The marketers called on government to facilitate the payment of the debts by the agencies saddled with the responsibility.
It would be recalled that the Senate had approved the request by President Mohammadu Buhari for the payment of subsidy claims amounting to N348 billion to oil companies in July.
Speaking on the issue, the Executive Secretary, MOMAN, Mr Clement Isong, appealed to the government to hasten the payment of the subsidy arrears owed to them, adding that the continued non-payment had severely impacted their working capital and their ability to pay bank loans and their service providers.
He said: “We appreciate the efforts of the National Assembly and the Federal Executive Council in approving payment but the non-payment has a significantly negative impact on the operational efficiency of the downstream sector of the oil industry, thereby placing a severe strain on players’ efforts to continually invest in infrastructure and raise industry standards. We hope that the debts will be paid in full to the oil marketers as soon as possible.”
Isong said the debt owed to MOMAN members alone stood at N130.7bn as of August 2018.
Also speaking, the Executive Secretary, DAPPMAN, Mr Olufemi Adewole, faulted the processes highlighted for payment by the government, saying, they were inimical to the operations of their businesses.
He said: “The processes they have highlighted are killing our businesses. Immediately the banks read in the media that the National Assembly had approved, they went to court, got an injunction and seized our assets.”
According to Adewole, some marketers had been forced out of business as banks had taken over their depots, assets and properties due to their inability to pay back monies borrowed to import fuel, while others were struggling to survive.
“The debt has had very adverse effects on our operations. I am aware of two depots that have been forcibly taken over by banks because they got injunctions from the courts. They did so the moment they heard that the National Assembly approved payment of the debt to marketers. Unfortunately, as of today, the money has yet to get into our accounts,” he added.
Source: The Ripples
East Africa registered a growth in foreign direct investment growth last year, performing stronger than other regions across the continent, attracting 30 per cent of the continents total FDI with 197 projects.
According to EY Global’s 2018 Africa Attractiveness report, the region recorded a 82 per cent increase in the number of FDI projects last year compared with 2016.
“This shifting investment landscape is a function of numerous factors, including multi-speed growth, investment friendly economic policies and, to some extent, regional integration initiatives, particularly in the east of the continent where the East African Community made up of Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda has been successful in increasing economic growth since its formation,” reads the report.
Kenya, the region’s leading economy, reported a 68 per cent increase in inward investment projects last year, despite political uncertainty in the second half of the year following a prolonged election cycle.
British investors were particularly active, with 10 project commitments, followed by Dutch companies.
“Kenya’s fast-growing technology sector, nicknamed ‘Silicon Savannah,’ continued to draw foreign investor interest. technology media and telecommunications (TMT) FDI projects in Kenya increased by 44 per cent compared with 2016, largely because of a conducive environment, including a pool of well-resourced IT developers and a high smartphone penetration rate.
“In addition, the Kenyan government has been active in making the country a viable and competitive technology hub, formulating policies to drive this initiative,” reads the report.
Ethiopia, which was Africa’s second-fastest growing economy in 2017 saw its consumer products and retail (primarily textiles), real estate, hospitality and construction sectors collectively responsible the surge in FDI to the country last year.
“Looking ahead, the recent opening up of the telecoms, shipping, power generation and aviation sectors to foreign investment will prove to be a further boost to investor interest,” the reports said.
Tanzania also posted a sharp rise in FDI projects, attracting nine projects, mostly in infrastructure, as well as private investment in the development of a regional hydrocarbons sector.
Major oil discoveries also put Uganda on the investment map, with the country attracting 14 FDI projects in 2017, up from nine in the previous year,” the report says.
Rwanda, which ranks as one of Africa’s most business-friendly destinations, received 1.5 FDI projects for every $1 billion of GDP.
Measured by the same criteron, South Africa receives only 0.32 projects, attracting only 20 per cent of what Rwanda does, given its relative size.
“This is because Rwanda has pursued a long-term economic reform agenda over the years and hence, continues to outperform other countries in attracting foreign direct investment,” EY says.
Last year also saw foreign investors commit to 718 FDI projects in Africa, a six per cent increase from 2016, which was in line with expectations that FDI would rise in tandem with higher growth, given the continent’s economic recovery during the year.
“The increase in FDI was aided by a continuing shift from extractive to sustainable investment. In addition, investors in Africa often take a long-term view to investment. They recognise that low growth rates are not permanent. Moreover, given the more positive growth outlook until 2020, investors are willing to invest more,” the report said.
Another factor that may have played a role in boosting FDI numbers last year was that companies sought to benefit from the sluggish growth environment by investing while currencies were weak against the dollar.
EY also said that the US remains Africa’s largest investor, reporting an expansion in FDI projects after two consecutive years of decline.
Last year, US companies launched 130 projects, against 91 in 2016, driven by an increase in real estate, hospitality and construction sectors.
In the past, US economic ties with Africa were driven by the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa) — granting 40 African countries duty-free access to the US for approximately 6,400 products — and programmes such as Power Africa.
While the focus on Africa under the US President Donald Trump seems less of a priority, the US corporate sector, nevertheless, continues to express a keen interest in building a presence across the continent.
The continent also recorded a 12 per cent drop in intra-African investment, from 105 FDI projects in 2016 to 92, even though South Africa, the largest intra-African investor, held investments steady at 29 projects.
Morocco’s FDI projects fell to only 3 from 17 in 2016, while Kenya also saw a drop on its investments in the continent.
“The outlook for intra-regional co-operation looks bright as the adoption of the African Continental Free Trade Area is expected to provide the required impetus to intra-regional trade, investment and integration. AfCFTA aims to create a single continental market for goods and services across Africa,” reads the report.
Credit: The East African
The Hondurans who banded together last month to travel northward to the United States, fleeing gangs, corruption and poverty, were joined by other Central Americans hoping to find safety in numbers on this perilous journey.
But group travel couldn’t save everyone.
Earlier this month, two trucks from the caravan disappeared in the state of Veracruz, Mexico. One person who escaped told officials that about “65 children and seven women were sold” by the driver to a group of armed men.
Mexican authorities are searching for the migrants, but history shows that people missing for more than 24 hours are rarely found in Mexico – alive or at all.
Mexico’s ambiguous welcome
Nearly 22,000 people were murdered in Mexico in the first eight months of this year, a dismal record in one of the world’s deadliest places.
Central Americans fleeing similarly rampant violence back home confront those risks and others on their journey to the United States. Doctors Without Borders found that over two-thirds of migrants surveyed in Mexico in 2014 experienced violence en route. One-third of women had been sexually abused.
Mexico’s security crisis may explain why so few caravan members want to stay there.
In response to President Donald Trump’s demands that Mexico “stop this onslaught,” Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto announced that migrants who applied for asylum at Mexico’s southern border would be given shelter, medical attention, schooling and jobs.
About 1,700 of the estimated 5,000 caravan members took him up on the offer.
A recent poll shows that 51 percent of Mexicans support the caravan. Thirty-three percent of respondents, many of them affluent members of Mexico’s urban middle class, want the migrants to go back to Central America.
But reality in Mexico often falls short of the law.
The Mexican Refugee Assistance Commission is supposed to process asylum applications in 45 days. But its offices in Mexico City were damaged by last year’s earthquake, forcing the already overstretched and underfunded agency to suspend processing of open asylum claims for months.
During that period of legal limbo, asylum seekers cannot work, attend school or fully access Mexico’s public health system. President-elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who takes office on Dec. 1, says he will offer Central American migrants temporary working visas while their claims are processed.
Mexico City, which in 2017 declared itself to be a sanctuary city, nonetheless put thousands of caravan members up in a stadium staffed by medical teams and humanitarian groups.
Militarizing the US-Mexico border
The first Central Americans from the caravan are now arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border, where they face a far less warm reception.
U.S. law prohibits the use of the armed forces to enforce domestic laws without specific congressional authorization. That means the troops can only support border agents in deterring migrants.
But Trump’s decision still has symbolic power. This is the first time in over a century that military troops have been summoned to defend the U.S.-Mexico border.
The last deployment occurred during the Mexican Revolution.
On March 9, 1916, a small band of revolutionaries led by Francisco “Pancho” Villa invaded Columbus, New Mexico.
Officially, the group assaulted the border city in retaliation for then-President Woodrow Wilson’s support of Venustiano Carranza, Villa’s political rival. Villa also had a personal vendetta against Sam Ravel, a local man who had swindled money from him.
President Wilson responded by summoning General John J. Pershing, who assembled a force of 6,000 U.S. troops to chase Villa deep inside Mexico’s northern territory. Pershing’s “punitive expedition” returned in early 1917 after failing to capture the revolutionary leader.
No relief at the border
Central Americans who reach the militarized United States border can still apply for asylum there, despite President Trump’s recent executive order limiting where they may do so. But they face stiff odds.
After an evaluation process that can take months or years, the majority of Central American asylum claims filed in the United States – 75 percent – are denied. Caravan members rejected will be sent back to the same perilous place they fled last month.
With 60 percent of its population living in poverty, Honduras is the poorest country in Latin America. It also has the world’s second-highest homicide rate – 43.6 murders per 100,000 people – trailing only El Salvador.
The U.S. contributed to the instability that created these hardships.
Honduras has been in turmoil since 2009, when the military overthrew leftist President Manuel Zelaya. Rather than join the United Nations and European Union in demanding Zelaya’s reinstatement, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called for new elections, effectively endorsing a coup.
The country entered a prolonged political crisis. Honduras’s November 2017 presidential election was contested, with the U.S.-backed President Juan Orlando Hernández accused of rigging the vote. Seventeen opposition protesters were killed in the unrest that followed.
The Central American caravan that started in Honduras seeks in the U.S. a life free of such violence. Its steady progress toward the border shows that even kidnappings, Trump’s threats and soldiers cannot deter them.