Thursday, 12 March 2020
A total of 18 new roads in Ewet Housing Estate Extension constructed by the Akwa Ibom State Government are to be commissioned in May, 2020.
 
The State Commissioner for Works, Akparawa Ephraim Inyangeyen,  dropped the hint while on inspection of ongoing road projects, today.
 
The Commissioner who expressed satisfaction on behalf of the State Government for the quality of work done by the company handling the roads, Bulletin Construction Nigeria Limited, said the first batch of 14 roads covers a distance of 5kms, while the other 4 covers1.8 kms.
 
In his words, "I am very impressed by what I have seen here. Out of the first 14 roads, 12 are ready, the 13th one is being asphalted, and drainage for the remaining 5 have been complete, leaving about two weeks for delivery. So roads have opened up the area and by May, 18 new and roads will be commissioned here. I can see new buildings springing  up indicating increase in activities in the area. All credit goes to His Excellency, Gov. Udom Emmanuel, for his sustained interest and funding of these projects to this level. Now His Excellency has created another new part of the Ewet Housing Estate.
 
In separate chats with our reporters on ground, excited residents of the area expressed gratitude to the State Government for bringing a new lease of life for them. They said the roads have further confirmed the Governor's concerns and determination to make everyone feel the impact of good governance.
 
In addition, work on a massive underground drainage system along the Edet Akpan Avenue, otherwise popularly  called, Four Lane, is also expected to be completed in a matter of weeks. 
 
According to the Works' boss, " This is to permanently solve the occasional flood issues around some sections of the main Ewet Housing Estate. This will ensure that whether during rain or sun, runoff water does not obstruct traffic or pose any serious problem to residents". 
 
The Commissioner said the old drainage system for the Edet Akpan Avanue must have collapsed as a result of increase in the volume of water from Ewet Housing and surrounding the areas. 
 
Commissioner Inyangeyen assured that with the new and expanded underground drainage built with the current situation in mind, flooding around this area will be given permanent solution".
Published in Engineering
Thai media reported on Thursday that thousands of monkeys from three separate tribes commenced on an all-out war in the middle of a Thai city.

Footage of the monkey hordes running around and fighting each other in Lopburi city centre was widely shared on social media and published by Thai media.

The battle was between monkeys from different parts of the province.

One tribe claims the territory of a historic temple, another tribe inhabits a nearby shrine, and another typically roams around a food market down the street.

The report said the monkey fights broke out due to extremely hot weather conditions, which surpassed 40 degrees Celsius.

It added that a lack of food for the apes also aided the fight because of the lack of tourists over the past year and the country’s ongoing drought conditions.

Lopburi province, around 140 km north of Bangkok, is home to thousands of monkeys that typically roam around the city and have become the province’s main tourist attraction.

The Thairath report cited Lopburi local Beaw Aum-in, a 65-year old motorcycle taxi driver who has been hanging out with the monkeys for all his life, as saying that it was the first time he had ever seen such a large fight between them.

Thairath also reported that monkeys from Lopburi have been known to hitch on trains to pick fights with monkeys in Nakhon Sawan province, a further 140 km north of Lopburi.

Published in World

Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote has reportedly suffered a huge loss of N240 billion in five hours due to coronavirus on Wednesday March 11, 2020.

The ‘Dangote Group’ suffered huge losses just after the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared coronavirus a pandemic (spreading in multiple countries around the world at the same time) which orignated from Wuhan, China.

According to the Nation, Dangote Cement Plc which is Nigeria’s most capitalised quoted company and accounts for more than 20 per cent of the total market capitalization, led the decline with the maximum daily allowable drop of 10 percent or N17, which is equivalent to net depreciation of N289.68 billion.

Dangote Sugar Refinery (DSR) Plc and NASCON Allied Industries Plc lost N1.8 billion and N3.05 billion. Dangote Cement’s share price dropped by N17 from N170 to close at N153. NASCON Allied Industries declined by N1.15 to close at N3.05 while DSR lost 15 kobo to close at N9.75 per share.

Published in Business

The purpose of national economic reform is to change the structure and overall direction of an economy. Reforms therefore can affect the amount of resources available to a country. They can also affect human rights.

South Africa desperately needs to reform its economy. Its capacity to deal with its tragic problems of unemployment, poverty and inequality is diminishing. State owned enterprises like the power utility Eskom, public transport group Prasa and South Africa Airways, are failing to deliver adequate services. They are also draining public resources away from more productive and socially beneficial purposes.

And the country’s economy is too carbon intensive. It needs to transition to less carbon intensive forms of production and consumption.

The South African government’s proposed responses to these challenges are controversial. They involve job losses and cuts in social services. Government claims that over time the reforms will yield more jobs, better services and a growing economy that is environmentally sustainable. Unfortunately, while the short term costs are clear, the long term benefits are uncertain. Even if they arrive, they may not benefit the groups bearing the short term losses.

The same is true about the alternatives. For example, the mining sector’s efforts to protect the coal industry may preserve jobs but at the cost of the long term health of children. Efforts by trade union to preserve wages for public sector workers may mean fewer jobs in the public sector for today’s students and learners.

In short, all these options may produce substantial benefits. But they may also exacerbate social conflict and not generate the promised benefits.

Mitigating risks

What can government do to mitigate the risks and maximise the chances of an outcome that is economically productive and socially and environmentally sustainable? What can be done to minimise social dislocations?

Government should develop a good understanding of how each of the different proposals will affect different groups in society – today and over the life of the reforms. This cannot be done merely through dialogue and speculation. It requires impact assessments of each reform option before its implemented.

Such impact assessments are standard operating practice for large projects. Their scope has expanded over time. They now include environmental, social, health and, more recently, human rights elements.

International best practice standards have been developed for different actors. For example, the financial sector has developed the Equator Principles. The International Council of Mining and Minerals has a new set of Mining Principles. More generally applicable principles including the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and the International Organization for Standardization’s standards on environmental management, sustainability and social responsibility.

There are growing demands for similar impact assessments of substantial government policy initiatives.

Measuring impact on rights

In 2019, the UN Human Rights Council adopted a resolution encouraging all states, national human rights institutions and non-state actors to use the Guiding Principles on Human Rights Impact Assessment of Economic Reforms when developing economic reforms. These principles were developed by the UN’s Independent Expert on Foreign Debt and Human Rights.

The Centre for Human Rights at the University of Pretoria has developed a user friendly guide to the 22 guiding principles for governments and civil society groups in the 15 countries that belong to the Southern African Development Community.

The principles begin with an overview of the binding human rights obligations that states assumed by signing and ratifying the international human rights conventions.

These treaties oblige governments to respect, protect and fulfil the human rights of people under their jurisdiction. They should ensure that their economic reform efforts promote and do not undermine human rights. This means that governments must implement reforms that are non-discriminatory. These reforms must also allocate the maximum available resources to the realisation of the rights of all people in a country.

Where governments cannot avoid adopting policies that have an adverse effect on human rights, they must ensure that their actions are necessary, proportionate, reasonable, non-discriminatory. They must also ensure that such policies are designed to contribute to the ultimate realisation of human rights.

The guiding principles also specify that governments should ensure that their proposed reform policies are assessed for their impact on human rights. These impact assessments should assess the short, medium and long term impacts of the proposed policies. They should also be based on the principles of participation, access to information and accountability.

The aim is to promote a national dialogue about the proposed policies. The Guiding Principles are flexible about who, inside or outside the government, should undertake these impact assessments. However, the assessors must be credible, independent and technically competent and the impact assessments must inform policymaking.

Time to act

Even before the UN’s guiding principles were adopted, governments and non-state actors began assessing economic reform initiatives for their impact on human rights. For example, Thailand’s National Human Rights Commission assessed the impact on human rights of the proposed US-Thailand Free Trade Agreement. The UN Economic Commission for Africa, the UN Office of the High Commission for Human Rights and the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung jointly commissioned a human rights assessment of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement. The government of Scotland conducts an annual equality impact assessment of its budget. And the Center for Economic and Social Rights has coordinated human rights impact assessments of austerity programmes in Brazil, South Africa and Spain.

South Africa’s Social and Economic Impact Assessment System requires government to assess the socioeconomic impact of proposed policy initiatives, legislation and regulation before they are submitted to cabinet for approval. It is unclear if such an assessment has been done of current economic reform proposals.

The government should do this assessment and should release it for public comment and review. But there’s no reason for non-state actors to wait for government to act. Social organisations, representing business, labour and civil society can conduct their own impact assessments. This will inform the debate about the economic reform strategy that South Africa should adopt.The Conversation

 

Danny Bradlow, SARCHI Professor of International Development Law and African Economic Relations, University of Pretoria

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Published in Opinion & Analysis

Zimbabwe will adopt a “managed float” exchange rate regime, Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube said on Wednesday, abandoning strict control of foreign exchange by the central bank in the latest in a series of currency reforms that have so far failed.

The country, which has seen bouts of hyperinflation since 2008, has taken steps to ease its heavy reliance on the U.S. dollar, part of a raft of economic reforms by President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who replaced longtime leader Robert Mugabe after an army coup in 2017.

Last June it made its interim currency the country’s sole legal tender, ending a decade of dollarisation and taking a another step towards relaunching the Zimbabwean dollar.

The central bank has controlled the interbank forex trading market, which was introduced in February 2019.

The latest move will see banks take a bigger role in foreign currency trades, narrowing the gap with the unofficial market by allowing trade on a more transparent platform.

On Wednesday, the Zimabwe dollar was trading at 18.26 against the U.S. dollar on the official interbank market and at around 40 to the greenback on the black market.

“Zimbabwe has had no transparent and effective foreign exchange trading platform for a long time. Consequently, official rates have not been effectively determined, while a thriving parallel market has developed,” Finance Minister Ncube told reporters in Harare.

He said an electronic forex trading platform was being put in place immediately.

“This platform will allow foreign exchange to be traded freely among banks and permit a true market exchange rate to be determined.”

Economic analyst Batanai Matsika of securities firm Morgan & Co described the policy shift as a desperate measure.

“This demonstrates the desperation of the authorities to deal with the widening gap between the official and parallel market exchange rates,” Matsika said.

“But it does not address the fundamental issue, which is the supply of forex. In a managed float, you need reserves to intervene in the market. The government does not have that. We do not even have three months’ import cover.”

Economic commentator Brains Muchemwa said the latest policy might not succeed in stabilising the exchange rate if the government did not maintain fiscal discipline.

Ncube insisted that the government had managed to control its spending and had a fiscal surplus of 3.1 billion Zimbabwean dollars ($172 million) at the end of February.

Last month the International Monetary Fund (IMF) warned that delays by Zimbabwe in implementing foreign exchange and monetary reforms risked undermining the new currency and the government’s reengagement internationally on debt arrears.

On Wednesday, Ncube also announced a new taskforce, which he will chair, to implement policy reforms aimed at stabilising the exchange rate and curbing inflation, which reached 521% at the end of 2019, according to the IMF.

 

- Reuters

Published in Economy

The nation’s spending on importation of petrol plummeted to N1.713 trillion in 2019, data released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) on Tuesday have shown.

The 2019 figure signals a 42% fall when set beside the figure posted in 2018, which stood at N2.95 trillion.

Similarly, Nigeria’s petrol import spending in 2019 constituted 10.75 per cent of the total amount of goods imported into the country last year.

However, it was lower than what was recorded in 2018 when petrol made up 22.4 per cent of Nigeria’s total imports, standing at N13.16 trillion.

The negative growth partially resulted from the decline in the average price of Brent crude, against which Nigeria’s Bonny Light is benchmarked, in 2019.

Brent Crude averaged $64 per barrel last year relative to the $71 it sold for in 2018.

The N1.713 trillion expended on importing petrol translated to 66.9 per cent of the total N2.56 trillion spent on fuel and lubricants.

According to the NBS report, Nigeria’s imports in 2019 totalled N16.96 trillion, 28.8 per cent more than the N13.17 trillion recorded in 2018.

Europe emerged Nigeria’s principal trading partner in 2019, accounting for N7.62 trillion. Asia came next with N5.42 trillion while Africa came third with N3.92 trillion.

Oceania was responsible for N183 billion.

In 2019, India came top as Nigeria’s highest trading partner with N2.96 trillion; ECOWAS sub-region was second with N2.24 trillion; Spain came third with N1.9 trillion while the US came fourth with N1.01 trillion.

“On an annual basis, the value of total trade in 2019 was recorded at N36.152 trillion, representing a 14.05 per cent increase over 2018. However, this was lower than 36.86 per cent increase recorded in 2018 over 2017.

“The level of imports stood at N16.959 trillion while exports were valued at N19.192 trillion, resulting in a trade balance of N2.232 trillion. Imports rose by 28.8 per cent in 2019 over 2018, exports rose by only 3.6 per cent, while the trade balance was 58.4 per cent less than in 2018,” the report says.

In the fourth quarter of last year, Nigeria’s total trade value was N10.12 trillion, a 10.15 per cent growth over the figure posted in the third quarter and 25.9 per cent increase compared to the fourth quarter of 2018.

Published in Business

Panic selling on a large scale not only caused the market capitalisation of the Nigerian equity market to go slimmer today, setting in motion a total loss of N1.081 trillion in two days in what will prove the biggest consecutive loss on the Exchange so far this year.

The market has been at the mercy of the free fall in the global oil prices since the week began particularly the new price war between Saudi and Russia in the aftermath of the refusal of the latter to agree to an oil output cut.

Similarly, there is no getting away from the myriad sweeping effects of Covid-19 on several stock markets across the globe from Dow Jones to Nikkei 225 and the implacable epidemic is having its moment too on the Nigerian bourse.

The market posted a negative breadth as 20 losers emerged against 18 gainers. The All Share Index (ASI) tumbled by 3.35% to end the day at 23,572.75. Market capitalisation cratered to N12.284 trillion at the end of today’s trade. Year to date, the index is down by 12.18%.

TOP 5 GAINERS

Unilever topped the gainers’ chart today, appreciating by 11.65% to close at N9.91. UBA added up 9.73% to end today’s trade at N6.2. Vitafoam went up by 9.34% to N4.45. UACN leapt to N7.5, notching up 4.17% in the process. FCMB completed the top 5, climbing up by 9.93% to N1.66.

TOP 5 LOSERS

Food manufacturing giant, Nesle led losers at Wednesday’s trade, declining by 10% to close at N915.3. Dangote Cement shed 10% to end today’s trade at N153. Conoil fell to N14.6, losing 9.88%. Nascon slumped to N10.55, recording 9.83% depreciation. Zenith closed at N12.05, going down by 7.66%.

TOP 5 TRADES

1.391 billion shares estimated at N17.648 billion were traded today in 7,150 deals.

Zenith led trade with 412.407 million units of its stocks worth N5.056 billion traded in 2,141 deals. 385.181 million units of GTB shares priced at N7.243 billion exchanged hands in 488 transactions. FBN Holdings had 303.032 million shares valued at N1.341 billion traded in 483 deals. UBA traded 59.979 million shares estimated at N370.175 million in 345 transactions. Wapic traded 30.688 million shares valued at N10.115 million in 30 deals.

Published in Business
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