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In a gesture aimed at relieving Nigeria and other members of the International Development Association (IDA) of their mounting debt burden, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Wednesday issued a joint statement, ordering bilateral creditors to put debt repayment obligation of such countries on hold.
 
A thoughtful intervention by all standards, the suspension is a considerable respite for Nigeria, which spends more than 60% of its income servicing debt every year.
 
“The coronavirus outbreak is likely to have severe economic and social consequences for IDA countries, home to a quarter of the world’s population and two-thirds of the world’s population living in extreme poverty,” the statement from Washington said.
 
The international lenders adopted the forbearance measure, where economies might find it hard to access fund for developmental and medical purposes as long as the outbreak lasts.
 
“The World Bank Group and the IMF believe it is imperative at this moment to provide a global sense of relief for developing countries as well as a strong signal to financial markets. The international community would welcome G20 support for this Call to Action,” the international lenders said.
 
Nigeria’s exposure to Washington-based World Bank alone grew 15.3% in the twelve-month period from September 2018 to September 2019 as public debt rose from $8.51 billion to $9.81 billion, the statistics office said in January.
The U.S. coronavirus death toll surpassed 1,000 on Wednesday. Statistics showed that 247 people died in 24 hours and 13,355 new cases recorded.
 
Recovery rate remains poor: 384 out of 68,211 cases.
 
With U.S. tailing Italy’s 74,386 cases of coronavirus, there are fears that the world’s biggest economy may soon become the new epicentre of the virus in the entire world.
 
There are fears that the U.S. could also surpass Italy and China’s 81,218 case records.
 
New York remains the most hit state with 30,000 confirmed cases, almost 50 per cent of the national total and 10 times the cases recorded in nearby New Jersey..
 
New York City has more than half of the cases in New York state. It has 17,000 cases, while Westchester County has 4,000 and Nassau County 3,000 .
 
Governor Andrew Cuomo has begged the Trump government to send down medical supplies, especially ventilators to take care of the people afflicted by the virus.
Spain, like Italy, has surpassed China to record the world’s second-highest death toll from coronavirus.

Spanish officials reported 738 new deaths today, the country’s biggest daily jump so far, taking the total from 2,696 to 3,434.

The figure is now higher than the 3,285 people who have died in mainland China, where the outbreak began in late 2019.

Italy has the world’s highest death toll, with 6,820. Total infections are 69,176.

Spain’s total number of infections also rose by 20 per cent today, with 7,937 new cases bringing the total from 39,673 to 47,610.

Aero Contractors on Tuesday suspended all their flights for two weeks, beginning from 26 March.
 
The Chief Executive Officer of the airline, Captain Ado Sanusi announced the decision in Lagos
 
Sanusi said the suspension is meant to support the effort of the Federal Government to stop the Coronavirus pandemic from spreading further.
 
“This is also in line with the decision of the Lagos State Government, which has prohibited any gathering that is more than 20 persons.
 
“Coronavirus, known as COVID-19, is a global threat to our humanity and considering its devastating effect on many countries where it has led to the death of thousands of people.
 
“We, therefore, crave the understanding of our esteemed customers to recognise our decision as a responsible corporate citizen and our support for full government effort to protect our citizens.
 
Sanusi said the management of the airline would review the progress to contain the virus at the expiration of the two weeks before resuming operations.
 
 
Statistics released on Sunday by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) reflects that it sold around 21.51 billion litres of petrol estimated at N2.64 trillion, indicating the aggravating pressure of energy needs on the disposable income of the populace.
 
Inflation in Africa’s largest economy is currently at a 22-month high of 12.20%, having been on a steady rise for six months on end.
 
From December 2018 to December 2019, Petroleum Products Marketing Company (PPMC), a subsidiary of the state-owned corporation sold 21.861 billion litres of white products such as Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG), gasoline, kerosene, diesel and residual fuel oil.
 
Of this range, gasoline accounted for 98.41 per cent.
 
The average price per litre of kerosene, the energy source a great majority of Nigeria’s ordinary population is known for, rose “1.01% month on month and by 7.04% year on year to N326.93 in February 2020 from N323.66 in January 2020,” the statistics office said last week.
 
Revenue amassed by the Nigerian Government from petroleum products sales in the period under review came to N2.71 trillion out of which petrol made up 97.56%.
 
The incidence of pipeline vandalisation at the NNPC recorded moderate improvement last December with 40 vandalised points recorded relative to the 68 posted a month before, a 41% improvement as a matter of fact.
 
10 vandalised spots could not be welded out of the total figure and no rupture case was observed, the NNPC said.
 
Of all the breach cases, 30% and 35% were recorded by Mosimi-Ibadan and Atlas Cove-Mosimi axes respectively, leaving the remaining routes with 35%.
 
The firm confirmed it had intensified its synergy with the local communities and stakeholders to help curb the threat.
 
The data reveal the PPMC’s distribution figure ballooned from 0.841 billion litres in November to 2.775 billion in December 2020.
 
This was made up 2.76 billion litres of petrol, 0.013 billion litres of diesel and 0.003 billion litres of Low Pour Fuel Oil.
 
Income realised from petroleum products distribution totalled N337.63 billion compared to the N105.62 billion reported in November.
 
In the month under review, the NNPC posted a trade surplus of N5.28 billion up from the N3.95 billion in November.
 
Improved results from the NNPC’s upstream and downstream operations were largely for the 34% performance growth, the corporation said.
 
It cited reduction in the shortfall recorded by its corporate headquarters and modification to the earlier inaccurate figure of Integrated Data Services and Duke Oil as parts of the grounds for the improved performance.
 
Cuts in pipeline repair/Right of Way Maintenance spending by Nigerian Pipeline and Storage Company as well as reduction in the cost of gas purchases by the Nigeria Gas Marketing Company also accounted for the revenue improvement.
 
148.32 billion cubic feet of supplied gas out of the 239.29bcf of gas supplied in December was commercialised with 34.7bcf and 113.54bcf apportioned to the domestic and the export markets in that order.
Nigeria has marked down the prices of different grades of its crude in an effort to stimulate sales and clear glut after buyers rejected more than 50 cargoes of its crude in preference for low-priced substitutes.
 
The decision was taken in the aftermath of the coronavirus outbreak and the record glut in the global oil market, where a fierce price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia had opened a floodgate of oil in varying volumes, grades and prices from all around the world.
 
The country’s May loading arrangement made public Monday, revealed increased crude oil volumes compared with the quantity posted the month before.
 
Bonny Light and Forcados were upped and scheduled to load 245,000 barrels per day (bpd), Qua Iboe 215,000 bpd and Bonga 123,000.
 
Usan and Yoho have been timed to load two cargoes each, Brass River and Agbami five cargoes each while Egina and Amenam will load six and four cargoes in that order.
 
“Late on Friday, NNPC cut its April Official Selling Prices (OSP) for Bonny Light and Qua Iboe by $5 a barrel to date Brent minus $3.29 and minus $3.10 per barrel, respectively,”
Senegal and South Africa issued curfews Monday as part of measures against the novel coronavirus, which has claimed more than 16,000 lives worldwide.

Following a nine-hour-long meeting, Senegalese President Macky Sall said a state of emergency was declared in a bid to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, adding free movement would be limited for the next three months.

Sall said demonstrations and rallies were prohibited, public spaces would be closed, and a curfew would be in effect from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. while transportation between cities has been restricted and could be completely banned if necessary.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed the nation on TV and said a three-week-long curfew would be in effect due to coronavirus fears.

Ramaphosa said shops, pharmacies, banks and gas stations would remain open along with the stock exchange in Johannesburg.

According to the latest official statements, Senegal currently has 79 confirmed coronavirus cases while South Africa has 402.

After emerging in Wuhan, China last December, the coronavirus, officially known as COVID-19, has spread to at least 168 countries and regions, according to data compiled by U.S.-based Johns Hopkins University.

The number of confirmed cases worldwide totals 378,287 and the death toll now tops 16,000, while over 100,000 people have recovered.

Mainland China saw a doubling in new coronavirus cases, including one in the central city of Wuhan.

The jump in cases was driven by a jump in infected travellers arriving from abroad, while more locally transmitted cases crept into its daily tally. .

China had 78 new cases on Monday, the National Health Commission said, a two-fold increase from a day earlier.

Of the new cases, 74 were imported infections, up from 39 a day earlier.

Wuhan, capital of Hubei province and epicentre of the outbreak in China, reported one new case, the National Health Commission said on Tuesday, following five days of no new infections.

Three other local infections were reported elsewhere in the country.

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