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Boris Johnson: petrol crisis and pig cull part of necessary post-Brexit transition

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Boris Johnson: petrol crisis and pig cull part of necessary post-Brexit transition

Queues for petrol and mass slaughter of pigs at farms because of a lack of abattoir workers are part of a necessary transition for Britain to emerge from a broken economic model based on low wages, Boris Johnson has argued.

His comments, on the first day of the Conservative conference, came as Liz Truss, the foreign secretary, insisted it was the role of business, not ministers, to sort out such problems.

“I don’t believe in a command-and-control economy, so I don’t believe the prime minister is responsible for what’s in the shops,” Truss told a conference fringe event. “This is why we have a free enterprise economy.”

Speaking earlier, in a pre-conference TV interview, Johnson acknowledged that disruption to some supplies could continue until Christmas, but said the only short-term solution was to resume uncontrolled immigration, which would be wrong.

The Petrol Retailers Association (PRA) said on Sunday that the crisis was “virtually at an end” in Scotland, Wales, the north of England and the Midlands, but warned supplies were still not getting through to London and the south-east.

The prime minister refused to completely rule out further tax rises, saying he would not increase them further “if I can possibly avoid it”.

Asked about warnings of the imminent slaughter and incineration of up to 120,000 pigs because of labour shortages across the UK, Johnson initially argued that this was no different from what normally happened to livestock.

Speaking to BBC One’s Andrew Marr show, he said: “I hate to break it to you, Andrew, but I’m afraid our food processing industry does involve killing a lot of animals, that is the reality. Your viewers need to understand that. That’s just what happens.”

When Marr pointed out that it would be different, as in this instance the pigs would not be butchered for food and the farmers would receive no income, Johnson said this was part of a wider transformation of the economy post-Brexit.

“If I may say so, the great hecatomb of pigs that you describe has not yet actually taken place. Let’s see what happens,” he said.

“What we can’t do … in all these sectors is simply go back to the tired, failed old model, reach for the lever called ‘uncontrolled immigration’, get people in at low wages. And yes, there will be a period of adjustment, but that is, I think, what we need to see in this country.”

Asked whether labour shortages and the associated disruption they caused were an inevitable part of his Brexit policy, Johnson did not disagree. He said: “When people voted for change in 2016, and when people voted for change in 2019, they voted for the end of a broken model of the UK economy that relied on low wages and low skill, and chronic low productivity. And we’re moving away from that.”

Later on Sunday evening, Johnson partly blamed the lorry driver shortage on industry bosses making it an undesirable career for women, saying they did not want to have to sleep in a small cabin and urinate in bushes.

The prime minister suggested if more women had been attracted to the job, that would have helped make “a huge difference to our current situation”.

Speaking at a rally organised by the Women2Win organisation during conference, Johnson asked: “Why is it, do you think my friends, that it’s so difficult to persuade people to become lorry drivers and join the road haulage industry? Why should they join when you can’t even … you have to urinate in the bushes.

“I’m speaking frankly about this, why should you when you have to sleep in your cabin, that’s not frankly what women want. It’s ridiculous.

“That is the result of chronic, chronic under-investment in that sector of industry, chronic failure to deal with the issues, chronic mainlining of low-wage and low-skill talent rather than investing in equipment and investing in facilities and encouraging women to take part. That would have made a huge difference to our current situation.”

Chris Loder, a Tory MP, told a fringe meeting at the party conference that it would be a good thing for supermarket supply chains to “crumble”, even if it caused short-term problems.

Asked by Marr about a prediction by the chancellor, Rishi Sunak, that shortages of petrol and other goods could last months, to Christmas or beyond, Johnson initially refused to answer. Pressed by Marr, he said: “Rishi is invariably right. But it depends how you interpret what he said.”

Johnson said the issue was a long-term one, caused largely by the road haulage industry not investing in better pay and conditions and instead relying on the cheaper labour of drivers from Europe, now largely gone as a result of Brexit.

Johnson also defended his government’s tax rates after Marr said that with the highest taxation policies since the 1940s, he was less like Margaret Thatcher and more like Harold Wilson.

He said: “You’re talking total nonsense, because neither of those distinguished people had to deal with a pandemic on the scale we have. Neither of them had a fiscal meteorite hit their system on the scale that we had.”

Business

Adopting CNG can reduce Nigeria’s inflation – FG

The Nigerian government has said that successfully adopting Compressed Natural Gas can reduce inflation, which soared to 33.69 per cent in April 2024.

The Programme Director of the Presidential Initiative on Compressed Natural Gas, Pi-CNG, Michael Oluwagbemi, disclosed this during a one-day South-South and South-East stakeholders’ engagement meeting in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.

He noted that Nigerians can realize between 40 to 50 per cent savings from petrol upon adopting CNG.

“It can reduce inflation. It is cheaper. You can realize between 40% and 50% savings from patrol. This is good for Nigeria, and it is safer.

“It is 18 times safer than petrol and diesel. It is cleaner and safer for the environment,” he said.

He added that Nigeria would save about $2.5 billion by converting every one million vehicles to CNG.

Recall that President Bola Ahmed Tinubu asked all federal government ministries, departments and agencies to procure CNG buses.

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Nigeria won’t need to import fuel by June — Dangote

Aliko Dangote, Chairman of the Dangote Group, announced that by next month, Nigeria will no longer need to import gasoline due to the operational plans of the Dangote Refinery.

Speaking as a panellist at the Africa CEO Forum Annual Summit in Kigali, Dangote highlighted that the refinery, which has already commenced supplying diesel and aviation fuel in Nigeria, has the capacity to fulfil the diesel and petrol needs of West Africa and the aviation fuel requirements for the entire African continent.

Dangote emphasised, “Right now, Nigeria has no cause to import anything apart from gasoline, and by sometime in June, within the next four or five weeks, Nigeria shouldn’t import anything like gasoline; not one drop of a litre.”

Highlighting how far the oil company has come, Dangote expressed how they are focused on ensuring that the continent will depend less on imports in the near future.

“We have enough gasoline to give to at least the entire West Africa, and diesel to give to West Africa and Central Africa. We have enough aviation fuel to give to the entire continent and also export some to Brazil and Mexico,” he said.

“Today, our polypropylene and our polyethene will meet the entire demand of Africa, and we are doing base oil, which is like engine oil; we are doing linear benzyl, which is a raw material to produce detergent. We have 1.4 billion people in the population; nobody is producing that in Africa.

“So, all the raw materials for our detergents are imported. We are producing that raw material to make Africa self-sufficient.

“As I said, give us three or a maximum of four years, and Africa will not, I repeat, not import any more fertiliser from anywhere.

“We will make Africa self-sufficient in potash, phosphate, and urea; we are at three million metric tonnes, and in the next twenty months, we will be at six million metric tonnes of urea, which is the entire capacity of Egypt. We are getting there.”

Dangote recalled how his dream for further investment in Africa as well as ending fuel importation in Africa has culminated in what is now one of the biggest refineries in the world.

“For some of us, despite the boom of the capital market in the US—you know, Google, Microsoft, and the rest—we didn’t participate; we took all our money and invested in Africa.

“We had this dream just about five years ago, and we said we wanted to move from five billion dollars in revenue to thirty billion dollars in revenue, and we made it happen. It is possible and now we have made it happen and now we have finished our refinery.

“Our refinery is quite big; it is something that we believe that Africa needs. If you look at the whole continent, there are only two countries that don’t import petroleum products, which is a tragedy.

“They are only Algeria and Libya. The rest are all importers. So, we need to change and make sure that we don’t just go and produce raw materials; we should also produce finished products and create jobs.

Speaking further, the African richest man said, “One of the things we also need to know as Africans is that we produce raw materials and export them when you export raw materials and somebody now keeps importing things into your continent and dumping goods. what you are importing is poverty and exporting jobs. So, we have to change that narrative.”

“We just commissioned in February, and now we are producing jet fuel, diesel, and by next month, gasoline.

“What that would do is that we would be taking most of the African crude that is being produced and also be able to supply not only Nigeria because our capacity is too big for Nigeria, but it would also supply West Africa, Central Africa, and also South Africa.

“We have 650,000 barrels per day, 1 million metric tonnes of polypropylene, and 590,000 metric tonnes of carbon black; those are the raw materials—ink, dyes and co.

“We are expanding more. This is the first phase and we are going out to the next phase, which will start early next year.”(tribune)

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Business

Customs FX rate for import duties rises to N1,530/$

The foreign exchange (FX) rate for import duties has been adjusted by the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) to N1,530 per dollar.

This was adopted on Friday, May 17, representing a 6.13 percent increase compared to the N1,441.58 adopted on May 6.

The NCS always adopts FX rates recommended by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for import duties based on trading activities in the official FX market

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