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DVLA staff to get payments worth £735 as government seeks to avoid strikes

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DVLA staff to get payments worth £735 as government seeks to avoid strikes

Staff at the DVLA have been promised payments worth £735 as the government seeks to avoid strike action that risks exacerbating the backlog of tens of thousands of licences awaiting renewal.

It is understood the money will come in two payments, and has been offered as though unrelated to the fact the PCS trade union is currently balloting staff over renewed strike action.

DVLA employees have been locked in a bitter dispute with management for months over the safety of employees asked to work through the pandemic in the agency’s Swansea headquarters, where the PCS says there have been more than 900 Covid cases.

Transport secretary Grant Shapps has been under pressure to resolve the dispute, with the availability of licences for HGV drivers regarded as critical to tackling the supply crunch that has seen retailers warn about empty shelves at Christmas.

The DVLA said last week that it had 54,000 HGV licences awaiting processing – many of them renewals.

An agreement on safety and the return to the workplace was reached in June with the management of the DVLA, but the PCS claims it was unpicked at the last minute.

Mark Serwotka, general secretary of the PCS, told the Guardian his members had been unfairly blamed for the DVLA’s failure to draw up plans to deal with the backlog of licences awaiting renewal.

“Deflecting on to the civil service or the union is an easy out for them,” he said, adding, “it is in crisis down there – and in any other organisation you would have expected them to want to find a resolution when there was one there.”

Turnout in the PCS’s last ballot of staff earlier this year was only just over the 50% legal threshold for triggering industrial action. If the PCS wins this time it plans to hold further stoppages over safety, despite the £735 payments.

Meanwhile more than a thousand driving examiners are to strike for two days next week at another Department for Transport agency, the DVSA, over workloads.

Examiners, about 200 of whom also test HGV drivers, have been asked to carry out eight tests a day instead of the current seven – something the PCS claims is unsafe and would lead to burnout. The roads minister, Charlotte Vere, visited the DVLA on Thursday and met staff.

Shapps recently announced that the army would be drafted in to boost the DVSA’s capacity to offer HGV tests but the organisation has not been given other additional resources to resolve the post-Covid backlog.

Serwotka said: “The two organisations have one common denominator, which is that they’re both in the Department for Transport – and the Department for Transport is really poorly managed and has a very poor record of industrial relations.”

He added that the prime minister’s rhetoric in his party conference speech about a high wage, high investment economy did not appear to apply to workers such as those in the DVLA and DVSA. “It seems that whoever else they say they have in mind, they certainly don’t mean people on the frontline of the pandemic,” he said.

A DVLA spokesperson said the payments to staff were “local recognition awards … [that] form part of a civil service-wide recognition scheme and are in no way linked to the industrial action”.

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Naira depreciates further to N614/$ at parallel market

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Naira depreciates further to N614/$ at parallel market

The Nigerian naira has dropped to N614 against the dollar at the parallel section of the foreign exchange market.

The figure signifies a depreciation of N7 or 1.2 percent compared to the N607 it traded last two weeks.

Bureaux De Change operators (BDCs), popularly known as ‘abokis’, who spoke to TheCable in Lagos on Tuesday, said they purchase the greenback at N608/$, make a gain of N6, and then sell at N614.

At the official market, the naira also depreciated by 0.21 percent to close at N421/$ on Monday, according to information obtained from FMDQ OTC Securities Exchange — a platform that oversees official foreign-exchange trading.

Nigeria operates multiple exchange rate windows ranging from the importers and exporters window (I&E) window, where forex is traded between exporters, investors, and purchasers of forex, the SMEIS window where forex is sold to importers, and others.

International organisations such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) have constantly advised the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to unify the official and parallel market exchange rates.

But Godwin Emefiele, the CBN governor, had said that despite advice offered by IMF and the World Bank, developing economies such as Nigeria had the liberty of adopting “homegrown solutions to their economic problems.

According to him, the managed floating exchange rate, which allows the CBN to intervene in the market when there is a supply shock, would be in place as long as supply exceeds demand.

“They want us to free the exchange rate. And you do know that this has some impacts on the exchange rate itself,” he had said.

“When you allow that to happen, you will have an uncontrollable spiral on the naira.

“But what managed float means is that we have some measures in place to help control the spiral.”

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FG, states in trouble, as NNPC again fails to remit, despite N470.61bn revenue

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FG, states in trouble, as NNPC again fails to remit, despite N470.61bn revenue

These are challenging times for the federal and state governments as one major source of income to the federation account seems to be totally cut off.

On Monday, The National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPC) revealed it failed to remit monies to the federation account in May 2022 despite making N470.61 billion.

This is the fifth straight month NNPC has failed to credit the federal account while exporting crude at an average price of $100 per barrel.

Details of the June FAAC report obtained by The Harmattan News showed NNPC since the start of the year made N1.897 trillion, over N234.1 billion more than the expected revenue.

Sadly, however, NNPC said all the revenue had gone into various expenditure which includes petrol subsidy, oil search, Pipeline Security & Maintenance cost, National Domestic Gas Development and Nigeria Morocco Pipeline cost among others.

As expected, the bulk of the expenditure, N1.27 trillion, went toward recovery (also known as petrol subsidy).

In fact, NNPC said it has budgeted another N617 billion for petrol subsidy in June.

The report reads: “The Value Shortfall on the importation of PMS recovered from May 2022 proceeds is N327,065,907,048.06 while the outstanding balance carried forward is N617bn .”

“The estimated Value Shortfall of N845,152,863,012.97bn (consisting of arrears of N617bn plus estimated May 2022

Value Short Fall of N227,721,200,478.23) is to be recovered from June 2022 proceed due for sharing at the July 2022 FAAC Meeting,” it added.

The development means states have a tough road ahead and will have to look inwards to cover for the drop in federal allocations.

Already, some states have announced plans to slash workers’ salaries over dwindling income.

Kano Sate has already announced plans to slash workers’ salaries, following in the foot steps of the Ekiti State government that announced civil servants’ and political appointees’ salaries will be slashed in response to the present economic reality in the country.

Ekiti went further to suspend minimum wage implementation with no date of resumptions.

The Harmattan News had recently reported that pension contribution from governments dropped to a 16-year low in the first quarter of 2022.

From recent developments, it is more likely the figure will tank further.

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Nigerian govt to auction N225bn bond as search for funds continues

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Nigerian govt to auction N225bn bond as search for funds continues

Federal government bonds worth N225 billion would be auctioned today, Monday, June 20, 2022, by the Debt Management Office (DMO) at the primary market.

The debt instrument is being sold by the central government to raise funds to finance the 2022 budget deficit and in today’s exercise, the DMO is offering the notes in three tenors.

The debt office is anticipated to sell the FGN bonds at double digits to make the asset class more attractive to investors.

In a circular published on its website and obtained by The Harmattan News, all three maturities are re-opening, meaning they are from the previously sold bonds.

The circular noted that N75 billion worth of a 10-year bond with maturity in 2025 would be offered for sale at the auction. Another N75 billion worth of a 10-year note maturing in 2032 is up for grabs and N75 billion worth of a 20-year instrument with maturity in 2042 would be sold.

Intending subscribers would be expected to reach out to primary dealer market makers to buy the bonds for N1,000 per unit subject to a minimum subscription of N50 million and in multiples of N1,000 thereafter.

The interest would be paid by the government semi-annually, while the bullet repayment will be done on the maturity date.

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