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Fuel subsidy hits N1.593tn, refinery rehabilitation gulps N54.66bn

Fuel subsidy hits N1.593tn, refinery rehabilitation gulps N54.66bn

Latest data on the amount spent in subsidising Premium Motor Spirit, popularly called petrol, seen in Abuja on Monday showed that the government subsidised the commodity with N1.593tn between January and June 2022.

It was also gathered that the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited pumped N54.66bn into refinery rehabilitation during the six months period.

Figures obtained from the NNPCL’s presentation to the Federation Accounts Allocation Committee meeting for July 2022 showed that subsidies on petrol were implemented in June. The company transited from a public oil firm to a commercial entity last month.

It also made it clear in July that subsidy on petrol was now a burden of the Federal Government and not its own responsibility.

An analysis of the July presentation to FAAC showed that fuel subsidy or under-recovery/value shortfall, as described by NNPCL, rose to N1.593tn in the first half of 2022.

Figures from the report indicated that the amounts spent as subsidy on the commodity in January, February and March were N210.38bn, N219.78bn and N245.77bn, respectively.

A total of N271.59bn, N327.1bn and N319.18bn were spent as subsidy in April, May and June respectively.

On refinery rehabilitation, the oil company spent N9.11bn in January, made no expense in February and March. It invested another N9.11bn on the facility.

It spent N9.11bn in each of the months of April and May 2022 on refinery rehabilitation, while investing N18.22bn on the plant in June.

In April this year, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva, said the April 2023 completion date for the rehabilitation of the Port Harcourt refinery was feasible and that the plant would refine 60,000 barrels of crude by early next year.

“This project kicked off second quarter last year and where they are now is quite impressive. It is on schedule. The commitment is to deliver 60,000 barrels per day from this refinery by the first quarter of next year, and, of course, we are quite happy,” Sylva had stated while inspecting the facility.

The NNPC officially signed the contract with Tecnimont SPA for the $1.5bn rehabilitation programme of the Port Harcourt Refining Company in April 2021 and had promised that the facility would be completed in 18 months.

Meanwhile the company’s July presentation to FAAC stated that the sum of N391.529bn was the gross domestic crude oil and gas revenue for the month of June 2022.

It noted that the value shortfall on the importation of PMS recovered from June 2022 proceeds was N319.176bn while the outstanding balance carried forward was N1.01tn.

“The estimated value shortfall of N1,490,413,402,007.66 (consisting arrears of N479,688,823,026.00 plus estimated June 2022 value shortfall of N1,010,724,578,981.66) is to be recovered from July 2022 proceed due for sharing at the August 2022 FAAC meeting,” the company stated.

The Chief Executive Officer, NNPCL, Mele Kyari, had during the unveiling of the newly commercialised oil firm, stated that the company was now a private outfit and had nothing to do with FAAC anymore.

Responding to a question on what would happen to NNPC’s monthly FAAC contributions, kyari replied, “We are now a private company. Would MTN go to FAAC?”

When probed further to tell if there would be no more FAAC remittances from the company going forward, he said, “We will pay our taxes, royalties and deliver dividends to our shareholders.”

Asked about the arrears to FAAC that were not delivered by the firm over the years, the CEO said, “Which arrears? That’s Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation.”’

On how the oil firm would handle subsidy on petrol being a commercial entity, Kyari replied that fuel subsidy was not a burden of NNPC.

The CEO had said, “Subsidy is not NNPC’s burden. Subsidy is the decision of the state and in every jurisdiction anywhere in the world, countries see them differently. In some countries, they put petroleum tax on top of the market price of these products.

“So, when decisions are to be made in some jurisdictions, they will reduce the level of taxation. That also is another form of subsidy. In some countries, you have zero taxation but you will pay the market price for the commodity. That also in a way, in fiscal system, looks at it from a subsidy point of view.

“In very many countries, a leader can decide that I don’t even want my countrymen to buy it at the market price. I’m ready to reduce that price for them so that they can buy.”

Kyari added, “In either case, whichever way the decision and the policy of the state decides, you know NNPC is there in the space to provide the product to the state at commercial value and, of course, it is also our duty to deliver to the customer at the price that the state wants.

“So it is no longer an NNPC issue. NNPC will have no issue with this. NNPC will be happy to supply because we will now see the state as our customer.”

Subsidy on petrol has remained an issue of concern among Nigerians and international agencies, as its humongous cost has continued to drain the treasury of the Federal Government.

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UK’s Truss defends economic plan that sent pound tumbling

UK’s Truss defends economic plan that sent pound tumbling

British Prime Minister Liz Truss on Thursday defended her economic plan and shrugged off the negative reaction from financial markets, saying she’s willing to make “difficult decisions” to get the economy growing.

In her first public comments since the government’s announcement of billions in uncosted tax cuts roiled markets and drove the pound to record lows, Truss said Britain was facing “very, very difficult economic times.” But she said the problems were global and spurred by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

She spoke after the Bank of England took emergency action Wednesday to stabilize U.K. financial markets and head off a crisis in the broader economy after the government spooked investors with a program of unfunded tax cuts, sending the pound tumbling and the cost of government debt soaring.

Truss told BBC local radio that “we had to take urgent action to get our economy growing, get Britain moving and also deal with inflation.”

“Of course lots of measures we have announced won’t happen overnight. We won’t see growth come through overnight,” she said. “What is important is that we are putting this country on a better trajectory for the long term.”

In a series of interviews, Truss said her government’s decision to cap energy bills for households and businesses would help tame inflation and help millions of people facing a cost of living crisis.

But it was not that decision that alarmed the markets. It was the government’s announcement on Friday of an economic stimulus program that included 45 billion pounds ($48 billion) of tax cuts and no spending reductions — without an independent economic assessment of the cost and impact.

The Bank of England warned that crumbling confidence in the economy posed a “material risk to U.K. financial stability,” and said it would buy long-term government bonds over the next two weeks to combat a recent slide in British financial assets.

The bank’s former governor, Mark Carney said that the government and the central bank appeared to be pulling in different directions.

“Unfortunately having a partial budget, in these circumstances — tough global economy, tough financial market position, working at cross-purposes with the Bank — has led to quite dramatic moves in financial markets,” he told the BBC.

The pound traded at around $1.08 on Thursday, above its record low of $1.0373 on Monday. It has lost some 4% of its value since Friday.

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Stimulus Packages Provided During Pandemic Triggered Inflation- CBN

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has attributed the rising inflationary rates to the stimulus packages provided to citizens during and after the pandemic.

It added that although this increased spending, it also created global supply challenges.

CBN’s director, Monetary Policy Department, Hassan Mahmoud, said this on Wednesday at a post-MPC briefing tagged: “Unveiling Facts behind the Figures’’.

The Monetary Policy Committee had on Tuesday, unanimously voted to increase interest rate to 15.5 per cent.

“A lot of households and small businesses were injected with stimuluses; the U.S did two trillion dollars, Nigeria did about five trillion Naira, these increased the ability of people to spend.

“But the supply side could not meet up with the demand because that volume of injection was far more than the regular intake for those economies, this made prices go up,’’ he said.

Mahmoud also blamed the Russian-Ukraine war, as well as the resurgence of COVID-19 in China for the rise in global inflationary trend.

“That region accounts for more than 50 per cent of global commodity supply and 38 per cent of global oil and gas supply. The war resulted in some shortages which made prices go up.

“Then the COVID-19 lockdown in China. The country is the largest importer of commodities across the globe,’’ he added.

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China’s yuan slides to 14-year low against US dollar

China’s yuan slides to 14-year low against US dollar

China’s yuan fell to a 14-year low against the dollar Wednesday despite US central bank efforts to stem the slide after U.S. interest rate hikes prompted traders to convert money into dollars in search of higher returns.

A weaker yuan helps Chinese exporters by making their goods cheaper abroad, but it encourages capital to flow out of the economy. That raises costs for Chinese borrowers and sets back the ruling Communist Party’s efforts to boost weak economic growth.

The yuan fell to 7.2301 to the dollar, its lowest level since January 2008. One yuan was worth about 13.8 cents, down 15% from its March high.

The yuan has exceeded expectations it might fall to 7 to the dollar after the Federal Reserve started aggressive rate hikes to cool inflation that is at a four-decade high. The Fed has raised rates five times this year and says more increases are likely.

By contrast, the People’s Bank of China has cut interest rates to boost growth that fell to 2.2% over a year earlier in the first six months of 2022 — less than half the official 5.5% target.

The yuan is allowed to fluctuate up or down 2% from its starting price each day in tightly controlled trading. That prevents big daily swings, but down days can add up to a big change over time.

To shore up the exchange rate, Beijing cut the amount of foreign currency deposits Chinese banks are required to hold as reserves to 6% from 8% as of Sept. 15. That increases the amount of dollars and other foreign currency available to buy yuan, which should push up the exchange rate.

Still, that reserve cut is unlikely to stop a slide that is driven by “a strong U.S. dollar and the expectation of more Federal Reserve hikes,” said Iris Pang of ING in a report.

“Less aggressive rate hike talk” might help the yuan rally, but it might weaken further “if the Fed maintains its very hawkish tone” into next year, Pang wrote.

Chinese officials have previously promised to avoid “competitive devaluation” to gain an advantage in trade.

The yuan sank in 2019 during trade tension with then-President Donald Trump. That prompted suggestions Beijing was trying to reduce the impact of U.S. tariff hikes, but there was no official confirmation. The currency later strengthened.

Other governments also are struggling to manage capital flows under pressure from Fed rate hikes. On Friday, Vietnam’s central bank raised a key interest rate in what economists said appeared to be an effort to stop an outflow of money in search of higher returns.

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