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Greece Battles Mistrust To Target Bailout Deal

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Greece has expressed hope  of finally securing a 130-billion-euro EU/IMF bailout to ease its debt crisis even as acrimony grew between Athens and euro zone partners led by Germany.

Frustrations exploded as Greek President Karolos Papoulias, an 82-year-old veteran of the resistance to Nazi occupation of Greece during World War Two, lashed out at Germany’s finance minister for appearing to suggest Greece might go bankrupt.

Past backsliding on promises by Athens has created a growing mood of mistrust, with German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble likening Greece to a “a bottomless pit” and asking on Wednesday whether Athens would stick to new promises.

“I cannot accept Mr Schaeuble insulting my country,” Papoulias riposted.

“Who is Mr Schaeuble to insult Greece? Who are the Dutch? Who are the Finnish?” he asked of critics in two countries which, like Germany, have heaped pressure on Athens.

Greek officials insisted after late-night talks with euro zone counterparts that they had met the final demands set by the European Union and IMF to seal a second rescue deal needed to avoid chaotic default when debt repayments fall due in March, Reuters reports.

But the euro slid to a three-week low on the dollar in early Thursday trade as markets focused on a Reuters report that finance officials in the currency union were looking at ways to delay all or part of the rescue deal while avoiding a default.

EU sources told Reuters euro zone officials were studying the option of postponing part or all of the rescue deal until after the elections while still avoiding a disorderly default.

“Confidence has indeed sunk to a low point,” Dutch Finance Minister Jan Kees De Jager told Dutch paper Het Financieele Dagblad, suggesting one option was to delay delivering the bailout in full until after a Greek election expected in April.

“Schaeuble Junta,” ran a headline in the conservative Eleftheros Typos newspaper, harking back to Greece’s painful spell under military rule during the 1960s and 1970s.

Greece is pinning its hopes on a fresh meeting of euro zone finance ministers scheduled for Monday after it failed this week to clinch a deal to avert a bankruptcy which could shake financial markets around the globe.

Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos said Athens had plugged a 325 million-euro gap in a promised 3.3 billion euros of extra budget savings this year, noting both parties in the government of Prime Minister Lucas Papademos had signed up to austerity measures which already triggered rioting in Athens on Sunday.

Venizelos said he hoped euro zone officials could tie up all the issues before the ministerial Eurogroup meets on Monday, opening the way for a bond swap deal with Greece’s private creditors, known as PSI, which will reduce its debt mountain.

“These issues will be prepared at a Euro Working Group meeting on Sunday in Brussels so that, with good faith, the final decision for the approval of the (bailout) program is taken and the public announcement of the PSI is made on Monday,” he told reporters after a conference call with euro zone peers.

Greece had said it must initiate a debt swap deal with private bondholders by Friday to meet a March 20 deadline for the 14.5 billion euros in debt repayments. It was hoping to have the euro zone’s backing for its second bailout this week. If that backing now comes on Monday, it is possible the debt swap could start in the middle of next week.

After the three-hour conference call among the 17 euro zone ministers, Eurogroup chairman Jean-Claude Juncker said progress had been made but made clear some matters remained open on making sure the bailout plan is carried out in full.

“Further considerations are necessary regarding the specific mechanisms to strengthen the surveillance of program implementation and to ensure that priority is given to debt servicing,” he said.

That was echoed by one government official in Germany, where public opinion is hostile to bailing out Greece.

“Questions remain that are very important to Germany and other member states about the sustainability of the program,” said the official, who declined to be named.

Juncker predicted things would fall into place by Monday although any number have deadlines have been set, only to be missed.

Greek conservative leader Antonis Samaras – tipped to become prime minister after a possible vote in April – gave a written pledge on Wednesday to stick to the austerity package but added that “policy modifications” might be required to boost growth.

Greece has yet to publicly specify how it will find the remaining 325 million euros worth of budget cuts and the cabinet – which would normally be required to approve such cuts – was not scheduled to meet on Thursday.

A new survey by the VPRC polling company showed Samaras’ New Democracy party getting 27.5 percent, down from its 30.5 percent score in January, but still well ahead of the newly-founded Democratic Left party in second with 16 percent.

Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti warned on Wednesday that the debt crisis was fuelling resentment within the bloc and rejected the idea of a “goodies and baddies” division between so-called virtuous northern states and profligate southern ones.

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Business

Investment Expert Urges FG To Partner Zuga To Grow E-Naira

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An investment expert in Port Harcourt, Revelation Ohio, has called on the Federal Government to partner with Sam Zuga to grow e—naira to become the Nigeria’s digital currency in the cripto market space.

He said this became necessary in line with what is going on in the global digital currency market, where many countries, including the developed Western nations, are keying into the cripto market.

Ohio, the Chief Executive Officer of the Leverage Hub Consulting Limited, who made this known while speaking in an investment forum in Port Harcourt on Sunday, said that Sam Zuga, a Benue State-born Reverend Father, was the first African to develop a digital coin, the Zuga coin.

He described the Reverend Father as a philanthropist who has made remarkable mark in investment all over the world, especially in Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates.

“Sam Zuga is the only African who has stretched himself to compete with those in developed countries in the cripto market, where all the digital coins are all non Africans.

“This man has stepped into the space and developed this coin named after him, and has strictly specified that the coin is African, and as we speak, this coin is strongly growing faster in the digital currency market.

“So it will be an advantage to the Federal Government, through the Central Bank that is considering to develop digital naira, to partner Zuga who is already in the space, as it used to be for those entering the market newly.

“This will have a multiplier effect on our people, as many unemployed persons will be engaged in the business, while the fortunes of many of the youths will be turned around”, he said.

The investment expert also urged the Nigerian public to take advantage of the space available in the cripto world to equip themselves financially, and get knowledge of the cripto market, since that is the way the world is currently going.

By: Corlins Walter

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Business

Brass Fertilizer Company To Create 15,000 Jobs

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Jobs – As Bayelsa Set For More Housing Estates

The Bayelsa State Government has allocated 595 hectares of land for the proposed Brass fertilizer company in Odioma Kingdom in Brass Local Government Area of the state.

This was as the government has also hinted that the bush clearing of the site of the said project has commenced in earnest.

The Bayelsa State Commissioner for Lands,Housing and Urban Development, Barr.Esau Andrew, disclosed this in Yenagoa, the state capital at the weekend.

He said that the Federal Government proposed project, when completed, was expected to create employment for not only qualified Bayelsans, but  has the capacity to engage no fewer than 15,000 workforce, with professional and un-professional qualifications.

Andrew who called for unity amongst the people of the host community, reiterated that the Governor Douye Diri’s led administration was willing to create the enabling environment for businesses to thrive in the state.

He averred that the government was also desirous of fast tracking the development of all communities and sectors of the state’s economy through impactful projects and programmes.

“The Brass fertilizer company is situated on a 595 hectares of land in Odioma kingdom of Brass council area.

“There are no problems with respect to the take-off and completion of this gigantic project, but what we currently have there are basically issues on intra-communal arguments as to who becomes the chairman, Odioma Council of Chiefs”, he said.

He added: “As a community member and commissioner in the state executive council, I can assure you that that can’t stall the project.

“Governor Diri has directed the community to toe the path of unity and peace so that they can benefit maximally from this enormous project, and the youths, chiefs and elders of the community are ready to do as directed by the governor”.

In the same vein, the government has reiterated its commitment to building additional housing estates in the state.

To this end, Andrew said that the Governor Diri administration in partnership with the Federal Government’s Ruhi 774 Housing Scheme and Shelter Afrique were set to build new 800 and 100 units housing estates, respectively in the state.

According to him, while the Ruhi 774 Housing Scheme being handled by Real Estate Development Association  of Nigeria (REDAN) is to build 100 housing units in each of the eight council areas of the state, Shelter Afrique on the other hand is expected to carry out the construction of another 100 housing units in Yenagoa.

He said further that the state government has also concluded plans to build additional 260 housing units in the yet to be developed hectares of land acquired by the previous administration for the Ayama-Ijaw Housing Estate in the Southern Ijaw council area of the state.

By: Ariwera Ibibo-Howells, Yenagoa

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Oil & Energy

Global Geopolitics, Neo-Colonialism Fuelling Apathy Against Crude Oil, DPR Hints

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The Department of Petroleum Resources(DPR), yesterday, allayed concerns over the future of crude oil globally, stating that the resource would continue to remain relevant for decades to come due to a number of emerging factors.

In his goodwill address at the ongoing 45th edition of the Society of Petroleum Engineers Nigeria Council(SPENC), Nigeria Annual International Conference and Exhibition(NAICE), Director and Chief Executive of the DPR, Engr Sarki Auwalu, argued that the current apathy towards crude oil is not driven by technical and economic considerations alone.

According to him, the ongoing narratives of the relative significance of each energy type and the clamour of ‘end of oil era’ is not informed by technical and economic considerations alone but by global geopolitics and the vagaries of neo-colonialism as well.

Auwalu maintained that crude oil’s continued relevance in decades to come is because of some of its features as an energy resource, which includes availability, accessibility, affordability, reliability, and efficiency.

This character of petroleum, he explained, gives it a degree of comparative advantage over emerging energy alternatives for secured and stable energy supply.

He said, “I would like to sum up the future of energy in these words: ‘for the foreseeable future, we would continue to see a mix of all energy sources – coal, oil, gas, nuclear, renewables – in the supply equation. Whereas renewable sources will make steady in-roads in the global mix, oil and gas will be relevant in decades to come’.

“This conclusion is informed by the outcomes of market analysis and forecasts based on demand-supply equilibrium, socio-economic fundamentals, climate change and environmental considerations as well as technology and innovation that is shaping the dynamics of global outlook.

“However, we would not delude ourselves that change is not happening; we must continually re-invent the industry and find ways to improve the environmental credentials of oil and gas by deploying technologies for carbon reduction and management to maintain its acceptability as fuel.”

He insisted that Africa, other oil-producing countries and members of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries(OPEC), must be key stakeholders in global energy discourse and ensure their voices and views are well articulated in discussions about the future of oil and gas.

“Indeed, as Africans, it must take its destiny in its hand and rewrite history, by leveraging abundant human and natural resources which nature has bequeathed on this great continent to create wealth for its people, eliminate poverty, and improve social-economic conditions while driving value for the globe. Only Africa can grow Africa,” he noted.

On its part, Auwalu disclosed that Nigeria had risen to the occasion, and had started using its oil and gas resources to drive value for national development in the face of challenges posed by energy transition and global dynamics.

Specifically, he explained that the DPR was fostering innovative ideas and creating opportunities for investments and sustainability in the petroleum industry, especially most recently, through the establishment of the National Oil and Gas Excellence Centre(NOGEC).

NOGEC, the DPR chief executive noted, was designed as a one-stop shop to drive safety, cost efficiency and value for the Nigerian oil and gas industry.

In addition, he said the DPR identified the need to formulate the Maximum Economic Recovery(MER) Strategy for Nigeria to guarantee the actualisation of sustainable resource optimization and the economic benefits arising therefrom.

The framework of the MER, he explained, was hinged on six pillars, namely: reserves maturation and production optimization; exploration and resources maturation; improved oil recovery and enhanced oil recovery (IOR/EOR) implementation; asset stewardship; performance evaluation and rewards; and risk management.

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