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Senate Warns Of Looming Danger In Aviation Sector ……Demands N50bn Bailout For Airlines

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The Senate has urged the Federal Government to take steps to avert what it described as looming danger in the aviation sector as a result of scarcity of maintenance parts for commercial airlines in the country.
Chairman, Senate Committee on Aviation, Senator Smart Adeyemi gave the advice at a press conference in Abuja, on Monday.
Adeyemi said his position was premised on the information his Committee gathered from aviation stakeholders during its recently concluded public hearing on six aviation bills sponsored by the executive.
He lamented that the clearance of aircraft maintenance parts imported by airlines were being unduly delayed at the nation’s ports due to prohibitive import duties being demanded by the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS).
He warned the Federal Government not to wait for any emergency to occur in the aviation sector before prevailing on the NCS to allow airlines to clear their spare parts which are critical to smooth flying and safer skies in the country.
He said it would be disastrous for airline operators to be allowed to cut corners by attempting to manage their aircraft now lacking essential spare parts.
He also urged President Muhammadu Buhari to consider an upward review of the N4billion bailout already earmarked by the Federal Government for aviation sector to N50billion.
Adeyemi said: “I want to put it on record that there is danger in flying in Nigeria today. There are instances of some planes skidding off the runway. We must support the airline operators pending when we have our own national carrier.
“But if we want to continue with the operators like most nations are doing today, we cannot afford to leave them on their own, because they will want to be in business and struggle to make profit, and by extension, there will be cutting of corners.
“In most nations, there are special considerations for airline operators because they must not cut corners.
“If the part is needed in three weeks time and it is not available and the operators decide to be managing, well you know what will happen.
“Let me explain what they are doing in some African countries so that you can understand what we are saying, because when you are convinced with your facts we would say these are the facts that we have gathered. It is left for those who are in the industry to dispute our position but these are the information we have gathered.”
He said: “You would recall that the Federal Government, having considered the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the aviation industry, with a view to maintaining smooth operations, made the sum of N4 billion available as a bailout to these airline operators.
“With further and more critical intervention with airline operators in Nigeria, we gathered that approximately N50billion will be required to meet the requirements of airline operators.
“This increase in bailout fund is imperative if we are to keep our economy running, guarantee job security and mitigate retrenchment.
“A critical look at the aviation industry in Africa, Senegal for instance which is no comparison with the Nigerian aviation industry, in terms of number of airline operators etc, released $74 million as bailout funds for their airline operators. Rwanda also released $150 million for its airline operators.
“Taking the scope out of Africa, America for instance, released $58 billion as bailout funds for its airline operators. This is to mention a few.
“If comparative analysis is anything to go by, it is clear that the N4billion  announced by the Federal Government as bailout funds for airline operators will not be sufficient to sustain three of the needs of the 15 scheduled flight operators, save the non-scheduled operators.
“Our further enquiry has also shown that airline operators are already discouraged and have resorted to cutting corners in carrying out maintenance requirements on their aircrafts.
“This is, of course, as a result of their poor financial situation. If this is not immediately checked, the effect is best not imagined. Something more definite has to be done to help the airlines respond to the impact of COVID-19 pandemic.

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15.5% MPR Increase’ll Control Inflation – CBN

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The Central Bank of Nigeria
(CBN) says its Monetary Policy Committee’s decision to increase Monetary Policy Rate (MPR) is to control rising inflation.
CBN’s Director, Monetary Policy Department, Hassan Mahmoud, stated this, midweek, at a post-MPC briefing tagged “Unveiling Facts behind the Figures’’.
Recall that the MPC, in its 287th meeting on Tuesday, had increased the MPR by 150 basis points, from 14 per cent to 15.5 per cent.
The MPR is the baseline interest rate in an economy on which other interest rates within that economy are built on.
CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, had explained that the decision was informed by persistent rise in inflation rate and fragile economic growth.
Mahmud had explained further that the MPC got to a point where stringent measures have to be taken to control inflation.
He said the committee took cognisance of global and local economic issues in arriving at its policy decisions.
“We raised the MPR because it is necessary to do so. The quantity of money in the system was too much for the economy to absorb”, he said.
He continued that monetary policy tools were meant to deal with short term risks, adding that the idea was to make the cost of funds expensive to drive down inflation.
According to Mahmud, the stimuluses that governments across the world provided for their citizens during COVID-19 increased the ability of people to spend, thereby, creating challenges with global supply.
“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 to go up,’’ he said.
He also blamed the Russian-Ukraine war, as well as the resurgence of COVID-19 in China as responsible for 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 to some shortages which made prices to go up. Then the COVID-19 lockdown in China. The country is the largest importer of commodities across the globe,’’ he said.
Speaking on the various economic intervention initiatives by the apex bank and the prospect of recouping the funds, the Director, Development Finance Department, Dr Yusuf Yila, said about nine trillion Naira had been invested in the various development finance interventions.
He, however, said all the monies would be recovered.
According to Yila, N9.3 trillion has been invested in various development finance interventions, out of which N3.7 trillion has been repaid.
“Most of the loans are still under moratorium, especially those in manufacturing. Manufacturing forms the largest part of our portfolio, about 31 per cent,’’ he said.
He said one of the best-performing interventions was the Commercial Agriculture Credit Scheme, where out of the N800 billion that was lent out, about N700 billion had been repaid.
Yila said that through the flagship agriculture intervention scheme, the Anchor Borrowers Programme, one trillion Naira had been lent out to smallholder farmers, while about N400 billion has so far been recovered.
According to him, the department will restrict intervention to critical sectors like the SMEs and the electricity sector for now.
Speaking on the depreciation of the Naira, the Director, Trade and Exchange Department, Mrs Ozoemena Nnaji, said the apex bank was taking steps to firm up the currency.
Nnaji said that demand for foreign exchange outstripped supply currency, adding that the CBN was doing a lot to mop up supply.
“One of the steps is the Naira for dollar remittance drive, which has resulted to a huge increase in diaspora remittances.
“There is also the RT200 bringing in forex. Repatriation has gone up from 20 million dollars in the first quarter to about 600 million dollars in the second quarter.
“In this third quarter we are looking at more than one billion dollars of repatriated inflows,’’ she said.

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FG Probes IOCs’ Oil Exploration, Production 

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The Federal Government, has commenced a probe of the exploration and production activities of international and local oil companies as part of measures to address the massive oil theft in Nigeria.
It announced this through its Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC), saying it would do the needful to challenge the narrative and halt further degeneration by ensuring transparency in hydrocarbon accounting.
“One of the steps, in line with its (NUPRC) technical and regulatory powers, is to probe into the operational and commercial activities of exploration and production companies operating within the country,” the commission’s Chief Executive, Gbenga Komolafe, stated in a statement he personally signed.
He noted that this was “to ascertain the level of compliance with the terms and conditions in their (oil firms’) operational contracts, and the challenges impeding expected deliveries.
“The Commission will particularly be interested in the mode of operation of the companies in relation to the approvals as per their operational licences, the level of conformity with the technical provisions and production terms,  their level of investments to enhance capacity utilisation, and the challenges they are facing, especially those contributing to the current unacceptable situation.
“Beginning from Wednesday, September 28, the Commission will be engaging all the exploration and production companies individually to get to the root of the current situation as it believes strongly that there might be more fundamental issues in the industry affecting expected output and deliveries beyond the much touted issue of crude theft”.
Komolafe said already, invitations had been extended to all the operators for  engagement during which they would be expected to present their work programme performances, acreage status and divestment plans (if any).
They would also present their field development plan, implementation status, upstream investment in the last five years, exploration activities including geophysical acquisition/processing/reprocessing, leads and prospects maturation plans; and exploratory wells drilled in the last five years.
NUPRC further stated that during the engagements, the companies would be required to present their reserve status, life index, current reserves replacement ratio and reserves growth strategy.

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MWUN Threatens Service Withdrawal Over Dilapidated Quays

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The Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) has threatened to withdraw their services from the nation’s seaport if the issues of dilapidated quays are not addressed urgently.
This is coming barely weeks after the Minister of Transportation, Muazu Sambo, inspected the dilapidated portion of the Tin Can Island quay apron in company of some heads of maritime agencies.
Addressing journalists at a joint press conference organised by MWUN and the Nigerian Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO), the President-General of MWUN, Adewale Adeyanju, said the dilapidated state of the quay walls was putting the lives of workers at the affected terminals at risk.
He called on the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) to ensure that necessary measures were put in place to fix the dilapidated infrastructure, saying the union could no longer allow the situation to deteriorate further before protesting.
“It is unfortunate that this kind of thing is happening. If you go to Port Harcourt or Warri port, we are having the same problem.
So, we are using this medium to appeal to the management of NPA to make sure that all the terminal operators do the right thing.
“They can sanction those who refuse to make their terminals safe for the workers. Otherwise, we might withdraw the services of our members as a result of that. The lives of the workers are no longer safe and injury to one is injury to all”, he said.
Adeyanju stated further that the collaboration between MWUN and NARTO would also ensure improved welfare for truck drivers and reduce cases of extortion along the port access roads.
He also said the collaboration would ensure free flow of traffic to ease cargo and vehicular movement in and out of the ports.
According to him, the partnership would not involve collection of toll along the port access roads as both parties had resolved to key into the electronic call-up system project of NPA.
“The essence of this collaboration is to support a good programme birthed by NPA – ETO. We are also going to work with other stakeholders in the port so that we can have free flow of traffic on the road.
“I am also using this opportunity to send a signal to our members that we should not go against the Memorandum of Understanding because it is binding on both parties.
“We must also ensure discipline and eschew thuggery and extortion along the port access roads”, he stated.

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