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Nigeria: Explosion kills over 100 Nigerians at illegal bunkering site

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Over 100 Nigerians have been killed in an explosion that occurred at an illegal bunkering site on April 23, 2022.

The Saturday night explosion occurred at the site located in the Ohaji-Egbema local government area of Imo State in the Abaezi forest that straddles the border of the two states.

“The fire outbreak occurred at an illegal bunkering site and it affected over 100 people who were burnt beyond recognition,” the state Commissioner for Petroleum Resources, Goodluck Oprah, told journalists.

The Youths and Environmental Advocacy Centre said several vehicles that were in a queue to buy illegal fuel were simmered in the blast.

According to reports, Nigerian police are currently looking for the owner of the illegal oil refinery.

Ifeanyi Nnaji of the National Emergency Management Agency told BBC that the number killed stood at 109 as of the time of reporting.

“We learnt many bodies are in nearby bushes and forests as some illegal operators and their patrons scampered for safety,” he said.

“The Rivers State governor has made a push recently to stamp out illegal refining in Rivers so it has to move to the fringes and neighbouring states. In the last month or two, there were several raids and some security agents involved were tackled,” Ledum Mitee, former president of the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (Mosop),” said.

At least 25 people including children, were killed in an explosion and fire at another illegal refinery in Rivers State in October last year.



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NPRA, SSNIT establish system to ensure workers do not extend retirement age beyond 60yrs

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The National Pensions Regulatory Authority (NPRA) has teamed up with the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) to ensure that workers do not extend their retirement ages beyond 60 years.

This, the regulator believes will ensure that the active work force of the population is maintained, particularly workers on government payroll.

Speaking at the launch of the Negotiated Benefits Company (NBC) Limited, Gold Pension Plan, the Director of Planning, Research and Monitoring at the NPRA, Ernest Amartey-Vondee, announced that SSNIT has established a stringent process to discourage workers from extending their age.

He indicated the practice is a major challenge on government’s budget and the public sector in particular.

“Elsewhere in developed countries, workers look out for early retirement to go on vacation, rest and enjoy their pension contribution. However in Ghana, workers want to rather extend their age to keep working,” he said, asking the rationale behind such acts.

Recounting an incident that happened in one of the public agencies, Mr. Amartey-Vondee stated that the regulator was surprised when a twin brother retired five years after his twin brother retired.

“You know that about six months to your retirement, SSNIT will contact you to begin the documentation for the retirement process. Can you believe that a twin retired while his brother was due for retirement in the next five years,” he said.

He stated that such acts do not only affect productivity but it also blocks the young and the energetic youth from joining the public sector.

Speaking at the launch the Chief Executive Officer of the company, William Asiedu Yeboah, said participation in the private pension sector can be improved through campaign.

He disclosed that currently private pension customers is estimated to be over two million, a figure that could enhanced.



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High inflation rate will dampen investor confidence – GNCCI

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The Ghana National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GNCCI) has described the April 2022 inflation rate of 23.6% as unacceptable.

According to the Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GNCCI), Mark Badu Aboagye, the current trajectory will not just make doing business in Ghana unbearable but also dampen investor confidence. 

 “If you have invested in any asset giving you a rate less than 23.6% means you have lost. It means the real interest rate will be negative. Investors will look out for countries where they will get a higher rate which is higher than the national inflation rate, so that their real interest rates will be positive”, he told Joy Business

“So it’s obviously not a good sign for Ghana and we must deal with it now or risk losing investor confidence,” he added. 

 With the inflation rate mirroring the high cost of doing business in Ghana, the boss of the Ghana National Chamber of Commerce and Industry is concerned about the impact on the final consumer.

 “Inflation rate of 23.6%, anywhere is unacceptable. In the end, the cost of production will go up and producers will be forced to push the cost on consumers. This must be averted with inclusive and practical immediate to medium term measures,” he added.

 April 2022 food inflation (26.6%) is higher than both March 2022(22.4%) and the average of the previous 12 months (13.5%).

Food inflation’s contribution to total inflation however, decreased from 51.4% in March 2022 to 50.0% in April 2022

All the 15 food subclasses recorded positive month-on-month inflation with Fruit and Vegetable Juices recording the highest (15.3%).

For Non-Food inflation, year-on-year inflation on average went up again in April 2022 compared to March 2022 (from 17.0% to 21.3%). Only one out of the 12 Non-food Divisions had the 12 months rolling average to be higher than the year-on-year inflation for April 2022 for the divisions.



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My mind is still on Agyapa Deal – Finance Minister

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Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta has advocated for a re-look at the controversial Agyapa Royalties Agreement, instead of abandoning it.

Mr Ofori-Atta said the deal must be taken through the appropriate process in order to make it work because it could reduce the country’s debt exposure.

Speaking during a press briefing to announce details of the African Development Bank 2022 Annual General Meeting on Thursday, the Finance Minister explained that the Agyapa deal “is not about whether the monetisation of mineral royalties or listing of the company is bad or good, it is good because that is how you raise resources.”

“The question is the process of doing that. If we have a problem with the process, let’s articulate it, let’s cure it, but let us not drop something that would be good for us and reduce our debt exposure,” he said.

He said the focus of discussions on the deal should rather be on how best it can be done as opposed to ignoring it completely.

“My mind is still there. I know the President has mentioned something about that,” Ken Ofori-Atta said.

Government in October last year disclosed its intention to re-submit a restructured Agyapa Royalties Agreement to Parliament for approval.

Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, at the inauguration of a newly appointed Board of Minerals Income Investment Fund in Accra on Tuesday, October 12, 2021, stated that the deal has been repackaged to inure to the benefit of the state.

Meanwhile, the Minority in Parliament has said it will oppose the Agyapa Royalties Agreement should it resurface in Parliament.

Ranking Member on Parliament’s Finance Committee, Cassiel Ato Forson believes outstanding issues which led to the withdrawal of the deal remain unresolved.

“We are saying that the Government of Ghana retaining 1% is not the problem [but] the problem is that we are selling 49% of our shares. That is woefully underpriced,” he said on JoyNews on Tuesday, October 12, 2021.

He indicated that checks by the Minority in Parliament, show that the valuation of the deal should be $3.7 billion instead of the $1 billion that has been stated by the government.

Also, he held the view that government maintaining its stance to list the deal in Jersey, a tax haven, will not benefit the state in any way.

Agyapa deal

On August 14, 2020, Parliament approved the Agyapa Minerals Royalties Investment Agreement and four related documents to monetise Ghana’s future gold royalties.

Under the agreement, Agyapa Mineral Royalties Limited has been incorporated in Jersey near the UK to receive and manage royalties from 16 gold mining leases over the next 15 years or so.

In exchange, the firm will list on the London and Ghana Stock Exchanges (GSE) and raise at least $500 million for government to invest in infrastructure, health and education.

The listing will allow private people to buy a 49 per cent stake in the firm.

However, some 22 civil society organisations called for a suspension of the deal, insisting it is not in the interest of Ghana.



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