South Africa’s Ramaphosa to speed up economic reforms, fix Eskom
Ramaphosa told investors in Johannesburg that: “We have to embark on the reforms, speed up on them.
“(Last year) we embarked on an economic recovery stimulus package and we identified a number of reform issues that we needed to address, we are now going to do that with greater speed.
“We are going to ensure that the certainty that investors want to see is there,” Ramaphosa said.
Analysts have said boosting South African growth and overhauling debt-laden power firm Eskom were post-election priorities for the ANC, after a decade of slow growth and rising joblessness.
Ramaphosa said more details on how the reforms would be implemented would be announced in his State of the Nation address, scheduled for next month.
South Africa’s economy grew an estimated 0.8 per cent in 2018 after recovering from recession.
Growth is forecast at 1.5 per cent this year, and one factor in hitting that target will be how the government manages a restructuring of power utility Eskom.
Power blackouts are a factor dragging on economic growth.
The government has pledged a 23 billion rand ($1.61 billion) a year bailout for Eskom over the next three years. The utility’s debt stands at 420 billion rand.
Military intensifies operation against economic sabotage in South-South
The Defence Headquarters says the military is intensifying efforts toward curbing crude oil stealing and economic sabotage in Nigeria’s South-South geo-political zone.
The Coordinator of Defence Media Operations, Maj.-Gen. John Enenche, made the disclosure in a statement on Monday in Abuja.
Enenche said that the Nigerian Navy Ship, `Delta’ on June 10, discovered a newly-constructed illegal refining site around Bennett Island in Warri South Local Government Area of Delta State.
He explained that the site had five ovens, five coolers and eight surface metal storage tanks cumulatively laden with about 943.3 barrels of product, suspected to be crude oil.
Enenche said that no arrest was made because the perpetrators fled on sighting a patrol team.
“Same day, the team located another illegal refining site around Uwakeno Community in Warri South LGA.
“The site had four ovens, four coolers, six surface metal storage tanks and two dug-out pits cumulatively laden with about 10,000 litres of products, suspected to be illegally refined AGO and 440.2 barrels of stolen crude oil.
“The storage facilities were confiscated and the site has been ear-marked for swamp buggy operation,” he said.
Enenche said that the Navy patrol team also intercepted a large wooden boat laden with about 70,000 litres of product suspected to be illegally refined AGO in six metal storage tanks along Benin River in Warri North on June 13.
He said that efforts were ongoing to convey the boat and content to the Naval Base.
The coordinator said that the Navy Ship, Pathfinder patrol team located an illegal refining site around Isaka and Alakiri general area during the week.
He said the site had reservoirs laden with about 1,257 barrels of crude oil, adding that the site was dismantled.
According to him, Operation Calm Waters and Operation Swift Response made seizure of foreign parboiled rice as well as the arrest of boats involved in smuggling during the week.
Enenche also recalled that on June 8, operatives of the Joint Border Drill, intercepted an abandoned truck at Agbaragba Market in the Ikom LGA of Cross River, loaded with 410 x 50kg bags of foreign parboiled rice.
“The rice was suspected to have been smuggled in from Cameroon.
“Accordingly, the bags of rice and vehicle were evacuated to Mfum Border Post for onward movement to Government Warehouse in Calabar.
“Meanwhile, on June 12, the combined teams of OSR and Nigeria Customs Service Strike Force raided a make-shift warehouse at Ishiet in the Uruan Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom and confiscated 305 x 50kg bags of foreign parboiled rice.
“The bags of rice were evacuated to Nigeria Customs Warehouse in Uyo for further action.
“The Chief of Naval Staff congratulates the troops for their professionalism and efforts in curbing economic sabotage within the maritime environment.
“Equally, the high command of the armed forces of Nigeria congratulates the troops and urges them to remain steadfast and focused as they sustain the fight against economic sabotage,” Enenche said.
Edited By: Kamal Tayo Oropo/Silas Nwoha (NAN)
Iran slams South Korea for blocking oil money
Iran’s Foreign Ministry on Monday denounced what he called South Korea’s “obedience” to the United States to freeze Iran’s oil money.
“South Korea’s blind obedience to the United States and it’s move to use United States unilateral sanction pressures as an excuse are not acceptable,” the Foreign Ministry Spokesman Abbas Mousavi said.
“They have no right to block the Iranian nation’s assets,” said Mousavi at his weekly press conference.
Iran has taken necessary and legal measures to unblock the money, he said.
Governor of the Central Bank of Iran Abdolnaser Hemmati said Wednesday that South Korean banks are “preventing” Iran from using billions of dollars of its oil money to buy food and medicines.
Iran has announced that South Korea was in arrears on payment of about 7 billion United States dollars for oil from Iran before the United States President Donald Trump’s administration reimposed sanctions on Iran’s oil industry in November 2018.
South Korea was the biggest client of Iranian gas condensate with 300,000 barrels per day (bpd) on top of 100,000 bpd of crude oil, but the country stopped the imports under United States pressures.
Roundup: COVID-19 spreads quickly in South Asia, Thailand records zero new case
COVID-19 spreads quickly in South Asia as India’s total cases reach 332,424 and Bangladesh’s cases exceed 90,000, while Thailand reported zero new case and no new fatality on Monday.
India’s federal health ministry on Monday morning said 325 new deaths due to COVID-19 and an additional 11,502 positive cases were reported during the past 24 hours across the country, taking the number of deaths to 9,520 and total cases to 332,424.
So far 169,798 people have been discharged from hospitals after showing improvement.
Bangladesh confirmed 38 more fatalities from the COVID-19, bringing the country’s death toll to over 1,200.
Nasima Sultana, a senior Health Ministry official, said in a briefing in Dhaka that “3,099 new COVID-19 positive cases and 38 deaths including 32 men and 6 women were reported in the last 24 hours across Bangladesh.”
The number of confirmed infections in the country totaled 90,619 while fatalities stood at 1,209.
The COVID-19 cases in Indonesia rose by 1,017 within one day to 39,294, with the death toll adding by 64 to 2,198, Achmad Yurianto, a Health Ministry official, said at a press conference on Monday.
According to him, 592 more people had been discharged from hospitals, bringing the total number of recovered patients to 15,123.
Afghanistan reported 761 newly confirmed COVID-19 cases, taking the country’s total to 25,527, the country’s Ministry of Public Health confirmed.
“Within the past 24 hours, 1,551 tests were conducted, and 761 were positive COVID-19 cases,” the ministry said in a statement.
Up to 478 deaths have been recorded since the outbreak of the pandemic in the country in February, an increase of seven within the past 24 hours. Out of the total infected people, 5,090 have recovered.
The number of COVID-19 cases in the Philippines rose to 26,420 after the Department of Health (DOH) reported 490 more infections on Monday.
The DOH said in its bulletin that the number of recoveries further climbed to 6,252 after 298 more patients have survived the disease.
The death toll increased to 1,098 after 10 more patients have succumbed to the viral disease, the DOH added.
Malaysia reported 41 new cases of COVID-19, pushing the total cases to 8,494, the Health Ministry said.
No new death has been reported, leaving the total deaths at 121.
Meanwhile, Defense Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob, who coordinated the implementation of restrictive measures, said in a separate press conference that preschools and kindergartens will be allowed to operate from July 1 onwards.
South Korea reported 37 more cases compared to 24 hours ago as of 0:00 a.m. Monday local time, raising the total number of infections to 12,121.
The daily caseload moved between 30 and 60 for the past 15 days. Of the new cases, 13 were imported, lifting the combined figure to 1,346.
No more death was confirmed, leaving the death toll at 277. The total fatality rate stood at 2.29 percent.
Thailand reported zero new case of COVID-19 as well as no new fatality as the country moves toward further easing restrictions on high-risk business and leisure activities.
Thailand on Monday also saw a total lift to the night curfew.
Although the number of confirmed cases has dropped, the Center for COVID-19 Situation Administration spokesman Taweesin Visanuyothin on Monday reminded everyone to wear face masks every time they are outdoors.
The Ministry of Health reported no cases in New Zealand, 24 days since the last new case was reported in the country.
The combined number of confirmed and probable cases in New Zealand was 1,504, including 1,154 confirmed cases, and the death toll stood at 22, and the number of recovered cases was 1,482.
Egyptian, South African leaders hold phone talks to discuss Ethiopia Nile dam, Libya crisis
Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi held a phone conversation with South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on Saturday, discussing the controversial Ethiopian grand dam built on the Nile River and the recent developments in Libya.
During the call, the two presidents exchanged views over the current situation of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) and the relevant negotiations between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan, said Egyptian presidential spokesman Bassam Rady in a statement.
Over the past few years, tripartite talks on the rules of filling and operating Ethiopia’s grand hydropower dam have been fruitless, including those hosted by the United States, amid Egyptian concerns that the GERD construction would affect Egypt’s annual share of Nile water.
On Friday, Egypt called on Ethiopia not to take any “unilateral action” with regards to the filling of the disputed dam until a tripartite agreement between Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan is reached.
Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia resumed technical talks on Tuesday for the first time since February, when negotiations mediated by the United States and the World Bank came to a halt after Ethiopia pulled out.
On the meeting, Egypt and Sudan have expressed concerns about a new Ethiopian proposal on GERD’s filling and operation.
Meanwhile, the two leaders also discussed the current developments in Libya and the joint African efforts to settle the conflict within the framework of the Cairo Declaration initiative recently proposed under Egypt’s auspices, the spokesman said.
The South African president praised the Egyptian efforts to solve the conflict in Libya, welcoming the Cairo Declaration initiative.
He noted that the initiative is consistent with the efforts of the African Union to settle the Libyan crisis and put an end to the negative repercussions of the conflict that endanger the stability and security of the neighboring countries and the African continent as a whole.
For his part, Sisi highlighted that Egypt aims to reach a comprehensive political settlement that achieves security and stability in Libya, and put an end to violence and terrorism, with the return of state institutions and preserving the resources of the Libya people, Rady said.
On June 6, Sisi announced the initiative to end the Libyan internal conflict following his meeting in Cairo with Libyan eastern-based military commander Khalifa Haftar and Tobruk-based parliament speaker Aguila Saleh.
The Cairo Declaration proposes a cease-fire between Libyan warring parties, disbanding militias and handing over their arms, pulling out foreign forces, electing a ruling presidential council representing all Libyans and drafting a constitutional declaration to regulate elections for later stages.