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Canadians plan to spend more on the holidays in 'make or break' period for retailers - YAHOO FINANCE

NOVEMBER 06, 2021

by 

Canadians plan to spend more during the holiday season this year, but supply chain issues could hamper sales during what may be a "make or break" period for many retailers. 

After the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted 2020 holiday plans and saw many people opting to stay home, Canadians are ready to once again celebrate the season – and that means spending more. 

Two surveys released last month found that Canadians will spend more during the 2021 holiday season as the pandemic subsides in some regions of the country and most economies remain open. 

According to the Retail Council of Canada's Holiday Shopping Survey conducted in partnership with Leger, Canadians plan on spending $792 on holiday shopping this year, up from $693 in 2020. The online survey of 2,505 Canadians found that most are increasing their holiday spend this year because they are spending more time with family and friends, and that it will be a more "normal" holiday season. 

"Consumers are showing more optimism than they did last year," Michelle Wasylyshen, a spokesperson for the Retail Council of Canada, said in an interview. 

"We also saw that consumers have reported that their financial lives are on stronger footing this year. That's very different from last year, when there was much more uncertainty, and that's translating into people planning to spend more money this year on gifts." 

The RCC survey also found that Canadians will be spending more this year on vacations, toys and food and alcohol over the holiday season, while spending less on books and music, sports equipment and home electronics than in 2020. 

PwC's Canadian Holiday Outlook, released last month, also found that Canadians plan on increasing their holiday spending by 29 per cent this year compared to 2020. On average, Canadians expect to spend $1,402 on the holidays this year, including on gifts, travel and entertainment. Still, PwC says in its report that it's still 11 per cent below pre-pandemic spending levels.

Supply chain issues remain

While Canadians are expected to spend more this year, there are lingering concerns among retailers about meeting the increase in demand as they continue to grapple with supply chain issues. 

Retailers have been warning consumers about potential shortages for several weeks now as global supply chain issues continue to disrupt the flow of goods. The issues prompted the RCC to launch a "Shop Early, Shop Safe" campaign urging Canadians to get a jump start on their holiday shopping and increase the chances of finding the products and brands they want to buy.

"We are seeing that retailers have been doing things for many months to try to minimize the disruptions when people go into stores... but we know that for some categories, availability for certain items is going to be tighter than in years past," Wasylyshen said. 

"Shopping early and getting it done as quickly as possible is definitely a good plan this year, particularly if you have a very specific product in mind that you are looking for." 

Retail analyst Bruce Winder says the shortages could be especially hard for smaller and independent retailers to overcome, since they do not have massive supply chains in the way that big-box retailers do. Those that are unable to find solutions and lose out on demand will face a difficult time in what is the most important retail period of the year. 

"It's going to be make or break for a lot of companies," Winder said.

"You'll probably see a number of companies go bankrupt in the new year because they just couldn't make it. Subsidies are also being reduced – they're still there, but they are being reduced significantly. That's going to create a number of casualties unfortunately for smaller businesses."

Winder says customers should also brace themselves for fewer sales as well as inflation on certain items due to supply chain issues. 

"Prices are going up and you're probably going to see less sales activity because retailers feel that it will be hard enough to get inventory as it is and they won't want to discount it," he said.

Alicja Siekierska is a senior reporter at Yahoo Finance Canada. Follow her on Twitter @alicjawithaj.

Why vaccine passports are causing chaos - THE ECONOMIST

NOVEMBER 06, 2021

The problem is with humans, not technology

Oct 26th 2021

NEW DELHI

Many countries did not require passports before the first world war. But as the conflict spread, states scrambled to introduce travel documents to help secure their borders. The result, after the armistice, was a bewildering smorgasbord of different information for different nationalities that could create chaos rather than clarity at border crossings. But returning to a world where people could travel freely across borders was by then unimaginable.

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In 1920 the League of Nations stepped in. It designed a 32-page booklet with the country’s name on the cover and such basic personal information as place and date of birth. Some governments grumbled—France thought the booklet too expensive to print compared with its single sheet—and it took a few years for them to adapt. But today all passports follow the same format. Whether at Heathrow in Britain or Moshoeshoe I International in Lesotho, officials can glance at a passport and be fairly certain of its bearer’s travel privileges.

During the covid-19 pandemic, a similar process is under way. States have rushed to create vaccine passports to stop the virus at the border—or at the doors to the restaurant or gym. Often people must prove that they have been vaccinated, recently tested negative or had covid and recovered.

This time governments are not alone. Tech has thrown open the doors to firms like ibm and Microsoft, industry associations like the International Air Transport Association and non-governmental organisations like the World Economic Forum. Three undergraduates at the University of Applied Sciences Upper Austria spent last summer pulling all-nighters to build a pass that works across the European Union. They can’t afford much marketing, but the app, the GreenPass, has been downloaded 100,000 times.

As during the Great War, urgency has trumped co-ordination. India, which has administered over a billion jabs, has a “CoWIN” certificate with a qr code, identifying information and, confusingly, a photograph not of the bearer but of the prime minister, Narendra Modi. People in England can choose between a qr code on the National Health Service (nhs) app or website or a letter of certification from their doctor. In America, where President Joe Biden has vowed not to create a national vaccination database, many different state and private health passes are in use.

The trouble is that these passes are not interoperable. Most look the same: a qr code on a smartphone or piece of paper. Yet even scanning the codes can be a problem. Different verifier apps read different passes. Once scanned, the codes serve up widely varying information, depending on the national or local health systems or attitudes about privacy. Some vaccine passports, like the CommonPass used in parts of America, share raw data on vaccination status. Others, like the one issued by the nhs, yield only a symbol, a tick or a cross. And the rules of the game are not fixed. During a surge of infections this month, Israel yanked its “green pass” from 2m people who had not yet received booster jabs.

The administrative, commercial and even psychological burdens are obvious at airports. Traveller numbers have dropped between 85% and 90%, yet reaching the gate has become a more demanding obstacle course than ever. Queues lengthen as anxious travellers fumble for slips of paper and qr codes. Officials struggle to keep track of which vaccines state regulators have approved and how long which test results are valid for which destinations. As Corneel Koster, chief customer and operating officer at Virgin Atlantic, an airline, puts it: “It’s kind of a jungle out there.”

It is past time for standardisation. Yet designing a digital health pass is trickier than designing a travel document. Passports may reveal age, but vaccine passes are gateways to personal health information, potentially a great deal of it. That scares people. Even among countries with relatively high vaccination rates, support for vaccine passports varies, from 52% in Hungary to 84% in Britain (see chart). In India people are used to sharing their fingerprints and iris scans as part of the Aadhaar biometric id system. Yet many, like Debjani Mazumder, a publishing executive in Delhi, worry about pharmaceutical companies and insurers getting hold of their health records. “I feel like a guinea pig,” Ms Mazumder says.

In theory, digital technology should make it easy to verify vaccination status. Yet because verifying apps cannot recognise all qr codes, many verifiers take what Edgar Whitley at the London School of Economics calls a “flash-and-go” approach, simply eyeballing them. A black market is thriving. Oded Vanunu at Check Point Software Technologies, a cyber-security company, has posed as a buyer and sourced fake French vaccine certificates for €75 ($87), Russian ones for 9,500 roubles ($134) and Singaporean alternatives for €250 on the dark web and Telegram, a messaging app. These sham passes look the part but would fall short if properly scanned.

When airline agents, employers and bar staff scan qr codes, they check for two things: confirmation that the bearer has been vaccinated or tested for covid and a digital signature proving the information comes from a trusted issuer. Uniformity across digital health passes would require broad agreement on exactly what health information to include, and how to label and package it. That ought to be relatively easy. In August, the World Health Organisation (who) published guidance recommending the minimum data for a certificate. The name and date of birth of the bearer plus the brand and batch number of a jab are considered necessary. Identifying who administered a jab—information some passes include—is not.

What is trickier is creating a unified system for checking the digital signatures of health authorities. Creating a repository of all trusted signatures is an expensive and politically fraught task. Countries with a national health service, like Britain, have just one issuer. But in America, there are around 300, including state governments, hospitals and pharmacies.

Without a trusted way to verify certificates across borders, even the most advanced technology falters. George Connolly is chief executive of OneLedger, a firm that designed OnePass, a blockchain-based vaccine passport. He says it has access to data from only around 20 jurisdictions. So he gets contractors to check passes from elsewhere by phoning and e-mailing health authorities. Dakota Gruener, head of id2020, a public-private partnership focused on digital ids, rolls her eyes. “Do you need blockchain? No,” she says. “Is blockchain a distraction? Yes.”

Luddites have reason to feel smug. As Albert Fox Cahn of the Surveillance Technology Oversight Project, an advocacy group, puts it: “There is so much money being spent on building this really shiny new metal fence around our society when the wooden gate was working just fine.” Bits of paper signed by clinicians, like the who’s “yellow card”, have sufficed as immunisation records for decades. These are more globally inclusive, given that many people in poor countries do not have smartphones. Judging by black-market prices, paper passes are not much easier to forge. Fake versions of paper vaccine certificates issued by America’s Centres for Disease Control and Prevention go for $150 apiece on Telegram, more than some digital alternatives.

Over the borderline

The biggest impediment to sensible vaccine passports is not technology but geopolitics. It would take a universally trusted organisation with sophistication in health, technology and diplomacy to get countries to agree on global standards. This might seem an obvious role for the who. But, embroiled in the rivalry between America and China, the organisation has been blasted from all sides for its handling of the pandemic. On digital passes, the who has got itself in a muddle. Even as it has published lengthy documents describing what vaccine passports should look like, it has insisted that proof of vaccination should not be required for international travel when vaccine distribution is so skewed to rich nations.

Crucially, the who has declined to involve itself in validation and verification. Maintaining a register of trusted signatories would require a large staff. It would also require politically charged choices, like whether to recognise signatures from Palestine or Afghanistan, and which vaccines are good enough. The who would also have to take some kind of action when a state broke the rules. Carmen Dolea, head of the International Health Regulations Secretariat at the who, says this task goes beyond its mandate. “There are liability issues,” she adds.

Still, clumsily, the world does seem to be converging on a few standards and technologies. The European Union’s standards for digital covid certificates, for example, are also being used by Turkey and Switzerland. India’s have been picked up by Sri Lanka and the Philippines.

The next step, the who says, is for countries to negotiate bilateral or regional arrangements. Recent negotiations between Britain and India illustrate how messy this can be. Britain had refused to accept India’s CoWIN vaccine certificates, in part because they did not state the bearer’s precise date of birth. The government in New Delhi included only the year of birth because many poor Indians do not know their exact birthdays. A tit-for-tat escalation in travel restrictions kept families apart and business trips on hold for weeks, before an agreement was reached earlier this month. India added the precise date, reasoning that most people who can afford international travel know their birthdays.

Some wonks still think they can fix the problems of poor governance with more technology. Nandan Nilekani, co-founder of Infosys, a tech giant, and the driving force behind India’s Aadhaar system, is pinning his hopes on “adaptors” that convert one type of pass into another. Creating the right adaptors would be like finding a way to save shoppers from having to walk around with American Express cards, MasterCards and Visa cards in case shops require different kinds of payment. But technology that builds bridges between passes would not solve the problem that issuers would have to trust one another—and users would have to trust the adaptors fiddling with their health data.

Perhaps, from the ashes of the pandemic, the world will devise a seamless digital vaccine passport that will replace the yellow card. But when covid is still killing thousands of people a week, the bickering over qr codes and digital signatures among multilateral organisations, tech groups and states is a sideshow, if not a distraction. Vaccine passports will never contain the virus. Only vaccines will. More than three-quarters of people in Denmark, Singapore and Qatar are fully vaccinated, according to Johns Hopkins University. Yet less than 1% of those in Ethiopia and Uganda are. Someday, vaccine passports might help keep the peace. But right now the world must focus on winning the war.

Nigeria Must Build Bridges With Her Citizens In Diaspora To Survive - Abiodun Brainard - NIGERIAN TRIBUNE

NOVEMBER 07, 2021

For Nigeria to prosper and survive in the face of global economic meltdown, Chairman, All Nigerians in Diaspora Worldwide, MrAbiodunBrainard has said the leadership of the country must allow Nigerians in the Diaspora to play a part in the country’s socio-economic development.

In an interview with R, Brainard who is passionate about the growth of Nigeria and its creative minded youths from different walks of life observed that Nigerians in the diaspora represent a huge reservoir of human and financial capital and an important bridge between itself and the African continent.

According to him, one of the main areas of concern relating to the involvement of the people living outside the country in the development of the nation is that of building bridges between the nation and the Diaspora, adding that people of Nigerian descent in the Diaspora are always willing to connect and make a difference.

He observed that for Nigeria’s economy to successfully transition from its current state, one such opportunity that is grossly underutilised is engagement of its Diaspora community, saying one of the main challenges is the lack of data on Nigerians outside the country.

“It has been suggested that for purposes of harnessing the Nigeria diaspora to support transformative development, the nation needs to be more systematic, structured and strategic in its engagement with its diaspora. Many opportunities for the diaspora to contribute to the development of the nation remain unexploited largely because of the lack of proper coordination and the inability to envision the importance of the diaspora beyond remittances.”

According to him,“Any country wishing to successfully engage with its diaspora, and therefore leverage its development potential, should strengthen its role in bringing them together”, he said. https://tribuneonlineng.com/ni...

U.S. Flights Reopen, Handing British Airways $1 Billion Lifeline - BLOOMBERG

NOVEMBER 07, 2021

(Bloomberg) -- Before Covid-19, there was the $1 billion connection.

That’s the revenue that British Airways generated each year linking its London Heathrow hub and New York John F. Kennedy International Airport, where a healthy mix of tourist and business customers made it the most lucrative route on the planet. More than 18 months after aviation was plunged into crisis, the corridor is finally reopening to Europeans, marking a major step in the return of long-haul travel. 

British Airways is commemorating the milestone with a one-off revival of the BA001 flight moniker that once reserved for supersonic Concorde trips, arguably the classiest way to fly across the Atlantic. The likes of Deutsche Lufthansa AG and United Airlines Holdings Inc. also stand to benefit from a more robust trade between London, Paris and Frankfurt at one end and New York, Chicago and Los Angeles at the other.

Yet the market that reopens on Monday will be very different to the one that prevailed prior to the pandemic. Demand will be lower, with flights effectively limited to the fully vaccinated. The corporate road warriors who were once the North Atlantic’s lifeblood are still largely grounded as firms avoid unnecessary travel, putting the onus on attracting leisure passengers. And when business demand does pick up, it could be restricted by a preference for the money-saving video calls that redefined how remote colleagues interact. 

The U.S. is letting in Europeans just as virus infections surge again across the continent. On Friday, German cases rose by a record for a second day as a fourth wave of the pandemic hits the region.

And British Airways will face tough competition, as Heathrow-based Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd. and continental rivals Air France-KLM and Lufthansa also pour capacity into the diminished market. From the U.S., United is plotting an expansion across Europe, with new routes from spring including Bergen, Norway, and Mallorca in Spain. 

“There’s definitely going to be pressure on ticket prices as airlines go after the same travelers,” said John Strickland at JLS Consulting in London. “We’ve seen a surge in demand from people looking to visit friends and family, but although demand for premium leisure is encouraging, it will not likely be enough to offset the lack of business travel.”

Retired Jumbos

BA, owned by IAG SA, will scale up to six daily trips to JFK and two additional services to Newark Liberty International Airport by late winter. 

That’s still below the 12 a day seasonal maximum offered to the New York area pre-pandemic, when North American services accounted for 15% of BA’s overall capacity, according to aviation consultancy Cirium.

Flights were previously operated largely by Boeing Co. 747 jumbos, but with the aging four-engine model retired from the BA fleet during the pandemic, the carrier’s more efficient 777 twinjets will take on a bigger role, with all of the planes to be used on New York flights featuring a revamped business cabin.

IAG Chief Executive Officer Luis Gallego said in a briefing Friday that North American bookings are almost back to 2019 levels, though the upswing won’t stave off an estimated 3 billion-euro ($3.5 billion) full-year loss.

“There is a significant recovery underway,” Gallego said. “Our teams are working very hard to capture every opportunity.”

Virgin Rivalry 

Ranged against British Airways at Heathrow will be Virgin Atlantic, which has has gone toe-to-toe with the bigger carrier for close to 40 years at what’s usually Europe’s busiest hub. Virgin, reliant on the U.S. for 70% of capacity pre-pandemic, will operate three flights a day, mainly using Airbus SE A350 planes after also retiring its jumbos. The first Monday departure is at the same time as BA001, from a parallel runway.

Virgin CEO Shai Weiss said that while competition will be tough, there’s been a “seismic shift” in the U.K.-U.S. market, with capacity set to remain down by a double digit margin even with the border reopening.

About half of that reduction has come from the scaling down in plane sizes, he said, and half from the collapse of operators including Thomas Cook Group Plc and the long-haul arm of Norwegian Air Shuttle ASA. Filling part of the gap is JetBlue Airways Corp., with narrow-body London flights from New York and Boston, though it will account for less than 1% of capacity, according to Weiss.

For the North Atlantic market as a whole, capacity will be back to two-thirds of pre-Covid levels, according to Cirium.

Different Classes

People making family visits or taking a long-haul vacation differ from corporate clients in their concern about the ease of travel and even preferred takeoff times, said Tiffany Funk, who manages travel blog One Mile at a Time.

“The vice-president of sales will happily eat in the lounge, catch a red-eye and then attend an 8 a.m. meeting,” she said. “Leisure travelers want to know they’ll be able to fly and not get stuck because of the endless paperwork currently needed, and then sit back, enjoy the food and watch a movie.”

Competition on the North Atlantic revolves around three joint ventures, each with antitrust immunity allowing their U.S. and European members to operate almost as one airline, coordinating timetables and sharing costs and revenue.

The most profitable of the tie-ups has historically been BA’s pact with American Airlines Group Inc., a carrier that’s used the pandemic to swap out aging Boeing 767s and Airbus A330s in favor of newer 777s and 787s.

Demand at American has surged beyond pre-Covid levels, according to Chief Revenue Officer Vasu Raja, who said on Oct. 21 that transatlantic bookings were stepping up with every passing week. He predicted that corporate travel will start to recover from the first quarter of next year.

Virgin Atlantic is partnered with Delta Air Lines Inc., its 49% shareholder, which said Friday that many international flights are expected to operate with every seat full on Monday. Delta will add flights this winter targeting London, Amsterdam, Munich, Dublin and Frankfurt. 

Great Signal

The alliance also includes Air France-KLM, whose Paris and Amsterdam hubs vie with Heathrow for transfer passengers. Ben Smith, its CEO, said Oct. 29 that the “quite amazing” exit of bigger jets at European rivals including BA and Lufthansa has taken capacity out of the system, aiding the entire industry’s recovery. 

Lufthansa, which is allied with United, will offer about 200 weekly flights to 17 U.S. destinations through November, with U.S. bookings up 50% since the Biden administration announced the reopening and quadrupling on some routes including New York.

CEO Carsten Spohr said last week that Lufthansa is seeing evidence of strengthening corporate demand, particularly from the engineering, automotive, pharmaceutical sectors.

“It’s great to see it happening,” IATA Director General Willie Walsh said of the U.S. reopening. “It’s very important both for the industry and the message it sends. The fact that the U.S. was closed to Europe gave a lot of other countries comfort that they could keep their borders closed.”

Nigerian Airlines Missing In US-Nigeria Travel Rebound - DAILY TRUST

NOVEMBER 07, 2021

By Abdullateef Aliyu

Relaxation in COVID-19 protocols by the American government, increased activities in the oil and gas market, with oil surging pass $85 per barrel, as well as improved trade relations between Nigeria and the United State (US), are among the factors driving the boom in US-Nigeria travels.

As from December, passengers on the US-Nigeria route would begin to enjoy more flight options and connectivity to the US, with American carriers expanding frequencies to Nigeria.

Daily Trust on Sunday reports that another US carrier, United Airlines, is set to resume operation the same December, five years after suspending flights to the country following shrinking passenger demands on its Houston-Lagos route. 

But the airline is starting new nonstop service from Lagos to Washington D.C on December 1, 2021.

In preparation for the Nigeria-US service re-launch, the airline recently appointed Oluwatomi Bola-Sadipe as country sales manager for Nigeria and Ghana. 

Stakeholders and experts say the scrambling for the lucrative Nigerian routes by the US carrier is a testimony to the rebound in air travel after the COVID-19 lockdown, as well as the increasing economic activities between the two countries.

Factors driving American airlines’ interest in Nigeria market

Daily Trust on Sunday reports that the value of US goods and services with Nigeria hit $10bn as at July this year, according to data from the office of the US trade representative, with exports valued at $5.3bn and imports into the US, worth $5.1 billion.

All these factors have made the Nigerian market attractive for US carriers, according to analysts, in addition to the holiday season in December. 

Speaking on the development, the chief executive officer, Aglow Aviation Support Services, Mr Tayo Ojuri, said improvement in trading activities between Nigeria and the US was one of the factors pushing the US-Nigeria travel rebound.  

He added, “After Europe, the US is the continent where you have a lot of Nigerians in the Diaspora. Then United Airlines used to concentrate on the oil and gas market, and oil and gas is picking up again and also manufacturing; and all the other investments. If you look at the volume of trade between Nigeria and the US, it is one of the top factors that is driving it as well.

 “Also, we have Nigerians in the Diaspora coming for Christmas and New Year and some other life-changing events.”

On his part, the director of Research and Corporate Travels, Zenith Travels, Mr Olumide Ohunayo, said the lowering of COVID-19 barriers, in addition to the change of government in the US, coupled with the relaxation of immigration rules imposed by the Donald Trump government are driving US-Nigeria travel rebound.

He said, “Again, the US airlines have all been in the domestic market, expanding domestic market, and with this opening, the US airlines are either operating directly or increasing commercial negotiations and discussions with other foreign airlines, mostly European airlines and airlines that share the same business ethics with them.

“Apart from operating directly, they are increasing commercial agreements with other airlines of like-minds, which has also increased the number of opportunities open to passengers to fly and at a cost. That also has encouraged travel.”

Nigeria lags behind, 15 years after

Ohunayo, however, said he would want to see Nigerian carriers reciprocate the BASA by operating to the US. 

Daily Trust on Sunday reports that Nigeria and the US signed an open sky agreement 15 years ago, enabling the two countries and their airlines to fly directly to the US or Nigeria as the case maybe, but since then, only the American carriers are taking advantage of this.

But as American airlines increase frequencies in Nigeria, no Nigerian carrier has been able to reciprocate in recent times to the US.

Arik Air, which used to be the largest airline in Nigeria, as well as West and Central Africa, used to be the only airline to operate to the US after the liquidation of the defunct national carrier, Nigeria Airways.

But Arik suspended the flight in February 2017 after the airline was taken over by the Assets Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON).

Also, Med-View Airline was designated to the US, precisely Houston, by the federal government but did not open the route before the suspension of its operations.

Also, Nigeria’s biggest airline, Air Peace, has also been designated to fly to Houston, but it was not clear when the airline would give effect to this.

     

Ohunayo, however, lamented that Nigeria rushed to sign an open sky with the US when its airlines were not ready or strong enough to reciprocate.

“It is a lesson for us that when you are not ready, don’t jump into it, and if you are getting into it, get some concession that would be profitable for you. If we had gotten some concession, I am sure a US carrier would have come to set up here or looked for an airline that they can build here and use that airline to act as their partner within Nigeria,” he added. 

On his part, the managing director of Belujane Konzult, Mr Chris Aligbe, said the renewed interest in the Nigerian market by the American carriers shows “increasing acceptance that there is a sprawling market on the route between Nigeria and the US. The market is large and enough to offer valuable operations to airlines. This is also an affirmation of faith in the aviation infrastructure development in Nigeria.

“The truth of it is that our airlines are not yet firmed up enough to be able to respond. The fault is in us, not in the US, because after signing the open sky agreement, the US gave us five years to establish and begin to exploit it before their airlines would start coming in. For five years, we did nothing. Then Arik eventually got to start operating but stopped. With the open sky agreement, they (American airlines) have a right to come in at any point in time.

“What this tells us is that that route is profitable and we need to get an airline operating it. This is why some of us are talking about a new flag carrier that would be properly established with a strong technical carrier. If that happens, we will go to the US.”

Fuel scarcity hits Abuja, other Nigerian cities - PREMIUM TIMES

NOVEMBER 08, 2021

The NNPC says there is no plan to increase fuel prices and advises customers against panic-buying.

By Mary Izuaka


Fuel queues returned to Nigerian cities weekend, with many motorists finding it difficult to buy petroleum products as many stations were either closed or operated partially.

The scarcity is coming amid reports of a likely price increase by marketers. The NNPC has denied the government is planning a hike.

In Abuja, many residents said they relied on the black market for petrol to power their cars and electricity generators.

In Kano, long queues resurfaced at filling stations as most filling stations were closed. Only a few filling stations sold petrol at the government approved price of N165 per litre, the News Agency of Nigeria reported.

In Kano’s Tsanyawa, Bichi, Dawakin-Tofa and Gwarzo Local Governments, marketers sold petrol at N174 per litre, NAN reported.

A resident, Idris Abdullahi, said he had no option but to buy a four-litre gallon of fuel at N1,100, against the former price of between N700 and N800.

The news agency said the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN), Kano branch, had accused private deport owners of attempting to increase fuel prices in the country.

Bashir Danmallam, IPMAN branch Chairman, Kano state, said in a statement that the decision would cause fuel crises in the country.

He alleged that such private deport owners had already increased the price of the product from N148 to N153 and N155 per litre.

“The association found it necessary to alert the government in order not to blame our members in the event they increase the price of the commodity, as they will not sell at a loss,” he was quoted as saying.

“We are equally calling on the management of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to investigate the issue with a view to proffering solutions.”

NNPC speaks on scarcity

The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) said on Monday that there will be no increase in the price of petrol in the country, and advised against panic-buying.

The NNPC said this in a statement by its Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division, Garba Muhammad.

The NNPC said it was unaware of any government plans to raise the pump price of petroleum.

The statement says: “NNPC had over 1.7 billion litres of petrol in stock and more of the product is expected to arrive in the country daily over the coming weeks and months.

“It was therefore unnecessary to entertain any fear of scarcity of petrol throughout the festive season and beyond.

“The NNPC is also not aware of any plan by the government to cause an increase in the pump price of petroleum.

“The Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA), made that declaration last week.

“In view of these assurances, therefore, the NNPC is advising motorists and other consumers of petrol to maintain their regular pattern of the purchase of petrol without getting into a panic situation that may send the wrong signals around the country,” the statement said.

He added that NNPC is engaging all stakeholders to ensure smooth supply and distribution of products to every part of the country during the festive season and beyond.

Hong Kong Won’t Reopen to World Until Mid-2022, Lam Adviser Says - BLOOMBERG

NOVEMBER 09, 2021

(Bloomberg) -- Hong Kong could open up to global travel in roughly six months, after officials have successfully navigated the introduction of quarantine-free borders with mainland China and boosted the local vaccination rate, a government adviser said.

The Chinese territory needs to finish negotiating open borders with the mainland, while using the next few months to increase the flagging Covid-19 inoculation rate among the city’s elderly, Lam Ching-choi, a member of Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam’s advisory Executive Council, said in an interview on Monday.

“We maybe need half a year or so to develop an adequate vaccination rate, especially among the older people,” said Lam Ching-choi, who is also part of the government’s working group on vaccinations. “Hopefully by then, we have opened up the border with China and we might have conditions favorable to open up the border to other places.” 

Despite procuring enough vaccines when they first became available, Hong Kong has struggled to inoculate its population of about 7.4 million people. Vaccine hesitancy, fueled by fears of side effects particularly among the elderly, has hampered their use. Only 17% of those aged 80 and above in Hong Kong have gotten at least one shot, compared with 69% of the entire eligible population. And efforts by the government, including targeted pop-up vaccination sites at malls and public housing estates, have not yet boosted the take-up among older Hong Kongers.

Covid Solo 

As other countries continue opening up, Hong Kong and China remain the only places left in the world still pursuing a “Covid Zero” strategy that seeks to eliminate local transmission of the virus through strict measures including long quarantines, rigorous contact tracing and targeted testing blitzes.

The approach, however, has been unable to totally stamp out the virus in China. It is currently struggling to suppress its fourth outbreak of the more-transmissible delta variant in the past five months. 

In more cosmopolitan Hong Kong, the measures have led to rising frustration for international companies and residents who face mandatory hotel quarantines of as long as 21 days if they leave and return to the city. Foreign business chambers have warned the government the travel rules risk ruining Hong Kong’s reputation as a global finance hub, and have complained that there is no end game or exit strategy. 

If Hong Kong can’t open the border with mainland China, then it should begin looking at reestablishing ties with other countries, University of Hong Kong epidemiology professor Benjamin Cowling told Bloomberg TV on Monday. He also warned that any travel bubble with the mainland could prove fragile if the delta variant crosses over into Hong Kong. It is one of the densest cities in the world and the only one that hasn’t experienced a delta outbreak. 

“Look at Singapore, Australia, New Zealand -- they all had trouble stopping delta,” Cowling said. “We don’t have the same tools at our disposal as the mainland.”

Vaccination Hurdle

Lam Ching-choi, the adviser, said that only once the city’s vaccination rate is higher and Hong Kong has again opened to the outside world can officials “talk about the endgame scenario,” which could include taking a more laissez-faire approach to the virus. 

“Even if we want to live with the virus, as many other places are doing, we don’t have the vaccination rate to do that,” he said.

Singapore Eases Curbs; Denmark’s New Restrictions: Virus Update - BLOOMBERG

NOVEMBER 09, 2021

(Bloomberg) -- Singapore is rolling back some pandemic curbs, with five people from the same residence allowed to dine at restaurants starting from Wednesday. Those who are unvaccinated by choice will be required to pay for their own medical bills if they get Covid, while the city-state will also set up a vaccinated travel lane with Malaysia, lifting quarantine on one of the world’s busiest air routes. 

Meanwhile, nations across Europe are considering strategies to confront a new wave of cases. Denmark, which has one of the highest vaccination rates on the continent, plans to reintroduce some restrictions to halt a recent spike in cases, having lifted curbs in September. 

Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. unveiled some promising data for its antibody cocktail. Global cases of people infected with the virus surpassed 250 million, according to Johns Hopkins University research.

Key Developments:

  • Virus Tracker: Cases top 250.2 million; deaths at 5.05 million
  • Vaccine Tracker: More than 7.3 billion shots given
  • International travel to the U.S. has resumed. Who’s going where?
  • Long Covid’s scary, potentially lifelong consequences
  • China deems people almost a kilometer apart as close contacts
  • Why new pills to treat Covid could be game changers: QuickTake

Singapore Unvaccinated Must Pay Medical Bills (7:30 a.m. HK)

Singapore will require those who chose not to get the vaccines to pay for their own medical bills if they get Covid. To date, 85% of the population is fully vaccinated, and 18% have received boosters.

The city-state is also easing some tough restrictions put in place more than a month ago, with five people from the same residence allowed to dine at restaurants starting from Wednesday. Restaurants and bars will also be allowed to play soft recorded music, after music inside eateries was earlier banned to prevent patrons from having to raise their voices. 

The changes mark some relaxation of restrictive curbs that were reimposed on one of the most vaccinated countries in the world amid a jump in infections that have tested its health-care system. 

11,000 Boeing Workers Seek Jab Exemption (6:35 a.m. HK)

The number of Boeing employees seeking a vaccine exemption on religious or medical grounds has reached more than 11,000, or nearly 9% of its U.S. workforce, Reuters reported. Executives had initially estimated vaccine resistance from about 2% of workers, the report said. 

Texas Study Shows Risk to Unvaccinated (3:37 p.m. NY)

Texas warned residents that the unvaccinated are about 20 times more likely to die from the virus than fully vaccinated people and 13 times more likely to test positive.

The data was the result of a four-week, in-state study that compared electronic lab reports, death certificates and state immunization records, the Texas Department of State Health Services said in a statement. The risk of death was 48 times higher for unvaccinated people in their 30s and 63 times higher for those in their 40s, the study found.

“This analysis quantifies what we’ve known for months,” Jennifer Shuford, the state’s chief epidemiolgist, said in the statement. “The Covid-19 vaccines are doing an excellent job of protecting people from getting sick and from dying from Covid-19.”

N.J. to Lift School Mask Rules in Phases (3:30 p.m. NY)

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy said he expects to lift school-mask requirements in phases, beginning with older students who are further along getting vaccinations. He gave no timeline for when the mandates would be lifted.

High schoolers 12-to-17 years old would go first, as about 60% already have received their shots, Murphy said Monday at a virus briefing. Children 5 to 11 just became eligible for the vaccine, and less than 10,000 have gotten their first jab so far out of 760,000 eligible in that age group.

Denmark to Bring Back Curbs (2:50 p.m. NY)

Denmark, which has one of Europe’s highest vaccination rates, plans to reintroduce some restrictions to halt a recent spike in cases. 

Danes will have to again present so-called corona passports to attend public events, Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said at a press conference late on Monday. The move follows a recommendation from health authorities that the country reclassify the virus as a disease that poses a critical threat to society.

U.K. Adds to Approved Shot List for Visitors (12:45 p.m. NY)

The U.K. government said beginning Nov. 22, travelers coming to England who received Covid vaccines on the World Health Organization’s Emergency Use Listing will be treated as fully vaccinated. Sinovac, Sinopharm Beijing and Covaxin will be added to the list of approved vaccines for inbound travel, according to the U.K. government website.

NYC Boosts Sick Leave for Kids Vaccines (11:30 a.m. NY)

New York City is extending additional paid sick leave to city workers and contractors so they can get their children vaccinated, Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a briefing. He said workers would get four extra hours per child for each shot their children receive. 

Greece Reports Another Daily Case Record (11:30 a.m. NY)

Greece reported a new high of daily cases with 7,335 infections. It’s the sixth record in the past nine days, while the government took extra measures last week to contain spread of the virus by reaching out to unvaccinated people. Bookings for the first dose of the vaccine has been rising since then.

U.S. Hospitalizations at Lowest Since July (10 a.m. NY)

Almost 6% of hospital beds in U.S. hospitals were occupied by Covid-19 patients on Nov. 7, the least since July 28, according to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. The hospitalization rate fell to 5.9% from 6.0% the day before, and hospital beds occupied by Covid-19 patients totaled 45,121. Idaho has the greatest percentage of beds occupied by Covid-19 patients at 13.0% followed by Montana at 12.1>#/p###

Covid Cocktail Gets Positive Review (7:28 a.m. NY)

Regeneron’s antibody cocktail cut the risk of contracting Covid-19 by 82% for up to eight months, according to a company-sponsored study that could pave the way for its broader use. 

The company has asked the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to expand the authorization so the drug can be used to prevent infections, even when it’s given before a person has been exposed.

Fed Govt restricts issuance of visas to expatriates - THE NATION

NOVEMBER 09, 2021

Expatriates whose skills are readily available in Nigeria will no longer be granted entry visas to Nigeria.

The ban is one of the key points of Executive Order No. 5 being implemented by the Federal Government under the watch of the office of  President Muhammadu Buhari.

The “no-visa” order, according to the government, is aimed at placing  Nigerian professionals at the centre of the nation’s economy.

Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation Ogbonnaya Onu disclosed this at the inauguration of the technical consultative committee of the Strategy Implementation Task Office for the  Executive Order in Abuja yesterday.

Onu explained that with the commencement of action on the  “revolutionary document”  yesterday, indigenous professionals and firms would be the pivot of the design and execution of projects involving national security.

The document or Order reads in part: “Procuring entities are to give preference to Nigerian companies and firms when awarding contracts, in line with the Public Procurement Act (PPA), 2007.

“Hence, indigenous firms will have the opportunity to participate fully in national development through the award of contracts as well as appointment as consultants.

“It should be noted that the age of a firm will not be an obstacle to securing a contract, so long as it is legally registered and possesses requisite qualification and experience.

“The Federal Government will henceforth place a premium on the use of indigenous professionals and firms in the design and execution of projects involving national security.

“Foreign experts would only be engaged on condition that such expertise is not available in Nigeria, and when engaged, Nigerian professionals would be attached to understudy them. “Also, all MDAs(Ministries, Departments, and Agencies)  are expected to take steps to encourage indigenous professionals in the Diaspora to return home and use their expertise to develop Nigeria.

“MDAs shall engage indigenous professionals in the planning, design, and execution of national security projects.

“Consideration shall only be given to a foreign professional, where it is certified by the appropriate authority that such expertise is not available in Nigeria.

“The Ministry of Interior shall desist from giving visas to foreign workers whose skills are available in Nigeria. The Federal Government shall introduce Margin of Preference in National Competitive Bidding in contracts, in the evaluation of tenders, from indigenous suppliers of goods manufactured locally over foreign goods.

“MDAs shall ensure that any professional practicing in Nigeria must be duly registered with the appropriate regulatory body in the country.

“MDAs shall ensure that for all consultancy contracts awarded to foreign companies, engineering drawings, necessary calculations, design, etc., are made available to their corresponding Nigerian partners in the English Language.

“It is essential that arrangements are made to work with Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) as partners towards local production of needed materials. Suppliers and contractors under national competitive bidding process shall disclose local material (processed or unprocessed), where available and needed for the execution of the project.”

Onu explained that  “the Presidential Monitoring and Evaluation Council with President   Buhari as Chairman, will oversee general implementation of the Order, while the Strategy Implementation Task Office for Presidential Executive Order 5 (SITOPEO-5), domiciled in the Federal Ministry of Science, Technology, and Innovation will serve as the Secretariat.

The minister added: “The Presidential Executive Order 5 is not only a revolutionary document, but it is also interventionist in nature, designed by the present administration of President   Buhari to place Nigerian professionals as well as manufacturers at the centre of the Nigerian economy. “


Nigerian MPs sue Azman Air for $12mn over delayed flight - CH-AVIATION

NOVEMBER 09, 2021

Azman Air (AZM, Kano) is reportedly in trouble with authorities again after lawmakers filed a NGN5 billion naira (USD12.1 million) damages claim against the airline over a delayed flight.

In case number CV/2884/2021 filed by their lawyer, Nkemakolam Okoro, at the Federal High Court in Abuja on November 1, five federal parliamentarians and four Nigerian nationals are claiming damages after their September 22 flight ZQ2332, from Kano to Abuja, was delayed by almost 12 hours from around noon until after midnight the next day, reports the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).

They alleged the delay was a breach of the air carriage contract between the airline and its passengers, which had also caused them “psychological and emotional trauma, public embarrassment” and loss of legislative hours in the National Assembly, he said. The MPs involved are Agunsoye Rotimi, Benjamin Kalu, Ikengbo Dele Gboluga, Bala Kokani, Eke Dede, with the additional claimants being Rijau Shehu Saleh, Henry Archibong, Kabo Abdullahi Alhassan, and Ahmed Mariya Bashir.

They are also demanding a written public apology from the airline published in three national dailies, The Sun, ThisDay, and The Guardian.

The airline was not immediately available for comment.

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