World Bulletin/News Desk
Nigeria's finance ministry said on Friday it would not pay subsidies to fuel importers it was investigating for fraud, listing 21 local firms and pledging not to back down despite union strike threats.
A presidential committee, led by Access Bank chief Aigboje Aig Imoukhuede, is verifying all fuel marketers' claims before the finance ministry pays them any subsidy, it said.
Nigeria is among the top 10 crude oil exporters in the world but due to decades of corruption and mismanagement it has to import most of its refined fuel needs.
A parliamentary probe in April uncovered a $6.8 billion scam in the fuel subsidy administration, one of the biggest corruption scandals in Nigeria's history.
It found that marketers were claiming subsidy for fuel they never delivered or that they sold to the country's neighbouring states.
Unions, which are largely controlled by the companies, threatened to strike unless payments were released.
There were fuel shortages in the capital Abuja this week, as some marketers withheld deliveries, and Finance Minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala condemned what she called "blackmail" in a news conference on Thursday.
"It is clear that those behind the strikes are marketers being investigated for possible fraud," a finance ministry statement said on Friday.
"These elements have now resorted to hiding behind the unions to unnecessarily antagonize government and create hardship for Nigerians ... No degree of blackmail will stop the government from doing its work."
Another investigation by a committee President Goodluck Jonathan set up found that fuel traders fraudulently collected 382 billion naira ($2.38 billion) last year in subsidy payments.
In January Jonathan tried to end the fuel subsidy, which economists say is wasteful and corrupt, but a week of strikes and protests over petrol prices forced him to partly reinstate it.
Bankers in Singapore say Russians looking for a new Cyprus have come to the wrong place.
The default could get much messier and take longer to clear up if creditors force an "acceleration" for early payment on their bonds.
The ban came a day after the European Union and United States imposed their first sanctions aimed at hitting broad sectors of the Russian economy
Russia called new U.S. sanctions "destructive and short-sighted"
While the default will obviously hurt the economy, it will not be as severe as in 2001, economists say
The Czechs, who supported the action, have been against sweeping sanctions, worried about trade relations with Russia
The trade program has been criticized for disproportionately benefiting certain industries and a handful of countries, including Nigeria, South Africa and Angola.
The United Kalavrvta tanker, carrying some 1 million barrels of crude worth about $100 million, arrived off the coast of Texas on Saturday but has yet to unload its disputed cargo.
The uncertainty comes at a bad time for the 18 countries in the euro zone, whose economy is already in the doldrums.
"Kalashnikov regrets that consumers are faced with such a problem," said spokeswoman Yekaterina Boni.
Cairo and Khartoum had earlier accepted a proposal by Addis Ababa to hold the talks in Sudan in the third week of August.
Discounting the bulk of Japan's 48 reactors due to their long-term outage, the report said the number of operating units in the world has fallen to 388, 50 less than the peak in 2002.
Over 200,000 NUMSA-affiliated metalworkers declared a nationwide strike on July 1 to demand a 15-percent pay raise for laborers and a ban on labor brokers
The council said in a statement that any trade in oil ISIL or Nusra Front, would violate United Nations sanctions as both groups have been blacklisted.
The project is being implemented in collaboration with the Ethiopian and Norwegian governments at a cost of over $2.8 million.
Kerry will be heading the U.S. team at the annual Strategic Dialogue with India on Thursday, and will be accompanied by U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker.