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.
While PM promises 'greatest possible' access to EU market, opposition hits out at 'clear break' from Conservative policy
Prime Minister Theresa May is expected to deliver Brexit speech on Tuesday
"Net easing of banks' overall terms and conditions on new loans continued across all loan categories," as in previous quarters, the central bank said in a statement.
On a state trip to Hanoi, Japanese PM Shinzo Abe promises to help bolster Vietnam's naval capabilities
The US growth estimate was raised a tenth of a point this year to 2.3 percent, and for next year by four-tenths to 2.5 percent.
Flynas chairman Ayed al-Jeaid said at the signing ceremony in Riyadh that the deal includes an option for 40 more of the short to medium-haul planes in what airline executives said is a growing domestic market.
Central Bank skips repo auctions for third trading day to stem sharp decline in lira value against other currencies
Oxfam pointed to a link between the vast gap between rich and poor and growing discontent with mainstream politics around the world.
US dollar/Turkish lira exchange rate fell to stand at 3.7630
Chancellor Philip Hammond says if Britain is 'closed off' from EU markets, it will be forced to be 'something different'
Government plans to claw back lost VAT revenues splits opinion in austerity-hit country
"It would probably be right if the ECB starts daring to head for the exit this year," Schaeuble told the Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper -- although he acknowledged it would be a "difficult task".
There was muted reaction to end-of-the-year data from China showing the world's number-two economy was still struggling on the trade front, with uncertainty over Trump's upcoming presidency.
Education, infrastructure spending can help in current environment, observer says.
Erol Bilecik, head of Index Group, to lead Turkish Industrialists’ and Businessmen’s Association