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Pricey tomatoes push up the cost of living in February : The Standard

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The high cost of tomatoes contributed to a spike in the cost of living in February with overall prices of goods and services in the economy increasing by 6.37 per cent.
This was a nine-month with the increase in general prices of food and non-alcoholic drinks standing at 10.58 per cent, year-on-year.
In January, inflation rate, or the annualised percentage change in price in a basket of goods, stood at 5.78 per cent.

SEE ALSO :Pain for local consumers as tomato prices go over the roof

Price of a kilogramme of tomatoes, whose high price has been the butt of many jokes online, increased by 62.4 per cent from Sh82.4 in the same month last year to Sh133.8.
Another foodstuff that saw its price rise at a fast rate was maize grain (loose), with a kilogram retailing at Sh50.8, an increase of 42.8 per cent compared to the same period last year.
A kilogramme of onions touched Sh110.29 from Sh89.41, according to data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS).

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“The increase in inflation was driven by increase in prices of several food items outweighing decrease registered in respect of others,” said KNBS.
Sukumawiki
“Notably, the prices of tomatoes increased by 62.4 per cent in February 2020 compared to the cost in February 2019. However, prices of mangoes and loose maize grain dropped by 8.39 and 1.3 per cent respectively.”
While the heavy downpour depressed the supply of tomatoes, it was a boon for other foodstuff such as Sukuma Wiki.
A kilogramme of sukuma wiki retailed at an average of Sh40, this was 15.4 per cent lower compared to Sh47.3 in the same month in 2019.
Mangoes, potatoes, carrots and spinach also saw their retail prices decline during this period.
House rents went up, with the index on housing, water, electricity , gas and other fuels increasing by 0.47 per cent.
“However, during the same period, the cost of electricity consumption kerosene dropped,” said KNBS.
A litre of petrol retailed at Sh113.3 last in February, an increase of 12 per cent, from Sh101.13 in January.
An inflation rate of 6.37 per cent remains within the Central Bank of Kenya’s target of between 2.5 and 7.5 per cent.

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Nigerian mega-city Lagos adjusts to coronavirus lockdown : The Standard

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Fear of the coronavirus has induced an extraordinary calm in Lagos, Nigeria’s famously boisterous mega-city where streets known for miles of gridlock have emptied of traffic and eateries serving takeaways are almost the only shops open.

Closed shops are seen during a lockdown by the authorities to limit the spread of coronavirus in Lagos, Nigeria, March 27, 2020. Picture taken March 27, 2020. [REUTERS/Temilade Adelaja]

The largest city in sub-Saharan Africa, with an estimated 20 million population, has been transformed by a week-long shutdown of public life imposed as part of efforts to stem the spread of the highly infectious disease in Nigeria.
The lockdown order by Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu applies to all non-essential shops – those not selling food, water or medicine – in the sprawling market megalopolis near Nigeria’s Atlantic Ocean coast.
He also banned gatherings of over 25 people and told everyone to stay home with the majority of Nigeria’s confirmed cases – 44 out of 65 – surfacing in Lagos and the state’s health minister warning that the coronavirus is spreading.

SEE ALSO :China virus cases spike, 17 new infections reported

As the lockdown began, most residents were compliant but afraid – both of getting sick and of losing much-needed income.
“I believe some of our traders will be stubborn or so because most of them do not have (food) to eat at home,” said Fatai Adedabo, head of Computer Village, a collective market selling electronic accessories and offering phone repairs.
“We still have to monitor them and make sure the market is shut down totally.”

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Adedabo was not alone in worrying that poverty could hinder containment of the respiratory pandemic, which has infected more than 531,600 people worldwide and killed more than 24,000.
Sanwo-Olu conceded that a 100% lockdown was not possible due to the large numbers of Lagos residents who could not afford to stockpile essentials. Nigeria’s Senate president said on Thursday authorities needed to help shield the poor from suffering the most on account of blanket closures.

SEE ALSO :China confirms virus spreading between humans

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Sanwo-Olu on Friday announced that food packs would be distributed to help Lagos residents.
The packs – whose contents would include rice, beans, bread, drinking water and vitamins – are intended to last for 14 days. He said they would initially be sent to 200,000 households but he hoped distribution would be ramped up.
By mid-morning on Friday, the first full day of the lockdown, most in the typically teeming and exuberant city appeared to be soberly accepting the cCrowds that usually throng the roads were replaced by people walking in pairs, or alone, and the ubiquitous yellow “danfo” buses that are usually packed to the brim carried just a few customers.
As people adjusted under the careful watch of police, many agreed the effort to contain the coronavirus was necessary.
“It will not be easy for us as human beings because this is where we make our money, this is where we make our daily bread,” said Olugbenga Bright, a phone repairman with a wife and children to support. “So we need money, fine, but above all our lives – our safety is the priority.”

SEE ALSO :Factbox: What we know about the new coronavirus spreading in China and beyond


Are you suspecting that you have coronavirus? Before you rush to the hospital, do this quick easy self-assessment test. #StayHome #WashYourHands HERE.

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World Bank, IMF urge debt relief for poorer countries hit by coronavirus : The Standard

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The heads of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund on Friday underscored the need to provide debt relief to poorer countries hit by the coronavirus pandemic, and said official bilateral creditors would have to play a major role.

World Bank president David Malpass speaks at the annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank in Washington, U.S., October 18, 2019. [REUTERS/James Lawler Duggan]

The IMF and the World Bank have both launched emergency programs to offer grants and loans to member countries, with a heavy focus on developing countries and emerging markets, some of which are already in debt distress. They have also called on official bilateral creditors to provide immediate debt relief to the world’s poorest countries.
“Poorer countries will take the hardest hit, especially ones that were already heavily indebted before the crisis,” the World Bank’s president, David Malpass, told the International Monetary and Financial Committee, the steering committee of the IMF.
“Many countries will need debt relief. This is the only way they can concentrate any new resources on fighting the pandemic and its economic and social consequences,” he said, according to a text of his remarks.

SEE ALSO :Kenya should invest in people and harness technology

Malpass said the bank had emergency operations under way in 60 countries, and its board was considering the first 25 projects valued at nearly $2 billion under a $14 billion fast-track facility to help fund immediate health-care needs.
The World Bank was also working with 35 countries to redirect existing resources to the pandemic, with almost $1 billion of those projects already approved. Overall, the bank plans to spend $160 billion over the next 15 month, he said.
Malpass said the IMF and World Bank would present a joint plan for debt relief at the institution’s virtual Spring Meetings in April, but gave no details.

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The poorest countries face official bilateral debt service payments of $14 billion in 2020, including interest and amortization payments, Malpass said, of which less than $4 billion was owed to the United States and other Paris Club members. China, a major creditor, is not a Paris Club member.
Given the large share of debt held by official bilateral creditors, Malpass said it was critical to ensure their “broad and equitable participation” in addressing the crisis.

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SEE ALSO :Sudan passes 2020 budget with anticipated deficit of USD1.62 billion

The IMF’s managing director, Kristalina Georgieva, warned that half of the low-income countries were already in “high debt distress” and much would depend on the official creditors.
She said there were already discussions among the world’s 20 largest economies, the Group of 20, and in the Paris Club, but there would also be a role for private creditors, as was the case during the global financial crisis of 2008-2009.
“The sooner we do it, the better,” she said. “The same way the fund during the global financial crisis brought together both official creditors and private creditors to assess a good pathway through a dramatic crisis, we have to do it this time around as well.”


Are you suspecting that you have coronavirus? Before you rush to the hospital, do this quick easy self-assessment test. #StayHome #WashYourHands HERE.

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Moody’s Downgrades South Africa Credit Rating to Junk –

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Ratings agency Moody’s downgraded South Africa credit rating to ‘junk’ on Friday. The company maintains a negative outlook. South Africa’s recession has deepened in the wake of COVID19 pandemic that has strained economic efforts and government plans to reduce public debt.

Moody’s assessment comes after rating agencies Fitch and S&P downgraded SA to junk in 2017. In this case, the country’s long-term foreign and local currency debt ratings were lowered from Baa3 to Ba1.

Moody’s also downgraded South Africa’s long-term foreign-currency and local-currency senior unsecured debt ratings to Ba1 from Baa3, its foreign-currency senior unsecured MTN and senior unsecured Shelf ratings to (P)Ba1 from (P)Baa3, as well as its foreign-currency other short-term rating to (P)NP from (P)P-3.

Moody’s Statement on South Africa Junk Credit Rating

In a statement released on Friday, Moody’s cites the continuing deterioration in fiscal strength and structurally weak growth for the downgrade. In addition, the negative outlook is a reflection of weaker economic growth and a bulging debt burden. Moody’s says that public debt may rise faster than currently anticipated thus may weaken debt affordability further straining economic recovery.

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Unreliable electricity supply, persistent weak business confidence, and long-standing structural labour market rigidities continue to constrain South Africa’s economic growth.

The downgrading implies that South Africa remains expelled from the World Government Bond Index (WGBI).

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