BRITAIN’S Minister for Africa, Henry Bellingham yesterday lauded the Nigeria’s Petroleum Industry Bill, saying it would help foster investment confidence in the oil-rich country.
In a speech delivered at the High Level Business and Investment Summit on Nigeria in the UK yesterday and made available to The Guardian by the British Deputy High Commission in Lagos, Bellingham said:
“There is a wealth of opportunity in Nigeria. All of us here today have a role to play in realising those opportunities. While the Olympics may be a competition, trade and investment is not. It is a positive sum game from which we can all benefit. My government is wholeheartedly committed to supporting Nigeria’s rise.
“In particular, the Nigerian Petroleum Industry Bill is of great significance. It provides a real opportunity for Nigeria to demonstrate to the business community that it is ready and willing to embrace and protect new investments.”
Separately, the World Bank yesterday said it stood ready to help governments respond to a broad-based run-up in grain prices that has again put the world’s poorest people at risk and could have lingering detrimental impacts for years.
“We cannot allow short-term food-price spikes to have damaging long-term consequences for the world’s most poor and vulnerable,” World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim said in a statement.
“The World Bank and our partners are monitoring this situation closely so we can help governments put policies in place to help people better cope,” said Kim, a public health expert facing his biggest challenge in two months on the job.
A severe drought in the U.S. Midwest has cut projected grain yields dramatically, reviving memories of 2008 when a sharp increase in food prices caused riots in some countries and raised questions about the use of crops to make biofuels.
Wheat prices have jumped more than 50 per cent and corn prices more than 45 per cent since mid-June, with dry conditions in Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan, excessively wet weather in Europe and a below average start to the Indian monsoon season adding to global crop worries.
Prices for soybeans, a critical food and animal feed crop, also have risen almost 30 per cent over the past two months and nearly 60 per cent since the end of last year.
“When food prices rise, families cope by pulling their kids out of school and eating cheaper, less nutritious food, which can have catastrophic life-long effects on the social, physical, and mental well being of millions of young people,” Kim said.
According to him, the bank has a number of programmes to help governments should the situation worsen.
Those include policy advice, increased agriculture and agriculture-related investment, fast-track financing, risk management products and work with the United Nations and private voluntary groups to help governments make more informed responses to global food price spikes.
“In the short-term, measures such as school feeding programs, conditional cash transfers, and food-for-work programs can help to ease pressure on the poor,” Kim said.
“In the medium- to long-term, the world needs strong and stable policies and sustained investments in agriculture in poor countries.”
World Bank officials stressed there is no indication, based on current crop forecasts, of any major grain shortages resulting from the reduced harvests this year.
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