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Economy

NEPC will improve exports, increase revenue through SERVICOM charter – Awolowo

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Mr Olusegun Awolowo, Executive Director, Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) says Service Compact (SERVICOM) Charter will enable the council improve on exports and  increase revenue for the country.

Awolowo said on Tuesday in Abuja during the inauguration of NEPC Service Charter that the document was put together by the council’s SERVICOM Unit.

“ I am convinced that efficient service delivery at NEPC will ultimately translate to improved exports, inclusive growth and increased revenue for government.

“We hope to fully achieve NEPC’s vision of making the world a market place for Nigerian non-oil products and services.

“To this end, we expect our customers to constantly evaluate our performance and provide feedback on how to improve such services,’’ he said.

Awolowo said the charter was a commitment to improving  service delivery and an assurance to members of the public that the council staff would discharge their responsibilities in line with the tenth of the document.

He said the mission of the council was to spearhead the diversification of the Nigerian economy by expanding and increasing non-oil exports for sustainable and inclusive economic growth.

According to him, in order to achieve the mission, the council needs to provide prompt and efficient service to its clients.

Awolowo said that since inception in March, 2004, SERVICOM had remained as one of the effective public service machineries institutionalised to ensure customer satisfaction by ministries, departments and agencies.

“The charter is in line with the need to provide prompt and adequate service that will change the narratives of the contribution of non-oil export sector o the economy,’’ he said.

Awolowo said the charter was an operational tool to guide the council’s business conduct with  clients, the exporters, and other stakeholders.

He said the charter would enable the council provide efficient services as Trade Promotion Organisation in line with expected international best practices.

Mr Sid Aliyu, NEPC Director of Policy and Strategy said when reviewing the charter that other purposes of the document was the council’s commitment to providing  best services and communicate rights

Aliyu said the document would enable the council handle entitlements and responsibilities to clients and define the standard of services expected by customers and staff.

It would bring about improved services and create free atmosphere for evaluation, monitoring and measurement of activities, ” he said.

He said that the charter would guide the way customers perceived the council, adding that NEPC will take the responsibility of a breakdown.

“The customers will always give us feedback on services breakdown because they have the right to complain when not satisfied,’’ he said.

Mrs  Nnenna Akajemini, the National Coordinator, SERIVICOM commended NEPC for taking the bull by the horns.

Akajemini urged the council to implement what was contained in the charter,  saying that every staff must treat all files within 48 hours.

“The charter will provide the solid base for customers to demand to be served fairly, promptly, transparently and in time in line with the goals for which SERVICOM is established.

“Making this public that NEPC have now properly documented a guide and standard for us to ensure that quality services are truly provided with measurable timelines, and when they fail, we hold them accountable,’’ she said.

Akajemini advised the council to make information that concerns export public in order to properly educate the exporters.

She said that the charter also contained what customers could  do when there were not satisfied with the council’s services.

Economy

Expert tasks minister on trade, ECOWAS related policies

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A Trade and Economic Development Advocate, Mr Ken Ukaoha, has urged the new Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment Adeniyi Adebayo, to renew Nigeria’s trade policy in order to advance the sector

Ukaoha, who is the President, National Association of Nigerian Traders (TS), made the call in an interview with the Nigeria News Agency , in Abuja.

According to him, the first agenda for Adebayo is providing Nigeria with a trade policy.

“It is a shame that up till this moment, since 2002 when the country had its last trade policy; we are yet to have one.

“A lot of people have been asking. We have been engaged in a number of trade negotiations, here and there, what then are we negotiating this trade with, upon what domestic policy are we negotiating.

Ukaoha disclosed that the World Trade Organisation (WTO)’s rules provided that every developing country such as Nigeria would have to renew its trade policy every five years.

He said there had always been WTO policy reviews; and it had been noted that Nigeria’s trade policy was outdated.

He also urged the minister to look into the subject of a Common External Tariff (CET) and Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) related trade policies.

Ukaoha said that the CET experimentation for Nigeria would expire this year and by 2020, Nigeria should be having a full fledged implementation of the common external tariff.

He, however, regretted that the country had not learnt any lesson from the five years experimental stage; and called for the hosting of a meeting of trade and industry stakeholders by the ministry to collaborate and strategise.

The expert called for synergy between the ministry and the Ministry of Agriculture, to boost local produce and market strategies, as the chunk of Nigeria’s export commodities export were agricultural produce.

“So that we will know what we are going to export and at what level we will export, to reduce our food imports while we are also using that to industrialise the country,’’ he said.

Ukaoha expressed regrets that Nigeria was still an observer of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), which President Muhammadu Buhari had signed on July 7, at the 12th African Union (AU) Extraordinary Summit in Niamey, Niger Republic.

“Nigeria has been outside the gate in terms of negotiations, but courtesy of the President’s signature, which made us the 53rd country to sign on the framework.

“Nigeria has come in now, however it still remains as an observer in the AfCFTA negotiations.

“How Nigeria will come in as a full member, that is where the minister comes in, and we need an urgent fast track action from the ministry towards the ratification of the AfCFTA agreement.

“Until it is ratified, we will remain an observer in the AfCFTA. We need to catch up, a lot of things have happened without our input,’’ he said.

Ukaoha explained that Section 12 of the 1999 constitution, as amended, stated that no international agreement can come into force except it be ratified by the National Assembly, adding that the minister should facilitate that.

“As we pursue the ratification we should also call to mind where we are, and where the countries which signed the agreement and currently negotiating the agreement are too.

“It is necessary because negotiations are ongoing in terms of services, in terms of the third leg of the negotiation, corporation in intellectual property and procurement policy. We need to catch up,’’ he said.

He also urged the minister to undertake the role of working on the export strategy, in preparation of the AfCFTA implementation.

“Nigeria needs a data of market across the country, it is A shame that sometimes people call, especially from abroad requesting for where to get certain commodity or item. We need a yellow book that itemises all goods in the country.

“I congratulate the ministers, the job is quite demanding, contemporary issues on trade have revealed that trade is highly technical, and we should be prepared in terms of operations and policy works going on at various levels,’’ Ukaoha said.

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NSE urges FG to act in line with Executive Order 5 on projects’ execution

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The Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE) has urged the Federal Government to act in line with Executive Order 5 by encouraging more multinational engineering firms to employ Nigerian engineers.

 

Mr Musliudeen Agoro,  the Chairman of NSE Lagos State branch, gave the advice on Sunday while speaking with the Nigeria News Agency in Lagos.

 

reports that President Muhammadu Buhari had  on Feb. 12, 2018 in Abuja,  signed Executive Order 5 that stipulates the need to improve local content in public procurement with science, engineering and technology components.

 

Agoro said that signing of the executive order by President Buhari had  empowered and protected the local engineers, local suppliers and local contractors such that Nigerian engineers could lead projects.

 

He, however, said that signing of the executive order might not be enough, and called for its enforcement, government’s full backing and encouragement to enable Nigerian  engineers to secure and also lead in execution of projects.

 

According to him, the  implementation of the executive order on local content will  not only drastically reduce capital flight but also reduce unemployment and boost Gross Domestic Products (GDP) of the country.

 

“The signing of the executive order was very encouraging, but its implementation is key.

 

“If there is no full support and backing from government, it will be difficult for the Nigerian  engineers to lead in the  execution of projects amid foreign contractors,” he said.

 

Agoro lamented that  the effects  of Executive Order 5 had not been felt in the construction industry, saying that most of the projects were still being awarded  to multinational companies at the detriment of Nigerians.

 

He suggested that where Nigerian engineers did not have the expertise, they could partner with foreign firms in the execution of mega projects to avoid situations whereby jobs were hijacked by foreign firms.

 

 

“All the multinational firms protect their own interests; they gradually fill the company with their nationals to the detriment of the Nigerian engineers.

 

“Let the government put Nigerian engineers in position of authority so that they can actually influence national policies.

 

“Until government trusts the Nigerian engineers to allow them lead in execution of projects, the Executive Order 5 will still remain  more of theoretical and not practical,” Agoro said.

Edited by Chioma Ugboma

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Economy

Economist berates FG for merging Ministry of Finance with Budget and National Planning

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Dr Aminu Usman, Dean, Faculty of Social Sciences, Kaduna State University, has frowned at the merging of the Ministry of Finance with Budget and National Planning.

He said this while speaking with the Nigeria News Agency in Abuja.

Usman, an economist, said that it was hard to believe that after the experiences the country has had in the past four years, it was still not ready to embrace National Economic Planning with the required seriousness it deserved.

“There is a subsisting law that says National Planning Commission should be chaired by the President and run by a Chairman of cabinet status, usually the Chief Economic Adviser to the president.

“Converting the commission to a ministry is a great disservice let alone subsuming it under Ministry of Finance.

“In effect, we will as a nation continue to grope in the dark not knowing where we are and or where we are going,” he said.

Usman said it was time the nation took lessons from the experiences of India, China, Brazil, and other nations that had institutionalised periodic national planning and stuck to it over the years.

He added that it was evident that these countries had been able to move their country ahead of their peers and were able to lift millions of their people out of poverty over the years because of proper planning.

“I want to believe that the president is not aware of the need to strengthen our capacity to plan for our development and follow it up with due diligent implementation including legislation to prevent any coming government from deviating from the nation’s plan or return to planlessness.

“Going forward, we will now be driven by short term monetary and fiscal policy goals that might have little or no long term benefit to the economy in a coordinated matter.

“In fact, planning now becomes a non-issue as for sure the minister will be preoccupied with finance and treasury issues.”

The dean, however, advised the minister, Mrs Zainab Ahmed to take steps that would put the country on the path to planning such that it would be able to track its progress on a continuous basis and also ensure budgets were drawn from agreed plans.

According to him, this way the nation will be able to measure the progress it is making as a country against its set targets and that of its peers.

He also urged the finance minister to find a way of fostering a good working relationship with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

“They should be complementary, rather than rivals in the management of the economy.

“She should also focus on long term approach to issues rather than always focusing on short term macroeconomic gains that may not have any trickle-down effect on the well-being of average Nigerians ravaged by excruciating poverty.

“In essence, I am advising the minister to pay more attention to the planning arm of her new mega ministry,” he added.

reports that President Muhammadu Buhari, on Wednesday swore in 43 ministers to manage the affairs of the country, appointing Ahmed as the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning.

Edited by Ese E. Ekama

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Economy

Association urges FG to reduce import duty on solar components

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The Renewable Energy Association of Nigeria (REAN) has called on the Federal Government to reduce import duty on solar components to attract more usage of solar power.

Mrs Lande Abudu, Executive Secretary of REAN made this call in an interview with the Nigeria News Agency in Abuja on Sunday.

reports that renewable energy is from a source that is not depleted when used, such as wind or solar power.

She said that the current  five per cent import duty and five  per cent VAT levied on solar components put these products beyond the purchasing capability of many rural dwellers that stand to gain the most from their use.

“ Since the imposition of the combined 10 per cent import charges, investors in the off-grid solar market have recorded a fall in sales growth and market penetration.

“ Value Added Tax (VAT) and import duty on solar technologies significantly inflate end-user costs.

“Thereby undermining the ability of the solar industry to compete with traditional means of lighting and electrification.

“Such as kerosene lanterns and petrol generators, which already enjoy consumption from fuel subsidies from the  Federal Government ‘’ she said.

Abudu said that by exempting solar components from VAT and import duty, the Federal Government can accelerate the market demand that makes local manufacturing economically-viable while simultaneously supporting market development that expands choice and affordability for end-consumers.

According to her,  REAN acknowledge the Federal  Government’s desire to protect the interest of local manufacturers and anti-dumping laws through trade policies.

“ Exemptions will be passed on to the end-customer, thus significantly reducing the retail prices of solar products, while providing reliable electricity to power agricultural and industrial processing activities.

“ The Federal Government through the relevant ministries should implement a 5-year Duty Free Importation on solar energy components, parts and materials.

“This, however, should be tied to a national bond or Memorandum of Understanding   (MoU)  with companies that agree and show verifiable on-the-ground commitment to begin local production of some of the solar components locally,” she said.

 

 

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NIMPORT seeks connectivity with inland dry port to ease cargo traffic

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The Nigerian International Maritime Ports and Terminals (NIMPORT), a port and terminal promotion body, has appealed to the Federal Government to ensure seamless connectivity for cargo and human traffic.

NIMPORT Chairman Mr Fortune Idu made the appeal in an interview with the Nigeria News Agency in Lagos on Saturday.

“The focus should be full connectivity, from the port to the hinterland.

“There should be full and seamless connectivity for cargo and human traffic as it will actually help the country achieve its potential.

“The Minister of Transportation should not relent in moving the sector forward.

“There should not be politicking about connectivity, about decongesting Lagos as the focus is actually on the western axis.

“We can achieve the decongestion of Lagos and pull people out of Lagos into neighboring states such as Ogun and Oyo states by making the railways work.

“The rail project should be completed as quickly as possible.”

Idu pointed out that the sector was hoping and aspiring to see a Lagos without container traffic, saying that having containers dropping off bridges in a busy and populated city like Lagos was appalling and unthinkable.

He urged the Lagos State government and the Federal Government to work closely and ensure that Lagos is rid of container traffic.

“I expect that bulk breaking of container content should be done outside the main commercial city of Lagos and that can only be achieved with real connectivity and where you have inland terminals and rail stations around Lagos.

“With rail stations in Ogun State, Lokoja or even between Ibadan and Lagos, containers could be immediately moved out of Lagos the moment they are offloaded from the ship to places where they could be bulk broken.

“Then you have the distribution network by road.

“Having a full container load traveling on the bridges is not good at all,” he said.

He spoke of the need to ensure that rivers in the country were navigable.

According to him, once the rivers are navigable, containers could be moved from Lagos across the rivers in batches.

CAN/YEE

(Edited by Emmanuel Yashim)

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