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Economy

Experts task FG’s new economic team on fiscal, monetary policies realignment

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Financial experts on Tuesday lauded the new economic advisory team constituted by the Federal Government and tasked them on realignment of fiscal and monetary policies.

They spoke in separate interviews with the Nigeria News Agency in Lagos, while reacting to new Economic Advisory Council (EAC) constituted by President Muhammadu Buhari.

Prof. Tella Sheriffdeen, Professor of Economics, Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye, Ogun, commended the team’s formation.

“It is hopeful that they will consider the need for the country to have a long-term national plan.

“The citizens need to know where the country should be in 2050 and how we will get there in terms of the resources.

“Even in the short and medium term, they should quickly look at where we are and how to reshape policies to take us in the right direction.

“The issue of current level of consumption, investment, government spending and revenue, the international economy must be looked into to fast forward growth of the economy with the next budget year and beyond,” Tella said.

Mr Sola Oni, a Chartered Stockbroker & Chief Executive Officer, Sofunix Investment and Communications, said that one could heave a sigh of relief with the composition of the team.

Oni said that the team’s preoccupation was to offer the Federal Government realistic measures to revive the country’s ailing economy.

“The team should come up with appropriate policy framework to align fiscal and monetary policies,  especially where there are disconnects.

“The members should address the issue of domestic fund mobilisation through measures such as realistic interest rates on domestic savings, holistic integration of informal activities into formal sector and more efficient banking and insurance sectors,” Oni said.

He said that the team should also propose strategy for easy access to domestic credits by investors and provision of relevant incentives for domestic and foreign investors.

Oni urged the members to conduct impact analysis on Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) for enhanced implementation.

He called for engagement with the capital market regulators and operators to identify measures to leverage the capital market to boost economic growth and development.

“The team should reverse the recent increase in Value Added Tax (VAT) without further delay as it will do more harm than good in the present circumstance,” he said.

Mr Moses Igbrude, the Publicity Secretary, the Independent Shareholders Association of Nigeria ( ISAN), called for articulation of policies and strategies aimed at increasing productivity, especially in the agricultural sector.

Igbrude said that emphasis should be on infrastructural development, for easy movement of goods and services.

Mr Ambrose Omordion, the  Chief Operating Officer InvestData Ltd, said the economic team’s inauguration, though a welcome development, was long over due.

“The team is expected to make sure there is coordination between the fiscal and monetary policy with their wealth of knowledge and experience in economic development,” Omordion said.

He said that ERGP should be reviewed to trigger economic activities and development, noting that budgetary approach and implementation style should be another source of concern to the team.

Malam Shehu Mikali, National President, Constance Shareholders Association of Nigeria, said the team, if given free hand, would bring turnaround to the economy.

Mikali said that government should ensure implementation of the good economic policies expected from the team.

He said that the country would feel the impact of the team if government would be willing to listen and adhere to their suggestions and ensure prompt actions when necessary.

Malam Garba Kurfi, the Managing Director, APT Securities and Funds Ltd, said the team’s establishment confirmed government’s desire to take the economy to the next level.

Kurfi said that the entire members of the team were professional economists with diverse areas of specialisation and exposure.

“The number and formation is impressive and  different from what we had in the past; we are hopeful that the president will get his priority right,” he said.

President Muhammadu Buhari’s constitution of an Economic Advisory Council (EAC) to replace the current Economic Management Team (EMT) was confirmed by Mr Femi Adesina, his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, in a statement on Monday in Abuja.

He said the Council would be reporting directly to the President.

Adesina said the EAC, which will be chaired by Prof. Doyin Salami, would advise the President on economic policy matters.

He said this would include fiscal analysis, economic growth and a range of internal and global economic issues working with the relevant cabinet members and heads of monetary and fiscal agencies.

“The EAC will have monthly technical sessions as well as scheduled quarterly meetings with the President.

“The Chairman may, however, request for unscheduled meetings if the need arises,’’ he said.

According to the statement, Dr Mohammed Sagagi and Dr Mohammed Adaya Salisu (Senior Special Assistant to the President, Development Policy) will serve as Vice-Chairman and Secretary of the Council respectively.

Other members of the Council are Prof. Ode Ojowu, Dr Shehu Yahaya, Dr Iyabo Masha, Prof. Chukwuma Soludo and Mr Bismark Rewane.

JNC/SOA

Edited by Oluwole Sogunle

Agriculture

Zamfara secures loan for rice cultivation

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Governor Bello Muhammad (Matawallen Maradun) said he has secured a loan of N3. 8 billion from the Central Bank of Nigeria for rice farmers in the state.

He disclosed this when Farmers Association of Nigeria paid him a courtesy visit at the Government House, Gusau today.

Matawalle said his administration will boost the cultivation of rice beginning from this season. Already, a plan has been concluded to allocate free farmlands to those intending to engage in rice cultivation among farmers in the state.

“With the attainment of peace in the state, our concern now is to find ways of improving the economic activities in the state especially farming which is our pride”, Matawalle revealed.

Already, arrangements are in top gear for the introduction of new crop productions such as garlic production. The State government, according to the Governor, will not concentrate on subsistence farming alone, but also the cultivation of cash crops to improve and empower the citizens in the state.

To this end, the Government will resuscitate some abandoned factories such as the vegetable oil production factories in the state.

Governor Matawalle decried the unfortunate incidence of cattle rustling in some parts of the state but assured that this has been successfully contained and the animals will soon be returned to their rightful owners.

He assured that his administration will not rest on Its oars and allow the hard-earned peace achieved to degenerate. He also promised to continue to support investments in economic activities until all parts of the state are engaged in one economic activity or the other.

Zailani Bappa

SSA Media

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Economy

Customs seizes N43m smuggled goods within one week in Kaduna

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The Zone B of Nigeria Customs Service Federal Operations Unit Kaduna, on Thursday said it seized smuggled goods valued at over N43 million within one week in the zone.

The Comptroller of the command, Mustafa Sarkin-Kebbi said among the items seized was a truck intercepted along Kebbi-Kalgo road carrying foreign parboiled rice concealed with footwears in one hundred kilogram bags.

Sarkin-Kebbi, who made the disclosure at a press briefing in Kaduna, also said 25 vehicles were intercepted within the period, as well as 703 bags of smuggled foreign rice, 500 Jerry can of vegetable oil and 245 cartons of spaghetti.

Other where nine bails of second hand clothes, 40 Jerry Can of Kerosine and a truck of 30,000 PMS being discharged into Jerry Can across the boarders in Kebbi.

According to him, in spite of the Customs anti smuggling patrols across the zone and closing of Nigeria’s borders, smugglers are yet to desist from their illegal acts.

He assured that the Nigerian Custom Service especially the FOU zone B would not relax in its efforts to fight the smugglers to a standstill, to protect the nation’s economy.

“The policies of the Federal Government of self sufficiency  in rice production must be sustained, and we can only sustain that if we stop these smugglers,” Sarkin-Kebbi said.

Edited By: Maharazu Ahmed
(NAN)

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Economy

CBN seeks govs, private sector’s support to generate 10m jobs annually

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Mr Godwin Emefiele, the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) says if Governors and private sectors collaborate with the bank to boost agriculture and industries, the country will generate 10 million jobs yearly.

Emefiele said this during a meeting with governors of Cassava Producing States in Abuja on Thursday.

Nigeria News Agency reports that CBN also signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Nigeria Cassava Growers Association and Large Scale Cassava Processors at the event.

He said the 100 million jobs in 10 years President Muhammadu Buhari set as part of his agenda was achievable.

According  to him, if all stakeholders work together, 10 million jobs can be created annually.

“Creating 10 million jobs yearly should be a collective efforts and all hands must be on deck to achieve that.

“Achieving this, the states need to be economically viable, for states to be economically viable, it means CBN and the state Governors need to partner to see how we can harness the potential that are inherent in the states.

“We need to do it so that those who are farming can have access to finance so that they can produce not just for consumption but in commercial quantities.

“For instance, the value chain in cassava production alone has enormous potential for employing more than two million people in the country if well harnessed.

“We place a high premium on cassava because the commodity can generally be used for different purposes along the value chain due to the diverse secondary products that it offers.

“Some of the products include High Quality Cassava Flour (HQCF), Starch, Sugar Syrups and Sweeteners and Chips.

He added that cassava could also be used as domestic livestock feed and for export to China, Ethanol and bio-fuels, High Fructose Cassava Syrup (HFCS), Fuel Ethanol (E10) as well as Animal Feed from cassava waste among others.

Also speaking, Gov. Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti state commended Emefiele’s zeal to develop agriculture.

Fayemi said South-West where he hailed from produced bulk of cassava in the country.

He said the states in the zone had various cassava processing plants but had no require quantity of cassava to use those plants.

On insecurity,  the CBN governor said it should be addressed as herders and farmers’ clash was still a threat to boosting agriculture.

NAN reports that the governors of Ekiti, Ondo and the Deputy Governor of Ogun attended the event.

Edited by Ese E. (NAN) Ekama

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Economy

NSIA generates N68.3bn in 18 months – Orji

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The Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) has realized N68.3 billion between Jan. 2018 and June 30, 2019.

The Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of NSIA, Mr Uche Orji, made the disclosure at the end of the National Economic Council (NEC), meeting presided over by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, on Thursday.

Orji, who gave a breakdown of the N68.3 billion revenue generation, said N44.3 billion was realized in 2018, while the remaining N24 billion was generated between January and June 30, 2019.

He said: “In summary, the NSIA and its group made a profit total of N44.3 billion in 2018 and so far in 2019 as at the first six months period ended, the NSIA has updated the council that they have made a profit of N24 billion so far.

“This is achieved in the face of a volatile international market environment driven by the trade dispute between the United States and China as well as Brexit challenges.

“In a review of the activities of the NSIA, the NSIA is focused on its infrastructure fund on agriculture, road, power, healthcare projects and gas industrialization.’’

According to him, within the road sector, the NSIA as the manager of the Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund (PIDF) is focused on deploying capital to ensure the completion of the second Niger Bridge, Abuja-Kano Highway and LagosIbadan Expressway.

Other projects under the PIDF, he said, included the Mambila Hydro Power project and East-Ways Road.

He announced that the NSIA also intended to deploy capital in expanding its healthcare projects, following a successful implementation of its cancer treatment project through Public-Private Partnership (PPP) with LUTH as well as a Diagnostic and Radiology Centre in Aminu Kano Specialist Hospital.

Orji revealed that Kano Diagnostic and Radiology Centre would be inaugurated in December.

He also assured that the Federal Medical Centre Umuahia PPP project would be completed in the first quarter of next 2020.

“To facilitate this, the NSIA will create co-investment fund to bring other investors into these projects to ensure their completion and the revenue model will include tolling the roads as other opportunities to ensure that these roads are viable.

Orji also disclosed that NEC had resolved the following: “One, to invest an additional 250 million dollars into the NSIA.

“Second, that the governor of Kaduna State should chair a committee of the National Economic Council to consider how a portion of the Pension Fund can also be leveraged into investment in the NSIA with possible implementation with PenCom.’’

He said the committee would include the Minister of Finance, the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the managing director of the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority.

Edited by Felix Ajide (NAN)

Orji on revenue generated by NSIA


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Economy

FG to upgrade Metallurgical Training Institute to standard

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The Federal Government says plans are ongoing to upgrade the Metallurgical Training Institute (MTI) in Obosi, Anambra to meet Nigeria’s need for vocational skills.

Dr Uchechukwu Ogah, the Minister of State, Ministry of Mines and Steel Development said this on Thursday in Obosi when he paid a familiarisation visit to the institute.

Ogah said that with the upgrade, the institute would be able standard to train youths on different skills and make them entrepreneurs.

Nigeria News Agency reports that the Metallurgical Training Institute is a parastatal under the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development.

It was established in 1981 following a bilateral agreement between the Governments of Nigeria and Germany.

The institute has the mandate to train Nigerians on maintenance engineering with the aim of fast-tracking technological development in the country.

The minister noted that one of the country’s problems was that everybody wants to obtain certificates without having the rudiments of discipline.

He added that government’s desire was to take the institute to a level where people could develop themselves and be one of the best in all institutes.

“This is what Nigeria needs, not certificates, it is now about what you can do, the skill is what we are asking for,” the minister of state said.

According to him, this is why the Federal Government want to develop the institute in terms of skills acquisition to make people acquire required competences to become entrepreneurs.

He added that the main focus of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration was to create employment for Nigerians and to train youths on relevant skills.

The minister of  state called on state governors to send youths to the institute, adding that this would go a long way in reducing the high rate of unemployed youths in the country.

He said that government was already in the process of getting a legal framework for the institute through the National Assembly.

Dikwa also visited Igwe Chidubem Iweka the 3rd of Obosi, and thanked him for the cordial relationship and harmony that had existed between the community and the institute since its inception.

Earlier, the Igwe said that many of its youths had graduated from the institute with skills that had been useful to the community and the country generally.

He expressed optimism that upgrading the institute would help alleviate youth restiveness in the country at large.

The minister of state however, appealed to the Federal Government to consider approving grants for graduates of the institute to enable them start their own businesses after graduation.

The Igwe also said there was the need for people of the community to be given special employment considerations in the institute.

“We are happy that the Federal Government wants to effect the upgrade of the institute,

“But the institute should not only be involved in training of graduates, it should also have some grants for poor students to enable them start their own bussiness after graduation.

“I think it will be a great thing if this is done, especially for poor students.

“We have been having great relationship with MTI as host community over the years, we will want to be honored with employment opportunities,” the Igwe said.

NAN also reports that the minister of state expressed satisfaction with  the way the institute was being operated after he was taken round its various departments and facilities.

Dikwa was conducted round the school by the Acting Director and Chief Executive Mrs Biakolo Alisegwe.

The institute has a student population of over 1,000.

Edited by Ese E. Ekama (NAN)

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Economy

Why reports on whistle blowing dropped —- FG

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Mr Mohammed Dikwa, the Permanent Secretary, Special Duties in the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning says there has been a reduction in reported cases of whistle blowing due to some challenges.

Dikwa said this at a national workshop to discuss the draft bill of the whistle blowing policy in Abuja on Thursday.

He explained that some people that wanted to blow whistle were no longer comfortable with the new arrangement put in place.

According to him, the arrangement entails one fills forms as part of process to document their claims.

He said that lack of legislation was also a major challenge hindering the success of the policy.

Dikwa said that improper coordination among stakeholders was a major problem confronting the policy.

“The reported cases of whistle blowing or the tips used to come frequently on daily basis when we just introduced it in November, 2016.

“When we started, we received 2,000 reported cases monthly but it has gone down drastically.

“We have instituted some measures to avoid situation where people will come and give false information and go with it.

“With what we are putting in place now, we will make sure anyone that gives information that has to do with recovery of money is rewarded.

“The same measure will ensure that those who give fake information to undermine anybody are duly punished, ” he said.

Dikwa expressed the determination of the  present government to give the policy a legislative backing for smooth implementation.

He said the aim of the workshop was to discuss with relevant stakeholders on the draft bill on the policy.

Dikwa said that the step was taken to have a bill that would be acceptable by all and sundry.

The permanent secretary disclosed that between 2016 and 2018, N594.08 billion had been saved by the government from tips, adding that 50,000 ghost workers were removed from payroll.

He said within the period under review, 800 staff involved in collection of double salaries and 400 personnel who left civil service and still collecting salaries for two years were discovered.

Edited by Dorcas Jonah/Ese E. Ekama (NAN)

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