Osinbajo, NECA delegation discuss `clearing desk’ on ease of doing business



Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on Thursday at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, hosted a delegation of the Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Forum (NECA).

Timothy Olawale, Director-General, NECA, who spoke with State House correspondents afterwards, said that the meeting focused on NECA’s concerns on issues of  competitiveness of business and sustainability in Nigeria.

Olawale said the delegation also congratulated Osinbajo on his reelection as vice president and appreciated his representation as the keynote speaker last NECA’s Annual General Meeting(AGM) on July, 2019.

He said the meeting offered the delegation an opportunity to remind the vice president that NECA looked forward to seeing him again in July, 2020.

“There are several of them but key among  them are the issue of regulatory bodies that are working at cross purpose.

“The ease of doing business that is being championed by the Office of the Vice President and Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council(PEBEC); what we are saying is that we may not have access to Office of the Vice President  every now and then to escalate issues for his attention.

“While also we do not want to be running to the court to seek relief because of the issue of non-accessibility of some of the chief executives of some regulatory bodies, we want a situation where is there a clearing desk on the Office of the Vice President where can escalate these issues and they are resolved amicably in the interest of national development and national economy.

“As a matter of fact, much businesses have been made but what we are saying is that it is not all regulatory bodies of government that are on the same page with government on the desirables.’’

He said that there were instances where some of the regulatory bodies shut down businesses without recourse to dialogue and instances where there were infractions or interventions from the agencies of government outside their enabling Act.

According to Olawale, the rule of law must be respected.

“Even when you have cases in court and there is restraining order; we have instances where some the regulatory bodies go against such restraining orders and still go ahead to disrupt businesses.

“The vice president has said it is something that is doable; the setting up of a clearing desk where these issues can be escalated because he is very desirous of working closely with the private sector and all these issues are issues that can be taken on board,’’ he said.

On minimum wage, he urged the government and labour unions to adopt the principle of give and take as it was very important.

He said there was need to arrive at a win-win situation.


Edited by Felix Ajide



Unemployment: Embrace vocations, entrepreneur tells youths



The Chief Executive Officer of Kuhlbox Drinks Logistics, Mr Adedamola Ogunwomoju, has urged Nigerian youths to engage in vocations that will enable them become self employed and employers of labour.

Ogunwomoju told the Nigeria News Agency in Ibadan on Tuesday that it was advisable for youths to embrace vocations before graduating from higher institutions.

When a skill is acquired, there will be something to fall back on if one does not get a job with a certificate.

This is our reality right now, there are no jobs. The jobs that are available are for the connected and you need some level of experience to be qualified for some jobs.

The reality of our situation right now explains the emergence of many CEOs and small scale business owners.

I cannot outrightly say that it pays to be an entrepreneur than having a regular job in Nigeria these days.

Being an entrepreneur is not easy; I can tell you there will be some trying times.

If you are making money under the present economic situation as an entrepreneur, it is either you have some deep connections or you have been in that line of business for quite a while,” he said.

Ogunwomoju, however, said that consistency and zeal were pivotal in sustaining any business in Nigeria.

(Edited by: Mufutau Ojo)


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SMEDAN trains 500 entrepreneurs in Oyo



Mrs Iyabo Ojogbede, the Oyo State Manager of Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN), says the agency trained more than 500 entrepreneurs in the state in 2019 to improve their productivity.

Ojogbede stated this in Ibadan on Tuesday while speaking on the agency’s activities in 2019.

She said there were numerous platforms provided for people in the state to enhance their businesses as well as boost economic opportunities.

” After the training, we do empower the entrepreneurs by giving them equipment to start their businesses.

As for the existing businesses, most times they complain to us about their need for workspace.

Even cooperative groups are catered for; we provide them with workspace through this programme called One Local Government One Product Scheme (OLP).

We provide workspace, capital and equipmen to each cooperative we disbursed funds) to; we give 70 percent of loan and 30 percent grant for each cooperative and there is no interest on it.

” Through CBN’s Agricultural Business Small Medium Enterprises Investment Scheme loan, we have been training entrepreneurs in our agency,” she said.

Ojogbede noted that most applications received for the CBN loan had been forwarded to NIRSAL Microfinance Bank saddled  with disbursement of funds.

She further stated that funds had been disbursed to about 55 percent of the applicants out of the 355 entrepreneurs that applied for  loans in the state.

(Edited by: Mufutau Ojo)

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2020 budget: expert sets 90% implementation target for FG



Mr Godwin Eohoi, an economic expert has urged the Federal Government to ensure that about 90 per cent of the 2020 budget is implemented following its early passage by the National Assembly.

Eohoi, also the Registrar Institute of Finance and Control of Nigeria (IFCN) said this while speaking with the Nigeria News Agency in Abuja on Tuesday.

The registrar, who was reacting to the early passage of the 2020 appropriation bill, explained that with the passage, President Muhammadu Buhari-led government had no excuse in ensuring the full implementation of the bill.

He said that since the legislative arm of government had played its part, Buhari should look at the estimates and assent to it as soon as possible without delay.

According to him, Nigeria has one of the best budgets in the world but implementation is usually the problem.

Now that the 2020 appropriation bill has been passed into law, we should be hopeful and targeting 90 per cent implementation, it shouldn’t be 50 per cent or thereabout as experienced in the past.

This is a good development for the country for the National Assembly to pass the budget in record time.

This has shown the kind of cordial relationship that exists between the legislature and executive which is good for economic planning in the country.

The president has made the promise of bringing the country’s budget to 12 months calendar circle, that is to have it run from January to December.

I can see that Buhari means business because he is now working with lawmakers to redeem his pledge,’’ he said.

The expert noted that if this was adhered to, this arrangement would help importers and exporters to have a good planning.

He commended the legislature and Buhari for this stride, adding that if sustained, it would help to boost the economy of the country.

Edited by: Ese E. Ekama



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Oil prices drop as fears over trade war, weaker demand return to haunt market



Oil prices slipped on Tuesday for a second straight session as the cons of a slowing global demand outlook outweighed the pros of OPEC’s agreement with associated producers at the end of last week to deepen crude output cuts in early 2020.

Brent futures were down 11 cents, or 0.2 per cent, at 64.14 dollars per barrel by 0738 GMT.

West Texas Intermediate oil futures were 10 cents, or 0.2 per cent, lower at 58.92 dollars a barrel. The benchmarks fell 0.2 per  cent and 0.3 per cent respectively on Monday.

The euphoria (on output cuts) was short lived, with an unexpected fall in exports from China highlighting the impact of the trade conflict,” said ANZ Bank in a note on Tuesday.

Data released on Sunday showed exports from China in November fell 1.1 per cent from a year earlier, confounding expectations for a 1 per cent rise in a Reuters poll.

That weakness came amid fresh fronts in the trade war between Washington and Beijing that has stymied global economic growth coming up fast: Washington’s next round of tariffs against some 156 billion dollars Chinese goods are scheduled to take effect on Dec. 15.

U.S. President Donald Trump does not want to implement the next round of tariffs, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said on Monday – but he wants “movement” from China to avoid them.

With the swathe of new tariffs due to kick in on 15 December, the market is watching negotiations closely,” said ANZ.

Analysts said that, though overshadowed for now, the move by ‘OPEC+’ – the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and associated producers like Russia – to deepen output cuts from 1.2 million barrels per day (bpd) to 1.7 million bpd would remain a mid-term support factor.

But rising non-OPEC production threatens to counteract efforts to limit global crude supplies.

Despite the voluntary restraint from OPEC, world oil markets remain well supplied … with non-OPEC output expected to rise by well over 2 million bpd next year, with big increases in the U.S., Brazil, and Norway,” said Henning Gloystein, director of global energy and natural resources at Eurasia Group in a note.

Since the start of 2017, when OPEC and its allies began capping supply, U.S. crude production has soared from about 8.8 million bpd to a record 13 million bpd recently, and is expected to rise further in 2020.

“Going forward, oil prices are likely to be more data-driven, and move in tandem with demand forecasts,” said Margaret Yang, market analyst at CMC Markets.

Edited by: Abdullahi Mohammed/Ali Baba-Inuwa

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Operators task new FIRS boss on VAT, withholding tax on capital market transactions



Capital market operators on Tuesday urged the new Malam Garba Kurfi, the Managing Director, APT Securities and Funds Ltd., called for the removal of VAT on capital market transactions.

Kurfi said that the new chairman should harmonise various taxes in the country for easy administration and better returns.

He urged Nami to map out strategies that would raise the country’s contribution of tax revenue to Mr Moses Igburde, the Publicity Secretary, Independent Shareholders Association of Nigeria (ISAN), urged the new FIRS boss to learn from the mistakes of Fowler.

Igburde said that the new chairman should address issues of multiple taxation and gangster way of collecting taxes from taxpayers.

According to him, FIRS should engage the companies and other tax payers rather than adopting gangster approach.

FIRS must leverage on technology and modern infrastructure to collect and monitor tax collections,’’ he added.

Igburde charged FIRS to introduce friendly tax policies that would encourage companies to pay their taxes willingly.

He stressed that taxpayers would be willing to pay taxes if government at all levels ensure provision of the needed infrastructure, security as well as ease of doing business.

Mr Boniface Okezie, the National Coordinator, Progressive Shareholders Association of Nigeria, called for the elimination of multiple taxation in the country.

Okezie stressed the need for provision of massive infrastructure across all geopolitical zones to encourage people to pay taxes.

He also called for introduction of tax incentives such as award of government contracts to taxpaying companies to increase tax net.

Edited by: Ese E. Ekama


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Customs intercepts illegal goods worth N997m in Sokoto in 2 months



The Sokoto/Zamfara Command of Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) has intercepted 640 cartons of sexual enhancing drugs, an AK47 Gun and other illegally smuggled items worth N997 million from October and November.

Mr Magaji Mailafiya, the Command’s Public Relations Officer (PRO) made the disclosure in a statement he available to the Nigeria News Agency in Sokoto on Tuesday.

Mailafiya said no fewer 29 seizures were made within the periods under review.

He said the smuggled goods had the duty paid value of N915 million, adding that they were arrested along Ilella-Kware road on Nov. 3.

He said on Nov. 25, the personnel of the command also arrested three Toyota, Carina II vehicles loaded with 132 Jerry Cans of 25kg Vegetable oil, 85 cartons of Tiger Head Batteries and 86 sacks of 25kg size Monosodium Glutamate at Achida/Goronyo road.

Mailafiya added that command’s men on patrol on Nov. 20, also seized seven sacks containing 800 pieces of cutlass stressing that efforts were part of the fight against smuggling in the country.

The customs` spokesman reiterated Sokoto/Zamfara Area Command’s commitment, headed by Comptroller Umar Gimba, to ensure smuggle free economy in the nation through intelligence gathering and constant patrols.

He appealed to the general public to embrace legitimate trade and avoid smuggling, stressing that  the area command would not relent in its concerted effort at ensuring that smuggling activities are brought to the barest minimum.

The PRO enjoined Nigerians to cooperate with the operatives of the area command, especially in the border communities, to allow for the socio-economic growth of the country.

According to him, this will help to provide the needed employment for the people, stressing that smuggling cripples nation’s economy.

Edited by: Cecilia Odey/Dada Ahmed

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Focus on women, youth to stimulate financial inclusion



The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) says  focus on women and youth would help stimulate financial inclusive growth in the country.

Mrs Aisha Ahmad, Deputy Governor, Financial Systems Stability Directorate of CBN, made the assertion at the Enhancing Financial Innovation and Access (EFInA) 2019 Financial Inclusion Conference in Lagos on Monday.

She discussed on the topic : ”Financial Inclusion as a Tool to Unlock Nigeria’s Potential and Enable Inclusive Economic Growth”.

She described inclusive growth as being productive, long term, broad-based to provide all sectors of the society with economic opportunities.

Ahmad  said that for growth to be sustainable, it must be inclusive and  the poor in particular must have access to resources that would enable them to earn incomes and improve their livelihoods.

Women financial economic inclusion aligns with my career and personal goals and I feel it is important to acknowledge what EFInA is doing across countries by providing data.

This data will help policymakers and practioners to develop initiatives that drive financial institutions to ensure financial inclusion.

Since the global financial crisis, we have not seen growth advance to global financial level, and the recent trade war and geographical tension are not helping this matter.

Now, promoting inclusive growth is declared global government priority.

However, I think, for Africa, there is a particular need for the continent in this respect,” she said.

Ahmad said that the country’s growth was arguably fragile even with it being the largest economy in Africa, rich in oil and gas and other natural resources which give government 90 per cent revenue.

It is now obvious that elevation and contribution of all citizens including youths, women and other marginalised of the economy maybe the key to the significantt rapid growth and beginning to sustain it.

Financial literacy, actions lined up from now to 2020 will help, and policymakers need to put this at the forefront of their objectives,” she said.

Mr Segun Akerele, Chairman, Board of Directors, EFInA, said that EFInA Financial Inclusion Conference was an annual event which sought to engage stakeholders in the financial sector to identify opportunities to promote financial inclusion.

According to him, building an inclusive financial sector will help to put in place  enabling national policy and regulatory environment that fully meet stakeholders need to strengthen economic inclusion for the unbanked and underbanked segment.

It will seek to catalyse the creation of inclusive financial services for the excluded population by combining commercial objectives with social ones through local policy and practice innovations.

“With the theme, we hope to examine the transformative power of financial inclusion and its potential to accelerate inclusive economic growth through poverty reduction, employment generation and wealth creation,” he said.

Edited by: Ijeoma Popoola

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 Abia commissioner presents N136.6 bn budget breakdown to House Assembly for approval



The Commissioner for Finance in Abia, Dr Aham Uko, on Monday presented a breakdown of  the 2020 Appropriation Bill, totalling N136.6 billion, to the state House of Assembly for approval.

In a speech, Uko told the lawmakers that the state keyed into the State’s Fiscal Transparency, Accountability and Sustainable programme of the World Bank/Federal Government as well as the Open Government Partnership Initiative.

He said that they had ensured that the content of the budget clearly spoke to specific projects that had the capacity of contributing to the development agenda of the government.

He said that the bill, christened “Budget of Economic Repositioning”, was put together to address the aspirations and needs of the people.

He said that the N136.6 billion draft was made up of N66.8 billion, representing 48.9 per cent  as recurrent expenditure, and N69.8 billion, representing 51.1 per cent, as capital expenditure.

According to him, the 2020 buget outlay is slightly less than the N140.2 billion of the 2019.

Uko said that the moderate decrease was occasioned by government’s resolve to formulate a fairly more realistic budget consistent with historical revenue trajectory, while working hard to improve revenue generation and expenditure management approach.

He said that the expected total Consolidated Revenue in the 2020 fiscal year stood at N106.9 billion, made up of inflows from Independent Revenue and the Statutory Allocation from the Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC).

The commissioner further said that the expected revenue from FAAC was N67.2 billion, representing 62.8 per cent of the aggregate expected revenue to the state.

He said that the budgetary allocations were linked to the Five Pillars Agenda of  Gov. Okezie Ikpeazu’s administration, which included Health, Education, Commerce and Industry, Agriculture and Oil and Gas.

A further breakdown of the budget shows that the sum of N7.3 billion was earmarked for Health, N6.5 billion for Education, N4.4 billion for  Commerce and Industry, N15 billion for Oil and Gas, while N975 million was for Agriculture.

Uko said: “We intend to reposition the state economically through strategic interventions in selected sectors.

“We also intend to pursue specific reforms that will accompany and strengthen these interventions and involve the citizenry a lot more in the implementation and monitoring of the budget process.”

The Speaker, Mr Chinedum Orji, said that the Seventh Assembly was committed to ensuring that the intention of the budget was achieved.

Orji charged the commissioner to aim at a baseline of 70 per cent implementation and to work toward a continued increase in the capital expenditure more than the recurrent one.

Nigeria News Agency reports that Gov. Okezie Ikpeazu presented the 2020 budget estimate to the house on November 18.

(Edited by: Sam Oditah)

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Harnesssing of mines sector key to industrial development — Gov. Ihedioha



Imo Governor, Chief Emeka Ihedioha, says that no country can develop industrially without harnessing her mines and metal sector.

Ihedioha stated this at the 2nd Nigeria Metallurgical Industry Stakeholders’ Forum (MISF) organised by the Federal Ministry of Mines and Steel Development for South-East stakeholders on Monday in Owerri.

The Nigeria News Agency reports that the two-day seminar had the theme, “Building Local Capacities for the Development of the Nigeria Metal Sector.”

Ihedioha, who commended the ministry for the choice of Imo as host, said the theme was in tandem with the Rebuild Imo Agenda of his government which main trust was to revive the power sector for industries to thrive.

He said most industries depended on the metal sector, adding that any country that ignored the metal sector does so at her own risk, pointing out that the metal sector contributed to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of countries.

The governor noted that the state was committed to the growth and development of its technical and industrial sector, adding that in most developed economies the metal sector was the highest employer of labour.

He called on the Federal Government to improve on the steel capacity of the country for it to achieve much and by extension connect Owerri and Onitsha to the rail line.

Ihedioha urged the participants to take advantage of the programme and dedicate themselves to finding solutions to the technical and steel need of the country.

Earlier, Dr Uchechukwu Ogah, Minister of State, Ministry of Mines and Steel Development, said the theme was in tandem with federal government’s resolve to vigorously pursue the diversification of the economy inter-alia the minerals and metals sector of the Nigerian economy.

He noted that the metal industry formed the bedrock on which the industrialisation and development of any nation of the world was built.

The minister said that without the steel and other metal industry, no meaningful technological advancement would be achieved.

Virtually, all other sectors of the economy rely on the metal sector in one way or the other to thrive, including power, agriculture, transportation, industry, electricity/electronics, construction, roads, and housing,” he said.

Ogah pointed out that Nigeria’s interest in the development of iron and steel industry dated back to 1958, with further action taken in the immediate post-independence era.

According to him, other countries that started their metallurgical sector in a similar way like Nigeria have been able to lift their economies from third world poverty and starvation due to the industrialisation they had achieved via a well-developed metallurgical industry.

He identified these countries to include South Korea, Algeria, Tunisia, India, Egypt, Libya, Pakistan, Turkey, Iran and Irag.

Ogah described metallurgy as the branch of science and technology concerned with the study of the properties of metals, their production and purification.

He added that mineral processing, physical metallurgy, smelting, extractive metallurgy and steel production were all metallurgical processes.

The minister said that the metal sector had to be positioned to amongst others improve the power, transportation, construction industry, manufacturing, agricultural sectors, and the mining and mineral processing.

He solicited for local and foreign private investments in these areas and many other sectors, assuring that government would create the enabling environment.

The desire of the federal government of Nigeria to diversify the economy from a mono-product economy predominantly dependent on oil and gas revenues to other sectors such as minerals and metals is well known to you.

Aside the seven strategic minerals (Iron ore, Lead/Zinc, Gold, Baritas, Bitumen and Limestone) every local government in Nigeria has one or more minerals located in it,” he said.

The minster identified other advantages of the metal industry on other sectors of the economy to include foreign exchange earnings and sustenance, contribution toward increasing the Gross Domestic Product, creation of job opportunities and acquisition of technical skills leading to technology transfer to Nigerians.

Others were exploitation of the abundant metal ore deposits and associated minerals to meet local demand and possible exports of surplus, springing up of economic activities in down-stream metallurgical industries and the mineral sector of the national economy and the mechanisation of the agricultural sector through the production of agro-processing plants and farm implements.

Edited by: Chioma Ugboma/Wale Ojetimi

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