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Inflation rate driven by transport cost, says finance minister

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The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, has said the inflation rate in Nigeria is largely driven by the cost of transportation.

The country has seen an increase in transport costs in recent months largely on the back of the hikes in the pump price of petrol, used by many commercial transporters to power their vehicles.

In what is the latest in a series of petrol price hikes since July, fuel marketers on Friday raised the pump price of the product following an increase in the ex-depot price.

Ahmed, who spoke on Friday at a virtual consultation and stakeholder engagement to discuss the economic and fiscal policy drivers underpinning the Finance Bill 2020, said the draft bill sought to reduce transportation cost in the country.

The average transport fare paid by commuters for bus journey within a city increased by 12.70 per cent month-on-month and 48.02 per cent year-on-year to N278.88 in August, the latest data from the National Bureau of Statistics showed.

Ahmed said the bill contained ‘some interesting new proposals,’ citing ‘fiscal relief for mass transit…which is designed to provide support to mass transit by reviewing the duties regime’ as an example.

The minister said, “The essence why this is being done is we recognise transportation as one of the major cost drivers in the economy.

“If you look at the rate at which our inflation is going, and you disaggregate the components, you will find that inflation is largely driven by transport cost.

“So, the essence here is to reduce transportation cost so that businesses will have ease and pass benefits to eventual consumers.”

The nation’s inflation rate rose to 13.71 per cent in September from 13.22 per cent a month earlier, according to the NBS.

Analysts at Financial Derivatives Company Limited, led by foremost economist Bismarck Rewane, said last week that headline inflation was projected to rise to 14.5 per cent in October from 13.71 per cent in September.

“This means that inflation will be rising for the 14th consecutive month. It would also be the highest level in 33 months. Food inflation will be the most affected as it is estimated to climb to 17.05 per cent. Other sub-indices are also expected to move in the same direction,” they said.

The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr Godwin Emefiele, said recently that the rising inflation in the country and the contraction of the economy had created a dilemma for policymaking and foreboded the need to strengthen the productive base of the economy.

-Punch

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NCC, telecom firms agree on 5G deployment

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All appears set for the deployment of 5G as the Nigerian Communications Commission and major telecoms companies have agreed on the guidelines.
The instruments are the Annual Operating Levy Regulations and the Frequency Spectrum (fees and pricing) Regulations.
The agreement came after a public inquiry organised by the NCC on the two key instruments at its headquarters in Abuja on Thursday, which was attended by Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Prof Umar Danbatta and representatives of major telecoms companies such as Airtel Nigeria, MTN Nigeria, Glo Mobile Network, 9Mobile, and other stakeholders.

The 5G wireless technology is meant to deliver higher multi-Gbps peak data speeds, ultra low latency, more reliability, massive network capacity, increased availability, and a more uniform user experience to more users.

While Airtel Nigeria agreed with key issues regarding the instruments, MTN Nigeria pleaded for extension of timeframe.
But Danbatta assured all stakeholders that frequency spectrum would be assigned and managed in a way that ensures fair pricing and efficient deployment of attendant services.
According to him, the two instruments were not only tailored to meet the challenges of the industry but ensure that all stakeholders are carried along as the country prepares for deployment of 5G technology.
Danbatta said, “More importantly, this Public Inquiry is precursor to the Commission’s current drive to ensure efficiency in spectrum management and the unveiing of next generation services through varied enablers.
“It is in that regard that the Commission issued a Spectrum Trading Guidelines in 2018, to ensure frequency spectrum is readily available to licensees through an effective process.
“Furthermore, the commission has commenced the process for deployment of Fifth Generation (5G) Technology in Nigeria and is driving the provision of such ubiquitous services on making Frequeney Spectrum available to its licensees.
“The efficacy and reliability of these initiatives will be hinged on proper market valuation of the frequency spectrum and fair assessment of levies.”

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Inflow of foreign capital drops by 54% to $875.62m

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The total value of capital importation into Nigeria dropped to $875.62 million in the second quarter (Q2) of 2021, the National Bureau of Statistics has said.
According to the NBS, the figure represents a 54.06 per cent drop compared to the $1.91 billion in the first quarter (Q1) of 2021.

It stated this in its latest report titled, ‘Nigerian capital importation (Q1 & Q2 2021)’.
In 2020, Nigeria’s capital importation plunged by 59.65 per cent at $9.68 billion – the lowest level in four years.

“The largest amount of capital importation by type was received through portfolio investment, which accounted for 62.97% ($551.37m) of total capital importation,” the report stated.
“It is followed by other investments, which accounted for 28.13% ($246.27m) of total capital imported and Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), which accounted for 8.90% ($77.97m) of total capital imported in Q2 2021.”
Capital importation into the banking industry dominated in Q2 reaching a total of $296.51 million, followed by financing with $205.88 million and shares with $194.59 million.
In both Q1 and Q2, brewing, fishing, hotels, tanning and weaving sectors had no record of capital imports, the report added.
Similarly, only Lagos, Ogun and the federal capital territory (FCT) recorded capital inflows across Nigeria in Q2.
Lagos emerged as the top destination of capital investment in the second quarter with $780.06 million, Abuja had $95.26 million, while Ogun had $0.3 million.
By banks, foreign firms emerged as the top capital investment in Nigeria in Q2. Stanbic IBTC recorded $310.21 million, Standard Chartered was second with $282.37 million, then Citibank ($94.15 million).
The report also stated that “the United Kingdom emerged as the top source of capital investment in Nigeria in Q2 2021 with $310.26m.”

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Nigerians experience another nationwide blackout as grid collapses

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Most parts of Nigeria experienced total blackout on Wednesday after a national grid collapse, which electricity distribution companies confirmed in separate notices to their customers.
In a public notice sent out to consumers, the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company said the collapse occurred at 12.26pm but did not say how long it would last.
The notice read, “Dear Esteemed Customers,
Following a grid system outage that occurred at about 12:26 pm today, we have been unable to service our customers in Niger, Kogi and Nasarawa State as well as a significant part of the Federal Capital Territory.
“At the moment, only 20MW has been allocated to AEDC as against the over 400MW that they have been receiving in recent times.
“We urge our customers to be patient and promise that the power supply will be restored to our franchise area as soon as there is a significant improvement in our
allocation.”
In a similar notice, Eko Disco said, “Dear valued customer, we regret to inform you of a system collapse on the National Grid that’s causing outages across our network.
“We are working with our TCN partners to restore supply as soon as possible. Please bear with us.”
Ikeja Electric also sent out a message that read in part, “The current power outage is due to a nationwide system collapse that occurred at about 12:26hrs.
“Power supply will be restored gradually to various parts of the network as soon as the grid is stabilised. Kindly bear with us.”

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