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To tackle inflation, Buhari insists no forex for food import

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President Muhammadu Buhari has again directed the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) not to grant foreign exchange for food importation.

He said this was one of the strategies by his administration to stem the rising cost of foodstuffs in the country as from early next year, adding that diversification from oil to agriculture had saved Nigeria from the harsh economic realities of COVID-19.

He spoke on Tuesday during his fifth meeting with the Presidential Economic Advisory Council at the State House, Abuja.

Buhari, according to a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, said since seven states produce enough rice that the nation would need, it made no sense to import the food item.

“The CBN must not give money to import food. Already, about seven states are producing all the rice we need. We must eat what we produce,” he stated.

The President had in September explained that Nigeria which hitherto had only three fertilizer blending plants now has 33.

He said, “Going back to the land is the way out. We depended on petrol at the expense of agriculture. Now, the oil industry is in turmoil. We are being squeezed to produce at 1.5 million barrels a day as against a capacity to produce 2.3 million. At the same time, the technical cost of our production per barrel is high, compared to the Middle East production cost.”

The President emphasised the place of agriculture in the efforts to restore the economy but agreed that measures must be put in place to curtail inflation in the country:

He said, “We will continue to encourage our people to go back to the land. Our elite is indoctrinated in the idea that we are rich in oil, leaving the land for the city for oil riches. We are back to the land now.

“We must not lose the opportunity to make life easier for our people. Imagine what would have happened if we didn’t encourage agriculture and close the borders. We would have been in trouble.”

The meeting, which was for a review of  and reflections on the global and domestic economy in the outgoing year was attended by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, as well as Ministers of Finance, Zainab  Ahmed and her  Humanitarian Affairs counterpart Sadiya  Farouk.

The meeting noted the sharp deterioration in international economic environment and its impact on Nigeria’s continuing but fragile economic recovery; that Nigeria’s economic growth continues to be constrained by obvious challenges, including infrastructural deficiencies and limited resources for government financing.

It also noted the need to make the private sector of the economy the primary source of investment, rather than government.

It reviewed progress towards structural reforms in response to the economic crises, including the institution of the Economic Sustainability Plan, the changes in electricity tariffs and fuel pricing regime, the partial re-opening of the nation’s land borders, the movement towards unification of exchange rates and budgetary reforms through Finance Bill 2020 and 2021.

It also agreed that to prepare the country for the challenges ahead, it is imperative to ensure macro-economic stability, create certainty and re-build investor confidence in the economy.

The meeting stressed the need to deepen structural reforms initiated by the Buhari administration as a basis for stimulating investments from domestic and international sources with a view to raising productivity in key sectors of the economy.

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NCAA to demolish Globacom masts nationwide over ₦5.9bn debt

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The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority has concluded plans to start dismantling some telecommunication masts belonging to Globacom Ltd, a Global Sattelite Mobile (GSM) telecommunications provider, in various locations across the country over failure to pay N5.9 billion renewal fees for height clearance to the agency.

The development followed a directive from the Nigerian government to some of its agencies and parastatals to go after debtors and defaulters and recover all the outstanding for the government.

SaharaReporters learnt that the matter came to a head following exchange of correspondence between Globacom and NCAA and scheduled meetings designed to ensure payment of the said accumulated fees by the telecommunication network which failed.

In a letter dated October 4, 2021, titled: “Re: Illegal Erection of High Structures and Refusal to Renew Expired Aviation Height Clearance Certificates by Globacom Limited” and addressed to the Managing Director, Globacom, obtained by SaharaReporters, it was affirmed that following the failure by Globacom to pay the the required fees amounting to N5.9 billion, the regulatory agency had no choice but to commence the dismantling of the its masts across the country.

“In the circumstance, having exhausted all avenues for a resolution of this matter, we are now left without choice but to apply the relevant sanctions, including the dismantling of all your non-compliant masts nationwide. And this shall be without further notice to you”, it said.

The letter signed by Legal Adviser/Head, Compliance and Enforcement, Mr. Emmanuel Chukwuma, recalled that, “The meeting to discuss the above subject-matter, was fixed for September 23, 2021, at your instance.

“You may wish to recall that you had on August, 25, 2021, requested that the meeting, earlier rescheduled, at your instance, from Monday, July 26, 2021 to Thursday, August 26, 2021, be further rescheduled to Thursday, September 23, 2021, to enable your Chief Operating Officer/COO to attend.

“It is unfortunate that despite our concurrence to a further rescheduling of the meeting to the requested date, and so informing you through our letter of 13th September, 2021, you failed to turn up for the meeting”, it said.

The letter noted that the Director-General of the NCAA had to abort an official assignment in Europe and return to Nigeria in order to be able to attend the meeting.

“Globacom only wrote the letter under reference three days after, asking that the meeting be rescheduled, without any explanation for the failure of any management staff to show up.

“I am directed to inform you that the NCAA is not disposed to granting this latest (fourth) request to reschedule the meeting, particularly, as no reason was given for your non-attendance on the last date.

“In the circumstance, having exhausted all avenues for a resolution of this matter, we are now left without choice but to apply the relevant sanctions including the dismantling of all your non-compliant masts nationwide. And this shall be without further notice to you”, it said.

In an earlier communication with Globacom, NCAA listed the indebtedness of globacom to include application fee for 2006 to 2007 at N100,000 per mast, totalling N689,800,000, annual renewal fee for 2007-2022 (15years), N50,000 per mast amounting to N6,898 and inspection fee covering N6,898 masts across the nation all totalling N6,064,230,000.

SaharaReporters learnt that Globacom paid the sum of N100 million on July 31, 2019 and had not made any further payment.

An earlier letter from NCCA to Global said total application fee for the period under review stood at N604,800,000 while cost of inspection amounted to N190,930,000.

The letter also stated the position of NCAA in law with regard to regulation of masts.

“Please be reminded that Section 30(3)() of the Civil Aviation Act 2006 empowers the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) by law to prohibit and regulate the installation of any structure (including telecommunication mast), which by virtue of its ‘height or position is considered to endanger the safety of air navigation,” it said.

This is coming two years after the agency asked Globacom and other Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) operators to remove their over 7, 000 masts or risk seeing them demolished.

The NCAA had claimed the masts, erected at different locations within the country close to the nation’s airports, are obstructing flight safety and could cause accidents if not removed.

SaharaReporters

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Nigeria’ll save 40% of forex earnings with Dangote Refinery – Emefiele

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Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele, has said Nigeria will save 40 per cent of its foreign exchange earnings when the Dangote Refinery and Petrochemical Plant is in full operations in 2022.

The CBN governor stated this on the sidelines of the ongoing International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank annual meetings in Washington DC.

Emefiele said the Federal Government currently spent about 40 percent of its dollar earnings on the importation of petroleum products, putting pressure on the naira to dollar rate.

“By the time the Dangote Refinery begins operation, it would be a major FX saving source for Nigeria,” he said.

“Right now, the overall forex we spend on imported items, the importation of petroleum products consumes close to 30 percent (by the time you add diesel, aviation fuel, petrol and the rest of that).

“The Dangote Refinery has the capacity to produce 650,000 barrels per day. There is a domestic component that is about 455,000 barrels. Even if the 455,000 is what is sold to Dangote in naira alone, it is going to be major forex saving for Nigeria.

“If you look at the cost of freight alone, it is a major saving for Nigeria. That is because if we have to go to Europe or other parts of the world to bring in petroleum products where we pay heavily in freight and in stocking those products in the high sea before we offload them, Nigerians would benefit a lot from the Dangote Refinery.

“That project is one of Nigeria’s backward integration programmes, and we are very proud of it.”

The CBN governor added that the petrochemical part of the Dangote Refinery would save five 5 percent FX from polyethene and polypropylene granules and another two percent from fertiliser.

“On the petrochemical, it is also expected to commence about same period next. That petrochemical plant will be producing 900,000 tonnes of polyethene and polypropylene granules. Nigeria’s annual consumption here is less than 200,000,” he added.

“What does that mean? It is going to save five per cent of our imports. If you save five percent of your imports and another 30 per cent on petroleum products and then on the fertiliser where we would save about two percent of our imports, we are moving close to saving 40 percent of the country’s imports.

“By that time, you will see what we would be doing when people talk about floating the naira, and then let’s see how the currency will depreciate.”

The Dangote Refinery is a 650,000 barrels per day integrated refinery project under construction in the Lekki Free Zone, Lagos. It is expected to be Africa’s biggest oil refinery and the world’s biggest single-train facility, upon completion.

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Nigeria’s inflation rate drops sixth consecutive time to 16.63%

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The National Bureau of Statistics on Friday announced a drop in the Nigeria’s inflation rate, the sixth consecutive decline this year.

Specifically, the NBS stated in its latest report that the consumer price index (CPI), measuring the rate of change in prices of goods and services, dropped to 16.63 per cent in September. This is 0.38 per cent points lower than 17.01 percent recorded in August 2021.

According to the report, increases were recorded in all classifications of individual consumption according to purpose (COICOP) divisions that yielded the headline index.

“On a month-on-month basis, the Headline Index increased by 1.15 per cent in September 2021, this is 0.13 per cent rate higher than the rate recorded in August 2021 (1.02) per cent,” the report stated.

“The percentage change in the average composite CPI for the 12-month period ending September 2021 over the average of the CPI for the previous 12-month period was 16.83 per cent, showing 0.23 per cent points from 16.60 per cent recorded in July 2021.

“The urban Inflation rate increased by 17.19 per cent (year-on-year) in September 2021 from 17.59 per cent recorded in August 2021, while the rural inflation rate increased by 16.08 per cent in September 2021 from 16.45 per cent in August 2021.

“On a month-on-month basis, the Urban Index rose by 1.21 per cent in September 2021, up by 0.15 the rate recorded in August 2021 (1.06), while the Rural Index also rose by 1.10 per cent in September 2021, up by 0.11 the rate that was recorded in August 2021 (0.99) per cent.”

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