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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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Tesla driverless car explodes after crashing into tree

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Two men have died after a Tesla vehicle, which was believed to be operating without anyone in the driver’s seat, crashed into a tree on Saturday night north of Houston, authorities said.

After the fire was extinguished, authorities located two occupants in the vehicle, with one in the front passenger seat and the other in the back seat of the Tesla

The accident came amid growing scrutiny over Tesla’s semi-automated driving system following recent accidents.

The US auto safety agency said in March it had opened 27 investigations into crashes of Tesla vehicles.

“There was no-one in the driver’s seat,” Sergeant Cinthya Umanzor of the Harris County Constable Precinct 4 said.

The 2019 Tesla Model S was travelling at high speed when it failed to negotiate a curve and went off the road, crashing into a tree and bursting into flames, local television station KHOU-TV said.

Tesla and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk said in January that he expected huge profits from the company’s full self-driving software, saying he was “highly confident the car will be able to drive itself with reliability in excess of human this year”.

Experts say the self-driving technology must overcome safety and regulatory hurdles to achieve commercial success.

-Reuters

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We resisted governors’ pressure to borrow for March shortfall – Zainab Ahmed

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Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, has said the Federal Government rejection a suggestion by state governors to borrow from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to augment the N50 billion federation account allocation committee (FAAC) shortfall in March.

She stated this on Monday while featuring on the Good Morning Nigeria programme, a daily breakfast show on the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA).

Recall that Edo State Governor Godwin Obaseki had alleged that the FG printed N60 billion to support March federal allocation to states.

But the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, dismissed Obaseki’s claim describing it as “unfortunate and totally inappropriate.”

Ahmed said that whenever there was a reduction in federal allocation, the Federal Government would take money from some reserve accounts, adding however that in the case of March allocation which fell short by N50 billion, all state governments were asked to manage their resources.

“It is a difficult time, I can explain to you how difficult it is not just for the Federal Government but also for the states, we see increasing reduction in our FAAC revenue,” she said.

The minister also said, “In the month of March, we had a shortfall of FAAC that is almost about N50 billion and we did not have enough accrued in any of those accounts, the states to be honest wanted us to borrow from the Central Bank, but we resisted, we just told everybody to go back to live within what they had.

“So it was very surprising for us when we heard a sitting governor saying that the CBN had printed money for FAAC; that was very unfortunate because it is not true.”

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Mercedes-Benz stuns with another seven-seater crossover SUV

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A few days after Mercedes-Benz revealed what it calls the mother of all electric vehicles in the form of the sophisticated EQS luxury sedan, it has added another stunning product to the Mercedes-EQ family of cars, the EQB.

This is a seven-seater, crossover sport utility vehicle that is to the GLB-class what the EQA is to the GLA.

Car and Driver in a report quotes the premium German automaker as saying the EQB is based on the GLB crossover.

Mercedes-Benz EQ is a series of battery electric vehicles manufactured by Mercedes-Benz. The first model was previewed at the Paris Motor Show in 2016 with the Generation EQ concept vehicle.

The EQB will be launched first in China, where it debuts in a luxuriously equipped all-wheel-drive version with AMG Line styling.

Europe is to have it next in three versions: front- and all-wheel-drive models and a range-optimizing mid-level EQB.

The new vehicle will however not be released to the US market until next year.

While the sheet metal and glass are identical, the styling department under Gorden Wagener has cleaned up the exterior for a more contemporary and sophisticated look.

The front is graced by the trademark EQ headlight/fascia assembly, with a horizontal light bar stretching over the entire width.

This element is reflected on the tail end, which boasts a horizontal light strip as well.

There are EQ-specific colours and wheels, and there will be a choice of regular or AMG-Line front and rear bumpers.

The interior is carried over from the GLB as well, but it comes with EQ-exclusive color and trim options, including rose gold (pictured here), one of Wagener’s favorite colors.

Due to the battery packs in the floor, interior space suffers a bit: Daimler cautions that the third row will only work for people up to 5’5″ and the trunk shrinks considerably.

That said, the EQB is still a crossover SUV that offers more space than usual for its exterior dimensions.

The EQB was unveiled in China, and it will be launched there first as a fully loaded model with a standard AMG Line look, all-wheel drive, and two motors that make a combined 288 horsepower.

Europe will get both the EQB350 4Matic with around 268 horsepower and the front-wheel-drive EQB250 with 221 horsepower; there will also be a mid-level version designed as a long-range model. Both China and Europe will see the EQB at dealers within the 2021 calendar year.

The US will have to wait until 2022, and the company is mum about the possible powertrain options.

Car and Driver says, “What we can deduce from our experience with the EQA is that even the least powerful versions of the EQB will come in at around 4500 pounds, which we hope won’t translate into plodding, cumbersome handling characteristics, even if that would feel a bit less out of place in a people hauler like the EQB than in a compact hatch like the EQA.

“There will be no true AMG version, unlike on the EQS and the EQE. However, we’ll suspend judgment until we can drive it.”

 

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