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Bakers Threaten Strike over Rising Cost of Flour, Sugar

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By Joseph Amah, Abuja

The Association of Master Bakers and Caterers of Nigeria (AMBCN) has threatened to withdraw their services nationwide, citing a hike in the price of bakery materials, neglect of by federal government and fleecing by regulatory agencies. 
The association said this on Friday in a communiqué issued after a meeting of its national executive council in Abuja.


In the communiqué, signed by the association’s executives, led by Mansur Umar, its national president, the bakers said they would commence an initial two-week strike from July 13, 2022.


They said the cost of flour, sugar and other materials used in the bakery business had soared beyond the reach of many bakers.


The group also said efforts to get the government’s intervention in the matter had been unsuccessful, as there had been no positive response from the concerned ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) of government.


“Increase in prices of bakery materials, especially flour and sugar having reached unprecedented levels, for example, flour is now between N25,000 and N27,500, so also other ingredients,” it reads.


“The National Wheat Cultivation Committee already constituted is yet to be inaugurated after over one year. NAFDAC, SON, and NESREA have turned the bakers into money-making machines by charging our members outrageous levies even at this very challenging moment.

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“Consequently, the NEC in session resolved that all zones, state, Local Governments and units of our association should commence full mobilisation of our members nationwide to embark on withdrawal of services starting from Wednesday, July 13, 2022, for an initial period of two weeks.”


The association, however, told its members to await further directives.
In March, bakers complained that the hike in diesel price and exchange rate volatility caused many of its members across the country to shut down their business operations. 



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Polaris Bank not Sold, all Banks Safe, Sound – NDIC

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By Joseph Amah, Abuja

Mr Bello Hassan, Managing Director, Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC) has said that all Deposit Money Banks (DMBs) in Nigeria, including Polaris Bank are safe and sound.


Hassan made the clarification on the sideline of a three-day Capacity Building Workshop organised by the Legal Department of NDIC, for law enforcement agencies at BWC Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos, on Wednesday.


He also said that Polaris Bank was not sold as reported by some media recently.
The event had, “Effective Investigation and Prosecution of Banking Malpractices that Led to Failure of Banks’’, as its theme.
“All banks that are operating within the country are sound in as much as their licences have not been revoked.
“If there is a problem, the regulator that issues the licence will be the one to revoke the licence.
“In as much as the licence is not revoked, you’re free to continue to bank with the institutio; it means it is safe,’’ Hassan said.

The NDIC boss also explained that the corporation usually carried out stress tests on banks on a monthly basis, to ascertain their financial soundness.
He said: “The Central Bank also does stress testing, and so do we in NDIC. In fact we do it on a monthly basis to ascertain the financial soundness of those banks and we see no red line.
“When we talk of key financial soundness indicators, we are talking about the capital adequacy and liquidity and the quality of the assets.
“Those two solid financial soundness indicators that you use to gauge the safety and soundness of these institutions are robust.
“So, based on that, the banks are safe and sound; continue to bank with them.’’
Recall that the management of Polaris Bank recently discredited the report on the purported sale of the bank by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to private individual for N40 billion. (NAN)

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Jos Main Market Controversy: ‘Prepare for Seamless Handing Over’ -YOWICAN Tells Lalong

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From Jude Dangwam, Jos

The Youth Wing of the Christian Association of Nigeria Plateau State Chapter (YOWICAN) has called on Governor Simon Lalong to prepare for a seamless handing over as the applauses  seem to be fading away on a daily basis with the recent display of desperation to rebuild the burnt Jos International Market using Jaiz Bank.

The body stressed that the Lalong -led administration should stand down any further engagement with JAIZ Bank and focus on the ongoing projects in the state and also work hard towards returning students of the State Tertiary institutions back on campus, settle all outstanding salaries, pensions and other emoluments of it’s civil servants

The youth group stated this in a statement jointly signed by the Chairman, Deacon Markus Audu Kanda, the Vice Chairman Barr  Panmak Mark Lere and the State Secretary, Nehemiah Nanmwa Micheal and made available to Journalists Tuesday in Jos the Plateau State capital.

The statement reads in part: “We again remain resolute to restate our position on this issue in the interest of Plateau State and her inhabitants, that the Government should stand down any further engagement with JAIZ Bank on this issue and focus on ongoing projects in the state.

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“Work hard towards returning students of the State Tertiary institutions back on campus, settle all outstanding salaries, pensions and other emoluments of it’s civil servants, as well as begin to prepare for a seamless handing over as the applause seem to fade away by each display of desperation on this subject” .

The body insisted that Plateau stakeholders at the meeting did not endorse the rebuilding of the Jos Main Market using the leaked template with Jaiz Bank “falsely transmitted by the Director of Press and Public Affairs to the Governor of Plateau State, Dr. Makut Simon Macham.”

They questioned the rationale behind the misrepresentation of the outcome of the meeting , which had the presence of the Former Military Governor of Plateau State, Samuel Atukum during who’s tenure the International Market was completed and commissioned and told the Governor Simon Lalong at the meeting to use the remaining time he had in office to continue with consultations.

“What about the revered elder statesman, His Excellency, the Former Military Administrator of Plateau State, Admiral Samuel Bitrus Atukum, during whose time as the Governor of Plateau State the Jos Main Market was completed and commissioned.

“He categorically celebrated the fact that no MOU has been signed with JAIZ Bank on the market and clearly cautioned the Plateau State Government not to go on with that arrangement, rather, use the remaining time in office to widely consult on the issue and allow the next administration to handle the issue of the Market? Is His Excellency not part of the stakeholders? What happened to this view strongly expressed by him?” they questioned.

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Nigeria Tops Africa’s World Bank Debtors’ List, Ranks 4th Globally

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By Joseph Amah, Abuja

Rising debt has pushed Nigeria up the World Bank’s top 10 International Development Association borrowers’ list.


The World Bank Fiscal Year 2021 audited financial statements, known as the IDA financial statement, showed that Nigeria was rated fifth on the list with $11.7bn IDA debt stock as of June 30, 2021.


However, the newly released World Bank Fiscal Year 2022 audited financial statements for IDA showed that Nigeria has moved to the fourth position on the list, with $13bn IDA debt stock as of June 30, 2022.


This shows that Nigeria accumulated about $1.3bn IDA debt within a fiscal year, with the country taking over the fourth top debtor position from Vietnam.
This debt is different from the outstanding loan of $486m from World Bank’s International Bank for Reconstruction and Development.


The top five countries on the list slightly reduced their IDA debt stock except Nigeria.


India, which is still the first on the list reduced its IDA debt stock from $22bn in the previous fiscal year to $19.7bn, followed by Bangladesh from $18.1bn to $18bn.
It is followed by Pakistan which cut its debt from $16.4bn to $15.8bn, and lastly, Vietnam, which went down the list to fifth position, from $14.1bn to $12.9bn.
Nigeria has the highest IDA debt in Africa, as the top three IDA borrowers (India, Bangladesh and Pakistan) are from Asia. The World Bank disclosed recently that Nigeria’s debt, which may be considered sustainable for now, is vulnerable and costly.
The bank said, “Nigeria’s debt remains sustainable, albeit vulnerable and costly, especially due to large and growing financing from the Central Bank of Nigeria.”
However, the Washington-based global financial institution added that the country’s debt was also at risk of becoming unsustainable in the event of macro-fiscal shocks.
The bank further expressed concerns over the nation’s cost of debt servicing, which according to it, disrupted public investments and critical service delivery spending.
Economists have also raised concerns over the rising debt profile of the Federal Government.
The Fiscal Policy Partner and Africa Tax Leader of PwC, Mr Taiwo Oyedele, expressed his agreement with the World Bank on the high cost of debt servicing.
He said, “I agree with the World Bank. Although the debt to GDP ratio is not too high, if you think about the debt service cost to revenue ratio, it is already over 70 per cent. That’s when you know it’s costly.
“Nigeria borrows at double-digit, and even when we borrow in dollars, the rates are very high and then you devalue the naira and the cost of servicing the debt in naira goes up because it is dollar-dominated debt.
“Put all of that together, and you can easily say to yourself that even though our debt to GDP ratio is very low, our cost of borrowing is unsustainable because it is very high, and therefore, make it very costly.”
A former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria and former presidential candidate, Kingsley Moghalu, also criticised the increasing borrowing tendency of the government, urging the officials to re-consider other ways of generating revenue for the country.
According to Moghalu, it was also not reasonable to borrow for infrastructural development as the government could expand the public-private partnership options for such development.
In a document by the Director General of the Debt Management Office, Patience Oniha, recently obtained by our correspondent, the DMO stated that high debt levels would often lead to high debt services and affect investments in infrastructure.
According to the DMO DG, “High debt levels lead to heavy debt service which reduces resources available for investment in infrastructure and key sectors of the economy.”

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