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FOREX Withdrawal for Food Importation Will Increase smuggling- NECA

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CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele
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The Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA) on Wednesday, warned that there would be unprecedented smuggling of food products because of President Muhammadu Buhari’s directive to the CBN to withdraw foreign exchange for food importation.

The Director-General of NECA, Mr Timothy Olawale,      while reacting to the directive, told reporters in Lagos that although the directive might be well intended, it left much to be desired in the absence of a buffer time for adjustment.

According to Olawale, Nigeria currently lacks the capacity to meet its local food demand and the demand that will be created as a result of the directive will be through smuggling.

He said that given the fact that Nigeria recently signed the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) intended to open up the borders, smuggling would become the order of the day.

”With the recently signed AfCFTA, Nigeria will further create a thriving market for other countries and will remain a dumping ground for imported goods.”

He said the implication of a ‘knee-jack’ action, was that “a wholesale immediate withdrawal of FOREX without giving a buffer period for businesses to adjust and source for alternatives would boost smuggling activities.

”This will have serious consequences for the economy.

“But we commend the president and indeed, the Federal Government for the numerous efforts at ensuring food sufficiency in the country and protecting local farmers.

The director-general said that the withdrawal of forex would decapitate businesses leading to loss of jobs and relocation of some businesses to neighbouring countries where they could without hindrance, bring the products to Nigeria under the cover of AfCFTA.

He said that the timing of the policy called for concern and that with consistent support and policy stability, local food production might meet demands and also provide foreign exchange through exports.

According to him, the reality is that Nigeria currently lacks the capacity for sufficient food production to meet local demand.

The NECA chief said that conserving foreign exchange through the withdrawal or ban of FOREX for food importation was not tenable.

Olawale said that if Nigeria was desirous of conserving foreign exchange, government would do well to stop the allocation of FOREX for the importation of petroleum products and ban medical tourism to aid investment in Nigerian hospitals.

He said that the government should also withdraw FOREX for payment of tuition in foreign universities to enable the resuscitation of the perpetually under-funded Nigerian universities, among others.

“The reality of lack of capacity to embrace these other wholesome reforms is true of the situation with insufficient capacity presently for food production,” he said.

The NECA boss argued that “rather than withdrawal of FOREX on food importation and indeed, milk importation, a gradual withdrawal with a buffer period of not less than five years should be given.”

He said that this would ensure proper and strategic implementation of government’s agricultural promotion policy that was established less than five years ago.

Olawale said that government should also resolve the myriad of challenges facing the food production value-chain, including the distribution system for fresh foods, post-harvest losses due to a lack of storage system as well as the security challenges and the menace of herdsmen. (NAN)

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NAICOM, RMAFC Collaborate on Economic Diversification 

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By Tony Obiechina, Abuja 

The Commissioner for Insurance and CEO, Mr. Olusegun Ayo Omosehin, and his management team have met with the members of the Constitutional Committee on “Mobilisation and Diversification” of the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission ( RMAFC) led by Engr.

Sani Mohammed Baba, to explore ways of diversifying the Nigerian economy.
 

During their working visit to NAICOM Headquarters, Mr.

Olusegun Ayo Omosehin, in his opening remarks, reaffirmed the critical role of the insurance sector regulator in supervising, regulating, and safeguarding the interests of insurance policyholders. 

He highlighted insurance’s pivotal role in mobilising savings for long-term developmental projects and enabling businesses to thrive while managing risks effectively.

 

He also stressed the Commission’s commitment to ensuring insurance companies meet their obligations, thus contributing to the sustainability of the economy.

Speaking, Mohammed Baba emphasised the importance of revenue generation, institutional expansion, and employment creation for Nigerians through collaborative efforts.

The Commissioner for Insurance also acknowledged President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s ambitious goal of growing the Nigerian economy to One Trillion United States Dollars ($1 trillion) by 2026. 

He expressed the insurance sector’s intent to significantly contribute to this objective. Additionally, he mentioned ongoing efforts to embed insurance within the National Credit Scheme to ensure its sustainability.

Omosehin stressed the need for continuous advocacy and sensitization of government institutions about the vital role of insurance in national economic development.

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CBN Unveils Strategy to Boost Remittances, Grants AIP To 14 New IMTOs

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By Tony Obiechina, Abuja 

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has activated plans to double foreign-currency remittance flows through formal channels by granting 14 new International Money Transfer Operators (IMTOs) Approval-in-Principle (AIP).

This was disclosed in Abuja on Wednesday, by the Bank’s Acting Director of Corporate Communications, Mrs.

Hakama Sidi Ali, who stated that the initiative will help increase the sustained supply of foreign exchange in the official market by promoting greater competition and innovation amongst IMTOs to lower the cost of remittance transactions and boost financial inclusion.
 

She said, “This will spur liquidity in Nigeria’s Autonomous Foreign Exchange Market (NAFEX), augmenting price discovery to enable a market-driven fair value for the naira.

“It will be recalled that the CBN Governor, Mr. Olayemi Cardoso, had recently declared: “We’ve set ourselves a target to double remittance flows into Nigeria within a year, a goal I firmly believe is within reach. 

“We are wasting no time driving progress to remove any bottlenecks hindering flows through formal channels permanently. We have a determined pathway and a sequenced approach to tackling all challenges ahead, working hand in hand with key stakeholders in the remittance industry,” she stated.

Continuing, Sidi Ali, said that the CBN viewed increasing formal remittance flows—one of the major sources of foreign exchange, accounting for over 6% of GDP—as a means of reducing the historical volatility in Nigeria’s exchange rate caused by external factors, such as fluctuations in foreign investment and oil export proceeds.

The increase in the number of IMTOs is one of the primary actions initiated by the CBN’s remittance task force, overseen by Governor Cardoso as a collaborative unit pulling together specialists to work closely with the private sector and market operators to facilitate the ease of doing business in the remittance ecosystem in Nigeria. 

The task force was established as a direct result of an executive learning session with IMTOs during the World Bank/IMF Spring Meetings held in Washington DC, United States of America, in April 2024. The task force will meet regularly to implement strategy and monitor the impact of its measures on remittance inflows.

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Tinubu Inaugurates Critical Gas Projects, Reassures Energy Sector Investors

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By Matthew Dadiya, Abuja

President Bola Tinubu has reassured investors in the energy sector of his administration’s resolve to further enhance the business environment and ensure investment convenience.

The President spoke Wednesday at the inauguration of three milestone projects, including the expanded AHL Gas Processing Plant; the ANOH Gas Processing Plant, and the 23.

3km ANOH – Obiafu-Obrikom-Oben (OB3) Custody Transfer Metering Station Gas Pipeline.

In a speech during the virtual inauguration of the projects at the State House, Tinubu also assured citizens that his administration is stepping up its coordination of other landmark projects and initiatives that will ensure the earliest realization of gas-fueled prosperity in the country.

 

The President, according to a statement by Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Ajuri Ngelale, noted that the projects were fully in line with the Decade of Gas Initiative and his administration’s vision to grow value from the nation’s abundant gas assets, while concurrently eliminating gas flaring and accelerating industrialization. 

“This event is highly significant to our country as it demonstrates the administration’s concerted efforts to accelerate the development of critical gas infrastructure geared at significantly enhancing the supply of energy to boost industrial growth and create employment opportunities.

“It is pleasing that when these projects become fully operational, approximately 500MMscf of gas in aggregate will be supplied to the domestic market from these two gas processing plants, which represents over 25% incremental growth in gas supply. 

“In practical terms, this is more gas to the power sector, gas-based industries, and other critical segments of the economy. I, therefore, commend the strategic vision of the NNPC Limited and its partners, Sterling Oil Exploration & Energy Production Company Limited (SEEPCO) and Seplat Energy Plc, for this laudable and value-adding projects,” President Tinubu said.

The President said his government remains determined in its bid to leverage the nation’s vast gas capacity to drive economic growth. 

“Aside from the presidential CNG initiative which is aimed at moving the good people of Nigeria away from petrol and diesel as vehicular combustion fuel, significant progress has also been recorded in incentivizing gas development through Presidential Directives.

“The theme of this inauguration – ‘From Gas to Prosperity; Renewed Hope’, must be adopted by all gas-sector participants and would-be investors as a clarion call to ramp up efforts to accelerate investment and developments of projects in the gas sector on a win-win basis.

“I would once again commend the efforts of NNPC Ltd, alongside SEEPCO and Seplat Energy, on this business partnership initiative, and congratulate you all on the successful implementation of the three projects,” the President said.

President Tinubu also reiterated his government’s resolve to continue to provide support in deepening domestic gas utilization, increase national power generation capacity, revitalize industries, and create multiple job opportunities for economic growth.

“Today, I have the singular honour to inaugurate the expansion of the AHL Gas Processing Plant, the ANOH Gas Processing Plant, and the 23.3Km ANOH to Obiafu-Obrikom-Oben (OB3) Custody Transfer Metering Station Gas Pipeline Projects in line with my administration’s resolve to provide energy for Nigerians, and to use our vast natural gas resources to transform Nigeria,” the President stated.

May 15, 2024

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