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Ogun MSME clinic: FG doles out N150,000 cash reward to 200 exhibitors

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The Federal Government has announced a N150,000 cash reward for every exhibitor at the 2nd edition of the national Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) clinic.

A grant of N100,000 will also be given to over 200 owners of new stores at the Modern Adire Shared Facility at the Adire International Market, Asero, Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital.

The Vice President, Senator Kashim Shettima disclosed this on Tuesday at the 2nd Extended National MSME Clinics, held at the June 12 Cultural Centre, Kuto, Abeokuta.

He further disclosed that the national Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSME) clinic would serve as a bridge between the people and the government, adding that the clinics would serve as lifelines for enterprises in the state and the country as a whole.

The national MSME clinic serves as a bridge between the people and the government, it is our desire to bring the government in close proximity with the people by placing all regulatory agencies under one group.

He said, “Each exhibitor present at the clinic today stands to gain from our MSME instant grant of N150,000 each, courtesy of our esteemed private sector and His Excellency, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

“I hereby announce that President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has directed that almost 200 new applications within this market be granted free of charge to small business traders for one year and each of them should enjoy a grant of N100,000.”

Senator Shettima noted that Ogun State is not only the industrial powerhouse of the nation but a committed supporter of the federal government’s efforts to support enterprises and empowerment.

As the keeper of its words, the federal government has transversed the length and breadth of the country to fulfill its pledge to the people across diverse sectors, he said.

He said his coming to Ogun State signifies the need to support businesses and transform ideas into commercially viable ventures, saying the 2nd phase of the Expanded SMSME Clinics is a strategic intervention to fortify the foundation of small businesses, which commenced in Benue State early this year.

“The clinics serve as a link between the people and the government. Small Businesses are now afforded platforms to present their business challenges, and seek timely intervention of monetary agencies all in an attempt to eliminate the task of navigating from one agency to another in their efforts to build the next unicorn out of Africa,” Shettima said.

The Vice President emphasised that the clinics would serve as a lifeline for enterprises as it would offer immediate financial support to the exhibitors and provide small businesses the opportunity to register with the Corporate Affairs Commission and get their Certificates within a day.

Senator Shettima thanked Ogun State and the governor for their support to the federal government to bring the nation’s economy back on track.

Also speaking, the host governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun, said his administration has launched the Small and Medium Enterprises Industrial Land Acquisition Scheme (SILAS), stating that the scheme is a 1,000 Hectares Industrial hub provided with needed amenities like good roads, power, among others.

“The SME park is aimed at providing incentives to SMEs way below the market rate. There will be many incentives through industrial ownership and accelerated processing of their CoO which can be used as collateral for further financing.

“Other benefits of the park will include rebates on taxes and levies such as Land Use charges, building permits, land processing fees, etc. This park will cover agro-allied, agro-processing, home and personal care, building materials and chemicals, food processing,” the Governor said.

To support the federal government in repositioning the nation’s economy, Governor Abiodun said the State would offer incentives like conditional grants of N100,000 to 10,000 MSMSE, N500,000 given to 2,000 SMEs, and N50,000 to 5,000 market women in the State.

Special Adviser to the Vice President on Small and Medium Enterprises, Mr. Tola Adekunle Johnson, acknowledged the working relationship between the federal and the state governments, staying at the clinics was a means to create jobs for the people, especially the youth, naming Ogun and Benue as the two states to benefit from the programme so far.

In his welcome address, the state Commissioner for Industry, Trade, and Investment, Mr. Adebola Sofela, maintained that the clinics were meant to address the challenges facing small and medium enterprises in the state to find solutions to them, calling on participants to leverage on the various issues that would be treated to grow their businesses.

The Vice President had earlier commissioned the Modern Adire Shared Facility at Adire International Market Asero and the National MSME Clinics, Ultra-Modern Fashion Hub, Ajebo Road all in Abeokuta.

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MPC members attribute rising inflationary pressure to food inflation

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…Seek increased security of farming communities

 …Raise interest rate to 26.25%

By Seun Ibiyemi and Mathew Denis

The Monetary Policy Committee, MPC, members of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, have attributed rising inflationary pressure to food inflation. This was as they increased the benchmark interest rate by 150 basis points from 24.75 percent to 26.25 percent.

The Governor of the CBN, Olayemi Cardoso, who doubles as the Chairman of the MPC disclosed this at the end of the 295th MPC meeting which was held on Monday and Tuesday in Abuja.

Cardoso revealed that while the Monetary Policy Rate was increased, all other rates were retained.

MPC members, however, noted that the inflationary pressure continues to be driven largely by food inflation.

The Committee reiterated several challenges confronting the effective moderation of food inflation to include: rising cost of transportation of farm produce; infrastructure-related constraints along the line of distribution network; security challenges in some food producing areas; and exchange rate pass-through to domestic prices for imported food items.

It urged that more be done to address the security of farming communities to guarantee improved food production in these areas.

It raised the MPR by 150 basis points to 26.25 percent from 24.75 percent, retained the asymmetric corridor around the MPR to +100/-300 basis points, retained the cash reserve ratio of Deposit Money Banks at 45 percent, and held the liquidity ratio at 30 percent.

Revealing the considerations of the MPC, Cardoso said, “The key focus of the MPC at this meeting remained to achieve price stability by effectively using tools available to the monetary authority to rein in inflation. Members observed that while year-on-year inflation in April 2024 rose moderately, the month-on-month headline food and core measures declined significantly.

“This follows a decline in month-on-month headline and food measures in March 2024, suggesting that the recent tight monetary stance of the bank is beginning to yield the desired outcome. The MPC, however, noted that the inflationary pressure continued to be driven by food inflation.

“The committee thus reiterated several challenges confronting the effective moderation of food inflation including rising cost of transportation of farm produce, infrastructure constraints along the line of distribution network, security challenges in some food-producing areas and exchange rate pass-through to domestic prices for imported food items. The MPC urged that more be done to address the security of farming communities to guarantee increased food production in these areas.”

On the continued instability of the Nigerian currency, Cardoso said that it was a function of the free market system.

“Members further observed the recent volatility in the foreign exchange market attributing this to seasonal demand, a reflection of the interplay between demand and supply of a freely functioning market system. The committee also noticed the marginal increase in the foreign reserve between March and April 2024,” he said.

Since the MPC resumed meeting this year, this is the third consecutive increase that has been done. In all, the MPC has increased the MPR by 750 basis points since February.

The MPR was increased by 400 basis points to 22.75 percent from 18.75 percent in February. It was increased by 200 basis points to 24.75 percent in March and currently by 150 basis points to 26.75 percent in May

The MPC has maintained a hawkish stance since in a bid to tackle Nigeria’s persistent inflation.

As of April, Nigeria’s inflation rate had risen to 33.69 percent. The April 2024 headline inflation rate showed an increase of 0.49 per cent points when compared to the March 2024 headline inflation rate, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.

The NBS said that on a year-on-year basis, the headline inflation rate was 11.47 percent points higher compared to the rate recorded in April 2023, which was 22.22 percent. Food Inflation was 40.53 percent in April 2024

Ahead of the MPC meeting, some analysts projected a rate hike in line with the avowed stance of the CBN to fight inflation with some projecting an interest rate of 25.75 percent, which the MPC has surpassed.

In their weekly macroeconomics report ahead of the MPC, analysts at Meristem Research projected that the MPC would hike rates in line with its avowed inflation-fighting stance.

The analysts said, “During the meeting, we expect the committee to deliberate on disinflationary trends observed in advanced economies, as well as the sustained ‘high for longer’ interest rate stance employed by monetary authorities to effectively combat inflation in these economies.

“In the domestic economy, Nigeria’s inflation rate came in lower than expected in April 2024, rising to 33.69 percent from 33.20 percent in the previous month (marking the 16th consecutive month of inflation uptrend). This uptick is primarily attributed to increases in both the food and core indexes, driven by higher food prices and the continued depreciation of the naira.”

Analysts at Cordros Asset Management echoed similar sentiments that the MPC may increase their benchmark rate, projecting a 0.5 percent hike.

They pointed out that aside from global central banks approaching the end of the interest rate hiking cycle, “we think the MPC has reached a point where overtightening becomes a concern even as the debate remains on what constitutes a neutral interest rate that will not hurt domestic growth.”

“As such, we think the dilemma for the committee at the meeting will remain whether to continue its rate hike to further dampen the rising inflation trajectory or adopt a hold stance to observe emerging developments and allow for the impact of the last rate hikes to permeate the economy.

“In our view, given that the end of rate hikes by systemic global central banks is in sight amid sticky domestic inflation, we think the MPC is likely to maintain a slower rate hike at this meeting. Indeed, at the post-MPC conference in March, the CBN governor stated that maintaining aggressive tightening poses a risk to financial system stability.”

Reacting, Commercio Partners firm said the Apex Bank’s rate hike is expected to exert increased strain on the economy, particularly on businesses. The economy, already grappling with numerous social and economic challenges, may face further destabilisation. An increase in the minimum cost of borrowing could slow down the corporate sector, potentially leading to a decline in the stock market.

Additionally, the recent interest rate hike is expected to stimulate activity in the fixed-income market by making new securities more attractive. New bonds will be issued with higher yields to reflect the increased policy rate. Investors will demand higher returns to compensate for the elevated interest rate environment. As a result, long-duration bonds, which are more sensitive to interest rate changes, are likely to experience greater price declines compared to short-duration bonds as rates rise.

On the macroeconomic front, the increased interest rate may slow GDP growth and hinder stock market appreciation. Furthermore, this policy could exacerbate the unemployment issue facing the Nigerian economy. Despite these challenges, there is a slim possibility that inflation rates may ease somewhat by the end of the year.

Also reacting Director, Upfront Enterprise, Dr. Faiva Haruna stressed the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) hike of  the Monetary Policy Rate (MPR) to 25.25 percent increase in the rate may discourage people and businesses from going to the Nigerian Stock Exchange Market as it may not be safe for them.

“They will have to smell the coffee, I know in a matter of weeks, their banks will start writing them for a review of rate, and for those that want to start a business that needs funding, they will be affected by the rate as well- that is why we say when you increase rate (monetary) it will crowd out employment,” he said of business owners.

Also speaking, the Executive Director of Nigerian Workforce and Enlightenment Center (NIWOSEC), Dr. David Ehindero advised that the decision of the MPC would further impact the real economy, which is already facing several macroeconomic difficulties.

According to him, “The decision was consistent with the typical policy response of the Central Banks globally, it failed to reckon with domestic peculiarities. The key drivers of Nigeria’s inflation are largely supply-side variables and the CBN ways and means of financing.

“Over the last two years, there has been persistent monetary policy tightening, yet there has not been any significant impact on the inflationary pressures. If anything, the general price level has been continuously on the increase,” he said.

He pointed out that the impact of monetary policy on the Nigerian economy is still quite limited, with weak transmission effects.

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New minimum wage: Labour rejects N54,000 wage offer

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The meeting between the Tripartite National Minimum Wage meeting and the Organised hit a brick wall again as both parties failed to reach an agreement on the new wage.

Recall that last Wednesday, the NLC National President, Joe Ajaero rejected the government’s proposal of N48,000 describing the proposed minimum wage as an insult to Nigerian workers.

The labour unions are demanding a higher minimum wage to reflect the current economic realities and alleviate the suffering of Nigerian workers. The stalemate in negotiations may lead to industrial action, which could have far-reaching consequences for the economy.

According to reports reaching Nigerian NewsDirect on Tuesday, the organised labour rejected the new N54,000 minimum wage proposal by the Federal Government

Sources who attended the follow-up meeting yesterday disclosed that the Federal Government increased its offer from N48,000 to N54,000.

“Well, during the meeting, the government increased its offer from N48,000 to N54,000. However, labour rejected that offer and the meeting has been adjourned till Wednesday,” a source who asked not to be named said.

When asked if the government’s side was showing any sign of seriousness, the labour leader said, “No seriousness at all. Even state governors did not show up. Those who represented them, like Bauchi and Niger states, did not have the mandate to speak on their behalf.

“As regards the private sector, we did not get to them before the meeting was adjourned but we hope they also increase their initial offer.”

Organised labour on Monday reiterated its May 31, 2024 deadline for the implementation of the new minimum wage.

The National President of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Joe Ajaero, insisted on N615,000 minimum wage, arguing that the amount was arrived at after an analysis of the current economic situation and the needs of an average Nigerian family of six.

He blamed the government and the OPS for the breakdown in negotiation, saying, “Despite earnest efforts to reach an equitable agreement, the less than reasonable action of the Government and the Organised Private Sector has led to a breakdown in negotiations.”

In a statement released at the end of the jointly held NEC meeting by the NLC and TUC which was signed by Joe Ajaero, NLC president and Festus Osifo, TUC president, the unions said they acknowledge the ongoing negotiations between the NLC/TUC, the Organised Private Sector and the Federal Government regarding the new national minimum wage.

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2027: Atiku, Obi united by mutual desperation to be President — APC

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By Ismail Azeez

The ruling All Progressives Congress, (APC), has described the recent visit by the presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP) in the 2023 presidential election, Peter Obi, to his counterpart of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) counterpart, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar as a mutual desperation to be President of Nigeria.

The party, in a statement on Tuesday,  through the National Publicity Secretary, Felix Morka Esq said that Nigerians cannot trust the duo who failed to fix the internal crisis within their parties.

Morka urged Nigerians to stand fast in their invaluable support of the Party and President Bola Tinubu’s determined commitment to deliver a stronger, secure and more prosperous country for us all.

According to the statement, “A recent visit by the presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP) in the 2023 presidential election, Peter Obi, to his Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) counterpart, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, has fueled speculations of a possible alliance between both men or merger of their political parties in the lead up to 2027.

“What is unclear, however, is whether Obi would make a comeback to Atiku’s PDP whether Atiku would dump his PDP and seek rehabilitation in Obi’s Labour Party or whether both men would abandon PDP and Labour, altogether, and sojourn into the political wilderness of Professor Pat Utomi’s mega party.

“News of Peter Obi’s return to the PDP would be hardly surprising. His reputation as a political wayfarer is only dwarfed by Atiku’s track record as a veteran political wanderer. News of Atiku joining the Labour party will shock no one as he will be living up to his well established reputation as the country’s most itinerant politician.  For now, Utomi’s mega party remains a figment with no offering of tangible accommodation for both men.

“Atiku and Obi are united by their mutual desperation to be President of Nigeria and ignoble disdain for President Bola Tinubu’s focused and extraordinary commitment to the transformation of our nation. Their restless drift in search of convenient party platforms to execute their presidential run only belie the self-indulgent and opportunistic essence of their aspirations. Men without the staying power to build or fix their own parties, who flee at the slightest flicker of internal crisis cannot possibly be trusted by Nigerians to tackle serious and complex national political and economic challenges that confront our nation.

“President Bola Tinubu embodies character, vision, tenacity and doggedness required to deliver a resurgent Nigeria of stable growth and development. The administration’s bold economic policy reforms and massive infrastructural uptake have already shattered historic barriers to growth, and paved the way for steady progress and development,” the statement added.

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