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Shettima seeks private sector’s support to transform agricultural production

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Vice President Kashim Shettima has called on the private sector, including financial institutions, to support the Federal Government’s drive to transform agricultural production and improve the welfare of Nigerians.

Shettima made the call on Friday when a consortium of mid-sized agriculture companies paid him a courtesy visit at the presidential villa, Abuja.

The Vice President emphasised the need to engage small-holder farmers with the view to increasing their productivity as part of measures towards achieving the country’s food security objectives.

Shettima, who welcomed their partnership said, “Mid-sized companies like yours should be the drivers of change in our nation.

” We can work as a team towards addressing our core challenges.”

Shettima commended the efforts of the young entrepreneurs, particularly in “seeking practical solutions to challenges confronting the nation.

He restated the commitment of President Bola Tinubu’s administration to stimulate growth in the economy, especially working with the private sector.

” My boss is very much devoted to stimulating growth in the Nigerian economy, regardless of the challenges. Leadership is actually about challenges and we are mindful of them.

” We want collaboration from the private sector to turn agriculture into a business and dramatically change our economic landscape.

“Nigeria is one of the resource endowed countries in the world and has no business being poor.”

Earlier, Mr Akinyinka Akintunde, leader of the delegation and Chief Executive Officer of AFEX, said the group was at the presidential villa to pledge its support for government’s programmes and policies in the agricultural sector.

AFEX, is a leading commodities exchange in Nigeria.

According to Akintunde, the group is proposing an initiative that will support two million farmers across four value chains (Rice, Maize, Sorghum and Soyabeans) to enhance sustainable agriculture and ensure the success of the food security drive of the Federal Government.

He said the consortium comprising mid-sized agricultural companies in Nigeria would achieve the set objectives by engaging and collaborating with key stakeholders.

This, according to him, includes Private Finance Initiative (PFI), Fertilizer Producers and Suppliers Association of Nigeria (FEPSAN) and farmer aggregation companies.

He outlined the proposed initiative to also include linking farmers to markets and enriching government’s grain reserves across the country with assorted commodities, all in a bid to boost the food security targets of the administration.

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Foods prices in Nigeria surge by over 130% – NBS

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The prices of rice, garri, beans, and yam surged astronomically by over 130 per cent in April 2024 on a year-on-year basis, worsening Nigeria’s economic misery.

The National Bureau of Statistics disclosed this in its selected food prices watch for April, which was recently released on its website.

According to the report, the price of a one-kilogram bag of rice increased by 155.93 per cent to N1, 399.34 in April 2024 from N546.76 recorded in April 2023.

Still, on a month-on-month basis, the report said the price rose by 3.47 per cent from N1, 340.74 in March.

Accordingly, the average price of 1kg of garri increased by 134.98 per cent year-on-year to N851.81 in April from N362.50 in April last year.

On a month-on-month basis, the average price of this item increased by 13.59 per cent from N749.89 in March 2024.

Similarly, the average price of 1kg of tomato rose by 131.58 per cent yearly to N1, 123.41 in April 2024 from N485.10 in April 2023.

Also, the report said on a month-on-month basis, rice increased by 17.06 per cent from N959.68 in March 2024.

Furthermore, the average price of 1kg brown beans rose by 125.43 per cent on a year-on-year basis to N1, 387.90 in April 2024 from N615.67 in April 2023. Similarly, there was a monthly increase of 12.44 per cent.

Also, the average price of 1kg of yam tuber increased by 154.19 per cent on a year-on-year basis to N1,130.37 in April 2024 from N444.69 in April 2023.

On a month-on-month basis, it increased by 5.76 per cent from N 1, 068.78 in March 2024 to N 1,130.37 in April 2024.

The development comes amid the continued surge in Nigeria’s headline and food inflation which stood at 33.69 per cent and 40.53 per cent in April respectively.

Financial experts have blamed President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s administration’s twin policies of fuel subsidy removal and naira devaluation for the rise in food prices.

The Central Bank of Nigeria, in its latest 295th Monetary Policy Committee meeting, raised the interest rate to 26.25 per cent. The apex bank governor, Olayemi Cardoso, said the MPC’s decision to raise the interest rate is to tame inflation.

Meanwhile, Muda Yusuf, the Director of the Centre for the Promotion of Private Enterprise, said the CBN’s previous rate hikes have not historically impacted the country’s inflation.

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Public complaints on goods, services rise by 45% in three years — NBS

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The number of reported public complaints on goods and services continuously increased in the three years between 2020 to 2022.

The complaints have risen from 61,480 in 2020 to 88,897 in 2022. This represents an increase of 44.59 percent during the three-year period.

This figure is according to the 2023 Social Statistics Report from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) where the total number of public complaints on goods and services reached 229,369 in the three years under review.  According to the report, the total number of complaints on goods and services pending investigation increased from 43,361 in 2020 to 49,844 in 2022 after a decline in 2021.

It stated, “The figure below shows that there were 43,261 complaints on goods and services pending investigation in 2020, this decreased to 37,662 in 2021 and increased to 49,844 in 2022.”

Furthermore, the report noted that the total number of complaints on goods and services received by the Federal Competition and Consumer Pricing Commission (FCCPC) totalled 41,545 between 2020 and 2022.

In 2020, the FCCPC received 17,776 complaints while in 2021 it fell to 10,189 and rose to 13,580 in the following year.

According to the report, “In 2020, complaints received by the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) were 17,776, with 5,444 under investigation and 12,332 resolved. In 2021, the complaints received were reduced to 10,189 with 2,045 under investigation and 8,144 resolved. In addition, complaints received in 2022 increased to 13,580, with 3,531under investigation.”

The report failed to mention the types of goods or industries where the complaints originated.

However, the source of the data was attributed to information from institutions centred on justice, such as the Public Complaints Commission.

The FCCPC noted that complaints against electricity discos topped its list of complaints in 2020 and 2021 closely followed by bank-related complaints.

The then CEO of the FCCPC, Babatunde Irukera stated that complaints from the telecoms industry followed the financial sector while the aviation sector came a close fourth in its record of complaints by industry.

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14 new IMTOs will boost remittances – CBN

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The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Dr Olayemi Cardoso, has said that the licensing of 14 new international money transfer operators would improve competition and increase remittances via formal channels.

Cardoso said this during the week at the press briefing following the end of the two-day Monetary Policy Committee meeting held in Abuja.

Last week, the apex bank revealed that it had granted approvals-in-principle to 14 new IMTOs, to help increase the sustained supply of foreign exchange in the official market.

At the MPC meeting, the CBN governor said, “The MPC commended the bank for the recent approval of licenses for 14 IMTOs. This is expected to improve competition and lower the cost of transactions, thus attracting more remittances through formal channels.”

“Let me give some context to this. I’m sure over the years; many of you would have read from the World Bank that Nigeria has significant remittances from the diaspora.

“We have identified that this is a critical element of inflows coming into the country. It is estimated to represent about six percent of our GDP. We felt from the Central Bank’s perspective to have a strategy to engage this sector, the entities that seem to play the biggest role in that sector are the IMTOs and so for us, it was important for us to meet them.”

He expressed delight that IMTOs during a meeting with him, disclosed their challenges and how the CBN could help them be more effective in the things that they do.

He added, “Two aspects that concern them are the price and the commissions that they have to pay, and of course, the rates. Since the rates have converged, that has become less of an issue. They are encouraged to use the official channel. Shortly after that, we set up a task force reporting to myself.

“So, I’m very interested in how we make progress. The target is to double the remittance flow within the year. As I have said, we have started that process to ensure that it happens.  Meanwhile, the dialogue is an ongoing one, there is nothing that would stop us from seeing how we can adapt our processes, where we need to adopt tighter regulations, and where we need to adopt technology, we will do so.

“In furtherance of that, we gave licenses to 14 IMTOs in a bid to create more competition and bring down the cost of transactions,” he concluded.

At the end of the first quarter, CBN data showed that Nigeria recorded $282.6 million in total direct foreign exchange remittances, representing a 6.3 percent year-on-year decline from Q1:2023, but a 127.9 percent improvement from $124m in Q4, 2023.

On a monthly basis, most of the Q1, 2024 remittances came in January ($138.6m), followed by March ($104.9m).

Total direct forex remittances include money transfers from other countries to family members or other individuals in Nigeria through the official channel.

Afrinvest Securities, in its weekly market report, blamed the year-on-year decline on “unabating FX rate volatility, high cost of transactions, and policy changes, especially for International Money Transfer operators, hence, luring a significant chunk of remittances flow to the unofficial channels.”

In December, the World Bank projected that diaspora remittances into Nigeria would exceed $20bn by the end of the year, as total remittances into the Sub-Saharan Africa region increased by 1.9 percent.

The reports said, “Remittances to Sub-Saharan Africa are estimated to grow by 1.9 percent from $53bn in 2022 to $54bn in 2023. Projections indicate that remittances to the region will keep increasing, reaching $55bn by 2024. The slowed growth in remittances observed in 2023 is explained by the slow pace of growth in the high-income economies where many Sub-Saharan African migrants earn their income.

“Remittances to Nigeria, accounting for 38 percent of remittance flows to the region, grew by about two percent, while two other major recipients, Ghana and Kenya, posted estimated gains of 5.6 percent and 3.8 percent, respectively.”

A major constraint for diaspora remittance is cost.

The World Bank report said that SSA remained the region with the highest remittance costs.

The average cost of sending $200 to the Sub-Saharan Africa region slightly increased, averaging 7.9 percent in Q2 2023 compared with 7.2 percent in Q2 2022.

Earlier in the year, the apex bank released revised guidelines (among other reforms) for the operations of IMTOs in January – increasing the application fee for an IMTO license from N500,000 to N10m.

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