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Theft, vandalism rob Nigeria of benefits of high crude oil prices – NESG

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Low production rate, theft and pipeline vandalism are the main factors which rob Nigeria of the benefits of high cost of crude oil in the global market.

The declaration was made by the Nigeria Economic Summit Group (NESG) in a communiqué issued at the end of a meeting of its Board of Directors.

The communiqué, issued in Abuja on Wednesday, was signed by the board Chairman, Asue Ighodalo.

Mr Ighodalo stated that declining investment and divestment, high cost of production, and a harsh operating environment, also contributed to robbing Nigeria of the benefits.

“Nigeria is not appropriating the benefits of high global prices. As a result, fiscal pressure is imploding because of declining revenues and soaring public debt.

“Only recently, the Minister for Finance alerted Nigerians that the cost of debt servicing has surpassed Federal Government’s retained revenue as total public debt continues to rise.

“Meanwhile, the Central Bank of Nigeria’s Ways and Means financing to the Federal Government peaked at N19.6 trillion as of May, and the country maintains an unsustainable fuel subsidy regime,’’ he stated.

He said that the growing deficit meant that Nigeria would rely on borrowing to finance the 2022 budget.

Mr Ighodalo noted that in spite of increased budgetary allocation to defence and national security, insecurity has not abated.

“Despite some changes in the leadership of the national security apparatus, conditions have not improved.

There is hardly any need to itemise the adverse impact of insecurity on food prices, productivity, ease and cost of doing business, investor confidence and national pride,’’ he stated.

He added that as a policy think tank, the NESG would continue to offer policy advice to any government in power, in the national interest.

Mr Ighodalo commended the Federal Government for initiating the recently-launched National Development Plan (2021–2025).

“We remain resolute in our mandate – we will continue to be in the vanguard of economic reforms and positive change.

“The Board of Directors of the NESG notes and commends the Federal Government for commencing the implementation of the Medium-Term National Development Plan (2021–2025),’’ Mr Ighodalo also stated.

He called for steps by the government to tackle revenue challenges that created room for rising national debt.

“Government must take decisive action to tackle its revenue challenges which cannot be divorced from leakages through oil theft, difficult operating environment for businesses, and lack of innovation in tax collection.

“The challenges have resulted in low accretion to the nation’s revenue base. We strongly believe these leakages have continued unabated because of the absence of sanctions and ineffective tax systems.

“We must return to the path of debt sustainability in the face of dwindling revenues, not to create a debt burden for future governments and, indeed, future generations.

“We must prioritise our expenditure, limit our spending to items we can sustain, and eliminate wastage and graft in government,’’ he stressed.

Mr Ighodalo also urged all tiers of government to lead by example through drastic reduction in governance costs to reflect the austere times.

“We strongly advise greater transparency and simplicity in the management and communication of various subsidies, like in petroleum products and electricity, to establish their true costs that benefit the people,’’ he stated.

According to him, urgent action is required to ensure food self-sufficiency by prioritising critical value chains and supporting private sector-led interventions.

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FG unveils plans for inland waterways, coastal services

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By Seun Ibiyemi

The Federal Government, through the Ministry of Marine and Blue Economy, on Sunday, said that it would soon unveil its plans for the Inland Waterways and Coastal Services in the industry.

Its Minister, Mr Adegboyega Oyetola, was quoted to have disclosed this in a statement issued in Lagos by the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Zoe Maritime, Mrs Tosan Edodo-Moore.

The minister will unveil the plans at the forthcoming Maritime Business Roundtable Breakfast Meeting.

Edodo-Moore said that the federal government, through its Renewed Agenda, was committed to increasing the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the country, by increasing the revenue generated by the ministry.

“We are pleased to announce the Maritime Business Roundtable Breakfast Meeting (MBRBM) on Security and New Technologies in Inland Waterways Transportation, scheduled for April 18 in Lagos.

“The highlight of the meeting was the intervention of Madam Yan Yuqing, the Consul General of the People’s Republic of China.

“Yuqing will share the Sino-Nigeria Maritime Relationship and lessons to be learnt from China, which has the largest Inland Waterways Network in the World.

“Also, the Minister of Marine and Blue Economy, Mr Adegboyega Oyetola, will unveil the administration’s plans for Inland Waterways and Coastal Services.

“The subject will be dissected by a panel, comprising industry stakeholders, regulatory authorities and security agencies,” she said.

Edodo-Moore said that the panellists would include Mr Mohammed Bello-Koko, Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and Dr Dayo Mobereola, the Director General of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA).

Others are Alhaji Munirudeen Oyebamiji, the Managing Director National Inland Waterways Authority, [NIWA] Lokoja and Mr Oluwadamilola Emmanuel, the General Manager of Lagos State Waterways Authority (LASWA).

It will also include Mr Oluseyi Oluyede, the Managing Director, Niger Benue Transport Co Ltd. and AIG Rhoda Olofu, the Maritime Police Command.

According to her, expected participants are port users, maritime stakeholders, government agencies, banks (with maritime desk), Insurance companies, ship-owners, boat operators, logistics companies, freight forwarders, Oil and Gas companies and foreign entities

Edodo-Moore said that the benefits of the Maritime Breakfast Roundtable include visibility, growth, networking, impartation and exchange of knowledge.

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Nigerian Breweries embarks on strategic recovery plan to boost profitability

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Nigerian Breweries Plc has embarked on a company-wide reorganisation business recovery plan to ensure a sustainable future for its stakeholders.

The company’s Human Resource Director, Grace Omo-Lamai, said this in a statement signed by Mrs Sade Morgan, its Corporate Affairs Director, to the leadership of some food and beverage associations on Friday in Lagos.

The associations include the National Union of Food, Beverage & Tobacco Employees and the Food Beverage and Tobacco Senior Staff Association.

Omo-Lamai said the move was essential to improve the company’s operational efficiency and return to profitability, in the face of the challenging business environment.

She said the proposed plan would include operational efficiency measures and a company-wide reorganisation that includes the temporary suspension of operations in two of its nine breweries.

“As a result, and in accordance with labour requirements, the company invited the unions to discussions on the implications of the proposed measures.

“It will be recalled that the company recently notified the Nigerian Exchange Group (NGX) of its plan to raise capital of up to N600 billion by way of a rights issue.

“This is as a means of restoring the company’s balance sheet to a healthy position following the net finance expenses of N189 billion recorded in 2023 driven mainly by a foreign exchange loss of N153 billion resulting from the devaluation of the naira,” she said.

Also, the Managing Director, Nigerian Breweries Plc, Mr Hans Essaadi, described the business recovery plan as strategic and vital for business continuity.

Essaadi noted that the tough business landscape characterised by double-digit inflation rates, Naira devaluation, foreign exchange challenges and diminished consumer spending had taken its toll on many businesses.

This, he said, was why the company had taken the decision to further consolidate its business operations for efficient cost management and optimal use of resources for future sustainable growth.

“We recognise and regret the impact that the suspension of brewery operations in the two affected locations may have on our employees.

“We are committed to limiting the impact on our people as much as possible by exhausting all options available including the relocation and redistribution of employees to our other seven breweries; and providing strong support and severance packages to all those that become unavoidably affected.

“We are also committed to supporting our host communities in ways that ensure they continue to feel our presence.

“We remain wholly committed to having a positive impact on our host communities and our consumers; leveraging our strong supply chain footprint; excellent execution of our route to market strategy; and our rich portfolio of brands,” he said.

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FIRS generates N12.3 trn in 2023 – Adedeji

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The  Executive, Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Mr Zacch Adedeji, has said that the organisation witnessed unprecedented progress in revenue collection, culminating in a remarkable achievement of N12.3 trillion in 2023.

The Chief Executive, who was represented by a staff of the organisation, Mrs Aisha Ribadu, said this on Friday at the FIRS special day at the ongoing 35th Enugu International Trade Fair.

Adedeji said that this success was a testament to its dedication to nurturing and empowering its workforce, and to ensuring they possessed the skills, knowledge and tools necessary to excel.

He expressed his heartfelt appreciation to the Enugu State Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (ECCIMA) for its discerning choice of theme, “Promoting Made-in-Nigeria Products for Global Competitiveness.”

The FIRS boss added that the choice of theme reflected the collective aspiration to not only dominate the African market but to assert relevance on the global stage.

“Investing in human capital is the cornerstone of sustainable development, and nations that prioritise human development inevitably experience enduring growth and prosperity.

“The FIRS has spearheaded transformative reforms aimed at diversifying revenue sources and enhancing the overall taxpayer experience.

“One of such initiatives is the introduction of the Taxpromax Solutions, an innovative e-service platform designed to empower taxpayers to fulfill their obligations seamlessly from anywhere at any time,” Adedeji said.

He expressed gratitude to ECCIMA for affording the FIRS the invaluable opportunity to showcase its commitment to national development.

In a welcome address, the ECCIMA President, Mr Odeiga Jideonwo, said that the essence of the special day was to bring the business community and the general public closer to the activities and operations of the FIRS.

Jideonwo, who was represented by the first Deputy President, Nnanyereugo Onyemelukwe, said that the FIRS should work in tandem with other agencies of government and stakeholders in the organised private sector.

He said that it would enable the FIRS to redefine and streamline tax administration and regime in the country.

“It will also bring about a society wherein the rich and poor will leverage each other in contributing to the development of the society in a fair and just manner, as it affects company tax by various businesses,” he said.

He commended the chief executive for its various innovations aimed at voluntarily bringing into the FIRS database companies in order to boost the tax network.

Jideonwo added that it would also boost revenue with the attendant grace offered in the process to those who had been evading tax payment.

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