Manufacturers and other private sector operators on Tuesday painted a gloomy picture of how the foreign exchange restriction placed on 41 items by the Central Bank of Nigeria had affected operations in the business sector.
They said that since the restriction order was placed last year, about 272 firms had been forced out of business, 50 of which were manufacturing companies.
While some of the affected manufacturers have relocated to neighbouring countries, according to Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, at least 222 small-scale businesses have closed shops, leading to 180,000 job losses.
As a result of the negative impact of the policy on the operations of manufacturers, stakeholders in the economy including MAN, the National Association of Small and Medium Enterprises and the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry insisted that the policy must be reviewed.
They spoke at the launch of a report on the manufacturing sector by NOI Polls Limited, in collaboration with the Centre for the Studies of Economies of Africa.
The Director, Economics and Statistics, MAN, Mr. Ambrose Oruche, lamented the unavailability of productive inputs, stating that this was the major challenge confronting manufacturers.
He attributed the problem largely to the ban by the CBN on certain items from acessing the official window of the forex market, adding that the current operating environment was too harsh for many manufacturers to continue to operate.
He wondered why the CBN and the Federal Government kept coming out with what he described as conflicting polices, noting that this was affecting the growth of the manufacturing sector.
He said, “Presently, about 50 manufacturers have closed shop, while some have downsized. Some manufacturers are still producing due to their love for this country. Government’s policy on cement should have been adopted in this case.
“In the case of cement, Nigeria used to be a net importer of cement, but the government set up a policy over a five-year period, which made it possible that today, we are a net exporter of the commodity.”
Oruche said the fact that the economy was technically in recession should have made the CBN to redirect its policies towards stimulating the economy rather than tightening money supply.
He also listed high interest rates, poor power supply, policy inconsistency, poor patronage of locally manufactured products, poor supporting infrastructure, among others, as the challenges confronting manufacturers.
In his remarks, the Director, Research and Advocacy, LCCI, Mr. Vincent Nwani, said the CBN announced the ban on the 41 items without consulting other stakeholders in the sector.
He said, “We did press releases; we did stakeholders engagement; we engaged with the CBN at all levels, at least three times; we met the directors twice up to the CBN governor on this same matter of the 41 items- giving them examples of product-by-product.
“There must be an urgent review of the CBN’s policy on the restriction of access to foreign exchange placed on 41 items, as about 16 of the total items on the list serve as critical raw materials for intermediate goods produced in Nigeria, especially as the country lacks the capacity for optimal production of the items.”
For instance, he said that the ban on oil palm alone had led to a loss of about 100,000 jobs over the last couple of months, while the ban on glass and glassware resulted in 80,000 job losses mainly in the pharmaceutical industry.
Nwani said many companies in the pharmaceutical sector now found it difficult to package their products.
He said, “Local production of oil palm is put at about 600 metric tonnes annually, but the total demand in the country is put at about 1.8 million metric tonnes.
“Today, Presco Oil has orders of up to December 2017 to fill, it is presently hard pressed with demands. Listing oil palms among the restricted items meant that we have a shortfall of about 1.2 million metric tonnes.
“Some of the items placed on the restriction list by the CBN should be reinstated until the country develops the capacity to produce them locally. Some of the items need a period of between three and seven years for the country to develop self-sufficiency in their production.”
Nwani said, currently, about $10bn of manufacturers’ funds were stuck in foreign countries because the owners had no confidence in the economy.
He said, “We have about $10bn stuck in one country or the other earned by our members. Some of them are not manufacturers; some are agriculturists or merchants of different products.”
Meanwhile, the President of MAN, Dr. Frank Jacobs, has lauded the recent directive of the Central Bank of Nigeria that 60 per cent of foreign exchange allocation should go to the manufacturing sector. The association is also confident that with such powers, manufacturers may determine exchange rate in the country.
Jacobs said at a media briefing in Lagos on Tuesday that the directive would revive the sector and reflate the economy.
He said, “MAN commends the Federal Government and the CBN on this directive. It is a welcome development and will give fillip to efforts of government aimed at reflating the economy.
“This is an opportunity for the manufacturing sector to determine the exchange rate of the dollar. I will encourage our members not to bid too high, to also understand the power they have today to determine the exchange rate. With 60 per cent allocation, the banks will be willing to sell to manufacturers at a comfortable rate because they cannot keep their dollars.”
FG Paying N1.1 Billion Per Day as Subsidy
The recent jumped in crude oil prices means landing cost of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), popularly known as Petrol, has increased but the Federal Government has maintained the old pump price of N161 – N165 per litre.
In a series of reports, the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) open market price, the price fuel marketers are expected to sell, is N183 per litre as of yesterday. A break down showed N160 is the landing cost per litre while the additional N23 is the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) pricing template.
Therefore, with the payment of additional N23 as stipulated in the PPPRA pricing template and the national petrol per day consumption figure at 50 million litres, the Buhari led administration is offsetting about N1.1 billion on petrol consumption daily.
The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has been deducting the amount before remitting balance of oil sales to the Federation Account, according to a Businessday report.
An anonymous person in the oil marketing industry said: “We are back to the era of subsidy and Nigeria is bleeding badly because of this.”
“With deregulation, the current price of petrol should not be less than N181, so who is funding subsidy of the product for Nigeria to buy at the current fixed price?“.
Another oil marketers said, “the government does not have the boldness to allow full deregulation of petrol because of the spiral effects on Nigerians, and bearing in mind that Nigerians are in very hard times.”
Alao Abiodun, the Head of Energy Research, New Nigeria Foundation, explained that “Because of the loans from the IMF and World Bank that they got with the condition that petrol should be deregulated, I believe the government is trying to manage the problem.”
Nigeria’s Big Oil-Refining Revamp Gets Off To A Slow Start
A year after shutting down all of its dilapidated refineries to figure out how to fix them, Nigeria still can’t say how much it will cost to do the work or where the money will come from.
Nigerian National Petroleum Corp. said it has finished the appraisal of its largest facility, but hasn’t completed the process at two others. Refining experts said the extended halt means the plants are at risk of rotting away and unlikely to restart on time.
“Things haven’t been looking good lately,” with Nigeria’s plants probably “completely out of action for some 18 months,” said Elitsa Georgieva, Executive Director at Citac, a consultant that specializes in African refining.
The dysfunction of its domestic refineries has long put Africa’s biggest oil producer in an ironic situation. It exports large volumes of crude to plants overseas, then pays a premium to import the fuels its customers produce.
Pledges to fix the facilities have been made and broken again and again over the years. For at least a decade, NNPC’s 445,000 barrels a day of refining capacity barely processed 20% of that amount.
The latest effort to fix the refineries was supposed to be different to the failed attempts that came before. The company had totally shut all three plants down by January 2020 to do a comprehensive appraisal, and set the ambitious target of having them all back up and running at 90% of capacity by 2023.
“The refineries have been deliberately shut down to allow for a thorough diagnosis,” said Kennie Obateru, an Abuja-based NNPC spokesman. “They can be fixed based on what the diagnosis reveals.”
The appraisal of the 210,000-barrel-a day Port Harcourt refinery has been completed and NNPC has called for bids for the necessary repairs, Obateru said. The company hasn’t determined how much the work will cost.
“It is when we close the bids, everything is analyzed and presented that we will know how much we need,” he said.
The diagnosis is underway at the 125,000-barrel-a-day Warri facility and should be complete before the end of the year, he said. After that, the study of the 110,000-barrel-a-day Kaduna plant will commence.
One year into the process, refining analysts are skeptical that all this work can be done by 2023.
“I don’t think anyone has a good understanding technically of what’s wrong with those refineries,” said Alan Gelder, vice president of refining, chemicals and oil markets at Wood Mackenzie Ltd. “They’re probably corroding, which makes it a very difficult proposition.”
NNPC reaffirmed its deadline and said there’s no reason the refineries, which are at least 40 years old, can’t be restored to full operation.
“There are refineries that are over a hundred years old still running, so age is not necessarily an impediment,” Obateru said.
There are parallel efforts backed by private companies to add to Nigeria’s capacity. Aliko Dangote, Africa’s richest person, is building a state-of-the-art 650,000 barrel-a-day refinery, which Citac estimates will start production in 2023.
Bringing NNPC’s Port Harcourt refinery to the same clean-fuel standards as Dangote’s modern plant would cost about $1.3 billion for the equipment, on top of whatever other repairs are required to get the facility running, Georgieva said.
NNPC is talking to oil-trading firms about $1 billion of prepayment deals that could finance the repairs at Port Harcourt, Reuters reported last week. Obateru declined to comment on the report, but said “I don’t envisage that we will have a problem getting people to invest.”
Food Inflation Hits Record High of 19.56 Percent in December 2020
Food Index, which measures prices of food items, grew by 19.56 percent in the month of December 2020 amid herdsmen attacks and flooding.
In the latest report from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), increases were recorded on Bread and cereals, Potatoes, Yam and other
tubers, Meat, Fruits, Vegetable, Fish and Oils and fats.
On month on monthly basis, the food sub-index rose by 2.05 percent in December 2020, 0.01 percent from 2.04 percent recorded in November 2020.
“The average annual rate of change of the Food sub-index for the twelve-month period ending December 2020 over the previous twelve-month average was 16.17 percent, 0.42 percent points from the average annual rate of change recorded in November 2020 (15.75) percent” the report stated.
Headline inflation number increased by 15.75 percent in the month of December 2020, up from 14.89 percent.
The report noted that increases were recorded in all COICOP divisions that yielded the Headline index.
On a month-on-month basis, “the urban index rose by 1.65 percent in December 2020, same as the rate recorded in November 2020, while the rural index also rose by 1.58 percent in December 2020, up by 0.02 percent above the rate that was recorded in November 2020 (1.56 percent).”
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