- ‘One Million Tonnes of Smuggled Rice Heading for Nigeria’
Smugglers of foreign rice are beginning to flood Nigerian markets with smuggled products as the Yuletide season approaches and have warehoused over one million tonnes of the commodity in neighbouring countries.
In October, the Federal Government stated that it had restricted the importation of rice to only designated seaports and banned its coming into the country through land borders.
But the commodity has continued to find its way into Nigeria in large quantity through the borders despite the restriction.
In a petition addressed to President Muhammadu Buhari, the Rice Processors Association of Nigeria, a body consisting of over 25 million indigenous rice farmers, stated that aside the massive smuggling of the produce into the country, documents at its disposal showed that shiploads of rice were being warehoused in neighbouring countries, waiting to be smuggled into Nigeria.
The Chairman, RIPAN, Mr. Abubakar Mohammed; and the Secretary, who is a former Minister of Justice, Chief Michael Aondoakaa (SAN), in a joint statement in Abuja on Thursday, said if the development was not checked by the Federal Government, the local rice industry would die and over N200bn worth of investments in the sector would be destroyed.
“Information at our disposal shows massive smuggling of finished rice into Nigeria. Our investigation showed that these products are berthed and warehoused in Republic of Benin, Niger and Cameroon at very little import duties, and then pushed into Nigeria where the perpetrators eventually make unconscionable profit, having paid zero duties at our borders,” they said.
Displaying some documents before journalists, Mohammed said, “For your confirmation, please find attached these documents that show the list of ships carrying these products and their time of arrival at the various ports.
“And please be reminded that among countries in the West Coast of Africa, only the Nigerian market consumes parboiled rice and this list shows that all the ships conveyed parboiled rice.”
The RIPAN stated that although it had sent its petition to the President through the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, and had briefed the Nigerin Customs Service on the matter, it was, however, imperative to raise the alarm publicly as the smuggled rice was not safe for human consumption.
“This has been confirmed by different agencies like NAFDAC, the NCS and a few others,” Mohammed added.
The association urged the Federal Government to engage the governments of the neighbouring countries where the commodity was warehoused to fashion out anti-smuggling measures to address the menace in order to save the Nigerian economy and its citizens.
It said, “The NCS should collaborate with the DSS and other relevant security agencies to track unpatriotic elements at the borders and bring them to book in order to deter others from being used by smugglers to smuggle over one million tonnes of rice currently warehoused in these neighbouring countries, with the dubious intention of smuggling it into Nigeria during the festive season.
“For if this is not checked, it will kill the huge investments made by the Federal Government in the various rice intervention programmes and it will also destroy the billions of naira invested by private sector stakeholders in the rice value chain.
“If this massive act of smuggling is not checked by the Nigerian government, it will undermine the zeal and efforts of over 25 million Nigerian farmers across the country who have gone back to farming in response to the present administration’s call for the diversification of the economy through agriculture.”
Brent Crude Oil Approaches $70 Per Barrel on Friday
Nigerian Oil Approaches $70 Per Barrel Following OPEC+ Production Cuts Extension
Brent crude oil, against which Nigerian oil is priced, rose to $69 on Friday at 3:55 pm Nigerian time.
Oil price jumped after OPEC and allies, known as OPEC plus, agreed to role-over crude oil production cuts to further reduce global oil supplies and artificially sustain oil price in a move experts said could stoke inflationary pressure.
Brent crude oil rose from $63.86 per barrel on Wednesday to $69 per barrel on Friday as energy investors became more optimistic about the oil outlook.
While certain experts are worried that U.S crude oil production will eventually hurt OPEC strategy once the economy fully opens, few experts are saying production in the world’s largest economy won’t hit pre-pandemic highs.
According to Vicki Hollub, the CEO of Occidental, U.S oil production may not return to pre-pandemic levels given a shift in corporates’ value.
“I do believe that most companies have committed to value growth, rather than production growth,” she said during a CNBC Evolve conversation with Brian Sullivan. “And so I do believe that that’s going to be part of the reason that oil production in the United States does not get back to 13 million barrels a day.”
Hollub believes corporate organisations will focus on optimizing present operations and facilities, rather than seeking growth at all costs. She, however, noted that oil prices rebounded faster than expected, largely due to China, India and United States’ growing consumption.
“The recovery looks more V-shaped than we had originally thought it would be,” she said. Occidental previous projection had oil production recovering to pre-pandemic levels by the middle of 2022. The CEO Now believes demand will return by the end of this year or the first few months of 2022.
“I do believe we’re headed for a much healthier supply and demand environment” she said.
Oil Jumps to $67.70 as OPEC+ Extends Production Cuts
Oil Jumps to $67.70 as OPEC+ Extends Production Cuts
Brent crude oil, against which Nigerian oil is priced, rose to $67.70 per barrel on Thursday following the decision of OPEC and allies, known as OPEC+, to extend production cuts.
OPEC and allies are presently debating whether to restore as much as 1.5 million barrels per day of crude oil in April, according to people with the knowledge of the meeting.
Experts have said OPEC+ continuous production cuts could increase global inflationary pressure with the rising price of could oil. However, Saudi Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman said “I don’t think it will overheat.”
Last year “we suffered alone, we as OPEC+” and now “it’s about being vigilant and being careful,” he said.
Saudi minister added that the additional 1 million barrel-a-day voluntary production cut the kingdom introduced in February was now open-ended. Meaning, OPEC+ will be withholding 7 million barrels a day or 7 percent of global demand from the market– even as fuel consumption recovers in many nations.
Experts have started predicting $75 a barrel by April.
“We expect oil prices to rise toward $70 to $75 a barrel during April,” said Ann-Louise Hittle, vice president of macro oils at consultant Wood Mackenzie Ltd. “The risk is these higher prices will dampen the tentative global recovery. But the Saudi energy minister is adamant OPEC+ must watch for concrete signs of a demand rise before he moves on production.”
Gold Hits Eight-Month Low as Global Optimism Grows Amid Rising Demand for Bitcoin
Gold Struggles Ahead of Economic Recovery as Bitcoin, New Gold, Surges
Global haven asset, gold, declined to the lowest in more than eight months on Tuesday as signs of global economic recovery became glaring with rising bond yields.
The price of the precious metal declined to $1,718 per ounce during London trading on Thursday, down from $2,072 it traded in August as more investors continue to cut down on their holdings of the metal.
The previous metal usually performs poorly with rising yields on other assets like bonds, especially given the fact that gold does not provide streams of interest payments. Investors have been jumping on US bonds ahead of President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion coronavirus stimulus package, expected to stoke stronger US price growth.
“We see the rising bond yields as a sign of economic optimism, which has also prompted gold investors to sell some of their positions,” said Carsten Menke of Julius Baer.
Another analyst from Commerzbank, Carsten Fritsch, said that “gold’s reputation appears to have been tarnished considerably by the heavy losses of recent weeks, as evidenced by the ongoing outflows from gold ETFs”.
Experts at Investors King believed the growing demand for Bitcoin, now called the new gold, and other cryptocurrencies in recent months by institutional investors is hurting gold attractiveness.
In a recent report, analysts at Citigroup have started projecting mainstream acceptance for the unregulated dominant cryptocurrency, Bitcoin.
The price of Bitcoin has rallied by 60 percent to $52,000 this year alone. While Ethereum has risen by over 660 percent in 2021.
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