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Buhari Pays N72b to China for Lagos-Ibadan Railway

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  • Buhari Pays N72b to China for Lagos-Ibadan Railway

President Muhammadu Buhari led Federal Government has released N72 billion counterpart funding for the construction of Lagos-Ibadan modernisation railway project.

The Minister of Transportation, Mr Rotimi Amaechi made this known at the quarterly Presidential Business Forum which was presided over by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo at the Presidential Banquet Hall, Abuja, on Monday.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Lagos-Ibadan rail project which was awarded to China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation would cost about 1.5 billion dollars (N458bn).

Amaechi, who commended the Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun for ensuring full release of the counterpart funds for the project, enjoined the National Assembly to ensure speedy approval of the 30 billion dollars foreign loans for various project.

“I think in the history of Nigeria this is the first time that we are releasing counterpart funding in full so that there will be no delay, since the Chinese loan appears to have been approved.

“The only thing we need to do, I thank God there is somebody from the National Assembly is to plead with the National Assembly.

“The National Assembly should please approve the 30 billion dollars loan.

“If you don’t respond, if you don’t encourage the National Assembly to make that approval, then, the economy won’t be making the kind of progress we want the economy to make.

“So, for me here, I will enjoin you to persuade the National Assembly to kindly make that approval because they are tied to projects,’’ he said.

He called on the National Assembly to approve the loans in order to enhance employment opportunities in the country.

On the concerns raised by the President of Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Frank Udenba-Jacobs, over the closure of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport Abuja, Amaechi said the airport’s runway would be reconstructed not rehabilitated.

“I don’t know if there is anything new you want to hear about the closure of the airport.

“The story is the runway was built to last for 20 years and now it has lasted for 34 years and government does not want to lose anybody.

“I heard that Lufthansa landed and damaged their gear. They have been grounded for three days, trying to repair it and fly back.

“Imagine if those three hundred and something persons had died. The first thing you will hear is Minister of transportation- resign; minister of state for Aviation – resign.

“We don’t want to resign’’ ’

According to Amaechi, the entire architecture of the runway from bottom to top has collapsed, insisting it is totally unsafe to continue to use the runway.

In his remarks, Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, reiterated the determination of the Federal Government to inaugurate its Economic Recovery Growth Plan in February.

According to him, sustainable economic growth is only possible if it is private sector led.

“The main plan of our economic plan is the sustenance of a robust private sector partnership.

“Indeed it is our strong belief that sustainable economic growth is only possible if it is private sector led.

“And a good deal of attention has been paid as you will probably find in sustaining private sector leadership especially in the planning of our economic recovery and growth plan 2017, which is to be launched next month.

“I want to say that the pivot of that plan is private sector led recovery and a private sector led goal plan.

“So this forum is an important one for engendering the continuous engagement that this partnership will entail.’’

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

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Economy

Unemployment To Push More Nigerians Into Poverty – NESG

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Nigerian Economic Summit Group- Investors King

On Friday, The Nigerian Economic Summit Group said that many more Nigerians are expected to fall into the poverty trap amid rising unemployment in the country.

The NESG, a private sector-led think-tank, noted in its economic report for the first quarter of 2021 that the country’s economic growth in the period under review was relatively weak.

It said, “Nigeria’s economic growth trajectory is better described as jobless and less inclusive even in the heydays of high growth regime in the 2000s.

“While the Nigerian economy recovered from the recession in Q4 of 2020, the unemployment rate spiked to its highest level ever at 33.3 percent in the same quarter.

“With the COVID-19 crisis heightening the rate of joblessness, many Nigerians are expected to fall into the poverty trap, going forward.”

The group noted that the World Bank estimated an increase in the number of poor Nigerians to 90 million in 2020 from 83 million in 2019.

“This corresponds to a rise in headcount poverty ratio to 44.1 percent in 2020 from 40.1 percent in 2019. The rising levels of unemployment and poverty are reflected in the persistent insecurity and social vices, with attendant huge economic costs,” it said.

According to the report, huge dependence on proceeds from crude oil, leaving other revenue sources unexplored, indicates that Nigeria is not set to rein in debt accumulation in the short to medium term.

The NESG noted that public debt stock continued to trend upwards, with a jump from N7.6tn ($48.7bn) in 2012 to N32.9tn ($86.8bn) in 2020.

It said public debts grew by 20 percent between 2019 and 2020, adding, “This is partly due to the need for emergency funds to combat the global pandemic and alleviate its adverse economic impacts on households and businesses.”

According to the group, Nigeria needs more than an economic rebound, and there is a need to improve growth inclusiveness.

It said, “Nigeria has struggled to achieve inclusive growth for many decades. Since recovery from the 2016 recession, the economy has been on a fragile growth path until it slipped into another recession in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This suggests that the country needs to attain high and sustainable economic growth to become strong and resilient.

“The relationship between economic growth and unemployment rate in Nigeria suggests that economic growth has not led to a reduction in the unemployment rate – jobless growth.”

The NESG said to reverse this recurring trend, there was an urgent need for collaborative efforts between the government and relevant stakeholders towards addressing the constraints to value chain development in high-growth and employment-elastic sectors, including manufacturing, construction, trade, education, health and professional services, with ICT and renewable energy sectors as growth enablers.

It noted that despite the re-opening of the land borders that the Nigerian government shut since October 2019, inflation reached a four-year high of 18.1 percent in April 2021.

“While we expect improved agricultural production in coming months to partially ease inflationary pressures, this positive impact could be suppressed by recurring key structural bottlenecks including insecurity in the food-producing regions, electricity tariff hike, fuel price increase and hike in transport and logistic costs,” it added.

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IMF Queries FG Strategies On Fuel Subsidy, Unemployment, Inflation

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IMF - Investors King

The International Monetary Fund has raised the red flag over Nigeria’s resumption of petrol subsidy payments, describing it as injurious to the economy.

It also reiterated the importance of introducing a market-based fuel pricing mechanism and deployment of well-targeted social safety nets to cushion any adverse impact on the poor.

In a report produced after a virtual meeting with Nigerian authorities from June 1 to 8, the IMF also expressed concerns over the rising unemployment and inflation rates, even as it admitted that real Gross Domestic Product was recovering.

The IMF team, led by Jesmin Rahman, further hailed the Central Bank of Nigeria for its efforts at unifying the exchange rate by embracing needed reforms.

The Fund said: “Recent exchange rate measures are encouraging, and further reforms are needed to achieve a fully unified and market-clearing exchange rate.

“The resurfacing of fuel subsidies is concerning, particularly in the context of low revenue mobilisation.

“The Nigerian economy has started to gradually recover from the negative effects of the COVID-19 global pandemic. Following sharp output contractions in the second and third quarters, GDP growth turned positive in Q4 2020 and growth reached 0.5 percent (y/y) in Q1 2021, supported by agriculture and services sectors.

“Nevertheless, the employment level continues to fall dramatically and, together with other socio-economic indicators, is far below pre-pandemic levels. Inflation slightly decelerated in May but remained elevated at 17.9 percent, owing to high food price inflation. With the recovery in oil prices and remittance flows, the strong pressures on the balance of payments have somewhat abated, although imports are rebounding faster than exports and foreign investor appetite remains subdued resulting in continued FX shortage.

“The incipient recovery in economic activity is projected to take root and broaden among sectors, with GDP growth expected to reach 2.5 percent in 2021. Inflation is expected to remain elevated in 2021, but likely to decelerate in the second half of the year to reach about 15.5 percent, following the removal of border controls and the elimination of base effects from elevated food price levels.”

The IMF also recognised that tax revenue collections were gradually recovering but noted that with fuel subsidies resurfacing, additional spending for COVID-19 vaccines and to address security challenges, the fiscal deficit of the Consolidated Government is expected to remain elevated at 5.5 percent of GDP.

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Nigeria-South Africa Trade Hits $2.9bn

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Shipowners

The volume of trade between Nigeria and South Africa hit $2.9 billion last year with expectation of it rising further with the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement.

Nigeria’s Consul General, Malik Abdul, in a statement noted that Nigeria accounts for 64 per cent of South Africa’s trade in West Africa and is one of his country’s top three sources of crude oil.

He further added that in 2020, South Africa imported R35 billion ($2.48 billion) worth of goods, predominantly crude oil from Nigeria and exported R6 billion ($425milion) to Nigeria.

He stated: “South Africa is currently among the top 10 per cent of investors in Nigeria, globally and Nigeria is South Africa’s 10th biggest export market in Africa and thirty-second globally. Nigeria accounts for 64 per cent of South Africa’s trade with West Africa and is one of South Africa’s top three sources of crude oil.

“Also, Nigeria in 2020 was South Africa’s top import market in Africa and sixth globally, after China, Germany, USA, India and Saudi Arabia. Over the past year, South Africa imported $2.48 billion worth of goods predominantly crude oil from Nigeria and exported $425 million worth to Nigeria.”

Also, the consulate said his embassy issued a total of 10,341 passports to Nigerian citizens in South Africa between March 2020 and May 2021.

The consul general further said the Mission had 404 unclaimed passports, and advised all those whose passports were processed and pending from August 2020 to come for collection.

Abdul added that the consulate was working to clear all COVID-19 lockdown backlog of applications, urging members of the public to exercise patience while the mission was resolving the backlogs.

On the re-introduction of administrative fees and charges for lost passports, Abdul said that the step was taken to harmonise and standardise consular services following approval from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Abuja.

The Mission had increased the fees for lost passports from R1,500 to R2,000, and admin charges of R120 for data capturing.

“On this issue, the Mission could not unilaterally impose any charges without headquarters’ approval or consent.

“The admin fees of R120 pertains to all services rendered by the two Missions,” he said.
According to the Nigerian envoy, the decision was taken to remove disparities in all consular services, noting that visa fees have also been harmonised.

On penalty for lost passports, Abdul disclosed that 484 Nigerian passports were reported missing at the mission between August 2020 and May 2021 with request for re-issue.

Abdul said it was discovered that there were criminal undertones and immigration rules infractions associated with the ‘so-called’ lost passport declarations.

“In line with practice in other Missions, there was a need to impose fines to deter people from engaging in such infractions.

“At such an astronomical rate of loss declarations, the option will be to refer such losses to Nigeria for processing.

“This will save the booklet for genuine requests of re-issue and thereby reducing the backlog and pressure on the Mission,” the envoy said.

Abdul disclosed that the consulate had received a directive to embargo processing of lost passports pending further instructions from the headquarters.

The consul general then accused some Nigerian groups in South Africa of, “peddling lies and outright falsehoods” against the Mission and his person.

“These disgruntled elements have gone ahead to incite fellow Nigerians with intent to sabotage the Mission.

“Moreover, a lie and falsehoods often repeated amounts to a propaganda which can be misinterpreted by the gullible and undiscerning as truth,” he said.

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