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NBS Data Show We’re Making Progress – Buhari

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  • NBS Data Show We’re Making Progress – Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari says the recent data reeled out by the National Bureau of Statistics show that his administration is doing well.

Buhari said this on Wednesday during a Gala Night organised by beneficiaries of the government’s Anchor Borrowers Programme held at the State House Conference Centre, Abuja.

The President followed the announcement on Wednesday by the NBS that the number of unemployed persons of working age had risen to 20.9 million.

He said that statistics from the NBS had confirmed that his administration’s policies were yielding results.

Buhari said he inherited “a broken system in the agricultural sector in 2015.”

After hearing testimonies from some rice farmers, the President said, “Seeing your faces and hearing your stories give me hope. Today, we are on track to achieving an all-inclusive economy.”

The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, had said Buhari had ordered the Statistician-General of the NBS, Dr Yemi Kale, to change the high unemployment statistics and reflect the rising rate of employment in the agriculture sector.

Shehu said during a recent meeting with the Federal Executive Council, Kale admitted that the NBS was only focusing on the creation of white-collar jobs and not the agriculture sector and the informal sector.

“Rice Producers Association of Nigeria made the open claim and nobody has challenged them up until the time that we speak, that they had created 12 million new jobs,” Shehu had said.

Kale, however, denied ever making such a claim.

The United States Department of Agriculture World Markets and Trade had said last month that Nigeria imported three million metric tons of rice in 2018.

The US report had said the import figure was 400,000 MT higher than the quantity of the product that was imported in 2017.

The report also stated that Nigeria’s local rice production dropped from 2016 to 2018 compared to the situation in 2015.

The report ran contrary to several claims by the Nigerian Government that local rice production had increased while importation had dropped by up to 90 per cent.

Meanwhile, the Vice Presidential Candidate of the Peoples’ Democratic Party in the forthcoming 2019 general elections, Mr Peter Obi, has blamed the rising unemployment rate in the country on the strategy of the Federal Government.

Speaking to journalists in Abuja on Thursday, Obi expressed sadness that a lot of ordinary Nigerians had continued to degenerate as shown by the unemployment rate released by the NBS in Abuja on Wednesday.

The NBS had on Wednesday indicated that the country’s unemployment rate had degenerated from 18.8 per cent in 2017 to 23.1 per cent in the third quarter of 2018.

Obi said that urgent steps needed to be taken in order to stop the downward trend.

He said, “They (government) are getting it wrong. If they are getting it right, the number would have been reducing. The whole approach or economic architecture is wrong. There should be areas of concentration. There are areas that you need to sincerely support which is not happening.

“In 2014, the overall unemployment and underemployment rate was 24 per cent; now it is 40 per cent. Then, the unemployment rate was 12 per cent. It moved to 18.8 per cent. Now, it has got worse. So, we need to do something aggressively to start turning things around.”

He added, “The 2019 elections will be strictly about the issues that concern the ordinary Nigerian – issues about the voiceless 87 million poor people that are living in Nigeria, issues about millions of unemployed Nigerians.

“How do we start pulling those 87 million people out of poverty and how do we start ensuring that millions of unemployed Nigerians get jobs? So, when you see that the situation is worsening, you get sad. So, for me, the first expression is sadness.

“Then, what do we do aggressively to ensure that we start turning things around? That is the issue.”

Asked to speak on the 12 million jobs that the Federal Government said had been created in rice farming, Obi said more rice farmers should reflect on higher productivity and lower prices.

He said, “You can have 15 million rice farmers but rice is still expensive. The more people that get into rice production, the more rice we produce and the more the price of rice goes up. It shows that there is a disconnect. If we have 10 million rice farmers, the price of rice should have been coming down.”

Obi added that in rice-producing nations such as Thailand, rice was not only available but also affordable.

The PDP also said the claim by Buhari that his administration was doing well, given the NBS report was incorrect and untrue.

The Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Mr Diran Odeyemi, in a telephone interview with one of our correspondents, said Buhari’s government had increased poverty, unemployment, insecurity and misery in the country.

He said, “It is unfortunate that the president of a whole nation can come out in public and tell an absolute lie to citizens who are suffering the effect of his maladministration. The NBS gave an accurate figure of unemployment in Nigeria and the poverty level. And here we have a President telling an open lie.

“I urge Nigerians to respond by their Permanent Voter Cards, which is the weapon to correct the mistake of this administration and the mistake of electing the All Progressives Congress into government.

“They should elect (Abubakar) Atiku as the President who is prepared and ready to put smiles on their faces with a thorough economic plan and a system that will ensure that poverty is eradicated in the country and that youths are gainfully employed.

“The claim of Buhari that the government is making progress or doing well is an absolute lie.”

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.

Economy

Nigeria, Morocco sign MOUs on Hydrocarbons, Others

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The Federal Government and the Kingdom of Morocco have signed five strategic Memoranda of Understanding that will foster Nigerian-Morocco bilateral collaboration and promote the development of hydrocarbons, agriculture, and commerce in both countries.

The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva, led the Nigerian delegation to the agreement signing ceremony on Tuesday at Marrakech, Morocco, while the Chief Executive Officer of OCP Africa, Mr Anouar Jamali, signed for the Kingdom of Morocco, according to a statement by the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board.

Under the agreement between OCP, NSIA and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Nigeria will import phosphate from the Kingdom of Morocco and use it to produce blended fertiliser for the local market and export.

The statement said Nigeria would also produce ammonia and export to Morocco.

“As part of the project, the Nigerian Government plans to establish an ammonia plant at Akwa Ibom State,” it said.

The Executive Secretary of NCDMB, Mr Simbi Wabote, and the Group Managing Director of NNPC, Mallam Mele Kyari, were part of the delegation and they confirmed that their organisations would take equity in the ammonia plant when the Final Investment Decision would be taken, the statement said.

Sylva said the project would broaden economic opportunities for the two nations and improve the wellbeing of the people.

He added that the project would also positively impact agriculture, stimulate the growth of gas-based industries and lead to massive job creation.

He said the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), had mandated the Ministry of Petroleum Resources and it agencies and other government agencies to give maximum support for the project.

“He mandated me to ensure that at least the first phase of this project is commissioned before the expiration of his second term in office in 2023,” he added.

According to the statement, the MOUs were for the support of the second phase of the Presidential Fertiliser Initiative; Shareholders Agreement for the creation of the joint venture company to develop the multipurpose industrial platform and MOU for equity investment by the NNPC in the joint venture and support of the gas.

Other agreements are term sheet for gas sales and aggregation agreement and MOU for land acquisition and administrative facilitation to the establishment of the multipurpose industrial platform for gas sales and aggregation agreement.

The NCDMB boss described the bilateral agreement as significant to the Nigerian economy as it would accelerate Nigeria’s gas monetisation programme through establishment of the ammonia plant in the country.

The agreement would also improve Nigeria’s per capita fertiliser application through importation of phosphate derivatives from Morocco, he added.

Wabote challenged the relevant parties to focus on accelerating the FID, assuring them that the NCDMB would take equity investment for long-term sustainability of the project.

He canvassed for the setting up of a project management oversight structure to ensure project requirements and timelines are met.

“There is also need to determine manpower needs for construction and operations phase of the project and develop training programmes that will create the workforce pool from Nigeria and Morocco and design collaboration framework between research centres in Nigeria and Morocco to develop technology solutions for maintaining the ISBL and OSBL units of the Ammonia complex,” he said.

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Economy

Dangote Fertiliser Plant to Commence Shipment of Urea in March 2021

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Dangote to Sells Petrol in Naira, Plans to Commence Urea Shipment in March 2021

The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, has said Dangote Fertiliser Plant will commence shipment of Urea in March 2021.

The CBN governor disclosed this during an inspection tour of the sites of Dangote Refinery, Petrochemicals Complex Fertiliser Plant and Subsea Gas Pipeline at Ibeju Lekki, Lagos on Saturday.

Emefiele further stated that Dangote Refinery would sell refined petroleum products in Naira when it starts production.

This he said would save the country from spending 41 percent of the nation’s foreign exchange on importation of petroleum products yearly.

Based on agreement and discussions with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation and the oil companies, the Dangote Refinery can buy its crude in naira, refine it, and produce it for Nigerians’ use in naira,” Mr Emefiele said.

That is the element where foreign exchange is saved for the country becomes very clear. We are also very optimistic that by refining this product here in Nigeria, all those costs associated with either demurrage from import, costs associated with freight will be totally eliminated.

Emefiele explained that this will make the price of Nigeria’s petroleum products affordable and cheaper in naira.

If we are lucky that what the refinery produces is more than we need locally you will see Nigerian businessmen buying small vessels to take them to our West African neighbours to sell to them in naira.

“This will increase our volume in naira and help to push it into the Economic Community of West African States as a currency,” Mr Emefiele said.

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Economy

UK Budget 2021: Will Sunak’s Budget Run Into Unintended Consequences?

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Rishi Sunak’s Budget will encourage higher earners to consider their “international financial options” and will drive businesses away from the UK, warns the CEO of one of the world’s largest independent financial advisory and fintech organizations.

The warning from Nigel Green, chief executive and founder of deVere Group, comes as the Chancellor delivered his 2021 Budget in the House of Commons, his second since he took on the role.

Mr Green says: “The Chancellor has got an extraordinarily difficult hand to play as he tries to stem the economic damage caused by the pandemic, support jobs and businesses and, crucially, rebuild the public finances.

“Whilst Mr Sunak is being hailed a hero for the continued and unprecedented levels of support, it should also be remembered that he is – in a stealth move – dragging more people firmly into the tax net.

“He is raising taxes under the radar.

“Yes, there is no income tax rise. However, he is freezing personal tax thresholds, meaning as incomes rise and thresholds don’t, he is able to raise money by fiscal drag.”

Earlier this week, the deVere CEO noted: “Those most impacted by this stealth move will be looking at the financial planning options available to them, including international options, in order to grow and protect their wealth.”

Rishi Sunak also confirmed that corporation tax will increase to 25% from 2023, up from the current level of 19%.

Of this tax hike, Mr Green goes on to say: “Lower corporation tax helps job and wealth-creating business to survive and thrive. It also helps attract business to move and invest in the country.

“Instead of increasing taxes, Mr Sunak should have relentlessly focussed on growth and stimulus policies for businesses.  This would have been of greater help to firms, the economy, jobs and, ultimately, the Treasury’s coffers.”

He adds: “Again, this corporation tax hike is likely to serve as a prompt for businesses to consider their overseas financial options.”

The deVere CEO concludes: “The Chancellor had to perform a tough juggling act.  But stealthily dragging more people into the tax net and raising corporation tax might have negative, unintended consequences for the Treasury’s bottom line.”

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