- Deliver Lagos-Ibadan Rail in Two Weeks, FG Orders Contractor
The Federal Government on Thursday gave marching orders to the contractor handling the Lagos-Ibadan rail line to deliver the Iju (Lagos) to Agbado (Ogun) section of the project within the next two weeks.
It stated that although there had been a considerable improvement on the project, it was important to get the Iju-Agbado section ready this month as commercial activities were more pronounced on the specified location.
This came as the renowned economist and Chief Executive of Financial Derivatives Company, Bismarck Rewane, stated that the Lagos-Ibadan rail project would reduce inflationary pressures when completed.
The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, directed officials of the China Civil Engineering Construction Company to speed up work on the Iju-Agbado section of the project and get it ready for test-run in two weeks.
Amaechi said, “Getting to Abeokuta, you will see that there’s an improvement but the problem they have now is the civil work between Agbado and Iju which is critical to me because I don’t think passengers will go to Agbado to join the train.
“I believe that the closer we are to Lagos, the better for the rail and that is why I had to tell them to tell me what they will do about this before the next two weeks, although there’s a huge improvement up to this point. I want them to speed up the construction from Iju to Agbado.”
On why the contractor had yet to bring in more equipment to hasten the pace of work, the minister stated that the excuse given by the firm was that the equipment was not off-the-shelf machines that could be moved easily to Nigeria from abroad.
He also stated that the project would reduce congestion at the Lagos sea port.
Amaechi said, “Part of the solution to the congestion around Lagos sea port is an efficient rail line. You can argue that the narrow gauge is there but it is not efficient. But the moment you fix this then those goods will be transferred to the rail and then the logjam will disappear.
“The moment we do the section from Iju to the seaport, then most of those goods, especially the ones going to Ibadan will be on the rail lines.”
When asked whether the government was being pressured by Nigerians to complete the rail project, Amaechi replied, “Of course, and it is also because of the speed, for it takes you about 30 minutes by rail from Lagos to Ibadan as against over one hour by road. And this is subsidised.”
Explaining some of the impacts of the project on the economy, Rewane said, “This is a massive project that will have a multiplier effect when completed and will reduce logistics and distribution cost, which are the major areas of inflationary pressures in Nigeria. So I think we should give them time to complete it because it will increase productivity and reduce cost.
“It will reduce inflationary pressures because the cost of moving goods from point A to B will be reduced since you are not coming by road. So that is a good way to reduce the pressure and inflation is one of the core economic concerns for Nigeria. Therefore, anything that can reduce inflation is good for the country.”
Manufacturing Firms Borrowed N570bn from Banks in 2020 – CBN
Manufacturing firms borrowed a total of N570bn from Nigerian banks last year amid the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Banks’ credit to the manufacturing sector rose to N3.19tn as of December 2020 from N2.62tn at the end of 2019, according to the sectoral analysis of banks’ credit by the Central Bank of Nigeria.
The sector received the second biggest share of the credit from the banks after the oil and gas sector, which got N5.18tn as of December.
“The manufacturing sector, which is the engine of sustainable growth, is still struggling with the debilitating impact of the pandemic and is yet to recuperate,” the Director-General, Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, Mr Segun Ajayi-Kadir, said in January.
MAN, in a January report, revealed that most manufacturers said commercial banks’ lending rates were discouraging productivity in the sector.
The report said 71 per cent of Chief Executive Officers interviewed “disagreed that the rate at which commercial banks lend to manufacturers encourages productivity in the sector.”
It said the cost of borrowing in the country remained at double digits even amidst the reforms meant to culminate in lower rates to engender the country’s economic recovery process.
The report said, “Special single digit loans offered by development banks are still hard to leverage as conditionalities to assess the loans through commercial banks are often overwhelming and laden with additional charges that will eventually make the interest rate double digit.
“Seven per cent of respondents were, however, of the opinion that the rate at which commercial banks lend to manufacturers encourages productivity in the sector while the remaining 22 per cent were not sure of the impact of the rate of lending on productivity in the manufacturing sector.”
The report showed that 64 per cent of respondent disagreed that the size of commercial bank loan to manufacturing sector had encouraged manufacturing productivity.
It said the very high presence of the government in the money market, particularly through the sale of treasury bills, had been crowding out the private sector from the market.
Nigeria Earns Extra N318.4 Billion as Crude Oil Hits $67/Barrel
FG Generates Additional Income of N318.4 Billion as Crude Oil Hits $67/Barrel
The Federal Government earned an additional N318.36 billion in February following the surge in crude oil price above $60 per barrel.
Brent crude oil, against which Nigerian oil is priced, average $60 throughout the month of February.
In March, it rose to $67 per barrel.
According to the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, Nigeria’s crude oil price was retained at $40 per barrel for 2021.
However, she said the nation is presently producing below its 2.5 million barrel per day capacity at 1.7mbpd. This, she said includes 300,000bpd condensates.
“Although Nigeria’s total production capacity is 2.5mbpd, current crude production is about 1.7mbpd, including about 300,000bpd of condensates, which indicates compliance with OPEC quota,” the finance minister stated.
Going by the number, Nigeria is producing 1.4mbpd of crude oil without condensates, but with an additional $20 revenue when compared to the $40 per barrel benchmark for the year. It means the Federal Government realised an additional income of N318.360 billion or $20 X 1.4mbpd X 30days in the month of February.
Crude oil jumped to $68.54 per barrel on Friday following OPEC+’s decision to role-over production cuts.
Nigeria, Morocco sign MOUs on Hydrocarbons, Others
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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