- Over 20 Million Bags of Rice Smuggled Into Nigeria in Three Months —Rice Millers
The Rice Processors Association of Nigeria has said that between January and March this year, over 20 million bags of rice were smuggled into Nigeria.
The association accused officials of the Nigerian Customs Service posted at the borders of colluding with smugglers to commit what it described as economic sabotage against the policy of the Federal Government to make Nigeria self-sufficient in rice production.
The Chairman, RIPAN, Mohammed Abubakar, who said this during an interview in Abuja said that the 20 million bags (50 kilogrammes) of smuggled rice translated to about one million metric tonnes of the product.
He said the figure was arrived at following months of painstaking investigations conducted by the association at some of the country’s porous borders.
Abubakar said the development, if left unchecked by the Federal Government, could impact negatively on the integrated rice processor’s capacity, which had increased from 800,000 metric tonnes in 2014 to 1.6 million metric tonnes in 2018.
He said apart from the 1.6 million metric tonnes of rice currently being produced by integrated rice millers, there were about 3.9 million metric tons of finished rice milled by thousands of cottage millers scattered across the country.
The RIPAN boss called on the Federal Government to save the industry as the activities of rice smugglers were beginning to threaten the Federal Government financing policy through the agricultural value chain single digit interest rate programme of the Central Bank of Nigeria.
He said, “Investors in Nigeria have made enormous financial commitment in the rice sub-sector.
“Unfortunately, the only threat to the industry’s total development is smuggling. Over one million metric tonnes of rice, which is about 20 million bags of 50kg rice, were smuggled into Nigeria in the last three months
“Nigeria currently loses huge revenues, foreign exchange and jobs to this menace. Nigeria rice processing companies are shutting down because of their inability to gain market access.
“More painfully, millions of small-holder farmers are stuck with their paddy because the millers can no longer afford to buy from them.
“The Rice Processors Association wants to use this opportunity to tell everyone that if this menace is not tackled with appropriate dispatch, the magnitude of loss to Nigerian rice stakeholders starting with the Federal Government, integrated rice millers, funding banks, CBN, rice farmers, mill workers, rice consumers, would be too devastating to cope with in a fledgling economy.”
He added, “There is the need for urgent action to avert eventual national food emergency by combating smuggling so that we can continue to grow our local rice industry and the economy.
“Investigations have shown that all our international borders have been converted to smugglers’ routes and our markets are filled with smuggled foreign rice.”
He called on President Muhammadu Buhari to direct an immediate raid of the various rice smugglers’ markets across the country.
NNPC To Resume Oil Exploration In Sokoto Basin
The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation on Thursday announced plans to resume active oil exploration in Sokoto Basin.
A statement issued in Abuja on Thursday by NNPC spokesperson, Kennie Obateru, said the corporation’s Group Managing Director, Mele Kyari, said exploration for crude would resume in the Sokoto Basin.
The statement read in part, “Kyari also hinted of plans for the corporation to resume active exploration activities in the Sokoto Basin.”
The NNPC boss disclosed this while receiving the Governor of Kebbi State, Atiku Bagudu, who paid Kyari a courtesy visit in his office on Thursday.
In October 2019, the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), had during the spud-in ceremony of Kolmani River II Well on the Upper Benue Trough, Gongola Basin, in the North-East, said the government would explore for oil and gas in the frontier basins across the country.
He outlined the basins to include the Benue Trough, Chad Basin, Sokoto and Bida Basins.
Buhari had also stated that attention would be given to the Dahomey and Anambra Basins which had already witnessed oil and gas discoveries.
Kyari restated NNPC’s commitment to the partnership with Kebbi State for the production of biofuels, describing the project as viable and in tandem with the global transition to renewable energy.
He said the rice production programme in the state was a definite boost to the biofuels project.
Kyari said the linkage of the agricultural sector with the energy sector would facilitate economic growth and bring prosperity to the citizens.
He was quoted as saying, “We will go ahead and renew the Memorandum of Understanding and bring in any necessary amendment that is required to make this business run faster.”
The Kebbi State governor expressed appreciation to the NNPC for its cooperation on the biofuel project.
Bagudu said the cassava programme was well on course but the same could not be said of the sugarcane programme as the targeted milestone was yet to be attained.
Kebbi state is one of the states that the NNPC is in partnership with for the development of renewable energy.
Nigeria To Benefit As G-20 Approves Extension Of Debt Relief Till December
Finance ministers of G-20 countries have approved an extension of debt relief for the world’s poorest nations till December 2021.
David Malpass, World Bank president, made the announcement at the virtual spring meeting, on Wednesday.
TheCable had earlier reported that the G-20 countries will meet this week to consider an extension of the debt freeze.
The G-20, is a group of finance ministers and central bank governors from 19 of the world’s largest economies, including those of many developing nations, along with the European Union.
G-20 countries had established a debt service suspension initiative (DSSI) which took effect in May 2020.
Nigeria had benefited from the initiative which delivered about $5 billion in relief to more than 40 eligible countries.
The suspension period which was originally set to end on December 31, 2020 was extended to June 2021.
Malpass said the extension to December 2021 will boost economic recovery and promote job creation in low income countries.
He urged countries to be transparent in their approach to the debt service payment extension.
“On debt, we welcome a decision by the G20 to extend the DSSI through 2021. The World Bank is also working closely with the IMF to support the implementation of the G20 Common Framework,” he said.
“In both these debt efforts, greater transparency is an important element: I urge all G20 countries to disclose the terms of their financing contracts, including rescheduling, and to support the World Bank’s efforts to reconcile borrower’s debt data more fully with that of creditors.
“Participation by commercial creditors and fuller participation by official bilateral creditors will be vital. I urge all G20 countries to instruct and create incentives for all their public bilateral creditors to participate in debt relief efforts, including national policy banks. I also urge G20 countries to act decisively to incentivize the private creditors under their jurisdiction to participate fully in sovereign debt relief efforts for low-income countries.
“Debt relief efforts are providing some welcome fiscal space, but IDA countries need major new resources too, including grants and highly concessional resources. From April to December 2020, the first DSSI period, our net transfers to IDA and LDC countries were close to $17 billion, of which $5.8 billion were on grant terms.
“Our new commitments were almost $30 billion, making IDA19 the single largest source of concessional resources for the poorest countries and the key multilateral platform for support. To recover from COVID, much more is needed, and we welcome the G20’s support for advancing IDA20 by one year.”
IMF / Fiscal Monitor Report April 2021 Forecast
Unprecedented fiscal support by governments during the pandemic has prevented more severe economic contractions and larger job losses, but risks remain of long-term scarring the International Monetary Fund says in its Fiscal Monitor report released on Wednesday (April 7) in Washington, DC.
Meanwhile, such support, along with drops in revenues, has raised government deficits and debt to unprecedented levels across all country income groups, said Vitor Gaspar, Director of the Fiscal Affairs Department at the IMF.
“The first lesson one year into COVID-19 is that fiscal policy can act timely and decisively. The fiscal policy response was unprecedented in speed and size looking across countries. We also learned that countries with easier access to finance or stronger buffers were able to give more fiscal support. They’re also projected to recover faster,” said Gaspar.
Average overall deficits as a share of GDP in 2020 reached 11.7 percent for advanced economies, 9.8 percent for emerging market economies, and 5.5 percent for low-income developing countries. Countries’ ability to scale up spending has diverged.
“So, what have we learned? We’ve learned that fiscal policy is powerful and that sound public finances are crucial in order to enable that power to be used to the fullest,” stressed Gaspar.
Gaspar urged policy makers to balance the risks from large and growing public and private debt with the risks from premature withdrawal of fiscal support, which could slow the recovery.
“In the spring 2021, we emphasize differentiation across countries. Moreover, COVID-19 is fast evolving, as are the consequences from COVID-19. The fiscal policy must stay agile and flexible to respond to this fast-evolving situation.” Said Gaspar.
He also warned that the targeting of measures must be improved and tailored to countries’ administrative capacity so that fiscal support can be maintained for the duration of the crisis—considering an uncertain and uneven recovery
“Moreover, countries are very different in their structures, in their institutions, in their financial capacity and much else. Therefore, policies and policy advice have to be tailored to fit.” Said Gaspar
Gaspar concluded his remarks by emphasizing that global vaccination is urgently needed, and that global inoculation would pay for itself with stronger employment and economic activity, leading to increased tax revenues and sizable savings in fiscal support.
“A fair shot, a vaccination for everybody in the world may well be the highest return global investment ever. But the Fiscal Monitor also emphasizes the importance of giving a fair shot at life success for everyone. It documents that preexisting inequalities made COVID-19 worse and that COVID-19 in turn made inequalities worse. There is here a vicious cycle that threatens trust and social cohesion. Therefore, we recommend stronger redistributive policies and universal access to basic public services like health, education, and social security,” said Gaspar.
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