- Palm Oil: Producers Fault 9% Interest on Loans
Local palm oil producers in the country have reacted to the 9 percent interest rate charged by the Central Bank of Nigeria on Anchor Borrowers Scheme.
According to them, the interest rate was too high and may not spur growth in the sector as the central bank had expected.
The Central Bank had restricted importers of palm oil from accessing forex at the official rate and launched a low-cost loan through the Anchor Borrowers Programme and the Commercial Agro Credit Scheme to stimulate growth in the industry.
However, local palm oil producers were saying operating tree crops with four-year maturity on a 9 percent per annum interest-loan would be suicidal even with the two-year moratorium.
Henry Olatujoye, the National President, National Palm Produce Association of Nigeria, said the interest rate was too high.
He said, “If one obtains a minimum loan of N1bn at an interest rate of nine per cent, one would be paying N90m every year.
“It takes four years for oil palm tree to fruit. It then means that the person will pay N360m on interest alone by the time the fruits come out.”
Olatujoye later adviced government to adopt the Malaysian model in growing the palm oil subsector.
He said, “In Malaysia and other countries that are large producers, the government invests in oil palm plantations belonging to individuals and families.
“They fund the plantations, paying family members every year to plant the crop under a special arrangement.
“In other parts, the interest on loan for palm oil is two per cent or less.”
Dr Victor Iyama, the National President, Federation of All Commodities Association of Nigeria, supports Olatujoye position.
He explained that the nine percent interest rate could only work with crops with three to four months gestation period and not crops with four years minimum.
He, however, suggested that the interest rate should be reduced to four percent to stimulate growth and encourage participation.
He said, “Ideally, agriculture loan should not attract interest rate of more than two per cent. In Japan and China, agriculture loan attracts interest rate of less than two per cent.
“If the interest on ABP is nine per cent; at what point should the borrowers start paying? Unless the interest will mature in four years when the crops start yielding; if not, then it is not sustainable.
“Tree crops should have special rate of interest and should not be included in the category of other crops in the ABP. Maybe they should attract four per cent interest rate (which is even too high) because of the peculiar situation in Nigeria.”
Nigeria Will Have no Business With Fish Importation in the Next Two Years- FG
At the 35th annual conference of the Fisheries Society of Nigeria (FISON) held in Abuja on Monday, the minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mr Sabo Nanono, expressed plans of the federal government to initiate and implement programmes that are aimed towards diversification, especially in the agricultural sector.
The minister explained that the fishery sub-sector contributes about 4.5 percent to the National Gross Domestic Products, with an estimation of over 12 million Nigerians actively involved in fish farming and production.
He further said that despite this number, Nigeria produces 1.1 million tonnes of fishes annually, while there is a total demand of 3.6 million tonnes of fish and this puts Nigeria is at a deficit of 2.5 million tones. The shortage is supplemented through importation.
“Let me inform you that the vision of Mr President is to grow Nigeria’s agriculture sector to achieve a hunger-free nation, through agriculture that drives income growth, accelerate the achievement of food and nutritional security, generate employment and transform Nigeria into a leading player in the group of food and fish markets, and to create wealth for millions,” he said.
He also explains the ministry’s plans of diversification and development of various empowerment programmes that aid job creation.
“In line with the theme of this conference, the ministry has developed various programmes to increase domestic food/fish production and the main target is the empowerment of the youth and other groups especially the women,” he stated, adding: “All these programmes are tailored towards wealth and jobs creation, arrest and prevention of youth restiveness”.
He said the government has directed all fish importers to commence backward integration for local consumption and export to international markets, these are part of the measures of the ministry to generate employment and reduce importation of fish into the country.
In regards to this plans, Nanono said that the ministry is optimistic that Nigeria will have no business with fish importation in the next two years, considering that several companies have complied to the laid down policy.
Representing the Director of Federal Department of Fisheries, Mr Imeh Umoh, he stressed that the fishery is one of the value chains in the ministry and a force that drives wealth, job creation, contribute to food nutrition, poverty reduction and creation of diverse investment for Nigerians “especially during the economic recession which is occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic”.
Nanono said that considering the current economic situation due to the global health pandemic and the ongoing economic recovery programme, the contribution of the fisheries and aquaculture sub-sector of Nigeria will make a significant impact in terms of job creation, income generation, poverty alleviation, foreign exchange earnings and provision of raw materials.
Mr Adegoke Agbabiaka, President of FISON said that in the last decade the government has made a paradigm shift under the Agricultural Transformation Agenda and is now considering agriculture, including fisheries and aquaculture, as a business and this will aid to achieve self-sufficiency in fish production.
FG to Launch N15 Trillion Infrastructure Company Fund
The Federal Government is presently working on a collaboration between the Central Bank of Nigeria, the Nigerian Sovereign Wealth Investment Authority and other stakeholders to establish an Infrastructure Company Fund.
According to the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, the N15 trillion Infrastructure Company Fund will address some of the nation’s critical infrastructure needs.
Osinbajo, who represented President Muhammadu Buhari at the opening session of the 26th Nigerian Economic Summit Group Conference themed ‘Building partnerships for resilience’, said, in his virtual speech, on Monday that the Fund will be managed independently.
“The Infraco Fund will help to close the national infrastructural gap and provide a firm basis for increasing national economic productivity and growth,” the President explained.
Speaking on the rising inflation rate, he said to reduce the impact of inflation on Nigerians, the Federal Government, through the 2020 Finance Bill, has proposed to exempt minimum wage earners from paying Personal Income Tax.
He said, “We are proposing in the new Finance Act that those who earn minimum wage should be exempted from paying income tax.
“These provisions which complement the tax breaks given to small businesses last year will not only further stimulate the economy, but are also a fulfilment of promises made to take steps to help reduce the cost of transportation and the impact of inflation on ordinary Nigerians.”
The President added it was obvious that Nigeria must diversify from crude oil, speed up investment in infrastructure and improve human capital investment.
“Above all, our economy must be made more resilient to exogenous shocks,” he said.
Reps Kick Against N4 Billion Bailout Proposed For Aviation, Says Grossly Inadequate
The House of Representatives has kicked against the N4 billion bailout proposed by President Muhammadu Buhari led administration for the aviation industry following the damages done by COVID-19 to the sector.
The House Committee on Aviation on Monday said the sector needs around N50 billion to mitigate COVID-19 negative effect and described the N4 billion proposed as grossly inadequate.
Addressing journalists in Abuja, they said other nations have started providing bailouts to the aviation industry to cushion the effects of the pandemic and protect jobs.
The committee led by Nnolim Nnaji, explained that the just concluded public hearing on the amendment bills for the review of some aspects of the civil aviation Acts had brought to the fore ‘the impending crisis in the aviation industry which require urgent attention’.
Nnaji said, “As a parliament, we are going to look into these demands and, more especially, to find out why the Nigeria Customs Service would not respect the President’s Executive Order on duty exemption and other palliatives meant to lighten the burdens of the airlines.
“The multiple entries for foreign airlines is equally an important concern raised by the operators which must be looked into.
“The aviation sector requires huge capital for infrastructural development.
“The Federal Government’s N4bn bailout to the airlines and some palliatives to the agencies (not yet released) is too small. The airlines need at least N50bn bailout funds to cushion the coronavirus effect.
“We are requesting that other mechanisms should be introduced as a support to avert the collapse of the aviation sector.”
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