The difficulties in getting foreign exchange and the steep fall in the value of the naira are seriously affecting the manufacturing sector, with prices of locally made and imported food items heading northward, IFE ADEDAPO writes
The scarcity of foreign currencies in the country, especially the dollar, which has made it difficult for manufacturers of essential food items to import raw materials into the country, is threatening about 40,000 jobs.
Investigations by our correspondent showed that the high cost of importation due to unprecedented fall in the value of the naira has made importation difficult and expensive, thereby resulting in many factories operating far below their installed capacities.
It was also gathered that as a result of the currency crisis, the prices of essential food items were gradually rising as a direct consequence of the high cost of production and the imported substitutes becoming more expensive.
On January 11, the central bank stopped the sale of foreign currencies to Bureaux de Change operators as part of measures to reduce the pressure on the nation’s foreign reserves.
Since the announcement was made, the value of naira, which was 283 against the dollar at that time, has been depreciating.
Speaking with our correspondent on the effects of the falling currency on food manufacturers, the Executive Secretary, Association of Food, Beverage and Tobacco Employers, Mr. Aderemi Adegboyega, lamented that hundreds of jobs out of the 40,000 workforce in the sector had been lost already and that those still in employment were hanging on by the thread.
He said the business was no longer profitable and firms in the sector were shutting down because they could not afford to pay the salaries of workers, while producing very little.
“We need forex to buy raw materials as a lot of our companies are producing below capacity, which is a big problem. As we are not manufacturing, it means that some of our employees are going to lose their jobs. In our industry alone, we have about 40,000 jobs, and if care is not taken, there will be a lot of loss in terms of the jobs,” Adegboyega warned.
While analysing the precarious situation in the manufacturing and trade sectors, the Director-General, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Mr. Muda Yusuf, said many organisations were becoming insolvent due to accumulated debts owed foreign suppliers.
Yusuf stated, “Many have slowed down their operations because of lack of forex, and many companies are not able to pay their suppliers abroad; for those who took goods on credit, the situation has created a major credibility problem for them. And because of that, some of them have lost their credit lines.
“Many foreign airlines operating in the country cannot remit proceeds to their home countries. For those who are buying and selling; if they get the money to buy, how are they going to sell? It is a very serious situation.”
Meanwhile, both local and imported food items have become expensive due to the scarcity of dollars and the restrictions placed by the CBN on importers of certain food items from assessing foreign exchange from the official source.
Investigations by our correspondent showed that the prices of packaged water, bread, imported brands of vegetable oil, rice, fish as well as ingredients for making confectioneries had been on a steady rise since the restriction of forex sale was announced in June 2015.
Food retailers at the Ipodo Market, Ikeja, Lagos State, told our correspondent that a carton of ‘Titus’ frozen fish, which sold for N9,000 in June last year, had increased by 33 per cent to N12,000 six months after.
One of the traders, Mrs. Folashade Dasaolu, explained that the price of a carton of croaker fish, being imported from Turkey, had increased by 14 per cent from N14,000 three months ago to N16,000 presently.
“We don’t get as much quantity from our suppliers as we would like to because they have limited stock,” she added.
For imported vegetable oil, the owner of Okikiola Ventures in the same market, Mrs. Abiodun Adefolami, said that a 25-litre container of the product imported from Malaysia was now selling for N8,200 instead of the previous N6,200.
The price of a 50kg bag of rice started a steady ascent from N8,700 in August last year to peak at N10,000 in the middle of November.
Statistics obtained from Novus Agro Nigeria Commodity Index showed that the price of the product started declining when the CBN lifted the ban on rice as part of the items restricted from the official forex market.
The CBN on June 23, 2015 officially stopped the sale of dollars to the importers of 41 items, in its quest to reduce the pressure on the naira as well as preserve the country’s external reserves.
The essential food items included on the list are rice, margarine, palm kernel/palm oil/vegetable oil, meat and processed meat products, vegetable and processed vegetable products, poultry products like chicken, eggs, turkey, and tinned fish in sauce.
A bag of sachet water, which sold for N100 in Lagos in January, now sells for N150, with the manufacturers blaming the high cost of packaging materials for the price increase.
It was gathered that the rise in the price of flour from N6,500 to N7,900 for a 50kg bag; imported fat from N4,500 to N5,200; and sugar from N7,000 to N8,600 per 50kg bag, had made bakers in Lagos to increase the price of a loaf of sliced bread to N250 as against N200 previously.
However, the Chairman, Association of Master Bakers and Caterers of Nigeria, Lagos chapter, Jacob Adejorin, said despite the rise in cost of raw materials, the price of the popular ‘Agege’ brand of bread had not changed.
Adegboyega explained that some of the manufacturers had embraced the backward integration policy as directed by the Federal Government, but that it would take some time before the expected impact could be felt.
Citing examples of companies that had started backward integration, he said, “Flour Mills of Nigeria Plc has a farm that is called Suntil, where it is growing sugarcane and it will eventually be producing sugar. UAC Foods has farms somewhere where it is rearing chicken. Chi Foods also has farms where it is producing concentrates, but the fact is that all these are not enough for their production capacities.”
According to him, FrieslandCampina WAMCO has gone into partnership with herdsmen in Plateau and other states to train them on the type of cow that will produce the quality of milk the company requires and is offering them financial support.
Npower News: Npower Stipend News, Npower News on Permanency
Npower News on Permanency and Payment of Allowances
The N-power Youths Congress has made passionate plead to President Muhammadu Buhari to fulfill the campaign promise he made to the 500,000 Npower Batches A and B beneficiaries.
The group led by its national coordinator, Comrade Joseph Enam Magar, to the NUJ Press Center Maiduguri demanded the payment of all outstanding allowances of N30,000 for exited Batch A and Batch B from June 2016 and July 2019, respectively.
Maga said “We are hereby once again reminding the government of their promises to us and that we will never relent until federal government fulfils it’s promises. The State Representatives of Npower Beneficiaries have earlier stated our demands on the previous Press Conference and here we are reinstating the demands again.
“The Batches A and B of N-power Beneficiaries who according to the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management were disengaged since the month of June and July respectively are not happy for being sent back to the streets.
“We were struggling in different spheres of life to make a living. We were meant to quit the things we were doing before to embrace Npower with the promise of being absolved into the Federal Government scheme at the end of the day.
“We were made to serve our fatherland with a token of 30,000. Most of us have families with children, paying of school fees, electricity bills, pipe borne water, transportation, feeding and other miscellaneous expenses on the grace of 30,000.
“How much is a bag of rice, ground nut oil, etc if I may ask? Some of us have siblings and sick parents whose hopes are attached to the same 30,000.
“To worsen it all, the same 30,000 will not be paid as at when due. Funny enough, our government under the control of Sadiya Farouk, the Ministers of Humanitarian affairs and disaster management want us to save from the 30,000.
“This is an amount that is not up to one quarter percent of what they give to their children for shopping; an amount that does not reach what their children put on as cloths and jewelries on daily basis.”
Speaking further he said,” in addition, we can recall that before the 2019 Presidential Election, we were made to understand by Mr. Afolabi that our voter’s cards determine our permanency. “
“We mobilized ourselves, came out in mass to support this government. We spent our money going to Abuja for the campaign so as to ensure that President Muhammad Buhari regains his office as the president of Nigeria. Npower beneficiaries in various states and Local Governments were equally forced by their focal persons to come out in mass during APC campaign.
“So many states even took attendance and beneficiaries that didn’t show up were penalized. All these were geared towards ensuring that Mr. President, President Muhammadu Buhari excel as the president so that the promises of absorption that was made through Mr. Afolabi will be fulfilled.
“But at the end, our hopes were truncated as we have been pushed back to the streets without absorption or an exit package.”
MTN Nigeria Picks Karl Toriola as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Designate
MTN Nigeria, Africa’s leading telecommunications company, has appointed Mr. Karl Toriola as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) designate.
In a statement released on the Nigerian Stock Exchange’s website, the company said the appointment is effective from the 1st of March 2021 to give enough time for an orderly handover.
According to the company, Mr. Toriola is presently the Vice President of West and Central Africa (WECA), excluding Nigeria and Ghana, since 2016.
The statement reads “During his tenure, the WECA markets have made significant commercial and strategic strides. These include the improvement of market shares within the region and the development of mobile financial services.
“Since joining the Group in 2006, Mr. Toriola has also held a number of senior operational roles including Chief Technical Officer of MTN Nigeria, CEO of MTN Cameroon and MTN Group Operations Executive. Mr. Toriola has at various times in his career in MTN Group, had oversight responsibility of 16 of the Group subsidiaries and serves on various MTN boards, including MTN Nigeria.
“Mr. Toriola obtained a Bachelor of Science in Electronic and Electrical Engineering from the University of Ife, a Master of Science degree in Communication Systems from the University of Wales, and attended the General Management Program at Harvard Business School. In addition, he has attended several executive development courses at various institutions including Wharton Business School, Institute of Management Development and London Business School.”
NESBITT Acquires Peugeot Nigeria, Plans to Invest $150m in the Company
NESBITT to Invest $150 Million in Peugeot Nigeria
Peugeot Automobile Nigeria (PAN) has been acquired by the NESBITT Investment Nigeria, according to the statement from NESBITT.
The new owner planned to invest $150 million into the company in the next three years to revamp the automobile company.
It said the $150 million would help retool and upgrade PAN’s assembly line and boost working capital.
Speaking on the acquisition, Ahmed Wadada-Aliyu, the new chairman of PAN, said the automobile manufacturer would be introducing new brands into the market to establish brand affordability in Nigeria.
“PAN under the supervision of the board shall undergo massive restructuring, and in so doing, we shall observe strict governance protocols, transparency, business integrity, efficiency and ethics in our undertakings,” he said.
“In 2019, Nigeria imported at least 400,000 used cars as against 68,000 brand new vehicles. Because of this imbalance, PAN will be introducing new brands of vehicles into the market to re-launch brand affordability in Nigeria such that Nigerians will have access to brand new vehicles.”
“Our biggest concern is the over 50 assembly plants that have not made any matching investments but are enjoying the incentives of the auto policy.”
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