- Lagos Welcomes Market Expansion Through Intra-African Trade
The Lagos State Government has urged African leaders to leverage the opportunities of the African Continental Free Trade Area agreement in order to create a single market for businesses operating on the continent to flourish.
The Director-General, Nigerian Office for Trade Negotiations, Ambassador Chiedu Osakwe, who stated this, noted that it would facilitate market expansion, ease of doing business and ensure that Lagos would become an African economic hub.
Osakwe spoke at a recent stakeholders’ forum on the AfCTA organised by the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry. He stressed that AfCTA would emerge as the largest trade bloc in the global economy by number since the coming into force of the World Trade Organisation, encompassing 1.2 billion Africans and Gross Domestic Product of $2.5tn in 2018.
He added that the first stage of the agreement would ensure the creation of a single market, progressively reducing restrictions on trade in goods and services.
This, he said, was based on the agreed modalities of a 90 per cent level of ambition, a 10 per cent exclusion and sensitive list, and identified priority sectors for trade in services.
Osakwe said further that the trade pact would function as a rules-based system for the governance of intra-African trade, with a balance of rights and obligations.
He said, “The AfCTA is an original treaty-based system for structural change in doing business and modernising the African economy. Opportunities for businesses, investors and industry shall be accompanied by challenges and adjustment pressure. Already, AfCTA has forced a debate on its pros and cons and pressure for adjustment and change.
“Net gains shall accrue to state parties with an intelligent, non-ideological negotiating expertise that strikes a strategic balance between offensive market ambitions in Africa, on the one hand, and appropriate rules-based safeguards, on the other; accompanied by constant competitive adjustments in trade-related domestic complementary policies; with an effective monitoring, coordination and implementation mechanism.”
Despite the perceived gains, AfCTA has been rejected by stakeholders in the manufacturing sector of the Nigerian economy.
But the President, Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, Dr. Frank Jacobs, said that the country was not competitively ready to enter into the pact.
He expressed concerns that if Nigeria should throw open her market, other products from countries made under conducive conditions and whose makers were aided by access to cheap funds would flood the market and crowd out the local manufacturers.
The manufacturing environment in Nigeria is bedevilled with challenges of power, road infrastructure and lack of access to funding.
As a result, the cost of producing in this environment is predominantly high and this is transferred to the product prices, which are most times more expensive than their imported counterparts.
The Executive Secretary and Chief Executive Officer, New Partnership for Africa’s Development Business Group, Dosumu Oluwole, echoed these fears when he told Osakwe that the challenges in the Nigerian business environment impacted greatly on the cost of manufactured goods and the competiveness of manufacturers.
He said that there was a need for the challenges to be addressed before the country could sign the agreement.
President Muhammadu Buhari had earlier cancelled his trip to Kigali, Rwanda for the signing of the agreement in March 21, citing the need to discuss further with industry stakeholders.
The President, LCCI, Mr. Babatunde Ruwase, observed that Nigeria and South Africa, two of the largest economies in Africa were yet to sign the pact.
Lagos Lowers Land Use Charges, Waives N5.75bn in Penal Fees
Lagos Reduces Land Use Charges to Pre-2018 Fees
In a bid to ease economic burden and support growth across Lagos State, the commercial hub of Nigeria, the state government has reduced land use charges and other penal fees.
Dr. Rabiu Olowo, the Commissioner for Finance, disclosed this on Wednesday in a statement titled ‘Speech delivered by the honourable commissioner for finance at a press briefing on the 2020 new land use charge law.’
Lagos State Government said land use charges and other fees are revised down to pre-2018, adding that the state will henceforth uphold the 2018 method of valuation.
Accordingly, the state waived the penal fees for 2017, 2018 and 2019. Translating to N5.75 billion in potential revenue.
“In addition to this, there is also a 48 per cent reduction in the annual charge rates,” Olowo stated.
He further stated that owner-occupied residential property was lowered from 0.076 per cent to 0.0394 per cent; industrial premises of manufacturing concerns, from 0.256 per cent to 0.132 per cent; and residential property/private school (owner and third party, from 0.256 per cent to 0.132 per cent.
Olowo added that commercial property — used by the occupier for business purposes — was reduced from 0.76 per cent to 0.394 per cent; and vacant properties and open empty land, from 0.076 per cent to 0.0394 per cent.
While the annual charge rate for agricultural land was revised down by 87 per cent from 0.076 per cent to 0.01 per cent.
FG Spends N2.37 Trillion on Petrol Importation in 13 Months, Says NNPC
NNPC Sells 950.67m Litres of Petrol In May
The Federal Government imported petrol valued at N2.37 trillion into the country in thirteen months, according to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
On Wednesday, the corporation said revenue from the sales of white products stood at N2.39 trillion between May 2019 and May 2020.
It, therefore, stated that petrol contributed about 98.84 percent or N2.37 trillion of the total sales generated during the period.
In May, the corporation said it realised N92.58 billion from the sale of petrol. NNPC said the product was sold through its subsidiary, the Petroleum Products Marketing Company (PPMC).
According to the May 2020 version of the corporation’s Monthly Financial and Operations Report quoted by Kennie Obateru, the Group General Manager, Public Affairs Division, NNPC, 950.67 million litres of white products (only petrol) was sold by PPMC in the month.
This, he said “comprised 950.67 million litres of Premium Motor Spirit, popularly called petrol, only, with no Automotive Gas Oil or Dual Purpose Kerosene.”
“There was also no sale of special product in the month.”
Nigeria continues to depend on importation for its petrol supplies due to local dilapidated refineries that have failed to operate at optimal level despite billions of dollars budgeted for maintenance yearly.
Experts have said petrol importation is one of the main reasons the nation’s foreign reserves continues to struggle, especially at a period when oil prices are trading at a record low with broadly low demand for the commodity.
Nigeria’s foreign reserves is presently hovering around $36 billion, down from its record high of $45 billion attained in June 2019. The decline has also impacted the ability of the Central Bank of Nigeria to support the Nigerian Naira.
The Naira has been devalued by 15 per cent in the last four months and was recently adjusted from N361 a US dollar to N381 per US dollar on the Investors and Exporters forex window to ease the pressure on the reserves.
Amaechi Urges National Assembly to be Careful Probing Chinese Loans
Amaechi Says China is Becoming a Bit Apprehensive About Giving Money to Nigeria
The Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Amaechi, on Tuesday said he specifically urged the National Assembly to be careful about the ongoing probe of Chinese loan agreements.
The minister who appeared in a live television programme with the Minister of Justice/Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, said China is becoming a bit apprehensive about releasing additional loans to the country.
He said, “You know, I specifically urged the National Assembly to please be careful about this probe on the loan agreements. It is because we are trying to make an application for the Port Harcourt Maiduguri rail.
“If nothing else is happening, you know that our brothers are already saying that we don’t want to do any rail project in the South-East.”
He added, “Now that we are planning to say that they should give us some loan for us to construct Port Harcourt to Maiduguri, and we are about to go to cabinet for approval, you are now shouting these terms are bad, Chinese people are wicked.
“How will they give you the money? I have documents to the effect that we are getting signals that they are becoming a bit apprehensive on whether we are doing this because we don’t want to pay them back.”
Amaechi said the nation must learn to pay back procured loans, saying the $500 million loan obtained for the Abuja-Kaduna railway was presently being serviced.
He said, “Nobody has signed out anything. A sovereign nation is a sovereign nation; nobody can recolonise us. We must learn to pay our debts and we are paying, and once you are paying, nobody will come and take any of your assets.”
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