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Nigeria’s debts rise to N32.9 trillion




Rising crude oil price good for Nigeria – Finance Minister
By Abdullahi Mohammed, Abuja
The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, said the rising price of crude oil is a good omen for Nigeria.

The minister said this while addressing State House correspondents on the state of the economy under President Muhammadu Buhari Thursday in Abuja.  She said gaining more revenue form the sale of crude would yield more revenue for government as well as reduce the country’s rate of borrowing.“The more revenue we realize out of the budget, the less we borrow.

As we see the oil price rising and provides us more revenue, it provides us some reliefs. We will be able to reduce our borrowing so, it is a positive thing for us,” she said.

She also assured Nigerians that government has already made provision for COVID-19 vaccines in the 2021 budget.“We have a position in the 2021 budget for immunization. We are already releasing money to the health authority to start operation in the first batch of vaccines that is going to arrive the country in one week.

“But what we have in the budget is not enough, so we are working with the health authorities to provide a plan that will be taken to the President for approval and to be taken to the National Assembly as a supplementary budget specifically for COVID -19 vaccination,” she said.The minister said there would be a supplementary budget for the 2021 national budget.

“There will be a supplementary budget, the first one will be in March relating the COVID-19 pandemic but we will also have a mid-year review like we did last year of the budget and if at the time we do the review and there is a need to go back to do any amendment for supplementary budget, at that time we will take that decision, if not, we will just report the review,” she said.

Commenting on the support facility Nigeria got form the World Bank and other International financial institutions, the minister said: “We closed 2020 by being able to realize $3.4billion from IMF, $600million from AfDB. We were not able to conclude our negotiation with the World Bank and also with the Islamic Development Bank. Even with Islamic Development Bank, we signed for the last tranches but for the World Bank, we started negotiation with the World Bank with the list of about 10 requirements that we needed to address and we had addressed those 10 requirements but, the World Bank position is that we have not sufficiently addressed the requirements relating to having a single exchange rate.

“Their view is that despite the fact that we have adjusted the official exchange rate from N305 to N360 and we further on moved to I&E or the Nafex window, and as we speak, federal government inflows and outflows are monetized at the Nafex window rate. So, we feel we have met that requirement by the World Bank is saying that we have to close that gap between the black market and Nafex window.

“Our point is that is not what you do over night. It’s not that you wake up and make a pronouncement and that happens. It’s something that you have to do over time taking several measures and working systematically for it to happen.“So, we are still pushing our view with the World Bank and we hope to convince them that this also requirement has been met and that they should now give us approval to go ahead and release the $1.5billion that we have been discussing with the World Bank. But having said that, the World Bank during 2020 has also given us approval for a number of facilities. One of them is the $500million for metering system for the Distribution network, $750 million for the power sector recovery programme and several other facilities that we have on table with the World Bank that were approved during the course of the year 2020.”While justifying Nigeria’s rate of borrowing, the minister said the country’s proportion of borrowing is not misplaced because its to develop infrastructure not to be left behind.

“There is a lot sensitivity in Nigeria about the level of borrowing by the government and it is not misplaced. And I said earlier that the level of borrowing is not unreasonable, it is not high. The problem we have is that of revenue.“So, what we need to do is to increase revenue to be able to enhance our debt to GDP obligation capacity. If we say we will not borrow and therefore not build rials and major infrastructure until our revenue rises enough, then, we will regress as a country. We will be left behind; we won’t be able to improve our business environment and our economy will not grow.

“So, it is a decision that every government has to take. Our assessment is that we need to borrow to build our major infrastructure. We just need to make sure that when we borrow, we are applying the borrowing to specific major infrastructure that will enhance the business environment in this country.“Again, we all have to work not just the federal government but state governments to increase our revenue to enhance our debt service obligations. We also have to make sure that when we are choosing the projects, we are choosing carefully the ones that will enhance business environment so that more revenue yields come into the treasuries of the country,” she said.She said Nigeria’s total borrowing as of December 31, 2020, stood at N32.9 trillion, representing 21.6 percent of the GDP. 

She said as of 2019, the debt to GDP ratio was 19.2 percent, stressing that only two percent was added.


Economy / Business

Consumer Protection Council orders closure of restaurants, bakeries, water companies




Ahmad Tijjani Abdul, Kano

Amidst growing health concern, the Kano State Consumer Protection Council, KCPC on Friday ordered immediate closure of all restaurants, bakery homes, sachet water producing companies and other food processing companies without health certificate.

A statement by Musbahu Aminu Yakasai,
Information Officer KSCPC explained that
the Acting Managing Director of the Council, Hon. Dr. Baffa Babba Dan’agundi gave the directive on Friday afternoon after expiration of a two week-grace issued to all concerned.

Musbahu Aminu Yakasai said that the order became pertinent in-view of a recent discovery of Hepatitis-B and other dangerous communicable diseases among patients working at such restaurants.

Consequently, a matching order has been given to officials to clampdown and shut down such premises that are not certified fit by the State Health Ministry.

This is to further safeguard the lives and health of the people of the state against contracting diseases as a result of patronizing such business premises.

The Consumer Protection Council had last Thursday sealed one restaurant and one suya spot in the metropolis as a result of their staff testing positive to Hepatitis B.

The affected restaurants are Down Town which is located at Bompai road opposite Central Hotel and Alkhairi Siya Spot located at Maiduguri Road in Kano city.

One affected person was identified at Downtown and six persons at Alkhairi Suya spot after a test conducted at the hospital showed positive results.

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Economy / Business

Dangote Sugar denies involvement in price fixing, asserts its strong participation in the NSMP




Dangote Sugar Refinery PLC (DSR) is aware of an online publication claiming that Dangote Sugar Refinery PLC is engaging in price-fixing and is not honestly engaged in any Backward Integration Programme as claimed.

DSR wishes to vehemently refute the allegations and assertions in their entirety as the false allegations are geared at tarnishing the good name and brand of Dangote Sugar Refinery Plc and Dangote Industries Limited.

“DSR does not engage in artificial price manipulation of its products, either during the Holy month of Ramadan or at any other time. We have never ever increased price of our food items or commodities during the Holy month of Ramadan in the history of our operations” according to the Group Managing Director, Mr. Ravindra Singhvi.

He also added that the Company is socially responsible and considers price-fixing to be unethical. Such allegation is highly mischievous and a calculated attempt to smear the reputation of DSR. DSR can only sadly conclude that the online publication is mischievous and geared at creating some form of undue advantage to some Industry players, he said.

He said that the company began its Backward Integration Programme (BIP) with a 10-year sugar development plan, to produce 1.5 million MT per annum of sugar from locally grown sugarcane. The Project commenced with acquisition of large expanse of land in strategic locations such as Taraba State, Adamawa State and Nasarawa State. To this end, three (3) BIP sugar companies; Dangote Taraba Sugar Limited, Dangote Adamawa Sugar Limited, Nasarawa Sugar Company Limited were incorporated.

The Company had commenced rehabilitation and expansion of its Sugar Factory at Numan. Sugarcane planting has also commenced in the two other BIP locations.

DSR has a responsibility to the Government, the good people of Nigeria and the Sugar Industry and all other stakeholders to protect the integrity of the Sugar industry and wishes to assure its stakeholders as follows: It will do all that is necessary to vehemently protect the integrity of the Sugar Industry, it is not engaged in price fixing and it encourages healthy competition amongst the players.

DSR highlighted a matter (BUA’s operation of a Sugar refinery in the Free Trade Zone in Port Harcourt, exporting refined sugar into the Custom territory) which may circumvent the National Sugar Master Plan’s (NSMP) framework and jeopardize its objectives by taking advantage of the location of its Port-Harcourt Refinery in the Free Trade Zone. DSR made this notification to the Hon. Minister of Industry, Trade & Investments bona fide, via its letter to the Minister dated January 28, 2021 asking the Minister to investigate the matter.

We believe our action is in line with our responsibility as a major stakeholder to alert the supervising Ministry on activities that would derail the plan of the Federal Government in its drive to self -sufficiency in Sugar under the NSMP.

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Economy / Business

Gateway trade fair: Dangote ready to boost agric through strategic investments




Hits Ogun Trade Fair for business partnerships

The Pan-African Conglomerate, Dangote Industries Limited has reiterated its commitment towards partnering various tiers of Governments in the country, in building sustainable and inclusive economy for the benefit all Nigerians.

This is just as the company announced its partnership with the Ogun State Chamber of Commerce and Industry (OGUNCCIMA) for the 10th Gateway International Trade Fair 2021, themed “Remodeling Agriculture, Commerce and Trade beyond Nigerian Borders with Modern Technology” and holding in Abeokuta between April 2 and 12, 2021.

Group Chief Branding and Communication, Mr. Anthny Chiejina in a statement announcing the Company’s participation at this year’s Gateway Trade fair said the the group has concluded plans to scale up investments in the agricultural sector, in response to the on-going public policy focus of federal government.

He hinted that as part of the Company’s support to the development of agriculture sector, the 3 million ton per annum Fertilizer Plant it is currently constructing at Ibeju Lekki, Lagos will be commissioned soon to boos agricultural activities in the country.

Chiejina explained that all the subsidiaries of the company would be at the trade fair and urged members of the public to take advantage of this year’s fair to strike partnership with the Group for business opportunities.

According to him “the Group has also kick-started the development of six Large Scale Rice Milling Plants in six states namely Kano, Jigawa, Zamfara, Niger, Kebbi, and Sokoto, with a combined total milling capacity of 1.5 million per annum.

He said Dangote`s growing investment in the agricultural sector, is to complement the existing and continuing investments being made in other sectors, such as: Cement, Salt and other consumer products.

“We are also significantly involved in the Oil and Gas sector, with an on-going construction of one of the World`s Largest Petroleum Refinery. This will not only put an end to the embarrassing importation of products into our crude oil rich country but will also significantly boost our intra-African trade position.”

He commended Federal Government’s policy, as efforts to bring Nigeria back on track, adding that such policy initiatives are necessary, if the nation is to attain sustainable economic development and poverty alleviation.

“We must also commend the leadership of OGUNCCIMA for the very apt theme of this year’s edition of the Fair: “Remodeling Agriculture, Commerce and Trade beyond Nigerian Borders with Modern Technology”.

“Clearly, given the current focus of both the Federal Government and Ogun state and indeed most other states in the country on the Agricultural Sector as the only incontestable route for the revival and sustained growth of the Nigerian Economy, there can be no more pertinent subject matter to which we should direct the attention of all the participants at this Fair.

“This is especially so in Ogun which had in the past been recognized as the leading Agro-Industrial hub not only in Nigeria, but indeed for the entire Southern sahara of Africa.

“President Buhari’s insistence that we cannot expect to achieve development and modernization until we create the capacity to produce what we consume. It is only by developing our agriculture along its various value chains that we can ensure sustainable, inclusive economic growth that create jobs for the teeming youthful population.”

It would be recalled that the President of OGUNCIMA, Alhaji Wasiu Olaleye had while briefing the newsmen on the fair had named Dangote Group as one of the leading sponsors which have announced that it would hit the fair in grand style with the array of its products at reasonable prices.

He said the Fair would serve as a catalyst for the economic growth and development of Ogun State in particular and Nigeria in general which will unleash our strong development and innovative potential.

“The Fair is an lnternational event that will attract over two hundred people from within Ogun State, Nigeria, lnternational participants/Exhibitors from around the world. Also top Government Officials, Businessmen, Researchers, lnvestors, all Local Governments councils, representatives of the Organized Private Sector and indeed the general public will be in attendance”, he stated.

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