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COVID-19: Unstable electricity supply hampering treatments – Mamora

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COVID-19: Unstable electricity supply hampering treatments – Mamora

…As CBN releases framework for financing of mass metering***

The Ministry of Health has said that erratic electricity supply is hampering the nation’s Coronavirus (COVID-19) responses.

Sen Olorunnimbe Mamora, the Minister of State for Health, who stated this on Monday in Abuja at the joint briefing of the task force, explained that epileptic power supply had affected sensitive medical equipment resulting in the disruption of services.

According to Mamora, the COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the need for infrastructural development of the nation’s health system.

“The good thing is that government is determined to address the infrastructural needs of the health system.

“We are exploring opportunities that will guarantee regular and stable power in our hospitals.

“The ministry has met with the management of the Niger Delta Power Holdings Company (NDPHC), to discuss a partnership that will ensure regular power supply to the nation’s teaching hospitals and Federal Medical Centres.

“This partnership will not only ensure steady power supply but reduce the overhead cost of the hospitals with the savings expected from this initiative ploughed into other areas of need in the hospitals.”

The minister said that as at Monday, the country had recorded 61,440 confirmed cases from 578,841 persons tested for COVID, while 56,611 cases had been discharged.

“We have sadly lost 1,125 persons to the disease. We now have 3,704 active cases as more persons are treated and discharged with case fatality rate of 1.8 percent.

“While most of those infected are between the ages of 21 and 40, the fatalities are higher among older groups, especially those above 60 years with comorbidities. We advise people to take responsibility and protect the older ones among us,” he said.

Also read:  COVID-19 consumes 16 medical doctors in Nigeria – NMA

He said that the government had distributed medical equipment like ventilators and oxygen concentrators to all the federal tertiary hospitals and the states.

“Our experience with managing the pandemic showed that many of those who died could have been saved if they had access to services on time.

“During our intervention in Kano, ambulances were deployed to evacuate cases, especially critical conditions, to hospitals for treatment.

“The National Emergency Medical Services and Ambulance System (NEMSAS) is designed to provide Nigerians with prompt access to medical treatment when needed,” Mamora further explained.

The minister said he had met with the Corps Marshal of the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) to discuss a collaboration for the deployment of critical assets like ambulances, EMT Personnel and communication infrastructure for the Emergency Medical Treatment Programme.

According to him, the collaboration will also ensure that accident victims have access to emergency medical care in health facilities without having to wait for payment or deposit.

In another development, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has released its framework for National Mass Metering Programme (NMMP).

The framework was released by the Development Financing department of the apex bank through its official website on Monday.

It stated that introduction of the Service-Based Tariff (SBT) in the Nigeria Electricity Supply Industry (NESI) effective Sept. 1, had put increased emphasis on the need to close the metering gap in the NESI.

“Closing this gap will enhance efficiency of revenue collection by Distribution Companies (DisCos) and thereby facilitate meeting their obligations to other upstream market participants.

“According to analysis provided by Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission, the current metering gap in the NESI – based on recent customer enumeration data – is over 10 million.

“This comprises of unmetered customers as well as customers with obsolete meters that need to be replaced,’’ it stated.

CBN stated that the framework outlines the operational modalities of the CBN financing support to the DisCos (Downstream), and Local Meter Manufacturers (Upstream).

It added that key objectives of the NMMP included increasing Nigeria’s metering rate, elimination of arbitrary estimated billing, strengthening the local meter value chain by increasing local meter manufacturing, assembly and deployment capacity.

“It will support Nigeria’s economic recovery by creating jobs in the local meter value chain and reducing collection losses and increasing financial flows to achieve 100 per cent market remittance obligations of the DisCos.

“It will also improve network monitoring capability and availability of data for market administration and investment decision making,’’ it stated.

Economy

FG Threatens To Open Borders for Cement Importation Over Price Hike

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Palpable fear has gripped cement manufacturers following the Federal Government’s threat to throw open the nation’s borders for cement importation if the product manufacturers fail to bring down the cost.

The Minister of Housing and Urban Development, Mr Ahmed Dangiwa issued the threat on Tuesday in Abuja at a meeting with Cement and Building Materials Manufacturers.

The meeting was summoned to address the astronomical increase in the cost of cement nationwide.

The minister expressed concerns that in the past couple of months, the country had witnessed a recurring alarming increase in the prices of cement and other building materials.

“Clearly, this is a crisis for housing delivery. An increase in essential building materials means an increase in the prices of houses.

“We are not the only country facing this challenges, many countries are facing the same type of challenges that we’re facing, some even worse than that.

“But, as patriotic citizens, we have to rally round the country when there is crisis, to ensure that we do our best to save the situation,” he said.

The minister added: “Honestly speaking, we have to sit down and look at this critically and know how you should go back and think of it.

“The government stopped importation of cement in other to empower you to produce more and sell cheaper

Bags of cement

“Otherwise the government can open the borders for mass importation of cement, the price will crash, but you will have no business to do”.

Dangiwa said the reasons given by cement manufacturers for the price increase – high cost of gas and manufacturing equipment – were not enough for such astronomical pricing.

He expressed his displeasure at the position of  Cement Manufacturer Association of Nigeria (CEMAN) that the association “does not interfer with the pricing of cement”.

He said the association should not just fold  its arms when things were going wrong.

“One person cannot be selling at N3500 per bag and another selling at N7000 per bag and you cannot call them to order.

“The association is expected to monitor price control, otherwise the association has no need to exist,” he said.

Earlier, Mr Salako James, Executive Secretary, CEMAN, said the housing policy of the administration of President Bola  Tinubu was laudable and every responsible Nigerian has to key into it.

He, however, identified some areas of concern and appealed to the government to look into them to tackle the issue of cement pricing.

Salako identified the challenges of gas supply to heavy users like the cement industry and urged the government to create a window whereby gas will be bought with Naira instead of dollar.

He also complained about the distribution channel, stressing tha there was a great difference between the price from the manufacturers and the market price.

He, therefore called for government intervention to help stabilise the situation and bring sanity to the economy.

At the end of the meeting, the minister directed that a committee should be constituted to review the situation and come out with implementable resolutions that would benefit the common Nigerian.

The three major cement producers, Dangote Plc, BUA Plc, and Lafarge Plc were represented as well as other industry stakeholders.

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Economy

Cement Price Can Be Lower Than FG, Manufacturers’ Projection — Association 

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…Warns that high price could lead to corner-cutting and building collapse

The National Association of Block Moulders of Nigeria (NABMON) says the agreement between the Federal Government and three major cement manufacturers that a 50kg bag of cement, for now, is not supposed to sell for more than N7,000 to N8,000 is faulty.

The National President, Mr Adesegun Banjoko, said this on Tuesday in Lagos.

Recall that the parties, at a meeting on Monday, said that the ideal price of  a 50kg bag of cement for now should be between ₦7,000.00 and ₦8,000.00 depending on location.

They agreed that the current higher prices of cement in parts of the country were abnormal.

The main manufacturers of cement in the country are Dangote Plc, BUA Plc and Lafarge Plc.

According to Banjoko, there is no reason for the price of cement to be sold even at the projected prices, since limestone, which is a key ingredient, is readily available in Nigeria.

He expressed fears that the high price would lead to corner-cutting and building collapse.

The NABMON president expressed the belief that the government and manufacturers could do better and offer lower prices.

Bags of cements

He suggested a reduction or elimination of customs duties on other imported materials used in cement production, adding that this would incentivise manufacturers to lower their prices.

He, therefore, proposed a target price of ₦3,500 to ₦5,000 per bag.

Banjoko said, “There are three issues that make me disagree with the government and the main manufacturers.

“First, limestone is sourced in Nigeria; agreed they have some few other materials they bring in from abroad.

“But if the government is really concerned about life and property lost to building collapse, they should either remove custom duties on such items or reduce them by half to encourage the manufacturers to come down to between N3, 500 and N5, 000.”

He also advised the government to temporarily halt road construction projects that use cement.

Banjoko said that this would free up available cement for vital projects and potentially reduce demand, leading to lower prices.

The NABMON president warned that the high price of cement had added to the existing tensions in the country.

He urged the government to act cautiously with essential commodities like cement, emphasising its impact on public well-being.

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Economy

NGX: Bullish Sentiment Persists, Investors Gain N329bn

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Stock Market Gains N18bn; FTN Cocoa Processors, Prestige Assurance lead Losers’ Chart 

…Unilever Nigeria Plc, Julius Berger lead Losers’ table 

Bullish sentiment persisted on Thursday at the Nigerian Exchange Ltd. (NGX) equity market, as the market indices rose by 0.58 percent.

Specifically, investors gained N329 billion or 0.58 percent, as the market capitalisation closed at N56.961 trillion, as against N56.632 trillion recorded on Wednesday.

The All-Share Index also appreciated by 0.58 percent or 601.72 points to settle at 104,100, compared to 103,498.28 posted in the previous session.

As a result, the Year-To-Date (YTD) return rose to 39.22 percent.

Continuous buy interests in the shares of BUA Cement, BUAFoods, and Geregu kept the market in the positive terrain.

A total of 284.49 million shares valued at N6.91 billion were exchanged in 8,168 deals, as against 426.86 million shares valued at N12.11 billion exchanged in 8,654 deals.

However, analysis of the market activities showed trade turnover settled lower relative to the previous session, with the value of transactions down by 42.89 percent.

Guaranty Trust Holding Company(GTCO) led the activity table in volume and value with the trade of 56.61 million shares worth N2.22 billion.

Transcorp followed with 33.17 million shares valued at N418.31 million, while United Bank of Africa(UBA) traded 18.38 million shares worth N442.96 million.

Also, Mutual Benefits Assurance sold 16.76 shares valued at N11.48 million and AXA Mansard traded 12.51 million shares worth N75.57 million.

On the gainers’ table, University Press Ltd.(UPL) led in percentage terms of 9.96 percent to close at N2.87, followed by Juli Plc by 9.84 percent to close at N1.34 per share.

Mutual Benefits gained 9.38 percent to close at 70k, Daar Communications rose by 8.82 percent to close at 74k, while Honeywell Flour garnered 7.50 percent to close at N4.30 per share.

Stock Market Gains N18bn; FTN Cocoa Processors, Prestige Assurance lead Losers’ Chart 

Conversely, Unilever Nigeria Plc led the losers’ table by 9.80 percent to close at N16.10, Julius Berger lost 9.64 percent to close at N50.60, while Morison Industries Plc shed 9.60 percent to close at N2.23 per share.

May & Baker Nigeria Plc depreciated by 6.52 percent to close at N6.45 and National Salt Company of Nigeria (NASCON) dropped 5.37 percent to close at N59.04 per share.

Market breadth closed negative with 26 declining stocks outnumbering 23 advancing ones.

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