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Economy

Hurricane: Finance, Budget Ministers, CBN, FIRS Brainstorm On High Cost Of Living

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…As Police ruminate on Cost of Security

The Minister of Finance, Mr Wale Edun, and the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Atiku Bagudu, have assured Nigerians that the high cost of living being witnessed by Nigerians is currently being addressed.

Mr Olayemi Cardoso, the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), and Mr Zacch Adedeji, Chairman, Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), joined the ministers to allay the fear of Nigerians about the current inflation.

They all spoke when they appeared at the sectoral debate organised by the House of Representatives for the finance sector and stakeholders on the current cost of living at Plenary in Abuja on Tuesday.

Speaking, Edun, who is also the coordinating minister of the economy, said, “Where we are as a nation is a much better place than we were in on May 29, 2023.”

He added that Nigeria as a country was on the road to economic disaster by way of subsidy on fuel, adding that it was expected that there would be challenges as a result of subsidy removal.

Edun said that inflation had increased and the cost of living had spiked, but stated that President Bola Tinubu was committed to protecting the poorest and the vulnerable.

“As things improve, there will be further intervention on behalf of the vulnerable to assist in the cost of living.

“Let us be confident, calm, and assured that Nigeria will change in terms of economic management and that there will be intervention in every sector.”

According to him, there is a need to tackle inflation because full inflation accounts for 33 percent of the consumer price index.

He said there was a need to return to production, adding that industry however, required energy to function optimally and that the President was also committed to using state power to subdue vested interest in the oil sector.

On his part, Bagudu said the president was committed to national development, adding that the president reckoned with the challenges of the living conditions of the people.

“What is happening in our country is obvious to someone visiting a construction site; we are very clear that we are on the right path and the challenges of the moment are being tackled.

“We are getting support from international partners, and they are all acknowledging the commendable steps that the president is taking.

“We have seen investments in the rail sector, the NNLG, and we assure you that we will overcome the challenges of the moment and sustain the economic growth as promised by the President,” he said.

In a related development, Cardoso expressed confidence that positive outcomes from the administration of Tinubu were already emerging and would further emerge in the near future.

“The concern as per the cost of living is genuine, and the urgency of the matter is not lost on us at the CBN, and we are working tirelessly to bring up a lasting solution.

He said inflation was expected to decline in 2024, adding that this would be aided by improved agricultural productivity.

He said that the challenges of the exchange rate had been tackled, adding that they were fueled by speculation, increased forex demand, increased capital outflow, excess liquidity, and increased demand, among others.

He said the CBN was addressing the forex demand by clearing forex operations and adjusting the remuneration standard deposit, among others.

Speaking, the FIRS boss, Mr Adedeji, said the service was not a revenue-generating agency but a revenue-collection agency, adding that the agency was doing a lot to increase the nation’s revenue base.

According to him, the target for 2023 revenue was N10 trillion, and we achieved N12.3 trillion because of the decision taken by the president.

Adedeji said the president decided to rectify the distortion in the economic parameters and remove the fuel subsidy.

According to him, we have overperformance from VAT collection and company income tax. We have the target of collecting N19.2 trillion in 2024.

The chairman added that the N19.2 trillion target was based on the fact that it would not collect new taxes but bring more people into the tax rate.

He said less than 60 companies, as of today, contribute less than 60 percent to the nation’s company income tax.

Meanwhile, Rep. Benjamin Kalu, the Deputy Speaker of the sectoral debate with the Ministers of CBN and FIRS, said it was imperative to recognize the urgency and importance of the agenda before it.

He said, “We must also confront the stark realities of the economic, fiscal, and revenue challenges that our beloved nation, Nigeria, is currently facing.

“In the face of global economic shifts and domestic challenges, it is clear that robust reform measures are not just beneficial but imperative.

“We are at a pivotal moment where the decisions we make and the policies we implement will impact the lives of millions of Nigerians”

He said the reform should not only address immediate needs but also lay a resilient and dynamic framework that would adapt to future challenges and opportunities.

According to him, these measures should stimulate growth, foster innovation, and uplift the lives of every Nigerian.

In another development, the Ministry says it is now exploring revenue options to fund policing activities.

The Minister of Police Affairs, Sen. Ibrahim Gaidam, on Tuesday also said the team would explore revenue options to fund policing activities in the country.

Gaidam said at the opening of a stakeholders’ conference on internally generated revenue organised by the ministry in Abuja, that more funding would improve the quality of policing and operations.

The minister, represented by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Police Affairs, Dr Nasir Sani-Gwarzo, said the participants were expected to suggest internal revenue options for the ministry and its agencies.

“The limited sources of resources at the disposal of the police is mostly from government funding, support from philanthropists, and internally generated revenue, which is very minimal.

“In Europe, America, and other parts of the world, if services are rendered to any VIP, it is calculated and the VIP pays for it once the police are involved.

“We are not asking that the Nigeria Police Force should make a profit for the government.

“We are looking at ways to ensure a sustainable source of resources that will continue to flow internally to support the efforts of government,” he said.

Gaidam said that many countries normally ask for character certification from Nigerians before they issue visas, adding that the certificate is usually provided by the Police.

“That service needs to continue; that service needs to be improved; we don’t want a situation where you are living in Maiduguri, Sokoto, Port Harcourt, or Lagos and you have to come to Abuja to apply for a character certificate.

“We want it to be a seamless process; you do it online, pay a token and get your certificate, provided you produce the needed information.

“All these services coming together will, at the end of the day, make life easier for everybody.

“With the token paid, police can continue with the provision of the service without fully relying on government funding,” the minister said. 

 

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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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