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SEC, SON harp on standardisation of commodities to boost GDP



Oil & Gas: SON inaugurates Regulations Steering Committee, appoints Prof. Olobayo as head

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has stressed the need for standardisation of the country’s commodities to enhance global acceptance and boost the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

The Director-General of SEC, Mr Lamido Yuguda, said this at the Commodities Standards Sensitisation workshop organised by the commission in partnership with the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) on Monday in Lagos.

Yuguda said that the Federal Government’s drive to achieve a sustainably diversified economy would be achieved by ensuring adherence to standards to boost the country’s competitiveness in the global market.

According to him, the establishment of relevant standards will significantly transform the Nigerian commodities trading ecosystem.

“As Nigerians strive to achieve a sustainably diversified economy, given the current drive to guarantee food security, there is an urgent need for more complementary comforts from the government, regulators and critical stakeholders to ensure the approval and effective adoption of appropriate local standard benchmark against the international practice to establish quality and reverse the unwarranted situation of perennial rejection of the Nigerian produced commodities,” he said.

Yuguda, represented by the Executive Commissioner Operations, SEC, Mr Dayo Obisan, said the unique feature of the commodities exchanges globally was the standardisation of the commodities traded on the platform.

He noted that each commodity traded on the exchange was graded by quality, size, weight and other criteria.

Yuguda said that the determination of these grades and standards was dependent upon improved local standards which would take into cognizance internationally accepted standards.

He noted that SON had the statutory responsibility for standard setting in Nigeria

In recognition of this fact, he said that the Executive Management of the Commission, on behalf of all stakeholders, engaged with the management team SON, to ensure the expedited approval and publication of standards commodities.

He observed that the establishment of relevant standards would significantly transform the Nigerian commodities trading ecosystem.

“Sequel to that engagement, the ecosystem roadmap implementation committee comprising key stakeholders has been working on the development of grading and standardisation system.

“The initial stage of the development process will concentrate on delivery of standards for agricultural commodities,” he said.

The director-general disclosed that SEC was working with SON to create awareness for existing agricultural commodities standard.

“We strongly believe this is a project of national importance, given that commodities exchange value chain has significant value and can transform our economy.

“It is, therefore, my expectation for this workshop and other stakeholders’ engagement to serve as a rallying point for inclusive standards development process.

“As the ecosystem is driven towards standardisation, the broader society will be impacted for greater prosperity,” he said.

Yuguda recalled that SEC, as part of the implementation of the 10-year capital market masterplan, constituted a technical committee in the commodities trading ecosystem.

He said that the mandate of the committee was to identify challenges with the existing framework and develop a roadmap for a vibrant ecosystem.

In his remarks, SON Director-General, Malam Farouk Salim, said that the organisation was willing to collaborate with relevant stakeholders.

He said that this was to ensure that the development of standards follow the best international principles of standard development.

Represented by Dr Omolara Okunlola, Head Food Group, Salim said the organisation, in line with its mandate, would continue to promote standards and ensure it followed international principles.

He said that SON would continue to promote the confidence of Nigerians in Nigerian produce and ensure that SON in line with the Federal Government’s various policies was developed in such areas.

“For the first time in history, we have the strategy already outlined under the Nigerian National Standardisation Strategy. If you go through the strategy, you can see we have listed out standards to be developed.

“Under the agriculture, we have energy, transport, industry, a focus on SMEs, we also have for the health sector.

“The strategy is a living strategy, as policies from the government come up, we try to update the strategy,” he said.

Speaking on rejection of Nigerian produce outside the country, Salim said that rejection of produce was not due to lack of standards but non-compliance to standards.

“If you want to export any produce, try to contact SON; we have 42 offices presently in Nigeria.

“So, when you get to know what you really need in relation to that product you want to export, it will reduce rejection.

“Our standards are based on international best practices, we are custodians of the standards but standards are developed by the populace, not by us.

“We are just given the mandate to be in the custody of those standards, make sure that when you want to develop it, get everyone, as many people that are interested, as many stakeholders we can identify, we contact them and we follow those principles,” Salim added.

He listed the principles as transparency,  openness, stakeholders involvement and concensus.



NEPZA Boss Says Nation’s Free Trade Zones Not Really `Free’



The Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA) says the country’s Free Trade Zones are business anchorages that have for decades been used to generate revenues for the Federal Government.

Dr Olufemi Ogunyemi, the Managing Director of NEPZA, said this in a statement by the authority’s
Head of Corporate Communications, Martins Odeh, on Monday in Abuja, stressing that the the widely held notion that the scheme is a `free meal ticket’ for investors and not a means for the government to generate revenue is incorrect.

Ogunyemi said this public statement was essential to clarify the misunderstanding by various individuals and entities, in and out of government, on the nature of the scheme.

He reiterated the authority’s commitment to enhancing public knowledge of the principal reason for the country’s adoption of the scheme by the NEPZA Act 63 of 1992.

“The Free Trade Zones are not hot spots for revenue generation. Instead, they exist to support socioeconomic development.

“These include but are not limited to industrialisation, infrastructure development, employment generation, skills acquisition, foreign exchange earnings, and Foreign Direct Investments(FDI) inflows,” Ogunyemi said.

The managing director said the NEPZA Act provided exemption from all federal, state, and local government taxes, rates, levies, and charges for FZE, of which duty and VAT were part.

“However, goods and services exported into Nigeria attract duty, which includes VAT and other charges.

“In addition, NEPZA collects over 20 types of revenues, ranging from 500,000 dollars-Declaration fees, 60,000 dollars for Operation License (OPL) Renewal Fees between three and five years.

“There is also the 100-300 dollar Examination and Documentation fees per transaction, which occurs daily.

“There are other periodic revenues derived from vehicle registration and visas, among others.

“The operations within the free trade zones are not free in the context of the word,” he said.

Ogunyemi said the global business space had contracted significantly, adding that to win a sizable space would require the ingenuity of the government to either expand or maintain the promised incentives.

“These incentives will encourage more multinational corporations and local investors to leverage on the scheme, which has a cumulative investment valued at 30 billion dollars.

“The scheme has caused an influx of FDIs; it has also brought advanced technologies, managerial expertise, and access to global markets.

“For instance, the 52 FTZs with 612 enterprises have and will continue to facilitate the creation of numerous direct and indirect jobs, currently estimated to be within the region of 170,000,” he said.

Ogunyemi said an adjustment in title and introduction of current global business practices would significantly advance the scheme, increasing forward and backward linkages.

“This is with a more significant market offered by the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCTA).

“We have commenced negotiations across the board to ensure that the NEPZA Act is amended to give room for adjusting the scheme’s title from `Free Trade Zones to Special Economic Zones respectively.

“This will open up the system for the benefit of all citizens,” he said.

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2023 CLPA: Policy Cohesion Imperative For Implementation Of AfCFTA Agreements, Others



Some policy experts and stakeholders have called for policy cohesion across Africa for the successful implementation of multilateral policy decisions.

They spoke on Wednesday during one of the plenaries at the 2023 Conference on Land Policy in Africa (CLPA), held in Addis Ababa.

The CLPA, the fifth in the series, is organised by the tripartite consortium consisting of the African Union Commission (AUC), the African Development Bank (AfDB), and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA).

The 2023 edition has the theme, ‘Year of AfCFTA: Acceleration of the African Continental Free Trade Area Implementation’.

Dr Medhat El-Helepi (ECA), chaired the plenary with the sub-theme: ‘Land Governance, Regional Integration, and Intra-Africa Trade: Opportunities and Challenges’.

Panelists at the plenary included Dr Stephen Karingi, Director, Regional Integration and Trade, ECA; Mr Tsotetsi Makong, Head of Capacity Building and Technical Assistance, AfCFTA Secretariat.

Others were Mr Kebur Ghenna, CEO, of the Pan African Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PACCI) and Ms Eileen Wakesho, Director of Community Land Protection at Namati, Kenya.

The event also attracted various stakeholders, including traditional leaders, Civil Society Organisations, and policy decision-makers.

Makong expressed worries over the reluctance of some participants to openly discuss some matters, pleading ‘no go areas of domestic affairs’.

He, however, noted that the issues of land were within the limit of domestic regulations, adding that tenure land security was the solution that would allow intra-African investment that is still low in Africa.

Makong pointed out that the success of the investment protocol under the AfCFTA would depend on countries’ domestic laws that should be in line with the AfCFTA.

“There are guidelines on land reforms that need to be turned into regulations within the domestic systems.

“Policy coherence has to be at the heart of what we do. This can be achieved by engaging everyone including women and youth at the grassroots level.

“Also, you cannot be talking of AfCFTA as of it is just about Ministers of Trade, Economy or Investment. The idea is a totality of the entire governance structure. This is very important,” he said.

Speakers also noted that inclusive land governance was one of the key pillars to enhance Africa’s drive to improve intra-African trade, food security, and sustainable food systems.

They said an inclusive governance system would allow stakeholders to create transparency, subsidiarity, inclusiveness, prior informed participation, and social acceptance by affected communities in land-based initiatives beyond their borders.

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SOLID MINERALS: Alake Revokes 1,633 Mining Titles, Warns Illegal Miners



The Minister of Solid Minerals Development, Dr Dele Alake, on Tuesday, announced the revocation of 1,633 mining titles for defaulting on payment of annual service fees.

Alake made this known at a news conference in Abuja on Tuesday, saying his decision was in compliance with the law, the Mining Cadastral Office (MCO) on Oct.  4, began the process of revoking 2,213 titles.

“These included 795 exploration titles, 956 small-scale mining licences, 364 quarry licences and 98 mining leases.

“These were published in the Federal Government Gazette Number 178, Volume 110 of Oct. 10 with the notice of revocation for defaulting in the payment of annual service fee.

“The mandatory 30 days expired on Nov. 10. Only 580 title holders responded by settling their indebtedness.

“With this development, the MCO recommended the revocation of 1, 633 mineral titles as follows: Exploration Licence, 536; Quarry Licence, 279; Small Scale Mining Licence, 787 and Mining Lease, 31.

“In line with the powers conferred on me by the NMMA 2007, Section 5 (a), I have approved the revocation of the 1,633 titles,” the minister said.

*Dele Alake, Minister of Solid Minerals

He said that the titles would be reallocated to more serious investors.

He warned the previous holders of the titles to leave the relevant cadaster with immediate effect.

He said that security agencies would work with the mines inspectorate of the ministry to apprehend any defaulter found in any of the areas where titles had been revoked.

“We have no doubt in our mind that the noble goals of President Bola Tinubu to sanitise the solid minerals sector and position the industry for international competitiveness are alive and active.

“We appeal to all stakeholders for their co-operation in achieving these patriotic objectives and encourage those who have done business in this sector the wrong way to turn a new leaf.

“Ultimately, the Nigerian people shall be the winners,” he said.

According to Alake, It is indeed very unconscionable for corporate bodies making huge profits from mining to refuse to give the government its due by failing to pay their annual service fee.

“It is indeed a reasonable conjecture that such a company will even be more unwilling to pay royalties and honour its tax obligations to the government.

“The amount the companies are being asked to pay is peanut compared to their own revenue projections.

” For example, the holder of an exploration title pays only N1,500 per cadastral unit not exceeding 200 units. Those holding titles covering more than 200 units pay N2,000 per unit, In short, the larger the area your title covers, the more you pay.

“This principle was applied to ensure that applicants do not hold more than they require to explore.

“With a cadastral unit captured as a square of 500 metres by 500 metres, any law-abiding title holder should not hesitate to perform its obligations,” he said.

The minister said that every sector required a governance system that regulated the conduct of its participants, the procedures for entry and exit, the obligations of the government to participants and the penalties for non-compliance.

He said that the philosophy of the Nigerian Minerals and Mining Act 2007 was to establish a rational system of administering titles transparently and comprehensively to ensure a seamless transition from reconnaissance to exploration and from exploration to mineral extraction.

“The principal agency for the administration of titles is the MCO, which receives applications, evaluates them, and issues titles with the approval of the office of the minister of solid minerals development.

“Although the MCO has tried to improve its efficiency by adopting new application administration technology, it continues to face challenges in monitoring the compliance of title holders,” he said.“Although the MCO has tried to improve its efficiency by adopting new application administration technology, it continues to face challenges in monitoring the compliance of title holders,” he said.

He warned illegal miners to desist from their illegal activities as their “days were numbered”. 

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