We contributed $29bn to Nigeria in four years – Shell

Image result for Shell Pernis refineryShell Petroleum Development Company has said that its economic contribution to the Nigerian government in four years is $29bn.

The company’s General Manager, External Relations, Mr. Igo Weli, made this known in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital, during the 2017 Swamp West Hub Integrated Stakeholders Engagement Forum for Tarakiri/Egbema/Oporoma Community Leadership.

Weli , represented by the Assets Manager, Swamp West Hub, SPDC, Mr. Mesh Maithibi, also said the company contributed $1.8bn to the Niger Delta Development Company’s funds within the period for the development of communities in the region.

He said, ‘’The economic contribution from the SPDC JV partners to the Nigerian government between 2012 and 2016 was $29bn.

‘’We also know that we have the NDDC and the NDDC was set up to develop basically the Niger Delta and the Federal Government has come up with a law where all the oil companies must pay certain amount to the NDDC for them to use in development.

‘’As a company, as a joint venture partner, we have contributed $1.8bn into the NDDC’s funds within the period. And the expectation is that these funds will be used for the development of our community’s socio-development, roads, bridges and all of that. That is part of the joint venture development that we have.’’

He, however, regretted that the company had had situations where its facilities were shut down and assets blocked by people in the region.

Weli said such disturbing situations could hamper the development of the region and urged the people to cooperate with oil companies in order to achieve maximum development.

He said, ‘’We have had situations where our facilities were shut down. We have had situations where our assets have been blocked, not by outsiders but by those us from this region.

‘’The money that comes into our state and local governments is from production of oil and gas. We want all of us to help one another. When there is money in the state, there will be investment and development.

‘’If we allow these things such as illegal oil bunkering, theft and vandalism to happen, the resources that accrue to the state will also go down and it will affect every sector of the state and local economy. That is why we are here. We want to talk. I want to show you some statistics of what we, as a company, have done towards the development of the region.’’

During the second forum with the EA Hub Integrated Stakeholders Engagement Forum for Iduwini/Mien/Kou/Bassan-West Cluster community, Weli said the essence of the forum was to get feedback from the communities.

Represented by the Shell’s Stakeholders Relations Manager, Dr. Alice Ajeh, he said, ‘’The essence is to have continuous conversation with our communities, critical stakeholders for the feedback they have been giving us over time.

‘’They want us to have a continuous dialogue and this is one of the ways we feel we can bring all of them together to really think about the future of the Niger Delta, not just individual community issues, but collective issues of our future in the region.

‘’This is just for us to think about the future and the decisions they will arrive at will help us to know the basis of working with them. When they understand what it is they will like the future to be like, whatever programme we are putting in place, they will ensure that it works so that the future will be better for us.’’

Also speaking, the EA Assets Manager, Mr. Dele Adigun, said having engagement with their host communities had always been high on Shell’s agenda.

Adigun said there was the need to work collaboratively with the host communities to ensure sustainable peace and development in the region.

Johannesburg Stock Exchange suspends trading on Oando shares

Image result for oando picFollowing an exchange of correspondence between the Nigerian Stock Exchange (the primary Exchange on which Oando is listed) and the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, the latter has suspended trading on Oando shares.

The action, which happened on Thursday, followed the NSE’s earlier suspension on the oil major as directed by the Nigerian capital market apex regulator – the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The JSE, which confirmed the development, hinged its move on an exchange of correspondence between it and the Nigerian Exchange.

Justifying its action, the South African-based Exchange was quoted to have said, “The company has received communication from its primary listing, the Nigerian Stock Exchange, that the Securities and Exchange Commission has issued a directive to immediately suspend the trading of Oando shares, a directive to which the NSE has complied.

“The JSE has accordingly suspended trading of the Oando shares with effect from 09:00am SA time, pending clarification following the review of subsequent correspondence received on October 18, 2017 from the NSE and SEC and will provide a full statement of the company’s position as soon as possible.”

However, the Nigerian equities market, on Thursday, appreciated marginally by N2bn despite the technical suspension on the shares of Oando by the NSE on Wednesday as directed by the SEC.

Rather, the oil/gas index dropped by 0.5 per cent due to a decline in Forte Oil Plc’s share price by4.2 per cent.

Oando did not respond specifically to the JSE suspension on Thursday, but insisted that it had received a communication from the NSE suspending trading in its shares, as directed by SEC, and that it was reviewing the correspondence.

The oil firm, however, said it would state its position as soon as possible as it was committed to acting in the interest of all shareholders.

Meanwhile, after two consecutive sessions of losses, the Nigerian stock market rebounded as the All-Share Index rose marginally by one basis point to close at 36,645.65 points while year-to-date return improved marginally to 36.4 per cent.

Thursday’s performance was buoyed by price appreciations in Stanbic IBTC Holdings Plc and International Breweries Plc, which appreciated by 2.6 per cent and five per cent, respectively.

Gaining over N1bn, the NSE market capitalisation inched higher to close at N12.6i4tn while volume and value traded declined 29.1 per cent and 41.3 per cent to settle at 140.9 million units and N1.7bn, respectively.

Sector performance was mixed as three of the five indices of the market were negative, one closed positive and the other flat. The insurance index led losers, down  by 1.3 per cent on account of losses in AxaMansard Insurance Plc and AIICO Insurance Plc by 4.8 per cent and 3.4 per cent, accordingly.

Similarly, the banking index fell by 0.3 per cent following sustained profit taking in United Bank of Africa  Plc and Zenith Bank Plc, which declined by 2.3 per cent and 0.2 per cent, accordingly.

However, the consumer goods index was the lone gainer, appreciating 0.2 per cent on account of gains recorded in International Breweries Plc and Dangote Sugar Refinery Plc, which soared by five per cent and 1.1 per cent, respectively.

NNPC stores two billion litres of petrol for end-of-year movement

Image result for Group Managing Director of the NNPC, Dr. Maikanti BaruThe Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation on Tuesday announced that it had stored over two billion litres of Premium Motor Spirit, also known as petrol, to ensure a hitch-free end-of-year movement of motorists.

It said the end-of-year period had been hitherto characterised by scarcity of fuel due to supply and demand disequilibrium.

Speaking after his investiture as a special marshal by the Federal Road Safety Corps, the Group Managing Director, NNPC, Maikanti Baru, said adequate measures were in place to ensure that motorists had unimpeded access to fuel ahead of the end-of-year festivities.

Baru said the provision of adequate petroleum products would not only ease transportation but also make the roads safer for motorists, adding that consumers would have no need to hoard fuel in jerry cans.

He was quoted in a statement issued by the corporation’s spokesperson, Ndu Ughamadu, as saying, “As we speak, the NNPC has over two billion litres of petrol and we want to sustain this level from now on up until the end of the year and beyond. This volume will give the country product sufficiency of about 60 days, well above the standard 30 days sufficiency threshold.”

Odu’a investment to go into oil and gas

Image result for Odu’a investment to go into oil and gasThe Odu’a Investment Company Limited, the investment hub of the South-West region of Nigeria, has concluded plans to venture into the oil and gas sector to boost the company’s fortunes.

The Group Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, OICL, Mr. Adewale Raji, stated this while fielding questions from our correspondent in Owerri, the Imo State capital, on Friday.

He explained that the company had no difficulty in breaking into the oil and gas sector, adding that if there would be any problems, it might be those associated with every business.

Raji attributed the success of the establishment to the foundation laid down by the founding fathers and stakeholders, particularly the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo.

He said the success of the company, so far, could also be attributed to the prudent management of the managing directors, both past and present, as well as the workers.

He added, “The company has clocked more than 40 years and it is making waves in Nigeria. It is into hospitality, financial services, real estate, telecom services, engineering services, printing, publishing, construction and manufacturing, among others.”

OPEC: Nigeria fails to provide oil output figure

Image result for Tweet   Share  Pin it  +1 Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Ibe KachikwuNigeria failed to supply its crude oil production figure for last month to the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries, the group’s latest monthly report released on Wednesday showed.

Nigeria regained the Africa’s top oil producer status in May after it lost it to Angola in January as it recorded the biggest increase in output among its peers in the OPEC that month.

OPEC uses secondary sources to monitor its oil output, but also publishes a table of figures submitted by its member countries.

Crude oil production from Nigeria increased to 1.855 million barrels in September from 1.804 million barrels the previous month, according to secondary sources.

Based on direct communication, the nation’s output stood at 1.742 million barrels in August but no figure was made available for September’s production, according to the report.

OPEC said the group’s total production in September averaged 32.75 million bpd, showing an increase of 88,000 bpd over the previous month.

“Crude oil output increased in Libya, Nigeria, Iraq and Gabon, while production showed declines mainly in Venezuela,” it added.

The group said the uplift in the Brent crude benchmark along with elevated price differentials supported light sweet crude basket components from West and North Africa, boosting prices sizably to above $55 per barrel.

It said, “Booming refinery profits are helping West African oil producers to sell cargoes at higher values, aided by a shortage in certain types of crude amid the OPEC and non-OPEC producing countries’ voluntary production adjustments and geopolitical disturbances. Nevertheless, sales from storage, spurred on by a flat forward structure in Brent prices, capped West African crude price differentials.”

Last month, OPEC endorsed Nigeria’s position that the exemption granted it at the November 2016 ministerial conference and extended in May this year should be sustained until it stabilised its crude oil production.

Nigeria had argued that although its production recovery efforts had made some appreciable progress since October last year, it was not yet out of the woods.

The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, told the meeting that even though Nigeria hit 1.802 million bpd in August, it was not enough justification for a call by some countries for it to be brought into the fold.

According to him, Nigeria will be prepared to cap its crude production when it has stabilised at 1.8 million bpd.

Last year, Nigeria saw a resurgence of militant attacks in the Niger Delta that caused the nation’s oil production to plummet to a near 30-year low of 1.4 million barrels per day from about 2.2 million bpd.

Kachikwu, Baru meet, agree on NNPC without political interference

Image result for Kachikwu, Baru meet, agree on NNPC without political interferenceThe Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu; and Group Managing Director, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Dr. Maikanti Baru, met on Tuesday for the first since their disagreement broke out and agreed on one thing – a petroleum industry regulator free from the vagaries of politics.

The two industry leaders met at a breakout session at the ongoing 23rd Nigerian Economic Summit and spoke on the controversial Petroleum Industry Bill.

Kachikwu said it was also important for the industry to have a minister who would not be very powerful as it was certain that no one would be a minister forever, adding that it was important that systems were built to drive the industry.

The minister moderated the panel discussion on energy at the breakout session of the summit alongside the NNPC GMD.

Baru, who had spoken on the need for a strong independent regulator without any political interference, had an ally in Kachikwu, who agreed that an industry regulator should be insulated from politics.

The minister stated that the government was working to ensure an improved bill that would eventually be passed and meet the aspirations of stakeholders.

He said, “We are still working to make it better. By the time the Senate and the entire National Assembly finishes what they are doing, we are going to see a much stronger and a much larger independent regulator.

“Whatever model of the PIB that we are pushing, the point that Dr. Baru made is very, very key to see an independent regulator with very enormous powers, with less of political interference so that individuals can do their work and also whittling down the powers of the minister so that these institutions can work and work well.

“The reality is that no one will work as a minister forever. You are going to hand over that portfolio. We should be looking for the system surviving and being able to work well. So it’s something that we are working with the National Assembly very hard on and I think if you look at the issues that come up, there is a lot of emphasis on that independence.”

He added, “The Federal Government will develop policies that ensure that the global decline in fossil energy does not take Nigeria unawares. The government is already thinking in that direction. The Federal Government is currently dealing with the fundamentals of ensuring that the refineries work, and ensuring availability of energy sources to meet our day to day energy needs.

“The NNPC will have to take over the commercial aspects, because they are going to be the one deploying it. As the refineries get kitted up, we will continue to look at new fossil development programmes, and will see a need to pump out policies that will enable Nigerians see the advantages in terms of costs.”

Responding to the issues raised on marginal fields, Kachikwu said that the government was determined to ensure transparency in the bidding process.

“These are some of the issues that the Niger Delta communities are always inquiring about; and indeed all Nigerians. The more transparent it is, the better for us. We are developing models to ensure better regulations geared towards transparency in the bidding process, and we will alert Mr. President as soon as we are done,” he added.

Baru had in his remarks on the marginal fields said that only nine out 14 of those who won the last bidding process were operating the fields, adding that the development was not good.

50 million Nigerians have no electricity, says Osinbajo

Image result for 50 million Nigerians have no electricity, says OsinbajoVice President Yemi Osinbajo on Monday said 50 million people out of the nation’s 180 million population have no access to electricity.

“Nigeria’s 180 million people, over 50 million have no power,” Osinbajo said in his keynote address at the Financial Times Africa Summit holding in London.

The Vice President told the gathering that as part of the present administration’s efforts to diversify power sources in order to improve access, it had started a programme of providing solar power in 20,000 homes in rural villages.

The said the fortune of residents of Wuna village, outside Abuja, where the project commenced from, had improved drastically with night life returning to the village, which hitherto shut down at about 7pm until daylight.

Osinbajo stated that the Federal Government invested N1.3tn in infrastructure in 2016, making it the largest capital spending in the country’s history.

He added that the government was ready to increase the figure in the 2018 budget.

He said, “Strong visionary leadership committed to good governance has proved to be critical where our economies have recorded successes. Nigeria earning 60 per cent less revenue than five years ago, last year invested N1.3tn in infrastructure, the largest capital spending in its history and will increase that in the 2018 budget.

“Good governance and prudent management of resources means that you can do more with less. Ethiopia delivered its light rail and within Addis Ababa ahead of schedule and with no cost overruns.

“Rwanda has shrugged off the tragedy of the genocide of barely 20 years ago, delivering on infrastructure and earned its place as the second easiest place to do business in Africa. Ghana is galloping away with GDP growth figures this year of nine per cent.

“Across the entire continent, there is a commitment to providing much-needed infrastructure in the form of power stations, ports, rail networks and roads that not only bring down the cost of doing business, but also actively engage the private sector in funding, operation and or ownership.”

Osinbajo said Nigeria recently announced the commencement of the process for the concession of its major airports with a view to attracting world-class investors.

He added that wisdom today was in letting the private sector invest wherever it could and in practically any sector of the economy.

Osinbajo listed the ingenuity and resilience of the people, especially the 70 per cent youth population, leadership and good governance, allowing the private sector and markets to function, focusing on infrastructural development, and the incredible opportunities that abound as some of the factors that make Africa work.

He said in addition to ongoing investments in production and infrastructure, the Federal Government was undertaking extensive ease of doing business reforms.

He stated that the government had worked assiduously to improve the macroeconomic conditions.

After a continuous decline in growth since 2014, Osinbajo said the trend of growth in the Gross Domestic Product had turned around with a modest growth of 0.5 per cent in the second quarter of this year, while inflation, though still somewhat high, had declined from a peak of 18.7 per cent in January 2017 to about 16 presently.

He added, “The outlook going forward is quite positive based on improvements in oil prices and production, and the trend of leading indicators such as positive Purchasing Managers’ Indices, a revived stock exchange and increasing foreign exchange reserves.

“Moreover, the uncertainties in the foreign exchange market have abated with the introduction of a new window for investors and exporters, which gives more transparency and guarantees repatriation of funds.”

The Vice President stated, “The results have been encouraging as the inflows of capital in the second quarter of 2017 of about $1.8bn were almost double the amount of $908m imported in the first quarter of the year.

“Indeed, investor interest remains undoubtedly strong with announced investments of $22.42bn from January to August 2017 in 41 projects across 22 states. Importantly, for the first time, coordinated efforts are underway to make it easier to do business in Nigeria.

“Through systemic changes, we are repositioning regulators as facilitators of business, and are steadily improving transparency and efficiency of service delivery by the public sector.”

Osinbajo said the Federal Government was intent on bringing about rapid, sustainable and inclusive growth in order to improve the lot of its dynamic and hardworking people.

He noted that the government realised that the scale of the challenge was huge given the country’s large and rapidly growing population and the relentless march of progress in other parts of the world.

According to him, the government is nevertheless determined and optimistic that Nigeria will, along with the rest of the continent, bring about an Africa that works for all its people and contributes to global growth and prosperity.

“Three lessons that Africa has learnt in the past few years, first diversification from resource-based revenues, second private sector and markets are key, and creating the right environment is not optional,” he concluded.

Kachikwu’s leaked memo rekindles scandal around NNPC

Image result for Kachikwu leaked memo rekindles scandal around NNPCA leaked memo from Nigeria’s minister of state for Petroleum Resources has shown that irregularities in the state-owned oil giant remain entrenched, despite official vows to root out the “cancer” of graft.

Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu wrote to President Muhammadu Buhari to report on questionable practices in the state-owned Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation.

Five NNPC contracts, with a total value of $25bn, “were never reviewed by or discussed with the board,” according to the letter published in local media.

“There are many more, your excellency,” it added.

The NNPC is saddled with the reputation of being the historical slush fund of the country’s governments, whether democratically elected or military.

The company, working in joint ventures with foreign oil majors, accounts for more than half of Nigeria’s daily oil production of about two million barrels per day, estimates Benjamin Auge, a researcher associated with a French think-tank, the French Institute of International Relations.

– Massive corruption –
One of the biggest graft scandals in Nigerian history came to light in 2014, when central bank governor Lamido Sanusi revealed that the equivalent of $18bn had disappeared from state coffers between 2012 and 2013.

Sanusi was removed from office, but the scandal and disclosures of large-scale looting of national assets were instrumental in the electoral defeat of President Goodluck Jonathan in 2015, in favour of Buhari, who fought on a clean-hands ticket.

Buhari’s critics say his anti-corruption campaign is targeting only opposition figures – a charge that is likely to carry weight in the light of the leaked letter.

The letter appears to point to Kachikwu’s deepening frustration.

“I have been unable to secure an appointment to see you despite very many attempts,” Kachikwu wrote to Buhari, who is oil minister as well as president.

His missive was dated from late August, though until now the public was unaware of its existence.

No visible action has been taken, and the NNPC’s Group Managing Director, Maikanti Kacalla Baru, whose governance of the oil giant is clearly in the memo’s firing line, remains in office.

Auge suggested that Baru was appointed in 2016 in order to “isolate” Kachikwu.

Baru, an NNPC insider, is a complete contrast in personality and career profile to the outsider Kachikwu – a Harvard-educated southerner who came to the NNPC through the private sector, where he was ExxonMobil’s deputy chief for Africa, Auge said.

“The machinery which enabled corruption in the NNPC has not been switched off,” he said. “The only thing that has changed is the networks of influence.”

– Factional divide? –

Kachikwu was given a dual appointment in 2015 as minister of state and NNPC’s group managing director in the declared aim of making the company’s business less murky and corrupt.

At the time, investors in the oil sector cheered his appointment as a potential sign of changing times.

Today, though, suspicions are deepening of a factionalist divide within the government along regional lines, and of little appetite to cleanse the NNPC of the taint of corruption.

Baru through his long career at NNPC had built a network of political contacts, said a Nigerian financial analyst specialising in the oil sector.

The 58-year-old was named in 2016 “just because he was from the north,” the analyst said. “Buhari has a northern agenda, you can’t rule that out.”

Jonathan’s party, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), which is now in opposition, on Thursday called for Baru to be suspended, adding that a “loud silence” weighed on Buhari for the implications of sleaze hanging over the NNPC.

Kachikwu met with Buhari on Friday, offering only a terse “no comment” after the talks.

“I don’t think Kachikwu will be fired, it would be a very bad move for the investors, but he might not be part of the government after the 2018 cabinet reshuffle,” said the analyst, who requested anonymity in order to be able to speak freely.

“We are still sitting on the same corrupt system that existed before Buhari came into power,” the analyst said. “Nothing has changed.”

Oil workers threatening strike over salary arrears – Marketers

Image result for Executive Secretary, Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria, Mr. Obafemi OlaworeOil marketers have said the Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers Senior Staff Association and the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers are threatening to embark on a nationwide strike over the backlog of salaries owed their members.

The marketers, in a communiqué after their joint National Executive Council meeting held on Tuesday, said the salaries were owed following the inability of Federal Government to settle the accumulated debts of over N800bn owed oil marketers.

According to a statement, the unions said the strike had become absolutely necessary following the continuous deteriorating welfare of their members working in the various companies owned by oil marketers.

The marketers under the following groups, the Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria, Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, Depot and Petroleum Products Marketers Association and Independent Petroleum Products Importers, said most banks were planning to take over their tank farms.

They said this was as a result of their inability to pay back money borrowed to import products, for which the government had not paid.

According to the statement, many of the oil marketing companies are owed up to nine months’ salaries while some marketers have resorted to retrenchment of workers.

It said, “There is a need for President Muhammadu Buhari’s government to keep improving governance, especially by correcting wrongs of previous governments and making government responsive to its contracts and responsibilities.

“For the banks, their action is to see how they can avert another round of banking system failure that could be triggered by this huge non-performing loans owed them by oil marketers who cannot pay because the government is yet to pay them outstanding indebtedness.”

The statement said the Federal Government in June 2017 concluded the reconciliation with the marketers and the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency and made a commitment to pay before the end of July.

It said, “This was following the intervention of the Vice President (who was Acting President at that time). The reconciliation team was led by the Chief of Staff to the President and the Minister of Finance.

According to the marketers, the first source of the N800bn debt is the non-payment of the balance of over N300bn under-recoveries under the PPPRA importation template owed the marketers, which has been reconciled and audited since 2015 and provided for in the 2015 supplementary budget as well as the 2016 budget.

They said the second source of the N800bn debt was the failure of the government and the Central Bank of Nigeria to provide foreign exchange to banks that financed the importation of the petroleum products, particularly the Premium Motor Spirit, in 2015 by marketers on behalf of the government. According to the statement, the banks used their dollar confirmation credit lines with foreign banks to open Letters of Credit at exchange rates between N168/$ and N198/$, in line with the approved PPPRA template as of the date of each import.

They said when the LCs became due, the Nigerian banks defaulted in their obligations because the central bank did not provide the dollars.

The marketers said that the defaults by Nigerian banks made many foreign banks to withdraw their dollar confirmation lines to the Nigerian banks and they started insisting on dollar cash for the LCs from Nigeria.

The statement said, “Following this development, the CBN then did the so-called intervention by providing dollars to local banks for the payment of past due Letters of Credit to their foreign creditor banks.

“For reasons best known to the central bank and the government, they provided the dollars for these Letters of Credit at rates between N285/$ and N320/$ as against the N168 $ and N198/$ that was the government approved template for the LCs.

“This resulted in an additional N500bn in debt; this debit balance the banks quickly passed into the account of the marketers instead of asking the central bank to take responsibility.”

FG approves payment of N26bn to power firms

The Federal Government on Wednesday approved the payment of N25.994bn owed by its Ministries, Departments and Agencies to electricity distribution companies.

The government also resolved to investigate the firm that was said to have exported poor quality yams from Nigeria to the United States.

These were the highlights of the decisions reached at a meeting of the Federal Executive Council presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, told State House correspondents that since the inception of the present administration, claims of debts by the government to the power firms had been a matter of concern, especially in the light of liquidity issues.

Fashola said the government had earlier agreed that it would only pay verified sums after proper verification was done.

He said, “We have concluded the verification and we now ask council to approve the verified sum of N25.994bn owed by the MDAs of the Federal Government to be paid to the Discos out of the claims of N67.41bn.

“So, there is a differential of about N41bn. That differential arises first because some of the claims do not belong to the Federal Government. Some are owed by state and local governments. Also, some belong to public international organisations and were classified as government debts.”

Fashola added, “So, there is more verification going on and undertaken at states and local governments, which we have discovered at the National Council on Power about a week ago. This is important so that the government can demonstrate its support for the private sector by paying its own debts so that the sector can do what it does well.

“Government has also approved that this amount that has been quantified be set off against the amount owed by the Discos to the Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trader, a 100 per cent Federal Government-owned subsidiary company. They also owe government for their unremitted collections for energy they have taken and have not remitted. They are owing government about N500bn.”

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, also said the government had decided to investigate a company that exported a consignment of yams found to be of poor quality to the US.

He said, “One of the developments we were mandated to brief you on is about the consignment of yams, which was exported from here to the United States, and which according to the reports we have today, was found to be of poor quality.

“The ministry will investigate, because the ministry is not an exporter. The exporters are private people. We will investigate the company that exported it and ask our quarantine department to check and find out why such a consignment left here.”

Ogbeh also said the government was concerned about the high cost of rice, which he described as the most consumed staple in Nigeria.

He stated that rice growers and millers had been meeting in the last two days and had agreed to the plans that the government had been pursuing to arrive at a certain price.

“That means that in the next one month, the price of rice will become reasonable and the cost of rice would have reduced substantially,” the minister added.

…commences fresh action on ease of doing business

The Federal Government on Tuesday commenced a fresh 60-day national action plan as part of efforts to further improve the ease of doing business in the country.

According to a statement on Wednesday by the Senior Special Assistant to the Vice President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Laolu Akande, the plan being implemented by the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council is part of the present administration’s medium-term Economic Growth and Recovery Plan to build a globally competitive economy.

Akande said the new action plan, which would run from October 3 to December 1, 2017, was expected to further reduce the challenges faced by the SMEs when getting credit, paying taxes, or moving goods across the country, among others, by removing critical bottlenecks and bureaucratic constraints to doing business in Nigeria.

The PEBEC, which is chaired by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, had on September 26 approved a second 60-day National Action Plan to drive reforms aimed at making Nigeria a progressively easier place to do business.

The plan marks the beginning of another reform cycle 2017/2018, which aims to deepen the ease of doing business reforms implemented across the various government’s Ministries, Departments and Agencies in the last 12 months.

According to the statement, the plan will increase productivity through industrialisation, enhance exports and foreign exchange earnings, while creating jobs and reducing poverty.

Akande recalled that a previous 60-day National Action Plan on Ease of Doing Business was approved on February 21, 2017.

The plan, he explained, contained initiatives and actions implemented by responsible MDAs, the National Assembly, governments of Lagos and Kano states, as well as some private sector stakeholders.

The statement read, “Some of the reforms to be implemented to ease the process of starting a business include eliminating the manual registration process at the Corporate Affairs Commission in 10 additional states, increase access to credit for SMEs by registering at least 300 microfinance banks on the collateral registry, and enforce the elimination of illegal roadblocks on major trading routes across the country.

“The MDAs have been charged by the council to treat the ease of doing business initiatives with a sense of urgency and deliver impactful results by implementing the Executive Order 001 on transparency and efficiency.”

It added, “The Executive Order E01, which was signed Prof. Osinbajo on 18th of May, 2017, ensures that citizens have complete clarity on all government requirements and processes, better cooperation and improved information sharing among the MDAs, as well as requiring proper communication of approval or rejection of applications to Nigerians within the stipulated timeframe.

“The reforms will also improve the country’s ranking in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index 2019.  Recently, Nigeria rose two ranks up from its previous 127th to 125th position in the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Index for 2017-2018. The country moved up marginally by one step from 170 to 169 in the 2017 World Bank Doing Business Report.”