Agriculture has benefited from macroeconomic and structural reforms initiated by the Buhari administration aimed at economic stability, inflation reduction and trade expansion. Analysts say the reforms could pave the way for competitive agricultural operations, if the government takes steps to reduce production costs and enhance the agro business environment, DANIEL ESSIET reports.

For watchers, within the last  four  years, agricultural production has confronted difficulties due to the negative impacts of climate change, high cost of production and natural calamities.

Also, Nigeria  faced some  challenges in the international market on agricultural produce, including commodities rejection, especially the European Union (EU) ban on Nigerian staples.The EU banned Nigeria’s dried beans in June 2015 because it contained a high level of pesticide dangerous to human health.

In June 2016, the ban was extended by three years because of the presence of dichlorvos (pesticide) in dried beans from Nigeria, and maximum residue levels of pesticides showed that compliance with food law requirement as regards pesticide residual could not be achieved in the short term.

Despite this, with efforts by people from all walks of life and the political will demonstrated by the government, the nation is achieving positive results.

In the four years under review, a series of important policies were introduced to promote key branches in the agriculture sector.

For example, the Federal Government launched the agricultural sector roadmap, known as The Green Alternative, for promotion of agriculture from 2016-2020. It adopted policies to develop the fishery sector, as well as restructuring production of rice and other crops.

More importantly, the government has encouraged more enterprises to invest in rural agriculture while helping farmers and fishermen find consumers for their products.

While Nigeria has not achieved much in other areas, experts believe the nation has made progress in agriculture.

One of those who share this thought is the National President, Federation of Agricultural Commodities of Nigeria (FACAN), Dr Victor Iyama.

Iyama told The Nation that  the  government had shown some commitment to revamping the sector.

This followed the launch of Green Alternative policy and other programmes, presenting agriculture as a top priority.

According to Iyama, the government  has  increasingly prioritised agriculture and food security as a national-level driver of economic growth.

 

Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and agriculture

 

Iyama said the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) had impacted on the agriculture sector in the five-year leadership of Godwin Emefiele.

Through its activities, he said the CBN creatively implemented programmes to diversify the productive base of the economy, through agriculture, thereby conserving foreign exchange.

Aside conserving foreign exchange, he noted that the introduction of the policy that excluded 43 items from accessing foreign exchange from the Nigerian forex markets was largely aimed at improving domestic agriculture production.

In addition, CBN’s engagements with oil palm value chain stakeholders have also been yielding fruits.

It has helped to fast-track investments across the oil palm value chain. Oil palm is on the forex excluded list.

According to analysts, official figures indicate that importation of oil palm had by about 40 per cent from 506,000 metric tonnes (MTs) in 2014 to 302,000 in 2017.

Last year, the CBN governor met with Oil Palm Value Chain Stakeholders, where he rolled out further measures and set a partnership model that would stimulate investments in palm oil plantations, such that within the next five years, the global share of Nigeria’s oil palm production would increase. “Our ultimate vision is to overtake Thailand and Columbia to become the third largest producer in the next 10 years,” Emefiele said at the meeting.

He also told the Oil Palm Value Chain Stakeholders that, “on the finance supply side, the Bankers’ Committee had established a special sub-committee to make recommendations on sustainable financing models for oil palm and four other critical agricultural commodities that include cocoa, sesame seed, shea-butter and cashew.

His engagements with state governors on how to increase oil palm production are also yielding fruits. Emefiele said: “I am happy to announce that all the states in the South-south and South-east regions have agreed to provide at least 100,000 hectares for the oil palm initiative. This programme also accommodates the small holder oil palm farmers.’’

For the country to attain self-sufficiency, Iyama  believes that must  be committed development of more estate plantations and coordinated partnerships between the small holder plantation farmers and processors.

 

NIRSAL

 

In his view, the Director-General, Feed Nigeria Summit, Richard-Mark Mbaram, said the hope of improved agricultural yields in Nigeria and indeed Africa has brightened as the Nigerian Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL)has  stimulated investment in technology to boost yields and generate gainful employment.

According to him, NIRSAL Plc, a vision of the CBN is exploring ways of bringing technologies to millions of Nigerian farmers to enable them farm efficiently, effectively and sustainably.

One partnership,  he  noted  was NIRSAL ‘s  Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Heritage Bank Plc, which he  said would ensure secured financing of agribusiness within all segments of the agricultural value chain.

He   said the partnership was important because it would  help farmers to benefit from loans and credit available, at very low interest rates, to pursue commercially viable agricultural projects that have been packaged and fully de-risked.

 

Anchor Borrower Programme (ABP)

 

Analysts  believe  the  CBN ’s Anchor Borrower Programme (ABP) will   ensure  Nigeria emerges  from being a net importer to becoming a major producer of rice.

As at October  last year, according to analysts, thousands of farmers cultivating about 835,239 hectares, across 16 different commodities, have so far benefited from the Anchor Borrowers programme, which has generated 2,502,675 jobs across the country.

By March 15, this year, the CBN committed a total of N171.35 billion in the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme with active participation across the 36 states of the Federation and Federal Capital Territory (FCT), to improve local rice production. Annual rice production in Nigeria has increased to 5.8 million tonnes.

The State Chairman, Kebbi/Sokoto Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria, Muhammed Augie  said the programme has helped  increase local production of the commodity.

He  said the programme since inception had created economic linkage between small holder farmers and reputable large-scale processors, thereby increasing agricultural outputs and significantly improving capacity utilisation of processors.

He advised the government to ensure farmers get inputs under the programme before the start of the farming season.

He pleaded that the government ensures rice farmers get loans at five percent interest like rice millers.

Iyama said CBN’s support   towards   rice production has contributed significantly to the success of the agricultural sector.

Given the success achieved under this programme, the CBN has promised to continue to support it until the full potential of the sector is achieved.

The ABP was launched by President Muhammadu Buhari on November 17, 2015 in Kebbi, aimed at creating a linkage between anchor companies involved in the processing and SHFs of the required key agricultural commodities.

The fund was provided from the N220 billion micro, small and medium enterprises development fund.

ABP evolved from the consultations with stakeholders comprising federal ministry of agriculture and rural development, state governors, millers of agricultural produce, and smallholder farmers to boost agricultural production.

 

Tomato

 

CBN’s  intervention in production of tomatoes stands at a little over N10 billion in eight projects. One of the projects is the Dangote Green House tomato manufacturing project, which has the capacity to produce 10 million tomato seedlings monthly. This would be sold to about 5,000 out growers that would grow and supply the tomato factory, which has commenced operations, with tomato fruits. The project has the capacity of generating one million jobs from supporting small holder farmers in tomato cultivation to paste. This project has the capacity to save the Nigerian economy over $250 million annually.

 

Farmers’ challenges

 

One of the challenges inhibiting agricultural growth is poor infrastructure. Country Director of HarvestPlus, Dr Paul Ilona said farmers face other challenges, particularly from weak links along the agri-business logistics chain.

Ilona said Nigerian farmers are traditionally smallholders, farming less than two hectares of land.

According to him, many of them are located in extremely remote areas.

He said one of the largest structural challenges facing smallholder farmers is the lack of infrastructure,such as roads, railways, irrigation, and power that would enable their access to larger markets, improve the quality of their produce, and facilitate moving up the value chain into agro-processing activities.

With some transporters unwilling to risk damage to their vehicles from substandard roads, Ilona said growers experience difficulties in bringing their crops to market, weakening the supply-chain links to processors, and subsequently leading to produce losses.

Other stakeholders lamented   unreliable power supply in the country, which poses significant challenges.

The  Group Managing Director, Niji Group,Kola Adeniji, said challenges such as poor agricultural practices, low technological adoption, and poor access to extension services, low quality inputs, and lack of credit has   continued   to hinder the sector from realising its full potential.

Challenges notwithstanding, he said Nigeria’s  agriculture has enormous potential to transform the economy if the government works with the private sector to and make farming much more productive and profitable for smallholder farmers.

Going forward, he said Nigeria needs to improve its policy environment, to enable investments that will allow the farm sector to continue to adapt to the opportunities created by rising demand and the challenges of climate change and limited resources.

According to him, basic rural infrastructure needs to improve as well as investment to keep pace with economic growth.

 

Medical marijuana

 

According to him, Nigeria needs to boost its place in global agro-food markets, in exporting cocoa, cashews and medical marijuana.

He said Nigeria would derive economic benefits from tapping into the marijuana market.

With an estimated value of $145 billion in 2025, he said Nigeria would be short-changing itself if it fails to tap into the legal marijuana market.

He explained that marijuana can earn for the government more money than oil. According to him, a litre of oil is one dollar while a litre of marijuana oil is $15.

Instead of destroying it, he said the Federal Government should control processing of medical marijuana cultivation in controlled plantations under the full supervision of the (National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA).

FCMB empowers Race to China promo winners

First City Monument Bank (FCMB) has rewarded new set of its Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs) customers that won different prizes in the Season 2 of its reward scheme tagged “FCMB SME Race to China Promo”.

The winners emerged through rounds of electronic selection from the pool of qualified SME customers in the first draws of the promo (for the months of March and April) held in Lagos, Kano, Abia and Oyo states on May 21.

Among the winners are eight customers who each won the star prize of an all-expense paid trip (return flight ticket to China and hotel accommodation for seven nights) to participate in the 2019 edition of the Canton Trade Fair, one of the world’s biggest import and export trade fairs, scheduled to hold later this year. In addition, several other SME customers won various exciting items. These include, $500 pre-loaded shopping cards, business enablers (such as, power generating sets, laptops) and other consolation prizes.

At the Lagos regional draw, Eternal Fabrics Enterprises and Gold Tech Multi-Global Limited, won the star prizes for the months of March and April, respectively, while Jahved Ventures and Sapart Integrated Services Limited  in Gombe State emerged winners at the Northern regional draw which took place in Kano.

Similarly, Soupah Farm-En-Market Limited and Lade Olagbenro & Company were the star prize winners at the regional draws for South-west, held in Ibadan, Oyo State. Ife Progress Resources Limited and The Congregation of the Mission emerged lucky winners at the South-east/South-south regional draw held in Aba, Abia State.

Among the winners of $500 preloaded shopping cards, power generating sets and laptops are Suraj Furniture Limited, Smoothie Express Limited, Pisces OEA Multibil Limited, Goldmet Ventures, Exclusive Champion Limited, Kingdom Ideas Integrated Limited and Brands Yard Limited.

Speaking on the Season 2 of the ‘’FCMB SME Race to China Promo” and on the draws, the Executive Director, Business Development of the Bank, Mrs. Bukola Smith, said, “this is part of our initiatives to demonstrate our commitment to the growth of SMEs, which are key drivers of economic development.

Reps direct Total to refund $592m to Fed Govt

Reps direct Total to refund $592m to Fed GovtThe House of Representatives yesterday directed Total Exploration and Production Nigeria (TEPNG) to refund $592million to the Federal Government.

This was sequel to the consideration of the Report of the Committee on Gas Resources on the Need to Investigate the Contract for the Upgrade of OML 58 Upgrade 1, the Execution of Obite-Ubeta-Rumuji (OUR) Pipeline and the Northern Option Pipeline Projects,.

The cash was the excess allegedly paid on the contract awarded by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and the National Petroleum Investment Management Services (NAPIMS).

This was one of the recommendations in the report of the Hon. Fred Agbedi-headed House committee on Gas at the Committee of the whole yesterday.

They approved the recommendations that the excess payment of $592million should be recovered from TEPNG in consonance with the recommendations of Tabor VFM Audit Report.

“That a forensic investigative audit into the cost over-run emanating from all change orders, including $2.2 billion on OML 58 Upgrade 1, $560 million on OUR Pipeline and $528 million on NOPL Pipeline Projects be conducted.”

Similarly, the House while considering the report of the same Committee on the Need to Investigate the Contract for the Modification of the EGP 3B Production Platform following the Joint Venture Agreement between the NNPC and Chevron Nigeria Limited said:

“That a supposed entity called Diakrino Services Limited which was engaged by NNPC/NAPIMS to conduct a Value for Money (VFM) audit at the cost of $1million was not a legal entity as was confirmed by the Committee from a search at the Corporate Affairs Commission.”

The lawmakers therefore directed that the $1million awarded to Diakrino Services Limited should be paid back to the Federation Account by four workers of NNPC/NAPIMS involved in managing the contract awarded to Diakrino.

They said they should also be apprehended and prosecuted for violating the Procurement Act, 2007.

Rewane seeks strong institutions for economic growth

Rewane seeks strong  institutions for economic growthAn economist and Chief Executive Officer, Financial Derivatives Company Limited, Bismarck Rewane has said that building strong institutions is key for Nigeria to achieve desired economic growth.

He spoke at the 2019 Time Management and Productivity/Nigeria’s Employee of the Year Award Summit (TAMS/NEYA Summit) held in Lagos.

He said: “There are three variables for economic growth. They are good leadership, sound policies and strong institutions. A combination of the three will still produce the desired level of growth. But where institutions are weak, whatever growth is achieved is not sustainable and will eventually come back to zero”.

According to him, it is regrettable that Nigeria continues to trumpet its abundant potential due to the richness in human and natural resources yet little is being done to harness this richness. He admonished the country to urgently start to work on the famed potential to achieve economic growth. Rewane stated that labour productivity in the country is very poor and that if that must be corrected to achieve Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth that is commensurate with our size and resources, then the economy must make hard choices.

“GDP growth can be achieved if we fix our weak infrastructure. The power sector problem, for instance, continues to be a huge burden with the sector hampered by enormous debt overhang and the inability to attract fresh financing. But this can easily be corrected if the debts are converted to equities,” he said. The financial expert also called for a review or the elimination of the fuel subsidy regime and the restructuring of the exchange rate management to make it more efficient.

Other stakeholders at the summit equally stressed the need for an urgently overhaul of the nation’s infrastructure, particularly in the education sector.

The TAMS/NEYA summit is organised yearly by SB Telecoms and Devices, a provider of time management-focused human resources management solutions to organisations.

Telecoms attracts $70b investmentsTotal investments into the telecoms sector currently stands at $70billion, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) said yesterday in Lagos.

Speaking at the maiden edition of Nigerian Telecom Leadership Summit at Eko Hotel, its Executive Vice Chairman/CEO, Prof Garba Dambatta, said aside this massive investment, the sector contributed 9.85 per cent to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in Q4 of last year while in cash terms, it contributed N1.9trilion during the period under review.

Nigeria, he said, has more than 63million subscription on broadband while in the voice segment, there’s173million lines as at March this year which translates to 91 per cent teledensity.

Meanwhile, another $30 billion fresh investment is urgently needed to bridge the current gaps and others that exist in the telecoms sector to take telephony services to the unserved areas. The new investment is also expected to drive the country’s readiness for the Fourth Industrial Revolution and improve service quality, Associate Professor, Lagos Business School, Dr. Doyin Salami, said during his presentation at the forum

Speaking on: Implication of Multiple Taxation on Investment in the Nigerian Telecom Industry,  he said the challenge of multiple taxation is affecting virtually all the sectors of the economy, adding that the telecom sector is hugely impacted negatively.

Salami said the sector was doing well, becoming the fourth largest sector of the economy last year.

The LBS Associate Professor said the country must solve the issue of multiple taxation as fast as possible if investors must come into the sector.

According to him, fresh investments are needed to upgrade the current 2G and 3G infrastructure, stressing that “the future of telecoms is about co-creation.”

The former Minister of Communications Technology, Dr Omobola Johnson,  took a swipe at the NCC, saying the era of telecoms regulation has gone with the evolution of digitalisation.

In her keynote address titled: Best Fit Infrastructure Investment Choice for an Emerging Market she said there’s need for a change in the role of the regulator in line with emerging digitisation era.

According to her, the era of licensing and providing level playing field has gone because the regulator no longer regulates only telecoms.

Dr Johnson said there’s need for a regulator that’s ahead of the industry and innovative.

She lamented that the issue of multiple taxation predated her appointment as minister, adding that about five years after exiting government, the issue continued to haunt the industry. According to her, the issue can be resolved with an executive order.

Salami said though the country is “afraid of private capital”, it remains  the sure way of getting the fresh $30 billion, saying: “We should not encourage debt capital where equity capital is ready to play.”

Also speaking, Chairman, Association of Licensed Telecoms Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), Gbenga Adebayo, said telecoms operators are confronted with 39 different taxes and levies inhibiting the expansion of infratsructure across the country.

 

ward and the Role of the Regulator,” also charged NCC to become more aggressive in tackling the sector’s increasing challenges.

Johnson said NCC must create framework that will attract blended investment, stressing that the role of regulator must change going forward.

Earlier in his address as the Special Guest of Honour, Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, assured that the next level agenda would focus on making the business environment more friendly.

Represented by the Special Adviser on Political Affairs, Babajide Ojudu, the VP said President Buhari is keen on bridging the digital divide in the country with new policy direction.

According to the Executive Vice Chairman, NCC, Prof. Umaru Danbatta, the Commission will do everything possible to move the sector forward.

On the issue of multiple taxation, Danbatta recall that NCC has met with the Governor Forum about four times to educate them on the dangers of multiple taxation.

“We are not repenting, we shall do more and engage them constructively,” he stated.

Danbatta revealed that as at last quarter of 2018, telecoms sector contribution to the country’s GDP stood at ¦ 1.9 Trillion.

72hrs too short to submit financial report, says ULC

Strike: FG to continue negotiation with ASUU on MondayThe United Labour Congress (ULC) has complained that Minister of Labour Dr Chris Ngige’s directive to the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) to submit its finanacial report within 72 hours is unrealistic.

In a statement, ULC President Joe Ajaero said the May 13, letter in which the ministry demanded that NUPENG should submit within 72 hours, audited reports of its accounts for 2017 and 2018, was unacceptable.

The statement reads: “The rules are very clear regarding such requests by the ministry. The law provides for 30 clear days instead of the three days demanded by the operatives of the Ministry of Labour. When laws are flagrantly disregarded by those who are supposed to be its custodian, it raises other questions. If the request was for the purposes of probity and standards in the industry, why resort to impunity in pursuing it or perhaps, there is an indecent haste to achieve a devious end?

“We strongly condemn this apparent scapegoating of NUPENG. It is selective and is designed to cow the union into submission. This is a tool that we abhor and should not be encouraged within the nation’s industrial relations arena where we ought to see the parties: government, employers and workers as social partners. The Ministry’s request is illegal and runs counter to our traditions and practice as industrial relations parties.”

Ajaero said whatever may have been the provocations, the union expected the Federal Ministry of Labour to be cautious.

He said actions that against the ethics of its engagement should not be an option as it sought to resolve any grievance.

He said: “ULC cannot fold its arms and watch NUPENG, a very strong affiliate of it, harassed by others over a matter that can be handled more responsibly and amicably by all parties. To this end, we are exploring avenues to seek more sensible and amicable resolution of all issues involved to avoid plunging this nation into a disastrous industrial unrest with unimaginable consequences.”

Meanwhile, NUPENG leadership has condemned the threat by Ngige, to proscribe the union.

Its President, Comrade Williams Akporeha, said it was not surprised by the move of the minister going by the reactions to the organised labours.

The union said this was evident given the peaceful rallies and picketing of places of interest to the minister over his failure to inaugurate the Board of the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) with Comrade Ovie Frank Kokori as chairman and the use of armed thugs to attack labour leaders.

“It is shameful that the Minister of Labour had to condescend so low by issuing a directive to NUPENG to produce its only outstanding financial returns for 2018 within 72 hours when the extant law stipulates 30 days, and even when such returns are supposed to be due by June 31, 2019. We have it from good authority that he has further carried all our files right from the inception of our union (1978) to date in a bid to fish out phantom reasons he intends to use in proscribing the union,” he said.

The union wondered why only NUPENG was instructed to submit its report.

PZ Cussons Nigeria Plc has said its shareholders and other stakeholders should expect better value in coming years, even as it restated its confidence in the Nigerian economy.

The Chief Executive Officer, PZ Cussons Nigeria, Mr Christos Giannopoulos, said that having operated in Nigeria for 120 years and listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange for 48 years, the  company was well positioned to deliver better value in the years ahead.

Giannopoulos, while speaking at the closing gong ceremony at the NSE to mark the company’s 120th anniversary on Wednesday, said, “We are very proud to be here today. Contrary to reports some months back, I want to reiterate that PZ Cussons is here to stay. We are not going anywhere.

“We are confident of our shares; we have confidence in our company. We have about 76,000 shareholders; they expect returns and they are getting returns through continued dividend payment over the years of being a listed company.  The future is bright.”

According to him, the prospects are bright because Nigeria has a population of about 190 million and is the biggest economy in Africa.

He said the company would continue to invest in order to expand capacity and upgrade to ensure it has the latest and best equipment and manufacture quality products.

“We are going through what I will call challenging times right now but the fundamentals of the company are extremely good. Our market share is very good. We are competing in the market and our market share is positive and not negative,” the CEO added.

Sterling Bank tasks architects on low-cost houses

Sterling Bank Plc has urged architects in the country to design buildings that are affordable for low-income earners which will make the bank to collaborate with them.

The Executive Director, Corporate and Investment, Sterling Bank, Mr Yemi Odubiyi, said this at the closing ceremony of the Lagos Architects Forum 2019 with the theme, ‘Architectural regeneration 2, The Lagos response.’

Odubiyi, who was a guest speaker at the event, said, “We are willing to support the housing sector but will only partner with you as long as you continue to create affordable housing designs.

“Our immediate focus is housing units that are less than N4m and can even be lower over time. The challenge we are throwing at you is to design buildings that are affordable which we can finance at scale.”

The executive director observed that the bank’s presence at the architects’ forum was not by chance because it had always been keen on finding a solution to the country’s affordable housing problem.

He disclosed that Sterling Alternative Finance was well positioned to lessen the country’s housing deficit.

The Commissioner for Housing, Lagos State, Gbolahan Lawal, who represented the Lagos State Governor, Akinwumi Ambode, advised members of the Nigerian Institute of Architects, Lagos chapter, and all stakeholders present to give priority to the design and development of affordable housing.

Lawal stated that location was primary in making housing affordable.

He said, “So, in your design, you should always consider where you are going to locate the houses. In the Ministry of Housing, we have done a lot in this wise. The BRT buses that we have today, from Ikorodu to Marina, are related to affordable housing. That is what we are promoting at the Ministry of Housing and I want you to factor that into your plans for creating affordable housing projects in Lagos State.”

SEC, NSE step up efforts to attract new listings

Image result for SEC, NSE step up efforts to attract new listingsThe Securities and Exchange Commission and the Nigerian Stock Exchange have said they are working to make the processes of listing on the Exchange more efficient and cost-effective by streamlining the approval process between them.

“The streamlined process, which will come into effect on June 1, 2019, is aimed at reducing the regulatory burden on issuers by eliminating duplication of processes between SEC and the NSE, reducing the time to market for the issuance and listing of securities and ultimately driving more listing on the Exchange,” they said on Wednesday.

According to a joint statement, with the streamlined process, SEC and the NSE will carry out joint site visits of companies intending to get listed, following the registration of their securities with SEC.

It said certain offer documents such as the vending agreement, underwriting agreement, trust deed and ISPO, identified to be strictly within the jurisdiction of SEC should be submitted only to SEC.

It added that the Exchange would rely on SEC for approval of offer documents such as a prospectus.

The acting Executive Commissioner Operations at SEC, Mr Isiyaku Tilde, said, “Streamlining the issuance process with the listing process of the NSE is a major milestone for the commission in its quest to create an enabling environment capable of attracting new listings.

“One of our core values is leading by example, and we hope that other stakeholders will also look inward to explore similar initiatives, which will ensure quick time to market of securities in our market. We have no doubt that the streamlined process will enhance the competitiveness of the Nigerian capital market as a global investment destination.”

The Executive Director, Regulation at the NSE, Ms Tinuade Awe, commended SEC for working with the Exchange in streamlining the listing process for securities.

She said, “The NSE is much obliged for the SEC’s demonstration of a worthy example of effective collaboration all through this process in the interest of the market. As an agile exchange, we are determined to make it easier for issuers to list their securities in our market in an efficient, timely and cost-effective manner.

“The NSE began its collaboration with SEC by identifying areas of duplication and overlap between the two organisations, paving way for a better experience for issuers. We believe this will potentially attract more issuers to list their companies and other securities on the NSE.”

N4.6tn lost to non-implementation of import duty portal — FG

The Federal Government has commenced moves to block the over N4.61tn revenue lost to the non-implementation of the Import Duty Exemption Certificate portal.

The Minister of Finance, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, said this when she received the Full Business Case Certificate of Compliance for the Import Duty Exemption Certificate project from the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission.

The certificate, according to a statement from her Media Adviser, Mr Paul Ella, was presented by the Director-General of the ICRC, Chidi Izuwah.

Giving a breakdown of the N4.61tn revenue lost to the non-implementation of the IDEC portal project, the statement said the sum of N2.5tn was lost in 2017 while the balance of N2.1tn was lost in the 2018 fiscal period.

The minister in the statement commended the ICRC for issuing the certificate without delay, adding that the ministry of finance would have to get the approval of the Federal Executive Council before the project would go into the Public Private Partnership arrangement.

The IDEC portal project would be implemented under a PPP arrangement with Forecore Technology Solution Limited, as the preferred partner to develop, deploy, manage and transfer for a 10-year concession period.

She urged the ministry to take full advantage of the IDEC portal and put it into full use to enable the Federal Government to get full value for its revenues.

The finance minister noted that over the years, the country had been experiencing a significant drain in revenues due to the inability to adequately control the IDEC processes.

The minister said, “The portal will help us control. It will help us to be able to track and monitor the IDEC that we issue, but also to monitor the performance of the companies that we give this IDEC to and we will also be able to interface the IDEC system with the Nigeria Customs Service.

“It is really a good time for me that this project that I was really particular about is coming into operation.”

Izuwah, according to the statement, noted that IDEC project would enable the country to cut the huge revenue loses caused by manual processes.

He said the revelation by the minister that the non-implementation of the project had caused a revenue loss of N2.5tn in 2017 and N2.1tn in 2018 made the agency to issue the request for the certificate with speed.

Izuwah noted that the ministry of finance under Section 12 of the ICRC Act was required to diligently supervise the project and ensure that the government got value during its implementation.