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CG Ali, DG NAFDAC to lead discourse on proposed excise duty beverages

CGC, Ali
Eyewitness reporter

As the Federal Government concludes plans to have Nigeria Customs begin a collection of excise duties on some products such as carbonated beverages, water, tiles, among others; MMS Plus newspaper is set to organize a business summit to deliberate on the policy.

The event themed; “X-raying the Proposed Excise Duty Regime for Carbonated Beverages in a Recovering Economy” is scheduled to take place on Tuesday, November 9th, 2021 at the MMS International Image Centre in Festac, Lagos while Facebook and Zoom virtual connections will also be available.

According to the organizers of the hybrid conference, a discourse on the subject has become pertinent following the reservations that greeted the proposed re-introduction of the Excise Duty regime on beverages and other sundry items by the Organized Private Sector (OPS).

Some high profile personalities such as the Comptroller-General of Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Col. Hammed Ali (Rtd.); Executive Secretary of Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), Hon. Emmanuel Jime; Director-General of National Agency for Food, Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye.

Others are the President of Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Engr. Mansur Ahmed; a trade expert with the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG), Dr. Ikenna Nwosu; National President of Water Producers Association of Nigeria (WAPAN), Mr. Mackson Odiri Egberi and an ex-banker and CEO of Quiet Dimensions Limited, Mr. Ime Udoma; are expected panelists at the event.

Other panelists include the President, Association of Food, Beverage and Tobacco Employers(AFBTE), Engr. Patrick Anegbe; President, Lagos Chambers of Commerce and Industry(LCCI), Mrs. Toki Mabogunje; Executive Secretary, National Action Committee on  African Continental Free Trade Area(AfCFTA),Mr. Frank Anatogu.

Meanwhile, the Chairman of Nigerian Ports Consultative Council (PCC), Otunba Kunle Folarin is expected to moderate the dialogue as a refined economist.

Speaking ahead of the event, Editor-in-Chief of MMS Plus newspaper, Mr. Kingsley Anaroke stressed that it has become exigent for the Customs to embark on the engagement of stakeholders to explain the inherent benefits of the policy.

He noted that some questions which should be answered at the one-day business discourse are: “How competitive could Nigerian products be with Excise Duty under the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA)? Should the government insist on the Excise Duty collection despite the complaints of economic challenges?

“What is the most appropriate percentage figure to be adopted for collection if considered imperative? What are the implications of the collection or otherwise on the real sector and the economy in the short, medium and long terms?”
Nigeria Customs Service is to deliver the lead paper: “The Merits and Demerits of Excise Duty in a Covid-19 Recovering Economy,” while other agencies and associations make presentations from their respective perspectives on the subject.

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“You lied” – FG lambasts cement manufacturers over hike in product price

Ahmed Dangiwa
The Eyewitness reporter 
The Federal Government has picked holes in the reasons proffered by the cement manufacturers for the sudden jump in the price of the product.
It could be recalled that a few days ago, cement recorded an astronomical increase in price as the 50kg of the essential building materials climbed from  N5000 to between N10,000 to N15,000, depending on the location in the country.
Concerned by the sudden hike, which has elicited uproar among already depressed Nigerians, the Federal government summoned the major cement manufacturers and other merchants of building materials in the country such as Dangote Cement, BUA and Lafarge, to an emergency meeting.
Addressing the manufacturers at the meeting, the Minister of Housing and Urban Development, Ahmed Dangiwa, dismissed the reasons given by the cement manufacturers, describing them as untenable.
Whereas the manufacturers blamed the cost of gas and mining equipment for the hike, Dangiwa said key input materials for cement production such as limestone, clay, silica sand, and gypsum, sourced within the nation’s borders, should not be dollar-rated.
He said the price of gas that manufacturers are using as an excuse was not tenable because gas is a raw material found within the country.

The minister further declared that the excuse of an increase in mining equipment should not come up because equipment bought by the manufacturers has been used for decades and not purchased every day.

He however threatened that the federal government may be forced to throw open the borders and allow importation of cement to flood the Nigerian market in a bid to crash the prices of the community should the manufacturers refuse to reduce their prices.
He warned that the cement manufacturers should not push the government into taking this decision which he believed would push them out of business.
The minister said the border was closed to the importation of cement to help local manufacturers.

However, he noted that if the government decides to open the border for mass importation, prices of cement would crash and local manufacturers would be gravely affected.

The minister, who called on the manufacturers to be more patriotic, said BUA Cement, for instance, has been willing and is still willing as at the last time he spoke with them, to crash the price of their cement, lower than the N7000, N8000 agreed by the manufacturers and he sees no reason why the others should not do same.

“The challenges you speak of, many countries are facing the same challenges and some even worse than that but as patriotic citizens, we have to rally around whenever there is a crisis to change the situation.

“The gas price you spoke of, we know that we produce gas in the country. The only thing you can say is that maybe it is not enough.

“Even if you say about 50 percent of your production cost is spent on gas prices, we still produce gas in Nigeria. It’s just that some of the manufacturers take advantage of the situation.

“As for the mining equipment that you mentioned, you buy equipment and it takes years and you are still using it,” he said.

Earlier, Group Chief Commercial Officer of Dangote Cement, Rabiu Umar blamed the high cost of gas and mining equipment for the hike in cement price.

He said: “It is safe to say we are all Nigerians and we are all facing the current head weight that is happening.  I would like to speak on the popular belief that most of the raw materials to produce cement are available locally.

“While we have limestone and in some cases, we have gypsum and some cases coal, the reality is that it takes a lot of forex-related items to produce cement.

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Marine insurers express frustration, confusion over loosely -worded EU sanctions on Russia.

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Fidelity Bank boosts local rice production with N34bn

Mrs. Nneka Onyeali-Ikpe, Managing Director/CEO, Fidelity Bank Plc,

Fidelity Bank has facilitated the disbursement of over N34 Billion in direct credit to players in the Nigerian rice value chain.

The bank’s interventions in recent years have helped to unlock spontaneous financing opportunities for a large swathe of paddy rice farmers with significant contributions to the expansion of national paddy rice output.

Only recently, the bank part-financed the construction of a 400 metric tons per day mega rice mill in Kano state owned by the Gerawa Group of Companies.

Commenting on the development, Mrs. Nneka Onyeali-Ikpe, Managing Director/CEO, Fidelity Bank Plc, said, “Through our interventions in the rice space, we have created a positive impact in rural communities by way of farmer empowerment and employment generation. This is also in alignment with the business sustainability imperative of our banking business.”

Shedding light on the bank’s activities further down the value chain, Mrs. Onyeali-Ikpe stated that the bank directly financed the construction and installation of several integrated rice mills across different geo-political zones in Nigeria. These rice mills have a combined rice milling capacity in excess of 500,000 MT per annum.

Recognizing the importance of the last mile traders in the value chain, she noted, “We have also provided low-cost funds to rice traders to purchase rice from indigenous rice millers for sale to the final consumers. This has helped in stabilizing the prices of locally produced rice.”

Whilst stressing the importance of imbibing sustainability practices, Mrs. Onyeali-Ikpe points out that the bank has modeled effective social and environmental sustainability frameworks into its agribusiness deal structuring workflow to address social and environmental sustainability requirements.

This, she said, follows the CBN’s Sustainable Banking Principles and Sector Guideline, IFC Performance Standards and Equator Principles.

The bank’s activities have continued to receive recognition by operators, funding partners and all other actors in the agribusiness space.

At the Bankers’ Committee meeting of December 2019, for instance, Fidelity Bank was awarded 2nd position in Sustainable Agriculture Transaction of the year.

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