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Economy, Finance

Nigeria’s Senate has approved a total of N1.678 trillion revenue target for the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) for the 2021 fiscal year.

It also at the plenary on Wednesday approved a total expenditure of N257 billion for the service, including retained earnings for its ongoing projects for the year as proposed by the Senate Committee on Customs Excise and Tariffs.

The approval followed the consideration and adoption of the report of the senate committee after the President of Senate, Ahmad Lawan, put it to voice vote.

Presenting the report, the Chairman of the committee, Sen.Francis Alimikhena (APC-Edo) said the NCS had proposed a revenue target of N1.46 trillion.

Alimikhena said the revenue target comprised N1.267 trillion for the Federation Account and N197.996 billion for non-Federation Account.

He said the committee however deemed the target inadequate, taking cognisance of the recently signed Finance Act 2021, and expansion of excisable items.

The committee chairman listed other excisable items as carbonated drinks in addition to tariff review on vehicles and re-opening of the border, among others.

Alimikhena added that aother reason for the increase in the target was the increase on the Central Bank of Nigeria official rate of the Naira to Dollar.

He said: “This means the collectable duty of every import will increase in naira term than when the rate was N381 to one dollar.

“All these will significantly increase the revenue target of the NCS in 2021 budget year.

“In view of the fore-going not captured in the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF 2020), the committee hereby increases the NCS revenue target from N1.46 trillion to N1.678 trillion.”

He said the cost of collection was pegged at 1. 7 per cent, while the Value Added Tax (VAT) was pegged at 2.2 per cent.

According to him, the proposed expenditure of N257 billion including retained earning for ongoing projects for the 2021 financial year was approved by the committee.

Before the approval Sens. Bala Ibn’Nala (APC-Kebbi) and Sam Egwu (PDP-Ebonyi )sought clarifications on the budgeted revenue of N180 million for funmigation and N2 billion provision as incentive for retiring officials.
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The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) have agreed to implement joint measures to minimise delay and corrupt practices at the country’s ports. This emerged in Lagos during a working visit to the NIMASA headquarters by the Executive Secretary of NSC, Barr. Hassan Bello.

Both agencies of the Federal Government noted that full automation of processes at the nation’s ports would go a long way to curb human interface, delays and corruption at the ports. NIMASA and the Nigerian Shippers Council thus agreed to harmonise the implementation of Port and Flag State Administration to minimise human direct contact onboard vessels, calling at the nation’s ports in line with provisions in the Nigerian Port Process Manual (NPPM).

The Director General of NIMASA, Dr. Bashir Jamoh, noted the Agency’s operation was close to 85% automated, adding that NIMASA has undertaken an in house harmonisation exercise to reduce human interface and now fully ready for inter-agency harmonisation. He also commended the management of the Shippers Council for its commitment to ensuring the success of the introduction of cargo tracking notes in port operations.

“We thank you for obtaining approval for the cargo tracking note. This will reduce loss of man-hour and assist in exposing non-declaration or under declaration at the nation’s ports. Thus, improving revenue generation for the federal government,” he said.

Commenting on the Secure Anchorage Area, Dr. Jamoh noted that since the Deep Blue project took over security working closely with the Nigerian Navy, the nation has witnessed a reduction in the number of security breaches at the anchorage.

“We are beginning to record a reduction in attacks in our waters, and we hope to sustain this and later demand a change in status of cost of insurance of vessels visiting Nigerian waters.

On his part, Barrister Hassan Bello said that cost of Port operations in Nigeria could be reduced by over 35% when standard operation procedures contained in the Nigerian Port Process Manual were fully implemented.

“Our Ports are in competition with other Ports in the Region, so we need to strengthen collaboration on the establishment of indicative freight Rates,” the NSC Executive Secretary said.

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo launched the manual on December 9 last year in Abuja, during the 2020 International Anti-Corruption Day. It is a collection of processes taken from the Standard Operating Procedures of stakeholders in the port sector, and it aims to improve operations, service timelines, efficiency, and accountability at the ports.
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Agriculture

Ekiti State Governor, Dr Kayode Fayemi has assured the National Agricultural Land Development Agency, (NALDA) of effective collaboration to reposition agribusiness in the State through support for the Federal Government’s Back-To-Farm programme.

Dr Fayemi, who disclosed this on Wednesday, when he received a delegation of NALDA, led by its Executive Secretary, Prince Paul Ikonne, at the Governor’s Office, Ado-Ekiti, during the team’s working visit to the State said the main objective of his administration’s agribusiness development is to reposition the state as a major food processing center in the country.

He explained that his efforts towards making Ekiti the food basket of the country has led to the clearing about 5,000 Hectares of farm land for both commercial farmers and out-growers, encouraging the establishment of Rice Mills by three big rice producers as well as accelerating the involvement of all-seasons farming among others.

The Governor further revealed that the state currently has about three rice mills coming on stream by Stallion, Dangote and JMK foods, adding that all the initiatives would amount to nothing if there are no sufficient number of farmers to feed the mills by planting cassava and rice among other crops.

He assured the agency of his government support towards the success of the planned establishment of three integrated farm estates in the three senatorial zones of the State, adding that the state is ready to work with the agency through its various initiatives including Youth in Commercial Agriculture (YCAD).

He said the state would take advantage of its agriculture and education competency and develop wealth creating opportunities for the people hoping that a lot of the young people would get themselves involved in the laudable projects to reposition agriculture in the state and make Ekiti a food basket of the nation.

“On our part, we’ve taken a lot of steps since this government came into office, we must have cleared in the region of about 5000 Hectares of land for our various farmers in the state for both commercial and out growers.

“I am sure you know that a major challenge for farmers in this part of the country is land clearing and land management, so if you can tackle that, you are able to accelerate the involvement of not just dry season farming but all season farming, and we are doing a lot in that regard.”, he said.

Earlier, the Executive Secretary, NALDA, Prince Paul Ikonne, said he was in the state to carry out the mandate of the President to retrieve and reactivate the agency’s abandoned land, as well as take more land as donated by the various community aimed at ensuring availability of food in the country.

Ikonne also expressed the readiness of the agency to partner with the state government to resuscitate various Farms as it planned to start with the recovered 1200 hectares of farmland in Irele and Oke-Ako.

While commending Dr Fayemi for providing the enabling environment, the Executive Secretary said the agency has in the pipeline the establishment of integrated farms in the three Senatorial districts of the state to further ensure national food security.
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Agriculture, Economy

…Governor urges South West states to collaborate with Lagos

An audacious agricultural growth plan that will enhance food sufficiency in Lagos State has been unveiled by Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu.

The five-year food security road map will see a sustained public and private sectors’ investment in agricultural value chains to give Lagos comparative advantages in the sector and enhance the State’s self-sufficiency in food production from the current 18 per cent up to 40 per cent over the next 60 months.

Sanwo-Olu on Thursday at a ceremony organised by the Ministry of Agriculture at the Intercontinental Hotels, Victoria Island, rolled out the agric road map which will be achieved through a three-pronged approach.

The adverse impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on food security in Lagos, the Governor said, necessitated an immediate action towards ensuring food security for residents of the State.

Lagos, the smallest State in Nigeria in terms of land size, relies on massive food importation and mutual collaboration on production with other States to ensure food sustenance for its 22 million population.

Sanwo-Olu said the State could no longer rely exclusively on production alliances with other States, stressing that it was time for Lagos to unlock its agricultural potential by implementing the five-year road map.

The plan, he said, will set players in agricultural sector on the path of wealth generation and value creation, thereby improving food security and industrialisation of agricultural sector, while also entrenching inclusive socio-economic growth.

He said: “At the inception of this administration, we identified food security as a major policy thrust and a key component of our T.H.E.M.E.S Agenda. The five-year Agricultural and Food Systems Road Map has been designed in line with our agenda to reform, transform and maximise the potential of Lagos’ agricultural sector.

“The focus of the road map is the development of agricultural value chains where Lagos has competitive and comparative advantages to enhance self-sufficiency in food production from 18 per cent to 40 per cent over the next five years, and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“To successfully implement the road map, we will take a cue from other economies that have achieved self-sufficiency in food production. We will also aim to put the private sector at the heart of our vision for food security in Lagos State, with government as enabler and catalyst.”

The strategies to achieve the plan, Sanwo-Olu said, will focus on leveraging technology to grow agric’s upstream sector through interventions capable of lowering the cost of production in identified value chains, including fisheries, poultry, piggery, rice, vegetables and coconut.

The Governor said there would be deliberate actions to grow the mid-stream and downstream sectors to enhance value chain in processing, handling, storage, cold chain, packaging, utilisation and commercialisation.

He said the State Government would link willing private sector players to business-friendly credit facilities and give incentives to improve private participation, while also formulating enabling policies to encourage return on investment.

Sanwo-Olu said: “The projection is that the total investment in the agricultural sector from the Government, private sector, donor agencies and development partners will run into over $10 billion in the next five years. While we expect most of the investment to be private sector-driven, government will continue to provide the needed infrastructure while the private sector will be encouraged to lead the key projects.

“We are revamping the Agricultural Land Holding Authority (ALHA) to drive investment into agriculture. We will strengthen the coconut belt with increased private sector involvement. The next five years will be productive, competitive and transformational as Lagos implements this road map, which will make the State to become the nation’s agricultural powerhouse. I invite you to join us to make history.”

Sanwo-Olu disclosed that Lagos had entered into a partnership agreement with two key States in the North Central for land availability, urging States in the Southwest to key into the objectives due to their proximity.

Commissioner for Agriculture, Ms. Abisola Olusanya, said the development of the road map started with stakeholder’s engagements and workshops around addressing the needs of the agric ecosystem in the State, pointing out that the blueprint provided a market-centric context pertaining to each value chain in Lagos food ecosystem.

She said: “There is a great wealth to be mined from the oldest profession on earth (agriculture) if data-driven principles are applied and the right information is made available to the investors.

“I dream of a Lagos where wholesome food is available, where healthy people thrive, where re-organised food system reduces freight congestion, post-harvest losses and increases profits for value chain actors. A Lagos where agriculture will empower millions of people and drive up productivity.”

Chairman of Chapel Hill Denham Group, Mr. Wale Edun, who analysed the agricultural road map, described the initiative as “laudable”, saying the State Government deserved to be supported on the vision.

He said the rollout of the initiative was timely, given the festering insecurity in the some part of the country, which, he said, posed great risk to Lagos food market because of the attendant disruption in the supply chain.

Edun, a former Commissioner for Finance in Lagos, however, urged the Government to limit the scope of its investment to infrastructure and environment. Private sector, he said, must be allowed to play a frontline role in implementation of the road map.

Commissioner for Finance, Dr. Rabiu Olowo, said the programme would increase the contribution of agriculture to Lagos GDP from two to five per cent, adding the roadmap would close the gap of wealth inequality
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ICT
As part of its routine enforcement activities to sanitise the industry of criminal elements, the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has arrested no fewer than five suspected individuals for allegedly engaging in fraudulently registering and selling Subscriber Identity Module (SIM) cards.



The hitch-free operation was carried out by a joint team from the Compliance Monitoring and Enforcement Department of the Commission, operatives of the Department of State Services (DSS) and the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) on Tuesday, April 20, 2021 in the Wuse area of Abuja.



The arrested suspects were subsequently handed over to the NSCDC Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Command, Wuse, Abuja for further investigation with respect to the allegations leveled against them.



Commenting on the enforcement operation, NCC’s Head of Enforcement, Salisu Abdu, who led the joint enforcement exercise, said the exercise was part of the routine activities embarked upon by the Commission to rid the industry of criminal elements engaging in fraudulent registration of SIM cards.



He said pre-registering a SIM card is an offence punishable under relevant regulations in the telecom sector and constitutes a breach of national security.



“It is criminal and fraudulent to pre-register a SIM card in Nigeria and it is an offence punishable under the law. Though the Federal Government recently lifted the ban on sale of new SIM cards, it should be noted that proper registration of SIM cards and linking them to National Identity Number (NIN) before activation has now become a prerequisite,” he said.



Abdu warned those who are engaged in the unlawful registration of SIM cards to desist from the illegal act, noting that the Commission will continue to collaborate with relevant law enforcement agencies in its routine enforcement activities in order to rid the industry of individuals, who have resolved to contravene SIM registration regulations.



The enforcement activities will continue in other locations across the FCT and other states of the country.
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