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Expert seeks aggressive implementation of economic plan to exit recession

By Tanko Mohammed 

Prof. Uche Uwaleke of Nasarawa State University, has called for early passage of the 2021 Appropriation Bill and aggressive implementation of the Economic Sustainability Plan (ESP), as the country enters recession.

Uwaleke, Professor of Finance and Capital Market, who spoke on the backdrop of third quarter Gross Domestic Product (GDP) figure released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), said the nation’s economy had formally entered into recession as the GDP contracted for the second consecutive quarter by 3.62 per cent in the third quarter of 2020.

NBS, in its GDP report for the third quarter, said that the nation recorded GDP growth of -3.62 per cent, though an improvement from the -6.10 per cent growth recorded in the second quarter.

He said that aggressive implementation of the ESP and early passage of the 2021 appropriation bill would go a long way in supporting economic recovery.

“The economy has officially entered a recession but I see a quick V-shaped recovery as the effect of COVID-19 recedes and the impact of the interventions by the government and the Central Bank of Nigeria begin to manifest.

“The NBS Q3 real GDP number is a confirmation of the fact that in terms of economic contraction occasioned by COVID-19, Q2 2020 represents the worst experience for Nigeria,” he said.

Uwaleke, also the President, Capital Market Academics of Nigeria, said that the third quarter GDP figure was an improvement when compared with -6.10 per cent achieved in the previous quarter.

“It is actually an improvement reflective of the ease in lockdowns and movement restrictions, the reduction in the cases of COVID-19 and the gradual return of investors’ confidence in the economy.

“This improved confidence has also manifested in Purchasing Managers Index readings and stock market performance.

“This explains why, although still in the negative territory, sectors like manufacturing, trade, transportation and education recorded improvements over the Q2 numbers.

“However, the performance of the agriculture sector in real terms which came in at 1.39 per cent was disappointing.

“This corroborates the high food inflation rate now above 17 per cent, caused in large part by insecurity in many parts of the country,” Uwaleke said.

Commodity Confab targets unlocking economic potential

By Anthony Areh

The Global Commodity Conference (GCC2020) is aimed at creating opportunities for investments and innovation to unlock economic potential in commodity markets, its convener, JODOR Asset Management (J.A.M) Ltd, has said.

Mr Nduka Ofulue, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of J.A.M Ltd, made this known in a statement on Saturday in Abuja.

The expert emphasised the need for the conference as economies around the world grappled with the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on commodity prices and jobs policy.

GCC2020 is scheduled to hold in Abuja from Dec. 1 to Dec. 2, 2020 with the theme “Unlocking Value in Africa’s Commodity Markets.”

“The Central Bank of Nigeria, including policy experts rethink of strategy on monetary policy and fiscal stimulus, while government departments faced with dwindling revenue and rising unemployment ponder on sustainable strategies to deal with the pandemic effect.

“The GCC2020 summit aims to bring African policymakers, decision-makers, stakeholders, Analysts, Researchers, Private Equity, Global Investors and Fund Managers to identify with the 2020 drivers and key indicators of the African Commodity Markets.

“It aims at proffering solutions to unlocking its intrinsic and relative time value, thus creating 20-40 million jobs for emerging African market economies,” Ofolue said.

He said that the event would also provide opportunity for networking with industry leaders and professionals in the investment value chain, Policy, Health, Manufacturing, Technology, Commodity, Metals and Mining, Energy and Agricultural sectors.

The conference, which will feature inspirational business speakers with a 21st century perspective to Africa’s challenges, has as its sub-theme “Commodity Trading Revenue (CTR) as a sub-driver for macroeconomic growth”.

NNPC to declare dividends in 2020

By Tanko Mohammed

Mr Mele Kyari, Group Managing Director, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), has said he is optimistic that the corporation will declare dividends in 2020 in spite of the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Kyari spoke at an interactive session with the National Association of Energy Correspondents (NAEC) in Abuja on Friday.

He said: “Our vision is that NNPC will become a company of excellence and declare dividends to Nigerians and shareholders.

“We are optimistic that at the end of 2020, NNPC will declare dividends to Nigerians in spite of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Kyari said that accountability and transparency were key to turning NNPC into an efficient and profit-oriented enterprise.

He said this was what informed the decision of the corporation to publish its operational and financial reports monthly.

Kyari said: “NNPC has never published its audited financial statement in 43 years. We came and started doing that and released the 2018 financial statement which showed that NNPC lost N803 billion.

“We were not afraid of doing that and there were a lot of criticisms that we lost money in refinery operations and pipeline business.

“We went ahead and published the 2019 audited report and was able to learn and cut cost and became more efficient.

“There is no company in the country which has cut its losses within one financial year by N800 billion.

“That means we reduced 97 per cent of our losses by cutting our cost and improving our efficiency.”

Nigeria unveils efforts to promote MSMEs

By Moses Uwagbale

The Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Mr Adeniyi Adebayo, says the Federal Government has embarked on the development of a draft national policy on Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs).

Adebayo, in a statement by his Special Adviser (Media) Ifedayo Sayo, on Thursday in Abuja, said the policy was among steps taken by the federal government to ensure growth of MSMEs in the country.

The minister delivered the keynote address at a virtual 5th Lagos Small Business Summit 2020.

The minister said the actions were taken through the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN).

He said that the government would also outline key strategies and programmes for development of MSMEs.

According to him, the government was conducting 26 MSMEs clinic events at various locations across the country to boost the skills and capabilities of the segment in which about 400,000 MSMEs have benefitted

”The government had launched an innovative portal to provide access to various resources required by SMEs operators.

‘”Government had also established a matching fund programme targetted at labour-intensive, SMEs operating in the real sector with innovative value-added products,” he said.

Adebayo said that at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the government initiated a proactive approach by creating an Emergency Operations Centre (EDC), which facilitated availability and movement of food items, pharmaceutical and other essential products across the six Geo-Political Zones.

He said that the centre assisted over 100 companies to boost the production of Personal Protective Equipment, hand sanitisers, face mask and ventilators during the lockdown.

“The government also launched various palliative measures such as the N100 billion MSMEs Investment Fund, N15 billion MSMEs Guranteed Off-take Stimulus Scheme, and the N60 billion MSMEs Survival Fund to help cushion COVID-19 pandemic impact and stimulate industrial activities and secure jobs.

“Our palliative measures are part of a broader N2.3 trillion Economic Sustainability Plan (ESP) to limit expected decline in economic growth from the coronavirus outbreak.

”It will also minimise the accompanying prospects of business failures, job losses and increased poverty,” the minister said.

He pointed out that the recent approval of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement would create a single continental market for goods and services, free movement of business persons and investment, expand intra-African trade and enhance competitiveness for industries and MSMEs.

“There is no doubt that a properly nurtured and well-structured MSMEs sub-sector will contribute significantly to the attainment of President Muhammadu Buhari’s aspiration of lifting 100 million people out of poverty over the next ten years,” he added.

The minister, however, stressed the federal government’s commitment to support the expansion of the country’s leasing industry, saying it had maintained a growth of 13.5 per cent as at 2019.

He also said the equipment leasing industry had remained a major contributor to national economic development with outstanding lease volume of N1.9 trillion as at 2019 against N1.68 trillion in 2018.

Labour wants African nations to build industrial capacities

By Moses Uwagbale

The organised labour says there is need for African Nations to make conscious effort to build the domestic industrial capacities of their nations.

The Deputy President of Nigeria Labour Congress, Mr Joe Ajaero, made the call at a seminar on Thursday in Lagos to commemorate Africa Industrialisation Day, marked annually on Nov. 20.

The seminar which  was organised by the Nigeria Council or Industrial Global Union had its theme as:“COVID-19: Issues, Challenges and Trade Union Responses”.

Ajaero, who is also the General Secretary, National Union of Electricity Employees, said such effort would require coherent strategy and great determination to achieve it.

“This will definitely increase productivity, accelerate growth, enhance standard of living by growing personal income thus generally lifting the people out of poverty and despondency, ” he said.

The labour leader said that the pursuit of an industrialized Africa was therefore, the pursuit of socioeconomic development in the continent.

According to him, it is a quest to consciously ,with the support of other global blocks and indeed networking within and among African nations, build a continent with deep industrial capacities.

He said: “Such capacities will serve as a catalyst to development within the continent and help extricate it from the morass and consequences of underdevelopment that presently confronts it.”

Ajaero said the seriousness and capacity of a nation’s quest for industrialisation was a function of the nature and character of its leadership.

“A nation cannot be more industrialised than the quality of its leadership.

“Nigeria urgently needs its leaders to begin to lay the foundation for the nation’s industrialisation.

“It needs to build the needed human capital by investing heavily in education like other nations of the world did, such as China and India for example.

“We need to build the necessary road and transport infrastructure to facilitate establishment of manufacturing entities.

“Also, Energy and Power frameworks need to be put in the place to reduce the cost of operations to make it more attractive for investors, drive down cost thus make the end products more competitive globally and easily affordable locally.

“Our Iron and Steel industries must be revived and Ajaokuta Integrated Steel Complex completed and inaugurated to start production.

“MSMEs need to thrive and facilitate access to affordable and low interest funds in collaboration with financial institutions, ” the labour leader said.