Press focuses on Nigerian soaring inflation rate for March, others

The latest Nigerian inflation rate for the month of March, which rose above a four-year high as food prices jumped…

The latest Nigerian inflation rate for the month of March, which rose above a four-year high as food prices jumped more than 20 percent is the trending story in Nigerian newspapers on Thursday.The Guardian reports that Nigerian inflation rose above a four-year high in March as food prices jumped more than 20 percent, the latest figures published by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) have shown.

Inflation, in double digits since 2016, reached 18.17% percent, driven by several factors including the dip in the prices of oil, Nigeria’s main export, and weakened naira.

The latest inflation reading was the highest since the 17.78 percent in February 2017.

Food prices, which make up the bulk of the inflation basket, rose 22.95 percent in March, a jump from 21.79 percent in February.

Staples including bread, cereals, potatoes, fruits, and oil drove the increase in the food price index, the NBS said in its report.

ThisDay says that Nigeria’s Minister of Interior, Mr. Rauf Aregbesola, has said that the federal government is worried over the rising unemployment rate in the country.

Speaking at the 2nd Shakeholders’ Meeting on Expatriate Quota Administration organized by the Citizenship and Business Department of the Ministry of Interior, the Minister said: “Anyone that is not worried about the unemployment rate in the country is not a patriot.”

He lamented that the unemployment rate of 33 percent released by the National Bureau of Statistics was indeed worrisome and a wake-up call that something urgently needed to be done to keep Nigerians employed and drastically reduce the unemployment rate.

The Minister, who called on all stakeholders at the meeting to ensure quality inputs were brought to the table that will lead to the production of a revised handbook on expatriate quota administration, insisted that a situation were foreign artisans are brought into the country as expatriates would no more be tolerated.

He lamented that some of the foreigners brought into the country on the guise of expatriate are carpenters, masons and all categories of artisans taking the jobs that Nigerians are more than qualified for.

Aregbesola said it was criminal for any organisation to bring an expatriate into the country without employing at least two Nigerians to understudy him to allow for technology transfer.

The newspaper reports that the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) in Nigeria has launched a COVID-19 Food Security Challenge that will provide $3 million grant and technical assistance to youth-led and mid-stage companies working in the food value chains in Nigeria.

The pandemic has disrupted already fragile agricultural value chains in Nigeria, especially smallholder farmers’ ability to produce, process, and distribute food. We are launching the COVID-19 Food Security Challenge to help innovative Nigerians alleviate food insecurity.

“This assistance encourages private sector-led solutions to boost food production, processing, and create market linkage along the agriculture value chain in a sustainable way across Nigeria,” USAID Mission Director Anne Patterson said.

In launching the initiative, USAID seeks commercially viable youth-led and mid-stage companies already working in food production, processing, and distribution. Successful applicants will present ideas that demonstrably help farmers and other stakeholders in the agricultural value chain increase agricultural productivity and food security within the next six months.

The Punch says that the Nigerian Government is currently supporting private developers to provide electricity through solar energy, the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, has said.

He disclosed this in a statement issued in Abuja by the Head, Communications and Public Relations, Niger Delta Power Holding Company, Olufunke Nwankwo.

The NDPHC said Osinbajo spoke at the recent inauguration of the 100,000 Solar Home System in Jangefe community, Kazuare Emirate, Jigawa State.

The vice president said government was determined to bring power to un-served communities as part of the Nigerian Economic Sustainability Plan.

He was quoted as saying, “The President’s vision around that plan was that rather than have situations where people lose jobs and opportunities, we could take the opportunities of COVID-19 to create more jobs.

“So the president approved that we should do these five million solar home connections across the country, which would mean that 25 million Nigerians would have power.” Osinbajo explained that the N140bn finance programme would support private developers to provide power to the households.

The Sun reports that the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) has lamented that local manufacturers are still facing multiple/over-regulation from government agencies which is currently depressing productivity in the manufacturing sector.

These multiple taxes and levies according to MAN’s survey have severely depressed production in the sector.

MAN President, Mansur Ahmed, in an interview in Lagos disclosed that despite government’s commitment to the revival of the country’s industrial sector to attain optimum growth, it is shocking that agencies of government are frustrating manufacturers from making headway and achieving sustainable productivity.

The MAN president explained that often times these agencies of the federal, state and local authorities regulate the same manufacturing process resulting in man-hour losses, supervisory duplication using similar checklist and multiple regulatory charges which often culminate in increased overheads for manufacturers.

According to him, it has been very challenging for local manufacturers operating in the country with many of them facing headwinds to overcome the economic turmoil in the business environment.

The newspaper says that the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) has emphasized the need for creation of a national asset register, and a coordinated mechanism in place for valuing and managing Nigerian assets.

This was even as the chamber lamented that government’s penchant for issuing new debt to redeem maturing ones is not an optimal debt management strategy.

President of the chamber, Toki Mabogunje, who made the remark yesterday in an address on the state of the economy, said it was critically important to replace existing debts with asset-linked securities to reduce debt cost.

She said that would ease the pressure of debt service on the budget. Noting the Presidency’s approval of the Medium-Term Debt Management Strategy for the period 2020-2023,

Mabogunje said the chamber’s position is that debt-to-GDP ratio does not reflect underlying sustainability risk(s) particularly in developing economies such as Nigeria, where there is a weak correlation between GDP and revenue.

She explained that in Nigerian context, agriculture and distributive trade – the two largest contributors to GDP – have no significant contribution to revenue to support servicing of debt obligations.