Press focuses on plans to pay transport grants of over N2tn ahead of petrol subsidy removal, others

The plan by the Federal Government to transfer about N2.4 trillion to about 40 million Nigerians as transportation grants next…

The plan by the Federal Government to transfer about N2.4 trillion to about 40 million Nigerians as transportation grants next year as it begins move to totally remove subsidy on petrol is one of the leading stories in Nigerian newspapers on Wednesday.The Guardian reports that the Federal Government will from next year transfer about N2.4 trillion to about 40 million Nigerians as transportation grants as government begins move to totally remove subsidy on Premium Motor Spirit (PMS).

Most stakeholders are, however, uncertain of the feasibility of the plans, raising doubts on the source of fund and impact on volume of money in circulation, as well as transparency and accountability issues.

The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, who announced government’s plans yesterday at the launch of the World Bank Nigeria Development Update (NDU), titled ‘Time for Business Unusual’ in Abuja, said 40 million poorest Nigerians would benefit from the allowance.

By transferring about N5,000 to 40 million Nigerians monthly that are regarded as the ‘poorest of the poor’ by Federal Government, it would need about N200 billion every month and nothing less than N2.4 trillion yearly if the plan would become feasible.The newspaper says that the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, yesterday, said inflation was still above the six to nine per cent target set by the monetary authority, saying cautious effort must be made to continue to tame it.

This came as the Monetary Policy Rate (MPC), yesterday, retained the benchmark lending rate at 11.5 per cent. The asymmetric corridor was also held at +100/-700 bps around the MPR while the cash reserve ratio (CRR) and liquidity ratio were retained at 27.50 per cent and 30 per cent.

The decisions were disclosed by the Central Bank Governor and Chairman of the Committee, Emefiele at the 282nd MPC meeting held in Abuja.

Emefiele said tightening rates could mute the economic recovery, while reducing the benchmark could increase inflationary pressure.

He said the Committee noted the moderation in headline inflation to 16.63 per cent in September and 15.99 per cent in October but warned that inflation remained above the tolerance level of six to nine per cent target.

The MPC advised that both fiscal and monetary authorities should continue with their interventions to stimulate growth.

The Punch reports that the World Bank has said that economic growth in Nigeria is being threatened by certain macroeconomic challenges, including dollar shortage, petrol subsidy and the fiscal deficit financing by the Central Bank of Nigeria.

The bank disclosed this in its Nigeria Development report, which was released on Tuesday. The report identified measures taken by the government to tackle the pandemic-induced economic challenges.

“In 2020, the Nigerian government began to address longstanding macroeconomic challenges by harmonising the two main exchange rates, adjusting electricity tariffs to more cost-reflective levels, cutting nonessential spending, redirecting budgetary resources towards the COVID-19 response at both the federal and state levels, strengthening debt management, and increasing the transparency of oil and gas operations,” it said.

It noted that certain macroeconomic challenges had emerged that were undermining efforts made towards economic rebound.

The World Bank said, “However, the reform momentum weakened in 2021, and in the absence of continued progress, key macroeconomic challenges have re-emerged as major threats to growth.

The newspaper says that the Federal Government has said it has no direct control over the rising prices of Liquefied Petroleum Gas, popularly called cooking gas, and cannot regulate it at will.

It, however, stated that it was making efforts to reduce the cost of the commodity and make it affordable for Nigerians ahead of the Yuletide. The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva, disclosed this to State House correspondents on Tuesday after a meeting with the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd)..

At the meeting, Sylva formally presented the chief executives of the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority and the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission, Farouk Ahmed and Gbenga Komolafe, respectively.

Speaking on the reasons for LPG price hike, the minister said, “Cooking gas is not subsidised. It is already a deregulated commodity.

So, the price of cooking gas is not determined by the government or by everybody in the industry. Gas prices are determined internationally. “And you all are aware that in Europe today, gas prices have gone up. There was even crisis in Europe relating to gas prices.

The Sun reports that at the unveiling of the Central Bank of Nigeria latest real sector intervention initiative “The 100 for 100 PPP – Policy on Production and Productivity” (100-For-100), on October 31, 2021 in Abuja, by Governor Godwin Emefiele, one driving force behind it all was the government’s desire to retool the engine of production across the country.

The policy which many see as an adjunct to the June 23, 2015 ban on 41 import items by the CBN, aims at reviving the wheel of production in an economy laid prostrate by years of mindless importation of manufactured goods and services that can be replicated locally.

In simple daily parlance, the 100 for 100PPP is a financing scheme aimed at providing targeted funding (in Naira) under existing CBN’s intervention programmes to 100 high-impact companies and projects every 100 days.

Speaking at the launch of the Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC), otherwise called the eNaira, at the Presidential Villa Abuja, the CBN boss, said the new scheme which would be driven by the CBN Development Finance Department under his direct supervision, would “advertise, screen, scrutinise and financially support 100 targeted private sector companies in 100 days, beginning from November 1, 2021.

ThisDay says that the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele, yesterday foreclosed further extension of the regulatory forbearance on its intervention facilities instituted by the apex bank to cushion the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on companies and businesses.

He said the global economy has since opened up with lockdowns lifted while companies and businesses have witnessed improved revenues, hence the need for borrowers to start repaying their loans.

Emefiele, while addressing journalists after the two-day meeting of the CBN’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) in Abuja, said he does not envisage a likelihood of loan default resulting from the forbearance programme.

This is just as the MPC yesterday resolved to leave all monetary policy parameters unchanged, retaining the Monetary Policy Rate (MPR) otherwise known as the interest rate at 11.5 per cent with the asymmetric corridor of +100/-700 basis points around the MPR. The MPR is the rate at which the CBN lends to commercial banks and often determines the cost of borrowing in the economy.

The newspaper reports that the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce Industry Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA) has announced its decision to commence the collection of data that would provide empirical report on insolvent industries in Nigeria.

This was disclosed by the Director General of NACCIMA, Ambassador Ayo Olukanni, in the communiqué of the 4th Quarter Council Meeting of the NACCIMA, which was held recently in Benin City, Edo State.

The communiqué read: “Council announced the decision to commence data collection on insolvent industries across the country through the NACCIMA Secretariat. This is to help drive private sector activities, in collaboration with member-chambers, for advocacy, business development, and trade promotion activities.

These activities will focus on promoting market access opportunities, as well as, develop an empirical report on the state of insolvent industries and factories within each state of the federation.”

The fourth quarterly meeting, which was presided over by the National President of NACCIMA, Mr. Ide J. C Udeagbala, also highlighted the need to enhance skill development and promotion of technical and vocational education in Nigeria in order to bridge the gap in the supply of semi-skilled and skilled technical manpower in the country’s labour market.