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4,601 Farmers Get CBN Loan

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A total of N738.78 million was guaranteed to 4,601 farmers under the Agricultural Credit Guarantee Scheme (ACGS). This amount represented a decline of 74.5 per cent from the level in the preceding quarter but an increase of 34.1 per cent over the level in the corresponding quarter of 2008.

Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN’s) economic report for the first quarter of this year which shows this figure revealed that a sub-sectoral analysis of the loans guaranteed indicated that the country’s food crop sub-sector had the largest share of N367.90 million or 47.8 per cent to 3,659 beneficiaries, while the livestock sub-sector received N234 million or 31.7 per cent to 486 beneficiaries.

Also, 337 beneficiaries in the Fisheries sub-sector obtained N107.3 million of 14.5 per cent.

In the cash crops sub-sector, 39 beneficiaries got N18.60 million or 2.5 per cent, while 80 beneficiaries in ‘others’ had N11 million or 1.5 per cent. Further analysis showed that all the 23 states benefited from the scheme during the quarter, the highest and lowest sums of N85 million (11.5 per cent) and N1.30 million (0.2 per cent) went to Oyo and Akwa Ibom States, respectively.

The retail prices of most states recorded increases in the first quarter of 2009. thirteen of the fourteen commodities monitored recorded price increases, which ranged from 1.7 per cent for white garri to 250 per cent for palm oil over their levels in the preceding quarter, while millet recorded a price decline of most commodities was attributed to the subsisting food situation in the country.

Aggregate output growth in the economy measured by the gross domestic product (GDP) was estimated at 6.3 per cent in the first quarter 2009 compared with 5.8 per cent in the corresponding quarter of 2008. the project growth was driven mainly by the non-oil sector particularly agriculture which constituted 358 per cent of total (GDP) and contributed 2.2 percentage points to the growth in real GDP in the quarter. The major agricultural activities in the first quarter, 2009 were harvesting of late maturing grains and pre-planting operations for dry season farming.

Crude oil production was estimated at 1.89 million barrels per day (mbd) or 173.88 million barrel for the quarter. The end-period 2009 on a year-on-year basis, was 15.1 per cent in the preceding quarter.

The inflation rate on a 12 month moving average basis was 11.6 per cent, compared with the preceding quarter’s level of 9.2 per cent.

Industrial activities during the first quarter, 2009 declined relatively to the preceding quarter. At 115-9 (1990=100), estimated index of industrial production fell by 1.1 and 2.6 per cent from the levels attained in the preceding quarter and the corresponding period of 2008, respectively. The fall reflected the activities, mining output and electricity generation.

The estimated index of manufacturing production, at 89.9 (1990=100), declined by 1.9 and 0.9 per cent from the levels in the preceding quarters and corresponding period of 2008, respectively.

The estimated capacity utilisation also fell by 1.6 percentage points during the review quarter. The development was attributed to the fall in manufacturing production arising from weak demand and influx of imported goods.

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IPPIS: Oil Workers Threaten To Shut Down, Sunday

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Senior oil workers under the aegis of the Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association (PENGASSAN) and Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) have threatened to shut down all oil operations by Sunday, if the Federal Government failed to pay their salaries latest today.
The oil workers, who had embarked on a peaceful warning protest since Wednesday issued the threat when they gathered at the Petroleum Training Institute (PTI), Effurun in the continuation of the agitation, yesterday.
The protesters, who adorned red T-shirts carried assorted placards with inscriptions such as “No To Forceful Enrollment into IPPIS”; “Release Our Salaries Now or No Dialogue”; and “We Are Not Against IPPIS but Create Another Platform That Address Our Peculiarities”, amongst others.
Addressing the protesting workers, the Vice Chairman, Warri Zonal Council of PENGASSAN and Secretary of Regulators Forum, Prince Audu Oshiokhamele, warned that “if the salaries are not released by Friday, then all oil operations will be shut down by midnight of Sunday.”
He declared, “I want to assure you, our union members, that if our salaries are not released before Friday (tomorrow), by 12 midnight, on Sunday we will shut down the whole nation. What we are just doing now is a warning protest but by Sunday, the music will change”.
Also addressing the protesters, Oshiokhamele, who was in company of Mr. James Esiomor, PTI branch Chairman of PENGASSAN and Mr. Ejokirhie Jahpurpose, Chairman of PTI branch of NUPENG, expressed surprise that the Federal Ministry of Finance claimed ignorance of non-payment of their salaries in the last three months.

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Rivers Commissioner Harps On Petroleum Prices Stability

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The Rivers State Commissioner for Energy and Natural Resources, Dr Peter Meede, has stated the need for the Federal Government to ensure stability in the pump price of petrol in the country.
Meede said this while addressing the head of Port Harcourt Zone of the Petroleum Product Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPRA), Mr Ikien Sika, who paid him a visit in his office in Port Harcourt.
The commissioner said the instability in the pump prices of Petroleum products was responsible for the sharp practices some marketers engaged in.
He noted that the ministry would not tolerate the activities of dishonest marketers in the state, adding that it was not good for economic planning
According to him, “a situation where today we have a different price, next month we have a different price, the other month again you have a different price is not good for planning. We will not allow them to take advantage of Rivers people in terms of under dispensing of products, selling fake products that would undermine the security, safety and lives of Rivers people.
“I want you to collaborate with the ministry, let the people operating this industry in Rivers State understand that the ministry is alive and ready to support them to do their business but in a situation where they will compromise the standard of the product, we will not take that.”
He furthermore, said that the state governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, had ensured a conducive environment for doing business in Rivers State, which he pointed out would benefit petroleum marketers and warned that any attempt to short change Rivers people would not be tolerated.
He said, “you can hear that there is problem in Lagos and other states, but th-e sector in Rivers State here is relatively safe, but we need that collaboration. You can see that we’re partners in progress and we would appreciate that you continue to support us. A situation where people demarket Rivers State is over, the days where people would say ‘don’t go to Rivers state, is over. His Excellency has worked so hard to ensure that the environment of Rivers state, security of Rivers State, the economy of rivers state is on the front burner, that’s why you see the best we were doing in ensuring that peace and other forms of businesses thrive in Rivers State.’’
Responding, the head of Port Harcourt Zone of the Petroleum Product Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA), Mr Ikien Sika said the agency was pleased with the peaceful co-existence between petroleum marketers and the state.
“We have to commend the governor and then of course the honourable commissioner, but there is still something and we have to tell ourselves the truth. In my house today I cannot open the windows, because of the soot. These are some of the things which I have noticed, but other things I was told that has actually reduced to a large extent”, he said.
He observed that the fluctuation of pump prices in petrol is an indication that the federal government will soon deregulate the petrol sector.
On his part, the Zonal Chairman of the Petroleum Product Retail Outlet Owners Association of Nigeria, Prince Sunny Ugbe, said that federal government was wrong to allow petroleum product marketers to determine the price of petroleum products in the country.
Prince Ugbe also noted that the PPPRA recently increased Ex-depot price of petrol and left the marketers to fix the retail price
He called on the federal government to fix the moribund refineries across the country as part of measure to ensuring a smooth process of deregulation of the petroleum sector

 

By: Tonye Nria-Dappa

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FG To Deduct Illegal Mining Fees From States’ Allocations

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The Federal Government on Wednesday resolved that henceforth, it would be deducting any illegal fees imposed on mining companies by state governments from the allocation of such states.
It has therefore directed the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, to begin to implement the directive.
The decision was reached at a meeting of the Federal Executive Council presided over by the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.).
The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, disclosed this to State House correspondents at the end of the meeting held at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Mohammed said the decision was taken to eradicate double taxation in the mining sector and also gain investors’ confidence.
He said, “On the issue of double taxation whereby mining companies are taxed by local and state governments, two decisions were taken.
“One is that the council directed the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning to deduct directly from federal allocations of states which have deprived Federal Government of Nigeria’s revenue due to it by imposition of illegal taxes and levies on mining companies in their states.
“In other words, if a particular state engages in double taxation, you are imposing illegal taxes on a duly registered mining company, and it is reported to government, the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning will deduct that money from your allocation.
“The intent is to ensure that we don’t scare away investors, be they local or foreign. This will go a long way to reassure the investors that Nigeria is a safe place to invest now.”
The minister added that FEC also directed the National Economic Council to dialogue with the state governors in order to make them understand that states can participate in mining as corporate bodies by registering companies.
He reiterated the position of the law that the Federal Government had the exclusive right to mine and manage all mineral resources.
Mohammed added that the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Olamilekan Adegbite, who presented a memorandum to the council, also identified insecurity in certain parts of the country as one of the major challenges facing the mining sector.
He noted that in the North Western part of the country, mining had been suspended because of the activities of bandits and kidnappers.
He added that the industry was also faced with the problem of collision between some stakeholders, sometimes the traditional rulers.
He also reported certain decisions of past government in the area of storage of explosives that were used for mining.
Mohammed said, “Before now, the position is that any miner that wants to use explosives for mining must store them in either the military barracks or police facilities.
“So, he (Adegbite) asked for special dispensation to build special facilities at least one in each of the geo-political zones of the country. He also complained about extortion, the position of community development agreement, and the issue of many illegal miners.”
The minister said the council noted that insecurity and illegal mining had led to a huge loss of money and directed the National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno, to set up a special unit domiciled in Abuja to carry out targeted operations at identified and confirmed illegal mining sites nationwide.

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