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Jonathan Reassures Investors On Security, Investments

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President Goodluck Jonathan has re-assured the international community that his administration would continue to do everything possible to enhance security of lives and investments.

Jonathan, gave the assurance when he received a 45-member U.S. trade delegation at the State House. He said the Federal Government was working very hard to overcome the country’s current security challenges, stressing that efforts were being made to curb terrorism and other criminal acts such as kidnapping and hostage-taking.

Jonathan assured the delegation that his administration would continue to empower the private sector to serve as the main drivers of the Federal Government’s agenda for national economic growth and development.

He also assured the company executives on the delegation of the safety of their current and future investments in the country.

The President told the delegation that Nigeria had one of the most liberal legal regimes for the movement of capital and profits, adding “we welcome your interest and commitment to Nigeria’’, stressing that “You are coming at a time when sectors previously dominated by government monopolies are being opened up to the private sector.

“ He said we fully believe that that is the best way forward and the best way to create greater efficiency, employment and economic prosperity. You all know Nigeria’s potential adding “With its very huge market and the conducive investment climate we are working hard to foster, it is a country where your companies can do very fruitful business.

“He said I assure you of the full encouragement and support of the Federal Government for your investments.’’

The delegation was led by the President and CEO of the Corporate Council on Africa, Mr Steve Hayes and the Executive Vice President of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, Ms Mimi Alemayehou.

Hayes thanked Jonathan for his efforts to promote greater trade and economic cooperation between Nigeria and the U.S.

He assured Jonathan that the Corporate Council on Africa and its members fully recognised Nigeria’s immense economic potential and that they would do their best to support his agenda for national transformation.

Also speaking the  U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr Terrence McCulley, said Nigeria needed to diversify its economy away from oil and gas.

He said that the delegation was looking at expanding U.S. presence in the manufacturing and agro-allied, entertainment and ICT sectors.

He said the energy delegation came last year, we are hoping to follow-up later this year with a delegation in the health sector stressing that “I think there are enormous opportunities in this very important market’’.

Also speaking to newsmen, Nigeria’s Ambassador to the U.S., Mr Ade Adefuye, said the visit by the delegation was a follow-up to the investors’ forum held in Washington.

He said there were representatives of 17 U.S. high tech companies in the delegation and that the emphasis would be on the non-oil sectors.

The company executives expressed interests in aviation, power, food processing, ICT, construction, housing, textiles, infrastructure and finance sectors.

Meanwhile, the Minister of Works, Mr Mike Onolememen, said the Federal Government would go into partnership with the U.S. on infrastructure development.

Onolememen stated this at an interactive session with the American Corporate Council on Africa’s Infrastructure Trade Mission to Nigeria that the partnership would help to grow the Nigerian economy stressing that the partnership would help to narrow the infrastructure gap in Nigeria as infrastructure development remains the major key to national development.

He commended the trade mission for keying into Nigeria’s vast investment as Nigeria remained destination choice for investors.

In his speech at the session, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Olugbenga Ashiru, said Nigeria had continued to attract investment from various countries stressing that“Nigeria is one of the topmost emerging markets for now and for the future.

“The challenges the country is facing in terms of security are isolated and they will not affect the overall inflow of investments into the key sectors of the economy,’’ he said.

Ashiru said the trade delegation’s visit “coincided with the currency of the Federal Government’s Transformation Agenda, especially as it affected infrastructure development’’.

He called on the delegation to harness sectors that would promote job creation.

He said the area that Nigeria would want to see more investment in the key sectors of agriculture and power, adding “you have quite a lot of experience in the power sector and with General Electric now opening a factory in Nigeria.

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CBN Retains Lending Rate At 11.5%

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Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) says it has retained the Monetary Policy Rate at 11.5 per cent.
Disclosing this during a briefing after the first Monetary Policy Committee meeting for the year held in Abuja yesterday, the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, also stated parameters left unchanged.
According to the apex bank boss, other parameters left unchanged are the Cash Reserve Ratio and Liquidity Ratio at 27.5 per cent and 30 per cent respectively.
While announcing the committee’s decision, Emefiele said, “after a careful balancing of the benefits and the downside risks of the policy options, the MPC decided to hold all parameters constant”.
He said this is “believing that a whole stance will enable the continuous permeation of current policy measures in supporting the recorded growth recovery and further boost production and productivity, which will ultimately rein in inflation in the short to medium term”.
“The MPC”, he continued, “thus decided by a unanimous vote, the MPC voted as follows, one, retain MPR at 11.5 per cent; retain the asymmetric corridor of +100/-700 basis points around the MPR; retain the CRR at 27.5 per cent; and retain the Liquidity Ratio at 30 per cent.”

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NARTO Urges FG To Complete Mile 2 Port Access Rd

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A chieftain of the National Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO), Alhaji Abdullahi Inuwa Mohammed, has called on the Federal Government to expedite action on the reconstruction of the Mile 2 – Tincan Island Port Road to ease the hardship encountered on the road by commuters and truckers.
Mohammed, who made the call recently, noted that the completion of the reconstruction work on the road was one of the major expectations of the entire maritime stakeholders which was never met in 2021.
“They have to pay attention to the completion of the reconstruction work and make sure that they create enabling environment for the exporters, and also to make sure that the shipping lines do the needful by providing holding bays where trucks can freely go and discharge their empty containers.
“We urge the government to create an enabling environment. If those things are there and the enforcement team is doing what they should do with the Eto, things will get better.
“But we know now that we are having global challenge because about 65% of import has dropped but we know it’s a global challenge. There’s scarcity of containers globally”, he said.
While emphasizing that the Federal Government did a lot last year to encourage export trade, he, however, expressed regret that the system put in place by the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), which they thought could have been improved for the exporters, the farmers as well as miners to enjoy was lagging behind.
“If you recall, last year, so many exporters lost their investment because of poor handling and poor facility which resulted to the rejection of some of the items exported by the receiving countries, which is not good for the country.
“So, we do expect that government should pay more attention to see that anything that will disturb the movement of export goods is being taken care of to create an enabling environment for exporters to export their goods”, he stated.
Mohammed, however, called on the Federal Government to de-emphasize tariff increments, adding that it’s not by increasing tariffs, irresponsible revenue drive and creating hardship for the citizens that it would improve the state of the economy, but by fixing charges that would be pocket friendly both to the importers and exporters so as to cushion the hardship on the citizens.

By: Nkpemenyie Mcdominic, Lagos

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FG To Convert 200,000 Vehicles To Autogas … Plans 580 Refuelling Centres

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The Federal Government (FG) says it has perfected plans for the full deployment of autogas in filling stations and the conversion of 200,000 commercial vehicles to run on gas this year.
This was disclosed in a meeting with oil marketers in the downstream sector convened by the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva, in Abuja.
The meeting in which government unveiled the 2022 Framework for the deployment of CNG (Compressed Natural Gas, popularly called autogas) in Nigeria, had in attendance Senior officials of the Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria, Depot and Petroleum Products Marketers Association of Nigeria, as well as other key players in the downstream sector.
At the meeting, Sylva told his guests that the government was out to ensure that it made available the alternatives required before the removal of subsidy on Premium Motor Spirit (petrol), stressing that the deployment of autogas was one of such key alternatives.
He also stated that the government would be supporting them with 50 per cent of the conversion kits to fast-track the process, adding that additional support as required would be given, going forward.
“We said we must provide alternative fuel and the alternative that we concluded on was the autogas alternative. To provide it for our people,” the Minister said.
He continued that “Since this agreement between us (government and marketers), a lot of work has been going on and we have come to a certain point where we need to take it further. But we cannot move further without ensuring that you as our partners are fully on board.”
In the framework, the government explained that with abundant gas reserves of about 206.53 trillion cubic feet, a population of about 200 million people, and the enactment of the Petroleum Industry Act, which eliminated the continuous absorption of petrol subsidy, it was now vital to deploy autogas.
The goverent stated that its priority now was the rapid and strategic introduction of Natural Gas Vehicles as an alternative fuel for transportation in Nigeria in line with the approved National Gas Policy.
“This will pave the pathway to full deregulation of the downstream petroleum sector in Nigeria, while reducing the effect of deregulation on transportation costs,” the document read in part.
It added that  “The Ministry of Petroleum Resources was charged with the responsibility to provide autogas (LPG, CNG, LNG) as an alternative and competitive fuel for mass transportation
“CNG was selected as the fuel of choice because it holds a comparative advantage due to its ease of deployment, its comparatively lower capital requirements, commodity’s supply stability, existing in-country volumes, and local market commercial structure which relies predominantly on the naira.
“Hence a single track CNG deployment is proposed in the initial phase and other alternatives can be considered as the market attains maturity.”
Three implementation options were highlighted in the document, as the government stated that in the first option, its target was to convert one million public transport vehicles and install 1,000 refueling centres within 36 months.
For the first 18 months it targets to achieve 500,000 conversions and 580 refueling centres supplied by five Original Equipment Manufacturers, among other targets.
In the plan, the government targets to convert 200,000 commercial vehicles this year, including tricycles, cars, mini-buses and large buses.
The cities captured in Phase 1 of the project include Abuja, Kaduna, Kano, Kogi, Kwara, Lagos, Ondo, Oyo, Edo, Delta, Bayelsa, Niger, and Rivers.
Cities under Phase 2 were listed as Sokoto, Katsina, Jigawa, Borno, Bauchi, Gombe, Yobe, Osun, Ekiti, Enugu, Anambra, Imo, Cross River, Abia, Akwa Ibom and Plateau. For Phase 3 cities, they were listed as Kebbi, Zamfara, Yobe, Gombe, Taraba, Adamawa, Benue and Ebonyi.

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