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Tougher Times Await Rice Smugglers, Traders -Customs

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Smugglers and marketers of smuggled rice should prepare for tougher times ahead, the Nigeria Customs Service, yesterday.
NCS spokesman, Mr Joseph Attah, told The Tide source that the warning became necessary following complaints by the Rice Processors Association of Nigeria that the country had been flooded with smuggled rice.
He said the Comptroller-General of Customs, Rtd. Col. Hameed Ali, had read the riot Act to Customs officers in commanding positions to arrest the rot.
He said the officers were directed to ensure that rice smugglers and those who dealt in smuggled rice did not have any respite.
“Last week, the Comptroller-General summoned Comptrollers operating at land borders, Commandants of Federal Operations Units and those of the Strike Force at the headquarters to do the needful on rice smuggling,’’ her said.
Attah enjoined the rice processors to share the intelligence they had with the Customs so as to check activities of rice smugglers and other prohibited items.
He said this was the time the Service needed critical stakeholders in the value chain for collaboration and synergy to collectively fight the menace of smuggling.
He stressed that the collaboration and synergy would boost the morale of operatives who put their lives on the line to secure the borders, noting that the Service had lost officers and men in the course of the fight against smuggling.
“Customs will not claim that we have been able to completely wipe out smuggling of rice and indeed any other prohibited items.
“As long as there are human beings who are ready to cut corners; that are driven by selfish interests; driven by profit motives and all that, there will be some isolated cases of smuggling.
“We have some compatriots who are ready to serve as informants to smugglers. We are aware that some smugglers provide motorbikes and telephone handsets for some people in border communities.
“Those things are provided for informants to monitor the movement of our anti-smuggling operatives and to provide information as to where we are; where we are heading to and how some of these smugglers can safely sneak through.
“Those that have beaten the `watch-and-check’ are assisted by fellow Nigerians. That is the reason you find some smuggled items in the markets and that is why you see cases of raiding warehouses by our officers and men,’’ Attah explained.
He said that the Service had been engaging traditional rulers in border communities to be on the same page with the Customs in the interest of the country.
Attah also said Customs was committed to ensuring that the Federal Government’s policy on rice and other foods production succeed.

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Inflation Rate Falls To 16.63%  – NBS

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The rate of inflation in Nigeria has declined for the sixth consecutive month to 16.63 per cent in September, which is its lowest level since January this year, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) has said.
The Bureau, in its Consumer Price Index released on Friday, said the inflation rate fell by 0.38 per cent from 17.01 per cent in August.
The drop in headline inflation began in April when it fell to18.12 per cent from 18.17 per cent in March.
According to NBC, the urban inflation rate increased by 17.19 per cent (year-on-year) in September 2021 from 17.59 per cent recorded in August 2021, while the rural inflation rate increased by 16.08 per cent in September 2021 from 16.45 per cent in August 2021.
It said farm produce such as bread, cereals, cocoa, meat, coffee, tea and cocoa drove food inflation, fell to 19.57 per cent in September from 20.30 percent in August.
Other items that led to the rise in the composite food index in September included oils and fats, yam and other tubers, fish, potatoes, milk, cheese and egg.
“On month-on-month basis, the food sub-index increased by 1.26 per cent in September 2021, up by 0.20 per cent points from 1.06 per cent recorded in August 2021”, the NBS stated.
 The Statistician-General of the Federation, Simon Harry, said the fall in the inflation rate signalled an improvement in government performance and more favourable economic conditions.
“The inflation rate in Nigeria has maintained a consecutive decline in year-on-year for a period of six consecutive months, starting from March 2021 to August 2021”, he said.

By: Corlins Walter

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5G Now At 97% Completion, As NCC Moves To Auction Spectrum

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The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has said that the plan for deployment of Fifth Generation technology in the country has gotten to 97 per cent. 
Executive Vice Chairman of NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta, disclosed this at the annual African Tech Alliance Forum with the theme ‘Embracing changes and digital transformation in the new normal’.
According to a statement titled ‘NCC update on plans for 5G deployment’ issued  by the NCC’s Deputy Manager, Public Affairs, Kunle Azeez, the commission stated that some spectrum would be auctioned.
“Already, we are set for the auction of some spectrum slots in the 3.5GHz band. The other day, I was at the National Assembly, I informed the Senate that we were 95 per cent ready for 5G.
“Today as we speak, I am delighted to tell you that we are already at 97 per cent completion. 
“The committee set up to auction the spectrum has already developed an information memorandum which is already published for inputs and comments from all industry stakeholders.
“Prior to this, a 5G deployment plan was developed and we have since secured the Federal Government’s approval”, the commission stated.
The commission also explained that because of the Covid-19 pandemic, almost every means of communication became virtual, which led to an increase in network connectivity requirements as a result of unprecedented upsurge in internet traffic.
Danbatta added that even though the network infrastructure in the nation demonstrated some capacity to contain the surge in internet traffic, a lot of work was being done by the commission to boost network capacity, sensitise the public and ensure accessibility to affordable connectivity.
“Emerging technologies such as 5G, which NCC is driving aggressively in Nigeria, Internet of Things; Cloud Computing; Quantum Computing Augmented/Virtual Reality, and similar emerging technologies are playing a critical role in improving remote communication over the internet with great user experience.
“The NCC is committed to promoting this inevitable change and enhancing user experience through effective regulation of the telecoms sector”, he stated.

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Nigeria’s Debt-To-GDP Ratio To Hit 42% By 2026 – IMF

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The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has projected that Nigeria’s Gross Debt-to-Gross Domestic Product ratio will rise from 35.7 per cent in 2021 to 42 per cent by 2026.
The IMF stated this in its October 2021 Fiscal Monitor Report published on its website.
It said the country’s gross debt-to-GDP ratio would increase from 35.7 per cent in 2021 to 36.9 per cent in 2022, 37.7 per cent in 2023, 39.1 per cent in 2024 and 40.6 per cent in 2025.
According to the report, the gross debt includes overdrafts from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and liabilities of the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON). 
It added that the general government’s revenue-to-GDP ratio would decrease from 7.2 per cent in 2021 to 6.5 per cent in 2026, while the general government expenditure-to-GDP ratio would decrease from 13.3 per cent in 2021 to 12.6 per cent in 2026.
The global financial institution said that the general government net debt-to-GDP ratio would increase from 35.3 per cent in 2021 to 41.8 per cent in 2026.
“The overdrafts and government deposits at the Central Bank of Nigeria almost cancel each other out, and the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria debt is roughly halved,” it added.
The report said for low-income developing countries like Nigeria, average gross debt in 2021 would likely remain stable at almost 50 per cent in 2020, while debt vulnerabilities “are expected to be high.

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