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Senate to engage Finance Minister on 2017-2020 Economic Recovery Plan

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The Senate has mandated six of its Committees to engage the Minister of Finance, Zainab Shamsuna Ahmed, on the Federal Government’s elapsed Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) between 2017 and 2020.

The Committees are: National Planning; Banking, Insurance and other Financial Institutions; Marine Transport; Land Transport; Works and Power.

The decision to engage the Finance Minister was reached amid a resolution by the Upper Chamber after it considered a motion “on the need to critically assess the performance of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) 2017-2020.”

The motion was sponsored by Senator Abdu Suleiman Kwari (APC, Kaduna North).

In his presentation, Senator Kwari noted that the four year Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) 2017-2020, which was the source document of Nigeria’s four years Appropriations Act had elapsed.

He recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari, launched the Plan in April of 2017 to ensure the actualization of a sustainable inclusive growth of the economy.

According to the lawmaker, “the Plan was targeted at achieving a structural economic transformation with emphasis on improving the efficiency of both the public and private sectors of the Nigerian economy;

He added, “Further aware that the key objectives of the plan were to increase our national productivity, achieve a sustainable diversification of production, significantly grow our economy by 7 percent by the year 2020, maximize the welfare of our citizens and attain food and energy security;

“Worried that the four-year plan, which has now elapsed, cannot be said to have met our desired socio-economic aspiration;

“Believes that there is need for stock taking to critically assess the performance of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan in order to ascertain whether the Plan has met the desired goals now that it has technically come to an end;

“Further believes that in taking stock, it is imperative to benchmark the implementation outcomes of the Plan in terms of the following indices to determine: real growth in the agricultural, solid minerals and energy sectors of the economy; SMEs growth as laid out in the plan; and positive impact on our industries and manufacturing sectors.”

Others are to assess investment on the human capital; the number of jobs and wealth created; investments on health and education sectors; investment and progress on our national infrastructure; progress made by the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC); the digital led economy targets and the anti-corruption fight/recovery of stolen assets; the progress of the fight against insecurity; determine the fiscal and other macroeconomic policies as benchmarked in the ERGP; and the level of implementation of the Central Bank of Nigeria interventions in all the sectors.

Senator Kwari lamented the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the world economy, as well as its consequent effects on the Nigerian economy, which, according to him, had adversely affected the implementation of the Plan in 2020.

He  stressed that it is the solemn and constitutional duty of the National Assembly to assess the performances of the budgets as against the line items and objectives of the ERGP, on which it was based.

Accordingly, the Senate mandated the Committees on National Planning; Banking, Insurance and Other Financial Institutions; Marine Transport; Land Transport; Works and Power to interface with the Hon. Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning on the performance of the ERGP, whose life span has elapsed and report back on the way forward within four weeks.

Contributing, Senator Adetumbi (APC, Ekiti North), said the move by the upper chamber seeks to “take stock of what we have done under ERGP in order to ascertain future plans and learn lessons from existing ones.”

Senator Abdullahi Ibrahim Gobir (APC, Sokoto East), said the assessment was imperative to determine whether or not Nigeria had made progress or failed in terms of growing the economy.

“We have to look at the Economic Team, how qualified they are to monitor some of these projects. If they are not qualified, we remove them and then bring qualified people.

“Because the Federal Government cannot have a plan for four years and yet we cannot have information about whether that plan has failed or succeeded. I think we have to find out some of these issues”, he said.

On his part, the Deputy Whip, Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi (APC, Niger North) said, “the issue of national planning is something should always be in the front burner of our discuss.

“Attempt in the past to have a very concise National Planning framework has always met with some level of either policy flip-flop or instability.”

“Let me say that the ERGP which was meant to be operated for four years was actually coming at the heels of the recession we suffered in 2016 and, I think, the ERGP was packaged bearing in mind the issues that led to that recession.

“Having operated that from 2017 till date, let’s not forget that government came up with what they called Economic Sustainability Plan and, I think, the National Assembly played a critical role in how these plan was packaged, bearing in mind that the ERGP was not going to perform the functions it was meant to do”, he added.

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Export Rejects: NEPC, other Inter-Agencies on a fact-finding mission to UK

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In a bid to curb the incidences of export rejects, the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) is leading an Inter-Agency team to the United Kingdom (UK) as part of strategic effort to address the issue which constitute a major constraint to the growth of the non-oil export sector.

The National Food, Drug and Administration Control (NAFDAC), Nigerian Agricultural Quarantine Service (NAQS), Nigerian Customs Service (NCS), National Aviation Handling Company (NAHCO) Skypower Aviation Handling Company Limited (SAHCOL) Federal Produce inspection Service (FPIS) and Federation of Agricultural Commodities Association of Nigeria (FACAN) are among the Agencies participating on the fact-finding mission.

The Executive Director/CEO of NEPC, Dr. Ezra Yakusak who led the team lamented that these cases of rejection had resulted in stricter inspection regime on Nigerian exports in the importing countries and in some cases led to the suspension or ban of some products.

According to him “It also attracts unfavourable international media attention, gives the country a negative image as well as constitutes financial burden to the exporters who have to bear the cost of either reshipping the banned product to Nigeria or destroying the product.”

A statement by Ndubueze Okeke, the Head Cooperate Communication of the NEPC, the objective of the 5-day visit is to provide Nigerian export-regulatory and facilitating agencies the opportunity of observing the processes of agricultural commodities import procedures and interface with Port Health and Food Import Regulatory Agencies at the Border Control Points (BCPs) in the UK.

Other areas to be visited by the team are, Southampton Port (the second busiest port in UK), Spitafield Market – a one-stop aggregation and distribution centre for imported food in the UK as well as the Food Standards Agency (FDA), the parliament among others.

The team also held an interactive session with some Nigerian food importers in UK as part of effort to address the challenges encountered in importing food items from Nigeria to UK. It will be recalled that the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment (FMITI) Otunba Niyi Adebayo recently inaugurated a Technical Committee to address the incidences of export rejects with view to proffer solutions to the problem.

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SON Commends FAO, NCC on review of food standards

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The Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) has commended the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) and the National Codex Committee (NCC) for critical role played in the elaboration of food Standards at the International level especially at the various committees of the Codex Alimentarius Commission where Standards are adopted at the National level.

The Director General, Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) Mallam Farouk Salim disclosed on Thursday while speaking at the awareness and advocacy workshop organized by the National Codex Committee (NCC) in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations (UN).

for high level policy and decision makers and public presentation of the 4th Edition of the revised National Codex Committee Procedural Manual in Abuja said the review was apt in order to keep abreast with the growth of Codex activities.

Represented by his Chief of Staff, Prof. Olobayo Kunle, SON Director General said NCC has also contributed to the review of the Food safety policy and Food safety Bill in Nigeria.

“The National Codex Committee Procedural Manual was first prepared in line with CAC procedural manual published in 2002, with further revisions in 2007 and 2012 to guide the activities and improve functions of all the stakeholders involved for effective operations.

“The review of the NCC Procedural Manual was necessary to keep abreast with the growth of Codex activities over time, incorporate major changes, improve and strengthen Codex structure in Nigeria

“The National Codex Committee (NCC) Nigeria successfully applied for the Codex Trust Fund (CTF) 2 support to build strong, solid and sustainable national capacity to engage in Codex activities through the organization of annual awareness and advocacy workshops with political decision-makers, targeted competent authorities and other stakeholders to disseminate more information on Codex.

“The overall objective of the activity is to sensitize public decision-makers and competent authorities on the need to engage more in the national codex and to regularly provide all the support to increase its actions in favour of food safety at national level” he said.

The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) Representative to Nigeria, Fred Kafeero said since the inception of CAC, FAO has worked with World Health Organisation in the development of international food standards, guidelines, and codes of practices to protect the health of consumers and ensure fair trade practices in the food trade using the principles of risk analysis and scientific advice provided by joint FAO/WHO expert bodies and consultations.

Represented by the FAO Assistant Representative Administration, David Fehintola said its country office in Nigeria with support from the regional office for Africa has continued to partner the Government and the National Codex Committee towards creating effective and efficient policies and strategies to eliminate hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition in the country.

He said FAO believe that ensuring the supply of safe, quality and nutritious foods is as important as ensuring the availability of foods and food standardization as “Poor quality foods do not ensure food security” he said.

The FAO Representative to Nigeria said the agency has been supporting the National Codex Committee (NCC) in Nigeria, which has members from all the MDAs and the Private sector through the execution of the Codex Trust Fund 2 activities with a focus on the implementation of the Codex Strategic Plan 2020-2025.

“We, at FAO believe that it is vital that the NCC commits itself to the core values of the Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC) in its Inclusiveness, Collaboration, Consensus Building and Transparency in all its work.

“FAO in its support through the CTF2 project endeavors to ensure the participation of all Codex members in the country in standard setting process to ensure these core values are met.

“A lot has been achieved this year in terms of capacity building of codex members, advocacy, sensitization and public awareness as well as in the review, finalization and dissemination of the NCC procedural manual” he said.

 

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Export4Survival: NEPC partners NOA to drive campaign in 36 States

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As part of strategic collaboration to promote the export of Made-in-Nigerian products and thereby increase foreign exchange earnings for the country, the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) has team up with the National Orientation Agency (NOA) to create awareness for the Export4Survival campaign in 36 states of the federation.

The Executive Director of NEPC, Dr Ezra Yakusak while on a working visit to the NOA in Abuja, said the visit was borne out of the need to seek strategic collaboration with relevant government Ministries Departments and Agencies (MDAs) in a bid to rejuvenate the nation’s fragile economy in the wake of dwindling revenue from crude oil.

In a statement by Ndubueze Okeko, Head, Corporate Communications of the NEPC, Dr Yakusak, pointed out that the #Export4Survival is a patriotic call on all Nigerians to realize the urgency of engaging in non-oil export trade as a viable means of economic growth, poverty alleviation, industrial development and boosting our foreign exchange earnings.

“We must export our goods and services or perish. That is the only way the country could create jobs, create wealth and ensure a sustainable economy that guarantees prosperity for all Nigerians”, he added.

Responding, the NOA Director General, Dr. Garba Abari commended the NEPC for initiating the Export4Survival campaign as part of strategic initiative to increase the awareness of opportunities in the sector and benefits of exporting Nigerian goods and services to the overall growth of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

With 813 offices spread across the country, Dr. Abari said the NOA was strategically positioned to help the Council drive the campaign to the 36 states of the federation as well as the 774 local governments areas.

“Export4Survival is indeed strategic in finding a solution to the nation’s fragile economy. It is the only way to regain the value of the Naira as it will create wealth and job opportunities for all Nigerians”, he noted.

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