12 Jan

Daily Watch – PPPRA template collapses, FG to review trade policy

  • NUPENG has suspended its warning strike. The union went on strike yesterday over unresolved issues, including pay and job loss disputes after a 21-day ultimatum expired. PENGASSAN also dropped its planned strike over similar complaints in the oil and gas sector. The two unions decided to stop the strikes after a five-hour meeting with Labour Minister, Chris Ngige, and representatives of multinational oil companies in Abuja on Wednesday. “All issues have been addressed one after the other. We are very satisfied with the commitment shown,” the President, NUPENG, Igwe Achese, said after the talks.
  • The CBN has approved ₦1 billion in soft loans for Micro Small and Medium Scale businesses in Imo state. The state had applied for ₦2 billion applied for in 2014. However, Imo is expecting the ₦9 billion approved of by the CBN last year for the states’ Anchor Borrower’s rice project which is meant to start this quarter. According to the Chief Economic Adviser, Planning, Budget and Economic Development, to Governor Okorocha, Iyke Njoku, an SPV will be adopted by the government for the disbursement of the loans to the qualified persons who are ready to repay one year with a single digit of 2 per cent as specified by the CBN. Njoku, said the soft loan would be channelled to the agriculture and trading sectors of the economy which the state government expects to have yields in several thousands at the end of the day.
  • The Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency is in disarray according to The Guardian, and this is disrupting the implementation of the existing pricing template. According to the paper, the disruption in the system is the result of a lack of mechanism for a quarterly price adjustment, absence of a board and failure by the FG to appoint a substantive executive secretary. These factors have contributed more to the collapse of the pricing template than the lack of forex for fuel imports. The rising cost of crude oil in the international market has renewed pressure on the FG to increase the price of petrol as the subsidy has made a comeback. The NNPC has become the last resort in the supply chain following the inability of independent marketers to access foreign exchange for petrol imports. The current open market price of petrol is above the ₦145 per litre maximum price of the product.
  • The FG will soon start an exhaustive review of the country’s trade policy in order to avoid dumping of substandard products in Nigeria by some foreign trade partners. The review, which will be done this year, is the first to be carried out since 2002 when the current policy was formulated. Trade Adviser to the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment and Chief Trade Negotiator for Nigeria, Chiedu Osakwe, said the review of the trade policy would be done in such a way that it would discourage dumping and promote the diversification efforts of the government. He also said that the FG will not be forced into signing and ratifying the Economic Partnership Agreement between the EU and ECOWAS. Osakwe explained that while Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana had signed the agreement, Nigeria was not in a hurry to do same as the agreement in its current form would not support the diversification efforts of the FG. Osakwe insisted that the review of the trade policy would enable the government to expand market opportunities for Nigerian companies as well as look into the ECOWAS Common External Tariff and the EPA that had been seen to be controversial.