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The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) Consumer Price Index (CPI) report for March 2017 has indicated a further decline in the rate of inflation by 0.52 per cent points lower from the rate recorded in February (17.78) per cent to 17.26 per cent.
According to the NBS, this is the second consecutive month of a decline in the headline CPI on a year-on-year basis, representing the effects of stabilising prices in already high food and non-food prices as well as favourable base effects over 2016 prices.
The bureau, however, noted the major divisions responsible for accelerating the pace of the increase in the headline index which include housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels, education, food and alcoholic beverages, clothing and footwear and transportation services.
The report further revealed that the food index increased by 18.44 per cent (year-on-year) in March, slightly down 0.09 per cent points from rate recorded in February (18.53) per cent driven by increases in the prices of bread, cereals, meat, fish, potatoes, yams and other tubers and wine, while the slowest increase in food prices year-on-year were recorded by soft drinks, fruits, coffee, tea and cocoa.
The NBS report also stated that price movements recorded by all items less farm produce or core sub-index rose by 15.40 per cent (year-on-year) in March, down by 0.60 per cent points from rate recorded in February (16.00) per cent.
Similarly, urban index rose by 18.27 per cent (year-on-year) in March from 18.57 per cent recorded in February, and the rural index increased by 16.47 per cent in March from 16.98 percent in February.
The NBS further disclosed that during the month, the highest increases were seen in miscellaneous services relating to the dwelling, electricity, solid fuels, clothing materials and other articles of clothing, liquid fuel, spirits as well as fuels and lubricants for personal transport equipment.
In a related report also released by the NBS yesterday, the bureau disclosed that the average price of one dozen of medium size agric-eggs increased year-on-year by 50.38 per cent and month-on-month by 1.45 per cent to N527.69 in March 2017 from N520.16 in February 2017 while the average price of piece of agric-eggs medium size (price of one) increased year-on-year by 40.80 per cent and month-on-month by 2.39 per cent to N43.93 in March 2017 from N42.90 in February 2017.
According to the report, the average price of 1kg of tomato increased year-on-year by 29.63 per cent and month-on-month by 13.53 per cent to N268.64 in March 2017 from N236.62 in February 2017.
Furthermore, the average price of 1kg of rice (imported high quality sold loose) increased year-on-year by 55 per cent and month-on-month by 1.98 per cent to N418.71 in March 2017 from N410.58 in February 2017 the average price of 1kg of yam tuber increased year-on-year by 63.40 per cent and month-on-month by 18.70 per cent to N255.586 in March 2017 from N215.55 in February 2017.
Meanwhile, following World Bank’s low ranking in the ease of doing business in Nigeria, the Federal Government yesterday reduced the export documentation from 10 to seven while import documentation was slashed from 14 to eight.
The Senior Special Adviser (SSA) to the President on Trade and Investment, Dr. Jumoke Oduwole, who announced this in Lagos at a two-day sensitisation workshop on ease of doing business reforms, said the directive takes immediate effect.
The SSA regretted that Nigeria has been looked at as a difficult place to do business and some steps have to be taken to relax some measures in the process of doing business.
So, it is against this backdrop that the Federal Government decided to meet the stakeholders in the maritime sector of the economy to rub minds and seek ways to remove certain bottlenecks in the process of doing business.
“We have identified training across borders as the most critical areas in need of reforms in the Nigerian economy. It does a number of things. In our diversification process, we all know that this administration has a strong diversification push for exports. In our diversification push, it is impossible to import and export without functioning ports. We started work in October 2016 on entry and exit of goods. In January we took it up basing on World Bank’s training across borders indicator. We started working with Customs, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Shippers Council, terminal operators and a whole range of stakeholders to identify the key problems. We scoped them and divided them into short term and medium term and long term.
“So we started with the short term. We have a 60-day action plan which is ending on April 21. This is one of the key areas we have been working on. We have released some directives through the Minister of Finance. The Minister of Finance has issued some directives, the Comptroller General of Customs (CGC) has issued some directives on palletisation of goods coming into Nigeria. Because we want to save cost and time for SMEs in Nigeria, for anybody exporting from Nigeria or importing into Nigeria, the documentation for export has been reduced from 10 to seven and for imports from 14 to eight and that is with immediate effect,” he said.
In his presentation, Deputy Controller of Customs, Antony Ayalogu, identified the challenges in the importation process, saying that goods are not stratified before they arrive. This, he said, leads to inefficient movement of containers to yard.
According to him, the scanners are not functional and physical examination of cargoes are slow and tedious thus leading to inefficiency in the ports.
Other challenges include non-palletisation of goods and poorly-parked containers, noting that the new procedure would accelerate pre-export documentation procedure, increase effectiveness and optimise pre-arrival processing.
Recall that the World Bank ranked Nigeria 182 out of 190 countries in the world in the ease of doing business.
Some of the stakeholders present at the sensitisation workshop include Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), Shippers Council, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), among others.

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