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Business News

How State Governments will become richer without FAAC allocation

Kebbi State announced in August that the state generated a revenue of N150 billion from the sale of its local cultivated rice in 2017.

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Agricaulture, Kebbi, FAAC, IGR

If the Nigerian agricultural sector is to be properly developed, then, the Federal Government may need to halt the monthly Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC) disbursements distributed to the 36 state governments and Abuja.

This is the view expressed by the Vice President of Nigeria Agribusiness Group (NABG), Mr Emmanuel Ijewewe, in an exclusive chat with Nairametrics, during an agro stakeholders’ conference, Meet the Farmers Conference, held at the Intercontinental Hotel, in Lagos. The event was organised by Crenov8 Consulting and tagged “The Future of Agribusiness”.

Allocations made State Governments lazy

According to him, the development of the Nigerian agricultural sector depends not on the Federal Government (who has no land for farmers), but on the State Governments. However, most of the 36 states are not ready to develop their agricultural sector, due to the monthly revenue allocation they receive from the federation account. The ‘cheap’ revenue has made them complacent because the monthly allocation seems like a windfall to the states since it is not generated by them.

However, if the Federal Government decides to halt the distribution of revenue allocation, the second-tier governments will have no choice than to focus on how to improve their Internal Generated Revenue (IGR), in order to survive. This drive will force them to support farmers to boost their produce and generate revenue, in order to make the farmers taxable.

He explained

“Many of the state governments are still getting too much from the Federal Government, if you wipe that out, when they go in for their IGR, they will help farmers to put themselves in a position where they will be making profits and, therefore, able to pay tax.”

How the Government can improve agriculture

Meanwhile, governments can help farmers in several ways, in order to boost their produce and make them profitable for taxation.

  • Little knowledge or information to the farmers can make a whole lot of difference in their production outputs.
  • Governments can invest in the construction of greenhouses to protect agricultural produce and multiplies them.
  • The government should make agricultural funds accessible to farmers easily through agencies like Nigerian Export-Import Bank (NEXIM Bank), Bank of Agriculture (BoA), etc.
  • Agricultural and farm inputs like fertilizers, tractors etc can be subsidised by governments at various levels, so as to assist peasant farmers, who may not be able to afford these necessary inputs, at the beginning of planting season.
  • Governments should make available technology-improved seedlings, hybrid breeding, hybrid seeds etc.

Kebbi State as an example

There is a popular saying that, “if you give too much money to your children, they may not go far in life.” That seems to be the situation with many State Governments, who despite the availability of arable lands suitable for several agricultural products in their domains, still prefer to look away and focus on their meagre monthly allocation from Abuja.

No one could have believed that Kebbi State has the potential to generate N150 billion from rice cultivation alone. The Kebbi State Governor announced in August that the state generated a revenue of N150 billion from the sale of its local cultivated rice in 2017. Meanwhile, data from the National Bureau of Statistics reveals that Kebbi received FAAC allocation was only N40.08 billion from January to December 2017.

Land is the true wealth

The above research has shown that, the true wealth of each state in Nigeria is the farmers. State Governments need to realise this fact, in order to harness the huge potentials in the agricultural sector and subsequently increase their IGR.

If Kebbi State can generate N150 billion from the sale of locally cultivated rice in one year, then, states like Benue and Plateau regarded as the food baskets of the nation with more fertile lands can generate more; only if their governments can focus on the development of the agricultural sector.

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According to NBS, agriculture contributed 22.86% to Nigeria’s real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the second quarter of 2018. If states want to fully harness the huge wealth deposited on their lands, they need to return to the era where agriculture was the mainstay of each region’s economy, contributing over 50% to their GDP.

As at now, there are about 14 million cows in Nigeria, but we still import 96% of the milk we drink. With 14 million cows, Nigeria has no excuse for not having enough milk processing factories, to process milk for local consumption and exportation. Agricultural opportunities should be maximised to create wealth.

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Business

Cement prices surge in South East as scarcity, price hike hit North East

Prices of cement have risen by 67% in many Southeastern states and by 40% as observed in northern states including Bauchi, Gombe, Borno, others.

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The prices of cement have risen by 67% in the South-East states of Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu and Imo.

This is as some residents of the North-Eastern part of the country also complained of price hike of cement, which they attributed to the scarcity of the product and the activities of middlemen who try to capitalize on the situation.

According to a report from the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), a market survey conducted at various wholesale and retail shops in the eastern zone shows that the price of the product has almost doubled when compared to the price in 2020.

What the cement traders in the eastern states are saying

A cement dealer at Kenyetta Market in Enugu State, Mr Ifeanyi Amadi, said the increase in the price of the product which started last year was due to the Covid-19 pandemic and increase in dollar exchange.

He pointed out that a trailer load of Dangote cement with 600 bags, which sold for N1.5 million in 2020, sold for N2.3 million in the first quarter of 2021.

Another retailer, Samuel Uwakwe, noted that a bag of Dangote Cement now goes for N3,900, Unicem for N3,700; BUA Cement for N3,700 and Kogi Super Cement for N3,600.

While begging the suppliers to reduce the price and make the product available, Uwakwe expressed his reservations at few individuals being given the opportunity to supply the product noting that the prices would likely crash during raining season.

In Abia, a cross-section of residents of Umuahia, the state capital, also decried the high price of cement, which ranges from N4,000 to N4,100 per 50kg bag.

Those who spoke to NAN said the price hike had further dashed the hope of many Nigerians, wishing to own their personal homes.

A businessman, Mr Victor Ugwu, said he had to suspend his building project because of the current development as he could not afford to continue with the current price of the commodity.

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He said,  “I think the hike can be attributed to the monopoly being enjoyed by the cement producers in the country. Unfortunately, there may not be any respite until that monopoly is broken.”

However, a cement dealer, Mr James Ogbonna, said the price increase had nothing to do with the manufacturers of the commodity but rather put the blame on the activities of shylock distributors of cement.

He said, “In the first and second week of March, we sold a bag for N3,200, but within the third week we started selling at N3,500. By the end of March, the price moved up to N4,000 and now, we sell between N4,000 and N4100, depending on the brand.”

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A cement dealer in Awka, Mr Kenechukwu Okoye, said before the #EndSARS protest in 2020, a 50kg bag of cement was sold at N2,500 bur rose to N3,000 immediately after the protest and from there to the current price of N4,000 and N4,100.

The survey also says that in Owerri, the Imo state capital, the price of cement is between N3,850 and N4300, depending on the brand.

At the building materials Market in Naze, Owerri North Local Government Area, Dangote and BUA cement are sold at N4,000 per bag while BUA and UNICEM are sold for N3,900.

Mr Okechukwu Okonya, a seller, said the cost could be attributed to the high cost of transportation as a result of fuel price increase adding that major dealers sometimes hoard the product in their warehouses to create artificial scarcity.

The survey report says that in Abakaliki, Ebonyi, prices of almost all building materials have gone up, with Dangote and Bua which sold for N2,500 earlier in November and December 2020 now selling for between N4000 and N4500.

Similarly, Unicem cement which also sold at N2,300 within the same period had also gone up to N4,000 and N4,300.

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Similar price increase in North East

The survey report in Bauchi, Gombe, Borno, Yobe, Adamawa and Jigawa, shows an average of 40% increase in price.

According to the respondents, this could be attributed to the outbreak of Covid-19 which affected production in factories, while demand kept rising.

Others, however, blamed the hike on the high cost of transportation and other sundry activities associated with the business of procurement and sales of cement in the country.

Malam Ibrahim Sanusi, a cement dealer at the Gombe main market described the hike as outrageous when compared with the price of the same commodity the previous year.

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He said that a bag of Dangote brand which he bought for N2,400 and sold for N2, 500, is bought for N4,000 from their depot in Gombe and sold for N4,200.

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Energy

Carbon Tax: A market-based alternative to carbon emissions in Nigeria

A carbon tax is a way to have users of carbon fuels pay for the climate damage caused by releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

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climate, Understanding Carbon Credits and Carbon Offset market

Fossil Fuel is hurting us. It is an undeniable truth. I have heard in many conversations more often than not a very solid support for the fossil industry. Rather simple conversations on its perils and disadvantages always end with resignation by the other party that “fossil has come to stay.”

While not doubting that premise, I rather believe a lot can be done to limit the harmful effect of what is here to stay with us. A lot can be said about how beneficial fossil fuel is to the economy and how it is initially cheaper and more available but, in truth, the harms still exists.

Sadly, these harms are more than good. The clarion call to stop these emissions has been on for a very long time, but the reality remains the attention span of the larger consumer population is very very short when it comes to that discourse.

I would say, the essence and need for us to look to further means to mitigate the harm from fossil fuel is not just for a cleaner environment but also for an environment to still exist. The constant clamour for a change in our perspective is not just for the growth of the alternative sector but also a struggle for survival, because we will all lose if we do not stop.

Now, since we have declared to ourselves that we wouldn’t stop, it only makes sense if we can effectively checkmate how we continue with fossil, adopt Carbon Capture techniques and in an attempt to make sure no one goes overboard, impose fines on the amount on those that burn beyond their limit and on fossil that enters the country. This is a concept that, rather thankfully, already exists. Carbon Tax.

A carbon tax is a fee imposed on the burning of carbon-based fuels (coal, oil, gas). A carbon tax is a way — the only way, really — to have users of carbon fuels pay for the climate damage caused by releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

It is a market-based alternative that helps the government reduce the carbon footprint and also allows them make money as a government when there is a breach of this solemn oath to stay in check. In Nigeria, The Carbon Tax Act came into force on 1 June 2019. The carbon tax was designed to apply to direct emissions in the following categories as specified in the National Greenhouse Gas Emission Reporting Regulations:

  • Fuel combustion, which relates to emissions released from fuel combustion activities;
  • Fugitive emissions from fuels, which relates to emissions mainly released from the extraction, production, processing, and distribution of fossil fuels; and
  • Industrial processes emissions, which relates to emissions released from the consumption of carbonates and the use of fuels as feedstock or as carbon reductants, and the emission of synthetic gases in particular cases.

It is trite to say that this entire scheme is altogether ineffective and barely surviving. It is sad to note because there are numerous benefits to Carbon Tax. The advantages of doing this asides still having a healthy civilization in the next 100 years are numerous. First, it would be creating a very profitable system of revenue for the government. Here, the government will not need to spend much on the initial cost of having this revenue stream in place. Aside from the need to establish an agency to enforce the limits and payment of fines and the adequate system of calculating and verifying the amount consumed, the expenses on the government is almost Zero. This agency unlike many others in this country will be more active than idle, considering the existence of various fossil burning industries in Nigeria and being largely oil-dependent.

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Secondly, this would help Nigeria join the global effort to reduce the carbon footprint and in turn put Nigeria on the good pages of the global community as a contributor to green energy. This will birth a host of benefits for the Nigerian Community and also assist the domestic green energy advocates.

Furthermore, this system will help to promote the alternative energy industry. The renewable energy industry will from this initiative be able to sufficiently measure the actual impact of their activities on the environment and the economy as well as challenge the growth of new innovations to grow it. The campaigns will no longer be dependent on cancelling out the large emissions killing the environment since more revenue now streams for the government from them, but to the actual direct benefits of renewable energy.

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This alternative will also assist the government in assessing the benefits of reducing emissions and growing the renewable energy industry. The implementation of this will serve as a step for the assessment and understanding of the dynamics, policies and funding needed for the full inevitable integration of Green Energy.

The advantages are numerous and as such need Carbon Taxing to be revived in the country. In all sincerity to the dynamics of Nigerian politics and due respect to our exalted government, it is almost too easy for these things to be put in place seeing they will also have a fresh channel to loot from while saving our dear lives and making the air cleaner. A Win-Win for all the parties involved.

 

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Written by Ude Fortune Chiziterem

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