…vows to tackle food inflation in 2021
lCouncil tasks FG to re-build investors’ confidence
President Muhammadu Buhari has vowed to tackle food inflation in the country in 2021.
Buhari also gave a directive to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) never to make any foreign exchange (forex) available to anyone to import food into the country.
The President, while speaking at the fifth regu- lar meeting with the Presidential Economic Advisory Council (PEAC) in the State House, yesterday, said about seven states in the country are already meeting the rice needs of the country.
“CBN must not give money to import food. Already about seven states are producing all the rice we need. We must eat what we produce,” the President declared. He said the downturn in the global crude market has forced the country to be producing 1.5 million barrels per day as against the projected 2.3 million barrels per day in the budget even at higher production cost than Saudi Arabia.
He lamented that but for the diversification policy adopted by his government, the nation’s economy would have been badly impacted by the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. He said his administration’s resolve to stop reliance on oil production, currently in turmoil, motivated the strides already made in agricultural production in the country.
“Going back to the land is the way out. We depend on petrol at the expense of agriculture. Now the oil industry is in turmoil. We are being squeezed to produce at 1.5 million barrels a day as against a capacity to produce 2.3 million.
At the same time, the technical cost of our production per barrel is high, compared to the Middle East production,” he said. While emphasizing the place of agriculture in the efforts to restore the economy, the President agreed that measures must be put in place to curtail inflation in the country. According to him, “We will continue to encourage our people to go back to the land. Our elite is indoctrinated in the idea that we are rich in oil, leaving the land for the city for oil riches.
We are back to the land now. We must not lose the opportunity to make life easier for our people. Imagine what would have happened if we didn’t encourage agriculture and closed the borders. We would have been in trouble.”
The PEAC meeting, meant for a review and reflections on the global and domestic economy in the outgoing year, was attended by the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, as well as Ministers of Finance and Humanitarian Affairs.
It agreed on a number of measures. In specific terms, the PEAC noted the sharp deterioration in international economic environment and its impact on Nigeria’s continuing, but fragile economic recovery; that Nigeria’s economic growth continues to be constrained by obvious challenges including infrastructural deficiencies and limited resources for government financing.
It emphasized the need to make the private sector of the economy the primary source of investment, rather than government. The meeting reviewed progress towards structural reforms in response to the economic crises, including the institution of the Economic Sustainability Plan (ESP), the changes in electricity tariff and fuel pricing regime, the partial re-opening of the land borders, the movement towards unification of exchange rates and budgetary reforms through Finance Bill 2020 and 2021.
It agreed that, to prepare the country for the challenges ahead, it is imperative to ensure macroeconomic stability, create certainty and re-build investor confidence in the economy.
It emphasized the need to deepen structural reforms initiated by the administration as a basis for stimulating investments from domestic and international sources with a view to raising productivity in key sectors of the economy.