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FG halts privatisation of Commodity Exchange

CBN takes over control
Emefiele: We’ll inject N50bn

The Federal Government has halted privatization exercise of Nigeria’s premier commodity exchange – Nigeria Commodity Exchange (NCX), it has emerged yesterday. In place of its privatization, President Muhammadu Buhari has saddled the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) with the responsibility of Exchange’s turnaround to enable it play the role of catalysing agricultural production in Nigeria’s agriculture value chain.

CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, confirmed government’s backtrack of Exchange privatisation pursuit, yesterday, in Abuja at inaugural meeting of the steering committee for NCX repositioning.

The apex bank owns 59.7% majority shareholding in NCX, and the bank is primed to commit at least N50 billion through InfraCo structure to enable it implement far reaching measures. Emefiele had, on Tuesday at the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC), hinted of policy direction awaiting NCX. He had declared that the apex bank secured president’s directive to assume control of the Commodity Exchange for restructuring and repositioning.

In furtherance to the directive, Emefiele inaugurated steering committee comprising strategic stakeholders of NCX. They include, Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) and Africa Finance Corporation (AFC), under the Infraco Structure. They are expected to develop and implement a strategic repositioning plan for the NCX to make the Exchange an efficient world class commodity body.

Emefiele told the steering committee that: “As you all are aware, the Federal Government, along with the CBN, has implemented several intervention schemes in the agriculture and manufacturing sectors, aimed at boosting employment generation and wealth creation, reducing our dependence on imported food items, conserving our foreign exchange earnings and spurring economic growth.

“These interventions in the agricultural sector, particularly the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP) and Commodity Development Initiative (CDI), sought to strengthen key agricultural commodities’ value chains, enable improved productivity in the agricultural sector, and increase sourcing of inputs locally by stakeholders in the manufacturing sector. These programmes have also helped to improve our self-sufficiency in the production of key staple items, which is in line with the government’s food security objectives.”

He lamented that “notwithstanding the gains that have been achieved, there are still significant challenges within the Nigerian agricultural commodities value chain that would need to be addressed, in order to accelerate investment and productivity in the sector.

“Some of these challenges include: poor infrastructure and logistics which impede the movement of produce from farm to market and/or processing centres resulting in massive revenue losses to farmers, limited storage and preservation facilities, lack of adequate liquidity to sup-port off-take of agricultural goods; unavailability of pricing information to market participants; activities of middlemen who currently aggregate commodities with the sole aim of manipulating prices for selfish gains among others.”

Emefiele said these ills were core issues affecting Nigeria’s commodity market, which must be addressed in order to properly harness the benefits that the agriculture sector could provide to the nation’s economy. “There is no doubt that an effective and efficient commodity exchange ecosystem has a critical role in achieving the aforementioned objectives, through its provision of an organized platform for farmers to trade products in a transparent and efficient market,” he said.

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