President Muhammadu Buhari Tuesday give a strong directive to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), not to provide foreign exchange for food importation in 2021 to curtail the rising food inflation in the country.
President Buhari gave the order while speaking at the fifth regular meeting with the Presidential Economic Advisory Council held at the State House in Abuja.
Nigeria’s annual inflation rate quickened for a 15th straight month to 14.89% in November 2020 from 14.23% in October – is the highest since January 2018, as food inflation hit a near three-year high of 18.3%, mainly linked to dollar shortages and surging Boko Haram and Bandits attacks in farming areas. On a monthly basis, consumer prices inched up 1.60%, the most since May 2017, after increasing 1.54% in the previous month.
The directive according to the President, is in line with his given words that the administration’s pledge to keep a keen eye on food inflation in the New Year.
Buhari directed that the 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.”
In taking note of the strides made in agricultural production following the program of diversification from over-reliance on oil instituted by his administration, President Buhari wondered where the country would have found itself by now given the devastating economic crisis brought about by COVID-19 if the country had not embraced agriculture.
“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.
The President emphasized the place of agriculture in the efforts to restore the economy but agreed that measures must be put in place to curtail inflation in the country:
“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 meeting, which was for a review of, and reflections on the global and domestic economy in the outgoing year, was attended by the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, as well as Ministers of Finance and Humanitarian Affairs and agreed on several measures.
In specific terms, it noted the sharp deterioration in the 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 the government.
The meeting reviewed progress towards structural reforms in response to the economic crises, including the institution of the Economic Sustainability Plan, the changes in electricity tariff and fuel pricing regime, the partial re-opening of the Land Borders, the movement towards the 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 to raise productivity in key sectors of the economy
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