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Economic policies have caused more harm to the populace, says NACCIMA boss

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 Chief Bassey Edem

Chief Bassey Edem

The National President of NACCIMA, Chief Bassey Edem has said comments on the performance of Buhari in respect of pump price of fuel and the general growth of the economy should be looked at in its totality.

According to him, “the issue of economy is not about government, it is for the whole of Nigeria. You cannot talk about economy without taking into consideration a whole lot of issues.

“The first mistake they made was setting up Economic Council without a single private sector in it. The Council would go to their meetings and discuss the economy that affects us without those of us in the private sector. We, in the private sector were not part of that council. We in NACCIMA wrote to Mr. President to inform him that there is MAN, there is NECA, there is NACCIMA, and there is even Nigerian Economic Summit Group and others. Let, at least, one of these groups represent us in the Economic Council to advice and present our view on some key economic policies, but up till now, nothing has happened. When the council had their retreat to fashion out some economic policies, we were not part of it. We only heard that the Council had decided that by the end of this year, we would be self-sufficient in tomatoes and be self-sufficient in rice by 2018. This was the decision they took all by themselves; we were not consulted.

“The government hasn’t got a blueprint so far. As I said, they went to a retreat. The retreat was supposed to produce an economic blueprint, but what they came up with was an action plan, and not a blueprint. The blueprint would be the totality of the economy. I do not believe the government has a blueprint, unless they want to carry out the blueprint of their party. A party’s blueprint is not the country’s blueprint”.

On deregulation, he said, “All that I know is on the issue of deregulation of the crude oil price and the downstream price, is the government right from the time they were campaigning as a party did say that they were going to maintain the price of petrol. But I said that was party talk. They did not come into government and say we are going to maintain the price of petroleum product. Rather what they did was to say let us see the cost and PPRA should bring the template let us see the price of the product. When they converted it, the price came to about N87 per litre.  A sensible government would have quietly left it at the N97, but they wanted to please Nigerians and brought it down to N86 in a situation you know that your currency is fluctuating. What then happened is that there was no more foreign exchange and when it came to N86, they now say they are no longer subsidizing and at that time truly there was nothing to subsidize because they had used their template and worked it out.

“So the landing cost was about N86 and there was no subsidy but they were fast at the time to say they have removed subsidy. So when the price of crude oil started going up in the world market from $37 to $40 per barrel that also affected the template. When our foreign exchange also got up from N177 to N199 to a dollar at official price, it also affected the template and at that time, it was difficult for them to come back and say we are going to increase price. So they started to quietly bring back the subsidy. The template had gone up to almost over N90 but we were still maintaining at N86 because they were fast enough to say they have removed subsidy.

The arrangement was that 50 percent of the refined product should be imported by NNPC and the independent marketers should import the other 50 percent. NNPC could still get money from the foreign exchange through the CBN but the independent marketers could not get and they could not import. The independent marketers had to source foreign exchange through the Bureau de Change to buy at over N300 and if you apply that to a dollar on the template, it goes up to about N135 to N140 per litre. The government said go ahead. That is the origin of that N135 and N145 per litre. Announcing N145 in a situation where minimum wage was still N18 and now the unions are asking for N56, 000 as minimum wage…has caused more harm to the populace.



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