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FG blames importers for failure in promoting locally made goods

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Audu Ogbeh. Photo: NAN

The Federal Government has blamed importers for the challenges in its drive to promote patronage of locally made goods in the country.

Minister of Agriculture, Audu Ogbeh, said this yesterday when he appeared before the National Assembly Joint Committee on Agriculture in Abuja to defend its budget.

He explained that importers, including those bringing in toothpicks, sugar, vegetables and pencils, were frustrating government’s effort to ensure that Nigerians patronise locally made goods.

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His words: “We are a nation of importers. Toothpick costs us $18 million every year, while tomato paste costs us $400 million.

“A basket of tomatoes is less than N2,000. Farmers are losing money because the processors do not have enough funds to set up factories.”

He, however, told the committee that two factories have started off, adding: “I am sure that by the end of next year we can comfortably tell importers of tomato paste to stop.”

Ogbeh assured that the Federal Government would begin to consider the possibility of exploring cocoa and other cash crops to further boost the nation’s economy.

On the impact of farmers, herders clash on farm produce, Ogbeh said it had so much effect on the quantity of food crops produced by farmers.

He expressed concern that efforts by the ministry to find a permanent solution to the problem had been frustrated by key players in various states, pointing out that the ministry invited governors of the 36 states of the federation to a roundtable, but only 16 states responded.

Co-Chairman, Senate Joint Committee on Agriculture, Abdullahi Adamu, solicited concerted efforts to restore the glory of Nigeria’s agricultural sector, which was once its economic mainstay.

Meanwhile, Senate Committee on Federal Capital Territory (FCT) yesterday disclosed that the Ministry of Finance performed poorly in its budget releases to it in 2018, as it got only 31.9 per cent of the N30.4b approved.

It also rejected yearly reduction in the capital component of budgetary allocations to the FCT.

The committee made its position known, when the FCT Minister, Muhammed Bello, and top management staff defended its 2019 budget before Senate.

Speaking, Chairman of the Committee, Dino Melaye (PDP Kogi West), pointed out that capital component of FCT’s budget allocations has reduced over the years from N109b in 2008 to N30b in 2019.

Responding, Bello said out of 33 projects proposed in the 2018 budget for execution, only 15 were being executed at low percentage level due to paucity of funds.

“We are happy that the F9 given was not for us but the Ministry of Finance, which has not been upcoming on expected releases due to shortfall in projected revenue generation,” he said.


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