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Economy

Customs Intensifies War Against Smuggling, Intercept Goods Worth N1.6bn

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By Eric Elezuo

The Federal Operations Unit, Zone A of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), has continued to win the war against smuggling and smugglers as it recorded a landmark feat in less than one month, intercepting  goods with a total duty paid value (DPV) of N1, 461, 006, 823. 8 in addition to recovering the sum of N166, 207, 735. 25 from duty payments and demand notices on general goods from seaports, airports, and border stations through classification, transfer of value, and other forms of duty payment shortchange.

The revelation was made by the Controller, FOU, Zone A, Comptroller Mohammed Uba, during an interaction with the press at the Unit’s headquarters in Ikeja.

The Controller noted that cumulatively, the Service recovered a total of One Billion, Six Hundred and Twenty Seven Million, Two Hundred and Fourteen Thousand, Five Hundred and Fifty Nine Naira (N1, 627, 214, 559) within the period under review.

While asserting that there is no hiding place for smugglers, he outlined the intercepted goods to include Indian Hemp, 64 exotic vehicles, 6003 bags of foreign parboiled rice, 963 cartons of frozen poultry, 431 cans of vegetable oil, 163 bales of used clothing, 569 pieces of used tyre, 69 sacks of sugar among many other items.

Comptroller Uba stressed that the items were intercepted at different locations at different times within period March 19 and April 9, 2018. He noted that while the parcels and sacks of Indian Hemp were seized at the Olorunda axis of Ogun State, the sacks of 50kg rice were intercepted from Ilogbo, Abeokuta. All interceptions, he said, were based on credible intelligence report, adding that the seized Indian hemp will be handed over to the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA)

He maintained that all smugglers or would-be smugglers will sooner or later be caught, and so should desist from the act for their own good. He added that 10 suspects were arrested in connection to some of the seizures.

“Let me warn all smugglers or intending smugglers and their accomplices to desist from such trade malpractices and invest their money in legitimate businesses as the Unit has devised other operational modalities that will give them a run for their money… and land them in jail,” Uba said.

He expressed appreciation to the Comptroller-General of Customs, Col. Hameed Ali (Rtd), the management team of NCS and men and officers of the unit as well as sister agencies and the press for their various supports.

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Economy

Fuel Scarcity: FG Raises 14-Man Panel for Solution

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The Federal Government is meeting with operators in the midstream and downstream oil sector as part of measures towards developing strategic stock for Premium Motor Spirit, popularly called petrol, in key locations across the country.

It said the national strategic stocks would help in addressing the recurring fuel scarcity in Nigeria, as it also announced the constitution of a 14-man committee to find a lasting solution to the disruptions in the supply and distribution of petroleum products.

The Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources stated that President Muhammadu Buhari, had approved the  constitution of a 14-man Steering Committee on Petroleum Products Supply and Distribution Management, which he would personally chair.

The ministry said the move was to find lasting solution to the disruptions in the supply and distribution of petroleum products across the country.

It said the committee had the Minister of State for Petroleum Resource, Chief Timipre Sylva, as Alternate Chairman, as the team would ensure transparent and efficient supply and distribution of petroleum products.

“Other terms of reference are to ensure national strategic stock management, visibility on the NNPC Limited refineries rehabilitation programme and ensure end-to-end tracking of petroleum products, especial PMS, to ascertain daily national consumption and eliminate smuggling,” the FMPR stated in a statement.

To ensure sanity in the supply and distribution across the value chain, Sylva directed the NMDPRA to ensure strict compliance with the government approved ex-depot and retail prices for PMS.

The ministry stated that other members of the committee include the Minister of Finance; Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Petroleum Resources; National Economic Adviser to the President; and Director-General, Department of State Services.

Others include the Comptroller-General, Nigerian Customs Service; Chairman, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission; and Commandant-General, Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps.

The Chief Executive, NMDPRA; Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria; Group Chief Executive Officer, NNPC Limited; Special Advisor (Special Duties) to the HMSPR; were also listed as members of the committee, while the Technical Advisor (Midstream) to the HMSPR would serve as secretary.

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Economy

CBN Raises Interest Rate to 17.5%

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The Monetary Policy Committee of the Central Bank of Nigeria has voted to increase the benchmark interest rate by 100 basis points to 17.5 per cent.

The CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, disclosed this while reading the communiqué of the first MPC meeting of the year on Tuesday.

This is the fifth time the CBN would increase the interest rate despite advice from manufacturers and some key stakeholders.

The CBN said previous increases were beginning to yield results with the slight drop in the inflation rate recorded in December 2022.

However, the CBN stressed that there was a need to keep tightening its fiscal policy.

The CBN keeps the asymmetric corridor at +100/-700 basis points around the MPR.

The CBN also retained the CRR at 32.5 per cent while the liquidity ratio was kept at 30 per cent.

The apex bank had increased the MPR from 11.5 per cent earlier last year to 16.5 per cent across four consecutive rate hikes in 2022.

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Economy

Old Naira Notes: No going Back on January 31 Deadline, CBN Insists

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The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has declared that it will not extend the January 31 deadline for N1,000, N500 and N200 notes to cease being legal tender despite pressure from Nigerians on the need for an extension of the deadline.

The apex bank also warned commercial banks in the country to desist from dispensing the old naira currency through their Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) or face sanction from the bank.

Addressing traders at the Katsina Central Market Thursday on the need to change their old currency, the CBN Director of Currency Operations, Ahmed Bello Umar, said there is no plan to extend the deadline.

The old notes are expected to be out of circulation by January 31 yet there is scarcity of the new notes as banks keep dispensing old notes to their customers across the country.

But Umar explained that the apex bank has enough new naira currency which have since been distributed across commercial banks for onward disbursement to their respective customers through ATMs.

He added that the management of the CBN has directed that from Friday last week, “all ATMs must carry only new notes. If the banks don’t have the new notes they should not load the old notes”.

He said: “The January 31 deadline is fast approaching and the CBN has no plan to extend the deadline. So, all those who have the old notes should please take them to their banks so that they will be exchanged or credited to their accounts.

“We are going round towns and cities in Nigeria to ensure that all the ATMs are loaded with new notes. And there is relaxation on the policy, they can dispense any of the notes either N1,000, N500 or N200 notes.

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