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President of National Labour Congress, NLC, Mr. Ayuba Wabba, yesterday, appealed President Munammadu Buhari to consider increment in minimum wages from N18, 000, saying “this is the logic used by United State to address recession.”

Mr Wabba, who made the appeal in an interview with Vanguard after presenting N400, 000 Cheque to wife of late Vanguard deputy photo-editor, Mr. Tunji Oyeleru at the Airport Hotel, Ikeja, argued that the economy cannot return to its former state unless the citizens have purchasing power.

The NLC president said “The state of the country’s economy requires that we increase minimum wage. We need to empower the people to buy and sell. If the economy is at standstill and people cannot buy, the economy cannot grow.

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 Chief Audu Ogbeh, the minister of agriculture has said that the Federal Government will spend N30 billion to develop the biggest agro-industrial hub in West Africa.

  The statement was made on Tuesday when he visited the 15,000 hectares of land to be used for the hub in Kwali Area Council, Federal Capital Territory.

He clarified that the first phase of the project would focus on improving road network in the area, construction of lakes and dams, soil testing, to enable farmers to know where to grow what.

According to him, some of the money to be used in the development of the agro hub will come from support funds.

The minister said that no fewer than 3,000 youths would be engaged in the project which is expected to boost agricultural production.

He listed some agricultural produce to be grown and processed in the farm, to include vegetables for local consumption and exports, rice, soya beans, shea butter.

“A time is coming when this business of cattle roaming around will stop and we will not allow anybody move life cows.

“We are looking at spending between 10 to 30 billion naira within the next 3 to 4 years for this massive project; we want young people to subscribe to this project,’’ the minister said.

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Mrs Sola David-Borha, the Chief Executive Officer, Stanbic IBTC Holdings Plc was at the 2016 Stanbic IBTC Leadership forum held in lagos recently. Mrs David-Borha discussed agriculture extensively and stated that agriculture involved very high risks even as the Federal Government is looking towards diversification through the sector. " Despite negative growth in several sectors of the economy, agriculture was the only sector that grew by 4.5 per cent, stating that with renewed focus, the sector is capable of helping the Nigerian economy wriggle out of recession.

She further noted that "what the comercial banks, central banks, together with the state government have been able to do, is to  come together and under the Nigerian incentive Risk Base sharing model, share the risk associated with agriculture, so that 100 per cent of the risk is not one party like the bank.  When the risk is shared, it is easier for the banks to lend agriculture and since the module has been put in place, the amount of bank lending agriculture sector has increased and continues to increase. The key is sharing the risk. 

For instance she said, CBN would guarantee to take part of the risk in addition that the apex bank also provided single digit intrest rate lending agriculture, which is also important because borrowiibg at 18-20 per cent from mutual financing is diffcult.  We intend to continue to support the agricultural sector because it is critical for the economic growth of this country.  The three sectors we are focusing on is agriculture, oil and gas.Tthese three sectors we beleive, are critical to our eceonomy.

We all know that agriculture is capable of creating millions of jobs across the entire value chain, drive export and much needed foreign exchange. i think the real challenge for us is unlocking opportunities that exist and making everything that we have been talking about a reality so that agroculture will be contributing to GDP across all its value chain. It is not for the fainthearted, but requires capital, patience, commitment to see it through, adding that the new drive into agriculture will go a long way in supporting federal government towards the drive to economic diversification.

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There are some people who are expert savers. They seem to always have enough money for that rainy day.

 But putting cash aside remains a challenge for many of us, even though we all know that calamities happen – puppies get sick, jobs get lost, hurricanes damage homes. And maybe, just maybe, we’d like to retire someday.

It all takes savings. Yet many of us are woefully unprepared. In a 2015 Federal Reserve Board survey, 47% of respondents said they could not or would need to borrow or sell something to cover an unexpected $400 bill. That’s a scary statistic, and it poses the question: What can we do to strengthen our abilities to save? What do successful savers do?
Here are few habits these individuals typically have that you could implement.

1. They Make Saving 15% to 20% a Priority in Their Budget

This means, even if they have cook more homemade meals, stay in some nights to watch movies with friends, or walk instead of paying for gas and carfare, they carve out where they can save and stick to it.

“You should be saving 15% to 20% of your gross income,” Jay Hochheiser, certified financial planner and president and owner of Hochheiser & Deutch, said. “Every salary check, every draw check, every time you get paid you should be putting aside and saving 15-20% of the gross amount you were paid before taxes and other deductions were taken out.”

2. They Pay Themselves First

Hochheiser said he often sees his clients ignoring one of the most basic fundamental rules to saving: they aren’t paying themselves first. It can seem heartless to tuck money into savings that could be spent to help someone else, but in order to save effectively, you need to stick to your savings plan. Have 15% to 20% automatically pushed into a separate account each month by setting it at your bank, then pretend the money doesn’t exist. You’ll likely need it sooner than you think: 49% of Americans surveyed retired earlier than they ever expected to due to job losses, illnesses or caregiving responsibilities, according to a retirement confidence survey from the Employee Benefit Research Institute.

3. They Track Their Expenses

Do you really know where your money is going? Make a list of the frequent bills you need to pay monthly, annually, and sporadically, then track everything you’re spending on each month, according to Tracy Layden, a certified aging-in-place specialist and marketing manager at Alert-1, a medical alert company.

“Go through your charges and think about if you really need the thing you bought. Is there any way to spend less on that item? Small, regular charges (such as your daily coffee) can add up. Try making your coffee at home instead,” Layden said. And keep an eye out for sneaky recurring charges for services you no longer use, she said.

Then make a list of your financial goals so you know what you’re saving for. Make them specific, quarterly and yearly.

“Just the act of writing them down will increase the likelihood you’ll achieve them,” Layden said. “Put them in your wallet and display them by your desk so you always have them in mind.”

An added bonus is that you’ll soon have money to pay all of your bills on time, which gives you a better credit score and works to your advantage when you need a loan or want a mortgage to buy your dream home. (You can keep track of two of your credit scores for free, updated every two weeks, on Credit.com.)

4. They Make Automatic Increases to Their Savings

Sometimes, it lessens the squeeze if you slowly tighten your belt.

“We know we need to save a lot of money for retirement; but knowing that very fact can make it even harder to get started,” Lauren Zangardi Haynes, a certified financial planner at Evolution Advisers, said.

Rather than diving in and getting started, many of us do nothing and hope the problem will magically go away. Start saving a small amount now and set a reminder on your phone every two to three months to increase your savings by a small amount until you reach your savings target, she said.

“For example, sign up for your 401K and put 2% of your pay in the account. In two months, sign into your 401K account and increase your contributions by 1% of your pay,” Zangardi Haynes said. “Keep this up until you reach your goal, for example, putting 12% of your pay into your 401K.”

Also save your unexpected money such as tax refunds, credit card rewards and reimbursements, and bank half of your raise, she said.

5. They Change Their Mindset

Successful savers stop pining for all the things they can’t buy, and focus on why they are saving.

“Acknowledge your thoughts on what you may be missing out on and then turn your thoughts to what you are gaining by having more savings,” Zangardi Haynes said. “Are you saving for a special vacation? A dream home? Financial freedom? These are all worthy goals and you should be proud of your progress.”

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British Pound banknotes at a money exchange shop. The pound plunged more than six percent to a fresh 31-year low against the dollar on October 7, 2016, its latest slump after Britain firmed up details on the timing of its exit from the European Union.(AFP)
The London stock market rose at the open on Friday, buoyed by a “flash crash” in the beleaguered British pound, but Frankfurt and Paris held steady before key US data.
In initial trade, the British capital’s benchmark FTSE 100 index of top blue-chip companies rose climbed 0.7 percent to 7,047.29 points, as the crashing currency boosted the outlook for exporters.
In the eurozone, meanwhile, Frankfurt’s DAX 30 slid 0.2 percent to 10,549.69 points and the Paris CAC 40 was flat at 4,480.10 points compared with the close on Thursday, ahead of key US non-farm payrolls data.
In earlier Asian trading hours, the pound faced a “flash crash” on a computer-generated sell-off in the beleaguered currency, as tough talk from French President Francois Hollande underscored the perils for Brexit-bound Britain.


 
Sterling fell off a cliff to strike a 31-year low at $1.1841 before rebounding sharply. The euro also hit a seven-year-high 94.15 pence, before easing slightly.
Foreign companies listed in London have seen their shares rocket by the pound’s tumble as it boosts their earnings when they are converted into sterling.
“The pound had a rollercoaster ride overnight,” said City Index analyst Kathleen Brooks.
“The driver of this massacre: apparently algorithms reacting to comments … from French President Francois Hollande about the UK’s potential hard Brexit.”
Hollande sent one of the strongest warnings yet that Britain will have to pay a heavy price for leaving the EU, adding to deep concern in financial markets

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Manufacturers and other private sector operators have revealed a gloomy picture of how the foreign exchange restriction placed on 41 items by the CBN had affected operations in the business sector.

They said that since the restriction order was placed last year, about 272 firms had been forced out of business, 50 of which were manufacturing companies.

While some affected manufacturers have relocated to few neighbouring countries, the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), said at least 222 small-scale businesses have closed shops, leading to as much as 180,000 job losses.

As a result of the negative impact of the policy on the operations of manufacturers, stakeholders in the economy including MAN, the National Association of Small and Medium Enterprises and the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, have all insisted that the policy must be reviewed.

They spoke at the launch of a report on manufacturing sector by NOI Polls Limited, in collaboration with the Centre for the Studies of Economies of Africa.

The Director, Economics and Statistics, MAN, Mr. Ambrose Oruche, lamented the unavailability of productive inputs, stating that this was the major challenge confronting manufacturers.

He attributed the problem largely to the ban by the CBN on certain items from acessing the official window of the forex market, adding that the current operating environment was too harsh for many manufacturers to continue to operate.

He wondered why the CBN and the Federal Government kept coming out with what he described as conflicting polices, noting that this was affecting the growth of the manufacturing sector.

He said, “Presently, about 50 manufacturers have closed shop, while some have downsized. Some manufacturers are still producing due to their love for this country. Government’s policy on cement should have been adopted in this case.

“In the case of cement, Nigeria used to be a net importer of cement, but the government set up a policy over a five-year period, which made it possible that today, we are a net exporter of the commodity.”

Oruche said the fact that the economy was technically in recession should have made the CBN to redirect its policies towards stimulating the economy rather than tightening money supply.

He also listed high interest rates, poor power supply, policy inconsistency, poor patronage of locally manufactured products, poor supporting infrastructure, among others, as the challenges confronting manufacturers.

In his remarks, the Director, Research and Advocacy, LCCI, Mr. Vincent Nwani, said the CBN announced the ban on the 41 items without consulting other stakeholders in the sector.

He said, “We did press releases; we did stakeholders engagement; we engaged with the CBN at all levels, at least three times; we met the directors twice up to the CBN governor on this same matter of the 41 items- giving them examples of product-by-product.

“There must be an urgent review of the CBN’s policy on the restriction of access to foreign exchange placed on 41 items, as about 16 of the total items on the list serve as critical raw materials for intermediate goods produced in Nigeria, especially as the country lacks the capacity for optimal production of the items.”

For instance, he said that the ban on oil palm alone had led to a loss of about 100,000 jobs over the last couple of months, while the ban on glass and glassware resulted in 80,000 job losses mainly in the pharmaceutical industry.

Nwani said many companies in the pharmaceutical sector now found it difficult to package products.

He said, “Local production of oil palm is put at about 600 metric tonnes annually, but the total demand in the country is put at about 1.8 million metric tonnes.

“Today, Presco Oil has orders of up to December 2017 to fill, it is presently hard pressed with demands. Listing oil palms among the restricted items meant that we have a shortfall of about 1.2 million metric tonnes.

“Some of the items placed on the restriction list by the CBN should be reinstated until the country develops the capacity to produce them locally. Some of the items need a period of between three and seven years for the country to develop self-sufficiency in their production.”

Nwani said, currently, about $10bn of manufacturers’ funds were stuck in foreign countries because the owners had no confidence in the economy.

He said, “We have about $10bn stuck in one country or the other earned by our members. Some of them are not manufacturers; some are agriculturists or merchants of different products.”

Meanwhile, the President of MAN, Dr. Frank Jacobs, has lauded the recent directive of the CBN that 60 per cent of foreign exchange allocation should go to the manufacturing sector. The association is also confident that with such powers, manufacturers may determine exchange rate in the country.

Jacobs said at a media briefing in Lagos on Tuesday that the directive would revive the sector and reflate the economy.

He said, “MAN commends the Federal Government and the CBN on this directive. It is a welcome development and will give fillip to efforts of government aimed at reflating the economy.”

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The Naira on Monday, traded at N322 to a dollar at the parallel market in Lagos.
The currency was stable in the previous week, maintaining value of between N315 and N320 to a dollar.
However, the naira traded at N450 and N360 for Pound Sterling and the Euro respectively, at the day’s transaction.

The naira also maintained N197 at the official Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) rate.
Traders at the parallel market said that the proposed currency swap deal between Nigeria and China would shore up the value of the naira when implemented.
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The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is targeting a N200 to dollar exchange rate in the parallel market.

The naira which yesterday traded at N330 to dollar in the parallel market is expected to appreciate speedily, as the impact of the CBN’s measures to stabilise the currency volatility in the parallel market begin to materialise.

President, Association of Bureau De Change Operators of Nigeria (ABCON) said the N330 rate in the parallel market is an improvement from last week’s rate when the naira exchanged for N391 to dollar.

The strident calls by the IMF and some foreign interest for Nigeria to devalue its currency and the artificial spike in Forex rate created by Bureau De Change operators appears to have tanked. This has been linked to a complex and integrated currency management approaches deployed by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

According to a top source in the apex Bank, “The aim of CBN is to ensure that the divergence between the official and parallel rate does not exceed N3, so we are looking at a parallel market rate of N200/$ because the downward trend in the pressure on the naira will be sustained.

“The CBN has the capacity to sustain the downward pressure and will deploy further currency management initiatives, while capitalising on fiscal policies of the federal government to remain in support of non-devaluation of the Naira. The current stand of the federal government on Nigeria’s legal tender is Non-Devaluation. It will be unwise for anybody to be hoarding dollars because we can assure you that naira appreciation is going to trend upwards going forward.”

Source: The Nation
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The map of Africa looks like a very big question mark at the end of a very big question still unanswered. We cannot leave this question for the next generation to answer. I think now is the best time to answer that question. Africa is a continent of more than 1 billion people, yet Africa has very little to no say at all when it comes to trade agreements especially at the international market.
Our colonial masters drew meaningless lines separating us and left us separated forever but as we all know, our separation only benefits our colonial masters and keeps us in bondage to the point where we find it so difficult even trading with our own brothers and sisters in Africa. We find it difficult trading with countries within Africa.

 We trade with Europe and America but the sad thing is that, we find it very difficult trading with our own African brothers and sisters, why, because our colonial masters drew several lines dividing us calling some Kenyans, some Ghanaians, some Nigerians, etc. making us feel we are different people. Our colonial masters made us feel we are so incapable of finding solutions to our own problems to the point where we need to look up to Europe, America and somewhere else for solutions to problems we face here in Africa.

Trade is actually an engine of growth and development but the sad thing is that, our beloved continent is yet to learn how to trade. Africa is a continent of great business opportunities and hope, why? because every young person in Africa is eager to work. Because Africa is a continent full of natural resources and an affordable labor force.

However, despite the enormous opportunities to do business in Africa, every year Africa loses huge sums of money to “meaningless” high trade costs, why? because Africa is yet to reach her business potential especially when it comes to intra-Africa trade and markets.

A major problem we can easily remove just by liberalising trade within Africa. Just around 10% of Africa’s trade occurs within Africa compared to over 60% in Europe and other parts of the world. Trade with Europe benefits Europeans more. The same thing applies to trade with America. However, trade within Africa would benefit Africa as a whole.

This would also give Africa a major say at the international markets. In other words, if the intra-Africa trade improves from the around 10% to say 50%, Africa would need not force cheap goods and services on Europe or America and would have a major say when it comes to determining the market prices of our oil and other raw materials.

Someone may ask, why can’t African countries trade peacefully with other African countries? There are several hidden answers to this question. If you read one article I posted recently here on Africaw.com about how the World Bank, the IMF and co destroy Africa, you may get to know one or two of several such reasons.

 Once the intra-Africa market trade goes up, Africa’s inter-continental trade goes down and because of that, several factors are working very hard to keep the intra-Africa trade level at all-times low. Here is an example. The Republic of Ivory Coast is the major producer of cocoa beans in the world today followed by Ghana.

Ivory Coast exports these cocoa beans at very cheap prices to chocolate-producing countries in Europe, America, and other parts of the world. The chocolate-producing countries then convert Ivory Coast’s cocoa beans into finished goods such as chocolate bars and then sell these chocolate bars at very expensive prices to poor countries including Ivory Coast and make more profit.

If Ivory Coast distributes a greater portion of her cocoa beans to chocolate-producing countries within Africa, these chocolate-producing countries in Africa would be able to produce chocolate on large scale and then exports those chocolate bars to Europe and other parts of the world and make more profit.

In other words, this would create more job opportunities in Africa and also improve Africa’s economy
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South Africa may need to import as much as 5 million tonnes of maize this year, roughly half of its requirements, because of its worst drought in three decades, the country’s largest producer group said on Wednesday.

The drought in the continent’s biggest maize producer has been exacerbated by an El Nino weather pattern and follows dry spells last year that reduced the crop by a third to 9.94 million tonnes, the lowest since 2007.

 â€œWe will be lucky if we produce 5 million tonnes this year and then we will need to import 5 million tonnes. This is the sort of scenario that we are looking at.”

That would raise practical problems of who can supply the required commodity and whether South Africa is able to handle such a large volume of imports.

South Africa’s central bank, which has been raising interest rates, has expressed concern about the impact of the drought and food price pressures on inflation in Africa’s most advanced economy.

Industry estimates at this stage remain fairly rough and previous predictions were for import needs ranging from 700,000 to 4 million tonnes. But the predictions have increased the longer the drought has gone on

 The hardest-hit areas are in the northern Free State province in the western part of the maize belt, a key growing area. De Villiers said many farmers had not planted there yet, missing the last real opportunity.

“The insurance companies will not pay out if the crop has not been planted and germinated by the first of January,” he said. Maize in South Africa is generally planted early in the southern hemisphere summer around November.

The situation in eastern part of the maize belt in Mpumalanga province, which has had some rain, is not as bad but De Villiers said yields there would likely fall below average.

“How are we going to import 5 million tonnes? Because our port facilities cannot do that,” De Villiers said.

Such facilities would include grain elevators to move imports and storage sites, which risk being overwhelmed.

The chief executive of Transnet, South Africa’s state-run ports and rail company, told Reuters in December that the groundwork was being prepared to import as much as 4 million tonnes of maize.

De Villiers said the other problem was sourcing white maize, the staple crop that provides much of the caloric intake for South Africa’s lower-income households.

Outside of Africa, the only other significant producers of the white variety are Mexico and the United States. Yellow maize in South Africa is mostly used for animal feed.

According to the South African Grain Information Service, in the 2014/15 marketing season South Africa imported just 65,000 tonnes of yellow maize.

So far this season, which runs to the end of April, the country has imported 670,000 tonnes of yellow maize and 68,000 tonnes of white maize, the latter from Mexico and Zambia.

South African white maize prices doubled last year and the March White maize contract hit a record close of 4,901 rand ($311 )a tonne on Tuesday on drought worries.

It briefly hit a historic high of 4,952 rand a tonne on Wednesday on De Villiers’ comments before falling back to close 0.50 percent lower at 4,875 rand a tonne.
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