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Imports: How Customs Duties Exchange Rate Hikes Influence Higher Market Prices

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By Emmanuel Agaji

Many Nigerians are currently languishing in extreme poverty and this has in turn led to reactions from all parts of the country.

Perhaps, the problem started with the withdrawal of petroleum subsidy.

The subsidy withdrawal as being feared over the years has come with pains of more transport costs which in turn led to rise in prices of goods in the market. But that was not all. The fall of Naira in value to other foreign currencies has been devastating for months now.

The fall has been with speed. Early last year, the rate of Naira to Dollar was about N700/$1. Expectations were therefore that the new government would work out a way in which the exchange rate would come down. But instead of coming down, the dollar rate has kept rising to what it is now – over N1,900/$1. Observers hold the view that the Dollar can be said to have arrived at the doorstep of N2,000/$1 and will soon begin a fresh journey to N3,000/$1. The result is that importers and manufacturers have in turn continued to increase prices of their products on the basis of dollar exchange rate to Naira.

Perhaps what has been a sad event is the rate at which there is fluctuation in the rate of dollar to Naira.

The Naira keeps falling in value everyday to the dollar and other currencies, including those of the neighbouring West African countries.

The current situation is that many citizens of other African countries who have been doing business in Nigeria are now returning to their home countries because of the fact that the Naira has fallen far below their own currencies. In other words, their currencies have become far stronger than Naira.

Critics believe the devaluation of Naira against the Dollar and other currencies will continue to affect the economic life of the people negatively.

The rise in prices of goods in the market has left many dumbfounded. To worsen the matter is the Customs duties exchange rate introduced by the Central Bank of Nigeria.

This is the rate the Nigeria Customs Service uses in calculating duties on imports. First, it was about N1,357.50 before it rose to N1,413.62. It later went up to N1,617.00 with information later that it went down to about N1,500.00.

The rates have been introduced for more than 10 times in a month. While it is believed that with this scenario the Customs will make more revenue this year, triple what it made last year, yet such gains will have no positive impact on Nigerians.

This is because prices of goods have continued to go up. Traders have become confused because every minute importers and manufacturers come up with new prices in relation to the prevailing exchange rate. To observers, this is destroying businesses.

The policy has made international trade a big task because of the continued rising of the dollar rate against the poor value of the Naira. With almost everything being imported, including farmers relying on fertilizers and other foreign inputs, prices of food and other commodities have become so high for the low income group.

This explains the reason for the protest in many parts of the country. Everyone appears sad. This includes the importers, manufacturers who also import raw materials for production.

Dealers on different goods, wholesalers and retailers are all worried. The reason is that the goods are changing in prices every 30minutes as traders monitor the dollar rates. The final consumers are bitter as they find it difficult to pay for most of the goods they would want to buy. This has made market very dull.

Even traders in the market are no longer buying to stock-up as they are afraid these goods are too expensive and final consumers are not ready to buy. Keeping them in the store for too long means taking risk of damages and therefore losses of investment.

As experts suggest, what government should do is for the CBN to discuss with the management of the Customs Service and arrive at one exchange rate under which duties can be calculated. Although it was gathered that the CBN has agreed that the rate of duties to be paid by importers will be based on the prevailing exchange rate when the Form M was opened, importers still argue that this policy will continue to affect businesses and prices of goods in the market.

According to experts, this will not bring prices of goods down as importers will claim they sourced the foreign exchange at high rate of dollar exchange rate. An importer said if the government wants prices of goods to be affordable, CBN should rather peg the rate used in calculating duties at about N1,200 for it to be uniform for all.

Other possibilities for prices of goods to come down is for the government to consider ensuring that fuel prices go down by using the gains of the subsidy removal to encourage private refineries to come on board as quickly as possible.

These refineries should be expected to reduce their fuel prices since they source crude oil to be refined locally. Government should also not make the mistake of relying on big time monopolists who are likely to look for ways to suffocate other small companies.

This was what happened in the case of cement manufacturing over the years which prices have now gone out of the reach of the low income earners. Government should be fast in acting outside the box to arrest the issue of continued rise in the prices of goods.

The prices of food and other goods in the market should be affordable and the solution is in addressing the continued fall of Naira value to the Dollar and other currencies.

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I’ve been suffering in silence for two years, Korra Obidi laments

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By Francesca Hangeior

Dancer Korra Obidi has claimed she has been suffering in silence for two years after divorce.

Obidi allegedly suffered acid and a knife during a live session in the United Kingdom.

Korra explained that she escaped the attack in the best possible way and hoped the inquiry will provide some answers as to who the ringleader of the attack is.

She added that she doesn’t want to wait till the worst happens.

She wrote: “I escaped with the best possible scenario and this I am grateful. Hoping the investigations will yield some closure as to who the ring leader to all these attacks are.

“I have been suffering in silence for 2 years since divorce. Glad this was LIVE and there is ample evidence. Don’t want to wait till the worse happens and help will finally come.

“This can only be God, Thank you everyone.”

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NIMC Speaks On New National ID Card

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Following the announcement of the planned release of a new National Identification Number in the country by the Federal Government last week, the National Identity Management Çommission, NIMC has provided further clarifications on the proposed ID.

In a statement released and signed by Head of Corporate Communications, Kayode Adegoke on Friday, the Commission said the new National ID Card is coming as a single, convenient, and General multipurpose card (GMPC), eliminating the need for multiple cards.

The single card with GMPC is said to have multiple use cases. as: Payments/Financial, Government intervention/services, travel, etc.

The card, according to the National Identity Management Commission is working with the Central Bank of Nigeria and the Nigerian Interbank Settlement System to deliver the payment and financial use cases.

“The card will be powered by the AFRIGO card scheme, an indigenous scheme powered by NIBSS.

Applicants for the card will have to request with their NIN through the self-service online portal, NIMC offices, or their respective banks.

“The card will be issued through the applicants’ respective banks in line with existing protocols with the issuance of the Debit/Credit cards.

“The card can be picked up by holders at the designated centre or delivered to the applicants at the requested location at an extra cost to be borne by the applicants’” the statement said.

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Nigerian Breweries shuts down two of its 9 plants due to ‘persistently challenging business environment’

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Nigerian Breweries Plc (NB plc) has indicated plans for company-wide reorganisation as part of strategic recovery plan which entails the temporary shutting down of two out of its nine breweries in Nigeria.

Following the recent announcement of its business recovery plan, the conglomerate which is a member of the HEINEKEN Group and Nigeria’s pioneer and largest brewing company indicated plans for a company-wide reorganisation aimed at securing a resilient and sustainable future for its stakeholders.

The company said the move is essential to improve its operational efficiency, financial stability and enable a return of the business to profitability, in the face of the persistently challenging business environment.

In letters signed by the company’s Human Resource Director, Grace Omo-Lamai, and addressed to the leadership of the National Union of Food, Beverage & Tobacco Employees (NUFBTE) and the Food Beverage and Tobacco Senior Staff Association (FOBTOB), the company informed both unions that its proposed plan would include operational efficiency measures and a company-wide reorganisation that includes the temporary suspension of operations in two of its nine breweries.

As a result, and in accordance with labour requirements, the Company invited the Unions to discussions on the implications of the proposed measures.

It would be recalled that the company recently notified the Nigerian Exchange Group (NGX) of its plan to raise capital of up to ₦600 billion (Six Hundred billion naira) by way of a Rights Issue, as a means of restoring the company’s balance sheet to a healthy position following the net finance expenses of N189 billion recorded in 2023 driven mainly by a foreign exchange loss of N153 billion resulting from the devaluation of the naira.

Speaking on these developments, Managing Director/CEO Nigerian Breweries Plc, Hans Essaadi described the business recovery plan as strategic and vital for business continuity:

“The tough business landscape characterised by double-digit inflation rates, naira devaluation, FX challenges and diminished consumer spend has taken its toll on many businesses, including ours. This is why we have taken the decision to further consolidate our business operations for efficient cost management and optimal use of our resources for future sustainable growth”.

“We recognise and regret the impact that the suspension of brewery operations in the two affected locations may have on our employees. We are committed to limiting the impact on our people as much as possible by exhausting all options available including the relocation and redistribution of employees to our other seven breweries; and providing strong support and severance packages to all those that become unavoidably affected. We are also committed to supporting our host communities in ways that ensure they continue to feel our presence.”

“We remain wholly committed to having a positive impact on our host communities and our consumers; leveraging our strong supply chain footprint; excellent execution of our route to market strategy; and our rich portfolio of brands across the Lager, Stout, Malt, Soft drinks, and Energy drinks categories; and more recently, Wines and Spirits with the acquisition of Distell”, he added.

The Nigerian Breweries’ business recovery plan includes a Rights Issue and a company-wide reorganisation exercise which includes temporary suspension of two out of its nine breweries in the country and an optimisation of production capacity in the other seven breweries, some of which have received significant capital investment in recent years.

The company reaffirmed its commitment to the long-term future of Nigeria and “stands as a cornerstone of Nigeria’s beverage industry.”With over 77 years of operations, the company said it would continue to demonstrate its enduring commitment to the Nigerian market and its people.

Incorporated in 1946 as “Nigerian Brewery Limited,” NB Plc made history in June 1949 when the first bottle of STAR lager beer rolled out of its Lagos brewery bottling line.

Today, it has a rich portfolio of 21 high-quality brands, including iconic brands like Heineken, Desperados, Maltina, Life, Amstel Malta, Gulder, Fayrouz, and Legend produced from nine breweries and distributed nationwide.

NN Plc recently added to its portfolio with the acquisition of an 80% business stake in Distell Wines and Spirits Limited, a local business in the wines and spirits category, as a demonstration of its resilient and forward-thinking strategy to deliver long-term value creation for its shareholders and other stakeholders.

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