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BUSINESS & ECONOMY

ECOWAS Moves To Remove Bottlenecks In West Africa’s Palm Oil Industry

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Palm oil

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has taken a step towards increasing palm oil production and sales in the subregion by convening a meeting of stakeholders to develop strategies to address industry bottlenecks.

Speaking at the Meeting of the Free Movement of Palm Oil under the ECOWAS Preferential Tariff Regime (ECOWAS Trade Liberalisation Scheme, ETLS) in Abuja, the ECOWAS Commission’s Commissioner of Economic Affairs and Agriculture, Massandje Toure-Litse, stated that the meeting was necessary to work out modalities for addressing challenges faced by stakeholders in the subregion’s palm oil industry.

Toure-Litse stated that taxation was one of the challenges in palm oil trading in the region, but added that ECOWAS ETLS had eliminated tariffs in regional business transactions.

She said: “Some products will go to some countries and the countries will ask them to pay tariffs when we know that under ECOWAS law, goods produced in our region should be free of tax.

“We have invited all the countries to come and have a discussion to solve the issues in the commercialisation of palm oil in the region. The countries invited are Ivory Coast, Togo, Benin, Nigeria, Ghana and Liberia.”

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Salifou Tiemtore, Director of Customs, Union, and Taxation at the ECOWAS Commission, expressed concern that West African countries are not producing enough palm oil to meet member needs and emphasised the urgent need to increase production and remove industry bottlenecks.

Tiemtore said: “Let me tell you the truth, till now, with the statistics we have, we still need to import palm oil. What we are producing is not enough for our own consumption.

“If you take a country like Nigeria, it has the capacity to double its production in terms of palm oil but we need to put in place some incentives so that through ECOWAS ETLS Nigeria can cover the Nigerian market and also go beyond the Nigerian market.”

He said the region has the potential to meet the needs of member states if support were given to entrepreneurs to expand production and take advantage of the ECOWAS ETLS.

In his address of welcome, the Head of the ECOWAS National Unit at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Yakubu Dadu, said despite the remarkable success of the ETLS, “we find ourselves facing challenges within the pivotal palm oil sector.

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“The cross-border movement of palm oil has encountered origin-related disagreements among Member States, posing a threat to the sector’s stability and growth potential.

“It is in recognition of these challenges that we have gathered here today, united by a shared commitment to have frank discussions that would strengthen and protect the palm oil sector, ensuring its resilience against external competition.”

The meeting provides an opportunity for discussion with palm oil-producing countries and industry stakeholders in order to establish measurable metric thresholds based on palm oil production capacity while taking into account the economic conditions of ECOWAS Member States.

 

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BUSINESS & ECONOMY

Aero To Commence Payment To Redundant Employees In Batches

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There are strong indications that Aero Contractors will resume payment to some of its redundant employees by the end of this month.

Comrade Olayinka Abioye, General Secretary of the National Association of Aircraft Pilots and Engineers (NAAPE), told journalists that the airline would resume paying affected employees in batches.

According to Abioye, the union learned of this earlier this week during a meeting with Aero Contractors management, led by Capt. Ado Sanusi, the airline’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO), at the airline’s office at Murtala Muhammed Airport (MMA), Lagos.

Abioye explained that the union reached an agreement with the airline’s management to make payments in April, emphasising that two employees from each of the three unions would be paid monthly.

With this, six members of the affected unions, Air Transport Senior Staff Services Association of Nigeria (ATSSSAN), National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE), and NAAPE, will be paid monthly until all backlogs are cleared.

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Abioye stated that with more funding and access to resources, the airline’s current management could improve the airline’s and its employees’ conditions.

He stated: “Aero described its current challenges, which are impeding their willingness to commit more funds to service outstanding redundancy benefits. Second, we have agreed that payments for two people from each of the three unions will be made this month (April), with NAAPE members receiving 75 per cent of these payments.

“We have demonstrated our commitment to Aero’s continued growth, and this has rekindled hope that things can be done better with more funds at their disposal.

“I would like to plead on behalf of the secretariat that, based on our observations of the airline’s current situation, it cannot do any better than what has just been offered. Let us hope that by next month, some other people will have something to smile about.

Sanusi stated earlier this month that it had paid approximately 95% redundancy packages to some of its employees affected by the exercise a few years prior. He promised that the remaining 5% of affected workers would be paid very soon.

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According to him, 225 out of the 237 staff affected by the redundancy package had been paid off, accounting for 94.94 per cent of those affected.

A further breakdown of the affected workers revealed that three members of ATSSSAN and nine members of NAAPE were still affected by the exercise.

Sanusi also lamented in the interview that the operating environment in which the airlines operate was hostile to business, but that despite this, management had been relentless in ensuring that the vast majority of affected individuals received their entitlements.

He assured that Aero Contractors would continue to fulfil its obligations to all employees, but urged that unions not be used to disrupt airline operations.

He stated, “The Company has successfully disbursed redundancy payments to 94.94 per cent of affected employees. Admittedly, we still have financial obligations to a few affected employees.

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“However, plans are underway to offset these costs, and we have been engaging with affected employees to keep them informed of everything the company is doing and going through.”

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OIL & GAS

NNPC, First E&P Achieve 20,000bpd Production At OML 85

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NNPC boss, Mele Kyari

The Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPC Ltd) and its joint venture partner in OML 85, First Exploration and Petroleum Development Company Limited (First E&P), have begun producing oil from the asset known as Madu Field.

 

The field, located in shallow waters offshore Bayelsa State and operated by First E&P, is expected to produce an average of 20,000 barrels per day.

 

The achievement demonstrates the President Bola Tinubu administration’s commitment to optimising production from the country’s oil and gas assets by creating an enabling environment for existing and prospective investors.

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Speaking about the development, NNPC Ltd’s Group Chief Executive Officer, Mr Mele Kyari, described the start of oil production at the Madu Field as a significant milestone that will contribute to the larger goal of meeting the production required to drive revenue growth and boost the country’s economy.

 

Kyari praised stakeholders for their support and explained that the addition of 20,000 barrels per day by an indigenous oil player demonstrates stakeholders’ commitment to Nigeria’s economic development.

 

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The NNPC Ltd/First E&P JV made the Final Investment Decision (FID) on the development of the Madu Field and its sister field, Anyala, in 2018.

 

The Madu Field’s production will be processed at the JV’s Abigail-Joseph Floating Production Storage and Offloading (FPSO) Unit, which can store up to 800,000 barrels of crude oil.

 

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BUSINESS & ECONOMY

 FCCPC Storms Masaka Market, Engages With Traders Association, Others Over Hike In Food Prices

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Food market

The enforcement team from the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) on Friday, stormed Masaka market, located in Nasarawa State, and engaged with the executive members of the Market Association, traders and consumers in a bid to stem the rising cost of food items in the market.

Mrs. Boladale Adeyinka, Director, of Surveillance and Investigation, FCCPC, who led the enforcement team to the market located in Karu Local Government Area of Nasarawa State, said the team was on a fact-finding mission to understand why the prices of food items continue to soar despite the measures put in place by the Federal Government to stem it.

Adeyinka explained that recently, Naira has been appreciating against the Dollar, adding that it is expected that this measure would bring down the cost of food items in the market.

Briefing newsmen at the end of the fact-finding mission, Adeyinka explained that the enforcement team of the FCCPC was in the market to interact with executive members of the Traders’ Association, traders and consumers.

She noted that the team of investigators had gathered information on what is responsible for the skyrocketing prices of food items in the market despite the frantic efforts made by the government to stabilise the prices of goods and services.

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She identified multiple taxation imposed on traders by various associations in the market as well as the high cost of transportation as being responsible for the high cost of items in the market.

Adeyinka said a concise report would be developed by the Commission, which would advise the government on how to remove multiple taxation to reduce the prices of food items in the market.

The Director of Surveillance and Investigation further assured that the illegal activities of cartels who often impose levies on the traders would be checkmated.

Also speaking, Danlami Salisi Gimba, General Chairman of, Masaka Market Association, blamed the removal of the fuel subsidy as being responsible for the high cost of goods in the market.

Gimba appealed to the government to reduce the price of fuel to ensure that the cost of transportation is greatly reduced, which would in turn impact positively on the prices of food items.

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Some traders who spoke to our Correspondent decried the high rate of hunger as well as low sales in the market.

They appealed to the government to, as a matter of urgency, bring down the cost of fuel and introduce policies that would create a new lease of life for the citizenry.

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