Stakeholders in sugar production have expressed worry over the “incessant smuggling” of refined product into Nigeria through its land borders. The concern, according the general manager, Golden Sugar Company, a subsidiary of Flour Mills of Nigeria, Maniatis Loannis John, is on the threat the smuggling activities pose to the country’s quest of achieving self-sufficiency in the sector, particularly the Backward Integration Programme. He said the incessant smuggling of the product had affected key sugar companies and the sugar business in the country. Stating instances, John said that the Sunti Golden Sugar Estate built by Flour Mills in Mokwa, Niger State is facing challenges from smugglers after investing ₦50 billion. The sugar estate had about 17,000 hectares of arable farmland and a mill capacity to processing 4,500 metric tons of sugarcane daily. The farm estate is expected to produce one million tons of refined sugar per year at full capacity. The activities of smugglers may affect the annual projection if urgent action is not taken by the FG to forestall the act, he said. Flour Mills was expecting to realise between 6,000 tons and 7,000 tons of sugar this year at the Sunti Golden Sugar Estate, however, smuggling stands as the company’s only blockage in harvesting the sugar after it had been hit by flood.

The NNPC is partnering Seplat to raise $700 million for a gas project scheduled to start production in 2020 as part of plans to reduce the country’s reliance on oil. The project, Assa North-Ohaji South, according to Seplat CEO, Austin Avuru, is one of seven expected to boost gas production and infrastructure development in Nigeria. ANOH Gas Processing Company, owned by Seplat and the Nigerian Gas Company, a unit of the NNPC will develop, build and operate the plant in southeastern Imo State. Seplat and Nigerian Gas will provide 60 percent of the funds as equity, while ANOH will source the balance as debt. “Both parties already have each contributed $100 million in equity,” Avuru said, “There will be another equity injection and at the back end of it will be debt.’’ The plant, which will process wet gas from the unitized upstream fields at OML 53 and OML 21, has an initial capacity of 300 million standard cubic feet per day. It’s scheduled to begin production by the last quarter of 2020 and the first supply is targeted in 2021, Avuru said. ANOH will target local customers and has the capacity to double production “depending on domestic demand and the availability of feeds including third-party gas.” Meanwhile, Splat will more than double capital spending to $200 million this year from 2018 as it seeks to take advantage of “relative stability’’ in the Niger Delta region. The oil firm, which is listed on the London and Nigerian exchanges, will spend about 70 percent of its capital budget on drilling after a three-year lull, while the rest will be for “facilities and gas development.”

The National Pension Commission has barred pension fund administrators from investing in the bonds of nine states that have yet to amend their state pension laws and join the Contributory Pension Scheme. The Punch reported that this restriction may be extended to 15 other states that had joined the CPS, but were not showing full commitment to funding the Retirement Savings Accounts of their workers. As of March 2019, the number of states that had enacted laws on the CPS stood at 27. Yobe State is  still operating the old Defined Benefits Scheme and has  taken no action towards adopting the CPS. Six states, Katsina, Bauchi, Benue, Borno, Kwara and Plateau have drafted bills, while in Akwa Ibom and Cross River, the bills are still in the houses of assembly. PenCom said that the states that had commenced remittance of pensions to workers’ Retirement Savings Accounts and were funding their accrued rights were Delta, Kaduna, Lagos, Niger, Ogun, Osun and Rivers. The CPS was established under the Pension Reform Act to replace the DBS. 

Christine Lagarde, the head of the IMF, has advised Nigeria to stop the payment of subsidies on petrol as such is the right thing to do at a time of low revenue mobilisation in the country in terms of tax to GDP. The IMF said the FG should rather expend the money on health, education and infrastructural development. The advice was made on Thursday at the on-going joint annual spring meetings with the World Bank in Washington DC. In reaction, the country’s Finance Minister, Zainab Ahmed, described the IMF’s advice as ideal and needed at this period. She, however, said Lagarde’s suggestions have to be implemented in a manner that is both successful and sustainable. The IMF had in its 2019 Article IV Consultation on Nigeria noted that phasing out implicit fuel subsidies while strengthening social safety nets to mitigate the impact on the most vulnerable would help reduce the poverty gap and free up additional fiscal space in the country.