Economic Council urges government to check rising food prices

Nigeria’s National Economic Council, NEC, has urged the federal and state governments to adopt urgent measures to check rising food prices in the country.

The Council also called on the federal government to pursue the implementation agricultural plan in the Economic Sustainability Plan, ESP.

This followed the report of the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Agriculture, Dr. Andrew Kwasari, to Thursday’s virtual meeting of the NEC presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.

Spokesman to the Vice President, Laolu Akande, said Kwasari’s report showed that “food prices changed between September and November involving commodities in Lagos and a few randomly selected states.”

The report also identified the causes of the hike in food prices to include “delay in going out to farm, which translates to delay in harvesting courtesy of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Other causes of the increase, according to the report, were the EndSARS protest, which “stalled food transportation and delivery and in some instances destroyed food stores,” and “banditry in the northwest effectively preventing farmers harvesting fields cultivated.”

There were also herders/farmers conflicts that “destroyed farm produce in some states” as well as “increased cost of transportation.”

2020 Finance Bill 

The 2020 Finance Bill, which was approved on Wednesday by the Federal Executive Council, was presented meeting of the NEC.

The bill seeks to reduce duties on tractors from 35% to 10%; reduce duties on motor vehicles for the transportation of goods from 35% to 10%; and exempt small companies with less than N25million turnover from payment of education tax under the Tertiary Education Trust Fund, TETFUND.

The proposed Finance Bill provides for 5. 5% reduction in minimum tax, from 0.5% to 0.25% for gross turnover for financial years ending between January 1st, 2020 and December 31st, 2021.

Other provisions in the bill are the “granting of tax relief to companies that donated to the COVID-19 relief fund under the private sector coalition (CACOVID) and “clarification that only compensation for loss of office up to N10million would be tax exempt.”

There is also the introduction of software acquisition as qualifying capital expenditure to improve the ease of doing business.

Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Mr Clem Agba made the presentation at the virtual NEC meeting for the month of November 2020.

Prior to the Finance Act 2019, compensation paid to an employee for loss of office over and above N10, 000 was subject to capital gains tax. There were two notable issues with the provision.

Public Engagement

The ad-hoc committee of the NEC, Chaired by the Vice President for engagement with youths and other critical stakeholders, presented its report to the meeting.

TheCouncil resolved that the planned Zonal Engagements should proceed with the focus on Youths and Civil Society Organisations dealing especially with issues or jobs, and employment.



Source: Voice of Nigeria