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Food Inflation To Reduce With Dry Season Harvest, Says Finance Minister

The minister assured Nigerians that with the dry season and wet season harvest, food inflation will come down.


An Illustration of inflation and Minister Wale Edun

 

 

The Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Wale Edun, has assured Nigerians that food prices will come down in the coming months.

“We can expect that food prices will come down and food availability will increase,” Edun said on Channels Television’s Sunday Politics programme.

The minister said though food insecurity is a worldwide phenomenon, the government has dedicated special funding for infrastructure to boost agricultural output

He emphasised that the focus of the government has been on ramping up food production through the provision of seeds, and fertilisers, amongst others.

The minister assured Nigerians that with the dry season and wet season harvest, food inflation will come down.

He said, “Inflation, yes, it is high at 33.65%, food inflation at 40.5% is worrisomely high but the fact is that inflation is coming down, month-on-month. It is slowing and it is expected to reduce as we continue the dry season harvest and then we go into the wet season harvest. That is the place to focus on and a lot of emphasis is being placed on that to get agriculture output up, to get prices down, and that will be a big factor in bringing down inflation.”

Prices of food and basic commodities have gone through the roof in the last weeks, as Nigerians battle the country’s current economic crisis sparked by the current government’s twin policies of petrol subsidy removal and unification of forex windows.

‘Why Some Multinationals Are Leaving Nigeria’

The minister also said the government is working on the economic and investment climate to attract more multinationals into Nigeria.

He said an Economic Stabilisation Plan before President Bola Tinubu will address the challenges of businesses in the country.

He said, “One of the major drawbacks one of the major impediments for them (exiting multinationals) was they did not have a liquid foreign exchange market.

“Now, we have a willing buyer, willing seller foreign exchange market. It is elevated, may be not at the levels we will like it to be but it is when you get inflation down that you can stabilise the exchange rate and even get it coming down similarly with the interest rate. That fight is on. It is an improved environment for them, for big investors as a whole.”

 

 

He said recent executive orders signed by President Bola Tinubu has improved the investment climate for gas which Nigeria has in abundance.

The minister said, “Companies will always come and go, of course, our aim is to not only keep them but to have them even more coming to invest, and we are sure that with the environment that we put in place, they would come.”

He said a proposal to make things easier for both local and foreign manufacturers operating in the country are in an Economic Stabilisation Package before the President.

“We are in a difficult place but the direction of travel is and it’s towards improvement. So, every single day, every single month, we are looking at an improved economic situation for Nigeria.”

As Nigeria battles its current economic crisis sparked by the government’s twin policies of petrol subsidy removal and unification of forex windows, some manufacturing companies have exited the country in the last few months, the latest being manufacturers of Huggies and Kotex brands of diapers, Kimberly-Clark.

Others multinationals who exited Nigeria in the last one year are US-based Procter and Gamble (P&G), GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), Unilever, Sanofi-Aventi Nigeria, amongst others.

Some similar reasons given by the companies include high energy cost and currency depreciation.

‘Affordability Is Key’

On the agitation for a new minimum wage, the minister said the “complex and difficult” process is ongoing “but with goodwill on all sides, we will come to a landing that benefits all Nigerians”.

The minister said, “It is difficult because the worker deserves his wage and given what is going on, they deserve a change and in fact, by law, every five years, and may be, we shouldn’t have to wait five years everytime to set a new wage scale. The fact is that by law, it is a minimum wage.

“So, you are not setting a wage for Federal Government workers, for example. In a Federation, you are setting a minimum figure that states must pay, that local governments must pay, that the private sector must pay, that small businesses must pay.

“It is a fixed figure, not a scale. So, there are elements of how we have set the minimum wage in the past, particularly what we called the consequential adjustment, which, given what Labour is asking today, will be unaffordable across the board.

“We have to focus on the fact that once it is enshrined in law, everybody that falls into the category of having to pay the minimum wage must pay it. Therefore, the affordability has to be taken into account.

“We probably have to also take into account the fact that there are other ways of supporting cost of living of workers other than wage scale.”