Food import declines from N2.38trn to N1.5trn, says Jonathan

President Goodluck Jonathan has said that the Federal Government is inch­ing towards achieving food security following a decline in food import bill from N2.38 trillion in 2011 to N1.5 trillion in 2013.

The president who declared open the 44th Annual Accountants Conference in Abuja also said that government’s Growth Enhancement Scheme (GES) is providing subsidised inputs to farmers via an e-Wallet programme where 10.5 million farmers have been registered and an estimated 6.4 million farmers have received subsidies.

“We have been successful in increasing rice production and improving the cassava value chain. In the 2013 dry season, we engaged over 250,000 farmers producing 1.22 million metric tonnes of dry season rice. We have also seen increased investments in high-value cas­sava processing and increased cassava exports. The govern­ment promised an additional 20 million MT of food by 2015 and 17 million MT have already been produced by the end of 2013,” he said.

Jonathan who was repre­sented by the Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, pleaded with Nigerians to exercise patience on the poor power supply in the country, saying that the situation will soon improve.

“We have successfully com­pleted one of the most compre­hensive and transparent power privatisation programmes worldwide with the privatisa­tion of four power genera­tion companies and 10 power  distribution companies. To provide comfort to private in­vestors in the power sector, we have also strengthened power market intermediaries such as the Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading Plc (NBET), which is backed with over N120 billion in financing.

“The liberalisation of this sector has opened up new investments. This year, the 450MW Azura-Edo IPP signed a power purchase agree­ment with $1 billion backing from 14 high quality investors including Standard Chartered, IFC, First Rand Bank, Siemens Bank and Nigeria’s FCMB. All Nigerians would like to see uninterrupted power and I know we are not there yet. But in the same way the privatisa­tion of the telecoms sector took some time to begin yielding benefits, I am very confident that our power sector will take off successfully in the coming years,” he said.

On communications, the president said that government has constructed 500 kilometres of fibre-optic cable to rural ar­eas and a total of 266 public access venues were established in 2013.

“We also deployed a fibre-optic high-speed internet network to connect 27 fed­eral universities, and provided computing facilities to 74 ter­tiary institutions and 218 pub­lic schools across the country. Finally, we have established innovation centres to support entrepreneurs in the ICT sec­tor, and launched a $15 mil­lion Venture Capital Fund for ICT businesses. As a result, we have seen a growth in phone subscriptions and internet ac­cess by 35 per cent and 46 per cent respectively since 2014,” he said.

Source : SunOnline

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