From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
Worried by the rising cost of food prices across the country, the Federal Government is to convene a meeting of the National Food Security Council soon to be addressed by the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed.
It has also lined up concrete actions to ensure the growth of some sectors of the nation’s economy that have refused to grow in recent times.
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Ahmed, made the disclosure at the end of a weekly virtual Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo at the State House, Abuja.
Briefing State House Correspondents, she said FEC gave approval for the National Food Security Council to meet “very quickly to address the issue of food inflation, and also provide a plan and some methods in which we can reduce the cost of food to support improved food prices for the citizenry.”
Ahmed further said council was briefed about the rising inflation rate and the need to manage the cost of inflation in the country.
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The minister said the council considered a report from the ministry of finance, budget and national planning for the first quarter of 2022 GDP report which shows that the Nigerian economy has grown by 3.1 per cent in the first quarter of 2022 as against a growth of 0.5 per cent in the first quarter of last year.
She said: “This growth shows a gradual economic stability from the recession that we witnessed in 2020. And also, it shows the six quarter of positive growth that the Nigerian economy has presented.
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“So, of the 46 economic activities, the bulk sector performance shows that services sector grew strongly by 4.7 per cent, agriculture also grew by 3.61 per cent, industry on the other hand contracted by minus 6.81 per cent and there’s also a significant contraction in the crude oil, petroleum and natural gas sector of 26.04 per cent.
“Coal mining sector also declined, oil refinery, the biggest contraction of 44.26 per cent, electricity sector and textile. Therefore, even though there has been growth in some sectors, there are significant contraction than others but the net effect is positive growth.
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“We’re very mindful of the fact that unless we have most of the sectors growing, especially the growth in the jobs impacted sectors, that this growth that is positive will not be directly felt by the people.
“We also reported to council that inflation has started going upward to the extent that the monetary authorities of the Central Bank have had to adjust the Monetary Policy Rate (MPR) to 13 per cent at the last Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) meeting and that’s an attempt to manage the cost of inflation.
“So, council has decided to set up a special effort to look at the sectors that are not growing and also to look at how we can grow the other sectors better.”
The council also approved N23.52 billion for various projects across the ministries of Petroleum Resources, Power and Police Affairs.
Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva, said council approved N3.81 billion for a switch-gear room for the Nigerian Oil and Gas Park in Bayelsa State for the local manufacture of components.
Sylva also revealed that the council approved N11 billion for the construction of access roads and bridges to Brass Local Government Area of Bayelsa State.
He said consultations have begun for the Nigeria National Petroleum Company to execute a memorandum of understanding with the Economic Community of West African States to construct the Nigeria-Morocco gas pipeline. The pipeline would be the world’s longest offshore pipeline and second-largest pipeline in the world carrying gas from Nigeria to Morocco and running through at least 11 West African countries, to Spain in Europe.
Asked about the Federal Government-Siemens power deal, he said the supply of essential materials would begin in September.
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