From Uche Usim, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari has directed the immediate repositioning of the Nigerian Commodity Exchange (NCX) for greater efficiency towards stabilising food prices in the country.
To this end, the Presidency has directed the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), as majority shareholder of NCX, to collaborate with Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) and Africa Finance Corporation (AFC), under the Infraco Structure, to develop and implement a strategic repositioning plan for the NCX to make the NCX an efficient world class Commodity exchange.
The CBN Governor Mr Godwin Emefiele, who made the disclosure in Abuja on Thursday, noted that the formation of a Steering Committee (SteerCo) chaired by the CBN Governor and including representatives from NSIA and AFC as well as the Federal Ministries responsible for Finance, Budget & National Planning; Industry, Trade & Investment; and Agriculture & Rural Development, to oversee the implementation of this strategic plan.
Emefiele noted that the current plan to privatise the NCX be stopped forthwith given the unfortunate arbitrage opportunities which the government has noticed in the private sector arrangement ; which has become an obstacle in moderating food prices in Nigeria
He added that the revalidation of CBN’s 59.7% majority shareholding stake in NCX, to enable it implement far reaching measures, which includes reconstitution of NCX’s Board and Board Committees, appointment of Chairman by the CBN, and an investment of at least N50 billion through the InfraCo structure.
“That CBN is expected to engage the Nigeria Postal Service on possible utilisation of its assets to develop model warehouses across the federation.
“The SteerCo may co-opt any other Ministry, Department and Agency of government to see to the effective implementation of the Strategic Turnaround Plan”, he said.
The CBN Governor maintained that there were various challenges plaguing the Nigerian agricultural commodities value chain that need to be addressed, in order to accelerate investment and productivity in the sector.
“Some of these challenges include;
Poor infrastructure and logistics which impede the movement of produce from farm to market and/or processing centers resulting in massive revenue losses to farmers.
“Limited storage and preservation facilities, lack of adequate liquidity to support offtake of agricultural goods; unavailability of pricing information to market participants, activities of middlemen who currently aggregate commodities with the sole aim of manipulating prices for selfish gains”, he noted.