FG Cuts Rice Import Bill to $160m

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  • Inaugurates NIPR governing council

Olawale Ajimotokan in Abuja

The federal government has declared it spent only $160 million on importation of paddy rice last year.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, made the revelation thursday.

He said the spending represented a 90 percent cut in the country’s rice import bill of $1.65 billion annually.

Mohammed made the disclosure at the inauguration of the of the newly-elected Governing Council of the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR), under the chairmanship of Mallam Mukhtar Sirajo. According to the minister, the cut was the highest of such ever and it became possible because the country imported lesser volume of processed rice from Thailand and India.

The volume of imported rice by Nigeria from Thailand dropped from 1.23 million metric tonnes in 2014 to 23,192mt as at November 2017.

The data released by the Thai Rice Exporters Association said the value of these exports dropped to 324 million Thai baht from 8.2 billion Thai bhat.

Mohammed said with the progress made in the rice cultivation, the country was inching towards self-sufficiency than any administration before through the efforts of local rice farmers and millers.

“We are just two years away from meeting our target production of 6 million metric tonnes of milled rice, which is Nigeria’s total rice consumption. We increased the number of rice farmers from five million to an all-time high of over 11 million,” Mohammed said.

The minister also said the administration had taken power generation from 2,690MW to 7,000MW and was feeding 8.2 million pupils in 45,394 schools in 24 states and employing 87,261 cooks.

He also added the economy grew by 1.95 percent in Q1 2018, while inflation fell for 15 consecutive months, from 18.7 per cent to 12.5 per cent as of April 2018.

The external reserves of $48 billion are also the highest in five years just as agriculture exports grew 180.7 per cent above the value in 2016. Raw material exports grew 154.2 per cent above the value in 2016; while exports of manufactured goods grew 26.8 per cent above the value in 2016.

‘’With our Whistleblowing Policy yielding N13.8bn from tax evaders, as well as N7.8billion, $378million, £27,800 in recoveries from public officials naysayers say they have not seen all these achievements, but Nigerians who are benefitting directly from them have testified to the reality of the successes”.

He advised public relations practitioners never to be tired or discouraged from projecting the image of their establishments, even when some people decide to play the blind or the spoiler.

The new NIPR President, Sirajo, said with the unity of the country being called to question now more than ever before, government should utilise the human resources in NIPR to ensure better management of communication across different strata of society.

He also appealed to government to check the influx and unwholesome activities of quacks as well as end the practice where political parties and their candidates engage foreign PR firms to handle campaigns which NIPR members can conveniently handle.

He said the such acts could jeopardise the security and stability of the country.