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Senate Pass Bill to Establish National Rice Development Council

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Price of Paddy Rice

By Adedapo Adesanya

The Senate has passed a bill seeking to establish the National Rice Development Council as part of the federal government’s effort to cut down on rice importation and improve the country’s foreign exchange earnings.

The passage of the bill followed the consideration of a report by the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development.

Speaking at the presentation, the Chairman of the Committee, Mr Abdullahi Adamu, said the council will support the comprehensive development of the rice sector and the organisation of rice stakeholders to enhance local production of rice in Nigeria.

He explained that the organisation will transform the activities of rice farmers, rice processors, millers, researchers, marketers and other important stakeholders across the entire rice value chain, particularly the clusters of smallholder rice farmers and small scale millers spread all over the country.

“Mr President and distinguished colleagues, with our natural comparative advantage in the area of rice production as a country, Nigeria should consider the need to put in place a National Rice Development Council and a fail-safe comprehensive national rice development roadmap that will guide us not only into a regime of self-sufficiency in production but also for export purposes, employment generation for our teaming youth and growth of our economy.

“The Nigerian rice industry exists in the abstract as there appears to be no form of coordination in the absence of a properly structured rallying point.

“Today, we have Paddy Rice Dealers Association of Nigeria (PRIDAN), Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN), Rice Processors Association of Nigeria (RIPAN), Rice Millers Association of Nigeria (RIMAN) and many more.

“This Bill seeks to establish that rallying point and a comprehensive national operational and governance structure for a complete rice value chain process.

“Mr President and distinguished colleagues, this Bill on its own merit will improve government efforts for efficient policy and regulatory framework for the Nigerian rice industry; promote enabling business and investment environments for rice stakeholders; support the growth of the rice industry in Nigeria and in the sub-region as well as promote the sustainability of foreign exchange earnings put at about $2 billion annually for Rice related importation to the country.

“The framework created by thịs Bill will pull investment into rice production, provide the missing link between rice production and industrialization, provide employment, reduce migration from rural to urban cities and enhance socio-economic activities all over the country.

“Few countries having Rice Council include Rice Council of Tanzania, USA Rice Council, Directorate of Rice Development (India), Rice Association of Thailand, among others,” he said.

Adedapo Adesanya is a journalist, polymath, and connoisseur of everything art. When he is not writing, he has his nose buried in one of the many books or articles he has bookmarked or simply listening to good music with a bottle of beer or wine. He supports the greatest club in the world, Manchester United F.C.

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Economy

Oil Market Down Amid Supply, Economic Worries

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crude oil market

By Adedapo Adesanya

The oil market was down on Tuesday amid tight supply worries, a possible recession, and China’s COVID-19 curbs, causing the Brent crude to decline by 14 cents or 0.28 per cent to $113.56 per barrel, with the United States West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude shedding 52 cents or 0.87 per cent to $109.77 per barrel.

Yesterday, the US Energy Secretary, Ms Jennifer Granholm, said President Joe Biden had not ruled out using export restrictions to ease soaring domestic fuel prices.

This was after she was asked if the United States was considering restricting petroleum exports to ease fuel prices. “I can confirm the president is not taking any tools off the table,” she said.

The United States exported around 8.6 million barrels per day of oil and refined products in 2021, slightly more than it imported and now the Biden administration has been struggling to combat inflation, including record pump prices, as demand rebounds from the depths of the COVID-19 pandemic and supply has been disrupted since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Another reason for the fall in prices on Tuesday was the worries about threats to the global economy, the main theme of the Davos meeting this week.

Political and business leaders gathered for the World Economic Forum (WEF) against a backdrop of inflation at its highest level in a generation in major economies and they agree that the repercussions on the oil market of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and COVID-19 lockdowns in China with no clear end have worsened the situation.

Meanwhile, Beijing is stepping up quarantine efforts to end its COVID-19 outbreak while Shanghai’s lockdown is due to be lifted in a little more than a week.

Prices earlier were supported as the European Union (EU) moved closer to agreeing to a ban on Russian oil imports.

France’s new foreign minister, Ms Catherine Colonna said on Tuesday she was optimistic that those still opposed to a new EU sanctions package that would phase out Russian oil imports to the bloc could be convinced.

She also added that the bloc would strike a deal that would have the effect of tightening global supply.

Travel during the upcoming US Memorial Day weekend is expected to be the busiest in two years as more drivers hit the road and shake off coronavirus lockdowns despite high pump prices.

Meanwhile, the American Petroleum Institute (API) reported a small build this week for crude oil of 567,000 barrels, which put pressure on crude oil prices.

The draw comes even as the US Department of Energy released 6 million barrels from the Strategic Petroleum Reserves in Week Ending May 20.

US crude inventories have shed some 75 million barrels since the start of 2021 and about 18 million barrels since the start of 2020, according to API data.

Official government data from the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) will be released on Wednesday.

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Economy

Binance Gets Digital Asset Service Provider Licence in France

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Binance

By Adedapo Adesanya

Binance, the world’s largest crypto and blockchain infrastructure provider, has been granted a Digital Asset Service Provider (DASP) registration to operate in France.

The green light was given by Autorité des marchés financiers (AMF), which regulates the French financial markets, with the approval of the Autorité de Contrôle Prudentiel et de Résolution (ACPR), the authority responsible for supervising the banking and insurance sectors in France, especially AML Regulations.

The landmark achievement for Binance represents its first DASP registration in the European Union and demonstrates its commitment to being a compliance-first exchange.

The registration allows Binance France SAS to operate as a DASP in France and provides regulatory protection for local users with regard to the implementation of French AML/CFT and customer identification requirements.

This came just after the platform received licenses to be a crypto service provider in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, a key milestone for the world’s largest digital-asset exchange as it set up the stage for a major push in the Middle East.

According to Binance, compliance and regulation are critical to the development and maturation of the crypto and blockchain industry.

Mr Changpeng Zhao (CZ), founder and CEO of Binance, said: “Effective regulation is essential for the mainstream adoption of cryptocurrency. The French DASP and AML/CFT regulations put in place stringent anti-money laundering and fit and proper requirements to meet the high standards necessary to be regulated in France.”

“We are grateful to the AMF and ACPR who both demonstrated a commitment to innovation that made it possible for Binance to navigate the entire application process. Since day one, Binance has always put its users first, and now the crypto community can have even further confidence in Binance France as a trusted DASP registered in France,” he added.

Mr David Princay, CEO of Binance France added, “The registration of Binance France as a DASP is a key milestone for crypto in Europe. In particular, the new levels of protection for AML will help grow crypto adoption in France and Europe. Greater adoption will help bring better liquidity to the market which will be welcomed by users and the community in particular.”

Following the registration, Binance will significantly expand its operations and intends to recruit more people focused on cryptocurrency and blockchain infrastructure development.

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Economy

We’ll Sustain High Level of Corporate Governance—Seplat

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Seplat

By Aduragbemi Omiyale

The immediate past chairman of Seplat Energy Plc, Mr Ambrosie Bryant Chukwueloka (ABC) Orjiako, has assured that the company will continue to sustain a high level of corporate governance.

Speaking last Thursday at the closing gong ceremony to honour him and introduce his successor, Mr Basil Omiyi, to the market, the energy expert applauded the Nigerian Exchange (NGX) Limited for insisting on transparent and accountable corporate governance for issuers on its platform.

According to him, this has been critical to the company’s growth, assuring that this trend would be maintained in the interest of the firm’s stakeholders.

“The high level of corporate governance promoted by NGX for its listed companies was a key attribute that motivated Seplat Energy Plc to become part of the market.

“Since our acceptance into the market, Seplat Energy Plc has continued to deliver a corporate governance structure that is accountable and transparent to our investors, employees, government and all other relevant stakeholders.

“We are committed to sustaining these high levels of corporate governance through our collaboration with NGX as we implement market-leading measures towards ensuring Nigeria achieves a sustainable energy sector,” he said.

Corroborating him, Mr Omiyi, said, “NGX has played an instrumental role in Seplat Energy Plc’s growth within the domestic and international markets. Our history with the exchange dates back to 2014 when the shares of Seplat Energy Plc were listed in the market and over the years, Seplat has benefitted immensely from its collaboration with NGX.

“As we celebrate another milestone on the Trading Floor of the Exchange, we look forward to strengthening our partnership with NGX for the fulfilment of our joint goal of leveraging capital to empower sustainable initiatives that positively impact our investors, employees, and the environment.”

The chairman of NGX, Mr A.B. Mahmoud, in his address, congratulated Mr Orjiako for his exemplary leadership and outstanding performance of Seplat Energy for well over a decade, during which the company was listed on both NGX and the London Stock Exchange.

“The notable acquisition of eight oil and gas assets, expansion of the Oben and development of the ANOH gas plants under his leadership positioned the company as the largest indigenous domestic supplier of gas,” Mr Mahmoud, who was represented by a director on the bourse, Mr Kamarudeen Oladosu, he noted.

On his part, the CEO of NGX, Mr Temi Popoola, said, “The exchange is better positioned to lead government advocacy efforts for listed companies, promote technology advancement and digital innovation for the capital market, and increase retail investor participation in the capital market aimed at building a market for the future and addressing the prevailing challenge of financial inclusion.

“We welcome Seplat Energy Plc to a renewed NGX and look forward to deepening our collaboration to develop and push for disruptive, out of the box ideas that could support Nigeria’s energy transition into a net-zero economy.”

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