The closure of Nigerian borders is doing the country good, given that Nigeria is now on course to achieving self-sufficiency in rice production, Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning Zainab Ahmed said Thursday.
She told reporters at a news conference organised by her ministry in Abuja to herald the 26th National Economic Summit that the decision has improved the performance of the manufacturing sector as well as security in the country.
“At the national level, the closure of the land borders is one of the boldest decisions ever taken by any administration to curb insecurity, smuggling as well as kidnapping.
“This has in a positive way impacted Nigeria as we are closer to attaining self-sufficiency in rice production than at any time in point of history in our country.
“This spillover effect is also evident in other sectors, such as manufacturing, livestock, among others. This also provides an opportunity for the private sector to leverage increased local content and expand their businesses,” Ms Ahmed said.
Nigeria, Africa’s biggest economy, shut its land borders last year and imposed import controls on rice, in an attempt to stimulate local production and cut its annual import bill for the commodity and wheat, which, until the closure, stood at nearly $4 billion.
But the move has kept the price of the staple artificially high.
Inflation data issued by the statistics office on Thursday showed food inflation rate, which has been in double digits for more than three years, climbed to 16% in September, up from 16%.
Figures from the U.S. Department of Agriculture show Nigeria still imports at least one-third of the rice it consumes even though it has significantly boosted domestic rice production in the past few years.
Ahmed stated Nigeria must provide a stable macro-economic condition and favourable business ambience capable of guaranteeing low transaction cost, promoting savings, enhancing investment and generating employment.
“This is where the role of government becomes critical in ensuring that enabling policies and strategies are put in place for the private sector to excel.”
According to her, government policies execution helped Nigeria improve her ranking on the World Bank 2020 Ease of Doing Business report by 15 places to number 131.
“As the nation awaits the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill and the Finance Act 2020, we will be working together as partners to make sure that the amended CAMA will be fully implemented,” Ahmed said.