Utomi knocks FG over ‘panic’ measures to cut food prices

A political economist, Prof. Pat Utomi, has knocked the Federal Government over the measures it unveiled on Monday to reduce the prices of food items across Nigeria.

President Bola Tinubu’s administration unveiled these measures in a statement signed by the Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Abubakar Kyari.

According to Kyari, certain imported food items through land and sea borders will be suspended.

“There will be a 150-day duty-free import window for food commodities: suspension of duties, tariffs and taxes for the importation of certain food commodities through
land and sea borders,” Kyari said.

“These commodities include maize, husked brown rice, wheat and cowpeas. Imported food commodities will be subjected to a Recommended Retail Price (RRP).

Kyari stated that the government would not compromise the safety of the various food items for consumption.

In addition to the importation by the private sector, the Federal Government will import 250,000mt of wheat and 250,000mt of maize.

Utomi reacting via a post on Tuesday criticised some of the policies of the Federal Government for the agriculture sector, saying they are not the permanent solutions to the problems.

“I woke up at 2am to do the KAKAAKI interview this morning but the chill of the wrong policies announced yesterday for the agriculture sector has not let me return to sleep,” Utomi wrote on X.

“Do we forget so quickly? How poor trade policy with the ascendance of oil income caused cash crop farmers to abandon the farms to the non-tradable goods sector as messengers and construction workers and when oil price volatility resulted in construction firms not being paid on time triggering their retrenchment.

“They did not go back to farms and we became a mono product economy. Now, we want to make dependence on food imports permanent when we have not the money to pay for the imports. We are inviting a famine.”

Utomi said months ago, he pleaded that this food price inflation should be combated with forest rangers being deployed to fertile territories and farmers given input incentives managed by non government organisations (NGOs) and not corrupt government officials so that they can focus on legumes that can be harvested in three months and the markets flooded with food.

He lamented that instead, the government decided to focus on presidential jets, Lagos-Calabar Highway, SUVs for the National Assembly members and presidential motorcades of 100 vehicles, calling it the height of unwisdom.

Utomi said now, the chicken has come home to roost and the government wants to inflict long term structural damage in panic incentives.

“God save our souls, amazing that the more I see policy errors of judgment, the more it emerges that General Olusegun Obasanjo with all his own challenges is emerging as the greatest man at the top in Nigerian history,” he said.

“What we need now is a modified Operation Feed the Nation (OFN) which he introduced in less threatening circumstances than today’s existential crisis.

“In the same manner, the ‘low profile’ he turned to is the prudence we desperately need now. In and out of office, Obasanjo is now standing head and shoulders above the others. Statesman, patriot, policy champion and uniter.”

The post Utomi knocks FG over ‘panic’ measures to cut food prices appeared first on Guardian Nigeria News.

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