Finance Minister contradicts presidency, says prices of food items rising


Nigeria’s Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed has contradicted the presidency over the rising prices of food items in the market.

Ahmed on Monday explained that food prices were indeed rising, contrary to claims by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, that the prices were falling.

The Minister who spoke on NTA’s ‘Good Morning Nigeria’ programme, however, noted that unlike in previous administrations where subsidy was done on consumption, it would be better if it is targeted at certain sectors of the productive economy.

She said: “It is true that food prices are going up and as I said earlier on, sensible subsidy is the one that is done on production, not on consumption because when you use gasoline in your car, you burn it and you have to put it in your car again and burn it.

“But if you now change the regime and say any truck that carries food or produce, the diesel price is subsidised, you are subsidising production because it means food items get to the market cheaper.

“But as long as you are subsidising consumption, whether it is fuel or electricity, there will always be the propensity for gain in the system and then there is always the fact that you are subsiding everybody and it is not everybody that needs it.”

Latest figures released by the National Bureau of Statistics had shown that the Consumer Price Index, which measures inflation rose to 12.82 percent year-on-year in July 2020.

The 12.82 per cent inflation rate is about 0.26 percent points higher than the 12.56 per cent recorded in June this year.

This is the highest inflation rate Nigeria will be recording in the last 29 months.

The last time Nigeria’s inflation was as high as this was in March 2018 when the country’s CPI was put at 13.34 per cent.

While the August inflation rate is being expected, the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria had predicted that rising inflation is expected to continue in the short run up to the end of 2020.

However, the minister said it was unlikely that the prices of food would rise further because of the increase in the price of petrol, adding that most trucks conveying agricultural produce use diesel and not petrol.

The President’s spokesman had said last week that food prices were on the decline and even berated a Channels Television guest for saying otherwise.

Shehu had said, “We sat through the meeting of the National Food Security Council and we heard presentations by experts – people who had surveyed the markets.

“As of yesterday (Thursday), in the morning of the meeting, go and check the index in markets. For instance in Kano, millets that had gone up to N24,000 has now gone down to N12,000, N13,000.

“Rice that had been N25,000 is now N20,000. Corn, maize is now N18,000 for the old stock and N14,000, N15,000 for the new stock”, he said. (Daily Sun)

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