Office of the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo announced that they had set up a task force to beat down food prices. The press release explains the decision behind the move was to “reverse the recent price increases” across the country.
The committee will be expected to consider how to remove some of the cost-raising factors that come into play between the farms and the markets and therefore “bring relief to our people.” The press release also explains that their focus would be to review the transportation and preservation processes, and see how government can intervene in those aspects to bring down food prices.
This statement on face value appears logical and welcoming, however critics are already wary of the real intentions of this new initiative. Some believe this could lead to more socialist policies such as price-fixing or enforcing price controls in a bid to curtail rising cost of goods and services. Rather than trying to curtail inflation through unorthodox means, some expect the government to focus on fixing its broken forex policy and instilling confidence in the market. It is also opined that uncertainty about the direction of the economy is also causing a shock to the supply and pricing dynamics for most suppliers, causing them to raise prices and cut inventory arbitrarily.
This latest initiative could therefore backfire if it is seen to interfere with the market machinations.
You can read the full press release below;
OFFICE OF THE VICE PRESIDENT
ACTING PRESIDENT SETS UP TASK FORCE TO BEAT DOWN FOOD PRICES
Moved by the need to enhance affordability of food prices across country, the Buhari administration has constituted a Presidential Task Force to urgently consider measures that would ensure a steady flow of produce to the market and reverse recent price increases.
Giving the directive today at the Federal Executive Council meeting, Acting President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, expressed concern at some of the inflationary rates of food prices, noting that the Task Force will explore options to promote availability and affordability of food items to Nigerians.
According to him, the Task Force, which has seven days from today to report back to the Council will consider how to remove some of the cost-raising factors that come into play between the farms and the markets and therefore “bring relief to our people.”
While there have been reports of bumper harvests in parts of the country, the prices of food stuff still end up rather high, while some of the produce even end up wasted due to a number of reasons preventing effective transportation delivery to the markets.
One of the focus areas of the Task Force, the Ag. President noted, would be to review the transportation and preservation processes, and see how government can intervene in those aspects to bring down food prices.
The Task Force, which would be meeting with the Ag. President in the discharge of its urgent assignment, will therefore draw out a practical plan and present same to the Council next week.
Members of the Task Force include the following:
Minister of Agriculture & Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh
Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun
Minister of Industry, Trade & Development, Dr. Okey Enelamah
Minister of Transportation, Honorable Rotimi Amaechi
Minister for Water Resources, Engr. Suleiman Adamu
Minister of Labour & Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige
The Offices of the Chief of Staff to the President and the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Sustainable Development Goals, SDGs, would also be on the Task Force.