Nigeria battles soaring food prices with tax cuts and imports

Nigeria’s government announced a plan to suspend taxes on certain food imports in a bid to curb rising food prices. 

The move comes as Africa’s most populous nation grapples with double-digit inflation and a cost-of-living crisis.

Agricultural Minister Abubakar Kyari revealed the plan on Monday, stating that import duties would be waived for 150 days on essential food items like wheat and maize. 

This measure aims to bring down food prices, which have skyrocketed by over 40% year-on-year. The government also plans to recommend retail prices for these imported staples.

The tax suspension is part of a broader government strategy to address food security concerns. 

President Bola Tinubu has called for a 2 trillion naira ($1.33 billion) stimulus package to bolster key sectors and improve food affordability and availability. 

Additionally, the government plans to directly import 250,000 metric tons each of wheat and maize, complementing private sector imports. 

These imports will target small-scale processors and millers.

Food insecurity has been a growing problem in Nigeria. Insecurity in food-producing regions and inadequate transportation infrastructure have hampered agricultural production and distribution. 

The resulting food shortages,coupled with soaring global food prices, have exacerbated the existing cost-of-living crisis for Nigerians. 

Inflation currently sits near a 30-year high of nearly 30%, further straining household budgets.

The government hopes that by suspending taxes on food imports and directly intervening in the market, it can bring down food prices and stabilize the economy. The 150-day tax break will apply to food commodities entering the country through land and sea borders.

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