President Muhammadu Buhari has reiterated the Federal Government’s resolve to end illegal mining activities in the country just as he expressed concern that Nigeria lost close to $3 billion from 2012 – 2018 due to smuggling of gold.
The spoke at the official presentation of locally mined sourced gold bars by the Presidential Artisanal Gold Mining Development Initiative (PAGMI) in Abuja yesterday.
He said that the implementation of the PAGMI scheme would result in the setting up of accredited gold buying centres across key mining areas as artisanal miners and small enterprises engaged in mining would be able to get value for what they mine.
‘‘These operations will help in diversifying our revenue base as the sale of gold by artisanal miners and SMEs at accredited centers will help the government in realising royalties and taxes from the sale of these assets” President Buhari said in a statement issued by Idowu Jokpeyibo, a media officer in the federal ministry of mines and steel development.
He assured Nigerians that this laudable initiative would help support government’s efforts at enabling the creation of jobs for Nigerians, boost the nation revenue base, and improve foreign exchange reserves”
“In Nigeria, the drop in crude oil prices has had a significant impact on government revenue, as well as on our foreign exchange earnings. In responding to this challenge, it is therefore paramount that we strengthen our efforts at implementing policies and programs that will enable greater diversification of the Nigerian economy”
President Buhari said that efforts were being made to support artisanal miners to improve the standard of gold that would be sold to the central bank, to meet international benchmarks.
“The gold buying programme by the Central Ban of Nigeria (CBN) will ensure that artisanal miners are no longer subjected to the volatility in gold prices that occurs in the absence of credible off-takers, which has often led to a significant loss in the value of gold sold by miners, as well as in encouraging smuggling
“It will also help support improved economic activities in our rural communities. As a result, we expect that close to 250,000 jobs would be created from improved gold mining operations”, he explained.
He assured Nigerians that the government would continue to do its best to promote policies and programs that would engender improved economic growth and the creation of jobs for the teeming populace.
Minister of mines and steel development, Olamilekan Adegbite, said the event was a milestone on the way to positioning the country into gold trade.
He said President Buhari is the first president to walk the talk in respect of the diversification of the country economy by approving extra budgetary allocation of N30 billion in 2017 to the sector as an intervention fund.