The manufacturing, sales and retail sectors of the economy have shown a significant improvement from previous years, a new study by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) and World Bank , which was released yesterday, has shown. The release of the study coincided with the warning by organised labour in the construction industry to the federal government of a looming industrial crisis in the sector over attempts by employers to weaken the union and frustrate the ongoing industry-wide negotiations. The General Household Survey (GHS) indicated that the manufacturing sector improved from 6.5 per cent recorded in 2010/2011 to 7.7 per cent in 2012/2013, while the retails and sales segment moved from 22 per cent to 24 per cent in the period under review. The report is a national representative indicator, which contains detailed information on household socio-economic and income generating activities and further revealed the resilience of Nigerians in developing coping mechanism in times of economic shocks. Speaking at the launch of the report in Abuja , World Bank Country Director, Marie Francoise Marie-Nelly , praised the government for recognising the importance of statistics in development and improving statistical data in the country. She said: "Statistics is an essential tool for the success of the transformation agenda," adding that the World Bank and its partners would continue to support the NBS to produce high quality data for the country and Africa as a whole. Using the GHS-Panel data, the World Bank will undertake a multi-year analytical work programme on labour markets, social protection and welfare dynamics that would lead to the dissemination of a series of policy notes in 2014 and 2015. Statistician General of the Federation and Chief Executive Officer of NBS, Mr. Yemi Kale , however told journalists there was still a lot of work to be done in some other sectors of the economy. He said: "Many indicators were positive and some indicators were not positive. Either way, whether negative or positive, all we know is that our job as a statistical office is to present the Nigerian people with information, so we know where we are doing well and where we are not doing well; that basically is the job of the statistical office and that's exactly what projects like these are meant to achieve." On the involvement of the public in its surveys, Kale said there had been a significant improvement in the volume of quality of feedback that the NBS got from the field "and because we are adopting improved technologies, it is cutting off a lot of the potential errors that could creep into such data production." On the issue of ongoing efforts by the NBS to rebase the country's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) estimates, Kale said the external validation exercise might be concluded within the next three weeks. However, he said the GHS work programme is a pillar of the World Bank's Country Partnership Strategy for Nigeria and was inspired by the Nigeria's Transformation Agenda (TA), which includes a focus on job creation to address the protracted problems of unemployment and reducing poverty. The work programme had been developed in consultation with various World Bank sectors as well as country counterparts and development partners. Despite the new data churned out by the NBS and World Bank on the retail and manufacturing sectors, the National Union of Civil Engineering Construction , Furniture and Wood Workers (NUCECFWW) yesterday issued a seven-day ultimatum to the Federation of Construction Industry (FOCI), the umbrella body of all construction companies in the country to end the protracted negotiations on improved welfare and better working conditions for workers, failing which it would shut down the entire industry next week. The National President of the union, Amechi Asugwuni, who served the notice of the industrial action at a press conference in Lagos , accused the employers of impoverishing the workers in the industry through deliberate attempts to frustrate the ongoing 2013 National Joint Industrial Council (NJIC) negotiations. He said the current salaries and allowances payable in the industry were not commensurate with productivity and contributions of workers. He said the union after due consultations had been directed by its Central Working Committee (CWC) to issue a seven-day ultimatum to employers of labour in the industry. He added that at the expiration of the ultimatum on Monday next week, if the employers did not positively address their demands, the industry would be shut down for two days in a nationwide warning strike, which would be followed by an indefinite strike. Asugwuni said though FOCI had invited the union for a meeting on Monday next week, the day the ultimatum would expire, he insisted that in spite of the invitation, the ultimatum would remain in place.
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