FG Tackles Negative Trade Agreements

The Nigerian government has taken steps to reverse trade and negotiation failures, as well as coordination deficits in trade agreements signed with other nations.

Disclosing this during a visit to Buhari Media Organisation (BMO) in Abuja, Director General of the Nigerian Office for Trade Negotiations (NOTN) Ambassador Chiedu Osakwe said some of these deficits date back to the First Republic.

Ambassador Osakwe stated that based on the fact that Nigeria has the largest economy in Africa and 26th in the world, there was the need for coherence and coordination on trade negotiations and agreements.  According to him the organisation also coordinates, manages and leads all trade negotiations between Nigeria and other countries.

He said that it was in recognition of trade as engine of growth that the Buhari administration, on the 10th May 2017, approved the setting up of the Nigerian Office for Trade Negotiations.

 “The organisation is also mandated to, among other things, create a data base for Nigeria’s trade agreements and streamline the process of trade agreements between Nigeria and other countries. It is also mandated to establish a data base to register Nigerians’ ill-treatment abroad; develop a trade dispute settlement department to resolve issues and improve trade financing for medium and small scale enterprises.”

Responding Chairman of BMO Niyi Akinsiju commended NOTN for its vision and commitment to its mandates of rectifying negative trade practices between Nigeria and other countries; noting also that negative trade practices had contributed largely to economic stagnation in developing countries.

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Bank Executives Applaud FG’s Economic Reform

Representatives of top bank executives have commended the economic policies of the Federal Government especially the Ease of Doing Business, agricultural revolution and anti-corruption campaign.

This is just as President Muhammadu Buhari met with the Nigerian community in Togo on Sunday night at the Nigerian Embassy, Lome.

Similarly, the All Progressives Congress (APC) Togo Chapter, told President Buhari not to be worried about the defections from the party, assuring him of its support in the 2019 Presidential election.

The Governors of Cross River and Niger States; the Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Defence and Interior; the Minister of State, Industry, Trade and Investment; the National Security Adviser; the Chief of Defence Staff; the Director-General, National Intelligence Agency; and the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, were among the top government officials who accompanied the President to his first official engagement on arrival in Lome ahead of the Joint ECOWAS/ECCAS Summit, and the 53rd Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government, among others.

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DPR Raises N748bn From Oil Tax, Royalty In 2017

The Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) earned N748 billion from taxes and royalties paid by oil and gas companies operating in Nigeria in 2017.

This was contained in DPR’s report made available at a workshop organised for energy reporters in Lagos on Friday.

The report said the revenue represented about 83 per cent of the agency’s target.

The report also stated that the agency renewed close to 25 oil blocks, which had combined revenue of about 1billion dollars.

According to the report, the agency granted approval for 16 new field development plans in 2017, which would increase the nation’s oil and gas production by 560,463 when completed.

“We renewed 19 expired leases in 2017 to enhance upstream investment influx and accelerate oil and gas reserves and production growth.

“We actively supported the implementation of a major gas commercialisation programme, which seeks to create a regulatory framework to facilitate gas flare monetisation to end gas flaring by 2020,”the report read.

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CBN, MPC Retains Interest Rate At 14%

The monetary policy committee of the central bank of Nigeria has retained monetary policy arte at 14% for the 11th consecutive time.

The rate first raised in July 2016 to combat rising inflation.

Briefing journalists on Tuesday at the end of the committee’s two-day meeting, Godwin Emefiele, Governor of the Apex bank, said seven of the nine committee members voted in favour of holding the rate.

He noted that “the committee considered tightening because it would curb the threat of rising inflation even as the injection from the fiscal authority will provide substantial liquidity.

“It will rein in inflationary pressures and bring inflation to single digit levels. It will also awaken consumption and raise the cost of borrowing to investors in the domestic economy.

“Loosening could reverse the gains already made with lowered importation, lower bank’s risk appetite and increase non-performing loans.

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CBN Begins Chinese Yuan Currency Swap Deal

The Central Bank of Nigeria today flagged off its intervention in the sale of foreign exchange in Bilateral Currency Swap Agreement (CNY), signalling the consummation of the Bilateral Currency Swap Agreement signed with the People’s Bank of China (PBoC) on April 27, 2018.

A statement issued by the Bank disclosed that the sales shall be through a combination of spot and short tenure forwards.

It stated that the exercise, which shall be Special Secondary Market Intervention Sales (SMIS) retail, would be dedicated to the payment for raw materials and machinery and agriculture.
The Bank’s spokesman, Isaac Okorafor, explained that the CBN would receive bids from all authorized dealers.

He added that due to the peculiarity of the exercise, the Bank would not be applying the relevant provisions of its Revised Guidelines for the Operation of the Inter-bank Foreign Exchange Market, which direct all SMIS bids to be submitted to the CBN through the Forex Primary Dealers (FXPDs).

On funding, he disclosed that authorized dealers were to debit the customers’ accounts for the Naira equivalent of their bids, stressing that the CBN would debit authorized dealers’ current account on the day of intervention to the tune of the naira equivalent of their bid request.

Okorafor further explained that there would be no predetermined spread on the sale of FX Forwards by Authorised Dealers to end-users under the Special SMIS-Retail, adding that authorised Dealers would be allowed to earn 50 kobo on the customers’ bids.

While also explaining that the bids were on Spot FX basis as the Authorised Dealers’ accounts with the CBN would be debited in full for the Naira equivalent of the USD bid amount, he advised customers that were not willing to accept the settlement terms not to participate in this Special SMIS – Retail.

He also urged customers not willing to accept the terms of the forward rate not to participate in this Special Chinese Yuan SMIS Intervention.

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Senate Approves N348bn Outstanding Subsidy Claims For Oil Marketers

The Nigerian Senate has approved the payment of =N=348 billion as outstanding subsidy claims to 74 petroleum marketers.

This followed adoption of interim report of its Committee on Petroleum (Downstream) on the Promissory Note Programme and a Bond Issuance to Settle Inherited Local Debts and Contractual Obligations to Petroleum Marketers.

Out of this amount, 55 oil marketers are to receive =N=275, 750,415,108 while 19 others will get =N=73, 452,639,866. While the committee recommended that the 55 oil marketers be paid 100 percent of their claims, it called for the payment of 65 percent claims to other marketers due to contentions in their figures.

Senate also mandated the committee to continue its engagement with the Ministry of Finance, oil marketing companies, Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) and other stakeholders in order to update all the outstanding liabilities and clear all outstanding debts, interest accrued and forex differential once and for all.

Chairman of the committee, Senator Kabir Marafa who presented the report during Wednesday’s plenary, noted that although marketers made claims to the tune of =N=670, 497,543,15billion, as of June 30, 2017, the PPPRA verified and approved the sum of =N=429, 054,203,228billion to the Federal Ministry of Finance.

He explained that while the verified figure was approved by the Federal Executive Council, further verification by the Presidential Initiative on Continuous Audit, (PICA) reduced the amount to =N=407, 255,263,288billion.

The panel observed that continuous delay of the approval of the promissory note request will affect the liquidity of the Oil Marketing Companies and undermine their crucial role in the development of the economy.

The committee in the report signed by 17 out of 22 members explained that the determination of the terminal date of the subsidy programme amount paid to the OMCs and the interest accrued from 30th June, 2017 to date will be taken up and resolved in the final report.

Accordingly, the report indicated that “a submission that would be able to reconcile and bring to the conclusion all issues in respect of petroleum subsidy programme implementation and payments;

“Further verification needs to be made to ascertain the discrepancies between the OMCs and the recommendations for payment made by FMoF (PICA). In this respect, the Committee is of the opinion that interim payments should be effected to the OMCs pending full verification of PICA recommendaTions and updating on the full implication of interest accruals from 30th June 2017 to date.

“The Government’s inability to pay the OMCs as at 30th June, 2017 has further increased its liability since the interest continued running till date, hence, the need for further work by the Committee to compile and update the level of indebtedness and its interest accruals;

“However, in view of the fact that the service of the OMCs is very important to the economic development of the country and closely tied to National security, paying the marketers would stem the threat of fuel scarcity, increase economic activities and promote a more harmonious working relationship between the Government and OMCs”.

Notable among the oil marketers and the amount approved for them are: Aiteo =N=4,988,199,360; Conoil =N=5,588,285,132; Forte Oil =N=15,480,445,907; Bovas =N=5,953,684,258; Capital Oil =N=8,339,052,402; Mobil =N=8,282,363,478; MRS Oil and Gas =N=20,948,270,002; Oando =N=14,972,585,600; Total =N=21,569,996,843 among others.

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President Macron Endorses Ecobank’s Commitment To Creative Industries

France President, Emmanuel Macron, was fulsome of praise at Africa’s culture and its creative industries on display during his visit to Lagos on Tuesday.

The Event, which was the launch of the French Season of African Cultures 2020 in Lagos Nigeria was sponsored by leading pan-African bank, Ecobank.

The event, entitled ‘A Celebration of African Culture’ was held at the New Afrika Shrine – which was the home of the legendary musician and composer Fela Kuti – focused on Africa’s rich and diverse cultural heritage and honoured Africa’s creators of art, design, film and fashion.

President Macron told the audience at the event that he is determined to champion a new narrative about how Africa is perceived and that the African Cultural Season 2020 is one of the ways to project the continent positively.

“When I say we need new narratives, what I mean is that we need you people to make these narratives. I see a new generation of artistes, of entrepreneurs, of people coming from civil societies, of journalists, of intellectuals coming from Africa and explaining, speaking about Africa in Europe and everywhere” he explained.

“I believe that we have to build together, a new and common narrative. And this new common narrative is not based on what is important for Europeans, but what is important for Africa about their culture – how they want to build their culture, how they want to explain their culture, how they want to promote their culture and which places are important for them for these promotions. We decided to organize African Cultural Season 2020 in France for several reasons. It is about a team of young creatives coming from different parts of Africa. You’ll have contemporary artistes, painters, people involved in fashion, movies, visual arts, architecture… all different arts existing and present in Africa, especially Nigeria,” he said.

Charles Kie, Managing Director of Ecobank Nigeria said: “President Macron’s support is indicative of African cultures’ growing international influence. Whether it be blockbuster films such as Black Panther, our global superstars in the music industry, our artworks in the top international auction houses, our models gracing the premier fashion catwalks, or our dance and our food, Africa’s culture is having a huge impact on the global stage. Africa’s creative industries are a vital ingredient of our continent’s economies in our relentless pursuit of increased diversification and global competitiveness.”

“Ecobank’s digital strategy is fully centred on bringing financial integration and inclusion to the African continent and our innovative products such as the Ecobank Mobile App, the Xpress account and Ecobank Pay are all empowering African consumers and business alike by providing the 24/7 functionality, convenience, accessibility and instantaneous transactions that they need. Ecobank is totally committed to playing its part in supporting the development of businesses and trade that will bring the sustainable growth to African economies and provide the bedrock of increasing prosperity for all in Africa.

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FG Targets 10% Global LNG Market

As part of its strategic aspirations to derive maximum value from Nigeria’s abundant natural gas resources, the Nigerian Government is targeting 10 per cent of the world’s market share in traded Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG).

The Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Dr. Maikanti Baru, disclosed this on Tuesday while addressing the 27th World Gas Conference (WGC) in Washington DC, United States.

Speaking at a session on “The Role of Gas in Power Generation” under the theme “Fuelling the Future”, Dr. Baru reeled out the enormous potentials of Nigeria’s gas resources and their huge contributions to the nation’s economy, explaining also the gas-to-power initiatives as well as the quest for industrialization.

“We are focused on jumpstarting and sustaining gas supply to support a rapid growth in power generation, re-positioning Nigeria as the regional hub for gas-based industries such as fertilizer, petrochemicals, methanol, Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG), as well as leveraging our enormous reserves position to strengthen our footprints in high value gas export through LNG and regional gas pipelines,Baru told delegates at the triennial gas gathering.

He also said that with the emerging gas markets and the need to generate more power across Africa’s Sub-Saharan region, there abound an unprecedented investment opportunity in the gas sector for the country.

According to the GMD, Nigeria was focused on expanding its existing 22 million metric tonnes per annum (MTPA) Nigerian LNG plant with additional 8MTPA from its proposed Train 7, a development that will significantly increase global power generation capacity.

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Unbanked Population Stands At 37% – CBN

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) says the country’s unbanked population currently stands at 37 per cent.

Director, Banking & Payment Systems, CBN,Mr Dipo Fatokun, stated this at the third Annual Banking Security Summit organised by MAXUT Consulting in partnership with OneSpan, global data security company on Thursday in Lagos.

Fatokun recalled that the apex bank in 2010 in Mexico made a commitment to reduce the population of unbanked Nigerians to at least 20 per cent by 2020.

“We made a commitment in Mexico then to reduce the number of unbanked to at least 20 per cent by 2020, then in 2010 we observed that over 46 per cent of bankable Nigerians didn’t have access to financial services.

“This was a major concern to the CBN and we made a commitment that in 10 years time, we would reduce the figure to far below 20 per cent.

“Today it’s not a good story because we have not done much, less than two years to 2020, at the last count we are just 37 per cent. A lot of work needs to be done,” Fatokun said.

Fatokun, who was represented by CBN Deputy Director, Banking & Payment Systems Department, Mr Musa Jimoh, said the apex bank was still committed to reducing the country’s unbanked population.

He said the move was part of the bank’s financial inclusion strategy aimed at ensuring greater participation in the nation’s financial sector.

Delivering a key note address on “Preparing for Open Banking in Nigeria,” Fatokun said the survey conducted then showed banking penetration was relatively low due to lack of access to financial services and cost of banking services.

He said people were afraid to bring their monies to banks because of banking charges, and that complex experienced in opening of accounts contributed to the trend.

According to Fatokun, the apex bank had introduced several policies to promote financial inclusion in the country such as mobile money to enable banks provide banking services to the poor.

He said the CBN also had a review of bank charges to reduce with a view to reducing them as well as the introduction of super agents.

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Nigeria’s Inflation Drops To 11.61% In May, Says NBS

The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) says the Consumer Price Index (CPI), which measures inflation for May, decreased to 11.61 per cent (year-on-year) from 13.34 per cent recorded in April.

The NBS disclosed this in its CPI and inflation Report for May released on Wednesday in Abuja.

According to the bureau, this figure is 0.87 per cent points less than the rate recorded in April.

The bureau said the figure showed 16 consecutive reductions in inflation rate since January 2017.

The report stated that increases were recorded in all the Classification of Individual Consumption by Purpose (COICOP) divisions that yielded the headline index.

On a month-on-month basis, the bureau said the Headline Index increased by 1.09 per cent in May, up by 0.26 per cent points from the rate recorded in April.

It stated the percentage change in the average composite CPI for 12 months period ended May over the average of CPI for the previous 12 months period.

It, however, measured the CPI at 14.79 per cent in the period under review, showing 0.41 per cent point lower from 15.20 per cent recorded in April.

The report further showed that the urban inflation eased by 12.08 per cent (year-on-year) in May from 12.89 per cent recorded in April.

In addition, it stated that the rural inflation also eased 11.20 per cent in May from 12.13 per cent in April.

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Kerosene Price Increases By 0.65% In May 2018 – NBS

The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) has said that the average price of Kerosene per litre increased from N278.49 in April to N280.29 in May.

“Average price per litre paid by consumers for National Household Kerosene increased by 0.65 percent month-on-month and decreased by -7.58 percent year-on-year to N280.29 in May from N278.49 in April.

“States with the highest average price per litre of kerosene were Abuja (N327.50), Yobe (N313.33) and Cross River (N310.19), while those with the lowest average price per litre are Borno (N233.33), Abia (N235.53) and Kogi (N251.04),’’  the report said.

According to the report, the average price per gallon paid by consumers for National Household Kerosene increased by 0.80percent month-on-month and decreased by -5.12percent year-on-year.

It noted that the price paid by consumers for a gallon of kerosene increased to N983.67 in May from N975.82 paid in April.

States with the highest average price per gallon of kerosene were Jigawa (N1,143.33), Yobe (N1130.00) and Adamawa (N1,088.89).

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Senate Calls For Return Of SON To Ports

The Senate Committee on Industry has called for the return of the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) to the nation’s ports.

Senator Sam Egwu, Chairman of the Committee made the call on Monday, during an oversight function to SON’s offices and laboratories in Lagos.

He said that the absence of the agency was greatly felt at the ports and called on stakeholders in the sector to begin facilitating its return.

He stressed that it was necessary for the agency to have first-hand information on goods berthing on the shores of the country before being allowed into the markets.

He said that Nigeria as a large scale importing country must have its standard organisation at the nation’s point of entry, in order to ascertain the quality of goods coming in.

“We cannot overemphasis the issue of standardisation, because it is the core for every manufacturing output. We are not happy that SON has not been allowed to operate at its maximum capacity especially with their presence being felt at the port.

“Nigeria is import dependent, with porous borders and for them not to be at the port to inspect these goods first hand is not good enough. They should be allowed to be at the port to see these products before they enter into the market.

“We have observed some products come into the country from countries that do not have standards all cloned with SON logo. This is certainly not good for the Nigerian economy.

“The discovery by the SON deterred such goods from getting into the hands of unsuspecting consumers,” he said.
He commended operations of the agency in its fight to combat fake and substandard goods, and restated the committee’s support.

“From what I have seen so far, I want to say that they have impressed us as a committee with their efforts to ensure that products are being standardised.

“They have also judiciously put to use the appropriation funds given to them to deliver on their mandate,” he said.
The Director General, of SON, Osita Aboloma, told the committee that steady progress had been made over the years under the current leadership of the senate committee on industry.

“We have never had it so good under any committee in the history of SON.

“Not only did you bequeath a befitting SON Act, we have also been able to discharge most of our core mandate.
“I am also proud to tell the world that the issue of possession and co-ownership of the building where our operational office in Lekki is situated has been resolved in favour of SON due to your able leadership, ‘’he said.

The members of the committee were taken to SON’s one-stop office in Apapa and its multi-billion laboratory complex in Ogba with about 38 laboratories.

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