Oil Price Rises Towards $59

Oil prices rose on Wednesday, lifted by a fall in U.S. crude inventories and concerns that tensions in the Middle East could disrupt supplies. Brent crude futures, the international benchmark for oil prices, were at 58.27 dollars at 0131 GMT, up 39 cents, or 0.7 per cent from their last close – and a third above mid-year levels.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at 52.08 dollars per barrel, up 20 cents, or 0.4 per cent and almost a quarter above mid-June levels. Traders said that prices were pushed up by a drop in U.S. crude inventories as well as concerns that fighting in Iraq and mounting tensions between the United States and Iran could affect supplies. U.S. crude inventories fell by 7.1 million barrels in the week to Oct. 13 to 461.4 million barrels, the American Petroleum Institute (API) said late on Tuesday.

Official U.S. fuel inventory data is due to be published later on Wednesday by the Energy Information Administration. Adding to a tightening U.S. market, tensions in the Middle East meant that a risk premium was being priced into oil markets. Iraqi government forces captured the major Kurdish-held oil city of Kirkuk earlier this week, responding to a Kurdish independence referendum, and there are concerns that fighting could disrupt supplies.

The Iraq crisis adds to a looming dispute between the United States and Iran. Last Friday U.S. President Donald Trump last week refused to certify Iran’s compliance over a nuclear deal, leaving Congress 60 days to decide further action against Tehran. During the previous round of sanctions against Iran, some 1 million bpd of oil was cut from global markets.


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UBA Emerges Best Bank In Support Of Real Sector At Banking Awards

Pan-African banking group, United Bank for Africa (UBA) Plc, at the weekend was recognised for its extraordinary support of the real sector as it won best bank in the category, ahead of its peers. 

The award, the organisers noted is in recognition of UBA’s leadership role as in expanding access to funds for the support of the real sector in Nigeria and the rest of Africa where it operates. This feat they further said has brought about unprecedented growth to the sector and by extension, the nation’s economy and that of Africa. 

Speaking while receiving the prestigious award on behalf of the bank, Head Strategic Business Group, Mr. Usman Isiaka expressed appreciation to Businessday for recognising the distinctive role, UBA is playing in Nigeria as well as the African continent in driving financial inclusion coupled with its role in supporting the growth of critical sectors. 

“The Real sector is pivotal to economic development in Nigeria and all of Africa as it forms the main driving force of any economy and its development.

We are pleased with the acknowledgement of our support to the sector. It is worthy to note that our expansion to Africa has not only helped diversify our earnings base, it has provided us with the opportunity to grow economies and partake in the development of Africa. We are grateful to all stakeholders for their support and are stimulated to do even more” he said. 

Frank Aigbogun Publisher, BusinessDay, Nigeria’s leading business newspaper emphasised that the BusinessDay Banking Awards is the product of a rigorous process by BusinessDay’s Research and Intelligence Unit, designed to feed the editorial and also drive commercial research.

 “We are motivated by philosophy that, Great institutions and leaders deserve to be recognised so as to boost healthy competition in their sector” that is why we make it a point of duty to celebrate those who make the conscious effort to stand out”, Aigbogun noted.

 UBA was incorporated in Nigeria as a limited liability company after taking over the assets of the British and French Bank Limited who had been operating in Nigeria since 1949. The United Bank for Africa merged with Standard Trust Bank in 2005 and from a single country operation founded in 1949 in Nigeria – Africa’s largest economy – UBA has become one of the leading providers of banking and other financial services on the African continent. The Bank provides services to over14 million customers globally, through one of the most diverse service channels in sub-Saharan Africa, with over 1,000 branches and customer touch points and robust online and mobile banking platforms.

 UBA was the first Nigerian bank to make an Initial Public Offering, following its listing on the NSE in1970. It was also the first Nigerian bank to issue Global Depository Receipts. The shares of UBA are publicly traded on the Nigerian Stock Exchange and the Bank has a well-diversified shareholder base, which includes foreign and local institutional investors, as well as individual shareholders.

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Emefiele Bags Forbes Award, Woos Investors To Nigeria

The Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele, has been conferred with the 2017 Forbes Best of Africa Innovative Banking Award by the Forbes Magazine.

Presenting the award to Mr. Emefiele at a dinner held at the Willard Intercontinental, Washington, on the sidelines of the Annual Meetings of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), on Thursday, October 12, 2017, the President of Forbes Customs Emerging Markets, Mark Furlong, said the award was in recognition of Emefiele’s courage and determination in using monetary policy to ensure financial stability in Nigeria.

According to him, the CBN under Emefiele had also shown transparency, which had helped to stabilise the economy and had made huge interventions in the real sector of the economy. He particularly cited the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP) of the Bank as a major boost to the development of the agricultural sector in Nigeria.

Before receiving the award, the CBN Governor highlighted efforts made by the Bank, under his leadership, since 2014, to stabilize the financial system and maintain the international value of the naira.

Attributing the award to the collective efforts of the management and staff of the CBN, the cooperation of the Nigerian Federal Government and the people of Nigeria who stood by the Bank, he said the CBN had to take inflation head-on in order to check the negative effects of several global shocks that had hit Nigeria between 2014 and 2016.

He said the monetary authorities were glad that its policies had contributed in forcing inflation down from its previous heights of 18 percent to 16 percent, even as he expressed optimism that the rate of inflation would be further lowered with other policies in place.

On the decision of the CBN to restrict access to foreign exchange from the Nigerian foreign exchange market to some 41 items, Emefiele stated that the CBN had to take bold decisions in order to stop a further plummeting of Nigeria’s foreign reserves due to huge import bills among other things.

Citing some success stories, the CBN Governor said the decision had yielded positive results, particularly with the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme of the Bank, which had increased the yields of farmers, created wealth and provided jobs for thousands of Nigerians.

He further disclosed that President Muhammadu Buhari had urged the Federal Ministries of Agriculture and Rural Development and Employment, Labour and Productivity, as well as other stakeholders including State Governors to strategise to create more jobs through agriculture. According to him, countries that had made huge economic progress had done so through agriculture.

Speaking on the management of the country’s foreign exchange, he recalled the adjustments made to the naira, noting that the creation of several windows in the inter-bank foreign exchange market, particularly the investors’ window, had triggered excitement in the foreign investor community and led to capital inflow of about $10 billion into Nigeria between May and October 2017.

While thanking the foreign investors for showing confidence in the Nigerian economy, he invited the larger foreign investor community to invest in Nigeria, stressing that the Nigerian market remained the largest in Africa.

“Nigeria has a lot of potentials. The environment is good; the climate is good. Nigerians are hospitable and good people. Nigeria is good for business,” Emefiele noted.

Present at the event were the Acting Nigerian Ambassador to the United States of America, Amb. Hassan Hassan; Deputy Governor, Economic Policy, CBN, Dr. Okwu Nnanna; the President and CEO of Corporate Council on Africa, Florie Liser; former Ambassador of the US to Nigeria, Amb. Robin Sanders; Chief Economic Adviser to the President, Dr. Oluyemi Dipeolu; Director General, Debt Management Office, Patience Oniha; CEOs of some Nigerian Deposit Money Banks, Chief Executives of the West African Monetary Institute (WAMI), the West African Institute for Financial and Economic Management (WAIFEM), Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria and members of the foreign investment community.


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CBN Harp On Sustainable Development With Agriculture

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and stakeholders in the renewed drive for economic diversification through agriculture have reiterated that agriculture presents the major opportunity of a long-term sustainable development in the country.

CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, said with the current levels of unemployment in Nigeria, agriculture sector remained vital to the efforts of the Federal Government in diversifying the country’s monolithic economy away from oil. Emefiele, who made the observation at the weekend in Abuja, during the stakeholders’ meeting on the operational framework for the Accelerated Agricultural Development Scheme (AADS) initiated by President Muhammadu Buhari, also said the meeting was in efforts to consolidate the collective efforts of the monetary and fiscal authorities to diversify the country’s economy.

Meanwhile, the Bankers Committee said nation’s deposit money banks are now ready to disburse its pooled five per cent equity contributions at N26 billion, meant to support small businesses in the agriculture sector at concessional rates.

The Chief Executive Officer, Unity Bank Plc, Mrs. Tomi Somefun, who spoke for the committee, affirmed that the special fund was set up to the tune of N26 billion to provide equity contributions to Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), particularly those in the agriculture sector.”We mentioned before that the framework for this was being developed. The Bankers committee can confirm that this is being finalised and disbursement will commence by the end of this fourth quarter.

“To further support this the CBN has created a special export intervention scheme to support export and of course, that will generate additional foreign exchange. This will be closely monitored and we expect a lot of SMEs to benefit from this scheme.”The issue we had in the past was the failure of some exporters to repatriate the foreign exchange generated, and the CBN has agreed with the Bankers Committee to sanction defaulting exporters.

But the Director of Banking Supervision Department at CBN, Alhaji Ahmed Abdullahi, added: “This export scheme is different from the Export Expansion Grant of the Federal Government. This one is a CBN initiative to boost exports, so that exporters can access the fund just like the Commercial Agricultural Scheme or the Anchor Borrowers Programme to boost their businesses.

Similarly, the agriculture stakeholders meeting organised by CBN, which had the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, state governors, among others in attendance, was expected to significantly improve the agricultural output, drive economy growth, reduce unemployment among youth and increase national cohesion.

While acknowledging the twin-challenge of youth restiveness and unemployment, the Emefiele stressed the need for stakeholders to confront the challenge with innovative thinking, using agriculture as a fulcrum of a long-term sustainable and profitable approach.Also speaking, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, commended the courage of the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, and his team, in introducing the policy on the restriction of access to foreign exchange for some 41 items, which can be produced in Nigeria.

For Kebbi State Governor, Alhaji Atiku Bagudu, who doubles as the Head, Technical Sub-committee of AADS and Chairman of the Presidential Initiative on Rice and Wheat, commended the efforts of CBN in galvanizing rice production revolution through the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme. Bagudu appealed to Nigerians to support the AADS, noting that even industrialised nations have had to protect their agricultural production through tariffs and trade policy, especially in areas the country has comparative advantage.

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Skye Bank Empowers Women Entrepreneurs

Skye Bank Plc., is committed to empowering women entrepreneurs across various sectors of the Nigerian economy. This position was further reinforced by the bank when it presented certificates of proficiency to three lucky members of the Skye Pearl community who participated in the just -concluded 3-month art of fashion training organised by Ibile Vogue Academy.

The training, which is a give back initiative of Skye Bank and Ibile Vogue Academy, entails both executive and full time classes that teaches students everything about fashion; from pattern drafting, colour sequencing, garment construction to soft business skills; as well as provide linkages to help students develop their own clothing line with the aim of grooming top notch fashionprenuers.

Speaking at the presentation of the certificate, the Head, Retail Banking, Skye Bank Plc., Mrs. Ayodele Olojede, lauded the graduands and thanked everyone who played a significant role in making the dreams of the participants in the training come true. She challenged them to start adding value with the skills they have acquired, so as to stay competitive.

Mrs. Olojede also noted that the initiative was embarked upon as part of the gains of being part of the Skye Pearl community. “This, for us, is both a give-back and value add under our Skye Pearl Initiative beyond just funding which a bank is naturally known for adding that, “our aim is to address the peculiar challenges of the woman, the wife, the mother and the professional with a view to empowering her economically.

Shedding light on the format of the training, the Banker disclosed that the training ran for twelve weeks. The criteria for selection include; be an active Skye Bank account holder; be a member of the pearl community; aged between 20 and 40 years; must have completed or be in a tertiary institution.

Non-account holders and dormant accounts were also encouraged to open new accounts or reactivate dormant accounts to qualify.

On her part, the Director of Studies, Ibile Vogue Academy, Mrs. Temitope Olanre-Alade, applauded the bank for the initiative and particularly for providing the platform (Skye Pearl) that made it possible for her organization to also give back to society. In her words to the graduands: “You owe Skye Bank and Ibile Vogue Academy immensely and therefore you should do everything within your power to make us proud.”

Mrs. Olanre-Alade further admonished the graduands not to see their senior colleagues in the industry as competitors, but rather mentors from whom they could glean further ideas on how to be better at the trade while encouraging them to attend shows, seminars and get mentored. She further admonished: “Don’t just jump into the business, you must intern as there are things to know; things to do and people to be around in order to scale up in the profession.

The three members of the Skye Pearl community who benefited from the training; Toyin Akinpelu, Okunowo Biola and Oyindamola Olukutan, were all delighted and commended the joint efforts of Skye Bank and Vogue Academy for the opportunity to actualize their dreams. All three were presented with certificates of proficiency in pattern drafting, fashion design and garment construction after completing the training course.

One of the graduands, Oyindamola Olukutan, on behalf of her fellow awardees, thanked the bank for the rare opportunity of being trained at no cost. According to her, “It afforded us the opportunity to meet with staff of the Academy who were like a family. The freehand class was mind-blowing and we have learnt to communicate more and better. Thanks to Skye Bank.” She encouraged the bank not to relent in her efforts to add value to the society through initiatives like this, even as she promised to spread the news.

Skye Pearl Initiative is a best in class program which offers women real value-add beyond finance, taking into account the holistic needs and concerns of women in their quest to actualize their potentials either as entrepreneurs, professionals or stay-at-home mums.

The community offers knowledge and networking opportunities, market linkages and access to finance in ways that clearly reflect the attitudinal difference between men and women which are critical dependencies for business success.

Skye Bank is Nigeria’s leading retail bank with wide-ranging electronic solutions promoting consumer lifestyle and e-commerce experience for its customers.

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Nigeria Has Earned N118trn From Crude Oil Sales, Says NBS

The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) says Nigeria has realised more than N118 trillion from crude production and refining from 1961.

The NBS report, which has additional data from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), collated its statistics from 1961 till 2014.

“The petroleum statistics on crude oil production and oil refining reflects that a total 32.70 billion barrels of crude oil valued at N118.49 trillion has been produced between 1961 and 2014.

“The highest barrels of crude production was recorded in the year 2005 with 918.66 million barrels valued at N6.14 billion.

“The lowest was, however, recorded in 1961 with 16.80 million barrels valued at N18.73 million.

“The yearly domestic crude oil refining data from 1997 to 2014 also reflected that 844.19 million of crude oil has been received and 835.58 million processed within the period under review,” the report stated.

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LSETF Engages Industry Leaders For Employability Support Project

Building on its initiative to enhance employment opportunities of Lagos residents through the UNDP-sponsored Lagos State Employability Support Project, the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSETF) is currently holding a 3-day industry engagement seminar with business leaders and executives. The event which kicked off on Wednesday 4, October 2017 at the Civic Centre, Victoria Island.

With top entrepreneurs and leaders across major sectors such as construction, hospitality, manufacturing and entertainment in attendance, the seminar featured various panel sessions to discuss job growth in the state, highlight areas for required improvement of skills in order to expand employment opportunities for youths in Lagos.

Speaking during the event, the Executive Secretary, Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSETF), Mr. Akintunde Oyebode explained that as stakeholders, business leaders are in prime position to identify issues and drawbacks regarding the availability of quality skills and employable workers in the state.

“Going forward, we believe that there are immense opportunities for expansion through our strong relationship with thriving businesses in Lagos State. Working together with these leaders on LSETF’s Employability Support Programme, we can achieve the objectives of providing focused and necessary training for youths in different sectors, thereby ensuring that all our beneficiaries can create a better future for themselves,” Oyebode said.

In partnership with the United Nations Development Programmme (UNDP), and leading skills training provider, Arc Skills, vocational trainings will be provided to unemployed youths to access jobs in manufacturing, healthcare, construction, entertainment, tourism, and hospitality sectors, while significant upgrades will be made in quality of teaching skills and curriculum of technical colleges and vocational centers to plan and manage the programmes.

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CBN Recovers N50bn Excess Charges From Banks

The Acting Director of Corporate Communications at the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Isaac Okorafor, has said the nation’s apex financial institution has recovered over N50 billion from banks in excess charges imposed on customers in the last three years.

Okorafor said this on Wednesday, at the ongoing Abuja International Trade fair.

According to him, the apex bank was committed to ensuring that bank customers are not burdened with excessive charges from their banks.

He also urged the public to report excessive charges they feel their banks had imposed on them.


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FG Launches Action Plan On Ease Of Doing Business

As part of the Buhari administration’s medium term Economic Growth & Recovery Plan (EGRP) to build a globally competitive economy, the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC) on Tuesday kicked off the National Action Plan (NAP) 2.0.

The new action plan, which will run from 3rd October to 1st December 2017, is expected to further reduce the challenges faced by SMEs when getting credit, paying taxes, or moving goods across the country, amongst others, by removing critical bottlenecks and bureaucratic constraints to doing business in Nigeria.

It will be recalled that PEBEC, which is chaired by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, had, on 26th September, 2017, approved a second 60-day National Action Plan (NAP 2.0) to drive reforms aimed at making Nigeria a progressively easier place to do business.

The NAP 2.0 marks the beginning of another reform cycle 2017/2018 which aims to deepen the ease of doing business reforms implemented across the various Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs) in the last 12 months and will in turn increase productivity through industrialization, enhanced exports and foreign exchange earnings, while creating jobs and reducing poverty.

A previous 60-day National Action Plan on Ease of Doing Business was approved on February 21, 2017. The National Action Plan contained initiatives and actions implemented by responsible Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), the National Assembly, the Governments of Lagos and Kano states, as well as some private sector stakeholders.

Some of the reforms to be implemented to ease the process of starting a business include eliminating the manual registration process at Corporate Affairs Commission in 10 additional states, increase access to credit for SMEs by registering at least 300 micro-finance banks on the collateral registry, and enforce the elimination of illegal roadblocks on major trading routes across the country.

MDAs have been charged by the Council to treat the Ease of Doing Business initiatives with a sense of urgency and deliver impactful results by implementing the Executive Order 001 on transparency and efficiency. The Executive Order E01, which was signed Prof. Osinbajo on 18th May, 2017, ensures that citizens have complete clarity on all government requirements and processes, better cooperation and improved information sharing among MDAs, as well as requiring proper communication of approval or rejection of applications to Nigerians within the stipulated timeframe.

The reforms will also improve the country’s ranking in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index 2019.  Recently, Nigeria rose two ranks up from its previous 127th to 125th position in the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Index (GCI) for 2017-2018. The country moved up marginally by one step from 170 to 169 in the 2017 World Bank Doing Business Report.

PEBEC, which was inaugurated in July 2016 by President Muhammadu Buhari, to remove critical bottlenecks and bureaucratic constraints to doing business in Nigeria, comprises 10 Honourable Ministers, with the Honourable Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr. Okey Enelamah, as Vice Chair, along with the Head of Service, the Central Bank Governor, representatives of the National Assembly, Lagos and Kano state governments, and the private sector.

The Ease of Doing Business reforms will be implemented over the next 60 days by the Enabling Business Environment Secretariat (EBES), which became fully operational in October 2016. It would be recalled that the EBES implemented PEBEC’s inaugural National Action Plan (NAP 60) from February to April 2017. The EBES is coordinated by Dr. Jumoke Oduwole, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Industry, Trade and Investment (OVP).

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UBA Wins Big At Interswitch Awards

Pan-African financial services group, United Bank for Africa (UBA) Plc, has once again added to its growing list of laurels by emerging best institution in two esteemed categories at the prestigious Interswitch Awards and Gala.

UBA , beat other nominees in its category, taking away the prize for the Fastest Growing Bank Partner given to the bank with the most impressive performance in Verve card issuance and the Payment Innovation Driver for Trade Finance.

Both awards further lend credence to the banks dominance in the digital banking space.

The award which is a recognition of innovative products and services introduced by the bank in recent times, targeted  towards meeting customer needs, comes on the heels of recent awards hauled by UBA, including Finnacle Client Innovation Awards, and Best Bank Awards won by its five subsidiaries  across Africa by The Bankers Magazine.

Receiving the award at a colorful and well attended event, the Group Head, Consumer and  Digital Banking, United Bank for Africa, Dr. Yinka Adedeji, appreciated the organizer’s for the recognition noting that UBA’s dedication to hard work and particular emphasis on quality to customer needs  are been acknowledged.  According to him, the award affirms the Bank’s strong management and un-matched commitment to service excellence.

“This only goes to show that our resolve in continuing to deploy innovative solutions that puts customer first by using cutting edge technology for consumer satisfaction and excellent banking experience is important to us. This recognition will further spur us to do more in meeting the needs of our customers with unequalled service hard to find elsewhere”. said Adedeji.

UBA is one of Africa’s leading banks with operations in 19 African countries including having presence in global financial centers; New York, London and Paris. Adjudged to be at the forefront of innovation and convenience banking, UBA is one of the first financial services institutions on the continent to deploy Finacle 10x, a new information technology platform to boost its services and electronic banking channels. Today, UBA provides banking services to some 11 million customers globally, through diverse channels and several thousand touch points.

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Ghana Is A Better Destination For Weddings Than Dubai – Jumia Travel MD

“I will recommend Ghana as a more preferable destination for weddings because it’s much cheaper in terms of cost and much closer in terms of distance – a flight to Ghana from Nigeria is approximately about an hour compared to Nigeria to Dubai which is 6 hours on average.”

This disclosure was made by the newly appointed MD of Jumia Travel Nigeria, Omolara Adagunodo at the just concluded Akwaaba Travel Market which held for 3 days at Eko Hotel & Suites in Lagos.

Adagunodo was on a panel discussion which dissected the topic: “Destination Weddings As A Tourism Product: Famous Honeymoon Spots Nigerians Visit.” During the session, a number of factors determining the merits and demerits of different destinations suitable for Nigerians to hold their weddings were discussed.

For Ghana, Adagunodo said, holding weddings in choice locations in the country is preferable due to cost of flying guests compared to Dubai which seems to be more prominent for weddings than Ghana. She emphasized the importance of promoting tourism within Africa.

According to her, Africa is still really lagging behind in terms of deriving substantial income from tourism. It’s only reasonable to ensure that we as Africans plan to hold our weddings in beautiful locations within the continent so as to boost its growth.

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Economic Recovery A Gradual Process, Says Kale

The Statistician General of the Federation, Dr. Yemi Kale, on Thursday, stressed that economic recovery was a gradual process.

Kale said this while speaking on a live broadcast program on ARISE TV.

Kale noted that Nigerians would not feel the impact of the country’s exit from the recession overnight.

The chief Statistician explained that the first step to come out of an economic recession was to halt the contraction, which the nation has been able to achieve.

After contracting for five consecutive quarters, the Nigerian economy exited the recession in the second quarter of 2017, as data on the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) growth rate released by the NBS Tuesday showed that the economy grew at 0.55 per cent in the second quarter (Q2) of 2017.

Kale, however noted that the GDP growth attained in the second quarter was still fragile.

According to him, the economy started slowing down from six per cent, before it slumped to five per cent, and continued spiraling downwards.

“Nobody was paying attention then. The numbers are there. From five per cent it went to three per cent, two per cent and down to negative. It has been happening for a while, but nobody was paying attention.
“So, the same way, the recovery will be a gradual process. The first step is to arrest the decline. Once you stop the slump, then you can now build on it. That is the stage we are in now. It doesn’t mean that things are now alright.

“Look at manufacturing, during the recession, employers laid off workers, they cut down on advertisement and in the process the advertising companies lost revenue, sacked staff and cut back on other services.”

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