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Bankers’ Committee: FX Window attracts $2.2b



  • As Reps blow hot over Acting President’s comment

Dollar inflows into the economy through the newly introduced Investor and Exporter (I&E) Forex Window have hit $2.2 billion, the Bankers’ Committee said yesterday.

The I&E FX window was introduced by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on April 24 to enable portfolio investors sell dollars at rates of their choice, if they get buyers.

Briefing  reporters at the end of the 333rd meeting of the committee in Lagos, CBN Director, Banking Supervision, Abdulahi Ahmad, said the inflows, registered in the I&E Window had helped to stabilise the foreign exchange market.

The inflows also created more possibilities and positive feedback that the economy would come out of recession in the third quarter, he added.

The CBN, Ahmad said, must defend the naira, and ensure that the exchange rate did not deteriorate. “We will continue to defend the local currency against the dollar and ensure that the naira does not deteriorate. The ongoing convergence of the exchange rate is an indication that the economy is picking up.”

Speaking at the meeting, Stanbic IBTC Bank Plc Deputy Managing Director Demola Sogunle said the committee acknowledged the CBN’s efforts in encouraging foreign portfolio investors who have contributed to shoring up the inflows into the I&E Window.

Liquidity, he said, was gradually returning to the forex market, adding that CBN’s share of the market is currently less than 30 per cent. “When the window was opened, the bid offer spread was between N40 and N50, but the bid-offer rate has reduced. The Nigerian Autonomous Foreign Exchange Rate Fixing (NAFEX) and parallel market gap has also reduced, even as portfolio investors are returning,” he said.

The committee also discussed the need to cut interest rate, as requested by the Senate so as to grow the economy.

On CBN’s continuous intervention in the forex market, the committee said the regulator remained a major player in the economy. The CBN, the committee added, is a seller and buyer in the forex market. It said as dollar inflows into the economy continue to improve, CBN’s interventions in the market would likely drop.

The committee said although the CBN had spent over $5 billion to defend the naira and support manufacturing and other key sectors of the economy, the foreign reserves still remained robust.

Standard Chartered Bank Managing Director Bola Adesola said the Agric/SMEs equity fund contributed by the banks stood at N26 billion, adding that the lenders were developing framework on how SMEs could access the funds.

“The fund will help SMEs to build capacity, but we want to ensure that we have the right governance to the equity fund,” she said.

Fidelity Bank Plc Managing Director  Nnamdi Okonkwo said the committee agreed to suspend all charges on microfinance bank customers that want to enroll on the Bank Verification Number network.

He said such services would now be carried out free of charge, adding that the plan was in line with the CBN’s financial inclusion agenda.

Also, in its latest move to further rein in inflation, the CBN has unveiled plans to mop up a total of N200.322 billion from the banking system through a special Open Market Operation (OMO) at the rate of 16 per cent per annum.

The CBN said its decision to mop up liquidity was in reaction to the maturity of N206 billion.

CBN spokesman Isaac Okorafor explained that the apex bank decided on the rate of 16 per cent per annum due to the falling rate of inflation, which he noted will continue to drop.

This followed  Monday’s  release of Treasury Bills Issue Programme for the third quarter of 2017 in which the apex bank disclosed that the maturity dates for the various tenors will be June 15, June 22, July 6, July 20, August 3, August 17 and August 31, 2017, respectively.

In the meantime, speaker Yakubu Dogara said the powers of the three arms of government were clearly spelt out in the constitution.

“From the very pedestrian interpretation of the functions of the three arms of government, one makes laws, the other executes the laws, the other interprets the law. So, a declaration as to which of the arms has the power and rights, in as much as it is related to the interpretation of the law, is the function of the judiciary and not of the executive.

“I don’t even want to believe that the acting president made that statement; I don’t want to believe that, sincerely speaking. Because when it comes to the issue of the budget, I think we better say this thing and make it very clear, so that our people will have a better understanding. When it comes to the budget, the power of the purse in a presidential system of government rests in the parliament.”

Accusing the Acting President of breaching his priviledge by his comments, Hon. Abubakar Lawal said the Constitution and the House Rules were clear on the procedure for passing the budget. “For someone to come out and say that we have no power, it’s a breach of our privilege,” he said.



Troops Destroy 51 Illegal Refining Sites, Recover Stolen Crude Oil – DHQ



….Destroy 7 dugout pits, 25 boats, 47 storage tanks, five vehicles, one outboard engine, others

The Defence Headquarters says  troops of Operation Delta Safe have  destroyed 51 illegal oil refining sites and recovered stolen crude oil and refined products in the Niger Delta in the last one week.

The Director of Defence Media Operations, Maj.-Gen. Edward Buba, disclosed  in a statement on Friday in Abuja.

Buba said the troops also apprehended 58 perpetrators of oil theft and denied them of  estimated sum of N668.7 million

He said the troops destroyed seven dugout pits, 25 boats, 47 storage tanks, five vehicles, 141 cooking ovens, one pumping machine, one outboard engine, one tricycle, one speedboat and one tugboat.

According to him, troops recovered 267,700 litres of stolen crude oil, 567,700 litres of illegally refined AGO and 5,000 litres of DPK.

“Troops has maintained momentum against oil theft and arrested persons involved in oil theft in Bonny and Ikpoba Local Government Areas of Rivers and Edo States respectively.

“Troops also arrested suspected armed robbers and foiled illegal bunkering activities in Oshimili South and Ukwa West of Delta and Abia States respectively,” he said.

In the South East, Buba said  troops of Operation UDO KA arrested 15 suspected criminals and repelled attacks by IPOB/ESN criminals in Anambra, Abia and Imo States.

He said the troops conducted raids and rescued kidnapped hostages in Ishielu and Igbo Eze North Local Government Areas of Ebonyi and Enugu States respectively.

He said the troops neutralised three criminals, rescued five kidnapped hostages and recovered 14 rounds of 7.62mm NATO ammo.

In the South West, Buba said  troops of Operation AWATSE foiled armed robbery attacks in Orelope and Olorunsogo Local Government Areas of Oyo State and arrested a gunrunner in Obafemi Owode Local Government Area of Ogun.

According to him, troops rescued 15 kidnapped hostages and recovered two vehicles.

“All recovered items, arrested suspects and rescued hostages were handed over to the relevant authority for further action,” he added.

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NEPZA Boss Says Nation’s Free Trade Zones Not Really `Free’



The Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA) says the country’s Free Trade Zones are business anchorages that have for decades been used to generate revenues for the Federal Government.

Dr Olufemi Ogunyemi, the Managing Director of NEPZA, said this in a statement by the authority’s
Head of Corporate Communications, Martins Odeh, on Monday in Abuja, stressing that the the widely held notion that the scheme is a `free meal ticket’ for investors and not a means for the government to generate revenue is incorrect.

Ogunyemi said this public statement was essential to clarify the misunderstanding by various individuals and entities, in and out of government, on the nature of the scheme.

He reiterated the authority’s commitment to enhancing public knowledge of the principal reason for the country’s adoption of the scheme by the NEPZA Act 63 of 1992.

“The Free Trade Zones are not hot spots for revenue generation. Instead, they exist to support socioeconomic development.

“These include but are not limited to industrialisation, infrastructure development, employment generation, skills acquisition, foreign exchange earnings, and Foreign Direct Investments(FDI) inflows,” Ogunyemi said.

The managing director said the NEPZA Act provided exemption from all federal, state, and local government taxes, rates, levies, and charges for FZE, of which duty and VAT were part.

“However, goods and services exported into Nigeria attract duty, which includes VAT and other charges.

“In addition, NEPZA collects over 20 types of revenues, ranging from 500,000 dollars-Declaration fees, 60,000 dollars for Operation License (OPL) Renewal Fees between three and five years.

“There is also the 100-300 dollar Examination and Documentation fees per transaction, which occurs daily.

“There are other periodic revenues derived from vehicle registration and visas, among others.

“The operations within the free trade zones are not free in the context of the word,” he said.

Ogunyemi said the global business space had contracted significantly, adding that to win a sizable space would require the ingenuity of the government to either expand or maintain the promised incentives.

“These incentives will encourage more multinational corporations and local investors to leverage on the scheme, which has a cumulative investment valued at 30 billion dollars.

“The scheme has caused an influx of FDIs; it has also brought advanced technologies, managerial expertise, and access to global markets.

“For instance, the 52 FTZs with 612 enterprises have and will continue to facilitate the creation of numerous direct and indirect jobs, currently estimated to be within the region of 170,000,” he said.

Ogunyemi said an adjustment in title and introduction of current global business practices would significantly advance the scheme, increasing forward and backward linkages.

“This is with a more significant market offered by the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCTA).

“We have commenced negotiations across the board to ensure that the NEPZA Act is amended to give room for adjusting the scheme’s title from `Free Trade Zones to Special Economic Zones respectively.

“This will open up the system for the benefit of all citizens,” he said.

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2023 CLPA: Policy Cohesion Imperative For Implementation Of AfCFTA Agreements, Others



Some policy experts and stakeholders have called for policy cohesion across Africa for the successful implementation of multilateral policy decisions.

They spoke on Wednesday during one of the plenaries at the 2023 Conference on Land Policy in Africa (CLPA), held in Addis Ababa.

The CLPA, the fifth in the series, is organised by the tripartite consortium consisting of the African Union Commission (AUC), the African Development Bank (AfDB), and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA).

The 2023 edition has the theme, ‘Year of AfCFTA: Acceleration of the African Continental Free Trade Area Implementation’.

Dr Medhat El-Helepi (ECA), chaired the plenary with the sub-theme: ‘Land Governance, Regional Integration, and Intra-Africa Trade: Opportunities and Challenges’.

Panelists at the plenary included Dr Stephen Karingi, Director, Regional Integration and Trade, ECA; Mr Tsotetsi Makong, Head of Capacity Building and Technical Assistance, AfCFTA Secretariat.

Others were Mr Kebur Ghenna, CEO, of the Pan African Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PACCI) and Ms Eileen Wakesho, Director of Community Land Protection at Namati, Kenya.

The event also attracted various stakeholders, including traditional leaders, Civil Society Organisations, and policy decision-makers.

Makong expressed worries over the reluctance of some participants to openly discuss some matters, pleading ‘no go areas of domestic affairs’.

He, however, noted that the issues of land were within the limit of domestic regulations, adding that tenure land security was the solution that would allow intra-African investment that is still low in Africa.

Makong pointed out that the success of the investment protocol under the AfCFTA would depend on countries’ domestic laws that should be in line with the AfCFTA.

“There are guidelines on land reforms that need to be turned into regulations within the domestic systems.

“Policy coherence has to be at the heart of what we do. This can be achieved by engaging everyone including women and youth at the grassroots level.

“Also, you cannot be talking of AfCFTA as of it is just about Ministers of Trade, Economy or Investment. The idea is a totality of the entire governance structure. This is very important,” he said.

Speakers also noted that inclusive land governance was one of the key pillars to enhance Africa’s drive to improve intra-African trade, food security, and sustainable food systems.

They said an inclusive governance system would allow stakeholders to create transparency, subsidiarity, inclusiveness, prior informed participation, and social acceptance by affected communities in land-based initiatives beyond their borders.

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