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FG can finance N2.2trn budget deficit via capital market – NSE boss

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  • As Naira firms up at parallel market

The Chief Executive of the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE), Mr. Oscar Onyema, has said that the outstanding federal government N2.2 trillion budget deficits could be effectively financed through the instruments in the capital market. He stated this while appraising the performance of the stock market in 2015 and making projections for 2016, saying: “The capital market has an opportunity to effectively finance the FGN’s proposed budget deficit for 2016 and the implementation of its Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF).”

He emphasized that the stock exchange exists to provide a platform for financing the economy from equity and fixed income perspective and other asset class perspective, adding that the NSE will focus on executing its strategy in order to continue to provide a credible platform for financing the economy.

“To this end, we intend to intensify engagement efforts with the federal government. We have also prioritized three initiatives for 2016 aimed at achieving the Exchange’s three strategic objectives of increasing the number of new listings across five asset classes; increasing order flow in the five asset classes; and operating a fair and orderly market based on just and equitable principles,” he affirmed.

“We are trying to position ourselves to be a credible platform for financing the economy. And so, given that we are frontier market, the government typically will have an inordinate influence on the economic activities and so putting ourselves in a position to be a platform to finance government deficit, for instance is something that we certainly will like to do,” he observed.

Moving along in the New Year, he said that the NSE would ensure that state-owned enterprises that are supposed to be listed are brought to the market to unlock liquidity for the government. “So we want to continue to help to finance economic activities both from the private sector side and public sector side.”

Reviewing the macro-economic activities in the past year, the NSE chief said: “Like many emerging markets’ governments, the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) is largely dependent on oil exports as its leading revenue source. Thus FGN revenue suffered extensively from sustained low commodities prices in the global market, as well as political and economic policy uncertainty leading up to and following the general elections held in April 2015.

“Sustained uncertainty in the country led to postponed decision making by business leaders in anticipation of clearer direction on economic policies, thus slowing economic activity.

Meanwhile, the naira yesterday made a sudden recovery in the parallel market, following the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN’s) easing of forex policies. The naira appreciated to N295 against the dollar from N305 on Friday, after the apex bank lifted the ban on dollar transfers and allowed dollar deposits into domiciliary accounts.

The local currency has remained stable in the official market, exchanging for N199 to a dollar.

Association of Bureau De Change Operators of Nigeria (ABCON) President Aminu Gwadabe said the naira was exchanging at N291/293 against the dollar in the morning but closed later at N295.

He said although the CBN did not supply dollar to the market, its relaxation of forex restrictions that allowed banks to accept dollar deposits and transfer foreign currency deposits has helped shore up the value of the naira.

CBN Spokesman, Ibrahim Mu’azu, said the apex bank decided to reverse the policy because its finding shows that currency substitution by customers which made it enforce it in the first place has been tackled.

He said bank customers were before now, converting naira to dollar, and depositing the proceeds with the hope that the dollar will continue to appreciate in both the parallel and official markets.

But other market sources believe the lifting of the over six-month old dollar transfer ban, followed outcry from local and international stakeholders who insisted that a restriction on such transfers is not only killing businesses but has led to diversion of huge forex to neighbouring countries of Ghana, Togo and Cotonu.

In wake of the policy implementation, Nigerian importers were diverting the payment for their imports to these neigbouring countries and the Port of Tema and Tokoradi Port in Ghana as well as the Port Autonome de Cotonou, in Benin Republic.

The lifting of the CBN’s ban on dollar deposit transfer, is part of the gradual relax of its stringent foreign exchange (forex) policies triggered by sharp drop in crude oil prices and reduced inflow of petrodollars.

It is also in response to International Monetary Fund (IMF) advice that the polices should be relaxed to avoid alienating Nigeria from its international trade partners.

Upshot with additional report from Nation

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WAIVER CESSATION: Igbokwe urges NIMASA to evolve stronger collaboration with Ships owners

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…Stresses the need for timely disbursement of N44.6billion CVFF***

Highly revered Nigerian Maritime Lawyer, and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mike Igbokwe has urged the Nigeria Maritime Administration and safety Agency (NIMASA) to partner with ship owners and relevant association in the industry to evolving a more vibrant merchant shipping and cabotage trade regime.

Igbokwe gave the counsel during his paper presentation at the just concluded two-day stakeholders’ meeting on Cabotage waiver restrictions, organized by NIMASA.

“NIMASA and shipowners should develop merchant shipping including cabotage trade. A good start is to partner with the relevant associations in this field, such as the Nigeria Indigenous Shipowners Association (NISA), Shipowners Association of Nigeria (SOAN), Oil Trade Group & Maritime Trade Group of the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA).

“A cursory look at their vision, mission and objectives, show that they are willing to improve the maritime sector, not just for their members but for stakeholders in the maritime economy and the country”.

Adding that it is of utmost importance for NIMASA to have a through briefing and regular consultation with ships owners, in other to have insight on the challenges facing the ship owners.

“It is of utmost importance for NIMASA to have a thorough briefing and regular consultations with shipowners, to receive insight on the challenges they face, and how the Agency can assist in solving them and encouraging them to invest and participate in the maritime sector, for its development. 

“NIMASA should see them as partners in progress because, if they do not invest in buying ships and registering them in Nigeria, there would be no Nigerian-owned ships in its Register and NIMASA would be unable to discharge its main objective.

The Maritime lawyer also urged NIMASA  to disburse the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF)that currently stands at about N44.6 billion.

“Lest it be forgotten, what is on the lips of almost every shipowner, is the need to disburse the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (the CVFF’), which was established by the Coastal and Inland Shipping Act, 2003. It was established to promote the development of indigenous ship acquisition capacity, by providing financial assistance to Nigerian citizens and shipping companies wholly owned by Nigerian operating in the domestic coastal shipping, to purchase and maintain vessels and build shipping capacity. 

“Research shows that this fund has grown to about N44.6billion; and that due to its non-disbursement, financial institutions have repossessed some vessels, resulting in a 43% reduction of the number of operational indigenous shipping companies in Nigeria, in the past few years. 

“Without beating around the bush, to promote indigenous maritime development, prompt action must be taken by NIMASA to commence the disbursement of this Fund to qualified shipowners pursuant to the extant Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (“CVFF”) Regulations.

Mike Igbokwe (SAN)

“Indeed, as part of its statutory functions, NIMASA is to enforce and administer the provisions of the Cabotage Act 2003 and develop and implement policies and programmes which will facilitate the growth of local capacity in ownership, manning and construction of ships and other maritime infrastructure. Disbursing the CVFF is one of the ways NIMASA can fulfill this mandate.

“To assist in this task, there must be collaboration between NIMASA, financial institutions, the Minister of Transportation, as contained in the CVFF Regulations that are yet to be implemented”, the legal guru highlighted further. 

He urged the agency to create the right environment for its stakeholders to build on and engender the needed capacities to fill the gaps; and ensure that steps are being taken to solve the challenges being faced by stakeholders.

“Lastly, which is the main reason why we are all here, cessation of ministerial waivers on some cabotage requirements, which I believe is worth applause in favour of NIMASA. 

“This is because it appears that the readiness to obtain/grant waivers had made some of the vessels and their owners engaged in cabotage trade, to become complacent and indifferent in quickly ensuring that they updated their capacities, so as not to require the waivers. 

“The cessation of waivers is a way of forcing the relevant stakeholders of the maritime sector, to find workable solutions within, for maritime development and fill the gaps in the local capacities in 100% Nigerian crewing, ship ownership, and ship building, that had necessitated the existence of the waivers since about 15 years ago, when the Cabotage Act came into being. 

“However, NIMASA must ensure that the right environment is provided for its stakeholders to build and possess the needed capacities to fill the gaps; and ensure that steps are being taken to solve the challenges being faced by stakeholders. Or better still, that they are solved within the next 5 years of its intention to stop granting waivers”, he further explained. 

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Breaking News: The Funeral Rites of Matriarch C. Ogbeifun is Live

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The Burial Ceremony of Engr. Greg Ogbeifun’s mother is live. Watch on the website: www.maritimefirstnewspaper.com and on Youtube: Maritimefirst Newspaper.

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Wind Farm Vessel Collision Leaves 15 Injured

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…As Valles Steamship Orders 112,000 dwt Tanker from South Korea***

A wind farm supply vessel and a cargo ship collided in the Baltic Sea on Tuesday leaving 15 injured.

The Cyprus-flagged 80-meter general cargo ship Raba collided with Denmark-flagged 31-meter wind farm supply vessel World Bora near Rügen Island, about three nautical miles off the coast of Hamburg. 

Many of those injured were service engineers on the wind farm vessel, and 10 were seriously hurt. 

They were headed to Iberdrola’s 350MW Wikinger wind farm. Nine of the people on board the World Bora were employees of Siemens Gamesa, two were employees of Iberdrola and four were crew.

The cause of the incident is not yet known, and no pollution has been reported.

After the collision, the two ships were able to proceed to Rügen under their own power, and the injured were then taken to hospital. 

Lifeboat crews from the German Maritime Search and Rescue Service tended to them prior to their transport to hospital via ambulance and helicopter.

“Iberdrola wishes to thank the rescue services for their diligence and professionalism,” the company said in a statement.

In the meantime, the Hong Kong-based shipowner Valles Steamship has ordered a new 112,000 dwt crude oil tanker from South Korea’s Sumitomo Heavy Industries Marine & Engineering.

Sumitomo is to deliver the Aframax to Valles Steamship by the end of 2020, according to data provided by Asiasis.

The newbuild Aframax will join seven other Aframaxes in Valles Steamship’s fleet. Other ships operated by the company include Panamax bulkers and medium and long range product tankers.

The company’s most-recently delivered unit is the 114,426 dwt Aframax tanker Seagalaxy. The naming and delivery of the tanker took place in February 2019, at Namura Shipbuilding’s yard in Japan.

Maritime Executive with additional report from World Maritime News

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