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CBN to disburse lower currencies to microfinance banks

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The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) says it has released guidelines for the disbursement of lower denominations of the Naira through microfinance banks (MFBs) across the country.

The bank’s Director, Corporate Communications Department, Mr Isaac Okorafor, made this known in a statement in Abuja on Thursday.

Okorafor said this development was contained in a circular issued by the Director, Currency Operations Department of the bank, Mrs Patricia Eleje, in Abuja on Thursday.

He explained that the circular indicated that all microfinance banks must have a Composite Risk Rating (CRR) of above average in the most recent Risk Based Supervision (RBS) target examination before they were considered for the scheme.

He explained that the measure was to ensure that only MFBs with good corporate governance practices took part.

“Meanwhile, the participating MFBs must be willing to accept a mixture of new and other banknotes, and that the MFBs shall give 20 per cent of any withdrawal in lower denomination notes subject to a maximum of N50,000.

“Where beneficiaries withdraw more than once in a day, the circular said that disbursement will only apply to one transaction per day.

“Similarly, the MFBs are allowed to exchange notes subject to a maximum of N50,000 for customers with bank accounts and N10,000 for customers without bank accounts.

“In that situation, the banks must not exchange for same beneficiaries more than once a week,” he added.

According to him, MFBs are to maintain a register of amounts received from the CBN through their correspondent commercial banks.

Okorafor said the MFB must also maintain another register of the beneficiaries of the lower denomination notes as well as ensure that withdrawal teller slips contain breakdown of the denomination of the currency to customers with accounts.

“The circular also warned MFBs against hawking, hoarding or using of funds obtained under the intervention for any other purpose.

“It also instructed the banks to put in place effective control measures that will ensure that banknotes disbursed to customers with or without accounts are not sold.

“Furthermore, the circular directed the banks to render weekly and monthly disbursement return to CBN branches where the intervention would be monitored periodically, and appropriate sanctions applied to erring MFBs,” he said.

MS/MST

Edited by Muhammad Suleiman Tola

Economy

NSE urges FG to act in line with Executive Order 5 on projects’ execution

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The Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE) has urged the Federal Government to act in line with Executive Order 5 by encouraging more multinational engineering firms to employ Nigerian engineers.

 

Mr Musliudeen Agoro,  the Chairman of NSE Lagos State branch, gave the advice on Sunday while speaking with the Nigeria News Agency in Lagos.

 

reports that President Muhammadu Buhari had  on Feb. 12, 2018 in Abuja,  signed Executive Order 5 that stipulates the need to improve local content in public procurement with science, engineering and technology components.

 

Agoro said that signing of the executive order by President Buhari had  empowered and protected the local engineers, local suppliers and local contractors such that Nigerian engineers could lead projects.

 

He, however, said that signing of the executive order might not be enough, and called for its enforcement, government’s full backing and encouragement to enable Nigerian  engineers to secure and also lead in execution of projects.

 

According to him, the  implementation of the executive order on local content will  not only drastically reduce capital flight but also reduce unemployment and boost Gross Domestic Products (GDP) of the country.

 

“The signing of the executive order was very encouraging, but its implementation is key.

 

“If there is no full support and backing from government, it will be difficult for the Nigerian  engineers to lead in the  execution of projects amid foreign contractors,” he said.

 

Agoro lamented that  the effects  of Executive Order 5 had not been felt in the construction industry, saying that most of the projects were still being awarded  to multinational companies at the detriment of Nigerians.

 

He suggested that where Nigerian engineers did not have the expertise, they could partner with foreign firms in the execution of mega projects to avoid situations whereby jobs were hijacked by foreign firms.

 

 

“All the multinational firms protect their own interests; they gradually fill the company with their nationals to the detriment of the Nigerian engineers.

 

“Let the government put Nigerian engineers in position of authority so that they can actually influence national policies.

 

“Until government trusts the Nigerian engineers to allow them lead in execution of projects, the Executive Order 5 will still remain  more of theoretical and not practical,” Agoro said.

Edited by Chioma Ugboma

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Economy

Economist berates FG for merging Ministry of Finance with Budget and National Planning

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Dr Aminu Usman, Dean, Faculty of Social Sciences, Kaduna State University, has frowned at the merging of the Ministry of Finance with Budget and National Planning.

He said this while speaking with the Nigeria News Agency in Abuja.

Usman, an economist, said that it was hard to believe that after the experiences the country has had in the past four years, it was still not ready to embrace National Economic Planning with the required seriousness it deserved.

“There is a subsisting law that says National Planning Commission should be chaired by the President and run by a Chairman of cabinet status, usually the Chief Economic Adviser to the president.

“Converting the commission to a ministry is a great disservice let alone subsuming it under Ministry of Finance.

“In effect, we will as a nation continue to grope in the dark not knowing where we are and or where we are going,” he said.

Usman said it was time the nation took lessons from the experiences of India, China, Brazil, and other nations that had institutionalised periodic national planning and stuck to it over the years.

He added that it was evident that these countries had been able to move their country ahead of their peers and were able to lift millions of their people out of poverty over the years because of proper planning.

“I want to believe that the president is not aware of the need to strengthen our capacity to plan for our development and follow it up with due diligent implementation including legislation to prevent any coming government from deviating from the nation’s plan or return to planlessness.

“Going forward, we will now be driven by short term monetary and fiscal policy goals that might have little or no long term benefit to the economy in a coordinated matter.

“In fact, planning now becomes a non-issue as for sure the minister will be preoccupied with finance and treasury issues.”

The dean, however, advised the minister, Mrs Zainab Ahmed to take steps that would put the country on the path to planning such that it would be able to track its progress on a continuous basis and also ensure budgets were drawn from agreed plans.

According to him, this way the nation will be able to measure the progress it is making as a country against its set targets and that of its peers.

He also urged the finance minister to find a way of fostering a good working relationship with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

“They should be complementary, rather than rivals in the management of the economy.

“She should also focus on long term approach to issues rather than always focusing on short term macroeconomic gains that may not have any trickle-down effect on the well-being of average Nigerians ravaged by excruciating poverty.

“In essence, I am advising the minister to pay more attention to the planning arm of her new mega ministry,” he added.

reports that President Muhammadu Buhari, on Wednesday swore in 43 ministers to manage the affairs of the country, appointing Ahmed as the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning.

Edited by Ese E. Ekama

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Economy

Association urges FG to reduce import duty on solar components

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The Renewable Energy Association of Nigeria (REAN) has called on the Federal Government to reduce import duty on solar components to attract more usage of solar power.

Mrs Lande Abudu, Executive Secretary of REAN made this call in an interview with the Nigeria News Agency in Abuja on Sunday.

reports that renewable energy is from a source that is not depleted when used, such as wind or solar power.

She said that the current  five per cent import duty and five  per cent VAT levied on solar components put these products beyond the purchasing capability of many rural dwellers that stand to gain the most from their use.

“ Since the imposition of the combined 10 per cent import charges, investors in the off-grid solar market have recorded a fall in sales growth and market penetration.

“ Value Added Tax (VAT) and import duty on solar technologies significantly inflate end-user costs.

“Thereby undermining the ability of the solar industry to compete with traditional means of lighting and electrification.

“Such as kerosene lanterns and petrol generators, which already enjoy consumption from fuel subsidies from the  Federal Government ‘’ she said.

Abudu said that by exempting solar components from VAT and import duty, the Federal Government can accelerate the market demand that makes local manufacturing economically-viable while simultaneously supporting market development that expands choice and affordability for end-consumers.

According to her,  REAN acknowledge the Federal  Government’s desire to protect the interest of local manufacturers and anti-dumping laws through trade policies.

“ Exemptions will be passed on to the end-customer, thus significantly reducing the retail prices of solar products, while providing reliable electricity to power agricultural and industrial processing activities.

“ The Federal Government through the relevant ministries should implement a 5-year Duty Free Importation on solar energy components, parts and materials.

“This, however, should be tied to a national bond or Memorandum of Understanding   (MoU)  with companies that agree and show verifiable on-the-ground commitment to begin local production of some of the solar components locally,” she said.

 

 

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Economy

NIMPORT seeks connectivity with inland dry port to ease cargo traffic

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The Nigerian International Maritime Ports and Terminals (NIMPORT), a port and terminal promotion body, has appealed to the Federal Government to ensure seamless connectivity for cargo and human traffic.

NIMPORT Chairman Mr Fortune Idu made the appeal in an interview with the Nigeria News Agency in Lagos on Saturday.

“The focus should be full connectivity, from the port to the hinterland.

“There should be full and seamless connectivity for cargo and human traffic as it will actually help the country achieve its potential.

“The Minister of Transportation should not relent in moving the sector forward.

“There should not be politicking about connectivity, about decongesting Lagos as the focus is actually on the western axis.

“We can achieve the decongestion of Lagos and pull people out of Lagos into neighboring states such as Ogun and Oyo states by making the railways work.

“The rail project should be completed as quickly as possible.”

Idu pointed out that the sector was hoping and aspiring to see a Lagos without container traffic, saying that having containers dropping off bridges in a busy and populated city like Lagos was appalling and unthinkable.

He urged the Lagos State government and the Federal Government to work closely and ensure that Lagos is rid of container traffic.

“I expect that bulk breaking of container content should be done outside the main commercial city of Lagos and that can only be achieved with real connectivity and where you have inland terminals and rail stations around Lagos.

“With rail stations in Ogun State, Lokoja or even between Ibadan and Lagos, containers could be immediately moved out of Lagos the moment they are offloaded from the ship to places where they could be bulk broken.

“Then you have the distribution network by road.

“Having a full container load traveling on the bridges is not good at all,” he said.

He spoke of the need to ensure that rivers in the country were navigable.

According to him, once the rivers are navigable, containers could be moved from Lagos across the rivers in batches.

CAN/YEE

(Edited by Emmanuel Yashim)

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Economy

DPR sanctions 2 retail outlets, 2 gas plants in Delta

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The Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR), Warri Zonal Office, says it has sanctioned two petrol stations and two gas plants in Delta over alleged sharp practices.

The affected stations are: Akpos Petroleum Limited, G-Palash Nigeria Limited and Onejire Gas Plant all located in Ughelli as well as Somil Energy and Gas Ltd.

Mrs Gladys Idahosa, DPR Assistant Director, Operations, led a team of the regulatory agency on the routine surveillance on behalf of the Warri zonal Operations Controller, Mr Antai Asuquo.

Idahosa, briefing newsmen shortly after the exercise, said the stations were sealed over offences bordering on under-dispensing, operating without valid licences, expired fire extinguishers and uninstalled gas leakage detectors.

She said that the agency would continue to intensify awareness through routine

surveillance to curb anomalies in the downstream sector.

“In some of the gas plants we visited, we observed that some do not install gas leakage detectors, nor do they recharged their fire extinguishers.

“However, some are up to date; they operate in a friendly environment while only one gas plant sealed was for safety reasons.

“A lot of the gas plants and filling stations are complying with the DPR rules that is why we could only sealed very few ones,” she said.

Idahosa said that the team’s visit to retail outlets regularly was to take measurements of quantity of fuel being dispensed.

According to her, anyone that goes above the accepted “deviation range” were sanctioned.

“We call the marketer to get a technician to fix it and we go and verify that the machine is dispensing accurately before we unsealed such station,” she said.

The assistant director operations urged the consumers to always notify DPR whenever they noticed a shortfall in the petrol they bought from the filling stations.

She also appealed to the marketers to cooperate with the regulatory agency and abide by its rules and regulations.

“We are not witch-hunters; the marketers should cooperate with us by complying with our rules so that we can work as a team.

“Our intention is to ensure that they work safely and in a safe environment,” he said.

The Nigeria News Agency recalled that the regulatory agency had in July sealed 11 petrol stations and two gas plants in two separate operations.

However, a manager at Akpos Petroleum Limited, who pleaded anonymity, promised to call a technician to rectify the problem as soon as possible.

The manager said that the station’s pump measured 10.92, while another measured 10.72 as against the maximum measurement of 10.30.

EDI/GOK

Edited by Olagoke Olatoye

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