S.Africa debt “becoming uncomfortable” — IMF
Johannesburg, Aug. 15, 2019 South Africa’s public debt which is approaching rating agencies’ red line of 60 per cent of economic output is reaching uncomfortable levels, an IMF official said on Thursday.
Montfort Mlachila, the lender’s senior resident representative in South Africa, told a conference in Johannesburg that the debt trajectory was worrying.
“South Africa has not requested an IMF-supported programme. We do not see a balance of payments need … so as far as we are concerned there’s no need for South Africa to approach the IMF.
“South Africa has the highest level of debt in its history. This is actually quite concerning without a doubt … The public debt trajectory is not favourable and becoming uncomfortable,” Mlachila said.
Mlachila, however, said the debt trajectory, forecast at 55 per cent of GDP in February by treasury but likely to be revised upwards at the October mini-budget, was worrying.
Public finances in South Africa are under strain as growth has proved weaker than expected and a clutch of state companies have needed large cash injections.
In July, the government said it would give power utility Eskom 59 billion rand ($4.1 billion) of additional financial support over the next two years, on top of an already-promised bailout of 230 billion rand spread over the next decade.
That spooked investors and credit agencies.
Finance Minister Tito Mboweni warned shortly afterwards that this and other bailouts for state firms would almost certainly push up the budget deficit as well as state borrowing, raising the prospect of emergency external loans. (Reuters/NAN)
FG, DisCos committed to tackling challenges of retail electricity
The Association of Nigerian Electricity Distributors (ANED), has restated the commitment of Distribution Companies (DisCos) and the Federal Government to tackling challenges affecting retail electricity distribution in the country.
Mr Sunday Oduntan , the Executive Director, Research and Advocacy of ANED made this known in a statement in Abuja on Sunday.
Oduntan said the Federal Government and the DisCos remained committed to working together in order to address current challenges of retail electricity distribution.
He said commitment by the DisCos and Federal Government was demonstrated by the recent Siemens initiative and recent regulatory activities.
According to him, the ongoing Meter Asset Providers (MAP) programme is another collaborative effort of the Federal Government and the DisCos.
“The distribution franchise consultations, the present wrap-up of the minor electricity tariff reviews, among others to provide affordable and consistent power supply for electricity customers are such collaborative efforts.
“It is the hope and expectation of the DisCos that collectively, the aforementioned initiatives and activities in tandem with respect for sanctity of contracts, increased regulatory and policy certainty, will provide the enabling environment.
“That will result in a Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry (NESI) that is commercially viable and sustainable, thereby, attracting the desperately needed investment that continues to be elusive in the sector,” he said.
Reacting to a recent report on government trying to pay N736 billion to investors to repossess the DisCos, Oduntan described it as sensational.
He said the report itself clarified that to do so within the provisions of the Share Sale Agreement would require a sum in the region of 2.4 billion dollars (about N736 billion), some of which would be paid as compensation to the investors.
“This is not a desirable outcome. It is noteworthy that government is yet to pay the investor in Yola DisCo for its negotiated return to government,” ruling out the possibility of such a renationalisation.”
Oduntan said there were doubts about the document on which the report was based, adding that such sensationalism could scare future investors from the economy.
“We are troubled that a sector that is already bedeviled with multiple challenges now has to deal with sensationalism and irresponsible journalism rather than an informed discussion of how we can move the sector forward,” he said.
16 ships discharging petroleum products, other commodities in Lagos – NPA
The Nigeria News Agency reports that two of the 16 vessels were discharging petrol while one other vessel was discharging diesel.
NPA explained on Sunday that 13 other ships were discharging buckwheat, steel products, frozen fish, container, empty containers, butane and general cargo.
The NPA also stated that 22 ships were carrying containers, general cargo, buckwheat and frozen fish, bulk sugar, bulk salt, bade oil, expected at the ports between Aug. 18 and Sept. 4.
NPA further said that 14 ships were waiting to berth with petrol, general cargo and containers
Insecurity: expect drop in FDIs —– academic
Prof. Sarah Anyanwu of the Department of Economics, University of Abuja, said with the increasing insecurity in the country, a drop in Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) is expected.
She said this in an interview with the Nigeria News Agency , on Sunday in Abuja.
According to her, every investor wants a conducive business environment for his capital and will not want to establish businesses in places where security is not guaranteed.
“Even as a Nigerian, not to talk of foreigners, you will not go and site an industry in areas where insurgency is the order of the day.
“There is kidnapping and herdsmen killing going on at the same time and foreigners keep hearing that people are being kidnapped daily and ransom has to be paid.
“So, for those that already have investments in Nigeria, that is enough to drive them out and those that are out will not be willing to come in.
“Both the rich and poor are being kidnapped, so it is a problem to even Nigerians and not foreigners alone.”
She also mentioned the porousness of Nigerian borders, adding that it was a major source of concern as foreigners who had no business being in Nigeria at all came and went at will.
Anyanwu said the nation’s borders should be strictly monitored with security tightened at all points to keep track of movement in and out to avoid people coming in anyhow to commit crime.
She, however, advised that security should be heightened with all security agencies playing their part to secure lives and properties.
The academic also said that no stone should be left unturned to promote the image of Nigeria internationally in every way and avoid situations where Nigerians in diaspora have to stage protests concerning the country.
According to Anyanwu, such scenarios send the wrong signal to prospective investors.
She also noted that electricity should be improved on as lack of it was driving the cost of doing business up.
Anyanwu also advocated good infrastructure to be provided for businesses to thrive.
NAN reports that a United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) report released in June said FDIs into Nigeria plunged by 43 per cent in 2018 to two billion dollars.
This, the report said was due to disputes between the Federal Government and some multinationals as well as instability associated with elections which made some companies withhold planned investments.
Edited by Ese E. Ekama
Innovate 1 Pay takes fintech services to Dubai
Innovate 1 Pay, an African payment gateway brand, on Sunday announced expansion of its operations and provision of financial technology services to African expatriates in Dubai.
Mr Mahmood Ahmadu, Chairman Innovate 1 Pay, said in Lagos that the company would consolidate cooperation and integration between Dubai and several African countries as well as tap into the market to address needs.
Ahmadu gave the assurance in a statement in Lagos.
He said that the move would enhance ease of doing business between the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Nigeria and ultimately drive business growth.
“Africa is set to surpass China and India as a job market by 2040, and with the recent visa reforms in the UAE, Dubai has emerged as an attractive destination for Africans to pursue career advancement and professional fulfilment.
“Innovate 1 Pay is leading this drive with the provision of international money transfer and payment services.
“With the maturing of financial markets in Africa, we have expanded our presence to a total of 56 countries, and with the promise that the new UAE visa regime holds for African professionals, we believe the prospects for growth in addressing this demographic is very promising,” he said.
Ahmadu said that the next generation of financial services would need to reflect customer expectations around secure and quick transfer of funds.
“Our relationship with government bodies and comprehensive presence in African market, positions Innovate 1 Pay uniquely in being able to leverage these strengths and amplify them with the use of appropriate and user-friendly technologies,” he said.
The company’s Chief Executive Officer, Mr Anthony Nwachukwu, said that the time for a concerted effort to extend financial inclusion in Africa had come.
“Africa is currently the second fastest growing continent, after Asia, and we are looking at an average GDP growth of five per cent across the continent that has lasted a decade,” Nwachukwu said.
On the potential of Africa’s population, he said that Innovative 1 Pay was working toward larger social goal of boosting financial inclusion on the continent.
“Africa is home to 40 per cent of people in the world who lacks access to banking services, and we at Innovate 1 Pay see our business mission within the context of this larger social goal.
“Bringing financial inclusion to all is possibly one of the most important steps in empowering untapped human potential, and ensuring a more equitable wealth distribution and a universally prosperous world,” Nwachukwu said.
Innovate 1 Pay is one of Africa’s leading providers of payment services, international money transfer and foreign exchange services.
It can address the needs of either individuals or organisations through a diverse portfolio of solutions.
Headquartered in Abuja, and with a global operations office in Dubai, Innovate 1 Pay is Nigeria’s largest provider of payment services.
NASSI supports CBN’s planned restriction on dairy products
The Nigerian Association of Small Scale Industrialists (NASSI) has said that forex restriction on imported dairy products would uphold indigenous companies into milk processing and spur local production.
Chief Solomon Vongfa, NASSI National President, made this known on Sunday in Abuja in an interview with the Nigeria News Agency .
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) had in July 23 announced the plan to put forex restriction on dairy products to promote local production of milk in Nigeria.
“We want to promote our local content; Mr President in his good reasoning feels we must promote our local product, I believe it will spur a lot of people to go into production.
“I think one of the issues about dairy product is that, because I am a member of the Organised Private Sector (OPS), some people collect the forex and bring in powder milk as if they are producing it in the country.
“We are requesting that let our own home base companies produce directly, because we have different companies that are into milk processing. Why can’t they produce our milk to help in the development of our economy,’’ he said.
Similarly, Vongfa told NAN that CBN’s plan to also restrict forex on food items importation could as well have a lot of positive impact on most Nigeria companies, especially in the value chain of the Agro business.
“Even now that many are purchasing machines from different parts of the world to go into production, it will encourage a lot of producers in meeting the reality.
“If times are tough, people will sit up and do the best in the country, that is my thought towards restricting forex in respect to food importation,’’ he said.
The NASSI president said that access to fund and poor finishing had been a challenge to the association and appealed to the government to also render support in that line.
“Even, if CBN said it has released N200 billion for the Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), the conditions to access the money is still a problem.
“Trillions of money needs to go into the sector, they say people don’t repay money, it is not true, people must be informed.
“It is better for government to inject money for the citizenry to use than to allow money to go to capital flight, if there is money in circulation we will not have problem
“When there is enough money there will be provision and resources for packaging to avoid poor finishing,’’ he said.
He appealed for government’s intervention through fund and grant to reduce cost of production for the local industrialists, saying that loan should be given on one digit interest rate.
“Loan repayment for industrialists into production and entrepreneurial should take at least five years and above to help them to break even,” he said.
Edited by Felix Ajide
NASSI on CBN restriction