The Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) says the unification of the country’s exchange rate is a welcome development that will engender increased investment inflow in the real sector of the economy.
Mr Mansur Ahmed, MAN President, made this remark in a report made available to newsmen on Friday in Lagos.
Ahmed said that the association had, over the years, been advocating for a unified exchange rate to promote a market-friendly rate in the country.
The unified rate, he said, is capable of facilitating stable production planning and engender sustainable economic growth.
He said that drawing from basic knowledge of the transmission mechanism of exchange rate management and experiences of Cuba and India, the current forex unification agenda would entrench a convergence and enhance exchange rate stability.
“It is, therefore, gratifying as it appears that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has now unified the country’s exchange rate.
“Clearly, this is a welcome development and a laudable initiative that has come at the right time.
“`This is more so, particularly, now that the economic outlook is gloomy in light of the impact of the ravaging COVID-19 pandemic that has culminated in uninspiring macroeconomic situations,’’ Ahmed said.
He recalled with delight that IMF and World Bank had at different times advised the country on the need to unify the multiple exchange rate windows to prevent distortions in investment decisions in the public and private sectors of the economy.
“In fact, the World Bank had attributed the country’s loss of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) to investors’ exasperation from perceived manipulation of the foreign exchange market.
“The unification will also boost investors’ confidence, control rising inflation and promote transparency, entrench better exchange rate management and eradicate distortions to the barest minimum.
“It is expected to also eliminate the notorious socially destructive rent-seeking activities, halt the incidence of round-tripping, ensure better allocation of resources, facilitates income expansion and stimulate the inflow of foreign investment into the economy.’’
The News Agency of Nigeria recalls that the CBN had on July 7 made an adjustment which moved the rate at the Special Secondary Market Intervention Sales (SMIS) to N381 per dollar.
The MAN President, however, stressed the need to recognise the existence of the unavoidable pains that naturally came with the transition from a multiple exchange regime to the domain of a single exchange rate.
Particularly, he said, there is the burden of dollar-denominated loans and offsetting existing credit commitments to foreign suppliers of raw materials.
He advised that the CBN put a measure in place to minimise the intensity of the pain by considering outstanding obligations of manufacturers from the second quarter 2019 till date.
“Given at N345 to a dollar prior to unification and allows such to settle at between N330 and N360,’’ he said.
According to him, this will enable banks to redeem these obligations to foreign suppliers of manufacturers.
He said that many factories might close and the CBN stimulus packages to the manufacturing sector would suffer a huge setback as cash flow crunch becomes the order of the day.
Ahmed also recommended that the apex bank should develop an appropriate implementation strategy that would engender a successful transition from the current multiple windows to a single efficient one.
“The CBN should also ensure that the strategy pursues two fundamental objectives.
“The first, is to limit the short-term pains until efficiency gains materialise by responding swiftly with an inward-oriented rescue guideline while the second should seek to boost the pace at which such efficiency gains materialise.
“It should also submit all the instruments of exchange rate determination gradually to the unseen forces of demand and supply as a matter of necessity,’’ Ahmed advised.
He also urged the apex bank to completely avoid the temptation of interference in order to fully harvest all the benefits that foreign exchange unification can offer.
Edited By: Cecilia Odey/Abdulfatah Babatunde (NAN)
More than 1bn school children worldwide affected by COVID-19, says UN Chief
The coronavirus pandemic has prompted the largest educational disruption in history that has affected more than 1 billion school students worldwide, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said on Tuesday.
“In mid-July, schools were closed in more than 160 countries, affecting over 1 billion students,” Guterres said in a video address, marking the launch of a new global policy brief on Education and COVID-19.
It is true that the schooling crisis existed long before the pandemic, as around 250 million children were out of school worldwide, but COVID-19 amplified it and brought the world to the edge of what Guterres described as a “generational catastrophe.”
While commending efforts to keep up education via distant learning, the UN chief said that many students stayed out of reach, for example, learners with disabilities, those in minority of disadvantaged communities, displaced and refugee students.
The schooling crisis has, in turn, had a knock-on effect on child nutrition, child marriage, gender equality and fair distribution of unpaid care work, among other things.
As elaborated by Guterres, the proposed brief addresses the crisis management through four steps, including the reopening of schools, increase of education funding, expansion of outreach, and modernisation of education through boost of investments in digital literacy and infrastructure.
Edited By: Emmanuel Yashim (NAN)
Iran to fine infringement of coronavirus measures
Iran’s coronavirus crisis unit on Tuesday said it would introducte fines for infringements of coronavirus measures such as wearing of face masks, the authorities announced on Tuesday.
“It is unacceptable that some people still refuse to wear a mask in spite rising infection numbers, putting their fellow citizens at risk,” Deputy Health Minister Iraj Harirchi said.
He said that the ministry was fully in support of the crisis unit’s plan to sanction defaulters.
“Since the end of July, around 200 people have died from the coronavirus per day, due to the high number of new infections.
“Around 2,700 new cases were reported on Tuesday,“Harirchi said.
Meanwhile, the Iranian medical association has also warned of staff shortages.
Overall, there have been a total of 314,786 cases and 17,617 deaths related to Covid-19.
There have also been disagreements within the Iranian Government regarding August’s Ashura festival, which routinely draws huge crowds.
While clerics and Rowhani insist the festival will take place, experts said new infections would be unavoidable if the celebrations went ahead as usual.
However, as cancellation seemed unlikely, social distancing rules and mandatory mask wearing are to be enforced at the religious ceremony marking the death of Hussein, the third Shiite Imam.
Edited By: Yahaya Isah/Maharazu Ahmed (NAN)
China’s Qingdao appoint Wu as head coach to replace Machin
Promoted Qingdao had terminated the contract of former Sevilla and Espanyol boss Machin last month after one of his relatives had tested positive for COVID-19, preventing the Spaniard from travelling to China to take up the job.
The club confirmed the appointment of Wu in a post.
Wu, who has had multiple spells as Shanghai boss, guided the team to the Chinese FA Cup title in 2017 and was appointed their technical director the following year.
The 59-year-old has also managed Zhejiang Greentown and had a brief stint as Shandong Luneng caretaker boss in 2012.
Edited By: Chioma Ugboma/Maharazu Ahmed (NAN)
APC UK optimistic of Diezani’s prosecution by British Government
The All Progressives Congress (APC), UK chapter, says it has received favourable response from the British Government to prosecute former petroleum minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke and other Nigerians suspected of fraud, bribery and corruption offences, living in the United Kingdom.
According to a statement signed by Mr Jacob Ogunseye, the APC UK Publicity Secretary, issued on Tuesday in Abuja, the assurance was given by British Minister of State for Security, James Brokenshire.
In the statement made available to the News Agency of Nigeria , the British government also promised to help Nigeria fight corruption to a standstill.
It said Brokenshire’s promise followed a petition initiated by the APC UK legal department to the British government on the need to prosecute the former petroleum minister and other Nigerians suspected of fraud, bribery and corruption.
The statement said the petition was sequel to a plea by Ibrahim Magu, former Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) at a virtual meeting before his suspension.
It said that Magu had appealed to Nigerians in Diaspora to assist the commission in putting pressure on the British government to repatriate the former minister to Nigeria to answer charges against her.
It said the APC UK legal department took up Magu’s challenge by initiating a legal process reminding the British government of Alison-Madueke’s arrest on October 2, 2015 by its National Crime Agency (NCA) in London.
It recalled that Alison-Madueke was arrested along side four other persons on suspicion of bribery and corruption offences, but was released on bail.
The statement said the department also demanded for a speedy trial of the former petroleum minister in the UK or in the alternative, facilitate her immediate repatriation to Nigeria to face graft charges.
The statement quoted Mr Ade Omole, leader of the chapter, as saying that a fair trial as enshrined in Article 6 of the Human Rights Act would be followed if Madueke was repatriated to Nigeria to face trial.
“APC UK supported the legal process with petitions through Members of Parliament and Peers in the House of Lords, the British Government was left with no choice but respond promptly to the issues raised.
“The British government responding through its Minister of State for Security, Rt. Hon. James Brokenshire, promised to work with the Federal Republic of Nigeria in ensuring that corruption is fought to a standstill and persons involved in criminal acts are duly prosecuted,” Omole said.
He added that the response from the British government was a strong indication of good things to come regarding suspects hibernating in the UK.
He stressed that the APC in UK had a good strategy and dedicated legal team that would ensure that looters did not commit crime in Nigeria and run to the United Kingdom to hide.
He said Nigerians should expect some traction on the near comatose criminal case involving the former petroleum minister going forward.
The statement quoted Brokenshire, as saying that: “The UK is continuing to lead international efforts to combat corruption, as evidenced by the commitments in the UK’s Anti-Corruption Strategy and the Economic Crime plan.”
He said the UK was determined to ensure that its society and economy remained hostile to illicit financial flows.
“As you will know, in 2018 the Financial Action Task Force assessed the UK as having the strongest controls of any country assessed to date.
“I am acutely aware of the negative impacts of grand corruption, including on developing countries.
“The International Anti-Corruption Coordination Centre, hosted by the NCA, is working to recover stolen assets, share intelligence across jurisdictions, and build capacity to support grand corruption cases in developing countries,” he said.
He added that the centre had supported a number of high profile arrests involving politicians and public officials across the world.
“We are working closely with the government of Nigeria to prevent corruption, including providing support in-country.
“The NCA runs a number of multi-agency projects in Nigeria which target corruption as one of the threats to the UK,” Brokenshire said.
According to him, these projects provided specialist training, equipment, buildings and infrastructure.
He said it also provided UK-based mentors and intelligence to fight corruption at all levels, adding that the Department for International Development funds programmes to tackle corruption in the Nigerian public sector and oil industry.
Brokenshire assured the APC UK of UK’s commitment to combating corruption in Nigeria and other African countries.
Edited By: Chioma Ugboma/Maharazu Ahmed (NAN)