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PenCom: Empowering Informal Sector With Micro Pension Plan

ACCORDING to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Nigeria’s informal sector constitutes about 60 per cent of the entire Nigerian economy, which is estimated at $240 billion. Despite its size, the sector is largely untapped and unregulated, thus limiting its impact on the economy. Given its average annual growth rate of 8.5 per cent, the sector has a critical role to play in the nation’s strive to scale up employment generation and reduce poverty.

Recognising the importance of the sector, the National Pension Commission (PenCom) came up with the Micro Pension Plan (MPP), which provides a vehicle, through the Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS), for artisans and traders to protect their future and businesses.

To increase the attraction of the scheme to artisans and traders, PenCom designed the MPP in a way that contributors under the CPS can withdraw up to 40 per cent of the contributions in their Retirement Savings Accounts (RSA), three months after making the initial contribution.


According to the Acting Director-General, PenCom, Mrs. Aisha Dahir-Umar, the MPP is structured in such a way that 40 per cent of the contribution is for contingent withdrawal, while 60 per cent is for retirement benefits. She added that the flexibility was deliberately built into the scheme as an incentive to encourage participation and, consequently, drive growth of the pension industry.

She said further, “As you are aware, the informal sector workers constitute the larger percentage of the working population in the country, there is therefore no doubt that robust participation would result in exponential growth of the pension funds which would consequently, provide funding for allowable and relevant investments that would impact positively on the economy. The MPP would contribute immensely to achieving the pension industry’s strategic objective of covering 30 per cent of the working population in Nigeria under the CPS by the end of 2024. As of 31 March 2019, the value of pension assets stood at N9.03 trillion and the number of employees 8.57 million.”

The PenCom boss explained that the Micro Pension Plan was launched by President Muhammadu Buhari on March 28, 2019 to make life better for grassroots contributors by bringing them into the pension net.

“The very successful launch by the President is an indication that the Federal Government is committed to ensuring that informal sector workers are also covered under the CPS. Effectively, we are just about two months into its implementation after the launch. Sequel to the launch, registration of contributors by Pension Fund Administrators (PFA) has commenced and is ongoing. Public enlightenment and engagement with relevant unions and associations is also ongoing,” she stated.

On the efforts of the Commission to ensure participation of more artisans and other operators at the grassroots level, she said that in implementing the MPP initiative, the informal sector had been segmented into three broad categories.

She explained further, “These are the low income earners, the high income earners and the SMEs. Each of these categories is going to be targeted with appropriate MPP products and sensitization programmes that meet their peculiarities. The Commission is engaging relevant unions and associations in its enlightenment drive. Some of these unions and associations cover the artisans and grassroots operators. The Commission is aware that public enlightenment and pension education are key success factors and as such is working assiduously with the Pension Operators Association (PENOP) to ensure effective coverage,” she added.

On the steps PenCom is taking to ensure development of the micro pension plan to enable the artisans and other self-employed people to plan for their financial future, Mrs. Dahir-Umar explained that prior to the implementation of the MPP, the Commission had issued guidelines and framework for MPP. “These documents are expected to guide the pension operators in administering the MPP,” she said.

She added that the Commission would carry out adequate supervision and periodic reviews to monitor and ensure the efficient and effective implementation of the MPP. “Adequate implementation would therefore ensure that artisans and other self-employed plan for their financial future,” she noted.

According to her, Section 2(3) of the Pension Reform Act, 2014 (PRA 2014) provides that employees of organizations with less than three employees as well as the self-employed persons shall be entitled to participate in the Contributory Pension Scheme in accordance with guidelines issued by the Commission. Majority of these categories of persons covered are in the informal sector and have generally low and irregular incomes.

“Those participating in the MPP would require a functional bank account, which would be used for transactions such as contributions and withdrawals. It is therefore obvious that implementing MPP will definitely promote financial inclusion,” she explained.

Mrs. Dahir-Umar, said that the micro pension plan targeted the significant majority of Nigeria’s working population who, incidentally, operated in the informal sector.

She said, “A prospective micro pension contributor is required to open a Retirement Savings Account by completing a physical or electronic registration form with a Pension Funds Administrator of his/her choice. The contributors may make contributions daily, weekly, monthly or as may be convenient to them.

“Every contribution shall be split into two, comprising 40 per cent for contingent withdrawal and 60 per cent for retirement benefits. The contributor may, based on his/her needs, periodically withdraw the total or part of the balance of the contingent portion of his/her RSA, including all accrued investment income thereto.

The PenCom boss said the Commission had established a separate department dedicated to the supervision of all matters relating to the MPP, including enforcement of compliance with the guidelines and customer complaint handling and resolution.

Beyond the obvious benefits that the MPP confers on contributors, it is also a veritable vehicle for the actualization of the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN’s) financial inclusion target of having 80 per cent of the adult population in the financial system by 2020. PenCom, through the RSA remittances, is helping to deepen the pension industry, financial system and economy.

Also speaking on the merit of the CPS, Head of Communication Department at PenCom, Peter Aghahowa, said it had made the life of retirees much easier, unlike the defined benefits scheme which it replaced.

Aghahowa stated that PenCom had deployed the Retirement Savings Account (RSA) Multi-Fund Structure to align with contributors’ risk appetite with their investment horizon, at each stage of their life cycle.

“The RSA Multi-Fund Structure is to achieve optimum returns for contributors by aligning their pension savings with their individual risk/return profiles, provide investment portfolio choices to contributors, and enhance safety of pension assets through adequate portfolio diversification, increased investment in equities and alternative assets, such as infrastructure and private equity,” he said.

According to him, “Based on the framework, the Commission has engaged recovery agents for continuous enrollment into the CPS and recovery of un-remitted pension contributions plus penalty from defaulting employers. The recovery, which has been largely successful, has boosted the confidence of contributors and, by extension, encouraged non-participating employees and employers to embrace the scheme.

“Besides, the commission has a fully functional Complaints Monitoring and Resolution Team, which attends to complaints on non/late/under-remittance of pension contributions into employees RSAs.”

He added that the enactment of the Pension Reform Act, PRA 2014, which mandates the participation of employees of the public service of the Federal Capital Territory, states and local governments, as well as the private sector in the Contributory Pension Scheme, has been a huge success.

“PenCom has consistently been engaging various state governments, trade unions, relevant stakeholders and the general public on the full benefits of the CPS with a view to bringing them to full implementation of the scheme,” he said.

30 Things President Buhari Promised Nigerians In Second Term — IPC

A non-governmental organisation, the International Press Centre (IPC), has released a document which it said contains the campaign promises of President Muhammadu Buhari, as the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the 2019 General Elections.

The IPC said, the compilation of the campaign promises by President Muhammadu Buhari was extracted from statements made in the media reports in the course of electioneering campaign activities ahead the 2019 elections between November 2018 and February 2019.

The thirty of such promises, which the IPC said covered pledges on specific and general issues of Road/Rail infrastructure, Education, Agriculture, Poverty Eradication and Inclusion of Youths/Women in government as well as the fight against Corruption and Insecurity were documented in its latest release.

CBN gives banks 3 months to return mutilated naira notes

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on Saturday said it has given Deposit Money Banks from June 3rd to September 2nd to return all mutilated naira notes at their disposal fir re-issue.
Isaac Okorafor, director corporate communications department disclosed this in Lagos at an interactive session with stakeholders at the weekend.
The regulator had since last year been engaging with banks to withdraw the mutilated currency notes in circulation for destruction.
“We are telling customers including labour to return all the dirty notes to their banks and the banks will bring those notes to us for re-issue and that if any bank is refusing to take those notes, they should call us and we will take action on that”, Okorafor said.
He explained that the meeting with the leaders of the organised labour is part of the CBN’s communication campaign to constantly engage with most important group in the country who have stakes in the economy.


Here we have met with organised labour from the south west. Last week we were in Owerri or South South and. South East. We have engaged them on the entire gamut of CBN activities, what its duties are, what we have tried to do in the last five years and what we are going to do in the next five years, and to also get feedback from them that will form part of our programme for the next five years”.


The leaders of the organised labour expressed support for the CBN going forward because they are satisfied with what CBN has achieved in the last five years.


“We should partner with the CBN as organised labour to realize its vision in developmental finance and other policies”, Issa Aremu, Vice President industrial trade union said.

FG Committed To Building More Ports ― Osinbajo

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on Saturday said the Federal Government was committed to building more ports across the country to decongest the gridlock in and out of the Apapa ports.

Osinbajo made this known in an interview with newsmen after inspecting the Lilipond transit truck park, Creek Road and other networks of roads leading to the Apapa port.

The vice president was accompanied to the tour by Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State and the Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) Hadiza Bala Usman, among others.

“We need to understand that this is a port that was designed to take 34 million metric tonnes daily but it is currently taking over 80 million metric tonnes.

“With this, it is obvious that there is a need to find an alternative quickly and to expand, where that is possible.

“The Lekki port is an ongoing project which will be a great help when completed because it will support the Apapa and Tin Can ports.

“Also, we are dredging the Warri Port which is aimed to decongest the traffic into and out of the Apapa and Tin Can ports,” Osinbajo said.


The Vice President noted that the Federal Government would continue to implement short and long term measures to ensure a long-lasting solution to the gridlock in the Apapa area of the state and its environs.

“You will see that the entry route to the port has been cleared. So, we need to understand that there are short term and mid to long term solutions.

“One of the mid-to-long term measures is to decongest the cargo traffic coming into the port,” he said.

Osinbajo noted that the government was set to improve infrastructure and call up system for trucks and the ports while working on harnessing opportunities of the intermodal transport system.

“Also, the Lagos-Kano rail is also starting from the Apapa ports. So, we expect that we should be able to get cargo out of the Apapa port using the rail than take cargo out of the port using the hinterlands and some are using badges at the moment.

“So, I can tell you that there are different approaches toward getting better movement in and out of Apapa.

“The other thing is the clearing of the trailers and tankers on the road so that there can be easy access to the port and you will see that there is considerable improvement within the axis.

“The Mile 2 end is the axis where we think that there is a difficulty but we think that in the next couple of days, it will be resolved especially with the opening of the Tin Can Island trailer parks and the palliative work that is ongoing all the way to Mile 2.”

Osinbajo expressed satisfaction over the work carried out by the Presidential task force vested with the responsibility of decongesting the truck-laden roads where residents spend all days grounded.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that in May, a presidential task force was constituted to clear the Apapa road of articulated vehicles which had locked down the road, causing residents and commuters in the axis untold hardship.


Homebuyers in Hong Kong are looking at Malaysian property as second homes and for retirement, with Kuala Lumpur, Penang and Johor Bahru garnering a lot of interest because of affordable prices amid a supply glut.

Terence Law, senior principal project director at Centaline Property Agency, said that more than half of the 21 units released on June 7 at a condominium project in Johor Bahru were snapped up within the weekend by buyers from Hong Kong. The units were priced from HK$787,331 (US$100,000) to HK$2.27 million.

Law said about 35 per cent of his clients were buying Malaysian property for retirement or as a second home.

According to data from the National Property Information Centre (Napic), the median cost for a house in the state of Johor is 350,000 ringgit (US$84,000). A 300 sq ft apartment in Hong Kong, much smaller than the average flat in Malaysia, would still cost six times more.
Malaysia’s southern state of Johor calls for property purchase restrictions by foreigners to be halved to bolster real estate sales

Compared to other Southeast Asian cities, property prices in Johor Bahru are “much lower”, Law said. He estimates they are roughly half the price of an average home in Bangkok and “about 20 times cheaper” than prime locations in neighbouring Singapore.

Melissa Lee, associate director of valuation and advisory services at Colliers International, said the cost of living in Johor remains among the lowest in the world.

“Particularly with the Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H) programme … it remains a target for retirees,” she said.

The MM2H is a government initiative that offers 10-year renewable visas to non-Malaysians in a bid to get foreigners to live in Malaysia. It allows visa holders to buy residential property that cost more than 1 million ringgit.

But prospects for price appreciation are weak because of an oversupply of residential units.

A DBS Bank research report on Malaysian property from January noted that price growth for the third quarter of 2018 had fallen to the lowest level since 2010, partly because of pressure from an “alarming” supply glut.

In 2018, about 32,000 residential units worth about 19.9 billion ringgit remained unsold across the country, almost a threefold increase over four years, according to Napic. Johor accounted for 6,066 unsold units, the largest among the states.

“Currently, the occupancy rate for high-rise apartments in Johor is about 50 per cent,” said Tan Ka Leong, director of property firm CBRE-WTW in Johor. “For newer high-rise apartment developments, present occupancy rate is estimated to be about 30 per cent or less.”

Tan said his estimates do not take into account any unsold units in Johor’s US$100 billion Forest City mega project, which is touted to house 700,000 residents when complete in 2035.

Multiple headwinds for Chinese property developers in Malaysia

Its Chinese developers Country Garden did not respond to queries on the number of units left unsold.

Vacancies in completed high-rise apartments were a result of a large number of developments in 2013 and 2014, leading to high supply in the past three years.

Malaysian authorities have frozen approvals for high-rise apartment development since end-2014, and analysts say that vacancy rates and house prices are not expected to fall much lower.

However, homebuyers seeking a bargain still have some time to act.

“There’s going to be fewer high-rise products being introduced,” said Tan, who expects three to five years for the existing vacant units to be bought.

Debbie Choy, branch head of real estate agency Knight Frank’s Johor Bahru office, said that some new supply of high-rise apartments from residential projects approved and under construction can be expected.

“It will take some time for the market to absorb the stock,” she said.

Source : South China Morning Post

Kudimoney Gets CBN’s MFB Licence, Rebrands

A local financial technology (fintech) company, Kudimoney, has obtained a microfinance digital banking licence from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

In preparation to the launch of its full digital no-fee bank, the company has changed its name to Kuda Microfinance Bank.

With this, the fintech firm can offer current accounts as well as debit cards – something it is already doing with a small group of alpha users.

Founders of the company, Babs Ogundeyi and Musty Omotosho, explained that Kuda will offer frustrated consumers a more mobile, modern approach to traditional banking.

Unlike traditional banks, Kuda does not rely on banking fees, doesn’t profit from members’ misfortune or mistakes, and actually helps members get ahead financially.

Kuda members receive a debit card, a Spending & Savings Account, and an app that keeps them in control of their finances at all times, no matter where they are located.

“We’re excited to usher in a new era in consumer banking and serve the many Africans, who we believe are frustrated with traditional banks,” said Ogundeyi, co-founder & CEO of Kuda.

“Starting with Nigeria, we’ll launch a new kind of bank with a continued focus on improving our members’ financial lives rather than trying to burden them with hidden fees and excessive charges.” he added.

Source: Business Post Ng

Reserve Bank interest rate cut likely to bolster Australia’s property market

The Reserve Bank’s cut to official interest rates is set to offer a boost to the weak property market, as experts look towards the bottom of recent price falls.

But within an hour of the decision on Tuesday, ANZ declined to pass on the full rate cut to borrowers, instead reducing rates by only 18 basis points and acknowledging some customers would be “disappointed”.

Commonwealth Bank and NAB will pass on the 25 basis point cut to both owner-occupiers and investors.

The central bank cut the cash rate to a historically low 1.25 per cent, from 1.5 per cent previously – its first move since August, 2016.

Since the last move, more than 277,000 first-home buyers have entered the housing market, according to lending figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

Pressure has been mounting on the major banks to pass on Tuesday’s 25 basis-point cut in full to mortgage holders after lenders in recent years chose to cut their own interest rates by a smaller margin than some RBA moves.

The prospect of cheaper finance comes after the bank regulator raised the prospect of relaxing a key stress test, meaning borrowers would be tested for their ability to repay a loan at a lower hypothetical interest rate than in the past.

It also follows the pick-up in sentiment after the Coalition’s clear election win, which will leave housing tax policy unchanged.

These green shoots for the housing market come after a sustained period of price drops on the east coast, where banks became more cautious about handing out loans, particularly to investors and riskier borrowers, under regulatory pressure and the scrutiny of last year’s financial services royal commission.

In Tuesday’s decision, the central bank warned over the outlook for household spending, which was being affected by slow wages growth and house price falls.

In the statement accompanying the bank’s decision it also noted low inflation, which has been a key headache for the RBA for some time.

But it was cautiously optimistic about the prospects for the housing market.

“The adjustment in established housing markets is continuing, after the earlier large run-up in prices in some cities,” Governor Philip Lowe wrote in his statement.

“Conditions remain soft, although in some markets the rate of price decline has slowed and auction clearance rates have increased.

“Growth in housing credit has also stabilised recently.”

He noted that credit had been tight and investor demand for home loans had been subdued.

“Mortgage rates remain low and there is strong competition for borrowers of high credit quality,” he said.

The rate cut will offer “breathing room” for existing borrowers, Professor Richard Holden of UNSW’s School of Economics said.

“For people who haven’t seen their take-home pay increase a lot, have seen various parts of their cost of living get more expensive, and are struggling, very heavily indebted, have big mortgage repayments to make – a little breathing room is good,” he said.

But lower interest rates, combined with potential looser lending standards, could mean some marginal borrowers are now able to get a loan.

“Some of the least good credit risks are going to suddenly be able to borrow,” he told Domain.

“And that might have negative effects in terms of thinking about [mortgage] delinquencies down the road.”

Banks were likely to pass on most if not all of the rate cut, Domain economist Trent Wiltshire said.

“The current housing correction has occurred without sending the economy into recession, but falling house prices have weighed on consumer spending,” he said.

“Lower interest rates are just one of a few changes that may contribute to property price falls ending this year. The Coalition’s unexpected victory in the federal election means there will be no changes to negative gearing and the capital gains tax discount, which were likely to push prices lower.”

If passed on in full by the banks, this rate cut could could save borrowers almost $21,000 over the life of their loan, comparison website Finder said.

The saving assumes an average home loan size of $384,700, and an average variable rate of 4.91 per cent.

A cut of 25 basis points to 4.66 per cent could mean savings of close to $700 a year, or $58 a month.

A borrower with a $500,000 mortgage could save $75 a month.

For someone with a $1 million mortgage, the savings would be $151 a month.

A cash rate this low was “uncharted territory”, Finder insights manager Graham Cooke said.

“In recent weeks we’ve seen auction rates bounce back in many states for the first time in months,” he said.

“With interest rates dropping, and loans becoming both cheaper and easier to attain, this could very well be the turning point for the slumping housing market.

“However, these previous cuts occurred in environments where house prices were increasing, so we’ll have to wait and see how the market responds this time.”

Mr Wiltshire also noted the government’s proposed first-home loan deposit scheme and the regulator’s plan to relax serviceability rules.

“There are early signs that the property market is close to bottoming out: clearance rates are at their highest point in over a year, price falls have slowed and more people are thinking about buying,” he said.

ANZ elected not to pass on the full cut, reducing variable home loan rates by only 18 basis points. For standard variable rate owner occupiers paying principal and interest, the index rate will fall to 5.18 per cent, from 5.36 per cent.

The decision took into account customers, including depositors, and the business, ANZ group executive of Australia, retail and commercial, Mark Hand said.

“While we recognise some home loan customers will be disappointed, in making this decision we have needed to balance the increased cost in managing our business with our desire to provide customers with the most competitive lending and deposit rates possible,” he said.

Commonwealth Bank cut rates on standard variable rate home loans by the full 25 basis points.

For owner-occupiers, principal and interest loans fall to 5.12 per cent and interest-only loans fall to 5.67 per cent.

For investors, principal and interest loans drop to 5.7 per cent and interest-only loans to 6.14 per cent.

The bank had considered both the funding environment and community expectations, CBA group executive of retail banking services Angus Sullivan said.

NAB cut all variable home loan rates by the full 25 basis points.

For owner-occupiers, principal and interest loans drop to 5.36 per cent and interest-only loans to 5.93 per cent.

For investors, principal and interest loans fall to 5.96 per cent and interest-only to 6.41 per cent.

The bank’s chief customer officer for consumer banking Mike Baird said it would save owner-occupiers with a $400,000 loan about $62 a month at a time when the cost of living is “challenging”.

“We strongly believe reducing rates is the right thing to do by our customers and reflects our focus on earning trust in the community and rewarding our loyal existing customers,” he said.

Mortgage Choice chief executive Susan Mitchell said rate cuts could stem recent property price falls.

“The Reserve Bank would be acutely aware that any cuts to the cash rate may serve to bolster overall activity in the property market,” she said.

“While I do not see dwelling values rebounding to their 2017 peak any time soon, monetary policy stimulus could help put a floor under falling dwelling values.”

McGrath real estate founder John McGrath said rate cuts were a catalyst to take action.

“Over the past two weeks a strong signal that the market has bottomed has appeared after the election which coincided with credit easing and talk of rate reductions,” he said.

“So one or two rate cuts would provide further incentive for buyers to re-enter the market and give them confidence that the bottom has been reached.”

A one percentage point reduction in interest rates boosts housing prices by about 8 per cent in the following two years, recent RBA research found.

The Reserve Bank has been hesitant to move the cash rate in recent years, taking an upbeat tone about the strength of the jobs market.

But the central bank has repeatedly highlighted the rising level of household debt in Australia, after a five-year property boom that saw dwelling prices in the largest cities soar.

Staying put:should you remortgage? Why it might not be a good idea to take out a new home loan

Is remortgaging always right?

No. Remortgaging can be a great way to bring down the cost of one of the biggest household bills.

However, it’s not the best move for everyone.


For example, if you only have a small amount left to pay then it’s probably not worth paying any application fees.

You might even find that not every lender wants your business if it’s just a small debt; that’s less lucrative for them.

If your early repayment fee is too big then it may well not make any sense to remortgage yet. Do the sums and work out if you will actually save money.

If you won’t then you may need to sit tight until your current deal ends and remortgaging will cost you less.



Another issue is if your circumstances have changed.

New tighter mortgage rules mean that your costs are considered when you apply. So if you have new expenses, for example a new child to pay childcare for, you may find it hard to remortgage.

That’s the same if you’ve had issues with debt since you last remortgaged — it will all be considered.

Finally, if you’re in negative equity or if your home’s value has fallen then you may not be able to remortgage onto a better rate.

Whatever your circumstances if you’re considering remortgaging you need to do the sums, look at the rates available and work out exactly what is best for you.

Buying a home:four things a buyer needs from their seller before moving into their new home

Once you’ve found your dream home, make sure you know what should happen during the buying process.

Here’s what exactly you should expect your seller to do before completing…

1. What is an EPC?

The seller must provide you with an Energy Performance Certificate — or EPC — free of charge.

The EPC is produced by an accredited domestic energy assessor and lasts 10 years.

2. Duty of disclosure

The rule of “buyer beware” applies but the seller must not fraudulently conceal known defects or reply dishonestly to pre-contract enquiries.

3. Protocol forms

Your solicitor will have provided you with copies of the property information form, the fittings and contents form, and, if you are buying a leasehold property, with the leasehold information form.

The seller will have completed these forms and answered any additional enquiries raised by your solicitor, and should have done so accurately and honestly.


4. Vacant possession

The Law Society’s Standard Conditions of Sale (5th Edition) is commonly used in most residential property transactions and provides for vacant possession on completion — unless the contract has been varied, usually because the property is being sold with a tenant.

The property you are buying is presumably for you to occupy, so you will want it to be vacant when you complete the purchase.

The seller should have disclosed prior to exchange of contracts if the property is occupied by anyone other than themselves.

If anyone aged over 18 is living with the seller at the property, that occupier should sign the contract to confirm no rights of occupation are being claimed and that they will leave the property on completion.

Vacant possession also means that on completion, the property should be clear of all contents apart from anything that the parties agreed should be left.

In the property information form the seller should confirm that all rubbish will be removed from the property including from the loft, garden, outbuildings, garden and shed, and that the property will be left in a neat and tidy condition.

The contract will include not only a completion date but also a completion time.

This means that on the day of completion your seller should have vacated the property by the time specified in the contract.

Any charges that may be secured on the seller’s property should be redeemed and discharged by their solicitor on completion — leaving you with a clear title to your new home.

Chinese developers turn to offshore markets to meet their financing needs

Jun 20, 2019 (China Knowledge) – Tight credit-conditions in China are leading Chinese property developers to sell more US dollar bonds overseas at up to double the cost of borrowing domestically.

This month, 18 Chinese real estate companies have issued bonds, with 11 of them selling bonds overseas with a total estimated issuance of more than USD 3 billion, compared to just two offshore bond offerings by domestic developers last month.

Many Chinese developers are now facing financial strains after multiple tightening policies introduced by the government in a bid to cool surging property prices and financial risk.

Last month the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission (CBIRC) banned direct financing to developers with incomplete certificates or real estate projects with capital not fully in place. The regulator also banned indirect financing through equity investments and bond subscriptions to those developers.

As a result, many property developers have turned to overseas markets to meet their financing requirements even despite the higher costs of borrowing. Last week, Jiangsu Zhongnan Construction Group Co. issued USD 350 million worth of offshore bonds at a coupon rate of 10.875% while China South City Holdings sold USD 60 million of US dollar senior notes at a rate of 11.875%.

In comparison, onshore borrowing costs were typically less than 5%. The increased cost of borrowing overseas is due to increases in US interest rate and higher related fees for issuance of offshore bonds.

However, for developers, being able to raise funds to maintain their growth is their top priority and foreign debt issuance by developers and financing costs will likely continue to increase.

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