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Standard Chartered, IFC Offer Emerging Markets $1bn Loan

A $1.0 billion facility to boost trade finance in emerging markets, helping to sustain trade flows in developing countries and narrow the gap in global trade finance has been created by Standard Chartered and International Financial Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group.

The initiative will support significant trade flows in emerging markets by allowing IFC and Standard Chartered to share the risk of a portfolio of corporate and small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) trade flows on a 50-50 basis.

The risk-sharing arrangement is expected to enable over $4.0 billion in trade finance across markets in Asia, the Middle East, and Africa over a three-year period. By promoting trade facilitation, the facility will help narrow the $1.5 trillion global trade finance gap at a time when some banks are exiting the trade space.

The partnership builds on the longstanding presence of Standard Chartered in emerging markets and leading trade finance capabilities, and IFC’s global reach and market coverage to increase the availability of trade finance in some of the most challenging markets, including some of the world’s poorest countries.

This will bring trade finance to local and regional companies, some of which are credit-constrained and rely on bank trade facilities to manage cash flows and purchase raw inputs.

“Trade is a key driver of economic growth in emerging markets,” said Paulo de Bolle, Senior Director of IFC’s Financial Institutions Group. “This facility is a unique partnership that can help counter de-risking trends in developing countries and support real-sector demand for trade finance.”

“As a leader in trade finance connecting our clients across the world’s most dynamic corridors, we are committed to facilitating global trade and driving the growth and prosperity of local economies. We are delighted to be partnering with IFC to further our efforts,” said Nicolas Langlois, Global Head of Trade Distribution, Standard Chartered.

Source: businesspostng

Nigeria To Benefit From UNIDO’s $60 Million Investment In Trade, Others

Nigeria is set to benefit from a $60 million investment from the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO). According to the organisation, its plan is to infuse the money into nine sectors with a view to enhancing their performances.

This was made known in a press statement attributed to the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing. It was disclosed in the press release that the Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola received a delegation from UNIDO.

UNIDO’s request: Jean Bakole, who led the delegation, told the Minister of the organisation’s plans to pump $60 million into agriculture and agro-based businesses, trade and capacity building, housing and construction, infrastructure development, energy and environment, among other sectors.

 

The motive is to increase the performance of these sectors. However, while the Minister was truly elated with Bakole and the move of the organisation, he suggested that the money should be infused into two or three critical areas for maximum impact. Fashola noted that doing this would be more effective.

$60 million is a huge amount of money. But it is not the money that is the issue but how it is being used. My thoughts are that instead of spreading this money thin over a large area, as you said, why not use it on one or two projects that could be of impact to the people.”

Fashola urged Bakole to build a massive industrial complex that would become an example in Africa instead. Highlighting the Federal Government’s roles in enhancing agriculture, he noted that though the effort was not in futility, food prices have continued to be on the rise. He assured the delegation that the prices would come down significantly.

In a recent Nairametrics article, Fashola disclosed that 524 road projects were currently ongoing in the six geopolitical zones of the country. The Minister noted that the essence of the road project was to open up the economy and make business easier for everyone.

Source: nairametrics

We Are Bringing 10,000 Jobs, N3bn Development Fund For 25 years – NLNG

The managing director of the NLNG, Tony Attah, who lead the large team to pay the historic homage said; “It is 20 years of happy partnership with the Bonny kingdom. This is a homecoming of most MDS and Deputy MDS. Its 30 years dream of harnessing gas, monetizing it, and reducing gas flaring.

Many people played different roles in this struggle and Gen Yakubu Gowon explained his own role of 1974 yesterday (Friday, October 11, 2019) in one of anniversary events in Abuja.

“It is about 1989 when the NLNG was incorporated and 1999 when the first gas cargo was exported from Bonny. Another 30 years starts now and here in this palace.”

Successes of first 30 years

We recorded many successes in our partnership with the Bonny people. The Bonny Utility Company was set up to give power to the Bonny Island which has ensured 95 per cent power supply stability in the kingdom; the only place in Nigeria with such record..

“Bonny Vocational Centre has pursued youth empowerment with huge success. Scholarships have been awarded to the kingdom.”

Next 30 years:

The next 30 years will even see more successes between us. The Bonny-dubai Scheme is the highest project we are pursuing. The MOU for it has been signed some years back. We would appreciate support to the BKDF) Bonny Development Foundation to take off immediately.

“N3BN has been set aside for each year for 25 years for the development of Bonny. Bonny-bodo Road is part of this scheme and it will be a land link to Port Harcourt, the state capital. It is a historic development because it would be the first time that a road is entering Bonny.

About 10km is already done. The issue of compensation that has stagnated the project is over following the intervention of the Bonny King. As soon as the rains are over, Julius Berger will resume work.

“Bonny Health Insurance Scheme is about to start. So far, 600 persons have registered in the upcoming scheme. It is a gamechanger. It should work in Bonny because it has been tested elsewhere.

“War against Malaria: We did a survey and found that the most prevalent illness to people around here is malaria. So, while we execute the health insurance scheme, we have also launched a research work on prevention of malaria as a component of the health scheme.

“Communication: We are establishing a radio station and a Wifi system in the city so that the king can easily communicate with his people on the island. It will promote education and interaction. Tremendous progress has been done on this.

“Bonny Consulate Building: This building does not exist anymore. So, a tourism consultant is doing a research on this. Part of the project is to rebuild the Consulate Building. The foundation stone is to be laid right after here. It was the city centre in the past and it defined the city. It has good and bad history. For instance, the British Consul in Bonny was recalled and he demanded that the king that time should pay for the building. The king could not understand such logic, to pay for a building in his land? The British leader said he would have to demolish it, if nobody was ready to pay for it. He went ahead to demolish it.

“We are going to build a modern version to replace the old one, but we would capture the old on a gigantic painting and hang it at the hall for everybody to see both the old and the new.

Housing Development

“Train-7: It’s the beginning of the next 30 years. We were number four but now number seven due to the delay in building Train-7. If we do nothing, we will slip to number 10.

“Poverty: We expect not less than 10,000 jobs out of the construction of Train-7. It will reduce poverty on the island. We are considering fallouts such as where the workers will stay during the period. We learnt that in the construction stage, people stayed in schools and churches, such that in the morning, children will wait for workers to leave for school to start. We are asking, how will Bonny receive the 10,000 workers this time? We will do something about it, this time; something creative.

Train 7 is a big deal for our survival and for the partnership with the Bonny Kingdom. We started with an ambition of trains one and two but we are now on seven. We may go to eight, nine and 10. We thus see a solid partnership for the next 20 years.”

Source: Businessdayng

Over N2 Trillion Cash In Circulation—CBN


Total Currency-in-Circulation (CIC) rose by 0.8 percent to N2.3 trillion as at the end of December 2018 according to the 2018 Annual Report released by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) through the Currency Operations Department (COD)
.

This rise in circulation according to the report reflected the high dominance of cash in the economy and increase in economic activities.

In terms of volume, the proportion of higher denomination banknotes – N100, N200, N500 and N1000 in total rose from 41.9 percent to 44.3 percent while in terms of value, it rose from 96.9 percent to 97.6 percent.

On the other hand, the lower denomination currency notes – N5, N10, N20 and N50 continued to be dominant in terms of volume compared to higher notes as it constituted 55.7 percent of the total, while in value terms, it constituted only 2.4 percent of the total banknotes.

The ratio of CIC to nominal GDP, which measures the moneyness of the economy recorded slight falls by 0.1 percentage point to 1.8 percent in the period under review and according to the report, this decline occurred as a result of increase in e-payment products such as electronic payment cards

The report also indicated that the COD during the period under review recorded significant progress in the accomplishment of its strategic objectives, which included: development of a Clean Notes Policy and Banknote Fitness Guidelines; the tiered pricing for the processing of lower denomination banknotes, increased volume of issuable banknotes and effective distribution of banknotes.

It also registered more Cash-In-Transit (CIT) and Cash Processing Companies (CPC), which encouraged private sector participation; commissioning of the temporary exhibition “Naira Our National Pride” for public enlightenment on banknote basic security features.

Other noteworthy achievements made in 2018 include the development of the Cash Activity Reporting Portal (CARP) for transmission of financial industry currency management data to Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System (NIBSS); approval granted by management for the establishment of mobile courts, in collaboration with Legal Services Department (LSD), for the speedy prosecution of suspects apprehended for currency-related offences; and a pilot run on recycling of banknotes waste into re-usable materials to reduce its carbon footprints and comply with environmental sustainability practices.

Source: businesspostng

The Illusion And Reality Of FG’s 2020 Budget

The 2020 appropriation and finance bills of the Federal Government (FG) were presented to the National Assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari last week, CHIMA NWOKOJI in this report dissects the policy document through lens of economic and finance experts.

 

Nigerians are happy with the quick submission of the bill to the legislators because it should give ample time for deliberations and hasten final approval, especially as the current leadership of the National Assembly is supportive.

Also, many people are slightly comforted by the finance bill which proposes the increase in Value Added Tax (VAT) rate from 5.0per cent to 7.5 per cent as well as business friendly tax reforms. Although, the president called it job creation budget, most analysts see it as budget of taxation because the bulk of the budgeted revenue is expected to come from the VAT.

However, most economic and finance experts have criticised the estimates based on a lot of unrealistic assumptions.

The budget is underpinned by four pillars including fiscal consolidation, infrastructure & human capital development, incentivising the private sector and enhancing social investment programmes. These goals seem laudable at first glance, but experts are worried by the small sizes of budget allocations which they said suggest a shaky foundation that could affect progress. Their conclusion is that the budget needs re-visiting but not padding.”

To put this in context, the Chief Economist at a global investment consultancy and advisory services firm, PriceWaterHouseCoopers (PWC), Dr. Andrew S. Nevin while discussing the Budget presentation on Channels TV said that Nigeria which was growing at an average of 6 per cent in the 1990s and early 2000, needs to grow at 6-8 per cent, and that this requires private & public sector investment of N40 trillion a year. The 2020 budget estimates is N10.33 trillion.

In this context, the economist says, “We continue to get poorer and poorer as our growth is lower than population growth; with population growth of 2.7 per cent per annum, even if we grow GDP at 2.5 per cent at 2019, we are getting poorer and poorer. And even if we grew at 3.5 per cent per year, it would take about 100 years to double GDP per capita.”

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) did not differ from this idea when recently, it warned that Nigeria could face up to eight years of getting poorer and poorer – 2015-2022 – unless something different is done.

 

Test of countercyclical Economic theory

There is a school of economic thought founded by the United Kingdom economist John Maynard Keynes (1883-1946) and developed by his followers. Keynesian economics prescribes countercyclical spending as an orthodox stimulant for slowing economies as Nigeria’s. A ‘countercyclical’ fiscal policy is the idea that government should reduce spending and increase taxes during a boom period (Nigeria is not in boom period); increase spending and cut taxes during a recession or a period of high inflation and slow GDP growth (inflation is still in double digits and GDP growth is very slow).

The 2020 budget is theoretically in deficit but could be a balanced budget, if the Excess Crude Account (ECA) accruals are backed out. The budget deficit is projected at N2.2 trillion.

Keynesian economists would recommend that Nigeria should embark on deficit spending (allocate more money) on labour-intensive infrastructure projects in order to stimulate employment and stabilise wages in this period of economic downturn.

Managing Director, Financial Derivatives Company Limited Mr. Bismarck Rewane observed in the company’s monthly economic bulletin that in the last 3years, Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) budgetary expenditure has been growing at an average of 12.7 per cent compared to the average inflation rate of 13.57 per cent.

“This means that after adjusting for inflation, Nigerian budgets have actually declined. If you go further to adjust for exchange rate depreciation, the decline gets more troubling. In effect, the budget expenditure in 2020 is approximately 5.78 per cent lower than the actual budget in 2016,” he said, agreeing with Dr. Nevin that Nigeria is not spending enough during this economic downturn.

It means that the N2.5 trillion or 24.3 per cent allocations to capital spending cannot provide the boost needed in infrastructure.

This explains why for example, pursuant to a motion moved by Babajimi Benson (APC, Lagos), the House of Representatives  called for more funding for the education sector in the 2020 budget, a prayer the House adopted.

The House also urged the federal government to increase the annual budgetary allocation to the health sector from 5 per cent to 15 per cent as had been pledged by successive governments in order to curb unnecessary deaths caused by the failing health system.

The call followed a motion entitled: Deplorable State of Government Owned Healthcare Facilities in Nigeria, sponsored by Mr. Ntufam Mbora (PDP, Cross River) during plenary on Wednesday.

Mr. Mbora noted that the health sector is in shambles as hospitals have been reduced to mere consulting clinics without drugs, water and health equipment does not function optimally. According to him, the decay in the nation’s health sector calls for a re-evaluation of the annual budgetary allocation to the sector, which is barely sufficient for adequate provision of medical facilities and maintenance. This call can be replicated in other sectors.

 

Doubtful Revenue Expectations

A herd of experts have also raised their eyebrows over some of the expectations about revenue.

They are worried that 2020 budget ignores lessons from the recent difficulties the FG encountered as regards budget performance.

For context, the Chief Executive Officer, Afrinvest (West) Africa Limited Mr. Ike Chioke said FG’s revenue projections underperformed actual collection by 47.8 per cent in 2017 and was little changed at 44.7 per cent in 2018 and 41.6 per cent as at first half (H1) :2019.

Available records show that the FG projected revenues of N8.2 trillion in 2020, is 17.1 per cent higher than N7.0 tillion in 2019 and more than twice the actual collection of N4.0 trillion in 2018.

Oil revenue projection was lowered 29.7 per cent to N2.6 trillion (vs. 2019: N3.7 trillion), reflecting prudent adjustments in the wake of lower for longer oil prices and weak oil production due to the slow pace of oil and gas reforms.

Specifically, crude oil price and production assumptions were revised downward to $57.0/bbl. and 2.18mbpd (vs. 2019: $60.0/bbl. and 2.3mbpd) respectively.

According to Chioke and his team of experts at Afrinvest, Oil revenue would be higher if the exchange rate assumption of N305.00/$1.00 is adjusted to the market rate of $365.00/$1.00.

On the other hand, non-oil revenue projections (customs & excise duties, VAT and CIT) increased by 28.6 per cent to N1.8 trillion (vs. 2019: N1.4 trillion) showing a marked 94.7 per cent surge in independent and other revenues budgeted at N3.7 trillion (vs. 2019: N1.9 trillion).

“Although the recent trend in core non-oil revenue has been positive, the projected increase is steep and unlikely to be achieved. The projections for non-core, non-oil revenues such as independent revenue, asset sales, recovery and fines, which have historically underperformed, are ambitious,” the according to the team from Afrinvest.

In its weekly review, the firm observed that looking at 2017, 2018 and H1:2019 budget performance, total collection from the non-core, non-oil revenue lines was zero “if we exclude independent revenue. We believe these unrealistic assumptions set up the budget for poor implementation.”

On Tax, Chioke and his team said the expected improvement from VAT revenue would be poorer than initially anticipated given the much overdue VAT reforms now proposed.

The FG is planning to raise the VAT registration threshold to N25.0million in annual revenue while the exemption list has been expanded to cover more food items.

Although the FG has once again revealed its plans to collect more revenues, this is likely to take time given that growth remains weak.

“We reiterate that the removal of petrol subsidies is key to boosting government revenues in the immediate term,” Afrinvest insists.

Agreeing with the position of Chioke and his team of economic and finance experts, BudgIT says it is doubtful of the federal government’s (FG) ability to realise its projected total revenue of N8.15 trillion. BudgIT is a civic organisation that holds government to public accountability and applies technology to intersect citizen engagement with institutional improvement, to facilitate societal change. In the 2020 Budget, oil revenue is projected at N2.64 trillion, non-oil tax revenue at N1.81 trillion and other revenues at N3.7 trillion.

“This revenue performance is only 58 percent of the 2019 Budget’s target due to the underperformance of both oil and non-oil revenue sources. Specifically, oil revenues were below target by 49 percent as at June 2019. “This reflects the lower-than-projected oil production, deductions for cost under-recovery on supply of premium motor spirit (PMS), as well as higher expenditures on pipeline security/maintenance and Frontier exploration,” the president stated in his budget speech.

The organisation observed that since total revenue earned by the FG as at June 2019, was N2.04 trillion, the  total revenue projection for 2020 should have reasonably be put at N4.08 trillion because there is nothing extra ordinary that the government can possibly do to geometrically multiply revenue to the tune of N8.15 trillion. Not even the VAT increments. Other analysts are equally concerned that fiscal revenues are likely to be impeded by declining oil prices. Revenue shortfalls have plagued the efficiency of Nigerian budgets as an efficient tool of economic management.

With increasing volatility in the oil markets, oil prices are projected to decline further. Three top oil traders Vitol, Trafigura and Grunvor are projecting a further decline in oil prices below the $57per barrel. Therefore, there is general opinion that Nigeria could fall short of the projected revenue of N8.16 trillion. This creates a quandary as the government seeks to stimulate the economy while hoping to maintain a low debt service payout ratio.

Dissecting planned Expenditure

The planned spending of the FG at N10.3 trillion for 2020 represents a 13.2 per cent increase from the previous year’s N9.1 tillion (without adjusting for inflation).

The team from Afrinvest, a Lagos-based research and investment consultancy firm sees the N10 trillion as too high when considering FG’s recent revenue woes (reliance on borrowing) which is likely to persist.

But in the broader context, and in line with Nevin’s argument of increased spending, the proposed expenditure is neither large enough nor supportive of the country’s growth aspirations at 6.7 per cent of GDP.

Nigeria’s gross expenditure to GDP which is estimated at 12.2 per cent compares poorly with peer economies such as South Africa (33.6 per cent), Egypt (29.9 per cent), Kenya (25.4 per cent) and Ghana (23.6 per cent).

Similarly, instead of capital and labour intensive projects, the non-debt recurrent expenditure according to experts is high at N3.6 trillion or 35.0 per cent of the budget, considering FG’s fiscal consolidation plans. The rise in fiscal spending in Nigeria should be channeled to productive investment projects instead of recurrent expenditure, if the government hopes to realise its aim of a 2.93 per cent GDP, says a team of Economic analysts from Financial Derivatives Company.

The budgetary allocation for capital expenditure (CAPEX) in the 2020 budget is 31.76 per cent lower than the N3.18 trillion CAPEX allocations in the previous budget.

Meanwhile recurrent expenditure recorded a 10.25 per cent boost to N4.84 trillion from N4.39 trillion. About 21 per cent of the budget (N2.14 trillion) was allocated to capital projects, while 46.85 per cent was allotted for recurrent expenditure.

Some experts attribute the increase in recurrent expenditure, partly to the non-discretionary minimum wage increase.

Another worrisome aspect of Nigeria’s financial management is the size of debt servicing cost at N2.45 trillion or 23.8 per cent of the budget. Stakeholders say this would continue to be a drag to human capital and infrastructure spending.

Also, the N2.5trillion capital allocation falls short of the 30.0 per cent target stipulated in the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP).

“We also expect debt service to revenues to be elevated at 53.3 per cent compared with the budgeted 29.9 per cent. In addition to borrowing to cover the shortfall in revenues, we expect increased financing of FG’s operations by the CBN,” the experts noted.

Corroborating the above observations, a development Economist Mr Odilim Enwegbara is not happy with the figures thrown up in the budget. According to him, the figures are not what Nigeria should have at this level of economic journey.

He asks, “How can you allow debt to accumulate to N30 trillion and you don’t have ways to reduce or settle it?”

Nigeria’s debt service to revenue ratio is about 80 per cent, and in some countries, when it is 30 per cent, they declare economic crisis. To those who argue that debt to GDP ratio is still low compared to other countries, he not only want them to compare Nigeria’s  revenue to GDP with such countries, but also to check whether such countries borrow to invest or borrow for consumption like Nigeria.

“Why should we be drowning and at the same time celebrating? I think there is something wrong with this country called Nigeria, “Enwegbara lamented.

 

Solution

To achieve the desired growth, the development economist suggested that government should carefully create an enabling environment for foreign direct investment. That way Enwegbara stated, Nigeria will become an investment destination for infrastructure to investors from all over the world.

He said this is the only way at this moment, to solve the infrastructure deficit which according to him, is so wide that it can’t be bridged by throwing N2 trillion into it every year.

Enwegbara gave example with road infrastructure. According to him, through Tax Credit, Public Private Partnership (PPP), or build-operate-and-transfer model for 30 years roads can be constructed. When every 100 kilometers on such roads are tolled, sufficient revenue will be generated.

Source: tribuneonlineng

How 9% Communication Tax on Calls, SMS, Data Puts More Pressure on Financial Inclusion

When the proposed communication tax bill becomes law, consumers of telecommunication services will need to pay an additional N9 for every N100 recharge card or an extra N90 for every N1,000 data plan.

Importantly, the push to include more than 40 million Nigerians that are financially excluded is likely to lose steam as many poor people will willfully deny themselves access because of the added cost of communication.

The communication tax bill, a brainchild of former senate leader, Ali Ndume, Chairman Senate Committee on Army, is being proposed as a substitute for the planned 7.5 percent increase in Value Added Tax (VAT) by the federal government of Nigeria. President Buhari during his 2020 budget presentation clarified that the VAT increase affects only businesses with N20 million turnover and not small businesses.

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and its partnering institutions which include commercial banks, fintech companies, and nonprofit organizations, are betting on the country’s very impressive mobile penetration number at about 173 million mobile lines to widen financial inclusion net. The CBN has a deadline of 2020 to reach 80 million people, but with the tax bill becoming law the apex bank could miss its target.

“Another ill-timed and poorly conceived tax just like the new Police Fund Levy,” said Taiwo Oyedele, partner and West Africa Tax Leader at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).” Hopefully, these events will be a wake-up call for Nigerians to start asking questions about tax during elections as is the case in other climes.”

The communication tax bill plans to impose and collect communication services tax (CST or levy) on charges payable by consumers of electronic communication services in Nigeria (excluding private electronic communication services) at the rate of 9 percent.

Electronic communication services that fall under the levy include voice calls, SMS, MMS, data usage (both from telecommunication services providers and internet service providers), pay per view TV stations, etc.

For instance, an SMS which previously cost N4 comes at an extra charge N4.90. A DSTV compact option previously sold at N6900 will then cost N7,521 with N621 being the extra 9 percent charge going to the government.

In 2018, Nigerians spent 114 billion minutes on calls valued at N2.7 trillion. The total value of text messages in the same year was at N39 billion while N68 billion went to data plan purchase according to data from the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC). Using the 2018 sector numbers, the federal government is likely to rake in N260 billion from the proposed communication tax.

The tax is to be paid together with the electronic communication service charge payable to the service provider by the user of the service. The FIRS is the agency responsible for collecting the tax from service providers and remitting it to the federation account.

It is also payable whether or not the person making the supply is permitted or authorised to provide electronic communications services.

Penalty for failure to file returns on or before the due date to FIRS is N50,000 and an additional N10,000 for each day the returns are not submitted.

“The 9 percent tax will reduce the number of subscribers. Add SARS, multiple taxes, lack of infrastructure, etc, and you kill one of the few sectors that offer an alternative path to oil,” said Gbenga Sesan, executive director of Paradigm Initiative. “Why not grow the sector to earn from corporate taxes, and income taxes that come with new jobs?”

When passed by a two-thirds majority of the National Assembly and assented to by the President, the communication tax will be adding to the already existing transaction charges that consumers have to pay. One of them is the N50 Stamp Duty imposed on every Point of Sale (POS) transaction above N1,000.

Currently, all electronic fund transfer cost N50 whereas USSD also comes with different charges. When initiating a transaction via USSD, every process is charged by the network provider. Depending on how many steps required to complete the transaction, users can pay as much as N50. Banks like Access Bank charge N84 for fund transfer to other banks and the user must have airtime to initiate a USSD transaction.

The bill titled ‘Communication Tax Bill 2019 (SB.12) has passed the first reading at Senate plenary last week on Wednesday. It is expected to go for a second reading.

However, the Association of Telecommunications Companies of Nigeria (ATCON) and the Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria (ALTON) have both condemned the bill.

“If the passage of this bill goes through, it would negatively impact Nigerians and foreigners that use these services,” Olusola Teniola, president of ATCON said in a statement. “The implementation of this CST bill would take the affordability of data services out of the reach of the citizenry.”

Source: Businessdayng

Buhari Presents N10.729.4trn To N’Assembly

PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari on Monday presided over the extraordinary meeting of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) to take a final look at the year 2020 budget estimates to be presented to the National Assembly Tuesday.

Details of the deliberations were not made known to journalists after hours of meeting as the members filed out of the Council Chamber venue of the meeting without speaking to State House correspondents who have been waiting.

There was not also any official communication from the Presidency but the Senate had last week increased the proposed nation’s budget for 2020 from N10.002 trillion to N10.729.4 trillion as contained in the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF).

This has paved the way for President Buhari to submit the fiscal document by 2 pm today.

Nigerian Tribune gathered that the decision not to address news conference was taken because the briefing would amount to giving away details of what President Buhari would be addressing the National Assembly on.

The Senate chamber of the Parliament had received official communication from President Buhari to present the 2020 Appropriation bill before a joint session of the National Assembly on Tuesday.

The request, which was dated October 2, 2019, and addressed to the President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, was read at plenary last Thursday.

Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, had last Tuesday explained that President Buhari will return to Abuja on Friday. The President returned in the evening.

However, the Presidency in another statement signed by Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina announced that the meeting has been shifted to hold at 12 noon Monday.

The last time an extra-ordinary FEC held was in January this year, where the President launched the new enhanced security international e-passport with 10-year validity.

In December last year, a special FEC session was convened on a Friday for the consideration and approval of this year’s budget proposal.

The budget presentation to the Parliament was meant to have taken place in the third week of September but for President Buhari’s participation in the 74th United Nations General Assembly.

The federal government plans to return to the January–December budget calendar.

As a fallout of signing of the 2017 budget into law by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, while acting as the president, the Executive and the Legislature had agreed to return the Federal Government to a January–December budget calendar, starting from the 2018 budget.

Nigeria currently runs a May-June budget cycle, a development caused by executive-legislature delays since the 8th National Assembly.

The delays have caused what many see as “distortions” in implementation and the inability to meet budget targets.

Source: tribuneonlineng

‘Govt Should Address Forex To Give Value To Imported Building Materials’

Building materials dealers under the auspices of Coker Building Materials and Allied Products Dealers Union, (CBM&APDU) at the end of their 40th anniversary lamented the adverse impact of rising foreign exchange on their profitability.

They also called on the Federal Government to monitor the quality of imported goods entering the country saying that the influx of substandard materials is badly affecting the cost of products in use in the country. They argued that the circulation of substandard products in the market has worsened in recent times hence the need for government to fish out the bad eggs in the sector. Speaking during the anniversary, a member of the association, Chief Michael Ugokwe, also urged the gov- ernment to intervene by blacklisting those illegally bringing materials into the country.

Ugokwe also advised the government to spend more on capital projects to help the middle class and the low income investors to patronise the building materials market considering it remains the highest spender in the economy.

In his speech, the President of CBM&APDU, Mazi Justin Okpani, who raised the issue on the sidelines of the Association’s 40th anniversary in Lagos said, although the building and plumbing materials market is a lucrative business, the greatest problem encountered by the operators is low turnover resulting from Nigeria’s poor economic situation.

He said, “Some of the substandard products brought into Nigeria are from Chinese companies and they have a way of beating government agencies. So when they now bring it at a relatively cheap cost, it would fall back on those who import standard and quality products. The competition is so severe but those who value quality still patronise us.

“There are policy and rules guiding importation of fake building products however, the greatest problem is implementation. If government can step up its enforcement, it would be able to curtail inflow of substandard building materials into the country.”

He called on the government to cut the cost of clearing goods, which it observed was too high compared to what it used to be in the past while measures should be put in place to reduce the cost and the time of clearing goods at the ports. “It takes an average of a month to bring goods from the Wharf and that shouldn’t be the case. A week should be enough to bring in goods. The road to the Apapa Wharf is not really friendly and our containers are falling every time due to bad road. The government needs to reduce the tariff and give incentives to those that are bringing good into the country, especially when it has to do with agriculture, water pumps and fire-fighting equipment. The import duties on such sensitive items should be reduced.”

Okpani said operators must be made to register their goods and products with the Standard Organisation of Nigeria and NAFDAC to guard against infiltration of adulterated products into the market. “Though, you can’t beat them because what they do is that the bad goods are often off loaded outside of the market be- cause the Association’s task force department doesn’t tolerate such.”

SOURCE: SUNNEWSONLINE

Fashola Housing

Laws Against Building Collapse Not Implemented — Fashola

The Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, on Thursday said Nigeria had adequate laws to check the menace of building collapse as well as to prosecute offenders, but noted that many of such laws were not implemented.

Fashola, who said this in his office while playing host to a delegation from the National Building Advisory Committee, led by its Chairman, Mohammed Faworaja, also stated that any individual found culpable in a building collapse incident must be made to face the law.

The minister said, “Anytime it (building collapse) happens like that, somebody must have acted wrongly at the design, materials or any other stage. Let him be thoroughly investigated and prosecuted. At least, such action will make people sit up and do the right thing.”

He noted that the absence of a building code was not a major cause of building collapse.

SOURCE:PUNCH

Portland Paints Announces Close Period Ahead of Q3 2019 Results

The Board of Directors of Portland Paints and Products Nigeria Plc has announced that it will meet to consider the closed period of trading with effect from September 30, 2019, in respect of the company’s third-quarter financial statements.  

This was disclosed in a notification which was sent to the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE).   

Why this matters: The close period will allow the board to consider the company’s unaudited financial statements for the third quarter. Other company issues will also be discussed during the meetings.  

What is a closed period?  

A close period is a period before the release of a company’s result or financial statement when of course, those with sensitive information are not allowed to trade on the stock. These individuals may include company directors, audit committee members, persons discharging managerial responsibility, employees and consultants with sensitive information. 

In June 2019, Portland Paints & Products Nigeria Plc appointed Mrs Bolarin Okunowo as a Non-Executive DirectorBolarin’s appointment followed Mrs Esosa Vanessa Balogun appointment as a Non-Executive Director in April 2019. 

Overview of Portland Paints and Products Nigeria Plc: Portland Paints and Products Nigeria Plc manufactures and sells paints. It operates through three segments: Portland Decorative Paints, Portland Marine, and Portland Bathroom. 

The company offers decorative paints, including the Sandtex paints, Sandtex Biocote, an anti-microbial paint primarily for hospitals, clinics, primary health centres, laboratories, hotels, restaurants, colleges, universities and polytechnics, crèche and daycare centres, and kitchen, and Crown Trade professional coatings. 

It also provides Hempel marine/protective coatings for the oil and gas, power generation, infrastructure, and light industries; markets and distributes sanitary ware products primarily for homes, hotel, schools, factories, etc. The company also manufactures and markets instant road repair materials. The company was incorporated in 1985 and is headquartered in Lagos, Nigeria.

Source: Nairametrics

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