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Bank of Japan Keeps Monetary Stimulus Target Unchanged

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Harushiko Kuroda

The Bank of Japan kept its main monetary stimulus target unchanged Friday while outlining operational changes for its purchases of government bonds, exchange-traded funds and real estate investment trusts.

Friday’s decision to continue expanding the monetary base at an annual pace of 80 trillion yen ($650 billion) was forecast by all but one of 42 economists surveyed by Bloomberg. With analysts almost evenly split on whether the central bank will add to its asset-purchase program next year or stand pat, attention turns to Governor Haruhiko Kuroda’s briefing later this afternoon in Tokyo.

The aim of the changes for JGB maturities, ETF purchases and Japanese real estate investment trusts will be in focus, along with his views on the Federal Reserve’s interest-rate hike, the oil market rout and recent economic indicators. Kuroda said earlier this month that price trends were improving, while repeating he wouldn’t hesitate to adjust monetary policy if needed.

“The BOJ extended the duration of JGBs to show they are not going to taper their stimulus for now,” said Junko Nishioka, chief economist for Japan at Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp. in Tokyo. “Now that they adjusted their policy in December, they will wait and see how things will develop.” Nishioka added that she no longer forecasts further easing in January.

The Topic index of stocks jumped as much as 2 percent after the BOJ’s announcement, before falling to trade down 0.6 percent at 1:27 p.m. in Tokyo. The yen fell to 123.56 against the dollar, before recovering to trade 0.4 percent stronger.

Bond Buying Changes

The bank extended the average maturities of Japanese government bonds it buys to seven to 12 years from seven to 10 years currently. This change was opposed by three board members, Takahide Kiuchi, Koji Ishida and Takehiro Sato.

In addition to the annual purchase of 3 trillion yen worth of exchange-traded funds, the bank established a new program to buy 300 billion yen in ETFs. The new program will target companies investing “proactively in physical and human capital” and start from April 2016 with ETFs tracking the JPX-Nikkei Index 400.

These changes passed by a 6-3 vote, opposed by Sato, Ishida and Kiuchi, the only board member to also vote against the main monetary base target.

The bank will increase the maximum amount of real-estate investment trusts it can buy to 10 percent of each issue, from five percent currently.

Data since the last policy meeting in November show that Japan avoided a midyear recession, and people familiar with discussions at the central bank told Bloomberg the economy has been gradually gathering momentum in line with the BOJ’s expectations.

Oil Price Drop

Still, the renewed slide in crude oil and the risk that it could suppress prices in the long term means that BOJ officials are closely watching gauges of inflation expectations, the people said.

The Dubai measure for crude oil is trading around $32 per barrel, compared with the low end of BOJ assumptions for its latest price forecasts of $50 per barrel.

Economy Minister Akira Amari has indicated there is no need for the BOJ to rush to achieve its 2 percent inflation target given the current impact of energy costs, even with the BOJ’s preferred price gauge falling since August.

Fed Policy

The Federal Reserve’s first increase in interest rates since 2006 this week underscores the difference in policy between the two central banks, and the renewed pressure this may bring to bear on the yen to weaken against the dollar.

The Japanese currency has lost about 30 percent of its value against the dollar since Prime Minister Shinzo Abe took office in 2012 with a plan to reflate the economy.

Even so, exports haven’t responded. While the value of shipments overseas has jumped 20 percent since November 2012 to last month, volumes are only 1.1 percent higher.

Both Abe and Kuroda have urged companies to invest more, but there has been little sign of them using their cash reserves, which reached another record last quarter.

Is the CEO/Founder of Investors King Limited. A proven foreign exchange research analyst and a published author on Yahoo Finance, Nasdaq, Entrepreneur.com, Investorplace, and many more. He has over two decades of experience in global financial markets.

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Finance Minister Accused Budget Office of Padding

The budget office added N206 billion to the budget of Ministry of Defence, Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and the Nigerian and the National University of Commission (NUC)

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Zainab Ahmed Finance Minister

The Budget Office of the Federation (BOF) has been alleged of being behind the recent budget padding totalling about N206 billion.

The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed disclosed in a statement issued by the ministry.

Investors King had earlier reported that some ministries and government agencies including the Ministry of Defence, Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and the Nigerian and the National University of Commission (NUC) had raised alarm about padding in their respective budget proposal. 

Reacting to the development, the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management wrote a letter to the Ministry of Finance, seeking clarification. 

Therefore, when appeared before the House Committee on Appropriations, the Minister of Finance noted that the error emanated from the Budget Office of the Federation. 

According to the statement released by the Ministry of Finance, the Minister told the legislators that “there was an error in the budget of the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs as the N206 billion captured in the budget proposal of the ministry was wrongly coded by the Budget Office”.

She added that “the N206 billion alleged insertion, which had generated serious reaction within the week, was for the national social safety nets project funded by the World Bank and domiciled in the Humanitarian Ministry,” the statement read.

Zainab further clarified that the figure in question was not a deliberate act of budget passing but an oversight. 

“The wrong coding resulted in the item being wrongly captured as ‘purchase of security equipment but that it had nothing to do with Budget padding, but an oversight,” she said. 

Meanwhile, the House of Committee has berated the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs for her failure to appear before various committees of the House to defend the ministry’s 2023 budget proposal.

The committee thereafter advised her to resign if she was not capable to do her job. 

“Most times the committee calls the minister, she refuses to come. If she is not ready for the job, she should quit,” the committee chairman stated. 

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No Plan to Print N5000 Note; Says CBN

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has denied plans to print N5,000 denominations

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Godwin Emefiele

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has denied plans to print N5,000 denominations, the clarification was made by the Director of Currency Operations, Ahmed Umar during an event in Port Harcourt, Rivers State. 

Umar, who was represented by Amina Halidu-Giwa, Head of Policy Development at CBN Currency Operations Department was quoted to have said “We are not introducing any new note. Some people have seen one N5000 note that we don’t know about”. 

Investors King learnt that various mock-up designs of N5000 notes have surfaced on the internet amid the anticipation of the CBN naira redesign policy. 

It could be recalled that the apex bank had introduced newly redesigned notes which the bank claimed will help to address currency circulation, counterfeiting, and terrorism. The affected denominations include N200, N500, and N1000 notes. 

Speaking on the development, Umaru noted that the central bank will be printing a significantly limited amount of the redesigned currency to promote cashless policy. 

“What we are printing is going to be very limited because we want other means of settling transactions to be used,” he noted. 

It is understood that the apex bank has often encouraged Nigerians to embrace cashless policy as a way of promoting financial inclusion and to prevent currency mutilation. 

In this direction, the CBN also launched the e-Naira, a form of digital naira which has the value as the naira notes. 

Meanwhile, Cable news has also reported that the viral video of the N5000 denomination is fake. 

Cable news stated that the video has been on Facebook and Youtube since 2020. 

While acknowledging the video in 2020, the CBN also released a statement to dispel the unfounded rumor. 

A statement which was released by the apex bank in May 2020 partly read, “Videos and pictures of purported circulation of N2,000:00 and N5,000:00 banknotes are false and fake”.

“Members of the public are advised to disregard such falsehood and to report anyone found in possession of such banknotes to the law enforcement agencies”. 

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Private Jet Owners Refused to Pay N30bn Tax; Drags FG to Court

These jet owners, including business moguls and leading commercial banks, have dragged the federal government to court to seek judicial review to ascertain if they are liable by law to pay the import duty imposed on them. 

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ValueJet

A number of wealthy Nigerians who own private jets have refused to pay more than N30 billion in import duty tax, the Nigeria Customs Service.

The owners, including business moguls and leading commercial banks, have dragged the federal government to court to seek judicial review to ascertain if they are liable by law to pay the import duty imposed on them. 

Investors King could recall that the Federal Government had approved the decision of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) to ground 91 private jets belonging to some wealthy Nigerians over their alleged refusal to pay import duties running to over N30 billion.

The Nigeria Customs Service claimed that the owners are liable to import duties since the private jets are foreign-registered. 

Subsequently, acting upon the presidential approval, the Customs Service directed the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), and the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), to ground the affected private jets with immediate effect.

Meanwhile, owners of the private jets have filed a court case to stop the import duty imposed on them by NCS. 

The owners who have approached the Federal High Court in Abuja are seeking the court to determine, among other things, if they were liable to pay import duty.

Investors King learnt that the owners filed their cases using their trustee companies to hide their identities. 

Some of these trustee companies most of which are foreign firms include, Aircraft Trust and Financing Corp Trustee, UAML Corp, Bank of Utah Trustee, Masterjet AVIACAO Executive SA, Empire Aviation Group, and Osa Aviation Limited and Cloud Services Limited.

According to the court document, at least 17 applicants have filed cases against the import duty. 

On the respondent list, include the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) and the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA). 

While speaking on the development, the President, Association of Private Aircraft Owners, Mr. Alex Nwuba noted that the government needs to show a higher degree of transparency in the process of registering private jets.

He concluded that while the government is aiming to generate revenue from all means possible, the import duty imposed on the private jet owners might be too much.

“If you buy a private jet for $80m, you may need to pay a duty of over $10m; that may be high to some people,” he said. 

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