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Nigeria’s External Reserves Fall by 15% to $29.342bn in 2015

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Nigeria’s external reserves has so far depreciated by 15 per cent this year at its current value of $29.342 billion, compared with the $34.493 billion it was at the beginning of the year (January 5, 2015).

This, represents a decline by $5.151 billion so far this year. But industry sources told THISDAY that the actual value of the nation’s could be lower than the present value seen on the central bank’s website considering international obligations and bilateral agreements that had been entered by the country whose payments are from the reserves.

The drop in the forex reserves value has been largely attributed to the significant reduction in forex inflow into the country occasioned by the sustained low crude oil prices. Oil prices have been hovering around $37 per barrel in the past few weeks.

The development made the central bank to introduce several measures aimed at preserve the reserves and ensuring exchange rate stability.

For instance, the central bank during the year harmonised the foreign exchange market by closing the official window of the foreign exchange market in order to create transparency and minimise arbitrage opportunities in the foreign exchange market. This was then seen by a lot of commentators as a tacit devaluation of the nation’s currency. All demand for forex was then directed to the interbank market.

Furthermore, to deepen the market and enhance the efficacy of the demand management measures, the central bank gave specific directives on the effective monitoring and repatriation of both oil and non-oil export proceeds. In addition, the utilisation of export proceeds was restricted to eligible transactions only to minimise leakages. Also this year, the CBN officially stopped the sale of dollars for a list of 41 items as it also sought to reduce pressure on the naira as well as preserve the external reserves. However, it stressed that importers desirous of importing them could do so using their own funds without any recourse to the Nigerian forex market.

In response to these, commercial banks in the country recently banned the use of ATM cards abroad. The ban, which has the backing of the CBN, also stemmed from dwindling foreign reserves and banks’ inability to settle dollar transactions arising from the use of naira cards abroad.

A banking industry analyst, who pleaded to remain anonymous, said the situation in the country is not about the central bank, stressing the need for sacrifice on the part of Nigerians in order to rebuild the reserves and restructure the economy.

“It is easy for people to blame the CBN, but the truth is that this has gone beyond the central bank. I am not sure if any other person is there as the CBN governor, the person would have done better or different. Today, we need to move away from rent-seeking because it is hurting our economy. We need to begging to move from doing economics, to being patriotic because that I stge only way we can save this economy,” the industry expert advised.

But the CBN’s Director, Monetary Policy, Mr. Moses Tule, said the restrictions on the use of electronic payment cards abroad would likely to be lifted when reserves increase to between $50 billion and $200 billion, adding that all hands must be on deck to achieve the target. He said the new policy was a healthy development for the ailing economy in spite of the attendant inconvenience to cardholders.

According to Tule, foreign exchange under the condition Nigeria has found itself has become a seasonal commodity. “Seasonal in the sense that it depends on the movement of the price of oil; if oil prices are high then we build reserves, if oil prices are low then we have no reserves then we are in a crisis. But that should not be the case for an economy as big as Nigeria because we should by now have sufficiently diversified the economy to a point where developments in the oil market should no longer matter. Unfortunately, that has not been the case and that is why sometimes these kind of decisions have to be made.

“Our priorities as a nation for the allocation or use of foreign exchange is one, for the settlement of matured letters of credit that have been opened for importation; two, for the importation of petroleum products until such a time either when we have our refineries fully operational and we are not in a position to import fuel again to ensure that the wheels of economic development continue turning and running; and three, for the importation of raw materials,” he explained.

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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Economy

eTax: Lagos Internal Revenue Optimises Payment for Taxpayers

The Lagos State Internal Revenue Service (LIRS) is currently optimizing its payment procedures for utmost efficiency and taxpayers’ convenience.

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Company Income Tax (CIT) - Investors King

The Lagos State Internal Revenue Service (LIRS) is currently optimizing its payment procedures for utmost efficiency and taxpayers’ convenience.

The Executive Chairman of the Lagos State Internal Revenue Service, Mr Ayodele Subair, in a statement issued on Sunday, said the Agency, as part of its digitalization process, is discontinuing all previously used bill references effective from August 1st, 2022.

Consequently, according to the Chairman, only the Enterprise Tax Solutions (eTax), generated bill references will be acceptable for tax payments.

The eTax platform, (https://etax.lirs.net) which went live in October 2019, was launched by LIRS to engender seamless tax operations and reduce compliance costs to taxpayers. Since its launch, eTax has improved the effectiveness of tax administration in Lagos State.

Mr Subair added that the eTax was built as a one-stop shop for all tax transactions, and it is in the same spirit that the generation of bill references, required for all tax payments is now exclusive to the eTax platform.

He reiterated that by the cutoff date of August 1st, 2022, eTax would become the only authorized channel to generate bill reference for tax payments and other tax-related transactions in Lagos State.

To generate a bill reference on e-Tax, taxpayers can use the 5 easy steps below:

1. Visit https://etax.lirs.net

2. Input your Payer ID and password to log in

3. Select revenue type, and upload schedule (For PAYE & Withholding Taxes)

4. Generate a bill reference

5. Make a payment on any of the multiple channels available, using the generated bill reference.

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Economy

Gas Flaring: Nigeria Flares Gas Worth $13.3 Billion in 10 Years

Despite efforts to commercialise Nigeria’s gas and plans to start supplying gas to Europe via Morocco, an estimated $13.3 billion or N4 trillion worth of gas was flared in the last 10 years,

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Despite efforts to commercialise Nigeria’s gas and plans to start supplying gas to Europe via Morocco, an estimated $13.3 billion or N4 trillion worth of gas was flared in the last 10 years, the Nigerian gas flare tracker of the National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA) report showed.

Between 2012 and 2021, Nigeria flared 3.8 billion standard cubic feet (scf) both onshore and offshore according to the report.

NOSDRA estimated that Nigeria flared gas valued at $13.3 billion in the last decade. This amount when converted to Naira, using exchange rates in the last 10 years, puts the cumulative value at N4 trillion.

In the last 10 years, Nigeria cut gas flaring by 31 percent, far below the nation’s estimated target. This was largely due to the inability of President Buhari’s administration to kickstart the gas flare commercialisation programme approved by the government in 2016.

Collins Obi, an energy specialist, explained that with Western nations imposing sanctions on Russian gas consumption following the Moscow invasion of Russia, gas security is now a priority in Europe.

“Thus, Nigeria needs to position itself for the economic growth opportunity this presents,” he said.

A corporate intelligence lead at GAS360, Oreoluwa Owolabi said the amount of gas flaring going on in Nigeria highlighted its riches in gas and other energy resources but poor energy management and supply techniques.

“We need to invest in infrastructure to distribute the gas to where it would be commercially viable. This could be for export or pipelines across the country for electricity generation,” he said. “It requires a government-led effort, and the government has already taken some steps towards stopping flaring by 2030.”

He, however, added that because international communities have started accepting gas as a necessary fuel.

“This can be used to accelerate Africa’s net-zero transition and there would be more funds available for gas projects, which can partially finance our infrastructure development,” Owolabi added.

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Economy

$2 Billion Lekki Deep Sea Port Berths First Cargo

The Nigeria Port Authority (NPA) on Friday announced that the $2 billion Lekki Deep Sea Port in Lagos has docked its first ship.

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Deep Sea port - Investors King

The Nigeria Port Authority (NPA) on Friday announced that the $2 billion Lekki Deep Sea Port in Lagos has docked its first ship.

Mohammed Bello-Koko, the Managing Director of NPA, who received the marine vessel “Zhen Hua 28”, explained that the Lekki Deep Sea Port would help decongest Apapa Ports and reduce ship waiting time by about 60%.

Estimated at $2 billion, Lekki Deep Seaport was constructed by China Habour Engineering firm to ease shipment pressure and improve the efficiency of Nigeria’s maritime economy.

According to Koko, the port has the capacity to evacuate and handle more cargoes because of a series of automation integrated into it during construction.

“The successful delivery today (yesterday) at the Lekki Deep Seaport of three Super Post Panamax state-of-the art Ship to Shore (STS) Cranes and 10 Rubber Tyred Gantries (RTG) is a testament to the unflinching commitment of NPA to providing the support necessary for placing Nigeria on the global list of countries with Deep Seaports.

Koko said: “The successful delivery of these very important equipment which are critical for the Lekki Deep Seaport to commence operations before the end of the year 2022 is a demonstration of our readiness to take trade facilitation a notch higher. This has been made possible by the tremendous backing of His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari and the Federal Ministry of Transportation who have over the time played a key role from the initial construction stage and also granted fast tracked approval for this historic exercise.

“For us at the NPA, the coming on stream of Lekki symbolises a lot of positives. Apart from being Nigeria’s first Deep Seaport, Lekki Port will also be the first fully automated port at take-off. This provides an insight into the path we are already toeing as a management team to govern the operationalisation of not just the forthcoming Badagry, Ibom and Bonny Deep Seaports, but also of the reconstruction of the aged Tin-Can Port, where work is set to commence once we secure the necessary approvals from the Federal Ministry of Transportation and FEC, respectively.”

He stated that “automation remains the most veritable tool for assuring port efficiency, and as most of us are aware, the NPA is working assiduously under the technical guidance of the International Maritime Organization to deploy the Port Community System (PCS), which will enable us respond squarely to the dictates of global trade facilitation and optimise the opportunities of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement to which Nigeria is signatory.”

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