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$2.3bn NNPC funds: CBN Bars 9 Banks From Forex Market

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NNPC

The Central Bank of Nigeria on Tuesday wielded the big stick as it barred nine Deposit Money Banks from the nation’s foreign exchange market for failing to remit the sum of $2.334bn belonging to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation to the Treasury Single Account.

President Muhammad Buhari had last September ordered all the DMBs in the country to remit all Federal Government funds to the TSA.

The banks are: First Bank of Nigeria Limited ($469m); Diamond Bank Plc ($287m); Sterling Bank Plc ($269m); Skye Bank Plc ($221m); Fidelity Bank ($209m); United Bank for Africa ($530m); Keystone Bank ($139); First City Monument Bank (FCMB) $125m; and Heritage Bank ($85m).

Officials of the CBN officials told our correspondent that the sanction would remain until the DMBs could remit the funds to the CBN.

The officials further said the further disciplinary actions awaited the errant banks after remitting the funds in full to the Federal Government’s coffers.

As of time of filing this report, it was learnt that some bank executives were meeting with the CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, over the development.

However, the Head, Corporate Communications, UBA, Mr. Charles Aigbe, said the bank was not among the banks sanctioned by the CBN.

In a statement issued on Tuesday, Aigbe said, “Our attention has been drawn to report of the ban of UBA from the foreign exchange market by the CBN over the non-remittance of the NNPC/NLNG dollar deposits.

“We wish to state very categorically that UBA has completely remitted all the NNPC/NLNG dollar deposits. We thank all our numerous customers, business partners and other. stakeholders who have reached out to us on account of this report.”

The spokespersons for First Bank, Mr. Babatunde Lasaki, said the lender would issue a statement on the development.

But as of the time of filing this report, he had yet to do so.

Spokesperson for FCMC, Mr. Diran Olojo, in a terse response, said, “We are working with the CBN on an amicable resolution. This is really a function of the dire macroeconomic situation and illiquidity in the FX markets, rather than concealment or wilful non-compliance by banks.”

Spokesperson for Diamond Bank, Mr. Mike Omeife, did not respond to telephone calls and text messages seeking their reaction on the development.

The Skye Bank spokesperson, Mr. Ndumechi Ezurike, could not be reached for comments.

Spokespersons for Fidelity Bank, Sterling Bank and Heritage Bank could not comment immediately.

However, sources in the banks said their managements were working with the CBN to resolve the matter.

It was learnt that Fidelity Bank had been following a payment plan agreed with the CBN on the funds.

Following the President’s directive on the TSA last September, majority of the banks had complied by remitting all the Federal Government funds including that of the NNPC to the TSA.

However, the CBN reportedly fined First Bank, UBA and Skye Bank for failing some billions of naira to the Federal Government coffers in line with the TSA directive.

Further investigations by our correspondent revealed that following the presidential directive on the TSA, most of the DMBs remitted all naira-denominated funds in their possession including that of the NLNG/NNPC to the CBN.

However, the dollar components of the NLNG/NNPC funds in the banking system, estimated at about $5bn, could not be remitted immediately due to scarcity of forex in the country.

However, the banks reached an agreement with the CBN to start remitting the funds on monthly basis.

The monthly payment plan submitted by the banks to the CBN, it was learnt, was being followed by the some banks while other defaulted.

Following the compliance of some of the banks to the payment plan, the dollar component of the NLNG/NNPC funds was reduced to $2.3bn.

The failure of some banks to comply with the payment plans and the dire need for the CBN to shore up the nation’s fast-depleting external reserves, it was learnt, forced the regulator to adopt a measure.

This, findings revealed, forced the CBN to bar the banks from the forex market.

A top bank executive close to the development, who spoke under the condition of anonymity, said, “We need to admit we have a national problem. The NLNG deposit in the banking system was about $5bn. The banks have been paying and what is remaining now is just about $2bn. The banks have submitted a payment plan and they are following it. The banks have the naira equivalent of the outstanding amount. The challenge is that they cannot get dollar to buy to settle the money.”

Some top bankers said the approach the CBN was adopting was capable of compounding the problem.

“This could affect the banks image and their ability to get foreign investors; we need to admit we have a national problem and seek for ways to resolve it,” one of the bankers said.

The NLNG was paying dividends from the investment of the government in the company (NLNG) to the NNPC.

The dividends had accumulated to about $5bn; the

NNPC was investing this dividend payment in a dedicated account as fixed deposits with commercial banks.

It was learnt that when the Federal Government raised the issue that the dividends should have been paid into the Federation Account, the CBN governor invited the CEOs of all the banks that had the funds to Abuja for a reconciliation of the amount in each bank with the records of the CBN/NNPC, and agreed to a repayment time table of the funds with the banks

As of the time the TSA Implementation commenced in September 2015 some of the banks had paid back over 50 per cent of the funds based on the repayment timetable

This repayment by the banks was the bailout of $2.1bn (N414bn) that was shared by the FGN and state governments in July/August 2015.

When the TSA commenced, the banks reported these funds as part of government deposits they had but it was not remitted like other TSA funds because of the remittance timetable that had been agreed with the CBN.

The NNPC invited banks earlier this year to submit a revised repayment plan for the balance of the funds offers.

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

Crude Oil

Crude Oil Pulled Back Despite Joe Biden Stimulus

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Crude Oil Pulled Back Despite Joe Biden Stimulus

Crude oil pulled back on Friday despite the $1.9 trillion stimulus package announced by U.S President-elect, Joe Biden.

Brent crude oil, against which Nigeria’s oil is priced, pulled back from $57.38 per barrel on Wednesday to $55.52 per barrel on Friday in spite of the huge stimulus package announced on Thursday.

On Thursday, OPEC, in its latest outlook for the year, said uncertainties remain high in 2021 with the number of COVID-19 new cases on the rise.

OPEC said, “Uncertainties remain high going forward with the main downside risks being issues related to COVID-19 containment measures and the impact of the pandemic on consumer behavior.”

“These will also include how many countries are adapting lockdown measures, and for how long. At the same time, quicker vaccination plans and a recovery in consumer confidence provide some upside optimism.”

Governments across Europe have announced tighter and longer coronavirus lockdowns, with vaccinations not expected to have a significant impact for the next few months.

The complex remains in pause mode, a development that should not be surprising given the magnitude of the oil price gains that have been developing for some 2-1/2 months,” Jim Ritterbusch, president of Ritterbusch and Associates, said.

Still, OPEC left its crude oil projections unchanged for the year. The oil cartel expected global oil demand to increase by 5.9 million barrels per day year on year to an average of 95.9 million per day in 2020.

But also OPEC expects a recent rally and stimulus to boost U.S. Shale crude oil production in the year, a projection Investors King experts expect to hurt OPEC strategy in 2021.

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Crude Oil

OPEC Says Uncertainties Remain High in 2021

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Nigeria's economic Productivity

OPEC Says Uncertainties Remain High in 2021

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) on Thursday said global uncertainties remained high going forward in 2021 but kept its oil demand forecast unchanged.

In the cartel’s latest oil outlook for 2021, oil demand is expected to increase by 5.9 million barrels per day year on year to 95.9 million barrels per day. The prediction was unchanged from December’s assessment.

However, OPEC and allies, said: “Uncertainties remain high going forward with the main downside risks being issues related to COVID-19 containment measures and the impact of the pandemic on consumer behavior.”

“These will also include how many countries are adapting lockdown measures, and for how long. At the same time, quicker vaccination plans and a recovery in consumer confidence provide some upside optimism.

Crude oil rose to $57 per barrel this week after incoming US President Joe Biden announced it would inject $1.9 trillion stimulus into the world’s largest economy.

But the recent rally in the commodity and stimulus announcement is expected to boost US crude oil output and disrupt OPEC+ production cuts strategy for the year.

The 2021 supply outlook is now slightly more optimistic for U.S. shale with oil prices increasing, and output is expected to recover more in the second half of 2021,” OPEC said.

Still, OPEC, in its forecast “assumes a healthy recovery in economic activities including industrial production, an improving labour market and higher vehicle sales than in 2020.”

“Accordingly, oil demand is anticipated to rise steadily this year supported primarily by transportation and industrial fuels,” the group said.

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Crude Oil

Brent Crude Oil Rose to $56.25 Per Barrel

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oil

Brent Crude Oil Rose to $56.25 Per Barrel

Oil price surged following the declaration of Joe Biden as the President-elect of the United States of America last week after Trump’s mob invaded Capitol to disrupt a joint Senate session.

Also, the large drop in US crude inventories helped support crude oil price to over 11 months despite the second wave of COVID-19 crushing the world from Asia to Europe to America.

Brent crude oil, against which Nigerian Crude oil is priced, rose to $56.25 per barrel on Friday before pulling back to $55.422 per barrel on Monday during the London trading session.

Experts attributed the pullback to the rising number of COVID-19 cases in Asia with about 11 million people already locked down in Hebei province in China.

Covid hot spots flaring again in Asia, with 11 million people (in) lockdowns in China Hebei province… along with a touch of FED policy uncertainty has triggered some profit taking out of the gates this morning,” Stephen Innes, chief global market strategist at Axi, said in a note on Monday.

China, the world’s largest importer of crude oil, has joined the United Kingdom and others declaring full or partial lockdown to curb the second wave of COVID-19.

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