Hit by the current economic recession in the country, most money deposit banks and insurance firms have slashed their workers’ salaries by between 20 and 50 per cent.
Investigations revealed that Diamond Bank Plc, Heritage Bank Plc, Zenith Bank Plc, First Bank Plc and Wema Bank Plc have reduced their workers’ salaries as of August 31, 2016. This has also been confirmed by management sources and workers in the affected banks.
While Diamond Bank was said to have slashed salaries by 30 per cent, Heritage by 30 per cent, First Bank and Wema Bank workers’ salaries were slashed by 20 per cent each.
It was learnt that the banks tied the decision to cut salaries to workers’ ability to meet deposit targets, which have become unrealistically high in recent time. Hence, workers who failed to meet their targets had their salaries slashed.
Investigations also revealed that some insurance companies have extended the targets of premium generation to their employees.
Before, the marketing departments of the underwriting firms and insurance agents were responsible for generating premium for the companies.
Due to the economic crisis in the country, many insurance firms increased the targets for their marketing departments’ workers with threats of not paying them salaries if they failed to meet it (targets). As such, insurance workers who failed to meet their premium targets, according to industry sources, also had their salaries slashed.
An insurance employee, who spoke to one of our correspondents, said, “Before, it was only the marketers that they used to give targets to. Now, some of us also have targets ranging between N40, 000 and N100, 000 monthly and our promotion and salaries are tied to our performance.”
A Zenith Bank worker, who simply identified herself as Nkem, confirmed the slash in salaries.
Nkem said she resumed work after her annual vacation only to discover that she didn’t get the same salary that she had always received.
Similarly, another Zenith Bank employee, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told one of our correspondents that there was eight per cent cut in their salaries, beginning from August.
The source said the reason given by the bank was that the workers had not been paying the correct tax, hence, the bank had to start the deduction to regularise the tax payable.
On the fear that some workers could be sacked, the source said such fear had always been there, but the current one was beyond description.
He said, “The problem now is that there has not been any promotion since last year, which seems strange.”
An employee of First Bank, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said he had been sleeping and waking up in worry in the past two weeks due to fear of being sacked.
The banker, who just got married in Lagos, said workers had received an email from the bank’s Managing Director about a “new development soon.”
He said, “We have been receiving hints of more lay-offs due to the economic recession in the country, which has deeply affected the banking sector. Some employees lost their jobs two months ago. We also learned that another set of people will be laid off between September and October.”
Ecobank has yet to slash its workers’ salaries, but there is apprehension among the bank’s employees that their pay might be slashed any moment from now.
One of the bank’s senior members of staff, who preferred to be addressed as Handsome Guy, said it had become a tradition among Nigeria’s banks to be imitating one another’s policies, especially those affecting workers’ welfare.
A worker with First Bank Plc, who simply identified himself as Jimson, confirmed to one of our correspondents on Thursday that most bank workers now go to work with the fear that they could be sacked anytime.
“There is perpetual fear in all banks. Every category of workers in the banks is affected by the economic crisis,” he said.
He, however, noted that some bank workers had been resigning and travelling abroad, especially the United States and Canada, to avoid being sacked.
Jimson said, “One of my colleagues just resigned last month because of the fear of losing his job and travelled to the U.S to seek greener pastures. But those who are not interested in leaving Nigeria have devised many means to survive the harsh economy should their letters of sacking come anytime. They are setting up small scale businesses.
“The most common ones are laundry services and restaurants which require capital outlay of N500, 000.
“The academically-sound ones among them have been moving to private universities to take appointments there. The problem is on the high side now. There is perpetual fear among bank workers that they can be fired at anytime.”
The National Union of Banks, Insurance and Financial Institutions’ Employees confirmed the development in the banks.
NUBIFIE Secretary General, Mohammad Sheick, said the issue had become a serious concern to the union.
Sheick said, “There is apprehension in the banking sector. Recently, there was mass sacking by banks and the Federal Government directed that those who were sacked during that period should be recalled.
“We have had about two meetings with the Federal Ministry of Labour on the issue and we are hopefully looking at the possibility of the ministry calling us to another meeting so that we can have an understanding on how to respond to the emerging issues like economic recession and other factors that are affecting the operations of banks.
“Even before the economic recession, the banks have always responded to any policy of the government negatively. The first thing that came to the mind of the banks’ management, which the union has always disagreed with, is to lay off workers.
“They (banks) have to think outside the box and objectively. If they want to cut cost or reduce certain expenditure because of certain government’s policy, then the reality is that they should know where they should direct their attention.
“I can volunteer to say that the thing that eats deep into banks profit and loss is nothing other than the kind of lifestyle of the management staff of the banks. For example, the monthly salary of one executive director is more than the salaries of 100 workers. This is apart from other privileges and perks attached to him as an executive director.”
The Head, Corporate Communications, First Bank, Mr. Babatunde Lasaki, denied that the lender cut its employees’ salaries.
In a response to an emailed question, he said, “This is totally incorrect and unfounded. First Bank staff salaries, allowances and bonuses are being fully paid as and when due.”
The spokesperson of Zenith Bank, Mr. Akin Olaniyan, could not be reached on the telephone. Text message and email questions sent to him were not responded to.
The spokesperson, Diamond Bank, Mike Omeife, denied that the bank had cut the salaries of some of its workers.
The Director-General, Nigerian Insurers Association, Mr. Sunday Thomas, said everybody is a marketer in the insurance firms because they need the premium to operate all the departments.
“It will not be out of order for the companies to give employees targets except the target is unrealistic,” he said.
However, economists said the high deposit targets and the attendant fear by bank and insurance workers could be a strategy by the two industries to survive the current economic reality in the country.
A renowned Economist and Managing Director, Cocosheen Nigeria Limited, Ikeja, Lagos State, Mr. Henry Boyo, agreed that such a measure could be a strategy by banks to remain in business.
He said, “Every sector in the country is affected by the economic crisis, not only the banks. For instance, if a company asks you to pick between being sacked and your salary being reduced, I think most people would prefer the latter option. This could be what is happening.”
Another Lagos-based economist, Dr. Babatunde Abrahams, predicts the mass sacking of workers in banks and insurance firms going by the latest development.
He said, “If anyone has been watching economic trends for a while in the country, you will discover that the sacking of workers is inevitable. Banks trade with customers’ deposits, but I can tell you that very few people have money in banks in this harsh economic period.”
Oil prices have rebounded strongly over the last few days – up around 10% from the lows – buoyed by the prospect of a lower price cap on Russian crude
By Craig Erlam, Senior Market Analyst, UK & EMEA, OANDA
We’re seeing green flashing across the board on Thursday, with sentiment buoyed by positive signals on Fed rate hikes and China’s Covid response.
While it could be argued that Jerome Powell’s comments on Wednesday were relatively balanced – slower tightening now but rates high for longer – the last year has proven that anticipating the path of inflation even a short period ahead is incredibly difficult. Knowing what the Fed intends to do next is far more valuable than what it thinks it may do 6-12 months down the line.
And anything that is perceived to reduce to possibility of an interest rate recession is going to be a positive for equity markets. The Fed has every opportunity to tighten more in the months ahead if the data doesn’t play ball. What’s far more difficult is undoing the damage caused by moving too fast now with little to no visibility on how impactful past tightening has been.
The signals coming from China also look very positive. While we shouldn’t expect a dramatic shift in policy from the leadership, particularly before the March Congress, any modest softening in its Covid-zero policy will and should be welcomed. The approach has been extremely damaging to growth and confidence and the protests highlight how public opinion towards it is changing.
We shouldn’t be naive to the fact that a move away from the policy won’t be easy and there’ll be plenty of setbacks. But it’s certainly a step in the right direction that, along with the measures announced to revive the property market, could put the economy on a much better path.
A huge few days for oil markets
Oil prices have rebounded strongly over the last few days – up around 10% from the lows – buoyed by the prospect of a lower price cap on Russian crude, another large production cut from OPEC+ this weekend, and China’s evolving Covid stance. There remains considerable uncertainty surrounding all of the above though which will likely ensure prices remain volatile going into the weekend. That could carry more risk than normal if the OPEC+ meeting does go ahead as planned on Sunday and the EU hasn’t agreed to the price cap level by the close of play Friday. The range of possibilities on these two things alone is huge which will make rumours and speculation over the coming day or two all the more impactful.
Gold testing range highs
Gold bulls were particularly happy with Powell’s comments on Wednesday with the yellow metal rallying strongly to trade at the upper end of its recent range. It faces strong resistance around $1,780 though which was a significant level of support in the first half of the year. With so much data to come over the next day or so, it may not prove particularly resilient if traders are given further hope that rates will rise more slowly and peak lower.
Some relief for cryptos
The risk relief rally is coming at just the right time for bitcoin, helping it to recover from the lows to trade around $17,000. This is around the highs of the last few weeks since it settled after its latest plunge. Whether it will be enough to revive interest in the cryptocurrency, I’m not sure. The FTX fallout is continuing to weigh heavily on the space and the prospect of more contagion or scandals is hard to ignore.
Oil Revenue into Foreign Reserve Dropped From $3bn Monthly in 2014 to Zero in 2022
The official foreign exchange receipt from crude oil sales into Nigeria’s official reserves has dried up steadily from above US$3.0 billion monthly in 2014 to an absolute zero dollar today, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) governor, Godwin Emefiele disclosed.
Speaking at the 57th annual bankers’ dinner organized by the Chartered Institute of bankers of Nigeria (CIBN) in Lagos, the CBN governor noted that there has been a significant loss in foreign reserves due to the naira’s struggle and the rise in demand for forex.
He added that the sharp increase in the number of Nigerians who are seeking education in foreign countries particularly the UK has resulted in an unprecedented demand for foreign exchange.
According to him, the number of student visas issued to Nigerians by the UK alone has increased from an annual average of about 8,000 visas as of 2020 to nearly 66,000 in 2022.
Emefiele also lamented about the level of crude oil theft in Nigeria which has significantly affected the country’s oil production. He noted that crude oil theft has adversely impacted the Country’s foreign exchange reserves.
Investors King had earlier reported that Nigeria has lost its coveted position as Africa’s largest oil producer after oil production dropped below the mark of 1 million barrels per day.
Nigeria currently trails Angola, Libya and Algeria to the fourth position.
Meanwhile, on the Naira-4-Dollar scheme which the CBN introduced to boost migrant remittances into the Nigerian economy, the CBN governor noted that the scheme has largely been successful.
“I am happy to note that, so far, the Naira-for-Dollar scheme has been successful in increasing remittance inflows through our registered International Money Transfer Organisation (IMTOs),” he said.
Emefiele also noted that the introduction of the National Domestic Card Scheme (NDCS) will help to reduce the operating cost incurred by commercial banks while using foreign cards.
It could be recalled that the CBN earlier announced that it planned to introduce Nigeria-made transactional cards to replace well-known cards such as Visa and MasterCard.
Crude Oil Gained 2% as U.S. Oil Inventories Dipped Last Week
Crude oil appreciated on Tuesday on signs global supply is declining amid better-than-expected optimism on Chinese economic recovery and a weaker dollar.
But the likelihood that OPEC+ will leave output unchanged at its upcoming meeting limited the gains.
Brent crude futures rose $2.06, or 2.48% to $85.09 per barrel by 1044 GMT. The more active February Brent crude contract rose by 2.02% to $85.95.
U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures climbed $1.69, or 2.16%, to $79.89.
Support followed expectations of tighter crude supply.
U.S. crude oil stocks dropped by 7.9 million barrels in the week ended Nov. 25, according to market sources citing American Petroleum Institute figures on Tuesday.
Official figures are due from the U.S Energy Information Administration on Wednesday.
And the International Energy Agency expects Russian crude production to be curtailed by some 2 million barrels of oil per day by the end of the first quarter next year, its chief Fatih Birol told Reuters on Tuesday.
On the demand side, further support came from optimism over a demand recovery in China, the world’s largest crude buyer.
China reported fewer COVID-19 infections than on Tuesday, while the market speculated that weekend protests could prompt an easing in travel restrictions.
Guangzhou, a southern city, relaxed COVID prevention rules in several districts on Wednesday.
A fall in the U.S. dollar was also bearish for prices. A weaker greenback makes dollar-denominated oil contracts cheaper for holders of other currencies, and boosts demand.
Fed Chair Jerome Powell is scheduled to speak about the economy and labour market on Wednesday, with investors looking for clues about when the Fed will slow the pace of its aggressive interest rate hikes.
Capping gains, the OPEC+ decision to hold its Dec. 4 meeting virtually signals little likelihood of a policy change, a source with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters on Wednesday.
“Market fundamentals favour another cut, especially given the uncertainty over China’s COVID situation … Failure to do so risks sparking another selling frenzy,” said Stephen Brennock of oil broker PVM.
News4 weeks ago
Npower News: What You Need to Know Before Taking ‘Work Nation’ Eligibility Test
Travel1 week ago
Nigerians Eligible For Residence Permit in Norway
News2 weeks ago
Npower News: NASIMS Announced “Work Nation’s” Minimum Cut-Off Mark
News3 weeks ago
Npower News: NASIM Provides Requirements Resolution For Failed August Stipend
News2 weeks ago
Npower News: Latest Update On Npower Payment for Beneficiaries
Blockchain4 weeks ago
FG to Train 30,000 Nigerians on Blockchain Technology; Released Link For Registration
News3 weeks ago
Npower Clarifies “Work Nation” Programme, State It is Optional
Travel6 days ago
Passengers Groan as Air Tickets Increase by More than 100%