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NCC Writes AGF, Demands N50bn Paid by MTN

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The Nigerian Communications Commission has written the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, demanding the transfer of the initial N50bn paid by MTN Nigeria Communications to the regulator’s account with the Central Bank of Nigeria.

The Executive Vice Chairman, NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta, disclosed this in Abuja on Monday while answering questions from journalists at a press conference to mark the one year anniversary of his coming on board.

The NCC boss, who said the money had been lodged in a recovery account opened by the OAGF with the CBN, added that it needed to be transferred to the NCC account before it could be moved to the Consolidated Revenue Account of the Federal Government.

The commission had imposed a fine of N1.04tn on MTN Nigeria Communications Limited in October 2015 for failing to disconnect 5.2 million improperly registered subscribers from its network. After initial negotiations, MTN went to court.

However, in a twist, it withdrew the case out of the court and paid N50bn through the OAGF to show the government that it was ready to embark on full negotiation in a bid to settle the matter out of court.

There appeared to be crack in the government’s handling of the matter when the Minister of Communications, Mr. Adebayo Shittu, denied that his ministry and its agencies took part in the negotiation and subsequent receipt of the money.

When the government and the NCC eventually entered into fresh negotiations with MTN, the fine was reduced to N330bn spread over a period of three years. The initial N50bn paid by the company was regarded as the first instalment.

Danbatta said MTN had since paid another N30bn, which means that the company has so far paid N80bn, with an outstanding balance of N250bn.

The NCC helmsman also said that the regulator declined a request by MTN to acquire the spectrum being used by Visafone even though it approved the acquisition of 100 per cent shareholding in the company by MTN.

The nation’s chief telecom regulatory officer argued that the acquisition of Visafone’s frequency could perpetuate MTN’s dominant position in the Nigerian telecommunications market, adding that the NCC would subject the request to a public inquest.

Danbatta also said that MTN would roll out services on the 2.6MHz spectrum acquired through a bidding process.

He said, “In the recent wireless broadband frequency bidding process for the 2.6MHz spectrum by the commission, MTN Nigeria Limited emerged the winner of six slots. The licensing of frequency in this slot has suffered several setbacks until recently when six slots out of 14 made available by the commission were allocated for immediate deployment of 4G-LTE services.

“By the rollout plans for this service as provided by the winner, broadband services on this frequency spectrum will be available in the last quarter of 2016.”

He added, “We have initiated processes for licensing of more broadband services on the 5.4GHz spectrum band. We have opened the process for the allocation of frequencies in the 70/80GHz band (e-band).

“Approval has been given for the deployment of 4G Long Term Evolution Technology by NATCOM Development and Investment Limited, which has launched the first Voice over LTE call on February 25.”

Danbatta also announced that the country’s broadband penetration had reached 20.95 per cent.

“Equally, on the percentage of Internet penetration, the country has reached a milestone of 47.44 per cent, second to South Africa on the continent,” he said.

On unsolicited text messages, Danbatta said the NCC had constituted a task force to verify the compliance of telecoms operators with the directives issued to them.

He said the regulatory agency would not shy away from sanctioning operators found wanting.

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.

Economy

Nigeria, Morocco sign MOUs on Hydrocarbons, Others

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The Federal Government and the Kingdom of Morocco have signed five strategic Memoranda of Understanding that will foster Nigerian-Morocco bilateral collaboration and promote the development of hydrocarbons, agriculture, and commerce in both countries.

The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva, led the Nigerian delegation to the agreement signing ceremony on Tuesday at Marrakech, Morocco, while the Chief Executive Officer of OCP Africa, Mr Anouar Jamali, signed for the Kingdom of Morocco, according to a statement by the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board.

Under the agreement between OCP, NSIA and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Nigeria will import phosphate from the Kingdom of Morocco and use it to produce blended fertiliser for the local market and export.

The statement said Nigeria would also produce ammonia and export to Morocco.

“As part of the project, the Nigerian Government plans to establish an ammonia plant at Akwa Ibom State,” it said.

The Executive Secretary of NCDMB, Mr Simbi Wabote, and the Group Managing Director of NNPC, Mallam Mele Kyari, were part of the delegation and they confirmed that their organisations would take equity in the ammonia plant when the Final Investment Decision would be taken, the statement said.

Sylva said the project would broaden economic opportunities for the two nations and improve the wellbeing of the people.

He added that the project would also positively impact agriculture, stimulate the growth of gas-based industries and lead to massive job creation.

He said the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), had mandated the Ministry of Petroleum Resources and it agencies and other government agencies to give maximum support for the project.

“He mandated me to ensure that at least the first phase of this project is commissioned before the expiration of his second term in office in 2023,” he added.

According to the statement, the MOUs were for the support of the second phase of the Presidential Fertiliser Initiative; Shareholders Agreement for the creation of the joint venture company to develop the multipurpose industrial platform and MOU for equity investment by the NNPC in the joint venture and support of the gas.

Other agreements are term sheet for gas sales and aggregation agreement and MOU for land acquisition and administrative facilitation to the establishment of the multipurpose industrial platform for gas sales and aggregation agreement.

The NCDMB boss described the bilateral agreement as significant to the Nigerian economy as it would accelerate Nigeria’s gas monetisation programme through establishment of the ammonia plant in the country.

The agreement would also improve Nigeria’s per capita fertiliser application through importation of phosphate derivatives from Morocco, he added.

Wabote challenged the relevant parties to focus on accelerating the FID, assuring them that the NCDMB would take equity investment for long-term sustainability of the project.

He canvassed for the setting up of a project management oversight structure to ensure project requirements and timelines are met.

“There is also need to determine manpower needs for construction and operations phase of the project and develop training programmes that will create the workforce pool from Nigeria and Morocco and design collaboration framework between research centres in Nigeria and Morocco to develop technology solutions for maintaining the ISBL and OSBL units of the Ammonia complex,” he said.

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Economy

Dangote Fertiliser Plant to Commence Shipment of Urea in March 2021

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Dangote to Sells Petrol in Naira, Plans to Commence Urea Shipment in March 2021

The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, has said Dangote Fertiliser Plant will commence shipment of Urea in March 2021.

The CBN governor disclosed this during an inspection tour of the sites of Dangote Refinery, Petrochemicals Complex Fertiliser Plant and Subsea Gas Pipeline at Ibeju Lekki, Lagos on Saturday.

Emefiele further stated that Dangote Refinery would sell refined petroleum products in Naira when it starts production.

This he said would save the country from spending 41 percent of the nation’s foreign exchange on importation of petroleum products yearly.

Based on agreement and discussions with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation and the oil companies, the Dangote Refinery can buy its crude in naira, refine it, and produce it for Nigerians’ use in naira,” Mr Emefiele said.

That is the element where foreign exchange is saved for the country becomes very clear. We are also very optimistic that by refining this product here in Nigeria, all those costs associated with either demurrage from import, costs associated with freight will be totally eliminated.

Emefiele explained that this will make the price of Nigeria’s petroleum products affordable and cheaper in naira.

If we are lucky that what the refinery produces is more than we need locally you will see Nigerian businessmen buying small vessels to take them to our West African neighbours to sell to them in naira.

“This will increase our volume in naira and help to push it into the Economic Community of West African States as a currency,” Mr Emefiele said.

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Economy

UK Budget 2021: Will Sunak’s Budget Run Into Unintended Consequences?

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Rishi Sunak’s Budget will encourage higher earners to consider their “international financial options” and will drive businesses away from the UK, warns the CEO of one of the world’s largest independent financial advisory and fintech organizations.

The warning from Nigel Green, chief executive and founder of deVere Group, comes as the Chancellor delivered his 2021 Budget in the House of Commons, his second since he took on the role.

Mr Green says: “The Chancellor has got an extraordinarily difficult hand to play as he tries to stem the economic damage caused by the pandemic, support jobs and businesses and, crucially, rebuild the public finances.

“Whilst Mr Sunak is being hailed a hero for the continued and unprecedented levels of support, it should also be remembered that he is – in a stealth move – dragging more people firmly into the tax net.

“He is raising taxes under the radar.

“Yes, there is no income tax rise. However, he is freezing personal tax thresholds, meaning as incomes rise and thresholds don’t, he is able to raise money by fiscal drag.”

Earlier this week, the deVere CEO noted: “Those most impacted by this stealth move will be looking at the financial planning options available to them, including international options, in order to grow and protect their wealth.”

Rishi Sunak also confirmed that corporation tax will increase to 25% from 2023, up from the current level of 19%.

Of this tax hike, Mr Green goes on to say: “Lower corporation tax helps job and wealth-creating business to survive and thrive. It also helps attract business to move and invest in the country.

“Instead of increasing taxes, Mr Sunak should have relentlessly focussed on growth and stimulus policies for businesses.  This would have been of greater help to firms, the economy, jobs and, ultimately, the Treasury’s coffers.”

He adds: “Again, this corporation tax hike is likely to serve as a prompt for businesses to consider their overseas financial options.”

The deVere CEO concludes: “The Chancellor had to perform a tough juggling act.  But stealthily dragging more people into the tax net and raising corporation tax might have negative, unintended consequences for the Treasury’s bottom line.”

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