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Naira in Free Fall, Plunges to 480 Per Dollar

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Naira - Investors King

The naira plunged further against the United States dollar to a new record low of 480 on Thursday, down from 472 it recorded on Wednesday.

The currency had continued its two-week free fall on Monday, closing at 445 to the dollar after tumbling to 439 on Friday.

On Tuesday, the currency closed at 452 to the greenback. Also on Tuesday, the external reserves hit an 11-year low of $24.61bn.

“Dollar is very scarce in the market right now because many people don’t know how low it will fall in the near term, so people are holding on to their hard currencies in order to watch the direction of the market,” one dealer said.

The President, Association of Bureau De Change Operators, Aminu Gwadabe, told Reuters that forex traders from neighbouring countries and some importers had also been moving in recently, mopping up dollars and putting pressure on the naira in a possible speculative bid.

Chronic dollar shortage plunged the local currency to a wave of depreciation, which economic and financial analysts have linked to speculative attack on the naira and increased demand from companies and individuals.

After trading between 423 and 425 for several weeks, the naira plunged to 428 last Wednesday. This came a day after the Central Bank of Nigeria’s Monetary Policy Committee retained the lending rate at 14 per cent contrary to calls by the fiscal authority, economists and stakeholders.

Analysts have dismissed that recent declines had links to the MPC decision to retain the lending rate at the current rate.

However, at the interbank market on Thursday, the naira closed at 305.31 to the dollar, up from 312.99 on Wednesday.

Gwadabe said that the planned commencement of distribution of forex by Travelex could not hold due to some bottlenecks.

Travelex, an international money transfer organisation, ought to have begun the distribution forex to the BDC operators on Monday.

Its intervention was postponed to Wednesday, but again, it could not hold.

The ABCON leader had said the sale of forex to the BDC operators by Travelex would help to stem the tide of volatility in the exchange rate and subsequently close the huge gap between the official and parallel market rates.

He could not tell when Travelex would commence the sale of forex to the BDCs.

According to him, Travelex has the technology to sell forex to about 1,000 BDCs in a couple of hours, which is a major advantage.

He said the latest decline in the naira value was as a result of the activities of speculators.

A currency analyst at Ecobank Nigeria, Mr. Kunle Ezun, said, “The rising exchange rates we are seeing at the parallel market now are not realistic. They have to do with the activities of speculators.

“However, we cannot rule out the fact that there is an acute and chronic shortage of FX; there is a genuine demand that the supply cannot match simply because inflows have dropped significantly.”

Gwadabe said, “Several sharp practices have been going on in the forex market and these elements want to continue making profits from the status quo. This is why they are speculating against the naira.

“They are attacking the naira. This is why the fall in the value of the naira is partly caused by the activities of speculators.”

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.

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Finance

Tanzania: African Development Fund Approves $116 Million Loan to Upgrade Southern Road Corridor

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The Board of Directors of the African Development Fund on Wednesday approved a loan of around $116 million to the Tanzanian government to upgrade a 160-km Mnivata-Newala-Masasi road corridor in the southern part of the country.

The Bank’s loan represents 98.71% of the project cost; the government of Tanzania will provide the remaining 1.29% in funding.

The project will upgrade the roadway, including the 84-meter Mwiti bridge, to bituminous standard. The works also have social components, including the provision of potable water, education and medical infrastructure, the establishment of cashew nut processing units, and extension of entrepreneurial training to women and youth.

The upgrade is expected to open up rural areas in the region and enhance the Mtwara Development Corridor, which links Mtwara Port and Mbamba Bay port on Lake Nyasa. Exporters, importers, small-scale cross-border traders, farmers, transporters are all expected to benefit.

“The periodic isolation of such a significant population worsens vulnerability and undermines social inclusion. Improved road connectivity would therefore build the resilience of the people and widen livelihood opportunities within the Mtwara Development Corridor and the surrounding districts,” Bank Director General for East Africa Nnenna Nwabufo said.

Overall, the five-year project will improve mobility and accessibility for about 1.1 million people in Mtwara, Tandahimba, Newala and Masasi districts and facilitate integration with neighbouring Mozambique, Malawi and Zambia.

Currently, the districts of Tandahimba and Newala, with an estimated combined population of 509,000 people, are mostly cut off, while connection with the Mtwara port area for essential supplies is severely constrained during rainy seasons due to the state of the road.

The project will advance Tanzania’s current five-year Development Plan (2021-2026) and aligns with the Bank Group’s Country Strategy Paper (2021-2025) which emphasizes sustainable infrastructure for a competitive economy and an improved private sector business environment for job creation, as well as two High-5 strategic priorities: Integrate Africa and Improve the quality of life for the people of Africa.

At 30 June 2021, the Bank Group’s active portfolio in Tanzania comprised 22 operations (19 public and 3 private) with a total commitment of about $2.4 billion.

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Banking Sector

FirstBank Expands Its International Money Transfer Network, Reinforces its Commitment to Customer Service

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In furtherance of the need to expand diaspora remittance inflow into the country, First Bank of Nigeria Limited has increased its network of International Money Transfer Operators (IMTOs), targeted at easing the accessibility of its customers to receive money from close to 100 countries across the world in a safe and secured manner. With over 750 branches across the country, customers can receive money from the nearest FirstBank branch closest to them.

Over the years, FirstBank has been in partnership with Western UnionMoneyGram, Ria, Transfast, and WorldRemit. The bank is also in partnership with other IMTOs which include Wari, Smallworld, Sendwave, Flutherwave, Funtech, Thunes and Venture Garden Group to promote remittance inflow into the country, thereby putting Nigerians and residents at an advantage in receiving money from their families, friends and loved ones across the world.

Beneficiaries can receive remittance in US dollars in any of our over 750 branches spread across the country. Customers without an existing domiciliary account can have dollar account automatically created for their remittances. You can also receive inflow directly into your account through Western Union.

In addition, FirstBank has launched its wholly owned remittance platform named First Global Transfer product to promote the international transfer of funds across its subsidiaries in sub-Saharan Africa. These subsidiaries include FBNBank DRC, FBNBank Ghana, FBNBank Gambia, FBNBank Guinea, FBNBank Sierra-Leone, FBNBank Senegal.

Reiterating the Bank’s resolve in promoting diaspora remittances, regardless of where one is across the globe, the Deputy Managing Director, Mr Gbenga Shobo said “at FirstBank, expanding our network of International Money Transfer Operators is in recognition of the significant roles diaspora remittances play in driving economic growth such as helping recipients meet basic needs, fund cash and non-cash investments, finance education, foster new businesses and debt servicing.

We are excited about these partnerships, as it is essential to ensure our customers are at an advantage to receive money from their loved ones and business associates, anywhere they are, across the world.”

FirstBank pioneered international funds transfer and remittances over 25 years ago and has been at the forefront of promoting cross border payments in the country, having started the journey with Western Union Money Transfer. The Bank’s wealth of experience and operation in over 750 locations nationwide gives it the edge in the market.

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Private Sector Seeks FG’s Directive on VAT Payment

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The Organised Private Sector of Nigeria (OPSN) on Sunday in Lagos called on the Federal Government to urgently make a pronouncement on the ongoing controversy over VAT payment so that businesses will know what to do.

OPSN chairman, Mr Taiwo Adeniyi, made the call at a news conference and said delays in addressing the issue could cause negative effects on businesses, most especially in the collection and remittances of VAT.

“We are aware that by Sept. 21 we get penalised if we do not pay or remit the VAT for the month of August.

“We are also aware that laws are not made in retrospect. It then means that even if those laws have been enacted, particularly the Lagos State law which came into effect in September, it will not affect the payment by businesses in the state.

“Due to our remittances, we have issues with the fact that the law for Rivers was made in August and the majority of the businesses in Lagos usually will have a relationship with the Rivers State Inland Revenue too.

“The confusion in the public space is the reason we are calling on the government to come to our aid as we want to pay.

“It is for the government at the center to make a pronouncement as to what becomes of us,’’ he said.

Adeniyi, who is also the President of, Nigeria’s Employers Consultative Association (NECA), said that the ongoing challenge had the potential to make businesses pay double VAT in view of demands by the FIRS and state governments.

He said that businesses, as the collecting agents, were practically unclear on the authority to remit to and without a clear path, this would further aggravate the pain on businesses.

“It is a popular saying that where two elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers.

“It is no longer news that Nigerian businesses have been battling with myriads of challenges, making the survival of enterprises and ease of doing business in the country among the worst in this part of the world,’’ he said.

There has been controversy over the collection of VAT after a Federal High Court ruled that it was not the duty of the Federal Government to collect the tax.

VAT is normally collected by the Federal Government since the military era and the money is shared by the three tiers of government.

Following the court ruling, however, Lagos and Rivers states passed laws that allowed them to collect VAT.

FIRS, which used to collect the VAT on behalf of the Federal Government, has challenged the court ruling at the appellate court.

OPSN comprises the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, the Nigeria Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture, NECA, Nigeria Association of Small Scale Industries and the Nigeria Association of Small and Medium Enterprises.

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