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Emefiele: CBN Prioritising Price Stability to Attract Investors, Boost Growth

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  • CBN to Prioritise Price Stability to Attract Investors, Boost Growth

The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele, has said the bank will pursue price stability as an anchor for economic growth as well as attract foreign investors as the country battles recession and rising inflation.

Emefiele said in an interview with The Banker Magazine that:
“The CBN does not reckon that curbing inflation, attracting foreign investors and supporting growth are mutually exclusive objectives. Rather, the monetary policy committee’s decision reflects the (central bank’s) prioritisation of its core mandate of pursuing price stability as an anchor and enabler for economic growth.

“As we have consistently said, the bank would continue to ensure that its decisions do not only consider price and financial system stability, but also issues of employment and growth.”
He reiterated that the reintroduction of a flexible exchange rate system has helped increase transparency in the FX market, cleared an estimated $4 billion backlog in FX demand, reduce arbitrage and speculative opportunities, and create a more predictable structure for businesses to prioritise their FX demand, we believe that this policy has been beneficial to the economy.

“This policy has led to a gradual but steady inflow of new FX into the market. All of these have largely met the bank’s expectations in the short term. We believe that these benefits will become magnified as the policy’s sustenance improves the credibility of the CBN and investors trust us more to return more forcefully as active participants in Nigeria’s FX market.

“Obviously, the reintroduction of the flexible exchange rate system immediately led to a depreciation of the naira in the interbank market, and helped close the significant spread with the parallel market. Also, this policy encouraged movement of FX demand from the parallel to the interbank market,” which also brought the two rates closer.

“Finally, new foreign portfolio inflows into the interbank market and our recent policy of allowing commercial banks to transfer some share of diaspora remittances to bureaux de change have also helped moderate rates in both markets,” Emefiele noted.

For now, however, a lack of hard currency is continuing to squeeze economic growth. Businesses, particularly those that must import goods, are bearing the brunt of this, as are Nigeria’s banks. In August, the CBN barred nine lenders for their failure to shift dollar-denominated funds from the state-owned gas group NNPC and the state-owned oil group NLNG to the treasury single account (TSA), a recently introduced single repository for all government funds.

“One of the most sacred obligations of a commercial bank is to produce customers’ deposits ‘on demand’. That is why these deposits are classified as ‘demand deposits’. Some of our banks failed to meet this obligation with respect to deposits of United States dollars by the NNPC and the NLNG. We had given them quite some time to transfer these balances into the federal government’s TSA,” Emefiele added.

Some banks’ failure to comply with this directive led the central bank to expel them from the interbank FX market. International press reports have indicated that some of these lenders blamed their breach of this directive on the lack of dollar liquidity in the market. Nevertheless, the CBN’s actions sit within the wider government’s attempts to impose greater transparency on the movement and allocation of public funds.

“When we became uncomfortable with their plans and seriousness to comply with the TSA, we thought we had to take strong action to ensure these monies were returned. The good news is that this action jolted them and some of the banks have transferred all their balances, while the remainder now have stronger and more credible plans to return these funds,” the CBN governor explained.

Despite the challenges in the economy, Emefiele remained upbeat about the prospects for Nigeria’s economy. As part of a wider package of reforms, President Muhammadu Buhari has tripled capital expenditure plans under the 2016 budget, though this is contingent on securing external financing.

“The Nigerian economy is adjusting to the aftermaths of the oil price shocks that led to a slowdown in output growth in 2015, and eventual contraction in output in the first half of 2016. Energy shortages, high electricity tariffs, FX supply shocks and depressed consumer demand have also exacerbated the adverse nature of this adjustment.”

“However, we are very optimistic that a strong rebound in the economy will occur soon. This optimism stems from our expectations that the reforms pursued by the new administration are in the right direction and are beginning to lay a foundation for renewed growth,” he stated.

Meanwhile, in an attempt to ensure strict compliance with all extant regulations, particularly those relating to forex transactions, Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and Anti-money Laundering/Combating the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT), the CBN said it had resolved to enhance the minimum qualification for the position of Chief Compliance Officers (CCOs) of commercial banks.

According to the CBN, going forward, banks are required to appoint not only a CCO who must not be below the rank of a General Manager, regardless of the category of the institution, but also an Executive Compliance Officers (ECOs) who must not be below the level of an Executive Director.

In a circular posted on its website at the weekend, the central bank stated that while the CCO is expected to report to the ECO, the ECO on the other hand would be reporting directly to the board of directors of the bank.

“The CBN will hold the ECO responsible and accountable for any breach of any extant regulation in the bank. For avoidance of doubt, the CBN shall suspend/dismiss any ECO and CCO found wanting in the discharge of his/her responsibility,” the apex bank warned.

According to the circular, the DMBs are required to forward the names of their ECOs and CCOs together with their curriculum vitae to the CBN for approval on or before October 10, 2016.

The ECOs are however allowed to combine the responsibility with other functions while CCOs will focus only on compliance matters in the bank, the CBN added.

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.

Government

COVID-19 Vaccine: African Export-Import Bank (Afrexim) to Purchase 270 Million Doses for Nigeria, Other African Nations

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African Export-Import Bank (Afrexim) Approves $2 Billion for the Purchase of 270 million Doses for African Nations

African Export-Import Bank (Afrexim) said it has approved $2 billion for the purchase of 270 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines for African nations, including Nigeria.

Prof. Benedict Oramah, the President of the Bank, disclosed this at a virtual Africa Soft Power Series held on Tuesday.

He, however, stated that the lender is looking to raise more funds for the COVID-19 vaccines’ acquisition.

He said: “The African Union knows that unless you put the virus away, your economy can’t come back. If Africa didn’t do anything, it would become a COVID-19 continent when other parts of the world have already moved on.
“Recall that it took seven years during the heat of HIV for them to come to Africa after 12 million people had died.

“With the assistance of the AU, we were able to get 270 million vaccines and financing need of about $2 billion. Afreximbank then went ahead to secure the $2 billion. But that money for the 270 million doses could only add 15 per cent to the 20 per cent that Covax was bringing.

He added that this is not the time to wait for handouts or free vaccines as other countries will naturally sort themselves out before African nations.

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China Calls for Better China-U.S. Relations

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China Calls for China-U.S. Relations

Senior Chinese diplomat Wang Yi said on Monday the United States and China could work together on issues like climate change and the coronavirus pandemic if they repaired their damaged bilateral relationship.

Wang, a Chinese state councillor and foreign minister, said Beijing stood ready to reopen constructive dialogue with Washington after relations between the two countries sank to their lowest in decades under former president Donald Trump.

Wang called on Washington to remove tariffs on Chinese goods and abandon what he said was an irrational suppression of the Chinese tech sector, steps he said would create the “necessary conditions” for cooperation.

Before Wang spoke at a forum sponsored by the foreign ministry, officials played footage of the “ping-pong diplomacy” of 1972 when an exchange of table tennis players cleared the way for then U.S. President Richard Nixon to visit China.

Wang, a Chinese state councillor and foreign minister, said Beijing stood ready to reopen constructive dialogue with Washington after relations between the two countries sank to their lowest in decades under former president Donald Trump.

Wang called on Washington to remove tariffs on Chinese goods and abandon what he said was an irrational suppression of the Chinese tech sector, steps he said would create the “necessary conditions” for cooperation.

Before Wang spoke at a forum sponsored by the foreign ministry, officials played footage of the “ping-pong diplomacy” of 1972 when an exchange of table tennis players cleared the way for then U.S. President Richard Nixon to visit China.

Wang urged Washington to respect China’s core interests, stop “smearing” the ruling Communist Party, stop interfering in Beijing’s internal affairs and stop “conniving” with separatist forces for Taiwan’s independence.

“Over the past few years, the United States basically cut off bilateral dialogue at all levels,” Wang said in prepared remarks translated into English.

“We stand ready to have candid communication with the U.S. side, and engage in dialogues aimed at solving problems.”

Wang pointed to a recent call between Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Joe Biden as a positive step.

Washington and Beijing have clashed on multiple fronts including trade, accusations of human rights crimes against the Uighur Muslim minorities in the Xinjiang region and Beijing’s territorial claims in the resources-rich South China Sea.

The Biden administration has, however, signalled it will maintain pressure on Beijing. Biden has voiced concern about Beijing’s “coercive and unfair” trade practices and endorsed of a Trump administration determination that China has committed genocide in Xinjiang.

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U.S. Supreme Court Allows Release of Trump Tax Returns

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President Trump Signs Executive Order In Oval Office Of The White House

U.S. Supreme Court Allows Release of Trump Tax Returns

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday paved the way for a New York City prosecutor to obtain former President Donald Trump’s tax returns and other financial records as part of a criminal investigation, a blow to his quest to conceal details of his finances.

The justices without comment rebuffed Trump’s request to put on hold an Oct. 7 lower court ruling directing the former Republican president’s longtime accounting firm, Mazars USA, to comply with a subpoena to turn over the materials to a grand jury convened by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, a Democrat.

“The work continues,” Vance said in a statement issued after the court’s action.

Vance had previously said in a letter to Trump’s lawyers that his office would be free to immediately enforce the subpoena if the justices rejected Trump’s request.

A lawyer for Trump did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Supreme Court, which has a 6-3 conservative majority included three Trump appointees, had already ruled once in the dispute, last July rejecting Trump’s broad argument that he was immune from criminal probes as a sitting president.

Unlike all other recent U.S. presidents, Trump refused during his four years in office to make his tax returns public. The data could provide details on his wealth and the activities of his family real-estate company, the Trump Organization.

Trump, who left office on Jan. 20 after being defeated in his Nov. 3 re-election bid by Democrat Joe Biden, continues to face an array of legal issues concerning his personal and business conduct.

Vance issued a subpoena to Mazars in August 2019 seeking Trump’s corporate and personal tax returns from 2011 to 2018. Trump’s lawyers sued to block the subpoena, arguing that as a sitting president, Trump had absolute immunity from state criminal investigations.

The Supreme Court in its July ruling rejected those arguments but said Trump could raise other objections to the subpoena. Trump’s lawyers then argued before lower courts that the subpoena was overly broad and amounted to political harassment, but U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero in August and the New York-based 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in October rejected those claims.

Vance’s investigation, which began more than two years ago, had focused on hush money payments that the president’s former lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen made before the 2016 election to two women – adult-film actress Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal – who said they had sexual encounters with Trump.

In recent court filings, Vance has suggested that the probe is now broader and could focus on potential bank, tax and insurance fraud, as well as falsification of business records.

In separate litigation, the Democratic-led U.S. House of Representatives was seeking to subpoena similar records. The Supreme Court in July sent that matter back to lower courts for further review.

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