- 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.
COVID-19: Indian Travellers Regains Entry Into Nigeria
The federal government of Nigeria on Monday said travellers from India will no longer be denied entry into Nigeria as the country has been removed from the list of flagged countries.
In May, in an effort to curb the spread of the global health pandemic, the federal government had banned travellers from Brazil, India and Turkey from visiting the country.
Speaking on Monday during the national briefing of the presidential steering committee (PSC) on COVID-19, Boss Mustapha, secretary to the government of the federation (SGF), said the situation in the Asian county has improved.
“The Global cases recorded continues to decline to about 4m cases weekly, although it is less, compared to last year and the situation calls for caution because we are not out of the woods yet. Africa and Nigeria in particular, continue to record rising cases and lots of fatalities,” Mustapha said.
“This can really be curtailed and reduced minimally if we adhere strictly to the NPIs. I recognize the fact that people are fatigued and tired but let me encourage all Nigerians not to give up. We all need to come together to defeat this dreaded disease so we can return to our normal life.
“The most potent way of getting out of this situation is through vaccines, which science and research has presented to us. I call on every eligible person to come out and be vaccinated. There are various choices now. We have AstraZeneca, Moderna, Johnson and Johnson and we expect Pfizer to be delivered very soon. There will be enough vaccines to go around soon. By the second quarter of 2022, we would have received about 52 million doses of the vaccines.
“To ease travels for fully vaccinated Nigerians, we are exploring the principles of reciprocity between Nigeria and other nations. For the time being, Nigerians are advised to always carry their vaccination card details or barcode on their electronic devices for easy access especially for those travelling outside the country.
“Compliance with protocols laid down for quarantine to ensure control remains a source of worry to the PSC. The need to review the protocol has become expedient to align with existing global protocols and realities. On this note, the PSC will adopt a sustainable model and policy that will be unveiled soon. To begin with, India has been removed from the list of flagged countries in view of improved situation in that country.”
“On this note, the PSC will adopt a sustainable model and policy that will be unveiled soon”, he said.
Osagie Ehanire, minister of health said evidence has so far shown that the Delta strain is already dominant in Nigeria.
He warned that though the third wave of the pandemic may appear to be leveling out because there have been no catastrophic increases in infections and fatalities, it is not wise to assume that the threat is gone, especially as cases are fluctuating and have to be identified by genomic sequencing.
The minister assured that even though there is a 25 percent shortfall in CICAX supply, Nigeria will not run low on vaccines.
Ehanire further noted that there were reports of new coronavirus mutations circulating in other countries, and assured that government will monitor with all tools available to respond appropriately.
Also speaking, Faisal Shuaib, executive director of, National Primary Healthcare Development Agency noted that vaccine cards were becoming a requirement across the country.
He, therefore, warned against any attempt to produce/procure and sell fake COVID-19 vaccination cards.
“Anyone who ventures into this would be apprehended and made to face the law. This is a criminal offense, in which both the buyer and seller would be prosecuted.
“We, therefore, urge all Nigerians to report any suspected attempt by any person or group of persons to buy or sell a COVID-19 vaccination card to us via our call centre line on 0700 220 1122, any of our social media handles (Facebook and Instagram), at the nearest police station or any other law enforcement agency. No one needs to cut corners on COVID-19 vaccination.
“The vaccines are free, and the vaccination cards are given free of charge at any of our designated health facilities after your vaccination,” Shuaib said.
South Africa Plans To Introduce Covid Passport
South Africa has announced plans to introduce a vaccine passport amid widespread mistrust of the Covid-19 vaccine in the continent’s most affected country.
President Cyril Ramaphosa made the announcement in a televised address to the nation and assured that the immunization of the adult population was a necessary prerequisite to fully reopen the economy and avoid a fourth wave of infections, while the number of cases has dropped sharply in the country.
In two weeks, we will “provide more information on a system of ‘vaccine passports’ that can be used as proof of vaccination for various purposes and events,” he said without providing further details.
He added that the “sustained decline in infections (…) over the past few weeks” would, however, allow for a relaxation of the restrictive measures starting Monday.
The nightly curfew will be extended by one hour, to 11 p.m., and the limits on gatherings will be raised.
Restrictions on the sale of alcohol will also be eased, although protective masks will still be required in places open to the public.
The peak of a third stubborn wave due to the Delta variant is now over. Over the past seven days, the average number of new daily infections has dropped 29 percent from the previous week and 48 percent from the week before, Ramaphosa said.
“Our most urgent task is to vaccinate our population,” he said, noting that vaccine supply “is no longer a constraint.”
“If many people are not vaccinated (…) the risk of new and more dangerous variants emerging is much greater,” he warned.
After delays in the supply and distribution of doses, the vaccination campaign is now struggling to take off because of skepticism about the vaccine, especially among men.
To date, just over seven million people have been fully vaccinated in South Africa, with more than a quarter of adults have received at least one dose.
The country’s goal is to vaccinate 40 million South Africans, or about two-thirds of the population, by next March.
Authorities have recorded more than 2.8 million cases of the coronavirus since the start of the pandemic, and 84,877 deaths, making it the worst affected country in Africa by the pandemic.
South African scientists are monitoring a new local variant with an unusually high mutation rate, dubbed C.1.2, although its presence is so far marginal among new cases detected in the country.
FG Launches GEEP 2.0 Plans To Lift 100M Nigerians Out Of Poverty
The Federal Government of Nigeria on Tuesday in Abuja inaugurated the restructured Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme (GEEP) now known as GEEP 2.0. to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty.
Hajiya Sadiya Umar Farouq, the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, speaking during the inauguration said the programme was a veritable tool designed to end poverty in many ways.
She said that GEEP was one of the components of the National Social Investment Programme (NSIP).
According to her, the initial GEEP targets the unbanked poor and vulnerable but skilled population that has always been left out on credit delivery programmes and is directed at providing soft and affordable loans to finance their businesses.
“The GEEP is innovatively targeted and delivered under three unique products – the TraderMoni for marginalised youths, The MarketMoni targets vulnerable women, and the FarmerMoni specifically focuses on rural farmers.
“With President Muhammdu Buhari’s gracious approval of expansion to provide loans to an additional one million beneficiaries with emphasis to targeting smallholder farmers in the year 2020/2021, the GEEP has been restructured and is being flagged-off today as GEEP 2.0.
“The GEEP 2.0 is structured to effectively deliver soft loans and skills to a wide range of unemployed citizens including persons living with disability, marginalised women and unemployed youths amongst other vulnerable groups in our society.
“I wish to state here that the GEEP 2.0 is well-coordinated and has an implementation model that accommodates representation at the Federal, State and Local Government levels,” Farouq said.
Farouq said that part of the new strategies include an increase in the loan portfolio of TraderMon/ and Market Moni loans from N10, 000 to N50,000, while the FarmerMoni is now N300,000.
“There is also the provision of the value chain and creation of digital marketplace (E-platform) for beneficiaries to sell their products.
“In addition, there is a digital integration and coordination platform along with a strong and centralised monitoring and evaluation system aimed at enhancing loans recovery.’’
Speaking, the Minister of Youths and Sports, Mr Sunday Dare who also represented the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Boss Mustapha said he was delighted at the inauguration of the GEEP 2.0.
Dare said whenever he saw other ministries that helped in reducing the burden of youths unemployment from his ministry, he was happy, adding that youths were the biggest beneficiaries of NSIP.
Similarly, Mr Clem Agba, the State Minister of Financial, Budget and National Planning said his ministry had been at the forefront of ensuring human dignity and protecting households from poverty.
Meanwhile, the Minister of Women Affairs, Mrs Pauline Tallen said women and youths were always affected by humanitarian crisis and poverty.
Tallen said that the GEEP 2.0 would now help the poor and marginalised women and youths who did not have collateral to secure loans.
Also, the Minister of State for Education, Mr Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba said that the inauguration of the GEEP 2.0 was an indication to show that President Buhari meant it when he said he wanted to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in 10 years.
“It is evident that as we collaborate and corporate with all hands on deck, we shall achieve the ultimate objectives of the programme.”
Dr Garba Abari, the Director-General, National Orientation Agency (NOA) said the agency would work with state programme managers and focal persons toward the success of the NSIP.
Meanwhile, the Team Lead of the GEEP 2.0, Ms Zainab Musawa said that intended beneficiaries would be effectively supervised and monitored by desk officers in all 774 local government areas, state programme managers and the ministry in partnership with NOA.
“Essentially, GEEP 2.0 is a continuation of the Buhari administration’s laudable empowerment drive committed to the upliftment of oppressed Nigerians and we hope the programme will engender job creation.”
Ms Hadiza Hambuza, a representative of Access Bank Plc said the bank would work with the beneficiaries to achieve the objectives of the programme.
The event attracted officials from Presidency, National Assembly, NEMA, EFCC, FCTA Disability Commission among others.
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