- Sterling Bank, BoI Collaborate on N140bn GEEP Programme
Sterling Bank Plc has collaborated with the Bank of Industry for the pilot phase of the N140bn financial inclusion programme tagged ‘Government Enterprise Empowerment Programme’.
The programme, targeted at over 16 million beneficiaries, will foster financial inclusion and economic activity at the micro level.
According to a statement by the lender, the project will give succour to micro business owners.
Under the pilot phase, Sterling Bank will disburse loans ranging from N10,000 to N100,000 per beneficiary covering up to 15,000 beneficiaries. Target beneficiaries include market sellers/traders, artisans, enterprising youths and farmers.
The bank confirmed in a statement on Sunday that the disbursement of the N140bn had commenced, adding that the introduction of the mobile agent banking scheme using the BankOne solution provided by Appzone would facilitate easy disbursement of the fund to the beneficiaries.
“We will also be leveraging on our agent network outreach, robust technology solution and the scalability of its operational scope,” the bank added.
Agent banking is a process of providing limited scale banking and financial services to the under-served population through engaged agents under a valid agency agreement, rather than a teller/cashier.
It is the owner of an outlet who conducts banking transactions on behalf of a bank.
The statement further read in part, “The fund is being provided by the BoI and a collection account has been opened for BoI with the bank. BoI, through selected aggregators, enumerates beneficiaries from pre-registered market or trade associations in selected locations across the nation based on set qualifying criteria.
“The list of successful beneficiaries is sent to the bank and our agents will open accounts for them via our mobile agent banking application. A loan request is logged on the credit assessment system and successful requests are submitted to BoI for approval for disbursement.
“BoI will, therefore, advise with the list of beneficiaries approved to receive the loans based on set criteria and bear all financial liability associated with the loans issued under this scheme.”
COVID-19 Plunges Nigeria’s Oil Revenue by 41% in the First Nine Months of 2020
Nigeria’s oil revenue declined by 41.44 percent in the first nine months of 2020 to $2.033 billion, according to the latest data from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC.
This represents a decline of 41.44 percent from $3.47 billion filed in the same period of 2019 when there was no COVID-19.
In the September 2020 edition of NNPC’s Monthly Financial and Operations Report (MFOR), revenue from oil and gas rose by 16 percent to $120.49 million in the month of September, a 66 percent or $234.81 million drop from $355.3 million posted in the same month of 2019.
The global lockdowns caused by the COVID-19 pandemic plunged Nigeria’s crude oil sales and global demand for the commodity. This was further compounded by Nigeria’s high cost of production compared to Saudi Arabia, Russia and others that were offering discounts to boost sales during one of the most challenging periods in human history.
Experts like Prof. Yinka Omorogbe, President of Nigeria Association of Energy Economics, NAEE, were not surprised with the drop in earnings given the effect of COVID-19 on the world’s economy.
She, however, called for the revamp of the nation’s petroleum sector laws and diversification of the economy away from oil revenue dependence. She said “Covid-19 made 2020 a very hot year and it battered the oil industry internationally and we are not an exception; so we could not have been unaffected”.
She also said the effect of the fall “is definitely a wake-up call; we have to diversify, strengthen our other resources and capabilities”.
Omorogbe, a former NNPC Board Secretary, urged the government and the operators in the sector to look inward and think strategically, stating: “think medium term, think of where they want to be and the government, above all, must think of how best we can utilize our resources, so that we can achieve our objectives once we know and define them.
“It is a clear wake-up call, if not we will just sit here and find that we have become one of the poorest nations in the world”, she noted.
Crude Oil, Other Commodities Closing Price for Monday
Brent crude oil, Nigeria’s crude oil benchmark, gained 47 cents to $55.88 per barrel on Monday, while the US crude oil expanded by 50 cents to $52.77 per barrel.
Gold for February delivery fell $1 to $1,855.20 an ounce. Silver for March delivery fell 7 cents to $25.48 an ounce and March copper was little changed at $3.63 a pound.
The dollar fell to 103.80 Japanese yen from 103.83 yen. The euro fell to $1.2139 from $1.2167.
Wholesale gasoline for February delivery rose 1 cent to $1.56 a gallon. February heating oil rose 2 cents to $1.59 a gallon. February natural gas rose 16 cents to $2.60 per 1,000 cubic feet.
Gold Gained Ahead of Joe Biden Inauguration 2021
Gold price rose from one and a half month low on Tuesday ahead of President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration on Wednesday.
The precious metal, largely regarded as a haven asset by investors, edged up by 0.2 percent to $1,844.52 per ounce on Tuesday, up from $1,802.61 on Monday.
He said, “The key factor appears to be the (U.S.) currency.”
As expected, a change in administration comes with the change in economic policies, especially taking into consideration the peculiarities of the present situation. In fact, even though Biden, Janet Yellen and the rest of the new cabinet are expected to go all out on additional stimulus with the support of Democrats controlled Houses, economic uncertainties with rising COVID-19 cases and slow vaccine distribution remained a huge concern.
Also, the effectiveness of the vaccines can not be ascertained until wider rollout.
Still, which policy would be halted or sustained by the incoming administration remained a concern that has forced many investors to once again flee other assets for Gold ahead of tomorrow’s inauguration.
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