- IMF, CBN Differ on Nigeria’s Economic Outlook
The International Monetary Fund and the Central Bank of Nigeria on Tuesday disagreed on the projections of the Bretton Woods institution for the country’s economic outlook for 2007.
The Regional Economic Outlook for Sub-Saharan Africa authored by the IMF and was presented in Abuja on Tuesday, projected Nigeria’s real Gross Domestic Product to close the year at 0.8 per cent, while inflation would remain elevated at 17.5 per cent.
It also projected the fiscal deficit to deteriorate to five per cent of the GDP; reserve to months of import cover to drop to 5.5 months; while the current account surplus would be at one per cent of the GDP.
The IMF also advised Nigeria to implement greater foreign exchange flexibility and eliminate exchange rate restrictions as imposed on 41 items.
The report stated, “Oil price recovery is insufficient to repair the imbalances in resource-rich countries, while monetary policy normalisation in the United States is poised to worsen external financing conditions.
“For the hardest-hit resource-intensive countries, fiscal consolidation remains urgently needed to halt decline in international reserves and to offset permanent revenue losses.”
It added, “In countries where exchange rate tool is available (Angola, Nigeria), greater exchange rate flexibility and the elimination of exchange restrictions that are inflicting serious harm on the real economy should be part of a coherent policy package.
“Even the modest rebound to two and half per cent expected in 2017 will be to a large extent be driven by one-off factors in the three largest countries – a recovery of oil production in Nigeria, higher public spending ahead of elections in Angola, and the fading of drought in South Africa – combined with modest improvements in their terms of trade.”
However, the Director, Monetary Policy Department, CBN, Mr. Moses Tule, said implementing the Federal Government’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan would ensure different outcomes from the predictions of the IMF.
Tule said, “Resolution of the Niger Delta crises is expected to make headroom for higher oil exports thus improving the fiscal space. The forex reforms are expected to stabilise the currency and conserve external reserves to levels higher than 5.5 months of import cover.
“The current account is expected to further improve following improved terms of trade with higher oil exports and increased import substitution with local production.”
He added, “With the successful issuance of the recent Eurobonds, investor confidence is fast recovering following series of foreign exchange reforms as evident in the recent sovereign bond issuance offshore.”
Polaris Bank Set to Boost Nigerian’s Digital Banking Ecosystem, Unveils a New Digital Bank
With the rising opportunities in the e-payment systems accelerated by the COVID-19 era sweeping across the world, there are indications that one of Nigeria’s leading retail franchise, Polaris Bank, has thrown its hat into the ring as it unveils a new digital Bank.
Feelers indicate that the Bank’s new Digital Bank which has for some time been in test mode amongst its staff and customers is set to grow its market share, targeting a new generation of digital natives and immigrants who are socially and financially aware of innovations in self-service and stress-free transactions. According to industry players, the long wait which greeted the launch was to ensure that the platform is robust enough to meet prevailing global standards and support other existing entities in the digital banking ecosystem.
As part of its enterprise transformation initiatives, the Bank has overhauled its IT infrastructure within the last two years and upgraded its digital capability. According to the Bank’s Managing Director/CEO, Innocent Ike, “this has seen the institution grow to earn the confidence of the banking publics, as it has been able to offer quality banking services at the cutting edge of technology.” The plaudits which greeted the Bank’s recently published 2020 financial performance, has further earned the Bank’s digital transformation efforts, a shot in the arm.
Polaris’ digital Bank, offers a suite of services not readily provided by competitors. Some of such bundled benefits include; access to instant loans, accessing the platform service without being a prior customer of the Bank, and end-to-end account opening without entering a physical bank.
One of the competitive benefits of the Bank is its creation of a collaborative ecosystem that enables Application Programming Interface (API) Banking. API banking refers to a system that makes a bank’s services available to other third-party companies via APIs. API Banking helps both banks and third-party companies augment their complementary specialties and offerings more than they can provide to their customers by themselves.
Through its API, Polaris Bank is reported to have so far onboarded new business start-ups, improved their market access, and ensured profit sharing with partners within the financial technology space. The Agro-businesses, educational institutions, e-commerce, are all set to benefit from the Bank’s platform.
According to recent data released by the Nigeria Interbank Settlement System (NIBSS), the volume of electronic payment transactions increased by 80 percent year-on-year to 54.07 billion in the first quarter of 2021 from 30.04 billion in the same period of last year.
As a result of the rise in e-payment transactions, income generated by banks via electronic channel transactions also increased by around 52 percent to N53.4 billion in the period under review compared with N35.2 billion in the same period of last year.
With the grand entry of Polaris Bank into the digital Banking space, it is expected that at the close of 2021, the 2020 NIBSS figures will grow exponentially and bolster the overall performance of the country’s e-payment ecosystem. Indeed, many youngsters and digital native enterprises constitute most of the population and the early adopters of digital innovation and lifestyle.
Polaris Bank is a future-determining bank committed to delivering industry-defining products, services, and digital platforms across all the sectors of the Nigerian economy. The Bank is a member of the United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative (UNEP FI), which seeks to engage the private sector and the global financial sector to help create a financial sector that serves people and the planet while delivering positive impact.
Ecobank Partners NiDCOM to Mobilise Nigerians Abroad for National Development
In a bid to fulfill it’s objectives and mandate, the Pan African Bank has promised to support Nigerians living and working abroad through it’s partnership with NiDCOM.
The Managing Director, Ecobank Nigeria, Patrick Akinwuntan has stated that the bank is privileged to work closely with the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission, (NiDCOM) and will continue to pursue one of its key mandates of helping to enhance the economic development and integration of Africa through its support to Nigerians living and working abroad.
Speaking at the maiden edition of the Diaspora Quarterly Lecture Series with Ecobank as the sole banking partner which took place on Saturday, 8th May 2021, he noted that Ecobank remains a critical bridge for Nigerians abroad, as it has made huge investments in the necessary platforms to enable them connect with home seamlessly. The event held online and had over 2000 participants from across all the continents in attendance.
“Nigerians in the diaspora play a major role in nation building, their contribution goes a long way to catalyse economic development. For us at Ecobank, we are a pan-African institution positioned to foster the economic growth and integration of our continent, so we are particularly pleased to work closely with the Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NiDCOM), ably led by the Chairman/CEO, Hon Abike Dabiri-Erewa”.
“We are committed to ensuring that every Nigerian living abroad is able to remit home seamlessly and affordably, access viable investment opportunities and as the financial institution of choice for Nigerians abroad, we have deployed the necessary resources to actualise this.” He stated.
The Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, who was also present, reiterated the readiness of the government to collaborate with Nigerians in the diaspora, highlighting the new processes put in place to facilitate passport issuance, noting that all backlog of passport applications would be cleared by the end of May 2021.
Also speaking, the Hon. Minister of State, Foreign Affairs Amb. Zubairu Dada said harnessing the human capital and material resources of Nigerians in the diaspora towards the socio-economic, cultural, and political development of Nigeria can no longer be ignored. He pointed out that the Nigerian diaspora community is well educated, resourceful, skilled, and exposed to global best practices.
The NiDCOM Chairman/CEO, Hon. Abike Dabiri- Erewa explained that the Diaspora Quarterly Lecture Series is projected to be a major aspect of national discourse, where Nigerians abroad can be kept abreast of the government’s policies, programmes and projects.
Increase in Price Boosts Revenue of Dangote Sugar by 41.5 Percent in Q1 2021
Revenue of Dangote Sugar Refinery Plc rose by 41.5 percent to N67.394 billion in the first quarter (Q1) of 2021 from N47.643 billion recorded in the same quarter of 2020.
According to the leading sugar manufacturer, the increase in revenue was a result of the increase in the price of sugar in the first quarter. The company claimed price adjustment was necessary to mitigate the negative effect of inflation and depreciation on the company.
Volumes only rose by 5.7 percent during the quarter despite a 41.5 percent increase in revenue, meaning the increase in price was the main sales catalyst.
In the company’s unaudited financial statements, gross profit grew from N12.721 billion in Q1 2020 to N18.044 billion in Q1 2021.
Similarly, operating profit stood at N15.884 billion, up from N10.747 billion posted in Q1 2020.
Finance cost more than double from N1.353 billion in Q1 2020 to N3.412 billion in Q1 2021.
Dangote Sugar’s profit before tax rose from N9.509 billion recorded in the corresponding quarter to N11.949 billion in the quarter under review.
The company paid N3.646 billion in income tax, slightly higher than N3.137 paid in the same quarter of 2020.
Profit for the period grew from N6.372 billion in Q1 2020 to N8.302 billion in Q1 2021.
Commenting on the company’s performance, Dangote Sugar said “EBITDA increased by 34.7% to N17.02 billion (2020: N12.64 billion) on account of increased earnings. Group profit after taxation for the period increased by 30.3% to N8.30 billion (2020: N6.37 billion) reflecting management’s unrelenting drive to deliver consistent shareholder value.”
On price increase, the company hinged it on series of devaluation carried out in 2020 by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), escalating inflation, port congestion and rising in price of global sugar. Dangote Sugar said its imported raw sugar from Brazil under Federal Government’s backward integration plan.
“We have continued to witness high cost of raw materials, energy costs and other input costs due to rising inflation and FX rate fluctuation. Further cost escalation is anticipated in the year as inflationary pressure mounts,” the company said.
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