- Nigeria Clears Foreign Airlines’ $600m Trapped Funds
The International Air Transport Association on Tuesday announced that Nigeria had cleared the backlog of $600m trapped funds belonging to foreign airlines operating in the country.
The Director-General and Chief Executive Officer, IATA, Alexandre de Juniac, disclosed this at the association’s 74th Annual General Meeting and World Air Transport Summit in Sydney, Australia.
According to him, the amount of airline funds blocked from repatriation totalled $4.9bn globally at the end of 2017, which was seven per cent lower than the 2016 figure.
He stated that airlines’ funds, however, remained blocked in 16 countries, according to a statement on the IATA website.
De Juniac added, “We have had some recent success. The $600m backlog in Nigeria has been cleared. And we have made $120m of progress from a peak of over $500m in Angola. I encourage the government of Angola to work with airlines to help to reduce this backlog further.
“The top five markets with blocked funds are Venezuela, where airlines have been unable to repatriate $3.78bn; Angola, where approximately $386m remains blocked; Sudan, where $170m is blocked; Bangladesh, where $95m is blocked; and Zimbabwe, where $76m is blocked.”
According to de Juniac, given the deepening economic crisis in Venezuela, a resolution appears to be unlikely in the short term.
“But we are encouraged by the recent developments in Nigeria and Angola, and hope other states will also move quickly to address blocked funds,” he added.
The global commodities price crash that began in 2014 hit economies across Africa hard, particularly big resource exporters such as Angola and Nigeria, and according to experts, low oil and mineral prices reduced government revenue and caused chronic dollar shortages as well as immense pressure on local currencies.
The fiscal slump made governments to restrict foreign airlines from repatriating their dollar profits in full, and Nigeria owed airlines $600m but as of October 2017, the amount had fallen to $221m.
De Juniac called on governments to abide by international agreements and treaty obligations to enable airlines to repatriate revenues from ticket sales and other activities.
“The connectivity provided by aviation is vital to economic growth and development. Aviation supports jobs and trade, and helps people to lead better lives. But airlines need to have confidence that they will be able to repatriate their revenues in order to bring these benefits to markets,” he stated.
Meanwhile, the IATA and the African Airline Association have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to deepen their cooperation.
The MoU was signed by de Juniac and AFRAA’s Secretary General, Abderahmane Berthé, on the sidelines of the IATA AGM.
Under the MoU, IATA and AFRAA will exchange information, expertise and capabilities, and work jointly to enhance safety by assisting airlines to successfully implement the IATA Operational Safety Audit, the IATA Safety Audit for Ground Operations and IATA Ground Handling Manual.
According to the statement, it will also promote regional air connectivity by working jointly with governments to implement the Single African Air Transport Market as well as encourage data exchange among aviation stakeholders to improve passenger experience and enhance security through capacity building.
IATA said the MoU would also liberate airline funds blocked by governments from repatriation by advising on best practices to clear backlogs, and achieve reasonable levels of taxes and charges by helping governments to focus on the social and economic benefits of aviation.
Unity Bank MD Advocates Policy Actions to Stem Gender-Based Violence in Nigeria
The Managing Director of Unity Bank Plc, Mrs. Tomi Somefun has called for comprehensive policy actions that will dismantle the structures that enable gender-based violence in Nigeria.
At the Ebony Life Cinema, the venue of the film screening in Lagos, Unity Bank supported the BECKMA movie premiere by ARDA Development Commuications Inc. which was held to highlight issues of Gender-Based violence and driving positive change in society.
Making the call, Somefun stated that the Bank committed to partnering with the movie premiere and putting the power of the brand behind BECKMA as the event brings sustainability and gender equality to the front burner.
Represented by Unity Bank’s Group Head of Compliance, Mrs. Patricia Ahunanya, Somefun noted that “9 percent of women aged 15 to 49 had suffered sexual assault at least once in their lifetime and 31% had experienced physical violence,” citing a recent study by UNDP in Nigeria.
Speaking further, Somefun said “Gender-based violence is not just a women’s issue, but a societal ill that demands our collective attention. It is high time for us to step forward and advocate for comprehensive policy actions that will dismantle the structures allowing such atrocities to persist”.
She added, “I urge policymakers to enact stringent laws against gender-based violence, ensuring swift and severe consequences for perpetrators. Our homes and various organisations must also be a catalyst for change, inspiring others to follow suit.”
While commending the ARDA Development Communications Inc. for their initiatives to promote gender equality and empowerment in line with SDG5, Somefun assured of the Bank’s commitment to sustainable initiatives and further collaborative initiatives and advocacy programmes for the elimination of gender-based violence.
Nigeria’s NIBSS Directs Banks to Disconnect Non-Deposit Financial Institutions from NIP System
Banks in Nigeria have received a directive from the Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System (NIBSS) to disconnect Switches, Payment Solution Service Providers (PSSPs), and Super Agents from the NIBSS Instant Payment Outwards System.
The circular, dated December 5, 2023, highlighted that including these non-deposit-taking financial institutions as beneficiaries on the NIP funds transfer channels violates the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) guideline on electronic payments.
The NIBSS emphasized that while Switches, PSSPs, and Super Agents might process outward transfers as inflows to banks, their licenses do not permit them to hold customers’ funds.
The circular referred to the CBN’s guidelines on electronic payment of salaries, pensions, suppliers, and taxes, dated February 2014, as the basis for this regulatory stance.
The directive also pointed to a circular dated May 11, 2018, titled “Permissible Services and Products of PSSP Operation in Nigeria,” reinforcing the need for compliance.
As a result, banks were urged to delist all Switches, PSSPs, and Super Agents from the NIP Outward Transfer channels while allowing their participation in inward transfers.
In Nigeria’s payment ecosystem, operators are required to obtain licenses such as Switching and Processing, Mobile Money Operations, Payment Solution Services, or Regulatory Sandbox from the CBN.
Only Mobile Money Operators (MMOs) have the authority to hold customer funds, according to the CBN’s regulatory framework.
Falcon Corporation Secures N19.41bn Debt Facility for State-of-the-Art LPG Facility in Port Harcourt
Falcon Corporation Limited, a prominent player in Nigeria’s energy sector, has successfully secured a N19.41 billion debt facility from the Chapel Hill Denham Nigeria-managed Infrastructure Debt Fund (NIDF).
The financing will be used for the development of a cutting-edge 15,000 metric ton Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) storage facility and a dedicated jetty in Rumuolumeni, Saipem/Aker Base Road, Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
The Managing Director of Falcon Corporation, Prof. Joe Ezigbo, emphasized the company’s commitment to national service through investments in the gas industry.
He highlighted the strategic positioning of the LPG facility in proximity to major gas sources and navigable water routes, anticipating economic gains, job creation, income growth, health improvements, and environmental sustainability.
“We positioned our LPG facility strategically in proximity to major Gas sources and navigable water routes. The Project is set to facilitate and enhance more direct procurement and distribution of LPG, which will dramatically lower conventional delivery and storage costs,” said Prof. Joe Ezigbo.
The project has achieved significant milestones, reaching a completion rate of 65% as of October 2023. Various phases of development, including the completion of the jetty, shoreline protection, and engineering activities, have contributed to this progress.
The entire project is expected to be completed and commissioned by Q4 2024.
Falcon’s General Manager, Finance, Nelson Walter, expressed satisfaction with the partnership with NIDF, highlighting their reputation for providing reasonable terms for impactful infrastructure projects.
The flexible long-term loan repayment structure aligns with Falcon’s goals, making the collaboration instrumental in realizing this groundbreaking project.
Financial advisers Vetiva Capital Management Limited and Chapel Hill Denham Advisory, along with legal counsel Detail Commercial Solicitors, played crucial roles in facilitating this strategic debt facility for Falcon Corporation’s ambitious LPG infrastructure development in Rivers State.
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