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Emefiele to Meet MTN, Banks Over $8.1bn Repatriated Funds

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  • Emefiele to Meet MTN, Banks Over $8.1bn Repatriated Funds

The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele, will meet with the representatives of telecommunications company, MTN, and four banks on Tuesday to discuss the lingering dispute over the repatriation of $8.1bn, two sources with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters.

The dispute is over the transfer of $8.1bn of funds, which the CBN said the company had sent abroad in breach of foreign exchange regulations.

The sources, who did not want to be named, said executives from MTN and the four lenders involved in the case, Standard Chartered, Stanbic IBTC Bank, Citibank and Diamond Bank, would hold talks with Emefiele on Tuesday.

The move comes days after Emefiele said the bank might reduce the amount to be repatriated after it had reviewed fresh documents it received from MTN and the four lenders.

“The central bank will be examining these, then it will be escalated up to my level,” Emefiele said, while addressing journalists in London on Sunday, adding that he expected to get the results in a couple of weeks.

The two parties are presently locked in a court dispute over the transaction as the CBN filed a counter-claim on Friday to a court request by MTN, which is seeking to stop the bank from forcing it to bring back the money.

The apex bank also asked the Johannesburg-based mobile phone company to pay 15 per cent annualised interest on the sum until the courts make a judgment, and 10 per cent from then until the whole amount is paid.

Emefiele said the MTN case was a one-off, and the central bank was not looking at transactions involving any other companies operating in Nigeria.

“We respect the sanctity of these companies,” he said.

Emefiele also said Nigeria’s central bank would continue to intervene in the foreign exchange markets, adding that he believed in a stable exchange rate regime.

The apex bank in August had asked MTN Nigeria to refund the sum of $8.1bn it claimed the firm repatriated illegally between 2007 and 2015.

The CBN also imposed a total of N5.87bn on the four banks for allegedly remitting dividends with irregular Certificates of Capital Importation on behalf of MTN Nigeria.

Thereafter, the financial regulator debited accounts of the banks for the funds transfer infringement despite their plea of no wrong-doing.

In response to the allegations, MTN pledged its commitment to Nigeria, saying it remained resolute that “the company has not committed any offenses and will continue to defend its position vigorously.”

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.

Banking Sector

Polaris Bank Set to Unveil Second Millionaire, Other Winners in its ‘Save & Win’ Promo

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Polaris Bank is set to unveil the second set of winners in its ongoing Save & Win Millionaire promo.

At the maiden draw, which took place on February 9, 2021, Lucky Okunzuwa, a customer with the Bank’s Akpakpava branch, Benin City in Edo State, emerged as the first millionaire of the promo.

In a statement by the Bank on Monday, it noted that like the first draw, the second set of winners will be determined through electronic means, where another millionaire and 60 other Nigerians will emerge winners with N100,000 consolation prize money each.

The Bank also encouraged Nigerians to still save a minimum incremental sum of N10,000 in three consecutive deposits of the remaining promo period to qualify and be one of the eight lucky winners to emerge millionaires in the promo.

The nationwide savings promotional campaign is expected to give away N26 million in total to the Bank’s existing and new customers who emerge winners.

The nationwide savings promotional campaign is expected to give away N26 million in total to the Bank’s existing and new customers who emerge winners.

Eight millionaires will emerge altogether alongside 180 lucky customers who will be rewarded with consolation cash gifts of N100,000 per person.

Meanwhile, the month of April will witness the grand finale, leading to the emergence of 60 winners of N100,000 each across the six geopolitical zones and six more millionaires of N1 million each across the six geopolitical zones, bringing the entire draw to a total of 188 winners.

Recall that the Managing Director/CEO of Polaris Bank, Innocent C. Ike, while kicking off the campaign in November 2020, noted that “the essence of the exercise, is to give back to customers and encourage savings amongst Nigerians”.

The campaign, Ike further explained, “is a reward for traders, artisans, public servants and indeed professionals who in spite of the challenging times, are able to put aside some money as savings”.

He reiterated that in a not-so pleasant time, there is a compelling need to save – not only to win a prize – but also to plan for the rainy day.

He disclosed that “both current and new savings account customers of the Bank, are eligible to participate in the promo”.

Savings Account accessibility is simple and swift in Polaris Bank.

Prospective customers can dial 8330# on their phones to follow the prompt or simply create or reactivate their own savings account from their devices by visiting: https://accounts.polarisbanklimited.com/opening/ or any of the Bank’s branches across the country.

Winners will emerge through a transparent, electronically generated process that will be supervised by relevant regulatory institutions.

Polaris Bank is a future-determining bank committed to delivering industry-defining products and services across all sectors of the Nigerian economy.

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US, Japan National Debt Surges by $8 Trillion in the Last 12 Months, China Recovers

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Forex Weekly Outlook March 6 - 10

The coronavirus-induced recession has seen countries that were already battling a skyrocketing national debt plunge into more crisis. 

Data analyzed by Finbold indicates that the top five countries globally with the highest public debt added $9.17 trillion between March 2020 and March 2021. The United States tops with the debt growing by $4.57 trillion from $23.45 trillion to $28.0.2 trillion.

Elsewhere, Japan’s public debt has grown from $11.42 trillion to $14.64 trillion. Cumulatively, the two countries have added $7.79 trillion in debt. Interestingly, the analysis shows that China’s national debt dropped by $0.57 trillion from $8.56 trillion to $7.99 trillion among the selected leading economies.

In terms of the country’s national debt percentage growth, Germany tops with 35.02%, followed by Japan at 28.2%, and the U.S. ranks third at 19.29%. Italy’s debt grew by 10.8%, with the UK standing at 7.19%.

US debt crisis complicated by Covid-19 response

The record surge in national debt for the covered countries is mainly due to the coronavirus pandemic. The health crisis triggered the most profound economic downturn, with millions of people losing jobs and businesses temporarily or permanently closed; hence, revenues shrunk while spending soared.

Even before the pandemic, the United States was already battling a huge national debt crisis. The situation was further complicated after Congress approved several stimulus packages for relief, widening the debt. Furthermore, the low-interest rates meant that the US had to shoulder a heavier debt burden.

Similarly, Japan’s high national debt stems from the country’s response to the health crisis. The stimulus spending also put more pressure on the already dire public debt.

China’s pandemic response helps lower public debt

Despite being the virus epicenter, it was controlled swiftly, with economic activities resuming normally. There was balance between spending and revenue generation, meaning the deficit amount was low over the last 12 months.

China was also able to inject more money into the economy after becoming a key exporter of products needed to fight and curb the coronavirus pandemic. For instance, Asian nations exported a significant amount of face masks and ventilators to countries that lacked the capacity to produce their own.

Away from the pandemic response, China’s declining public debt ties down the policy. In recent years the country has become less reliant on using credit to handle economic slowdowns. Amid the pandemic, policymakers were even reluctant to over-use debt to hit growth targets.

Overall, most countries globally have enacted a massive amount of monetary and fiscal stimulus to prevent a deep and prolonged recession, in return increasing the public debt burden. However, it appears there has been little effort to balance the coronavirus response with solving the national debt crisis.

The surging national debt for countries like the US is worrying since it has since surpassed its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of $21.59 trillion, according to the U.S. National Debt Clock. It is an indicator the country might have problems repaying the loans.

With the debt in the unstainable territory for some countries, it might generally impact the government’s ability to tackle future economic downturns.

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The Africa Digital Inclusion Facility Approves $1.3m Grants for Two Research to Enhance Women’s Digital Access to Loans and Micro-insurance

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The Africa Digital Inclusion Facility approves grants worth $1.3 million for two research efforts to enhance women’s digital access to loans and micro-insurance.

The African Development Bank has approved two grants for research that will increase African women’s access to a range of digital financial services including loans and micro-insurance.

The grants, for $1 million and $300,000 respectively, will be disbursed through the Africa Digital Financial Inclusion Facility, a blended finance vehicle supported by the Bank, to two financial technology firms, Pula Advisors Kenya Ltd., and M-KOPA Kenya Ltd.

Pula Advisors will use the $1 million for research of social, cultural and economic factors that impact women farmers’ access to micro-insurance in Kenya, Nigeria and Zambia. Research findings will inform the design and implementation of gender-centric insurance products. The project will be undertaken over a 3-year time frame.

“This grant funding will be used to leverage technology to develop innovative and responsive loan and insurance products that can spur productivity and inclusion, especially for our women smallholder farmers and traders.” said Sheila Okiro, the Bank’s Coordinator for ADFI.

The three-year project will have three phases: product development; piloting; and scaling; the outcomes are expected to benefit 360,000 farmers, 50% of them women, as well as boost farm yields by up to 30%. This will also raise incomes and enhance household and national food security.

M-KOPA will use the $300,000 grant funding for research involving 250 women and 250 men in Kenya’s Kisumu, Eldoret and Machakos counties. The company will assess the barriers to and opportunities for women’s access to digital financial services and financial literacy programmes via smartphone, and use the research insights to design a financial services app that is relevant to small-scale women traders.

The project, approved by the Bank on 9 February, 2021, will benefit women with no or limited access to financial services that run small informal businesses. Once developed, the mobile app will be used to pilot small loans to the women traders.

Both projects align with ADFI’s digital products and innovation and capacity building intervention pillars as well as its cross-cutting focus on gender inclusion, a thematic running across all its interventions.

The PULA grant approval meets African Development Bank strategic goals, including the Ten-Year Strategy, two High-5 priority areas—feed Africa and improve the quality of life for Africans— and the financial inclusion strategies of Kenya, Nigeria and Zambia.

The M-KOPA project is aligned with the Bank’s Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa (AFAWA) program that seeks to increase access to finance for women.

ADFI is a pan-African initiative designed to accelerate digital financial inclusion throughout Africa, with the goal of ensuring that 332 million more Africans, 60% of them women, gain access to the formal economy. The Facility was formally launched in June 2019 at the Bank’s Annual Meetings in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea. Current ADFI partners are the French Development Agency (AFD); the French Treasury’s Ministry of Economy and Finance; The Government of Luxembourg’s Ministry of Finance; the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; and the African Development Bank, which also hosts the fund.

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