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2019 Elections: CBN to Monitor Banks’ Lending to Politicians

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  • 2019 Elections: CBN to Monitor Banks’ Lending to Politicians

The Central Bank of Nigeria on Thursday said it would monitor the rate at which banks provide loans to politicians to finance their campaign spending ahead of the 2019 general elections.

The Governor of the CBN, Mr Godwin Emefiele, disclosed this while briefing journalists shortly after a two-day Monetary Policy Committee meeting which were held at the headquarters of the apex bank in Abuja.

Responding to a question on what steps the apex bank was taking to check excessive lending by banks to politicians, the governor said that the CBN would be monitoring their activities with a view to intervening when things are about to go wrong.

He expressed optimism that due to past experiences, Deposit Money Banks would not want to take excessive risks by increasing their lending exposure to politicians.

Emefiele said that while banks have their own risk assessment criteria, the apex bank would be closely monitoring their activities so as to protect the banking sector.

He said that the CBN had met with chief executives of banks and during the meeting; they were warned on the dangers of involving in money laundering activities.

The CBN boss said that for any bank that is caught in money laundering activities; the apex bank would not hesitate to impose the appropriate sanction on such bank.

He said, “We have had meetings with the banks and we have asked them to be very careful on money laundering issues, and I believe they will be careful themselves because they know that if they are caught, it means that they will be heavily penalised.

“When you talk about lending to politicians, banks have their risk acceptance criteria and I don’t think that the banks would do that at this time. Everybody must have learnt their lessons.

“We at the Central Bank we are watching. When things go wrong or about to go wrong, we will deal with it as appropriately as possible.”

On the MTN $8.1bn controversy, he said that apex bank had met with top executives of the company who came in from South Africa on the issue.

He said very soon, a final decision of the apex bank on the matter would be announced.

He gave some of these risks as destruction of agricultural products from flooding, insurgency in the North-East, herdsmen and farmers’ crises, high cost of energy, anticipated spending in the run up to the Christmas festivities and campaign relates spending towards the upcoming general elections.

He said there was need to come up with measures to address these challenges as well as to ensure speedy implementation of the budget.

On the issue of minimum wage, the CBN governor explained that the increase in wages would boost aggregate demand in the economy.

Emefiele also said the apex bank was working on a new initiative to channel the flow of credit to small businesses in the rural areas.

He said, “The committee urged the bank to deepen and broaden access to finance to high employment elastic sector with particular emphasis on small and medium enterprises.

“The committee called on the bank to extend the success recorded under the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme to other items including fish and palm oil by introducing more stringent measures to curb access to foreign exchange for products that can be produced in Nigeria.”

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.

Economy

UK Budget 2021: Will Sunak’s Budget Run Into Unintended Consequences?

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Rishi Sunak’s Budget will encourage higher earners to consider their “international financial options” and will drive businesses away from the UK, warns the CEO of one of the world’s largest independent financial advisory and fintech organizations.

The warning from Nigel Green, chief executive and founder of deVere Group, comes as the Chancellor delivered his 2021 Budget in the House of Commons, his second since he took on the role.

Mr Green says: “The Chancellor has got an extraordinarily difficult hand to play as he tries to stem the economic damage caused by the pandemic, support jobs and businesses and, crucially, rebuild the public finances.

“Whilst Mr Sunak is being hailed a hero for the continued and unprecedented levels of support, it should also be remembered that he is – in a stealth move – dragging more people firmly into the tax net.

“He is raising taxes under the radar.

“Yes, there is no income tax rise. However, he is freezing personal tax thresholds, meaning as incomes rise and thresholds don’t, he is able to raise money by fiscal drag.”

Earlier this week, the deVere CEO noted: “Those most impacted by this stealth move will be looking at the financial planning options available to them, including international options, in order to grow and protect their wealth.”

Rishi Sunak also confirmed that corporation tax will increase to 25% from 2023, up from the current level of 19%.

Of this tax hike, Mr Green goes on to say: “Lower corporation tax helps job and wealth-creating business to survive and thrive. It also helps attract business to move and invest in the country.

“Instead of increasing taxes, Mr Sunak should have relentlessly focussed on growth and stimulus policies for businesses.  This would have been of greater help to firms, the economy, jobs and, ultimately, the Treasury’s coffers.”

He adds: “Again, this corporation tax hike is likely to serve as a prompt for businesses to consider their overseas financial options.”

The deVere CEO concludes: “The Chancellor had to perform a tough juggling act.  But stealthily dragging more people into the tax net and raising corporation tax might have negative, unintended consequences for the Treasury’s bottom line.”

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Electricity Consumers Get 611,231 Meters Under MAP Scheme

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Electricity Consumers Get 611,231 Meters Under MAP Scheme

A total of 611,231 meters have been deployed as at January 31, 2021 under the Meter Asset Provider initiative since its full operation despite the COVID-19 pandemic and other extraneous factors, the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission has said.

NERC disclosed this in a consultation paper on the review of the MAP Regulations.

The proposed review of the MAP scheme is coming nearly four months after the Federal Government launched a new initiative called National Mass Metering Programme aimed at distributing six million meters to consumers free of charge.

“The existence of a huge metering gap and the need to ensure successful implementation of the MYTO 2020 Service-Based Tariff resulted in the approval of the NMMP, a policy of the Federal Government anchored on the provision of long-term low interest financing to the Discos,” NERC said.

The commission had in March 2018 approved the MAP Regulations with the aim of fast-tracking the closure of the metering gap in the sector through the engagement of third-party investors (called meter asset providers) for the financing, procurement, supply, installation and maintenance of meters.

It set a target of providing meters to all customers within three years, and directed the Discos and the approved MAPs to commence the rollout of meters not later than May 1, 2019.

But in February 2020, NERC said several constraints, including changes in fiscal policy and the limited availability of long-term funding, had led to limited success in meter rollout.

NERC, in the consultation paper, highlighted three proposed options for metering implementation going forward.

The first option is to allow the implementation of both the NMMP and MAP metering frameworks to run concurrently; the second is to continue with the current MAP framework with meters procured under the NMMP supplied only through MAPs (by being off-takers from the local manufacturers/assemblers).

The third option is to wind down the MAP framework and allow the Discos to procure meters directly from local manufacturers/assemblers (or as procured by the World Bank), and enter into new contracts for the installation and maintenance of such meters.

“Customers who choose not to wait to receive meters based on the deployment schedule of the NMMP shall continue to have the option of making upfront payments for meters which will be installed within a maximum period of 10 working days,” NERC said.

The regulator said such customers would be refunded by the Discos through energy credits, adding that there would be no option for meter acquisition through the payment of a monthly meter service charge.

“Where meters have already been deployed under the meter service charge option, Discos shall make one-off repayment to affected customers and associated MAPs. Such meters shall be recognised in the rate base of the Discos,” it added.

NERC urged stakeholders to provide comments, objections, and representations on the proposed amendments within 21 days of the publication of the consultation paper.

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Nigeria’s Economy Moving in Right Direction but Slow – Amina Mohammed

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Nigeria’s Economy Moving in Right Direction but Slow – Amina Mohammed

Nigeria is moving in the right direction economically but its movement is not fast, the United Nations stated on Thursday.

Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, Amina Mohammed, said this during a meeting at the headquarters of the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment in Abuja.

She said the challenges in Nigeria were huge, its population large but described the country’s economy as great with lots of opportunities.

The UN scribe stated that after traveling by train and through various roads in the Northern parts of Nigeria, she discovered that the roads were motorable, although there were ongoing repairs on some of them.

Mohammed said, “This is a country that is diverse in nature, ethnicity, religious backgrounds and opportunities. But these are its strengths, not weaknesses.

“And I think the narrative for Nigeria has to change to one that is very much the reality.”

Speaking on her trips across parts of Nigeria, she said, “What I saw along the way is really a country that is growing, that is moving in the right direction economically. Is it fast enough? No. Is it in the right direction? Yes it is.

“And the challenges still remain with security, our social cohesion and social contract between government and the people. But I know that people are working on these issues.”

She said the UN recognised the reforms in Nigeria and other nations, adding that the common global agenda was the Sustainable Development Goals.

Mohammad commended Nigeria’s quick response to the COVID-19 pandemic, as she expressed hope that the arrival of vaccines would be the beginning of the end of COVID-19.

On his part, the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Adeniyi Adebayo, told his guest that the Federal Government was working hard to make Nigeria the entrepreneurial hub of Africa.

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