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Agusto & Co Forecasts $22B Diaspora Remittances for Nigeria in 2021

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The pan-African credit rating agency, Agusto & Co has projected that Nigeria’s diaspora remittances will reach $22 billion by 2021, representing a year-on-year (y-o-y) rise of five percent.

The Lagos-based firm stated this in its “2021 Nigeria Diaspora Remittance Report & Survey,” presented to members of the public.

The report anticipated a further y-o-y rise of two percent in remittances inflow to $22.5 billion by 2022. According to the report, Nigeria’s diaspora remittances dropped by 12 percent to $21 billion in 2020, from about $23.8 billion the prior year.

Head of Research at Agusto Consulting, Mr. Jimi Ogbobine, while speaking during a webinar on the report, explained that the Nigerian diaspora remittances are still an under-researched subject despite its strong bankability credentials.

He said there have been very few target-market studies on diaspora remittances in Nigeria, adding that Agusto Consulting adopted a strategy by initiating research on bankable markets with poor research coverage.

Remittances are funds transferred from migrants to their home country. They represent household income from foreign economies arising mainly from the temporary or permanent movement of people to those economies.

Remittances play important roles in the economy, helping to meet the basic needs of recipients, fund cash and non-cash investments, finance education, foster new businesses, service debts and drive economic growth.

“Previous studies have also shown that about 70 percent of remittances are used for consumption purposes, while 30 percent of remittance funds go to investment-related use,” Ogbobine explained.
He pointed out that Africa’s estimated migrant remittances of $78.3 billion in 2020 represented a modest 12 percent of the global migrant remittances.

“However, only two states within the continent represent about three-fifths of the continent’s entire migrant remittances. Egypt’s diaspora remittances of $24.4 billion in 2020 are not only the largest in Africa but also represent about a third (31.1 percent) of the continent’s entire migrant remittance.

“Nigeria ranks behind Egypt with $21 billion which represents about a quarter of the continent’s global remittances. Morocco driven by its large French diaspora represents about eight percent of the continent‘s remittance inflows with $6.3 billion. Zimbabwe continues to suffer the effects of the dysfunction in its forex regime,” it added.

According to the report, all of Africa’s top seven diaspora recipients experienced dips in remittance inflows in 2020, barring Kenya alone which grew by 2.8 percent. It revealed that Nigeria recorded the worst contractions amongst Africa’s top seven in 2020 of about 11.9 percent.

“Nigeria’s domestic policy conundrum on foreign exchange creating as many challenges to the wider macro contractions caused by the pandemic. Outside Nigeria and Kenya, the other states within the top seven bracket experienced varying degrees of contraction in diaspora remittances of between five percent to 9.4 percent in 2020,” it added.

Diaspora remittances to Africa declined by an estimated 12.5 percent in 2020 to $42 billion, almost entirely due to a 27.7 percent decline to Nigeria, which accounts for over 40 percent of such flows to the region, the World Bank recently disclosed. The Bank, in its latest Migration and Development Brief, revealed that excluding Nigeria, remittance flows to Africa increased by 2.3 percent with a 37 percent growth reported in Zambia, Mozambique (16 percent), Kenya (9 percent) and Ghana (5 percent).

It stated: “Remittances to Sub-Saharan Africa declined by an estimated 12.5 percent in 2020 to $42 billion. The decline was almost entirely due to a 27.7 percent decline in remittance flows to Nigeria, which alone accounted for over 40 percent of remittance flows to the region.

“Excluding Nigeria, remittance flows to Sub-Saharan African increased by 2.3 percent. Remittance growth was reported in Zambia (37 percent), Mozambique (16 percent), Kenya (9 percent) and Ghana (5 percent).”

In 2021, remittance flows to the region are projected to rise by 2.6 percent, supported by improving prospects for growth in high-income countries.

The report noted that data on remittance flows to Sub-Saharan Africa are sparse and of uneven quality, with some countries still using the outdated Fourth IMF Balance of Payments Manual rather than the Sixth, while several other countries do not report data at all.

Giving further insight, the report said: “High-frequency phone surveys in some countries reported decreases in remittances for a large percentage of households even while recorded remittances reported by official sources report increases inflows.

“The shift from informal to formal channels due to the closure of borders explains in part the increase in the volume of remittances recorded by central banks.”

On remittance costs, the report stated that Sub-Saharan Africa remains the most expensive region to send money to, where sending $200 costs an average of 8.2 percent in the fourth quarter of 2020.

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Finance

SEC and CIMA Forge Alliance to Enhance Financial Reporting Standards

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In a bid to elevate financial reporting standards within Nigeria’s public institutions, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has announced a strategic partnership with the Chartered Institute of Management Accounting (CIMA).

This collaboration aims to enforce adherence to financial reporting regulations and foster a culture of transparency and accountability across various sectors.

Emomotimi Agama, the Acting Director General of the Securities and Exchange Commission, revealed this development during a recent meeting with a delegation from CIMA in Abuja.

Agama said the SEC ensures ethical financial practices and compliance with reporting standards mandated by law.

He stressed that the commission would vigilantly monitor adherence to these standards and impose penalties for any violations.

“It is a great time that you have come to Nigeria. SEC is saddled with the responsibility of making the initial decision of ensuring that what is right is done and transparency in reporting financial statements by public companies is ensured. It is now law to do so and there are consequences for breaking the law,” Agama remarked.

Sarah Ghosh, the President of CIMA, echoed Agama’s sentiments, emphasizing inclusivity, sustainability, and innovation as the association’s core priorities.

Ghosh highlighted CIMA’s commitment to engaging with regulatory authorities to promote awareness of the association’s values and its potential to enhance financial reporting practices among public firms.

“CIMA is approaching more regulatory bodies to ensure that everyone is allowed to understand what the association stands for and its contribution to enhancing reporting on financial statements of public companies,” Ghosh declared.

The collaboration between SEC and CIMA signifies a proactive approach towards strengthening financial governance and fostering investor confidence in Nigeria’s capital market.

By leveraging CIMA’s expertise and SEC’s regulatory authority, the partnership aims to instill a culture of integrity and accountability in financial reporting processes, ultimately contributing to the country’s economic development.

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Banking Sector

Financial Institutions Racked Up N678m in Fines Last Year

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Retail banking

Financial institutions in Nigeria paid a total of N678 million in fines in the 2023 financial year, according to analysis of their various financial statements.

The analysis examined the annual reports of nine prominent financial groups, including FBN Holdings, Access Holdings, Guaranty Trust Holding Company, Zenith Bank Plc, United Bank for Africa Plc, Fidelity Bank, Wema Bank, Stanbic IBTC Holdings, and FCMB Group.

These reports provided insights into the fines imposed by various regulatory authorities, including the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the National Insurance Commission, and others.

Compared to the previous year, the total amount of fines paid by these institutions decreased significantly by 89.25% from N6.31 billion in 2022 to N678 million in 2023.

This decline reflects improved regulatory compliance among financial institutions and signals a positive trend toward greater adherence to established guidelines and standards.

Among the financial groups analyzed, Zenith Bank stood out for its increase in penalties compared to the previous year. While the bank had incurred no fines in 2022, it paid N21 million in penalties in 2023.

The penalties levied against Zenith Bank included fines for late rendition of CBN returns, unauthorized employment practices, outstanding auditor recommendations, and compliance checks on politically exposed persons.

Similarly, FBN Holdings reported a decrease in fines paid during the period, totaling N17.26 million compared to N26 million in the previous year.

The fines imposed on FBN Holdings were related to late submission of audited financial statements and non-compliance with regulatory reporting requirements.

Access Holdings also experienced a significant reduction in penalties, with fines decreasing from approximately N604 million in 2022 to N81.60 million in 2023.

Despite the decrease, Access Holdings incurred fines from various regulatory bodies, including the CBN, PenCom, and NGX RegCo, for infractions such as unauthorized advertising, data recapture sanctions, and late filing of financial statements.

Other financial institutions, such as GTCO, UBA Group, Fidelity Bank, Wema Bank, Stanbic IBTC Holdings, and FCMB Group, also reported fines for various regulatory violations, including breaches of transaction rules, late submission of reports, and non-compliance with industry regulations.

The significant decrease in fines paid by financial institutions in 2023 reflects the industry’s commitment to improving regulatory compliance and upholding best practices.

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Finance

Presidential Committee to Exempt 95% of Informal Sector from Taxes

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tax relief

The Presidential Fiscal Policy and Tax Reforms Committee (PFPTRC) has unveiled plans to exempt a significant portion of the informal sector from taxation.

Chaired by Taiwo Oyedele, the committee aims to alleviate the burden of multiple taxation on small businesses and low-income individuals while fostering economic growth.

The announcement came following the close-out retreat of the PFPTRC in Abuja, where Oyedele addressed reporters over the weekend.

He said the committee is committed to easing the tax burden, particularly for those operating within the informal sector that constitutes a substantial portion of Nigeria’s economy.

Under the proposed reforms, approximately 95% of the informal sector would be granted tax exemptions, sparing them from obligations such as income tax and value-added tax (VAT).

Oyedele stressed the importance of supporting individuals in the informal sector and recognizing their efforts to earn a legitimate living and their contribution to economic development.

The decision was informed by extensive deliberations and data analysis with the committee advocating for a fairer and more equitable tax system.

Oyedele highlighted that individuals earning up to N25 million annually would be exempted from various taxes, aligning with the committee’s commitment to relieving financial pressure on small businesses and low-income earners.

Moreover, the committee emphasized the need for tax reforms to address the prevailing issue of multiple taxation, which disproportionately affects small businesses and the vulnerable population.

By exempting the majority of the informal sector from taxation, the committee aims to stimulate economic growth and promote entrepreneurship.

The proposal for tax reforms is expected to be submitted to the National Assembly by the third quarter of this year, following consultations with the private sector and internal approvals.

The reforms encompass a broad range of measures, including executive orders, regulations, and constitutional amendments, aimed at creating a more conducive environment for business and investment.

In addition to tax exemptions, the committee plans to introduce executive orders and regulations to streamline tax processes and enhance compliance. This includes a new withholding tax regulation exempting small businesses from certain tax obligations, pending ministerial approval.

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