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Nigeria Approaches China, Turkey, and Portugal for Fresh Loan

The Federal Government has yet again hinted that it will borrow billions of dollars from both Europe and Asia to complete the ongoing rail projects across the country. 

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Despite the humongous debt, the Federal Government has yet again hinted that it will borrow billions of dollars from both Europe and Asia to complete the ongoing rail projects across the country. 

Investors King learnt that the Federal Government intends to access credit facilities from financial institutions based in China, Turkey, and Portugal. 

Already, the Nigeria Government which comprises the federal government, all 36 States, and the federal capital territory (FCT) has a public stock debt of $103.3 billion, representing 42.8 trillion in naira. 

Some of these debts are owed to international financial institutions such as the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), AfreximBank, African Development Bank (AfDB), and bilateral lenders, such as Germany, China, Japan, India, and France.

The growing pile of Nigerian debt has been a major concern for many experts who express worry and enumerate the danger it portrays for the country. 

They advised government at all levels in Nigeria to increase revenue generation, block loopholes, and cut government spending.

According to the Minister of Transportation, Mu’azu Jaji Sambo, the Federal Government will fairly monetise the rail projects across the country to bring some sort of revenue to the government. 

While speaking to a joint committee of the National Assembly, Mu’azu noted that several rail projects are currently ongoing across the country. Some of these include Kaduna-Kano, Port Harcourt to Maiduguri, and Kano – Maradi. 

He however admitted that it is getting difficult for the Federal Government to get counterpart funding through loans. 

The minister further disclosed that the Lagos to Ibadan and Warri to Itakpe sections of the train service are adequately receiving public patronage. 

He added that the Abuja to Kaduna train service will also resume operations soon after necessary security precautions have been taken. 

It would be recalled that terrorists attacked Abuja to Kaduna train in March which led to the death of no less than eight people while scores were kidnapped. The last batch of those abducted were released in early October after eight months in captivity.

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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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Banking Sector

CBN Governor Vows to Tackle High Inflation, Signals Prolonged High Interest Rates

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The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Dr. Olayemi Cardoso, has pledged to employ decisive measures, including maintaining high interest rates for as long as necessary.

This announcement comes amidst growing concerns over the country’s soaring inflation rates, which have posed significant economic challenges in recent times.

Speaking in an interview with the Financial Times, Cardoso emphasized the unwavering commitment of the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) to take whatever steps are essential to rein in inflation.

He underscored the urgency of the situation, stating that there is “every indication” that the MPC is prepared to implement stringent measures to curb the upward trajectory of inflation.

“They will continue to do what has to be done to ensure that inflation comes down,” Cardoso affirmed, highlighting the determination of the CBN to confront the inflationary pressures gripping the economy.

The CBN’s proactive stance on inflation was evident from the outset of the year, with the MPC taking bold steps to tighten monetary policy.

The committee notably raised the benchmark lending rate by 400 basis points during its February meeting, further increasing it to 24.75% in March.

Looking ahead, the next MPC meeting, scheduled for May 20-21, will likely serve as a platform for further deliberations on monetary policy adjustments in response to evolving economic conditions.

Financial analysts have projected continued tightening measures by the MPC in light of stubbornly high inflation rates. Meristem Securities, for instance, anticipates a further uptick in headline inflation for April, underscoring the persistent inflationary pressures facing the economy.

Despite the necessity of maintaining high interest rates to address inflationary concerns, Cardoso acknowledged the potential drawbacks of such measures.

He expressed hope that the prolonged high rates would not dampen investment and production activities in the economy, recognizing the need for a delicate balance in monetary policy decisions.

“Hiking interest rates obviously has had a dampening effect on the foreign exchange market, so that has begun to moderate,” Cardoso remarked, highlighting the multifaceted impacts of monetary policy adjustments.

Addressing recent fluctuations in the value of the naira, Cardoso reassured investors of the central bank’s commitment to market stability.

He emphasized the importance of returning to orthodox monetary policies, signaling a departure from previous unconventional approaches to monetary management.

As the CBN governor charts a course towards stabilizing the economy and combating inflation, his steadfast resolve underscores the gravity of the challenges facing Nigeria’s monetary authorities.

In the face of daunting inflationary pressures, the commitment to decisive action offers a glimmer of hope for achieving stability and sustainable economic growth in the country.

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Banking Sector

NDIC Managing Director Reveals: Only 25% of Customers’ Deposits Insured

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Retail banking

The Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC), Bello Hassan, has revealed that a mere 25% of customers’ deposits are insured by the corporation.

This revelation has sparked concerns about the vulnerability of depositors’ funds and raised questions about the adequacy of regulatory safeguards in Nigeria’s banking sector.

Speaking on the sidelines of the 2024 Sensitisation Seminar for justices of the court of appeal in Lagos, themed ‘Building Strong Depositors Confidence in Banks and Other Financial Institutions through Adjudication,’ Hassan shed light on the limited coverage of deposit insurance for bank customers.

Hassan addressed recent concerns surrounding the hike in deposit insurance coverage and emphasized the need for periodic reviews to ensure adequacy and credibility.

He explained that the decision to increase deposit insurance limits was based on various factors, including the average deposit size, inflation impact, GDP per capita, and exchange rate fluctuations.

Despite the coverage extending to approximately 98% of depositors, Hassan underscored the critical gap between the number of depositors covered and the value of deposits insured.

He stressed that while nearly all depositors are accounted for, only a quarter of the total value of deposits is protected, leaving a significant portion of funds vulnerable to risk.

“The coverage is just 25% of the total value of the deposits,” Hassan affirmed, highlighting the disparity between the number of depositors covered and the actual value of deposits within the banking system.

Moreover, Hassan addressed concerns about moral hazard, emphasizing that the presence of uninsured deposits would incentivize banks to exercise market discipline and mitigate risks associated with reckless behavior.

“The quantum of deposits not covered will enable banks to exercise market discipline and eliminate the issue of moral hazards,” Hassan stated, suggesting that the lack of full coverage serves as a safeguard against irresponsible banking practices.

However, Hassan’s revelations have prompted calls for greater regulatory oversight and transparency within Nigeria’s financial institutions. Critics argue that the current level of deposit insurance falls short of providing adequate protection for depositors, especially in the event of bank failures or financial crises.

The disclosure comes amid ongoing efforts by regulatory authorities to bolster depositor confidence and strengthen the resilience of the banking sector. With concerns mounting over the stability of Nigeria’s financial system, stakeholders are urging for proactive measures to address vulnerabilities and enhance consumer protection.

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