The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has warned Nigerians against fraudulent loan offers being circulated across social media platforms.
In a statement issued on Monday, the Director, Corporate Communications, Isaac Okorafor, said while the CBN has several development finance intervention programmes from which different categories of businesses have benefitted, the bank does not do so through direct interaction with prospective applicants.
The bank further stated that there are clearly spelt out procedures for accessing its intervention funds, which are disbursed through Participating Financial Institutions (PFI’s) such as Deposit Money Banks, Development Finance Institutions and Microfinance Banks.
It, therefore, warned members of the public, particularly the youth and owners of small-scale businesses to disregard any message requesting them to send their personal details.
“These messages are fake and anyone who enters into corresponds with them, does so at his or her own risk,” the statement read.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo says the Federal Government has implemented more than 140 reforms on the ease of doing business in the last three years.
Osinbajo stated this during the Second Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC) Awards 2019 held at the State House Banquet Hall on Wednesday in Abuja.
“In the past three years, Nigeria has implemented more than 140 reforms to make doing business in Nigeria easier,” he said.
According to him, some of the successful reforms bordered on the reservation of a business name within four hours, the online registration of a company within 24 hours, the application for and receipt of an approval of a visa-on-arrival electronically within 48 hours.
Others included the online filing and payment of taxes and the access to specialised small claims commercial courts in Lagos and Kano states.
Osinbajo, who also chairs the National Economic Council, noted that he was delighted to celebrate the phenomenal successes of the PEBEC reforms and recognition of those who made it all possible.
Citing a 2018 World Bank report that said 32 states in Nigeria had improved their Ease of Doing Business environment, he reiterated the commitment of the current administration to do more.
According to him, the Federal Government will continue to partner with the National Assembly in the passage of bills that will enable businesses to strive.
“We will be pursuing the continued implementation of reforms across all indicators, including the implementation of legislative reforms, specifically the passage of the new Companies and Allied Matters Act and the Omnibus Bills; the expansion of the regulatory reform program which started with NAFDAC and NAICOM; and now to include other regulators; the establishment of a National Trading Platform for ports; and the concession of our major international airports,” he added.
The pound retreated Thursday awaiting yet another Brexit vote after the UK currency struck multi-month highs versus the dollar and euro thanks to British MPs ruling out a no-deal departure from the European Union.
London’s benchmark FTSE 100 index climbed in late morning deals, boosted by the pound’s retreat helping to lift share prices of multinationals.
“The pound has pulled away from its multi-month highs against the dollar and euro reached yesterday after the UK parliament voted against leaving the EU without a deal,” noted Dean Popplewell, analyst at Oanda trading group.
Attention now turns to Thursday’s vote by British MPs on whether to ask the EU to approve a Brexit delay.
It comes amid plans by Prime Minister Theresa May to ask lawmakers again to back her twice-defeated divorce deal next week.
Following Wednesday’s no-deal vote, the pound surged to $1.3381, its highest level since June.
The euro was meanwhile pushed down to 84.73 pence — a level not seen since May 2017.
In Thursday trading, the pound fell back to $1.3232, while one euro was worth 85.45 pence.
Market focus was also on China, with Shanghai’s stock market closing down 1.2 percent after figures showed the country’s factory output grew slower than forecast in the first two months of the year.
Chinese retail sales and investment were broadly in line with expectations.
The tepid readings highlighted weakness in the world’s number two economy and reinforced the need for measures by the Chinese government to kickstart growth as the global economy stutters and the US trade war drags on.
The “data means the economy will take a longer time to bottom out as industrial production and consumption are still under pressure despite the rebound in investment”, Liu Peiqian, Asia strategist at Natwest Markets PLC, told Bloomberg News.
Traders will be keeping a close eye on closing remarks at the annual National People’s Congress on Friday for an idea about leaders’ plans.
Wall Street had closed higher Wednesday after data showed a pick-up in the US manufacturing sector, while a soft reading on wholesale inflation reinforced expectations the Federal Reserve will not hike interest rates any time soon.
With few major catalysts for buying dealers are awaiting fresh developments in the China-US trade talks with President Donald Trump saying he saw a “very good chance” of a deal but added he was in “no rush”.
Key figures around 1130 GMT
London – FTSE 100: UP 0.4 percent at 7,188.75 points
Frankfurt – DAX 30: DOWN 0.1 percent at 11,559.66
Paris – CAC 40: UP 0.4 percent at 5,327.40
EURO STOXX 50: UP 0.2 percent at 3,329.50
Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.3245 from $1.3339 at 2100 GMT
Euro/pound: UP at 85.40 pence from 85.00 pence
Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.1310 from $1.1334
Dollar/yen: UP at 111.62 yen from 111.17 yen
Tokyo – Nikkei 225: FLAT at 21,287.02 (close)
Hong Kong – Hang Seng: UP 0.2 percent at 28,851.39 (close)
Shanghai – Composite: DOWN 1.2 percent at 2,990.69 (close)
New York – DOW: UP 0.6 percent at 25,702.89 (close)
Oil – Brent Crude: UP two cents at $67.57 per barrel
Oil – West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 16 cents at $58.10 per barrel.
Nigeria’s business sector suffered major setbacks in the month of February, which also, was an election month that witnessed 2 weeks of unstable business activities and waiting-game by portfolio investors, as per reports.
According to the report, ‘Business Expectations Survey in February 2019’, by the Central Bank of Nigeria, captured the data of 1050 businesses nationwide mostly comprising off small, medium and large corporations and a response rate of 97.4 per cent.
The firms identified ‘insufficient power supply, high interest-rate, unfavorable economic climate, financial problems, unfavorable political climate, unclear economic laws, insufficient demand and access to credit’ as the major factors that constrained business activities in February.
In the following months in 2019, the survey also captured businesses, predicting an 11.3 and 11.1 inflation rate for the next six and twelve months, respectively. As against the 11.37 percent in January 2019.
With the re-election of President Muhammadu Buhari, in the recent presidential elections, the captured businesses expect an economic growth rate of 63.3 points within the next 12 months.
The report also captured some positivity in the service sector which indicated a higher disposition for expansion and employment.
Majority of the respondent firms expect the naira to appreciate in the current, next and the next twelve months as their confidence indices stood at 23.3, 32.6 and 54.7 index points, respectively. They expressed optimism that economic growth would rise steadily.
On inflation, the report showed that the responding firms are satisfied with the management of inflation by the Government with a net satisfaction index of 3.3 per cent in February 2019.
The list shows that Dangote’s wealth rose by 58 per cent so far this year, making him the second biggest mover after Andrew Forrest, founder and largest shareholder of Fortescue Metals Group, the world’s fourth-largest iron ore producer, whose wealth grew by 59 per cent.
Dangote was the only Nigerian on Bloomberg’s list of 500 billionaires and retained his position as Africa’s richest person.
Bloomberg’s net worth figures are updated every business day at the close of every trading day in New York, with assets categorised as publicly traded companies, private assets (including closely held businesses, art and real estate), cash and other liquid investments and liabilities.
Other Africans on the Bloomberg list were Nicky Oppenheimer of South Africa, who was ranked 216th with a net worth of $7.05bn; Johann Rupert of South Africa (ranked 225th with $6.92bn wealth); Nassef Sawiris of Egypt occupied the 228th position with $6.83bn; Natie Kirsh of South Africa (ranked 263rd with a net worth of $6.10bn) and Naguib Sawiris of Egypt emerged 331st with a fortune of $5.12bn.
The Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, has outlined the string of measures being put in place by the Muhammadu Buhari administration to ensure Nigeria takes its place among the top 100 countries in ease of doing business.
He stated this on Tuesday at the second day of the Africa Investment Forum holding in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Professor Osinbajo attended a series of the presidential investment chats where he spoke about the government’s consistency in sustaining its reforms and policies.
He also stressed the significant role of the private sector which included partnership on industrialisation, technology, and innovations.
The event hosted by the African Development Bank (AfDB) will end on Friday.
The Presidency and Professor Osinbajo’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mr Laolu Akande, shared some pictures of the event on Twitter.
VP Osinbajo now speaking at the first African Investment Forum in J’burg, detailing the ease of doing business reforms of the Buhari administration, stressing the significant role of private sector including in partnership on industrialization and technology & innovations
Italian premier Giuseppe Conte on Wednesday boasted of the “robust” Italian economy during a visit to Moscow as his government is crossing swords with Brussels over Rome’s 2019 budget.
“Let’s be certain that the fundamentals of our economy are strong, our economy is robust and we only need to go forward. The government will do its part” to help businesses, Conte told an Italian-Russian business council in Moscow.
“We are the second manufacturing power in Europe, we are probably the country which has the strongest fabric of micro and small businesses, and we are proud of this,” he said.
The populist prime minister, who visits Russia just days after his far-right interior minister Matteo Salvini, also met President Vladimir Putin Wednesday and invited him to visit Italy.
“We have a great team — the government, the institutions, the businessmen, the workers. We have to play as a team,” he said.
“In the (2019) budget, we pay attention also to the decrease of taxes, because we take into account that cost of labour in Italy has increased over time and weighs on our competitiveness,” he said, adding that Italy should “hold all the cards to free its potential.”
The populist coalition in Italy on Tuesday denied any modification to its next year budget despite the rejection of the document by the European Commission, an unprecedented move in the history of the European Union.
Salvini, head of the far-right Ligue and a strongman in the coalition government with the anti-establishment Five Star Movement (M5S) on Wednesday dug his heels on the budget.
“They would want us to cut the funds for health, for disability, for the right to education,” he told Italian radio station RTL. “There’s no way. If they continue inflicting random blows, it makes me want to give the Italian people more money.”
US President Donald Trump warned countries against doing business with Iran on Tuesday as he hailed the “most biting sanctions ever imposed”, triggering a mix of anger, fear, and defiance in Tehran.
“The Iran sanctions have officially been cast. These are the most biting sanctions ever imposed, and in November they ratchet up to yet another level,” Trump wrote in an early morning tweet.
“Anyone doing business with Iran will NOT be doing business with the United States. I am asking for WORLD PEACE, nothing less.”
Within hours of the sanctions taking effect, German automaker Daimler said it was halting its business activities in Iran.
Trump’s withdrawal from a landmark 2015 nuclear agreement in May had already spooked investors and triggered a run on the Iranian rial long before nuclear-related sanctions went back into force.
“I feel like my life is being destroyed. Sanctions are already badly affecting people’s lives. I can’t afford to buy food, pay the rent…” said a construction worker on the streets of the capital.
The sanctions reimposed on Tuesday — targeting access to US banknotes and key industries such as cars and carpets — were unlikely to cause immediate economic turmoil.
Iran’s markets were actually relatively buoyant, with the rial strengthening by 20 percent since Sunday after the government relaxed foreign exchange rules and allowed unlimited, tax-free gold and currency imports.
But the second tranche on November 5 covering Iran’s vital oil sector could be far more damaging — even if several key customers such as China, India and Turkey have refused to significantly cut their purchases.
In a statement on Monday before the sanctions were reimposed, Trump said: “The Iranian regime faces a choice.
“Either change its threatening, destabilising behaviour and reintegrate with the global economy or continue down a path of economic isolation.
“I remain open to reaching a more comprehensive deal that addresses the full range of the regime’s malign activities, including its ballistic missile programme and its support for terrorism,” Trump said.
But his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani dismissed the idea of talks while crippling sanctions were in effect.
“If you’re an enemy and you stab the other person with a knife, and then you say you want negotiations, then the first thing you have to do is remove the knife,” he told state television..
“They want to launch psychological warfare against the Iranian nation,” Rouhani said. “Negotiations with sanctions doesn’t make sense.”
European governments are infuriated by Trump’s strategy, which leaves their businesses in Iran faced with the threat of US legal penalties.
British Foreign Office Minister Alastair Burt told the BBC that the “Americans have really not got this right”.
He said it was a commercial decision for companies whether to stay in Iran, but that Britain believed the nuclear deal was important “not only to the region’s security but the world’s security.”
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told reporters the global reaction to Trump’s move showed that the US was diplomatically “isolated”.
But many large European firms are leaving Iran for fear of US penalties, and Trump warned of “severe consequences” for firms and individuals that continued to do business with Iran.
Daimler said it had “suspended our already limited activities in Iran in accordance with the applicable sanctions”.
There is also mounting pressure at home, where US hostility has helped fuel long-running discontent over high prices, unemployment, water shortages and the lack of political reform.
Those protests have proliferated over the past week, though the verifiable information is scarce due to heavy reporting restrictions.
Most Iranians see US hostility as a basic fact of life, so their frustration is largely directed at their own leaders for not handling the situation better.
“Prices are rising again, but the reason is government corruption, not US sanctions,” said Ali, a 35-year-old decorator in Tehran.
Many hope and believe that Iran’s leaders will need to “drink the poison cup” and negotiate with the US eventually.
There have been rumours that Trump and Rouhani could meet in New York in September on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly — though Rouhani reportedly rejected US overtures for a meeting at last year’s event.
Two countries that have welcomed the tough new US policy are Iran’s regional rivals, Israel and Saudi Arabia.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hailed the renewed sanctions as “an important moment for Israel, for the US, for the region, for the whole world.”
Iran’s currency has lost around half its value since Trump announced the US would withdraw from the nuclear pact.
But the last two days have seen an impressive 20 percent rally in the value of the rial after the government announced new foreign exchange rules and launched a corruption crackdown that included the arrest of the central bank’s currency chief.
The new rules mean exchange bureaus will reopen after a disastrous attempt to fix the value of the rial in April backfired spectacularly with corrupt traders making a fortune out of a mushrooming black market.
Even okadas, the motorcycle-taxis that buzz fearlessly around Nigeria’s commercial capital, Lagos, struggle to negotiate the road to Apapa — the country’s busiest seaport.
Riders pick their way gingerly around giant potholes that resemble blast craters, and among the lines of stationary trucks perched at precarious angles on the rutted surface.
Getting to and from Apapa — the catch-all name for Lagos’ two seaports of Apapa and Tin Can Island — has increasingly become a nightmare for pretty much everyone.
Now, with the chronic traffic jams hurting business and no sign of any swift resolution to the problem, labour unrest is looming large on the horizon.
The Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) has given the federal government an ultimatum: fix the roads or face an indefinite walk-out.
MWUN leader Adewale Adeyanju said an open-ended strike by its members would paralyse port activities but they had no alternative.
“The road is now a safe haven for criminals, who use every opportunity to attack, assault and rob innocent Nigerians, including our members, who trek to and from work daily on the road, because it is no longer motorable,” he told AFP.
As well as security, he said shipping companies and businesses were increasingly using alternative berths such as those in Cotonou, in neighbouring Benin.
“While our neighbouring ports are booming, our ports have been deserted because of the failed access roads to the ports, the gateway to the nation’s economy,” said Adeyanju.
Union leaders are due to meet the labour minister in Abuja on Tuesday. But it’s possible that even then, oil tanker drivers like John Chinedu will still be waiting on the dilapidated highway.
“We have been at this same spot for the last four days and we’ve not been able to enter the port,” he said.
Chinedu, though, is a recent arrival compared to Lekan Yinusa.
“It’s been two weeks since we arrived in Lagos to help an importer carry his container that has been lying in the port for several weeks,” he said.
“But we have not been able to because of the bad condition of the road. I go to the toilet, wash and even eat over there,” he added, pointing to the side of the road.
The dismal state of the roads is all the more astonishing for a port that handles more than 60 percent of Nigeria’s cargo and generates some 70 percent of customs revenue.
In 2017, duties totalled more than one trillion naira ($2.8 billion, 2.2 billion euros) — up from just under 900 billion naira the previous year.
Jonathan Nicol, a Lagos-based importer, said the condition of the roads has had a knock-on effect on business, and spiralling costs had forced some to shut down.
“We are forced to pay extra charges and demurrage (when a ship’s owner pays a penalty for not loading or discharging in time), which is not the fault of importers,” he added.
“Manufacturers cannot get their raw materials on time. The delay leads to extra port charges which will be passed on to the final consumers in terms of high prices.”
Fuel depot congestion
Shipping executive Lukman Busari said Apapa’s chronic traffic jams were not helped by the location of fuel depots around the ports.
“There are over 200 farm tanks with thousands of trucks waiting to load petroleum products at the ports, thereby creating gridlock on the roads,” he said.
“To decongest the roads, the railway should be developed while pipeline distribution of petroleum product should be considered.”
The managing director of the Nigeria Ports Authority, Hadiza Bala Usman, acknowledged the grievances, which come as Nigeria looks to boost growth after months of recession.
“There is no doubt that the deplorable state of the roads at Apapa is hurting businesses. We are not happy about the situation,” she said.
The NPA last year contributed 1.8 billion naira for road repairs and was pushing the government to do further work, despite it not being in the authority’s remit.
“We are ready to do it because of its importance to our operations,” she said, appealing to port users to bear with the authorities while the facilities are improved.
“We have to adopt a multi-transportational approach to move cargo to and from the ports.
“Right now, over 90 percent of cargo is moved through the roads, which is not too ideal. There is need to develop the railway and inland waterways as well.”
The Cross River State Government has assured farmers in the state of the government’s support while in farming.
State Governor, Mr Ben Ayade made the pledge on Wednesday during the unveiling of Ayade Premium Rice locally produced in the state.
According to him, the development was to encourage local production as the nation strives towards rice sufficiency and food security.
“The local rice production will help to reduce the nation’s import of rice as well as ensure food security in the country and encouraged people of the state to key into farming in order to diversify the economy,” he said.
While frowning at the continuous importation of foreign rice into the country, the governor called for attitudinal change following the ban by the government.
Mr Ayade is of the view that government should be more strict on its ban on importation policy to encourage more farmers to go into farming.
With the Federal Government’s intervention and support of local rice production, he said, Cross River state hopes to be the leading producer of rice in the country as it has grown its own rice.
In attendance at the unveiling ceremony were members of the state House of Assembly and National Assembly, the State’s executive council and government officials.
The lawmakers representing the state commended the state government for keying into the Central Bank of Nigeria’s anchor borrowers scheme to increase its productivity.
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on Monday announced its first policy actions in the Foreign Exchange (FX) market.
The announcement by the financial regulator comes less than a week after the National Economic Council asked the CBN to revisit its policies on the FX market, as the value of the local currency unit (Naira) dips almost on a daily basis.
The bank stated in statement that the new directive takes immediate effect.
The apex bank, however, stipulated that such retail transactions should be settled as a rate not exceeding 20% above the interbank market rate, which finished on Monday at 305 Naira, 25 Kobo to the U.S. dollar.
In addition to this, the central bank also announced a significant reduction in the tenor of its forward FX sales from the current maximum cycle of 180 days, to not more than 60 days from the date of transaction.
This move, the financial regulator said would further increase the availability of foreign exchange to all end users.
As the bank seeks to increase efficiency of the FX market that has come under intense local and international criticisms, the apex bank said immediate steps were being taken to clear all unfilled orders at the interbank market, remove imposition of allocation/utilisation rules on commercial banks, as well as implement an effective programme to support the interbank market.
The operator of the interbank FX market, the FMDQ OTC Securities Exchange, was therefore advised to activate its FX order-book systems as soon as possible.
The agency was also asked to fast-track the on-boarding of foreign exchange clients on the FX relationship systems, in order to ensure total transparency of the foreign exchange market.