COVID-19: SERAP Asks Court To Order FG, CBN To Name Beneficiaries Of Cash Payments, Donations

SERAP Threatens To Sue UI, AAUA Over Increased Fees

 

Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has filed a lawsuit asking the Federal High Court, Abuja to order the Federal Government and Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to “publicly identify and name Nigerians who have so far benefited from any cash payments, cash transfers, food distribution, and other reliefs and palliatives during the lockdown in Abuja, Lagos, and Ogun states because of COVID-19.”

In the suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/657/2020 filed last week, SERAP is seeking: “an order for leave to apply for judicial review and an order of mandamus to compel Ms. Sadia Umar-Farouk, Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disasters Management and Social Development, and Mr. Godwin Emefiele, CBN governor, to publish spending details of public funds and private sector donations to provide socio-economic benefits to the country’s poorest and most vulnerable people.”

SERAP is also seeking “an order to direct and compel Ms. Umar-Farouk and Mr. Emefiele to publish an up-to-date list of donations and names of those who have made payments as per their publicly announced donations; spending details of the N500 billion COVID-19 intervention fund, and the names of beneficiaries, and whether such beneficiaries include people living with disabilities (PWDs).”

READ ALSO: SERAP Sues Health Ministry, NCDC Over ‘Failure To Account For COVID-19 Money’

The suit followed SERAP’s Freedom of Information (FoI) requests dated 4 April 2020, expressing concern that: “millions of the country’s poorest and most vulnerable people have not benefited from the announced palliatives, donations, reported cash payments, cash transfers, and other reliefs.”

SERAP is also seeking: “a declaration that the failure of the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disasters Management, and Social Development, and the CBN governor to provide SERAP with the requested information on spending details of public money and private donations and to publish names of beneficiaries amount to a fundamental violation of the FoI Act and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.”

The suit filed on behalf of SERAP by its counsel, Kolawole Oluwadare and Joke Fekumo, read in part: “By a combined reading of the FoI Act and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, Ms. Umar-Farouk and Mr. Emefiele ought to be directed and compelled to make public details of those that have benefited from COVID-19 funds and donations.”

“Any perception that the reliefs, funds, and donations are not reaching intended beneficiaries would undermine public trust and the integrity of the entire processes and modes of distribution of reliefs/benefits to these Nigerians.”

“Both the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disasters Management and Social Development, and the CBN governor have a legal duty to ensure that information on the details of those who have so far benefited from COVID-19 funds and donations is released to SERAP upon requests, and that the information is widely published. Yet, both have completely ignored SERAP’s requests.”

“SERAP and indeed the general public have a legitimate interest in ascertaining and scrutinizing the veracity of the claims of how the COVID-19 funds and donations have been spent, and to know that the intended beneficiaries actually received any benefits.”

“Ms. Umar-Farouk and Mr. Emefiele also ought to be directed and compelled to make public details of any plan to provide social and economic reliefs to the over 80 million of the country’s poorest and the most vulnerable people, beyond the 11 million targeted by the Federal Government across 35 states.”

“Democracy cannot flourish in the absence of citizens’ access to information, no matter how much open discussion and debate is allowed. This suit would ensure transparency and accountability in the spending of COVID-19 money and donations.”

“SERAP submits that the principle of disclosure of information in overriding public interest has been internationally reaffirmed, including in the Joint Declaration adopted by the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Opinion and Expression, the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media and the OAS Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression.”

“The Joint Declaration states that the right of access to information should be subject to a narrow, carefully tailored system of exceptions. Exceptions should apply only where there is a risk of substantial harm to the protected interest and where that harm is greater than the overriding public interest in having access to the information.”

No date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit.

CBN Announces N432bn Fund To Support Rice Farmers, Others

A photo showing the CBN headquarters in Abuja. Photo: Channels TV/ Sodiq Adelakun.

 

 

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has announced the sum of N432 billion to support farmers of nine key commodities for the 2020 planting season.

The Director of Development Finance at the CBN, Mr Yusuf Yila, announced this on Thursday at a meeting organised by the apex bank for farmers under its Anchor Borrowers’ Programme in Abuja.

He listed the commodities to include rice, maize, poultry, cassava, tomatoes, fish, cotton, cocoa, and dairy.

READ ALSO: Excuses Will No Longer Be Tolerated, Buhari Tells Service Chiefs

According to Yila, the intervention is expected to produce over 8.3 million metric tonnes of the targeted commodities.

This comes days after the Federal Government approved N13 billion intervention fund for pest control in 12 states.

The states, which were described as “frontline”, included Sokoto, Kebbi, Zamfara, Katsina, Kano, Jigawa, Bauchi, Gombe, Adamawa, Taraba, Yobe and Borno.

The fund, according to the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, was approved to ensure uninterrupted agricultural activities during the 2020 farming season and control transboundary pests.

It added that the approval was aimed at minimising the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, as well as guarantee both nutritional and national food security.

Nigeria’s Manufacturing PMI Declines To 42.4 — CBN

A file photo of CBN headquarters in Abuja. Photo: Channels TV/ Sodiq Adelakun.

 

The manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) in the month of May recorded a decline to 42.4 index points after a 36-month consecutive expansion.

This is according to the May 2020 PMI survey conducted by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

“Of the 14 surveyed subsectors, only the electrical equipment sector reported growth (above 50% threshold) in the review month, while the remaining 13 subsectors reported declines in the following order cement; petroleum and coal products; printing and related support activities; furniture and related products; textile, apparel, leather and footwear; paper products; fabricated metal products; food, beverage and tobacco products; chemical and pharmaceutical products; transportation equipment; plastics and rubber products; non-metallic mineral products; appliances and components and primary metal,” CBN’s survey revealed.

Meanwhile, the survey showed that production level index for the manufacturing sector also declined in May 2020 after 37 consecutive months of recorded growth.

The employment level index for May 2020 stood at 24.5 points, indicating a decline in employment level for the second month.

Out of the 14 subsectors captured, one subsector remained unchanged, while the remaining 13 subsectors recorded lower employment level in the review month.

Similarly, the non-Manufacturing PMI stood at 25.3 points in May 2020, indicating contraction.

CBN Directs Banks To Resolve Backlog Of Electronic Transactions Within Two Weeks

A file photo of CBN Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele.

 

Banks have been directed to resolve all backlog issues relating to failed Automated Teller Machine, Point of Sale terminal and other electronic banking transactions within two weeks, starting June 8, 2020.

The directive which was issued by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) also revised the timelines for reversals and resolution of refund complaints on electronic channels.

READ ALSO: French Economy To Shrink 11% This Year – Minister

A statement from the apex banks Director, Corporate Communication, Isaac Okorafor, said the directive takes effect from June.

“Failed “On-Us” ATM transactions (when customers use their cards on their bank’s ATMs) shall be instantly reversed from the current timeline of three (3) days. Where instant reversal fails due to any technical issue or system glitch, the timeline for manual reversal shall not exceed 24 hours.

“Refunds for failed “Not-on-Us” ATM transactions (where customers use their cards on other banks’ ATMs) shall not exceed 48 hours from the current 3-5 days,” the statement explained further.

The regulatory body also stated that resolution of disputed PoS or Web transactions shall be concluded within 72 hours from the current five (5) days.

Meanwhile, the apex bank has directed key service providers in the Nigerian payments system to also commit to establishing an integrated dispute resolution platform for the industry and enhance their payment system infrastructure and processes to reduce incidences of transaction failure.

CBN Cuts MPR To 12.5 Percent, Retains Other Rates

A file photo of CBN Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele.

 

The Central Bank of Nigeria on Thursday reduced its monetary policy rate to 12.5 percent as part of efforts to combat the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

The previous rate was 13.50 percent.

However, the bank retained its Cash Reserve Ratio (CRR) at 27.5 percent and Liquidity Ratio (LR) at 30 percent.

MPR is the interest rate at which CBN lends to the commercial banks and also the benchmark against which other lending rates in the economy are pegged.

A reduction in the MPR rate tends to make lending cheaper and helps to further stimulate the economy.

CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, announced the reduction during a Monetary Policy Council briefing on Thursday.

Seven members voted to cut the MPR by 100 basis points, while two members voted for a 150bps rate cut, with one member electing for a 200bps rate cut, the Governor said.

Mr Emefiele added that the asymmetric corridor around the MPR will remain at +200/-500bps, while the Cash Reserves Ratio (CRR) at 27.5 percent and
Liquidity Ratio (LR) at 30 percent.

The Committee also considered developments in the global and domestic economy since its last meeting including, the negative impact of COVID-19 on global growth and the responses of global central banks’ to the COVID-19.

On the domestic front, the Committee noted that sustained inflationary pressure (April: +8bps to 12.34% y/y), and weaker but still positive output growth in Q1-2020, as well as a sustained decline in manufacturing PMI.

COVID-19: CBN Okays Reliefs On Loans In OFIs Sector

A file photo of CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele.
A file photo of CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele.

 

As part of its continued effort to mitigate the impact of the corona virus (COVID-19) on households, businesses and regulated institutions, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), has reduced interest rates on its facilities through participating Other Financial Institutions (OFIs) from 9% to 5% per annum for one year effective March 1, 2020.

The Bank, in a circular signed by the Director, Financial Policy and Regulation Department , Kevin Amugo, and issued on Wednesday, May 27, 2020 in Abuja, also announced that CBN intervention facilities obtained through participating OFIs – Microfinance Banks (MFBs), Primary Mortgage Banks, and Institutions, among others – will be given a further one-year moratorium on all principal repayments, also effective March 1, 2020.

READ ALSO: NECA Projects Economic Contraction In Second Quarter Of 2020

According to the circular, OFIs have equally been granted leave to consider temporary and time limited restructuring of the tenor and loan terms for households and businesses affected by COVID-19, subject to the recently issued guidelines for restructuring affected credit facilities in the OFI sub-sector.

Expatiating on the decision of the Bank, the Director, Corporate Communications Department, Isaac Okorafor, said the Management approval for the restructuring of credit facilities in the Other Financial Institutions (OFI) sub-sector was in line with the Bank’s desire to alleviate momentary strain on households, businesses and regulated institutions triggered by the lockdown due to COVID-19.

He explained that the CBN would also continue to monitor developments and implement appropriate measures to safeguard financial stability and support stakeholders impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Meanwhile, the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) meeting of the CBN for the month of May 2020, holds on Thursday, May 28, 2020.

CBN To Fund Research For A Nigerian COVID-19 Vaccine – Emefiele

A file photo of CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele.
A file photo of CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele.

 

Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele, says the country’s apex bank “is developing a framework” through which it can provide financial support to achieve a Nigerian COVID-19 vaccine.

Mr Emefiele said this at the unveiling of the THISDAY Dome testing, tracing, and treatment centre on Tuesday in Abuja.

The THISDAY Dome is expected to improve health facilities available to combat the viral disease.

On Monday, Nigeria recorded 242 new cases of the novel coronavirus, bringing its total infections to 4,641, according to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).

The country has also recorded at least 150 deaths as a result of the virus.

“Needless to state that if we are to wait for foreign countries to develop their own vaccines, we will be the last in the queue to receive curative remedies for our teeming population,” Mr. Emefiele said.

He said the framework will involve grants and long term facilities that will be provided to “researchers, science institutions and biotechnology firms to develop the Nigerian Vaccine.”

Mr Emefiele said the CBN recently launched an N100bn healthcare intervention fund.

“Practitioners in the Pharmaceutical and healthcare sectors will be able to access finance at a single-digit rate through this fund,” he explained.

In a bid to cushion the effects of the pandemic on the Nigerian economy, the CBN has implemented several initiatives such as the provision of one trillion naira facility for firms operating in the agriculture and manufacturing sectors, Mr. Emefiele said.

“We are also working with financial institutions to enable the continuous flow of credit to viable businesses while putting in place provisions such as moratoriums and restructuring of existing loans under CBN intervention funds, that have been provided to businesses,” he added.

CBN, Bankers’ Committee Suspend Lay-Offs In Banks

A file photo of CBN Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele.

 

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the bankers’ committee have agreed to suspend lay-offs in banks across the federation.

This agreement was reached at a special meeting of the Bankers’ Committee which was convened on May 2, 2020, to further review the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Nigerian banking industry.

At the special meeting, the Committee particularly deliberated on the issue of the
operating costs of banks in view of the disruptions emanating from the global
economic difficulties.

READ ALSO: COVID-19: Reduce Interest Rates, Provide Tax Reliefs – Tinubu Tells Banks And FG

The committee after deliberations decided that in order to help minimize and mitigate the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on families and livelihoods, no bank in Nigeria shall retrench or lay-off any staff of any cadre (including full-time and part-time).

Also decided by the committee was that in a bid to give effect to the above measure, the express approval of the Central Bank of Nigeria will be required in the event that it becomes absolutely necessary to lay-off any such staff.

The Central Bank of Nigeria in a communique by its spokesman, Isaac Okoroafor, solicited the support of all in the collective effort to weather through the economic challenges occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ex-CBN Deputy Governor Reveals ‘The Good Thing’ About $3.4bn IMF Loan

The Former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Tunde Lemo has revealed that the $3.4bn loan from the International Monetary Fund will be used to support Nigeria’s balance of payment mode.

He stated this during Channels Television’s Business Morning Programme on Thursday.

Mr. Lemo welcomed the idea of borrowing the fund, describing it as a unique one that will help to avoid a currency crisis.

He said that the IMF is releasing about 100 percent of Nigeria’s quota, noting that the fund is different from other project facilities obtained from other sources.

READ ALSO: Why Nigeria Is Borrowing $3.4bn From IMF – Finance Minister

“This is different because it goes directly to support your balance of payment, like government revenue, the percent that comes from foreign exchange earnings.

“And Today because of the plunge in oil price, we also need to curtail the output from a little over $2m barrels per day to now $1.4m or $1.5m barrels per day.

“When your price has plunged to below cost, you start to run short of foreign exchange”.

He noted that COVID-19 is a global pandemic that has caused a major setback in the economy, especially the crash in oil prices.

According to him, the country needs to get financial help to cushion the effect of the virus.

“The nation should understand the fact that we need to get very rapid financial accommodation to cushion the effect, particularly our balance of payment support”.

He appealed to the Federal Government to revamp businesses in the country to avoid situations where countries will not be able to operate due to a lack of foreign exchange.

His statement comes less than 24 hours after the Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed said that the loan will help to provide financing for the country’s budget, which has been severely affected by falling oil prices triggered by the pandemic and price wars.

“The financial package is for assistance to curb this COVID-19 pandemic and the shock that we have had in terms of the crash in the crude oil prices.
“It’s broad, it will support the budget, stabilize the economy from the significant decline in the revenues from oil and gas as well as large expenditure to manage the health crisis”.

Ahmed said that the loan is to be paid within five years with an interest cost of one percent.

“This $3.4bn loan is to be paid over a period of five years but before the payment starts, we have a moratorium of three and a quarter year which makes it about eight and quarter years.

“It is a facility with an interest cost of one percent”.

CBN Extends Minimum Capital Requirement Deadlines For Microfinance Banks

A photo showing the CBN headquarters in Abuja. Photo: Channels TV/ Sodiq Adelakun.

 

 

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has extended the deadlines for compliance with the revised minimum capital requirements by Microfinance Banks (MFBs) in the country.

This is contained in a circular to all microfinance banks dated April 29 and signed by the Director of CBN Financial Policy and Regulation Department, Kevin Amugo.

Amugo noted that the apex bank had issued a set of deadlines in an earlier circular dated March 7, 2019.

He explained that the review was a result of the effect of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on economic activities in the country.

According to the CBN official, the new directive affects microfinance banks operating in rural, unbanked and under-banked areas, urban and high-density banked areas, as well as the state and national MFBs.

Read the circular issued by the nation’s financial regulator below:

RE: REVIEW OF MINIMUM CAPITAL REQUIREMENTS FOR MICROFINANCE BANKS IN NIGERIA

The Central Bank of Nigeria in consideration of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on economic activities has revised the deadlines for compliance with the minimum capital requirements for Microfinance Banks (MFBs) in Nigeria communicated vide its circular dated March 7, 2019 referenced FPRD/DIR/GEN/CIR/07/024.

Consequently, the CBN has extended the deadlines for the compliance with the revised minimum capital requirements for all categories of MFBs by one year as follows:

  • MFBs operating in rural, unbanked and under-banked areas (Tier 2) shall meet the N35 million capital threshold by April 2021 and N50 million by April 2022;
  • MFBs operation in urban and high-density banked areas (Tier 1) are expected to meet the N100 million capital threshold by April 2021 and N200 million by April 2022;
  • State MFBs shall increase their capital to N500 million capital threshold by April 2021 and N1 billion by April 2022; and
  • National MFBs are expected to meet minimum capital of N3.5 billion capital by April 2021 and N5 billion by April 2022.

Please be guided accordingly.

Kevin N. Amugo

Director, Financial Policy and Regulation Department

CBN Resumes Dollar Sales For SMEs, School Fees

 

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has resumed the provision of foreign exchange to banks to enable parents to pay for school fees and to allow Small and Medium Enterprises to make essential imports.

This was announced in a statement by the CBN’s Director of Corporate Communications, Mr. Isaac Okorafor, on Wednesday.

“In view of the gradual easing of the COVID-19 lockdown both globally and in Nigeria, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has resumed provision of foreign exchange to all commercial banks for onward sales to parents wishing to pay school fees and SMEs wishing to make essential imports needed to revamp economic activities across the country,” the statement read in part.

READ ALSO: NCDC Boss Hails Infected Health Workers For Dedication, Patriotism

Based on the decision, the Central Bank will provide over US$100 million to banks.

In addition to the supply of dollars for the payment of school fees and essential imports by SME’s, the CBN says it has also “made complete arrangements to resume foreign exchange sales to the BDC segment of the market for business travels, personal travels, and other designated retail uses, as soon as international flights resume”.

This comes two days after President Muhammdu Buhari announced that there would be a phased easing of the lockdown in Lagos and Ogun states as well as the Federal Capital territory from Monday, May 4. The five-week lockdown was imposed to help halt the spread of COVID-19 in the country.

The CBN’s decision also follows a decline in the value of the naira with the currency going for above 460 per dollar on the parallel market.

The country’s top bank, however, stressed that there is no need for panic or a resort to patronising illegitimate sources of foreign exchange as it is meeting dollar needs by end-users.

“With these actions, the CBN wishes to reiterate that it is adequately meeting the needs of all legitimate users, and our continued capacity to do so should not be in doubt,” the statement said.

“There is, therefore, no need for panic by an end-user that could necessitate recourse to illegitimate sources and spike in foreign exchange rates.”

To complement the measures in place, the bank plans to go after speculators and launch a crackdown on illegal activities in the foreign exchange market.

“Given this, the Bank has ramped up its surveillance of the foreign exchange markets for speculators, smugglers, and other illegal users, and will take decisive actions against anyone/institutions involved in such nefarious activities,” the CBN added.

See Document Below:

 

CBN Lifts Suspension On Cheque Clearing

A file photo of CBN Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele.

 

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has lifted the suspension placed on cheque instruments in the Nigerian clearing system.

This was stated in a circular to banks and Nigeria Interbank Settlement System (NIBSS) issued on Tuesday and signed by CBN Director, Banking Services Department, Sam Okojere.

Okojere in the circular which was titled, Temporary Suspension Of Cheque Clearing In The Nigerian Clearing System, said the bank lifted the temporary suspension of cheque clearing in Nigeria to make payment efficient for customers.

“In furtherance of its efforts in the development of a safe and efficient payment system in Nigeria, the bank in collaboration with relevant stakeholders has reviewed the need for cheque clearing to accommodate users of cheque as one of the payment instruments in Nigeria, despite the lockdown of some states and the Federal Capital Territory.

READ ALSO: COVID-19: Movement Of Essential Goods Must Be Seamless, Presidency Tells Security Officials

“In view of this development, the bank hereby lifts the temporary suspension of cheque clearing in Nigeria. Consequently, cheque instruments will be allowed to pass through the clearing system, with effect from April 28, 2020,” the circular read in part.

The CBN had earlier suspended the clearing of cheque instruments in the Nigerian clearing system with effect from March 31, due to the lockdown mandated by the Federal Government in Lagos, Ogun and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.