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CBN assures investors of banks’ stability, soundness

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The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) says all metrics and indications indicate that the Nigerian banking system remains strong, stable, and is playing a significant role in aiding Nigeria’s economic recovery.

CBN’s Deputy Governor, Financial System Stability, Mrs. Aishah Ahmad gave the assurance while speaking at the 40th anniversary summit of the Financial Institutions Training Centre (FITC) in Lagos on the banking industry’s stability.

She added, “We’re very positive about the resilience and the soundness of the banking sector. You see the reports as we give them from time to time from the MPC. Actually, the banking system has been very strategic in support of the recovery based on the impact of COVID.

“Some of the forbearances that we granted to the banking sector has helped to ensure they retain their capacity to lend and it has helped them give succour to their obligors and we are seeing some obligors come out of that forbearance now.

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“The financial soundness indicators have been very strong on capital, liquidity, and we’re very proud and we just want to continue to ensure that the bank system continues to provide lending, not just wholesale or commercial lending but to small business because that will be the engine of the economy.”

Significant developments, she said, had brought discussions about Africa’s potentials back to the forefront. She stated that the financial system, just as it was in mapping the economic recovery route from COVID-19, would be critical in realising Africa’s enormous potentials.

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Mrs Ahmad stated that the CBN, under the management of Governor Godwin Emefiele, was committed towards an inclusive growth and LDR policy which had been positive, adding that N7 trillion in retail loans was an unequalled record.

She said, “Over the years the CBN has tried to ensure that we drive lending to the real sector. You would agree with me that the policy under Governor Emefiele over the last few years, has really emphasised on this, not only in terms of intervention funds given but in terms of some of the policies put in place such as loan to deposit ratio (LDR) which when we instituted it in 2019 till now actually added about N7 trillion or so in loans, and which is quite unprecedented.”

Global rating agency, Moody’s investor Service had last week highlighted the improving asset quality and resilient profitability of nine Nigerian banks, and also affirmed B2 long-term local and foreign currency deposit ratings as well as senior unsecured ratings.

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At the same time, the rating agency changed the outlook on all the banks’ long-term deposit ratings to stable from negative

The rating agency listed the banks as: Access Bank Plc, Zenith Bank Plc, First Bank of Nigeria Limited, United Bank for Africa Plc, Guaranty Trust Bank Plc, and Union Bank of Nigeria plc, Fidelity Bank plc, FCMB Limited and Sterling Bank Plc.

The rating action reflects the banks’ financial profiles which have been generally resilient to the difficult operating environment in Nigeria. On average, the Nigerian banks’ asset quality has remained resilient and banks’ pre-provision profitability is recovering to pre-pandemic levels while their capital and funding positions, particularly in local currency, have remained solid

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Senate to probe Ajaokuta Steel over $496m payment

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The Senate on Tuesday resolved to probe the affairs of Ajaokuta Steel Company Limited and the National Ore Mining Company in Kogi State from 2008 till date.

It planned to unravel the mystery behind the payment of $496m allegedly made to Mr. Pramod Mittal, the Chairman of the Global Infrastructure Holdings Limited by the Federal Government in September 2022 as settlement over contractual disputes.

It also resolved to investigate the circumstances that led to the re-concession of NIOMCO even when the initial concession agreement was validly terminated by the Yar’adua administration with a positive review by the International Chamber of Commerce, London.

Senate’s resolutions to this effects were sequel to a motion sponsored by Senator Senator Natasha Akpoti-Uduaghan ( PDP Kogi Central) and exhaustively debated by many of the Senators.

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She said the Ajaokuta Steel Company Limited and the National Iron Ore Mining Company located in Kogi State were established sometime in the late 70s by the Federal Government with the potential to put Nigeria on the path of technological and industrial advancement and establish the country as one of the leading exporters of steel products in the world.

She lamented that decades after their establishment, the Ajaokuta Steel Mill and NIOMCO have been unable to produce steel despite efforts by successive administrations due to a lack of earnest political will and bureaucratic corruption.

According to her, Nigeria currently expends about $3.3bn annually on steel imports.

She said, “This has further worsened the inefficiency of the moribund company with the recently queried 33bn naira electricity debt incurred by Presidential villa.”

The Senate after debate on the motion, consequently set up a committee to be chaired by Senator Adeniyi Ayodele Adegbonmire ( SAN) with senators Natasha Akpoti (Kogi Central), Onawo Mohamed (Nasarawa South) Joel Onowakpa (Delta), Onyesoh Allwell Heacho (Rivers East) Abdullahi Yahaya (Kebbi North), Sen Patrick Chukwuba Ndubueze (Imo North), Tokunbo Abiru (Lagos East) and Osita Ngwu (Enugu West) as members.

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While the committee is to report back to the Senate in two weeks, they are also to interface with relevant Ministries, Departments and Agencies and other critical stakeholders in the steel sector especially those with interest in Ajaokuta Steel Manufacturing Plant and (all mining company NIOMCO to obtain relevant information and submit a comprehensive report to the Senate regarding the affairs of the two plants between 2018 to date.

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Forex: BDC operators plan automation to tackle street trading, others

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The Association of Bureau De’Change Operators of Nigeria has concluded plans to automate its trading operations to eliminate the activities of market speculators and street traders.

This was as the association backed the recent clampdown by the government on persons selling and buying foreign currencies on the streets.

Since the year started, Nigeria’s local currency has depreciated severely, sliding down to N1,900 on Wednesday owing to low liquidity and surging demand for the US dollar.

The ABCON President, Aminu Gwadabe, speaking in an interview with our correspondent on Wednesday, said the association has developed an automation platform, which, if okayed by the Central Bank of Nigeria, would help revolutionise the retail FX market.

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He noted that the automation process will be launched in three weeks pending a “no objection” approval from the CBN.

Gwadabe said, “We have now put a lot of recommendations on how we can at least utilise technology, innovation, and automation in our operations.

“In three weeks, we will automate the system. We already have the automation system in place just for the CBN to give us the approval for “No Objection” that is all we asking.

“We can entirely automate the industry of any retail trader, we will automate them in three weeks, we already built the automation platform it is there for them. We have sent it to them, and we are only waiting for ‘no objection’ approval. This innovation will also eliminate street trading.”

Gwadabe further advised that the ongoing raids and arrests of traders should not be misconstrued, revealing that FX street traders ambush customers of licensed operators, thereby causing a lull in their operations.

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He added, “What is happening is not targeted at licenced Bureau De’Change but the operators of FX street trading.

“For us, we are against street trading and support any action that will remove FX street traders. Their activities affect me also. I have an office but my clients cannot come to my office because of the menace of street traders.”

On the volatility in the FX market, Gwadabe explained that various factors, including the imbalance between supply and demand and liquidity, were responsible.

He urged members of the association to strictly adhere to all FX regulations and conduct their operations within their offices.

On Wednesday, the naira depreciated further to N1,900 against the dollar in the parallel market.

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According to currency operators, the naira exchange declined by 9.83 per cent from the N1,730 recorded at the beginning of the week and N170 or 9.82 per cent from the trading rate on Tuesday.

This is even as Bureau de Change operators battle for liquidity to meet the surging demands for the greenback.

On Wednesday, BDC operators quoted the buying rate at N1,850 and the selling rate at N1,900, leaving a profit margin of N50.

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Moniepoint MfB, CAC partner to boost SMEs development, target 30 million businesses in 5 years

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In line with a critical mandate, of the Federal Government to unleash Nigeria’s full economic potential by focusing on job creation, access to capital for small and large businesses and inclusiveness, the definitive bank for small and medium-sized businesses in Nigeria, as well as their customers and employees, Moniepoint Microfinance Bank Limited and the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) have joined forces to digitize and formalize operations for over 2 million small and medium businesses across Nigeria.

This unprecedented move will foster economic growth, ensure alignment with regulatory compliance whilst providing SMEs with access to capital that will enable them unlock their potentials, contribute significantly to job creation and drive shared prosperity.

In a brief ceremony which was held at the Bank of Industry, BOI office in Abuja, Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr. Doris Uzoka-Anite, while describing the initiative as monumental, reiterated the Federal Government’s commitment to catalyzing economic development by supporting small and medium businesses with funding, thus creating a conducive environment for them to flourish and generate more opportunities.

Acknowledging Moniepoint’s innovative strides, Dr. Uzoka-Anite pledged greater collaboration towards formalizing additional MSMEs. She noted that the Federal Government was prepared to deepen its engagement with the company, adding that it would consider its request for provision of cheaper funding and grants to enable it draw more small businesses into the formal space, as well as create an enabling environment for them to thrive.

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“The current administration is excited and passionate about creating jobs, ensuring financial inclusion and poverty alleviation. These things add up towards economic development. A lot of people have ideas but are impeded by lack of access to the right learning environment and education. Which is why we are happy to collaborate and support players like Moniepoint to bring more people into the financial sector and help the government achieve its mandate,”, the Minister said.

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On his part, Managing Director, Moniepoint MFB, Mr. Babatunde Olofin expressed delight at the partnership and said that the engagement was in furtherance of the organization’s mantra of powering dreams while creating a society where everyone experiences financial happiness.

He said, “”We recognize that these businesses are the lifeblood of economies, so their growth directly supports the entire economy, essentially extending our ability to positively impact everyone else. We are heavily invested in super charging Nigeria’s economic ambitions so that enormous employment opportunities can be created and lift millions of Nigerians out of poverty. This initiative is in strong alignment with the Federal Government’s agenda – financial inclusion, job and wealth creation and economic growth. Our target is that in 5 years, we will onboard 30 million businesses in collaboration with the CAC as we leverage technology to create a win-win situation for all stakeholders.”

Registrar-General/Chief Executive, CAC, Hussaini Ishaq Magaji, SAN lauded the Minister for her visionary strides since assumption of office, noting that the feats recorded by the agency were results of the robust support and guidance she has consistently provided. He stated that the commission’s objective of formalizing 20 million small businesses while describing the 2 million businesses sign-up with Moniepoint MFB as a watershed moment in Nigeria’s economic trajectory which heralds a transformative shift that will lay a sturdy foundation for sustained growth and prosperity in Nigeria.

“Mr. President has promised 50 million jobs for the youths. This ground-breaking ceremony will set the target off. What we are witnessing today has never happened before in Nigeria. The participation of all these stakeholders underscores the profound significance of this occasion, symbolizing a unified resolve to propel Nigeria’s economic landscape towards unprecedented heights of progress and promise,” said the CAC boss.

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The registration of businesses and organizations across the nation has been a core mandate of the CAC over the years. This mandate which confers legal identities on businesses has been instrumental to connecting enterprises to essential opportunities that have facilitated access to financial facilities, and enabled them to increase their revenue streams.

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