By Adedapo Adesanya
The federal government has said that it will not legalize artisanal refining of crude oil in the Niger Delta, describing it as criminal activities.
This was one of the many talking points made by the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Mr Timipre Sylva while inspecting the ongoing rehabilitation of the Port Harcourt Refining Company in Eleme, Rivers State recently.
There have been several calls by stakeholders in the Niger Delta region for the government to legalize artisanal refineries in the region, just the same way the government legalized artisanal gold mining in the North, under the Presidential Artisanal Gold Mining Development Initiative (PAGMI) scheme.
Mr Sylva said the federal government would not allow artisanal refineries because of their environmental impacts, noting that the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration has instead set up a modular refinery program and encouraged Nigerians to rather invest in it.
Mr Sylva blamed hydrocarbon soot pollution in Port Harcourt and environs on the activities of artisanal refineries, adding that it is causing a lot of health challenges for residents.
He maintained that the government would not rest on its oars in putting an end to activities of artisanal refineries.
“The programme is on and we expect Nigerians to take advantage of the modular refinery program.
“But you know when people begin to equate modular refinery with the criminality that is going on. I think they don’t go together.
“The criminality should be taken as it is, on its own. What is going on in Port Harcourt and the environs that is causing soot is a criminal activity and we cannot legalize that criminal activity.
“We must stop that activity by law enforcement and that has started.
“Of course, the programme for establishing modular refineries has always been on. Any law-abiding Nigerian who wants to invest in this area can always access funding and also the licenses from the federal government,” the Minister said.
House of Reps Tells CBN to Suspend New Cash Withdrawal Limits
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr Godwin Emefiele, has been told to immediately suspend the new limits placed on the withdrawal of cash from over-the-counter (OTC), Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) and Point of Sales (POS).
On Tuesday, the central bank said from January 9, 2023, any cash withdrawal above N100,000 for individuals would attract a 5 per cent processing fee and a 10 per cent processing fee for withdrawals of more than N500,000 for corporate organisations.
This policy is already generating mixed reactions, with POS operators saying it would push them into the unemployment market because of the loss of jobs and the Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA) saying stakeholders were not “extensively consulted” by the CBN before its announcement.
At the plenary on Thursday, a lawmaker, Mr Aliyu Magaji, who moved a motion of urgent public importance, warned that the new policy could spell doom for the economy as several people would lose their jobs, while traders, artisans and rural dwellers would suffer because of the cash limits.
His colleagues agreed with him and criticised the apex bank for the policy.
Though the Minority Leader, Mr Ndudi Elumelu, pointed out that the new cash withdrawal limits would check crimes as funds would now be tracked through the banking system, he emphasised that the timing was wrong.
The other legislators echoed this opinion and added that it would have serious consequences and adverse effects on businesses and Nigerians who have no access to the banking system.
As a result, they asked Mr Emefiele to roll back the policy, summoning him to appear before them on Thursday, December 15, 2022, to explain the policy and why it should not be rejected.
Incidentally, the day he is to appear next week is the same day the CBN plans to officially introduce the newly redesigned N200, N500, and N1,000 banknotes into circulation.
The Naira was redesigned by the apex bank to control the volume of cash in the financial system after it was discovered that more than 80 per cent of cash in circulation was not in the banks’ vaults.
New Cash Withdrawal Policy Was Without Extensive Consultation—NECA
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
The Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA) has accused the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) of not consulting with stakeholders extensively before coming up with the new cash withdrawal policy expected to take effect from January 9, 2023.
In the new directive, the CBN said the maximum cash that can be withdrawn from banks is N100,000 per week for individuals and N500,000 for corporate organisations. Also, customers would not be able to withdraw more than N100,000 from the Point of Sale (PoS) machines and Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) and N20,000 per day. It further said the highest Naira note to be loaded in ATMs is N200.
However, withdrawals above the cash limits via over-the-counter, according to the directive of the apex bank, would attract 5 per cent for individuals and 10 per cent for companies.
Commenting on the new development, the Director-General of NECA, Mr Wale-Smatt Oyerinde, emphasised that the livelihood of many individuals and enterprise sustainability would be impacted.
“As usual with the CBN, the bank announced a new naira withdrawal policy without extensive consultation with organized businesses and those that will be directly impacted by the policy.
“This new policy is diversionary and a mere distraction from the critical issues that are affecting the nation,” Mr Oyerinde stated.
Speaking further, he said, “While it is desirable to get all bankable individuals and businesses into the banking system and promote the cashless policy of the CBN, the timing without adequate preparation and sensitization of the critical mass that drives the economy (the SMEs and MSMEs) could prove counter-productive and further drive many below the poverty line.
“This is another classical example of the inconsistencies and misalignments between the fiscal and monetary policies of the government.
“It is absurd to blatantly set traps of processing fees for individuals and businesses who desire to withdraw their hard-earned money from the bank for legitimate and genuine business transactions.
“It is also important to note that the banking infrastructure and mobile/digital facility to drive the cashless policy are not sufficiently developed. This is not only draconian but also inhuman.
“We urge the CBN and, indeed, the federal government to replicate the energy and promptness used in implementing this policy to address the issues of dwindling value of the Naira, rising inflation, oil theft, ballooning foreign debt, and get millions out of poverty realm.”
SEC Plans to Boost Value of Shariah-Compliant Products to N5trn by 2025
By Aduragbemi Omiyale
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has said it plans to expand the size of the Shariah-compliant products in the non-interest capital market in Nigeria to at least N5 trillion by 2025.
The Director-General of SEC, Mr Lamido Yuguda, said the revised edition of the Capital Market Master Plan (2021 – 2025), which was launched recently, has mapped out ways to achieve this goal.
Speaking at the opening of a three-day capacity-building workshop for local Shariah talent for non-interest capital market held at the SEC head office in Abuja on Wednesday, Mr Yuguda said this could be achieved through the listing of at least 50 Shariah-compliant products.
The DG, who was represented by the SEC’s Executive Commissioner Operations, Mr Dayo Obisan, said that the Non-Interest Capital Market (NICM) also plans to ensure 100 retail Shariah-compliant products and attract about 1 million direct investors in the ecosystem.
Mr Yuguda noted that with these new responsibilities, promoting capacity-building programmes, such as the workshop, on Shariah-compliant processes and products (Regulators and Operators) has become necessary for the NCIM.
He said the commission, in recognising the potential of the non-interest capital market for economic growth, dedicated a component in its 10-year policy to the speedy development of the market in the financial system.
Specifically, Mr Yuguda said the plan provides clear strategic objectives for the development of the market, one of which is the “encouragement of the development of stakeholders for the market” and today’s workshop is evidence of the realization of this particular objective.
The stride and significant achievements recorded by the policy, he said, are evidenced by the last ranking of Nigerian Islamic Finance in 13th place on the global Islamic Finance Development Indicator 2021, with the assets under management valued at N2.30 billion, which is higher than countries like Bangladesh and Turkey.
“As you may be aware, the major difference between conventional finance and non-interest finance is the application of Shariah principles. This simply means that a non-interest financial market cannot exist without experts in Islamic commercial jurisprudence (FiqhulMu’amalat Al-Maliyya).
“Therefore, this Workshop will help in fast-tracking the development of experts for the Market. We believe that it would be a magic lamp for developing our local Sharia talent, not only for the Nigerian capital market but for the Nigerian financial system in general.
“The level of activities in the non-interest capital market that we are currently experiencing in Nigeria affirms the overwhelming acceptance of NICM products by the country’s populace. This shows a strong appetite for other alternative forms of investments.
“Recently, the market witnessed the entrance of institutions offering non-interest capital market services/products and the oversubscription of the FGN and corporate Sukuk, further buttresses the need for this workshop to encourage the development of Shariah experts for the market.”
The DG said the workshop is aimed at exposing participants who have the potential to provide Shariah advisory services for the Islamic finance industry, particularly the non-interest capital market’s operations as it relates to Shariah principles and rulings. It is also planned to be in two levels, Level 1 and 2.
He stated that Level 1, is focused on the basic areas of financial market structure and operations of the capital market, Shariah principles and contracts relating to non-interest capital markets, as well as Shariah issues relating to the operations and businesses of the market, among others while level-2 which will address the operation of the Sukuk and equity markets.
The SEC boss said NICM has so much potential in the country by attracting an untapped investor base who appears indifferent to conventional instruments to participate in the capital market as well as the existing investors to diversify to ethical and socially responsible investments.
“We believe that developing Shariah talent through a Workshop like this is another opportunity of creating awareness for the non-interest capital market products and services, which in turn will facilitate the financial inclusion drive in the Nigerian Financial System.
“I am happy to note that the commission recently exposed registration rules to set a minimum standard for corporate or individuals seeking to provide Shariah advisory services for non-interest capital market activities. This is to encourage further and attract the attention of qualified persons and entities to engage in the Shariah advisory function for the non-interest capital market.”
Mr Yuguda expressed the confidence that the participants will benefit from the vast knowledge and experience of the facilitators, which will bring about a much-needed impact on the participants and the market in general.
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