CBN Closes Bank Accounts of Luno, Other Crypto Currency Exchanges
By Dipo Olowookere
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has ordered the immediate closure of bank accounts operated by cryptocurrency exchanges in the country.
Lately, Nigerians have been investing in digital coins and have been making gains, hurting the other forms of investments like equities, bonds, treasury bills and others.
Apparently worried by this development, the apex bank has asked all Deposit Money Banks (DMBs), Other Financial Institutions (OFIs) and Non-Banks Financial Institutions (NBFIs) to with immediate effect shut down the accounts operated by entities which facilitate the trading of digital currencies.
Business Post reports that there are different platforms used by investors in Nigeria to trade cryptocurrencies and popular among them are Luno, Quidax, Binance, NairaEx, amongst.
“The CBN circular of January 12, 2017, ref FPR/DIR/GEN/CIR/06/010 which cautioned DMBs, NBFIs, OFIs and members of the public on the risk associated with transactions in cryptocurrency refers.
“Further to earlier regulatory directives on the subject, the bank hereby wishes to remind regulated institutions that dealing in cryptocurrencies or facilitating payments for cryptocurrency exchanges is prohibited.
“Accordingly, all DMBs, NBFIs and OFIs are directed to identify persons and/or entities transacting in or operating cryptocurrency exchanges within their systems and ensure that such accounts are closed immediately.
“Please note that breaches of this directive will attract severe regulatory sanctions,” a circular dated February 5, 2021, signed by the Director of Banking Supervision, Bello Hassan, said.
In 2018, Business Post reported that the then spokesman of the CBN, Mr Isaac Okorafor, had warned Nigerians to be wary of investments in cryptocurrency, stressing that virtual currencies are not legal tender in Nigeria.
He had stressed that cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Ripples, Monero, Litecoin, Dogecoin, Onecoin, etc and exchanges such as NairaEx were not licensed or regulated by the CBN.
Mr Okorafor had further emphasised that dealers and investors in any kind of cryptocurrency in Nigeria were not protected by law, thus may be unable to seek legal redress in event of failure of the exchangers or collapse of the business, warning Nigerians to be cautious against investing in cryptocurrency as doing so would be at their own risk.
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Nigeria’s Debt Profile Jumps 17% to N46.25trn in 2022
By Adedapo Adesanya
Nigeria’s total public debt stock increased by 17 per cent to N46.25 trillion or $103.11 billion as of December 2022 from N39.56 trillion or $95.77 billion in 2021.
This information was revealed by the Debt Management Office (DMO) on Thursday.
This means that the country’s debt profile precisely increased by 16.9 per cent or N6.69 trillion or $7.34 billion within one year, as the government borrow funds from various quarters for its budget deficits.
The agency said the new figures comprise the domestic and external total debt stocks of the federal government and the sub-national governments (36 state governments and the Federal Capital Territory).
The DMO statement partly read, “As of December 31, 2022, the total public debt stock was N46.25 trillion or $103.11 billion.
“In terms of composition, total domestic debt stock was N27.55 trillion ($61.42 billion) while total external debt stock was N18.70 trillion ($41.69 billion).
“Amongst the reasons for the increase in the total public debt stock were new borrowings by the FGN and sub-national governments, primarily to fund budget deficits and execute projects. The issuance of promissory notes by the FGN to settle some liabilities also contributed to the growth in the debt stock.
“On-going efforts by the government to increase revenues from oil and non-oil sources through initiatives such as the Finance Acts and the Strategic Revenue Mobilization initiative are expected to support debt sustainability.”
“The total public debt to gross domestic product (GDP) ratio for December 31, 2022, was 23.20 per cent and indicates a slight increase from the figure for December 31, 2022, at 22.47 per cent.
“The ratio of 23.20 per cent is within the 40 per cent limit self-imposed by Nigeria, the 55 per cent limit recommended by the World Bank/International Monetary Fund, and the 70 per cent limit recommended by the Economic Community of West African States,” the debt office said.
12-Month Treasury Bills Now 14.74% as Appetite Falls
By Dipo Olowookere
The 364-day treasury bills stop rate was raised by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) at the primary market auction (PMA) on Wednesday by 5.25 per cent as appetite for the asset class waned.
The central bank, which conducted the exercise, did not record the usual hunger for the debt instrument by investors yesterday, ostensibly because of how the bank had tinkered with the rates in the previous exercises.
But the apex bank surprised subscribers at the PMA on Wednesday when it jerked the rate higher to 14.74 per cent from the 9.49 per cent it cleared in the previous PMA.
According to details of the exercise, the CBN auctioned the one-year bill worth N139.96 billion and received subscriptions valued at N165.28 billion, allotting N142.16 billion.
Business Post reports that it was not only the 12-month dated instrument that enjoyed the rate hike yesterday as the two others benefitted.
The central auctioned N3.34 billion worth of the 182-day bill during the session but had investors stake N1.56 billion on it, with N1.56 billion allotted to successful bidders at 8.00 per cent compared with the previous session’s 5.00 per cent, indicating an increase of 3.00 per cent.
As for the 91-day bill, the rate cleared at 6.00 per cent after it was moved higher by 3.45 per cent from 2.55 per cent. This was after the apex bank allotted N1.75 billion to subscribers, the same amount of bids it received from the N2.16 billion taken to the market on Wednesday.
Recall that some days ago, the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) of Nigeria’s central bank increased the Monetary Policy Rate (MPR), which is the benchmark interest rate in the country, by 0.50 per cent to 18.00 per cent.
The team explained that the rate hike was mainly to tame rising inflation in Nigeria, which the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said stood at 21.91 per cent in February.
China’s Investment in Africa Has Cut Need for Loans from World Bank, IMF—Osinbajo
By Adedapo Adesanya
The Vice President of Nigeria, Mr Yemi Osinbajo, has lauded China’s investment in Africa, saying it has reduced dependency on loans from Bretton Woods, which consists of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
In a statement seen by Business Post, the VP, at an event at King’s College London on March 27, 2023, stated that “China shows up where and when the West will not and or are reluctant.”
He said this was evident in the investment of the Asian giant in Africa, which he said stood at $254 billion in 2021, about four times the volume of US-Africa trade.
He also noted that, “China is the largest provider of foreign direct investment, supporting hundreds of thousands of African jobs. This is roughly double the level of U.S. foreign direct investment, adding that, “China remains by far the largest lender to African countries.”
He also noted that Chinese companies had taken the lead in exploiting minerals in Africa, many now in lithium mining in Mali, Ghana, Nigeria DRC, Zimbabwe and Namibia.
The Nigerian second-in-command said that China has always shown up for African countries while outrightly condemning Western countries in that regard.
He said, “Most African countries are rightly unapologetic about their close ties with China. China shows up where and when the west will not or are reluctant.”
He added, “And many African countries are of the view that the beware of the Chinese Trojan loans advise forming the west is wise but probably self-serving,” explaining that, “Africa needs the loans and the infrastructure. And China offers them. In any case, the history of loans from Western institutions is not great.”
Taking a step further, Mr Osinbajo sent a salvo to the World Bank and the IMF over the conditions attached to their loan facilities.
“The memory of the destructive conditionalities of the Bretton Woods loans is still fresh, and the debris is everywhere.
“And the preoccupation of western governments and media with the so-called China debt trap might well be an overreaction,” he added.
“I recommend an eye-opening lecture by Professor Deborah Brautigam about two weeks ago at Jesus College Cambridge.
“The truth, as she points out, is that all of the Chinese lendings to Africa is only 5 per cent of all outstanding public and publicly guaranteed debt in low and middle-income countries, compared to 23% held by the World Bank and other multilaterals.”
He alluded that Chinese lenders account for 12 per cent of Africa’s private and public external debt.
“And the Chinese have also been there when the debts cannot be paid. In early 2020 as COVID battered African economies, China came together with other G20 members to launch the Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI).
“About 73 low-income economies benefited from the suspension of principal and interest payments. Chinese banks provided 63 per cent of the total debt relief while being only owed 30 per cent of the debt service payments due,” he quipped.
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