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DMO Puts Nigeria’s Debt Profile at N41.6trn

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Nigeria's debt profile

By Aduragbemi Omiyale

Nigeria’s debt profile as of March 31, 2022, has now reached N41.6 trillion, the Director-General of Debt Management Office (DMO), Ms Patience Oniha, has confirmed.

Ms Oniha confirmed this development to the House of Representatives Committee on Finance headed by Mr James Faleke on Thursday in Abuja.

The committee was engaging government officials on the 2023-2025 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and Fiscal Policy Paper (FSP) ahead of the presentation of the 2023 budget to a joint session of the National Assembly by President Muhammadu Buhari in the coming weeks.

The debt office chief explained that the federal governments account for 85 per cent of the total debt stock, while the state governments and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) account for the remaining 15 per cent.

She said the debt rose from N32.9 trillion in December 2020 to N39.6 trillion in December 2021 and to N41.6 trillion in March 2022.

“As at December 2020, the debt stock of Nigeria, which includes the federal government, state governments and the federal capital territory, was N32.92 trillion. By December 2021, it was N39.556 trillion. As at March of this year, it was N41.6 trillion,” Ms Oniha stated.

She informed the lawmakers that, “Debt has grown and that has come from the annual budget. There are 3 levels where those borrowings have increased. We have been running a deficit budget for many, many years.

“So, each time you approve a budget with a deficit, you approve it giving us a mandate, an authority to borrow and it will reflect in the debt stock, so debt stock will increase. Also, remember that states are also borrowing, so we add their own. They also have laws governing their borrowings.”

“The second leg to that really is that as debt stock increases, debt service will also increase. So, the clear message is for us to go through the budget because we have been having a deficit budget for many years and have been borrowing significantly.

“From the COVID period in 2020, the level of borrowing had increased significantly as you know. Those budgets pass through this House. The issue is how we can reduce the debt. One of them is generating revenue which we have talked about.

“So, if revenue is high, your deficit will be lower and new borrowing is lower, then your new borrowing will be less and your debt stock will be lower and debt service to revenue will now be so high.

“So, the challenge is, we have been borrowing because of shortfalls. The other thing to do is to look at our expenditure profile. What can we do to reduce it because you are asking me what is the remedy? It is coming from the budget.

“There is revenue, there is expenditure listed in various categories, personnel, overhead and capital. So, those are what bring out the deficit we borrow for. It is those things that should be interrogated in addition to increasing revenue significantly. “Let me say that a World Bank report just showed that in terms of debt to GDP ratio, Nigeria is low but for debt service to revenue ratio, we are very high. So, if you look at the tax to GDP ratio of these other countries, they are in multiples of Nigeria.

“The World Bank did a survey of about 197 countries and Nigeria is listed as number 195. That means we beat only two countries and these countries are Yemen and Afghanistan and I don’t think we want to be in those places.

“We can’t talk about borrowing without talking about revenues and we can’t say why is the debt stock growing. It’s growing because we are running a deficit budget and some of you may be aware that we are also issuing promissory notes to refinance arrears of government which also comes to the National Assembly for approvals,” she added.

Economy

South Korea Pledges Mpox Vaccine Supplies

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Monkeypox mpox

By Kestér Kenn Klomegâh

Sadly, African health authorities for several months have pursued vaccines for curing mpox and its further spread mostly in vain as worldwide outbreaks were reported during this year. But there is some light at the end of the tunnel as some considerable assistance might come from the Republic of South Korea.

The Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said some few thousand doses being the first consignment of mpox vaccines as a donation, would arrive shortly and be used for health workers and people living with the disease in the hardest-hit areas in Africa.

The continent this year has recorded 202 deaths from mpox, formerly known as monkeypox, with a fatality rate of 19.3% across 13 countries. African health authorities for months have made feverish efforts in search for curbing the disease’s spread.

According to the Acting CDC director, Ahmed Ogwell, more than 50 new mpox cases in Congo were recorded this month and said Ghana and Nigeria are the other most affected countries. A surge in mpox infections was particularly reported last May outside West and Central Africa.

“Let us get vaccines onto the continent,” CDC Acting Head, Ahmed Ogwell, said in a weekly media briefing pointing to another instance of 1.3 billion people on the continent without access to a vaccine, as in the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The solutions need to be global in nature. If we’re not safe, the rest of the world is not safe,” he warned.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has, however, warned against discrimination. “A failure to act will have grave consequences for global health,” Lawrence Gostin, Director of the WHO Collaborating Center on National and Global Health Law, said on Twitter.

Health officials have emphasized that mpox can infect anyone in close contact with a patient or their contaminated clothing or bedsheets. Researchers are still exploring to establish how it spreads but believe it’s mainly through close, skin-to-skin contact and through contact with bedding and clothing that touched an infected person’s rash or body fluids.

It generally causes mild to moderate symptoms, including fever, fatigue and painful skin lesions that resolve within a few weeks.

Reports, however, said that the mpox had been established in parts of Central and West Africa for decades; it was not known to spark large outbreaks beyond the continent or to spread widely among people until May when authorities detected dozens of epidemics in Europe, North America and elsewhere.

In Africa, mpox mainly spreads to people by infected wild animals like rodents in limited outbreaks that typically have not crossed borders. In Europe, North America and elsewhere, the mpox is spreading among people with no links to animals or recent travel to Africa. In the U.S. and Europe, the vast majority of infections occur among men who have sex with men, though health officials have stressed that anyone can contract the virus.

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Economy

Access Holdings Merges Sigma, FGPL for Formidable PFA Business

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Sigma Pensions

By Aduragbemi Omiyale

To create a formidable pension funds administration (PFA) business in Nigeria, Access Holdings Plc has merged its subsidiary, First Guarantee Pension Limited (FGPL), with Sigma Pensions Limited.

The marriage between the two PFAs was made possible after Access Holdings acquired an indirect equity stake in Sigma.

Recall that in October, the company announced that it was buying a stake in Sigma to revolutionise the PFA sector.

On Thursday, a court approved the merger between the firm and FGPL, giving room for the organisations to become one and offer innovative products to customers.

A notice signed by the group company secretary of Access Holdings, Mr Sunday Ekwochi, confirmed the development.

“Sequel to our announcement on October 25, 2022, Access Holdings Plc, trading as Access Corporation, today announces the completion of its acquisition of an indirect equity stake in Sigma and the merger of its subsidiary, FGPL, with Sigma.

“Following the sanction of the scheme of merger between Sigma and FGPL by the Federal High Court on December 1, 2022, FGPL has been dissolved without winding up, leaving Sigma as the surviving entity,” a part of the statement dated Friday, December 2, 2022.

“Following the successful completion of the merger, our plan is to leverage the synergies of these entities, as well as the corporation’s expansive distribution network, strong risk management culture and best-in-class governance standards to create a formidable pension funds administration business,” the group chief executive of Access Holdings, Mr Herbert Wigwe, stated.

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Economy

FrieslandCampina Buoys Unlisted Securities Market by 1.11%

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FrieslandCampina

By Adedapo Adesanya

The NASD Over-the-Counter (OTC) Securities Exchange returned to the positive zone on Friday, December 2, as it appreciated by 1.11 per cent at the close of business.

This was driven by a gain in the stock price of FrieslandCampina Wamco Nigeria Plc. The company appreciated by N5.29 price to close at N66.63 per share versus the previous day’s price of N61.34 per share.

This outweighed the 1 Kobo loss recorded by UBN Property Plc during the session as the price of the property investment company went down to 91 Kobo per unit from the preceding session’s 92 Kobo.

When the market closed for the day, the total value of the unlisted securities market increased by N10.27 billion to N933.71 billion from N923.44 billion.

In the same vein, the NASD Unlisted Securities Index (NSI) stretched by 7.82 basis points to 710.58 basis points from the 702.76 basis points in the previous session.

During the session, there was a surge in the volume of securities by 140,993.7 per cent as investors exchanged 2.2 million units, in contrast to the previous day’s 14,508 units.

Likewise, the value of shares traded at the session ballooned by 1,526.6 per cent to N10.7 million from the N657,534.75 recorded a day earlier, while the number of deals improved by 400 per cent to 20 deals from four deals.

When the market closed for the day, AG Mortgage Bank Plc was the most traded stock by volume (year-to-date) with 2.3 billion units valued at N1.2 billion, Central Securities Clearing System (CSCS) Plc occupied second place with 687.8 million units worth N14.3 billion, while Lighthouse Financials Services Plc was in third place with 224.7 million units valued at N112.3 million.

Also, CSCS Plc ended the day as the most traded stock by value (year-to-date) by trading 687.8 million units worth N14.3 billion, VFD Group Plc was in second place with 29.1 billion units valued at N7.7 billion, and FrieslandCampina WAMCO Plc was in third place after selling 16.8 million units worth N1.9 billion.

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