By Dipo Olowookere
The amendment of the Oil and Gas Free Zones Authority (OGFZA) Act of 1996 has received a huge boost with the support of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr Yakubu Dogara.
Mr Dogara, in his opening remarks on Thursday in Abuja at the public hearing on the bill, said he was convinced deliberations at the event would lead to appropriate review and correction of any ambiguities that may exist in the OGFZA Act.
The public hearing was organised by the House Committee on Commerce.
Represented by the Deputy Chief Whip of the House, Mr Pali Iriase, the Speaker said such amendment would “empower the agency to focus its resources on developing and promoting tailored investment packages and incentives for oil and gas free trade zones to further promote the diversification policy of the Federal Government.”
Giving reasons why the OGFZA Act should be amended, the number four citizen of Nigeria explained that since the law was enacted in 1996, much has changed in the global marketplace that has made the law outdated and created the imperative to bring it up to date with current realities.
“We all do appreciate the fact that global investment climate has changed drastically since the days when the legislation was enacted in 1996,” Mr Dogara said.
“The global competition and scramble by various countries for available foreign investments has since grown much stiffer and complex also.
“The House under my leadership shall continue to be responsive to global economic trends and will endeavour to always take proactive steps together with the Executive arm and its agencies to make new laws and review outdated portions of existing laws that tend to reduce Nigeria’s competitiveness as the premier investment destination in Africa,” he added.
Mr Dogara noted that Nigeria pioneered oil and gas free zones as a means for accelerating economic development, adding that it was a thing of pride that even developed countries such as Russia and the United States felt the need to borrow from Nigeria’s success in oil and gas free zones development. He also noted that the free zones under OGFZA attracted more than 170 foreign companies, generating more than N162 billion in revenues for the Federal Government.
In a welcome address, chairman of the House Committee on Commerce, organisers of the public hearing, Mr Sylvester Ogbaga touted the importance of the oil and gas free zones, saying: “There is no doubt, the existence of the Oil and Gas Free Zones has increased the tempo of economic activities in our ports and have helped to deepen the economy of Nigeria”
In their presentations to the public hearing, Mr Umana Okon Umana, managing director of OGFZA and Mr Emmanuel Jime, managing director of Nigeria Exporting Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA) said their submissions for the hearing had earlier been transmitted to the supervising ministry—Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment—which would harmonise both submissions and forward a common position of the ministry to the House Committee on Commerce which is considering the amendment bill.
MTN Declares N10 Per Share Dividend as Revenue Hits N2.0trn
By Dipo Olowookere
Shareholders of MTN Nigeria will receive a N10 per share dividend for the financial year ending December 31, 2022.
The board proposed this cash reward in a regulatory notice filed to the Nigerian Exchange (NGX) Limited.
The payment is only for shareholders who have the company’s stocks as of March 27, 2023, with the payment date fixed for April 20, 2023.
The telecommunications giant is rewarding its investors with this money amid a very profitable accounting year.
Details of its financial results showed that the revenue generated in the year under consideration improved by 21.5 per cent to N2.0 trillion compared with the N1.7 trillion achieved in the preceding year.
The improvement in the total turnover was due to increases in its mobile subscribers by 10.5 per cent to 75.6 million, active data users by 15.3 per cent to 39.5 million, and active fintech subscribers by 57.5 per cent to 14.9 million.
More people had reasons to join the MTN network because of the decision of the company to “invest in the resilience of our business and networks, expanding coverage and capacity.”
In the year, MTN cut its expenses by 21.2 per cent to N941.9 billion from N777.2 billion, with employee costs dropping to N45.1 billion from N48.4 billion, helping the operating profit to rise to N733.3 billion from N584.8 billion.
With a finance income of N13.8 billion versus N11.9 billion in FY 2021 and finance costs of N213.1 billion versus N160.0 billion a year earlier, the profit before tax closed at N534.0 billion as against the N436.7 billion recorded in the previous year, while the profit after tax stood at N358.9 billion, in contrast to N298.7 billion in FY 2021.
“2022 was challenging due to global macroeconomic and geopolitical volatility, resulting in higher inflation, supply chain uncertainties, foreign exchange volatility and availability.
“In Nigeria, Inflation reached a 17-year high of 21.5% in November before moderating slightly to 21.3 per cent in December, bringing the average for the year to 18.8 per cent and putting pressure on consumer spending.
“To curb rising inflation, the Central Bank of Nigeria increased interest rates four times in 2022, bringing the Monetary Policy Rate to 16.5 per cent – up by five pp during the year. This was further raised by 1pp in January 2023 to 17.5 per cent,” the chief executive of the firm, Mr Karl Toriola, said.
“In line with our dividend policy and guided by our ambition to create shared value for our stakeholders, the Board of Directors has proposed a final dividend of N10 per share to be paid out of distributable net income.
“This brings the total dividend for the year to N15.60 kobo per share, an increase of 18.9 per cent, delivering economic value to our shareholders,” he added.
Buhari Tasks MOFI Board to Grow Assets to N100trn
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
The newly inaugurated board of the Ministry of Finance Incorporated (MOFI) has been given the mandate to grow its Assets Under Management from the current value of N18 trillion to at least N100 trillion in the next 10 years.
A statement issued on Wednesday by Mr Femi Adesina, the Special Adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari on Media and Publicity, disclosed that the charge was given at the State House, Abuja, during the inauguration of the MOFI board shortly before the commencement of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting today.
The President also tasked the new board to “be the clearinghouse for the management of federal government investments and assets in line with global best practices with a view to ensuring that these investments are delivering superior risk-adjusted returns to the government.”
He also called on the new MOFI to “work with other MDAs to create a consolidated national asset register with a view to converting these assets into cashflow-generating entities to support the government’s revenue drive and; partner with the government with a view to using government-owned investments and assets to support the government in delivering on its social and economic obligations to the citizenry.”
To this effect, he directed the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, to commence the process of amending the MOFI Act and other legislations to institutionalise this reform further and ensure that MOFI is restructured and repositioned to become a trusted custodian and manager of Federal Government investments and assets.
President Buhari said the event was significant as the restructured MOFI will help identify “what we own” and how to get the best out of them.
According to him, the MOFI Act of 1959, now Cap. 229, Laws of the Federation, 2004 “explicitly empowers MOFI to enter into commercial transactions of any description on behalf of the Federal Government of Nigeria in its own name. As a result, MOFI was used as a Special Purpose Vehicle across different sectors to invest in commercial entities over the last 64 years. To put this in context, MOFI was created even before Nigeria’s independence.”
Speaking further, the President said, “MOFI was not structured to be governed or resourced to deliver on the expected mandate. MOFI’s peers, on the other hand, that were deliberately set up with the institutional framework, governance structure, and execution capacity, have gone on to make major social and economic impacts in their respective nations. Many of these have become global brands for investing domestically and internationally.
“As part of the governance structure, there will be a Governing Council headed by me, a Board of Directors under the leadership of a former Minister of Finance and an Executive Management Team headed by Dr Armstrong Takang.”
President Buhari reminded members of the Governing Council as well as the Board of Directors that this administration expected much from them. Specifically, he tasked Ministers who are members to “create an enabling environment that will facilitate the creation of a National Asset Register that will be harnessed to strengthen our fiscal and economic realities and the optimization of our investments and assets that will be under the purview of MOFI.”
In her remarks, Mrs Ahmed thanked President Buhari for his support and approvals that have made the restructuring and repositioning of MOFI possible, assuring him that Council members and the Board will ensure that the new MOFI delivers on its mandates.
US Stocks May Give Back Ground Ahead Of Fed Announcement
The major US index futures are currently pointing to a lower open on Wednesday, with stocks likely to give back ground following the strong upward move seen in the previous session.
Traders may cash in on gains by US stocks yesterday ahead of the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy announcement this afternoon.
While the Fed is widely expected to raise interest rates by 25 basis points, traders will look to the accompanying statement for clues about the outlook for further rate hikes.
After a slightly cautious start, stocks climbed higher on Tuesday thanks to sustained buying across the board.
Investors picked up stocks right through the day’s session, digesting a slew of stronger-than-expected earnings updates and the latest batch of economic data.
Data showing a slowdown in the pace of growth in US labour costs helped raise expectations that the Federal Reserve will soften its aggressive approach to fighting inflation.
The major averages all ended with strong gains. The Dow ended with a gain of 368.95 points or 1.09 per cent at 34,086.04. The S&P 500 surged 58.83 points or 1.46 per cent to 4,076.60, while the Nasdaq climbed 190.74 points or 1.67 per cent to 11,584.55.
The Dow gained about 6.6 per cent in the month, while the S&P surged nearly 3 per cent, and the Nasdaq gained as much as 11.5 per cent.
Data showing a drop in labour costs has reinforced the view that the central bank will likely slow the pace of its monetary policy tightening and raise the interest rate by 25 basis points.
The central bank’s accompanying statement will be in focus for clues about further interest rate hikes.
On the economic front, data from the Labor Department showed employment cost index wages in the US increased by 1% on quarter in the fourth quarter of 2022, after rising 1.3 per cent in the previous quarter.
The S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index in the United States decreased 0.8% month-over-month in November of 2022, the same as in October and marking a fifth consecutive decline.
A report from the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) said the Chicago PMI in the United States fell back to 44.3 points in January of 2023 from 44.9 in December and compared to market forecasts of 45. The reading pointed to a fifth consecutive month of contraction in business activity in the Chicago region.
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