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Economy

Ebonyi Terminates Loan Deal With Bank of Industry for MSMEs

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Bank of Industry BoI MSMEs

By Modupe Gbadeyanka

The loan deal signed between the Ebonyi State government and the Bank of Industry (BoI) has been cancelled by the former.

A statement issued by the state government disclosed that the deal was aborted over the way the BoI has handled the contract meant to uplift civil servants and Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) sector in the South Eastern state.

Commissioner for Commerce and Industry in Ebonyi State, Ugo Nnachi, announced the withdrawal at the Executive Council Chambers in the Government House, Abakaliki during a joint briefing on the outcome of Tuesday, August 28, State Executive Council meeting by selected officials of Government, led by the Commissioner for Information and State Orientation, Senator Emmanuel Onwe.

According to the Commissioner, the state government decided to take over the disbursement due to the delays and inability of the BOI to carry out the disbursement since the funds were lunched several months ago. He added that the state government would henceforth takeover the handling as well as the management procedure to ensure speedy disbursement to benefiting MSMEs and civil servants in the state.

“I want to announce to you that due to the difficulty and delay in disbursing the fund, the state government during the executive council meeting today terminated that programme with the Bank of Industry and the state Ministry of Commerce and Industry will now house the fund and ensure that all the 516 cooperative societies that have applied for the fund get it within the shortest possible time,” Nnamdi explained.

“The termination is not that we are going to stop the loan but the fund will now be driven by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry. The other thing I will like you to know is that for the SMEs, the fund also is going to be driven by the ministry.

“We want to ensure that the beneficiaries get the money as and at when due. We discovered that the Bank of Industry has made it extremely difficult for the beneficiaries and even in the mail that we sent to them, we told them that the termination was as a result of the delay in the disbursement and the difficulty and stringent conditions in accessing the loan even when most of the beneficiaries have met the requirements.”

According to Nnachi, part of the reason for the decision was based on the inability to carry the SMEs along and the feeling that it was not fair on their part. He informed that for the civil servants, about 516 cooperative societies have been registered to benefit from thibeen fund and to fast track the disbursement, the State Government has processed about 240. He revealed that the bank wrote to them to commence disbursement. However, each of the beneficiaries must pay 1 per cent appraisal fee.

The Commerce and Industry Commissioner stated that for them to deal with the delay and difficulty that have been experienced by the beneficiaries in accessing the loan since the MoU was signed, the state government has decided to pay the 1 per cent appraisal fee.

“They assured us that immediately the payment, disbursement will start. But unfortunately, as I speak with you that disbursement has not commenced and the state government has no alternative than to terminate that relationship and partnership and seek other ways of ensuring that civil servants of the state benefit from the fund at appropriate time.”

Meanwhile, the Commissioner for Power, Emmanuel Uguru during the briefing informed journalists of the Executive Council’s review of the Contract sum for the installation of Solar Power Plants at some strategic locations across the State from the initial N160 million to N207 million, which contracts have also been approved to be awarded at the meeting.

Furthermore, the State Executive Council has approved N52 million to execute sporting activities in the state for the year 2018. The Sports and Youth Development Commissioner in the State, Charles Akpuenika made this known while briefing journalists on his Ministry.

Akpuenika noted that three sports competitions have been earmarked to take place in the state before the end of the year, including the David Umahi Tertiary Institutions Games 2018 for the 10 tertiary institutions in the state. He revealed that the sum of N500,000 has been disbursed to each of the participating institutions to enable them prepare and take part in the games.

The Sports Commissioner named other competitions to hold within the year to include: the School Sports Competitions which will hold in October and the Divine Mandate Football Competition for all the 171 wards in the State. He emphasized that the State Government was intensifying efforts to birth a new Football Club for the state to gainfully utilize the talents that would be discovered through these series of sporting activities lined up in the State.

Modupe Gbadeyanka is a fast-rising journalist with Business Post Nigeria. Her passion for journalism is amazing. She is willing to learn more with a view to becoming one of the best pen-pushers in Nigeria. Her role models are the duo of CNN's Richard Quest and Christiane Amanpour.

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Economy

Nigeria’s Pension Funds Reach N14.27bn as Contributors Near 10 million

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Pension Funds

By Adedapo Adesanya

The National Pension Commission (PenCom) says the total number of registered contributors and the value of pension fund assets stand at 9,795,957 million and N14.27 trillion respectively, as at June 2022.

The Director-General of PenCom, Mrs Aisha Dahir-Umar, gave the figures at a recent workshop themed Increasing Informal Sector Participation In The Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS): The Case for Micro Pension Plan (MPP).

Mrs Dahir-Umar, represented by the Head, Corporate Communications, Mr Abdulqadir Dahiru, said the increasing number of pension funds and contributors was responsible for the recapitalisation of the Pension Fund Administrators (PFA’s) by PenCom.

“The reason for the recapitalisation exercise was to ramp up the capacity of the PFA’s to manage the increasing number of registered contributors and the value of pension fund assets which stood at 9,795,957 million and N14.27 trillion respectively, as at June 30, 2022.

“PenCom increased the Minimum Regulatory Capital (Shareholders’ Fund) requirements of PFAs from N1 billion to N5 billion in 2021.

“All PFAs have complied with the commission’s directive to increase their minimum capital during the exercise which had a 12-month transition between April 27, 2021, and April 27, 2022,” she said.

According to her, the theme of the workshop aligned with the commission’s objective of expanding coverage of the CPS as it relates to the micro pension plan.

The director-general explained that the objective was to bring into the CPS, Nigerians working in the informal sector and those who were self-employed through the MPP.

Mrs Dahir-Umar noted that strategic efforts to drive the MPP remained one of the significant areas of focus of the commission.

She said the MPP was conceptualised to expand pension coverage to the informal sector, including small-scale businesses, entertainers, professionals, petty traders, artisans and entrepreneurs.

“The MPP was implemented to curb old-age poverty by assisting the workers, as mentioned above, to contribute while working and build long-term savings to fall back on when they become old, ” Mrs Dahir-Umar said.

The director-general stated that to create awareness of the MPP, the commission, in collaboration with the Pension Fund Operators Association of Nigeria, was currently championing an industry media campaign in major cities in the country’s six geopolitical zones.

She said it was expected that the exercise would bring about increased effectiveness and efficiency as well as improved service delivery in the industry.

“Let me re-affirm the commission’s commitment to creating awareness and holding social dialogue on the workings of the CPS with relevant stakeholders towards the smooth implementation of the scheme in Nigeria,” she said.

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Economy

Outrage Over Payment of N18.39bn Daily for Fuel Subsidy

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fuel subsidy

By Adedapo Adesanya

Some Nigerians have started to express anger over the disclosure by the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, that the sum of N18.39 billion is used by the federal government daily to pay for fuel subsidy.

Speaking during an investigative hearing of the House of Representatives ad hoc committee looking into the petroleum subsidy regime between 2017 and 2021, the Minister revealed that, “The total amount of subsidy per day is N18.397 billion per day.”

“So, if you are projecting for the full year, it would be N6.715 trillion. If you are projecting for half year, it would be 50 per cent of that,” she informed the lawmakers.

According to the Finance Minister, this was calculated using the information provided by the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited and the regulator, the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA).

She said the information showed that 64.96 million litres of fuel are the projected average daily truck out, adding that N1.774 trillion was paid to independent oil marketers as subsidy in four years.

Aside from the increasing cost of petrol importation, economic and energy experts have continued to decry the rising cost of fuel subsidy by the federal government.

In January, the federal government said it will retain fuel subsidy indefinitely and amended the 2022 budget to provide funds for that purpose, a move that saw the provision jump over 800 per cent to N4 trillion.

Mrs Ahmed, at that time, said the government realised that the timing of the planned removal of the petrol subsidy was problematic and would worsen the suffering of Nigerians.

According to her, all payments on fuel subsidies were supposed to cease from July 2022 but, “subsequent to the passage of the [Finance] Act, we went back to amend the Fiscal Framework that was submitted to the National Assembly to incorporate this demand, but after the budget was passed we have had consultations with a number of stakeholders.

“It became clear that the timing is problematic, that practically there is still heightened inflation, and also removal of subsidy will further worsen the situation, thereby, imposing more difficulties on the citizens, and Mr President clearly does not want to do that.”

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Economy

Naira Exchanges at N694/$1 in Peer-to-Peer FX Segment

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Nigerian Naira

By Adedapo Adesanya

The Naira depreciated against the United States Dollar at the Peer-to-Peer (P2P) window of the foreign exchange market on Thursday by 0.32 per cent or N2 to sell for N694/$1 in contrast to the preceding day’s rate of N692/$1.

However, it closed flat against the greenback in the Investors and Exporters (I&E) segment of the FX market at N429.38/$1 amid a slump in the value of transactions at the ecosystem.

According to data from the FMDQ Securities Exchange, forex transactions worth $63.30 million were carried out during the session compared with the $120.46 million reported a day earlier, indicating a decline by $57.16 million or 47.5 per cent.

But at the interbank segment, the local currency moved in the same direction on Thursday, appreciating against the British Pound Sterling and against the Euro.

It was observed that the domestic currency appreciated against the Pound Sterling by N1.72 to trade at N508.24/£1 compared to the previously traded rate of N509.96/£1 and against the Euro, the Naira gained N11.06 to settle at N420.83/€1 compared with the previous day’s N431.89/€1.

Also, in the black market, the domestic currency improved its value by N2 to trade at N678/$1 in contrast to the N680/$1 it was sold on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, in the cryptocurrency market, investors counted more losses as the appetite for the digital coins waned, with Shiba Inu (SHIB) dropping 9.9 per cent to sell for $0.00001343 and Dogecoin (DOGE) losing 8.4 per cent to close at $0.07429.

Cardano (ADA) depreciated by 8.1 per cent to settle at $0.4951, Solana (SOL) slumped by 6.2 per cent to sell at $38.30, Binance Coin (BNB) slid by 5.0 per cent to close at $291.64, Ripple (XRP) depreciated by 3.7 per cent to finish at $0.3616, Litecoin (LTC) went down by 3.0 per cent to quote at $58.99, Bitcoin (BTC) recorded a 2.5 per cent drop to end at $22,818.66, while Ethereum (ETH) retreated by 1.5 per cent to trade at $1,817.11, with the US Dollar Tether (USDT) retaining its previous day’s value of $1.00 due to the strong performance of the US Dollar against other currencies.

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