**Tasks Varsities on Research
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr Godwin Emefiele, has challenged tertiary institutions in the country to focus on research that will boost economic development, just as he assured that the CBN will work with relevant stakeholders in the educational sector to stimulate research for the overall good of Nigeria.
He gave the charge while delivering a lecture entitled: “The Dilemma of Monetary Policy and Exchange Rate Management in a Recession: Potential Options for Nigeria” at the second Homecoming Series of the Economics Department of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN) on Saturday, July 22, 2017.
Mr Emefiele, who is also an alumnus of the institution, expressed concern that the educational sector in the country had lost its glory, noting that any country desirous of making tremendous growth should focus on its health and educational sectors.
While recalling with nostalgia the glorious past of education in Nigeria, particularly at the UNN, when students on campus were fed with poultry products and bread produced in the school, he stressed the need to for all stakeholders in the educational sector to contribute their quota to restoring Nigeria to its pride of place in education.
According to him, the CBN, as part of its contribution, had contributed to education through the provision of Centres of Excellence in some universities across Nigeria, to encourage world class research and stimulate growth.
Speaking on developments in the Nigerian economy, Mr Emefiele traced the current economic challenges to external factors such as slide in the prices of crude oil as well as internal factors such as under-investment in domestic productive capacity, decayed infrastructure and the challenge of persuading deposit money banks in the country to channel credit to the real sector. These challenges, according to him, prompted the CBN to fashion out an appropriate exchange rate strategy to achieve price and financial system stability and restart growth.
To address observed challenges, he noted that the CBN introduced policies at both the management and the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) levels targeted at stabilizing the economy. He made particular reference to efforts made by the Bank in checking the further depletion of Nigeria’s external reserves in the face of dwindling accretions and increased demand for foreign exchange.
Mr Emefiele disclosed that the CBN had to make the foreign exchange market flexible as well as prioritize the most critical needs for foreign exchange. According to him, the apex Bank had to restrict access to the Forex market for a category of 41 commodities, which he said the Bank saw as being unnecessary drains to the country’s reserves.
Noting that the CBN had been unjustly castigated for taking actions in the best interest of the economy, the Governor said the Bank would not be deterred from its objective of setting the economy on the path of sustainable development in the medium to long-term.
Continuing, he frowned at the consumption preference of many Nigerians, cautioning that Nigerians could not continue to rely on other countries for products that could be produced locally in Nigeria.
As a way out of the current situation, he emphasized the need for the country to invest in basic infrastructure such as roads, bridges, airports, railways and information technology, adding that the country also needed to explore opportunities for Public Private Partnerships for opportunities in infrastructure projects that could offer lucrative returns to investors and help drive economic growth across Nigeria.
Mr Emefiele also stressed the need for fiscal policy to target improved productivity of labour and increase disposal incomes for workers. He suggested that fiscal policy could consider ways of stimulating household consumption and business investments.
Citing agriculture as the largest employer of labour in Nigeria, he said the CBN, working with relevant Ministries and agencies, had contributed greatly to the revamp of the sector through its Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP) and other agricultural interventions. Particularly, he said the Bank had committed about N29 billion to the ABP with active participation of 24 States of the federation.
Other policy options listed by the CBN Governor include: exploration for more revenue, pursuit of non-oil exports, and enactment of import-reducing policies that will encourage Nigerians to look inwards and discourage the importation of items that can be produced in Nigeria.
With the inflation rate still hovering above 16 percent, Mr Emefiele said the CBN would be failing in one of its key mandates if it cuts interest rates at this time. He disagreed with argument of those pushing for a rate cut as a path to growth, noting that high inflation was inimical to economic growth.
“Interest rates reflect not just the cost of capital but also the cost of doing business, and so we need to also look at interest rates from the perspective of the lender. Given that most banks have to individually provide security, power, and other infrastructure, it is not surprising that some of these costs are passed on to customers in the form of high interest rates,” he explained.
However, he assured that the CBN would continue to rely on moral suasion to encourage Deposit Money Banks in the country to be more considerate in interest charges on customers.
Jumia, Churches, POS Operators, Others Reject Old Naira Notes
By Dipo Olowookere
One of the leading e-commerce companies in Nigeria, Jumia, has announced that from Monday, January 30, 2023, it will no longer accept the old Naira notes as a form of payment for goods purchased on the platform.
In a message to its customers on Thursday, the company said this action followed the decision of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to stop the use of the N200, N500, and N1,000 for financial transactions in Nigeria from February 1, 2023.
On October 26, 2022, the governor of the CBN, Mr Godwin Emefiele, announced that the three denominations would be redesigned. The new banknotes were introduced into circulation on December 15, and Nigerians were asked to return the old notes on or before January 31, 2023.
In order not to miss the deadline, and with the central bank insisting that it would not extend the deadline, Jumia has said its customers have till Sunday to pay for its goods and services with the old notes.
“From Monday, January 30, 2023, Jumia Delivery Associates will not be able to accept the old notes of N200, N500, and N1,000 sequel to the directive by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
“Should you wish to pay by cash, our delivery associates will only accept the new series of notes.
“Alternatively, you can find details on how to prepay on Jumia using JumiaPay or call us if there are any further questions.
“We will communicate further in case of any change from the federal government or central bank,” the notice from the firm, which was seen by Business Post, stated.
Meanwhile, a few churches in Lagos have asked their members not to pay tithes and offerings with the old banknotes from Sunday, January 29, 2023, due to the CBN directive.
“In reference to CBN’s directive and policy on old Naira notes, we hereby appeal to members not to come to church starting from this Sunday with old Naira notes (200, 500 & 1000).
“Please kindly make your payments (tithes, offerings, project donations and other payments) in new Naira notes.
“You can as well make an online transfer to the designated accounts (check the flier for details).
“Please share this message with members that are not on this platform,” a message from one of the parishes of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) said.
Also, checks by this reporter indicated that some POS operators have said they would no longer accept the old notes from their customers from Saturday, January 28, 2023.
“I will not accept cash deposits with the old notes from Saturday because I know the banks will be filled up next week with people who want to deposit their cash.
“This morning, I was at one of the banks to deposit the cash with me, but the crowd there scared me.
“The banks were still giving customers the old notes. I am just confused about the situation. We do not have the new notes. Almost all the ATM terminals in this area are not dispensing cash to customers,” a POS operator in the Egbeda area of Lagos, Mrs Modupe Adediran, told Business Post.
Similarly, a trader at Computer Village, Ikeja, Lagos, Mr Ikenna Okechukwu, informed this reporter that he has stopped accepting the old banknotes from his customers.
However, some commercial bus drivers in Lagos said they will still accept the old banknotes next week.
“I don’t have any issue with the money. I have a strong belief that the central bank will extend the deadline. The announcement will be made next week,” a danfo driver in Ikeja, who identified himself as Mr Tajudeen, said.
SFS Fund Mobile App Sees 300% Rise in Downloads
By Aduragbemi Omiyale
The mutual fund investment app of SFS Capital, the SFS Fund Mobile App, has recorded a 300 per cent uptick in downloads less than one year after it was launched.
The SFS Fund Mobile App has exciting features that have endeared it to new and existing users. The app has an easy-to-use interactive dashboard; it also allows retail investors with N5,000 to start an investment.
In addition, users can make direct transfers from their banks to their virtual accounts and have access to third-party payments to make payments directly into users’ investment accounts.
In the second half of 2022, the SFS Fund Mobile App was launched to enable individuals to begin their investment journey with ease.
“There’s no doubt that investment apps became really popular last year, and we are extremely excited about the growth of the SFS Fund Mobile App and how it is playing a role in encouraging more individuals to start their investment journey with Mutual Fund,” the Managing Director and CEO of SFS Capital, Mr Patrick Ilodianya, said.
Globally, there has been a rise in the usage of retail investment apps. The COVID-19 pandemic induced pragmatic investment decisions by individuals, coupled with increased accessibility to mobile, enabled more individuals to start investing.
The SFS Fund Mobile App is apt for individuals who need a trustworthy, secure and easy platform for high-yield investments in mutual funds.
The app is available for download on Android and iOS. Investments made via the app are managed by seasoned investment experts in the Nigerian financial market who ensure that the returns paid to investors range from 11 per cent to 17 per cent per annum.
The fund has consistently maintained an “AA+” rating which is the 2nd highest possible rating for a mutual fund, and has a highly competitive return on investment and no pre-termination charge.
Investment in mutual funds is a proven recipe for wealth creation, given the opportunities and flexibility it presents to investors.
“This year, we will like to encourage more individuals to make a more decisive move concerning their finances. Investing in mutual funds via the SFS Mobile Fund App makes it possible for individuals to begin to build wealth, especially in an economy like ours that is characterised by downturns and uncertainties,” Mr Ilodianya added.
The SFS Mobile Fund App is part of SFS Capital’s digitisation narrative as the investment management company builds on the legacy it has as a leading Nigerian non-bank financial institution.
Julius Berger Offers for Sale N30bn Commercial Paper in Two Series
By Dipo Olowookere
Commercial paper worth N30 billion is being offered for sale to investors by Julius Berger Plc in two series to raise funds for its operations.
Business Post gathered that the exercise commenced on Tuesday, January 24, 2023, and is expected to end on Monday, January 30, 2023.
The company, which is a leading player in the construction industry, is selling the debt instrument across two tenors, 182 days and 267 days.
The discount rate of the 182-day paper is 13.09 per cent, with an implied yield of 14.00 per cent, while the 267-day paper has a discount rate of 13.52 per cent and an implied yield of 16.00 per cent.
To buy the commercial paper of the construction firm, subscribers will have to pay at least N5 million. This can be done through registered brokerage companies.
In the 2021 fiscal year, Julius Berger grew its revenue by 40.13 per cent to N338.8 billion from N241.8 billion in 2020, as its net profit jumped by 574.96 per cent to N8.3 billion from N1.2 billion in the preceding accounting year.
Julius Berger is a leading Nigerian company offering holistic services covering the planning, design, engineering, construction, operation and maintenance of buildings, infrastructure and industry projects in Nigeria.
Since the execution of its pioneer project in 1965 by Julius Berger Tiefbau AG, a related entity, Julius Berger has played a pivotal role in the development of Nigeria’s industrial and civil infrastructure.
It was incorporated as a private company in 1970 and was later converted to a public company and joined the Nigerian Exchange (NGX) Limited in 1991.
Julius Berger has completed over 600 buildings, 20 industrial facilities and 130 infrastructure projects in Nigeria.
Infrastructure projects carried out by the firm include the construction of roads, bridges, seaports, airports, automobile assembly plants, dams, factories, petrol stations, independent power plants, development of the capital city (Abuja), amongst other projects.
Some of the landmark projects successfully executed by the company were the recent construction of the landmark Second River Niger Bridge aimed at strengthening socio-economic development across the East-West region, the construction of the Second Mainland Bridge (Eko Bridge), the repair of the Onitsha bridge in seven weeks, construction of the 500m long and 25m high Laminga Dam, with spillway system, water-treatment plant and 48km pipeline distribution network, completion of construction work for Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, etc. The Company specialises in executing complex works requiring the highest level of technical expertise and Nigeria-specific know-how.
Julius Berger has seven subsidiaries that enable it to complete multifaceted projects at the highest level of performance. This structure allows the organisation to effectively manage and fulfil construction projects, starting from the initial idea through to planning, design, engineering, construction, operation and maintenance.
Julius Berger, together with its subsidiaries, is guided by a value system which has, over time, defined and differentiated its business, thereby setting a benchmark in the Nigerian construction industry. Julius Berger offers its industrial clients forward-looking solutions that preserve the high value of assets and guarantee their sustained availability.
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