By Dipo Olowookere
Federal Government on Thursday described Lagos State as a true model of the vision of improving on the ease of doing business and turning Nigeria into one of the easiest and most attractive places for investors in the world.
Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr Okechukwu Enelamah, who stated this in Lagos after a meeting with Governor Akinwunmi Ambode, said the state, as the commercial capital of the country, stands in a vantage position to drive the goal of government to improve World Bank ranking of Nigeria on the ease of doing business.
Speaking with Government House correspondents after the meeting, Mr Enelemah said both the Federal Government and the State Government were willing to collaborate on strategic areas to achieve the overall goal of growing the economy.
He said, “We basically have been talking about creating enabling environment for investments and ease of doing business and the area where we have strong convergence between Lagos State and the Federal Government.
“Governor Ambode and I have been discussing how to collaborate very strongly to make Lagos State a true role model in line with our vision of making Nigeria one of the easiest and most attractive places to do business and you will agree with me that there is no better place to start than Lagos State, particularly when you have a Governor who is committed to it and as he puts it to us, it is like preaching to the converted.
“So, what we have done today is to agree on modalities on working together to achieve the targets that we have set for ourselves both in ease of doing business ranking of the World Bank, in terms of some of the areas where we know that we should improve upon like tourism for instance, by making sure that people who want to visit Nigeria come in seamlessly; in terms of making it easy for people in Lagos State who are, as the Governor puts it, paying the taxes by making life easier and better for them.”
Giving details, the Minister said his office would be collaborating with the Office of Transformation under the Governor’s office, as well as the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council, to achieve the overall objectives.
He also assured that the Federal Government would not hesitate to impose import restrictions where necessary to avoid Nigeria from being a dumping ground, while concerted efforts would be put in place to check negative trade practices, especially for the benefit of the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).
Also speaking, Governor Ambode recalled that in the last few months, the State Government had been engaging the business community on ease of doing business, saying that the meeting with officials of the Federal Government was in sync with the vision of his administration to achieve the very best in driving investment.
“What has been happening in the last two years is that on our part, we have tried as much as possible to provide an enabling environment for businesses to thrive in Lagos but again the indices that indicate that we are improving on ease of doing business is not really looking too good and we believe strongly that if 70 per cent of businesses or these indicators are actually coming from Lagos State, there is a need for us to quickly create a convergence between the efforts of the Federal Government and the State Government to make sure that we improve the business environment and that is what we have been discussing in the last few weeks as well as today.
“Moving forward, we have also engaged the office of the Vice President to see that there is a convergence in all our efforts to make sure that if possible, people should come to Lagos and start their business the same day.
“We want a situation whereby construction permit is given to people within the shortest possible time; we want to ensure that people who pay their taxes actually have the benefit of what they are paying for and in doing that, if we get in right in Lagos, it is very clear that Nigeria has gotten it right and that is why we are meeting,” Governor Ambode said.
The Governor expressed optimism that the current efforts would bring about major improvements on the business environment, adding that such would go a long way in growing the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Nigeria.
Demand Pressure Jerks NGX All-Share Index to 54,213.09 points
By Dipo Olowookere
The sustained demand for domestic stocks further raised the Nigerian Exchange (NGX) Limited by 0.40 per cent on Friday, with the All-Share Index (ASI) crossing the 54,000-point threshold at the close of business.
The index, which measures the general performance of the bourse, appreciated by 214.97 points to settle at 54,213.09 points compared with the preceding day’s 53,998.12 points, as the market capitalisation expanded by N117 billion to close at N29.528 trillion as against Thursday’s closing value of N29.411 trillion.
The growth reported yesterday was supported by buying pressure across sectors of the market, though the consumer goods space came under selling pressure, losing 0.39 per cent.
However, this did not affect the outcome of the bourse due to the 1.06 per cent recorded by the banking counter, the 0.31 per cent expansion posted by the insurance sector, the 0.17 per cent growth printed by the energy counter, and the 0.04 per cent improvement reported by the industrial goods space.
Business Post reports that the market breadth remained positive on Friday, with 35 price gainers and 10 price losers, indicating a very strong investor sentiment.
Red Star Express, International Energy Insurance, and FTN Cocoa gained 10.00 per cent each yesterday to finish at N2.53, 99 Kobo, and 33 Kobo, respectively. MRS Oil gained 9.94 per cent to end at N19.35, and Northern Nigerian Flour Mills rose by 9.55 per cent to N9.75.
Conversely, Ikeja Hotel was the worst-performing stock after it dropped 10.00 per cent to 99 Kobo, Lasaco Assurance fell by 5.88 per cent to 96 Kobo, ABC Transport declined by 5.41 per cent to 35 Kobo, Universal Insurance went down by 4.76 per cent to 20 Kobo, and May & Baker shed 2.89 per cent to N4.71.
At the market yesterday, investors traded 268.02 million stocks worth N2.4 billion in 4,017 deals compared with the 2.9 billion stocks worth N8.1 billion traded in 3,940 deals on Thursday, indicating an increase in the number of deals by 1.95 per cent and a decline in the trading volume and value by 90.66 per cent and 70.37 per cent apiece.
Universal Insurance topped the activity chart after it sold 63.4 million shares, GTCO traded 20.8 million equities, Transcorp exchanged 19.5 million stocks, International Energy Insurance transacted 12.8 million equities, and Access Holdings traded 12.5 million shares.
Naira Shortage: President Buhari Calls for Calm
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
President Muhammadu Buhari has urged Nigerians to remain calm as they express their anger over the shortage of Naira in the financial system.
Since last week, many citizens of the country have been unable to access their funds in the banks because of a shortage in the supply of the redesigned Naira notes.
This has resulted in a huge crowd at banking premises across the nation, with several persons queuing at Automated Teller Machine (ATM) terminals waiting to withdraw their money with success.
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) redesigned the N200, N500, and N1,000 denominations last year and said the old notes would no longer be legal tender from January 31, 2023.
However, while many Nigerians approached their banks last Sunday to quickly deposit their funds to beat the deadline, the CBN announced that the deadline had been moved to February 10, 2023.
The next day, while customers attempted to withdraw their funds over the counter, they were informed that the apex bank had directed them (commercial banks) not to honour cash withdrawal requests.
Also, cash withdrawal from ATMs was limited, making it very difficult for businesses to operate, triggering a protest in Ibadan on Friday.
When the demonstration was going on, Governors of the All Progressives Congress (APC) were meeting with President Buhari to persuade him to do something about the Naira scarcity.
After the gathering, he said in a social media post that, “I am aware of the cash shortages and hardship being faced by people and businesses on account of the Naira redesign.
“I want to assure you that we are doing everything to resolve these issues. Nigerians should expect significant improvements between now and the February 10 deadline.
“I met with a delegation of Governors today on the matter. All the complaints about the execution of the currency change are being seriously looked into.
“I will ensure that everything is resolved in a lasting manner, and we will all enjoy the long-term benefits of the decision.”
Local Currency Appreciates at P2P, I&E, Depreciates at Black Market
By Adedapo Adesanya
The local currency appreciated by N2 on the United States Dollar at the Peer-2-Peer (P2P) foreign exchange (FX) window, closing at N760/$1 on Friday, February 3, compared with the previous day’s N762/$1, indicating a form of ease as tensions rose across the country following a cash crunch that has triggered anger and aggression in some states.
President Muhammadu Buhari stepped in on Friday and pleaded with Nigerians to give him seven days to resolve the crisis caused by the scarcity of new Naira notes.
The President said he had seen reports about cash shortages and the effect on local businesses and ordinary people.
In the Investors and Exporters (I&E) segment, the Naira recorded a 50 Kobo or 0.11 per cent upward movement against the US Dollar to trade at N461.50/$1 compared with the preceding day’s N462.00/$1.
The day’s trading data showed that the value of forex transactions during the official market slightly increased by 3.54 per cent or $4.08 million to $119.43 million from the $115.35 million recorded a day before.
But in the black market, the Nigerian currency depreciated against the Dollar by N1 to close at N753/$1, in contrast to Thursday’s exchange rate of N752/$1.
In the interbank window, the domestic currency closed flat against the British Pound Sterling and the Euro on Friday at N568.32/£1 and N507.14/€1, respectively.
At the cryptocurrency market, there was a mixed outcome across the tokens tracked by Business Post as moves by the US Federal Reserve to raise rates by 25 basis points continued to send jittery signals.
Binance Coin (BNB) recorded a 2.8 per cent rise to sell at $329.32, Dogecoin (DOGE) grew by 2.4 per cent to trade at $0.0935, Solana (SOL) appreciated by 1.1 per cent to $24.49, Ethereum (ETH) improved by 0.9 per cent to $1,654.18, Cardano (ADA) recorded a 0.6 per cent addition to quote at $0.4006, while Litecoin (LTC) rose by 0.4 per cent to $99.15.
However, Bitcoin (BTC) declined by 0.7 per cent to trade at $23,356.32, and Ripple (XRP) recorded a 0.2 per cent slump to trade at $0.4092, while Binance USD (BUSD) and the US Dollar Tether (USDT) closed flat at $1.00 each.
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