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Economy

Heritage Bank, LCFE Explore Commodities Market to Boost FX Liquidity

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Heritage Bank LCFE Explore Commodities Market

By Aduragbemi Omiyale

Recently, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) launched a policy aimed to boost foreign exchange (FX) liquidity in the country with a policy known as the CBN RT200 FX Programme.

The scheme intends to generate about $200 billion in forex repatriation in the next three to five years through non-oil exports.

Nigeria, which is the largest economy in Africa, has mainly relied on the sale of crude oil for FX earnings and because of the global economic meltdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, it has not earned much, putting pressure on the Naira at the exchange rate market.

To help the apex bank achieve the forex repatriation goal, Heritage Bank Plc, Lagos Commodities and Futures Exchange (LCFE) and other participating financial institutions came together to explore opportunities on export revenue from the commodities market.

At a breakfast meeting organised by LCFE with bankers tagged The CBN RT200 FX Programme: and Potential of Export Revenue from the Commodities Ecosystem, representatives from Heritage Bank, FSDH, Agvest Limited, Novo Merchant Bank amongst others spoke on the matter.

Speaking on the opportunities for financial institutions in the CBN RT200 FX Programme, the Divisional Head, Agribusiness, Natural Resources & Project Development, Heritage Bank, Mr Olugbenga Awe, stated that the promotion of investment in commodities ecosystem by financial institutions in partnership with LCFE in its various assets traded in Agric commodities, energy and solid minerals would increase liquidity support from local commodity exportation to boost the race for the $200billion in FX repatriation and reduce the pressure on exchange rate.

Meanwhile, he identified challenges that expediently needed to be addressed which may likely hinder financial institution’s efforts on supporting the commodities ecosystem to drive the CBN’s RT200 FX target, such as inadequate export finance resources, lack of dependable source of local product prices, risk of haulage to bad roads amongst others.

Mr Awe explained that to significantly boost local production of exportable commodities and drastically reduce the country’s dependence on oil revenue, financial institutions must play the role of market markers to the Commodity Exchange (COMEX), thereby bringing liquidity to the exchange.

According to him, with COMEX as a risk mitigation platform, there is a need for the Warehouse (WR) finance structure to be registered with LCFE and the collateral management in place, which is within the parameters set by banks.

He further explained that banks must actively participate in crop receipts, liaise with their brokers to develop the value chain around a well market structure warehouse receipts systems (WRS).

This, he said would help stimulate demand amongst players from the aggregators, off-takers for standardized contracts that help deepen the value chain while providing financing that increased volumes traded.

Mr Awe, however, reiterated that promoting investment in commodities ecosystem via structured WR finance would bring about value addition to commodities with the help to moderate the prices, as the expected increase in demand would increase revenue export and make deposit money banks self-sufficient in meeting the FX needs of their customers.

The banker, who enumerated how financial institutions can partner with commodity exchange especially LCFE to deepen their footprints in various asset classes traded by LCFE, also referenced what Heritage Bank is doing in the Wheat Value Chain together with CBN investing N40 billion, which will scale up wheat production during harvest season.

According to him, whatever can be achieved in wheat can be replicated across the various value chains in rice, maize, others and ensuring that there is a link to the commodity exchange.

MD of LCFE, Mr Akin Akeredolu-Ale, who commended Heritage Bank for its sterling efforts in deepening its footprints in agribusiness, called on banks and other organisations to take advantage of the catalytic and transformational approach to support the CBN RT200 FX initiative.

He stressed that to achieve the target, there was a need for the creation and registration of Bank Commodity Desks with LCFE and Central Securities Clearing System (CSCS).

He noted that the stakeholders’ structure in financing the commodities ecosystem include Commodity Exchange, Commercial Banks, Non-Interest Banking, Merchant Bank.

Mr Akeredolu-Ale, who decried that the Nigerian economy was still import driven and depended largely on the export of petroleum to meet FX earnings, revealed that LCFE has lined up products such as commodity instruments, commodity-backed notes, Exchange-traded funds, Commodity Spot Contracts amongst others as a bumper for driving huge export revenue from commodities ecosystem to fast track the actualisation of $200 billion in FX repatriation.

Economy

House of Reps Tells CBN to Suspend New Cash Withdrawal Limits

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House of Reps Tells CBN to Suspend New Cash Withdrawal Limits

By Modupe Gbadeyanka

The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr Godwin Emefiele, has been told to immediately suspend the new limits placed on the withdrawal of cash from over-the-counter (OTC), Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) and Point of Sales (POS).

On Tuesday, the central bank said from January 9, 2023, any cash withdrawal above N100,000 for individuals would attract a 5 per cent processing fee and a 10 per cent processing fee for withdrawals of more than N500,000 for corporate organisations.

This policy is already generating mixed reactions, with POS operators saying it would push them into the unemployment market because of the loss of jobs and the Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA) saying stakeholders were not “extensively consulted” by the CBN before its announcement.

At the plenary on Thursday, a lawmaker, Mr Aliyu Magaji, who moved a motion of urgent public importance, warned that the new policy could spell doom for the economy as several people would lose their jobs, while traders, artisans and rural dwellers would suffer because of the cash limits.

His colleagues agreed with him and criticised the apex bank for the policy.

Though the Minority Leader, Mr Ndudi Elumelu, pointed out that the new cash withdrawal limits would check crimes as funds would now be tracked through the banking system, he emphasised that the timing was wrong.

The other legislators echoed this opinion and added that it would have serious consequences and adverse effects on businesses and Nigerians who have no access to the banking system.

As a result, they asked Mr Emefiele to roll back the policy, summoning him to appear before them on Thursday, December 15, 2022, to explain the policy and why it should not be rejected.

Incidentally, the day he is to appear next week is the same day the CBN plans to officially introduce the newly redesigned N200, N500, and N1,000 banknotes into circulation.

The Naira was redesigned by the apex bank to control the volume of cash in the financial system after it was discovered that more than 80 per cent of cash in circulation was not in the banks’ vaults.

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Economy

New Cash Withdrawal Policy Was Without Extensive Consultation—NECA

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Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association NECA

By Modupe Gbadeyanka

The Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA) has accused the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) of not consulting with stakeholders extensively before coming up with the new cash withdrawal policy expected to take effect from January 9, 2023.

In the new directive, the CBN said the maximum cash that can be withdrawn from banks is N100,000 per week for individuals and N500,000 for corporate organisations. Also, customers would not be able to withdraw more than N100,000 from the Point of Sale (PoS) machines and Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) and N20,000 per day. It further said the highest Naira note to be loaded in ATMs is N200.

However, withdrawals above the cash limits via over-the-counter, according to the directive of the apex bank, would attract 5 per cent for individuals and 10 per cent for companies.

Commenting on the new development, the Director-General of NECA, Mr Wale-Smatt Oyerinde, emphasised that the livelihood of many individuals and enterprise sustainability would be impacted.

“As usual with the CBN, the bank announced a new naira withdrawal policy without extensive consultation with organized businesses and those that will be directly impacted by the policy.

“This new policy is diversionary and a mere distraction from the critical issues that are affecting the nation,” Mr Oyerinde stated.

Speaking further, he said, “While it is desirable to get all bankable individuals and businesses into the banking system and promote the cashless policy of the CBN, the timing without adequate preparation and sensitization of the critical mass that drives the economy (the SMEs and MSMEs) could prove counter-productive and further drive many below the poverty line.

“This is another classical example of the inconsistencies and misalignments between the fiscal and monetary policies of the government.

“It is absurd to blatantly set traps of processing fees for individuals and businesses who desire to withdraw their hard-earned money from the bank for legitimate and genuine business transactions.

“It is also important to note that the banking infrastructure and mobile/digital facility to drive the cashless policy are not sufficiently developed. This is not only draconian but also inhuman.

“We urge the CBN and, indeed, the federal government to replicate the energy and promptness used in implementing this policy to address the issues of dwindling value of the Naira, rising inflation, oil theft, ballooning foreign debt, and get millions out of poverty realm.”

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Economy

SEC Plans to Boost Value of Shariah-Compliant Products to N5trn by 2025

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non-interest capital market Shariah-compliant products

By Aduragbemi Omiyale

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has said it plans to expand the size of the Shariah-compliant products in the non-interest capital market in Nigeria to at least N5 trillion by 2025.

The Director-General of SEC, Mr Lamido Yuguda, said the revised edition of the Capital Market Master Plan (2021 – 2025), which was launched recently, has mapped out ways to achieve this goal.

Speaking at the opening of a three-day capacity-building workshop for local Shariah talent for non-interest capital market held at the SEC head office in Abuja on Wednesday, Mr Yuguda said this could be achieved through the listing of at least 50 Shariah-compliant products.

The DG, who was represented by the SEC’s Executive Commissioner Operations, Mr Dayo Obisan, said that the Non-Interest Capital Market (NICM) also plans to ensure 100 retail Shariah-compliant products and attract about 1 million direct investors in the ecosystem.

Mr Yuguda noted that with these new responsibilities, promoting capacity-building programmes, such as the workshop, on Shariah-compliant processes and products (Regulators and Operators) has become necessary for the NCIM.

He said the commission, in recognising the potential of the non-interest capital market for economic growth, dedicated a component in its 10-year policy to the speedy development of the market in the financial system.

Specifically, Mr Yuguda said the plan provides clear strategic objectives for the development of the market, one of which is the “encouragement of the development of stakeholders for the market” and today’s workshop is evidence of the realization of this particular objective.

The stride and significant achievements recorded by the policy, he said, are evidenced by the last ranking of Nigerian Islamic Finance in 13th place on the global Islamic Finance Development Indicator 2021, with the assets under management valued at N2.30 billion, which is higher than countries like Bangladesh and Turkey.

“As you may be aware, the major difference between conventional finance and non-interest finance is the application of Shariah principles. This simply means that a non-interest financial market cannot exist without experts in Islamic commercial jurisprudence (FiqhulMu’amalat Al-Maliyya).

“Therefore, this Workshop will help in fast-tracking the development of experts for the Market. We believe that it would be a magic lamp for developing our local Sharia talent, not only for the Nigerian capital market but for the Nigerian financial system in general.

“The level of activities in the non-interest capital market that we are currently experiencing in Nigeria affirms the overwhelming acceptance of NICM products by the country’s populace. This shows a strong appetite for other alternative forms of investments.

“Recently, the market witnessed the entrance of institutions offering non-interest capital market services/products and the oversubscription of the FGN and corporate Sukuk, further buttresses the need for this workshop to encourage the development of Shariah experts for the market.”

The DG said the workshop is aimed at exposing participants who have the potential to provide Shariah advisory services for the Islamic finance industry, particularly the non-interest capital market’s operations as it relates to Shariah principles and rulings. It is also planned to be in two levels, Level 1 and 2.

He stated that Level 1, is focused on the basic areas of financial market structure and operations of the capital market, Shariah principles and contracts relating to non-interest capital markets, as well as Shariah issues relating to the operations and businesses of the market, among others while level-2 which will address the operation of the Sukuk and equity markets.

The SEC boss said NICM has so much potential in the country by attracting an untapped investor base who appears indifferent to conventional instruments to participate in the capital market as well as the existing investors to diversify to ethical and socially responsible investments.

“We believe that developing Shariah talent through a Workshop like this is another opportunity of creating awareness for the non-interest capital market products and services, which in turn will facilitate the financial inclusion drive in the Nigerian Financial System.

“I am happy to note that the commission recently exposed registration rules to set a minimum standard for corporate or individuals seeking to provide Shariah advisory services for non-interest capital market activities. This is to encourage further and attract the attention of qualified persons and entities to engage in the Shariah advisory function for the non-interest capital market.”

Mr Yuguda expressed the confidence that the participants will benefit from the vast knowledge and experience of the facilitators, which will bring about a much-needed impact on the participants and the market in general.

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