By Dipo Olowookere
A total of $16.1 million has been approved by the Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for the Gambia under the Rapid Credit Facility (RCF).
The Gambia faces an urgent balance of payments need triggered by a weak agricultural season, lower tourism receipts due to the political turmoil early this year, and higher commodity prices.
The financial assistance is intended to address urgent balance of payments needs that have arisen on account of the shocks.
In addition, the Board was informed about the IMF Managing Director’s approval of a one-year staff-monitored program (SMP) to guide policy implementation.
With the recent political transition, the new government has inherited a dire economic situation and the country is faced with an urgent balance of payments need and a precariously low level of usable international reserves.
The Gambia has been hit by a bad agricultural season, the political turmoil following the elections in December 2016 has greatly reduced tourism receipts in early 2017, and higher fuel and commodity prices put further strain on the balance of payments.
These shocks have exacerbated an already fragile macroeconomic situation, reflecting past economic mismanagement.
The funding package will help fill budgetary gaps while the authorities implement economic and structural policies aimed at restoring macroeconomic stability and reducing poverty.
The Executive Board’s approval of the RCF disbursement will also enable the authorities to engage in further discussions with the donor community regarding assistance to meet their remaining financing needs.
The Board’s approval enables the immediate disbursement of the full amount of the RCF loan, which is equivalent to 18.75 percent of The Gambia’s quota in the IMF.
Following the Executive Board discussion, Mr Mitsuhiro Furusawa, Deputy Managing Director and Acting Chair, said, “The Gambian authorities are strongly committed to a break with past policies and to restoring macroeconomic stability and debt sustainability.
He also said authorities “have committed to drastically reducing domestic borrowing, including by ending central bank deficit financing, and are taking substantive measures to increase non-tax revenue and reduce expenditures in 2017.”
“The authorities also plan to undertake comprehensive reforms of key state-owned enterprises to secure the planned fiscal adjustment.
“These efforts are complemented by substantial external support from development partners. However, sustained further efforts beyond 2017 will be needed to secure fiscal sustainability.
“The Gambia’s high public debt exposes it to significant vulnerabilities. To reduce these vulnerabilities, multilateral development banks have committed to provide additional support and assurances of highly concessional support have been received from some of The Gambia’s major official bilateral creditors.”
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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