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It’s Too Late to Remove Fuel Subsidy Now—Lai Mohammed

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By Adedapo Adesanya

The Minister of Information and Culture, Mr Lai Mohammed, has posited that it would be the wrong time to remove fuel subsidy at the moment, noting that many other nations are introducing measures to help citizens cope with high oil energy prices.

Nigeria, which is Africa’s largest crude oil exporter, still has to import almost all its fuel needs due to the lack of refining capacity.

Earlier this year, President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration scrapped plans to abolish fuel subsidies, a move that will gulp about N4 trillion.

“When you consider the chaos, the social disharmony and … instability such an action (of abolishing subsidies) would facilitate, is it worth it? I don’t think so,” Mr Lai Mohammed said in a wide-ranging interview with Reuters.

This is happening as the prices of fuel are rising with consumers buying as high as N185 per litre at the pump amid a current scarcity across the nation.

Recently, Business Post reported that about $1 billion in revenue were lost to crude oil theft in the first quarter of this year.

Mr Mohammed said the Petroleum Industry Act that allocates money to oil-producing communities would stop attacks and blamed the European Union’s climate change policies for stifling investment in the sector.

“We believe that climate change is real and important for emission control, but there is a bit of double standard in the EU policy regarding climate change,” he said.

“We are leaving the country much more secure than we met it,” Mr Mohammed said, noting progress made against Boko Haram since 2015.”

He also called upon the Western countries to declare the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), which campaigns for part of southeast Nigeria to secede, a terrorist group.

Asked if Nigerian security forces had killed any innocent people in the country’s southeast during its campaign against IPOB, Mr Mohammed said, “not deliberately”.

Mr Mohammed said he would demand the return of hundreds of priceless sculptures known as the Benin Bronzes when he met with the director of the British Museum later on Monday after Germany returned the first two of more than 1,100 last week.

“I will be telling them that time is running out to return our stolen artefacts,” he said though he does not expect a result immediately. He disclosed that “it’s about when [and] not if.”

Adedapo Adesanya is a journalist, polymath, and connoisseur of everything art. When he is not writing, he has his nose buried in one of the many books or articles he has bookmarked or simply listening to good music with a bottle of beer or wine. He supports the greatest club in the world, Manchester United F.C.

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Economy

Stock Market Down by 0.13% as Investors Offload MTN, Cadbury

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Stock Market Newspaper

By Dipo Olowookere

The winning streaks witnessed on the floor of the Nigerian Exchange (NGX) Limited lately was halted on Thursday as profit-taking in some blue-chip equities pulled down the stock market by 0.13 per cent.

Heavyweights like MTN Nigeria, GTCO, Cadbury Nigeria and FBN Holdings came under selling pressure yesterday, bringing down the exchange at the close of transactions despite the strong investor sentiment.

Business Post reports that the market breadth closed positive on Thursday as the bourse recorded 15 appreciating stocks and 10 depreciating equities led by Capital Hotel, which dropped 9.80 per cent to sell at N2.76. Honeywell Flour declined by 9.09 per cent to N2.20, Coronation Insurance decreased by 8.11 per cent to 34 Kobo, ABC Transport crashed by 7.41 per cent to 25 Kobo, and Cadbury Nigeria depleted by 4.46 per cent to N10.70.

However, the shares of Chams grew by 9.09 per cent during the session to 24 Kobo, RT Briscoe expanded by 7.69 per cent to 28 Kobo, PZ Cussons inflated by 5.50 per cent to N11.50, Livestock Feeds improved by 4.50 per cent to N1.16, and Ecobank increased by 2.86 per cent to N10.80.

Analysis of the sectorial performance showed that the energy index remained unchanged, the industrial goods and the banking counters closed higher by 1.11 per cent and 0.46 per cent apiece, while the insurance and the consumer goods sectors declined by 0.48 per cent and 0.06 per cent, respectively.

As a result, the All-Share Index (ASI) of the NGX slacked by 61.35 points to 48,365.14 points from 48,426.49 points, while the market capitalisation went down by N34 billion to N26.343 trillion from N26.377 trillion.

Yesterday, investors transacted 148.2 million shares worth N3.0 billion in 3,391 deals compared with the 146.2 million shares worth N3.4 billion traded in the midweek session in 2,810 deals, indicating a decline in the trading value by 11.77 per cent, an increase in the trading volume by 1.37 per cent, and a surge in the number of trades by 20.61 per cent.

The most attractive stock for the session was Ecobank, as it sold 23.4 million units and was trailed by FBN Holdings, which traded 25.8 million units. Transcorp exchanged 12.9 million units, Access Holdings transacted 9.6 million units, and Sterling Bank traded 9.2 million units.

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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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