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Economy

Reps to Probe $1.5bn Port Harcourt Refinery Rehabilitation Cost

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Port Harcourt Refinery

By Adedapo Adesanya

The House of Representatives has directed its committee on Petroleum Resources Downstream to investigative the true state of the Port Harcourt refinery, which the federal government has approved the sum of $1.5 billion for its rehabilitation.

The lower chamber also mandated the committee to carry out a comprehensive audit of funds previously spent on the Port Harcourt refinery and other refineries across the country.

This decision follows a motion moved as a matter of public importance by a lawmaker representing Etinan/Nsit Ibom/ Nsit Ubium Federal Constituency, Onofiok Luke.

While debating on the matter, the lawmakers expressed worry that so much had been spent on maintaining and rehabilitating the refineries but the output have barely improved.

They also asked the federal government to grant licenses and provide incentives for the construction of modular refineries.

The Federal Executive Council (FEC) last week approved $1.5 billion for the rehabilitation of the Port Harcourt refinery which is said to commence immediately.

The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Mr Timipre Sylva, who made the announcement after the FEC meeting, said the rehabilitation will be carried out in three phases.

According to the federal government, the first phase will be completed in 18 months which will take the refinery to a production of 90 per cent of its capacity. The second phase will be completed in 24 months, while the final phase will be completed in 44 months.

The approval came amidst a controversial price increase in the pump price of petrol that was later reversed.

Although Nigeria has four refineries, all government-owned, it currently imports virtually all its refined petroleum products.

Criticisms over Rehabilitation

The announcement by the federal government that $1.5 billion will be used for the exercise, was met with various criticisms.

Former Vice President, Mr Atiku Abubakar, described the proposal as a waste of resources.

In a statement, he said, “At this critical period, we must as a nation be prudent with the use of whatever revenue we are able to generate, and even if we must borrow, we must do so with the utmost responsibility and discipline.

“To, therefore, budget the sum of $1.5 billion to renovate or turn around the Port Harcourt Refinery would appear to be an unwise use of scarce funds at this critical juncture for a multiplicity of reasons.

“First of all, our refineries have been loss-making for multiple years, and indeed, it is questionable wisdom to throw good money after bad.

“At other times, I have counselled that the best course of action would be to privatise our refineries, so they can be run more effectively and efficiently.”

Mr Atedo Peterside, who was on the National Council on Privatisation (NCP) between 2010 and 2015, urged the federal government to halt the “brazen & expensive adventure.”

Mr Peterside said “many experts prefer that this refinery is sold by BPE to core-investors with proven capacity to repair it with their own funds.”

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

Binance Gets Digital Asset Service Provider Licence in France

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Binance

By Adedapo Adesanya

Binance, the world’s largest crypto and blockchain infrastructure provider, has been granted a Digital Asset Service Provider (DASP) registration to operate in France.

The green light was given by Autorité des marchés financiers (AMF), which regulates the French financial markets, with the approval of the Autorité de Contrôle Prudentiel et de Résolution (ACPR), the authority responsible for supervising the banking and insurance sectors in France, especially AML Regulations.

The landmark achievement for Binance represents its first DASP registration in the European Union and demonstrates its commitment to being a compliance-first exchange.

The registration allows Binance France SAS to operate as a DASP in France and provides regulatory protection for local users with regard to the implementation of French AML/CFT and customer identification requirements.

This came just after the platform received licenses to be a crypto service provider in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, a key milestone for the world’s largest digital-asset exchange as it set up the stage for a major push in the Middle East.

According to Binance, compliance and regulation are critical to the development and maturation of the crypto and blockchain industry.

Mr Changpeng Zhao (CZ), founder and CEO of Binance, said: “Effective regulation is essential for the mainstream adoption of cryptocurrency. The French DASP and AML/CFT regulations put in place stringent anti-money laundering and fit and proper requirements to meet the high standards necessary to be regulated in France.”

“We are grateful to the AMF and ACPR who both demonstrated a commitment to innovation that made it possible for Binance to navigate the entire application process. Since day one, Binance has always put its users first, and now the crypto community can have even further confidence in Binance France as a trusted DASP registered in France,” he added.

Mr David Princay, CEO of Binance France added, “The registration of Binance France as a DASP is a key milestone for crypto in Europe. In particular, the new levels of protection for AML will help grow crypto adoption in France and Europe. Greater adoption will help bring better liquidity to the market which will be welcomed by users and the community in particular.”

Following the registration, Binance will significantly expand its operations and intends to recruit more people focused on cryptocurrency and blockchain infrastructure development.

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Economy

We’ll Sustain High Level of Corporate Governance—Seplat

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Seplat

By Aduragbemi Omiyale

The immediate past chairman of Seplat Energy Plc, Mr Ambrosie Bryant Chukwueloka (ABC) Orjiako, has assured that the company will continue to sustain a high level of corporate governance.

Speaking last Thursday at the closing gong ceremony to honour him and introduce his successor, Mr Basil Omiyi, to the market, the energy expert applauded the Nigerian Exchange (NGX) Limited for insisting on transparent and accountable corporate governance for issuers on its platform.

According to him, this has been critical to the company’s growth, assuring that this trend would be maintained in the interest of the firm’s stakeholders.

“The high level of corporate governance promoted by NGX for its listed companies was a key attribute that motivated Seplat Energy Plc to become part of the market.

“Since our acceptance into the market, Seplat Energy Plc has continued to deliver a corporate governance structure that is accountable and transparent to our investors, employees, government and all other relevant stakeholders.

“We are committed to sustaining these high levels of corporate governance through our collaboration with NGX as we implement market-leading measures towards ensuring Nigeria achieves a sustainable energy sector,” he said.

Corroborating him, Mr Omiyi, said, “NGX has played an instrumental role in Seplat Energy Plc’s growth within the domestic and international markets. Our history with the exchange dates back to 2014 when the shares of Seplat Energy Plc were listed in the market and over the years, Seplat has benefitted immensely from its collaboration with NGX.

“As we celebrate another milestone on the Trading Floor of the Exchange, we look forward to strengthening our partnership with NGX for the fulfilment of our joint goal of leveraging capital to empower sustainable initiatives that positively impact our investors, employees, and the environment.”

The chairman of NGX, Mr A.B. Mahmoud, in his address, congratulated Mr Orjiako for his exemplary leadership and outstanding performance of Seplat Energy for well over a decade, during which the company was listed on both NGX and the London Stock Exchange.

“The notable acquisition of eight oil and gas assets, expansion of the Oben and development of the ANOH gas plants under his leadership positioned the company as the largest indigenous domestic supplier of gas,” Mr Mahmoud, who was represented by a director on the bourse, Mr Kamarudeen Oladosu, he noted.

On his part, the CEO of NGX, Mr Temi Popoola, said, “The exchange is better positioned to lead government advocacy efforts for listed companies, promote technology advancement and digital innovation for the capital market, and increase retail investor participation in the capital market aimed at building a market for the future and addressing the prevailing challenge of financial inclusion.

“We welcome Seplat Energy Plc to a renewed NGX and look forward to deepening our collaboration to develop and push for disruptive, out of the box ideas that could support Nigeria’s energy transition into a net-zero economy.”

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Economy

JUST IN: CBN Raises Benchmark Interest Rate to 13%

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killing interest rate

By Dipo Olowookere

For the first time in two years, the Monetary Policy Rate (MPR) has been raised by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to 13.0 per cent from 11.5 per cent.

Mr Godwin Emefiele, the Governor of the CBN, who announced this development on Tuesday in Abuja, explained that the decision to increase the benchmark interest rate was taken at the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) meeting held yesterday and today.

While addressing financial reporters this afternoon, Mr Emefiele said members of the committee were unanimous with the decision to hike the rates as it was the best thing to do after holding them for about two years.

According to the central bank chief, one of the reasons for raising the rate is to control liquidity ahead of the 2023 general elections as politicians would be expected to flood the system with cash in a bid to woo voters.

However, the other parameters were left unchanged by members at the gathering as the Asymmetric corridor remained around the MPR at +100/-700bps, the Cash Reserve Ratio (CRR) at 27.5 per cent and the Liquidity Ratio (LR) at 30.0 per cent.

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