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How Nigerian Capital Market Can Combat COVID-19

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Timi Olubiyi

By Timi Olubiyi

Across the world, the impact of the novel coronavirus is still severe despite the ease of lockdown for economic reasons.

The uncertainty continues to heighten and no economy is spared from the fall-out from the COVID-19 outbreak.

Many African capital markets are bearish, Namibia, South Africa, Mauritius, Egypt, Morocco, Kenya, Ghana, Malawi, and a few others.

In Nigeria, the first quarter of the year 2020 in terms of performance closed in the red with a negative return of (20.65 percent), as against a negative return of (1.24 percent) in the first quarter of 2019.

The market capitalization of the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE), which represents the market value of all listed companies, lost about N2 trillion in the first quarter of 2020.

However, surprisingly the performance of the stock market in April 2020 was positive. The market performed with a gain of 8.08 percent to close the month of April at 23,021.01 points, from an opening level of 21,300.47 points at the beginning of the month.

In terms of market capitalization for the period, the value was up by N896 billion as at April 30, 2020, from an opening value of N11.101 trillion on April 1, 2020, to close at N11.997 trillion.

In May 2020, the market on month-on-month performance closed at 9.76 percent as against +8.08 percent gain recorded in April 2020. The performance hinged higher due to investors bargain hunting even though most of the trades were executed remotely.

This surprising feat in Nigeria, particularly during the COVID19 pandemic, could be attributed to smart investors bargain hunting and the release of good end-of-the-year financial results by some of the listed companies along with improved dividend declarations in recent time.

During this period, some of the companies that released their financials are MTN Nigeria Communications Plc, Vitafoam Nigeria Plc, Dangote Cement Plc, Julius Berger Nigeria Plc, Nigerian Breweries Plc, Zenith Bank Plc, Transcorp Hotels Plc, United Bank for Africa Plc, Transnational Corporation of Nigeria Plc, Guaranty Trust Bank Plc, Stanbic IBTC Holdings Plc, Access Bank Plc, Fidelity Bank Plc, Sterling Bank Plc, Seplat Petroleum Development Company Plc, 11 Plc, Dangote Sugar Plc, BUA cement Plc Total Plc, Airtel Plc Nestle Nigeria Plc, First Bank, Okomu Oil Plc, and BOC Gases Plc.

Nonetheless, the increasing number in the incidences of coronavirus (COVID-19) in Nigeria has been a huge concern, it could signal weak economic data, decline productivity, and falling consumption rate, which might even affect the overall outputs and performance of the economy eventually.

This projection is largely due to the global negative impact of coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on the economy, the weak inflow of foreign portfolio investments, high uncertainty in the economy, and owing to intense selling pressure occasioned by investors’ apathy in the capital market.

Already, the COVID-19 outbreak has forced a slow or halt in the physical operations of some businesses and that could heighten in the coming months.

The Nigerian stock exchange has been operational through remote trading with technology playing a significant role in the operations.

Likewise, companies have also adopted effective usage of technology to work remotely and mitigate the risk of total business shut down.

With the current realities, the next normal way to carry on business activities effectively in the meantime is through remote communications. Technology has the potential to still improve business efficiency and also improve transactions for businesses to perform, while this COVID-19 disruption persists.

The big question is internet data bundle cheap to sustain this efficiency? Agreeably, this is a different argument which is out of the context of this article.

Nonetheless, despite the promotion of technology adoption to ease business transaction in the meantime, the outbreak of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) so far in Nigeria has been a bad indicator of economic performance and the capital market as a whole.

The level at which the coronavirus spread exponentially can result to damage consumption, purchasing power and services, and even investment decisions among investors.

Consequently, if the spread is not curtailed within a reasonable period, it might harm the inflow of foreign direct investments, imports and export trades, manufacturing, tourism, health, hospitality, services, travels and more than likely it might disrupt or crash the economic forecasts and revenue estimates of many businesses particularly SMEs in the country.

This pandemic might eventually impact negatively on the performance of the Nigerian stock exchange and that of many of the listed companies, given the high uncertainty around production, services, and demands if the COVID-19 continues to spread.

Rather than see the market perpetually closing on negative notes, adequate government policy response is recommended to immediately cushion the effect of the pandemic.

Though it is still too early to measure the full economic impact of COVID-19 on the capital market in Nigeria, however, the early signs do not look good.

Regulators in the capital market, as a matter of urgency, need to propose to government, direct policy responses to cushion the effect of the COVID-19.

This is imperative because most of SMEs and companies listed have experienced supply chain disruption and depressing investment climate. Therefore, government intervention or palliative is required for their sustainability.

As part of an effort to reduce the negative impact of COVID19 in the country, especially the disruption of regular activities and economic instability the capital market and the market operators can be assisted by the government.

The suspension of the proposed July 1, 2020, increase in electricity tariffs across the country by the electricity distribution companies (Discos) is recommended to ease the negative impact of COVID-19.

That said, the policy responses by the Nigerian government can further be reviewed to accommodate fiscal palliative measures and economic stimulatory measures targeted at the capital market to ameliorate the impact on the economy especially to save businesses, professionals and capital market operators.

Measures such as tax deferrals, tax holidays from states and the Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS), reduction in interest rates on all Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) intervention facilities and relaxation of the stringent requirements are recommended.

Further to this, the approval of extension on moratorium on federal government funded loans, through Bank of Industry (BOI), Bank of Agriculture (BOA), and Nigeria Export-Import Bank (NEXIM Bank) and the Nigerian Communication Commission (NCC) can be considered.

The NCC can look into the downward review of the internet data cost to sustain business usage, especially for remote trading and e-commerce needs.

Allocation of contingency and crisis intervention funds to subsidies salaries of some private establishment that has been badly affected by COVID-19 pandemic in health, maritime, education sectors to mitigate the massive unemployment spike in the country.

Furthermore, technical proposals should be considered from the capital market professionals and operators for the expression of measures to help their businesses and stem the tide of COVID-19 impact.

The joint development of comprehensive policy for market sustainability and recovery where applicable by government and the capital market professionals is recommended at this time. This will in no small measure minimize the impact of the pandemic in the capital market landscape and stimulate the economy at large. It will also attract more capital market participation and encourage more listing on the exchange, which in turn will provide market liquidity.

The real subject matter for the government and other economic policymakers is to see that the virus is short-lived in Nigeria.

Consequently, the performance of the Nigerian capital market will be significantly influenced by how the government can quickly address the COVID-19 pandemic.

It is imperative to state that the capital market can always support economic growth if the needed policies are put in place.

Currently, Nigeria majorly depends on crude oil foreign revenue to have a stable economy and this revenue expectation has been dashed due to global shocks. This lull and weakening of the economy also affect the performance of the listed companies on the exchange and the capital market as a whole.

Therefore, to mitigate the negative impact and to response to the COVID-19 consequences, a government intervention is necessary.

On the part of the regulators to deepening market participation, it is recommended that necessary support be given to large firms, SMEs including government agencies to list.

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and NSE should relax the listing requirements to accommodate more qualified companies to list on the stock exchange.

More so, the lowering of transaction and listing costs will directly attract more listings and deepen market participation.

Point of note is that the co-operation and co-ordination between and among the various financial markets regulators such as SEC, NSE, CBN, Pension Commission (PenCom), Debt Management Office (DMO) and National Insurance Commission (NAICOM) need to be strengthened to assure coherent of policies.

Therefore, the post-COVID-19 regulatory regime should involve consistent and coordinated policy responses and pronouncement from these regulators and agencies to create considerable effective implementations, which will in turn boost market confidence.

I foresee a return of foreign investors when a bit of stability and flattening of the curve of the pandemic has been achieved globally particularly in Nigeria.

Besides, regulators and government need to improve policies and laws to promote foreign investors and inward foreign direct investments (FDIs) because it will eventually stimulate economic development.

The policy of ease of doing business in Nigeria can be upgraded to include foreign portfolio investment policy options.

Furthermore, Foreign Direct Investment (FDI)-incentives (tax-related) to considerably increase foreign participation in our capital market ecosystem needs to reflect in the Post-COVID recovery policy.

In conclusion, equities are grossly undervalued at current prices; most stocks are far below their real worth and book value.

Also, the current valuations already offer opportunities to those who want to position for the long term. Essentially, hedging against inflation is achievable with the current equity prices if held over in the long term.

How may you obtain advice or further information on the article?

Dr Timi Olubiyi is an Entrepreneurship and Small Business Management expert. He is a prolific investment coach, Chartered Member of the Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment (CISI) and a financial literacy specialist. He can be reached on the twitter handle @drtimiolubiyi and via email: drtimiolubiyi@gmail.com for any questions, reactions, and comments.

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Islamic Estate Planning: Protect Your Family and Leave a Legacy

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Islamic Estate Planning

By FBNQuest

Islamic estate planning involves the distribution of your assets that serve to preserve, manage, and distribute them after death according to the principles of the Shari’ah.

According to the Islamic ordinance, those principles are significant in planning for dependents and represent an investment in the afterlife.

Islamic inheritance laws organise your wealth ownership and assets to ensure fairness and justice after your passing. Instead of leaving the tough decisions to grieving family members, you can arrange the gifting of your assets in advance. This creates a streamlined process for the distribution of the inheritance to all family members.

Islamic estate planning is essential in the life of Muslim faithful. Indeed, if you pass away as a Muslim without a proper plan for your assets, you may be breaching the bequest guidance stated in the Holy Book, which serves as an instruction manual for a Muslim’s life.

However, many are not concerned with making an inheritance plan, even though a failure to make one could trigger intense family debate and hinder the transfer of some assets to specific beneficiaries.

According to the guiding principles of Islamic estate planning, after covering the funeral expenses and debts owed by the deceased, a person may designate up to one-third of their wealth.

This discretionary giving is known as the Wasiyyah. However, there are limitations to this discretionary giving.

For example, Wasiyyah cannot be given to someone already receiving a share under the Islamic inheritance laws. The Wasiyyah is most commonly given to charity or to care for distant relatives who cannot provide for themselves.

The residual two-thirds is the Mirath and is reserved for the Islamic heirs as ordained in the Holy Book. Primary beneficiaries are those who will inherit some of your wealth, provided that they are alive and Muslim. These are your spouse, children, and parents, and they receive a fixed share of the wealth.

Secondary beneficiaries are those whose share of the inheritance is contingent on whether other primary beneficiaries are still alive. These may include siblings, grandparents, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, and other relatives. It is vital to appreciate the rights and obligations relating to an estate.

In preparing to bequeath an inheritance, it is crucial to organise your wealth in a manner that will make assets acceptable for consideration in an Islamic estate plan.

In this regard, investments should be screened for compliance with Islamic estate ethics, and investments in interest-bearing assets are disqualified.

Instead, it would help if you endeavoured to invest in increasingly popular Sukuk bonds. You should consider Mudarabah Investment accounts as substitutes to fixed deposit accounts and subscribe to a family takaful policy instead of a life insurance policy in your saving plans.

As for pension assets, you should opt for a multi-fund structure with an option to invest in Shari’ah-compliant instruments.

Zakat, the third pillar of Islam, is a compulsory giving required from every financially stable Muslim. Those who have acquired wealth are obligated to respond to people in need and give back to the community. This response could include sponsoring widows or the education students and organising in a charitable Trust as part of an Islamic estate plan.

Therefore, you must consult a professional estate planner to assist with setting up a Trust arrangement where 2.5% of your assets/wealth is set aside annually for Zakat.

Several other tools can be used to organise the transfer of assets to a specific beneficiary. They include Hiba (making gifts), Waqf (setting up an endowment or trust), Wasiyya (transfers by donation), and it is appointing a Wasi or guardian for living dependents. Getting it right requires a thorough understanding of the principles of Islamic estate planning and the various assets available to achieve compliance.

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Governor Okowa’s 2023 Presidency; an Objective Analysis

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Governor Okowa's 2023 Presidency

By Jerome-Mario Utomi

This piece stemmed from three recent developments in the country. First is the latest argument by development minded Nigerians that the nation’s perennial leadership haemorrhage/crisis is aggregated by a successive deficiency in leadership vision and in some cases made worse by public officials’ understanding and interpretation of problems with clarity but lacking in political will to see through or implement solutions. A development that has made the nation in dire need of a system that works, a government that caters for its citizens, especially the youths, secures lives and property while bolstering the economy.

The second and very germane is the Southern Governors Forum insistence that the presidency must shift to the southern part of the country come 2023, coupled with the recent decision by the main opposition party in Nigeria, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), to zone the position of the national chairman of the party to the north.

As we know, it is a political principle embraced by major political parties in Nigeria that each time the national chairman of a political party emerges from the north, the presidential candidate of the same party, usually, emerges from the south where the likes of Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State hails from.

Thirdly and most essential has to do with the fresh call by the Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, Mr Ndudi Elumelu, on Mr Okowa to contest for the presidency of the country in 2023.

The Minority Leader, who spoke at the installation of Rotary Club’s 2nd President for 2021/2022 Rotary Club Year (Club of Asaba Downtown District 9141), pointed out that Governor Okowa should serve as the President of the nation so that he can replicate his achievements in massive infrastructural and human capital development in Delta State at the national level.

He stressed that Governor Okowa was endowed with the capacity and proficiency to rescue the nation from the misrule of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and reposition her to the path of peace, unity and economic prosperity.

“I must commend Governor Okowa for his selfless service and sacrifices that have led to unprecedented massive infrastructural development in our dear state as well as a better living standard for our people.

“Governor Okowa is a rare gift not only to Delta State but also to our nation Nigeria, at large. I firmly hold that he is endowed with the capacity and proficiency to serve our nation at the topmost level so that he can replicate the successes recorded in our state at the national level.

“I sincerely call on him to make him available to serve the nation again. He deserves to be the president of this country, come 2023,” Elumelu stated.

However, despite the popularity of this opinion, it will be antithetical to support a movement based on sentiment or allow sentiment to determine our actions. Therefore, in line with the Christian Holy Book, the Bible, admonished in 1 John 4; 1 that we do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God because many false prophets have gone out into the world.

It will, for reasons, be of considerable significance to place this call under objective analysis to fundamentally help electorates make informed decisions ‘as the ignorance of one voter in a democracy impairs the security of all’.

To perform this function well, it will necessitate the following posers; Is Governor Okowa capped with vital leadership capacity needed to tame the nation’s perennial ‘leadership haemorrhage/crisis aggregated by a successive deficiency in leadership vision and made worse by public official’s understanding and interpretation of problems with clarity but lacking in political will to see through or implement solutions? Has Governor Okowa truly achieved massive infrastructural and human capital development in Delta State? Has he indeed and in truth demonstrated selfless service and sacrifices as claimed by Mr Elumelu?

Again, going by Elumelu’s claim, another question would be at the federal level, are there signs of misrules on the part of the APC led federal government that calls for Okowa’s attention to reposition the nation to the path of peace, unity and economic prosperity?

Again, on May 29, 2015, amidst cheers and jubilation from the marmot crowd that attended his swearing-in ceremony at the Cenotaph in Asaba, Okowa, going by media reports, told his audience that, “As a government, we are committed to the building and consolidation of a state in which there shall be more employment opportunities, a flourishing agriculture and agribusiness sector, effective health and educational systems, renewed urban infrastructure and enhanced security and peace to bolster economic growth and development.”

Now, looking at the past six years of his administration, it will elicit the question as to how well has the Governor brought these promises to fruition? Also, at the national level, how relevant is Governor Okowa when it comes to issues of national urgent importance? As the current Governor of Delta State, what particulars can Okowa led government point at to convince Nigerians that he can effectively administer the federation?

In providing answers to these nagging questions beginning with the last question, it must be fundamentally underlined that separate from the fact that Delta State, to use the words of Governor Okowa, is a microcosm of Nigeria because she is populated by different ethnic nationalities and has had inter-ethnic conflicts/clashes, fatal boundary disputes, especially over oil-bearing land, and political tensions, a case that in my views qualifies a governor of such state to effectively lead the federation, Governor Okowa, as subsequent paragraph will show, since assumption of office on May 29, 2015, demonstrated that for the leader to distinguish himself, he has to be a shining light and as such, he should be in a position to break the retrogressive tendencies that subsist in doing what one does not wish to do.

To capture this claim well, this piece will further x-ray/classify the achievements of Governor Okowa’s administration into two.

First, achievements at the state levels which has to do with policy objectives/programmes implementation aimed at creating jobs and wealth (wealth creation and employment generation), economic diversification, the democratization of the education sector, infrastructural development, re-jigging/provision of the state’s security architecture in the state, engagement of the youths in productive enterprise, nurture of entrepreneurs and leaders, promotion of communal peace and development of a database of employment and unemployed youths for planning purposes. The second focuses on his unrelenting nation-building efforts at the federal level.

Evidence abounds that the Governor in pursuance of these objectives compressed his programmes into a five-point agenda which is encapsulated in the acronym SMART.

The SMART agenda means Strategic wealth creation projects and provision of jobs for all Deltans; Meaningful peacebuilding platforms aimed at political and social harmony; Agricultural reforms and accelerated industrialization; Relevant health and educational policies and; Transformed environment through urban renewal.

Take the wealth creation and employment generation, as an illustration, the Governor himself recently but succulently captured his achievements in this way; “we have a deliberate policy to tackle youth unemployment through skills training and entrepreneurship development programmes. I believe that the way out of the unemployment quagmire is to equip the youth with the technical know-how, vocational skills, values and resources to become self-employed, as distinct from one-off empowerment. This is what my administration has done by instituting various skills training and entrepreneurship development programmes, which include: Skills Training and Entrepreneurship Programme (STEP); Youth Agricultural Entrepreneurs Programme (YAGEP); Graduate Employment Enhancement Programme (GEEP); Rural Youth Skills Acquisition Programme (RYSA); Girls Entrepreneurship Skills Training (GEST); and Women Entrepreneurship Skills Acquisition Programme (WESAP).”

These programmes he said are trainee-centred and service-oriented. The sectors and activities covered include agriculture, agricultural value chain services, vocational skills-based microenterprises and cottage enterprises.

Furthermore, the training and mentoring processes aim beyond raising entrepreneurs to produce leaders and managers that have high levels of personal responsibility and effectiveness. I am pleased to let you know that after six years of faithful implementation of these programmes, we have trained and given business support packages to several thousands of youths.

Following the success of these interventions and other efforts in promoting technical education, Delta State was ranked the Best State in Human Capital Development in the 2017 States Peer Review by the National Competitiveness Council of Nigeria.

Also in 2020, Delta was adjudged to be the Second Least Poor State, coming only after Lagos, Nigeria’s business hub, according to the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics (NBS).

From the above observations, it is obvious that he (Okowa) in my view is a Presidential material the nation needs to exit the unemployment crisis and economic retardation. However, in order not to be accused of indulging in hasty conclusions, this piece will go beyond the Governor’s wealth creation and employment generation prowess, to x-ray his efforts in other sectors.

To Be Continued.

Jerome-Mario Utomi is the Programme Coordinator (Media and Public Policy), Social and Economic Justice Advocacy (SEJA), Lagos. He could be reached via jeromeutomi@yahoo.com/08032725374.

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The Effects of Home Loans on the Cost of Living Post-COVID

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Home Loans on the Cost of Living

COVID-19 has been a disaster for many people globally, one reason being the effect of the pandemic on the cost of living.

As the cost of living is rising while wages remain stagnant, it’s becoming apparent that many people are struggling to pay off their existing commitments. As a result of such obligations, more and more people seek refinancing options to lower their mortgage rates and reduce monthly expenses.

This post will cover how COVID-19 has affected home loan rates and the part it plays in the rising cost of living.

How Has COVID-19 Stressed Out The World Economies?

While it’s inevitable that no country can escape the effects of a global pandemic, some countries have weathered the storm better than others. For example, as you can see in the image above by Compare The Market Refinance Quotes, the US, Australia, and Denmark seem to be the least financially stressed of world economies, with manageable home loan rates being a significant factor. This has allowed these countries to cope with the negative effects that COVID-19 has had on the cost of living.

Other countries may be able to copy the decisions made by these governments to help restore their economies. Nevertheless, many individuals of these countries and others still find it challenging to pay their bank loans and mortgages.

How Are Home Loans Affecting The Cost Of Living Post-COVID-19?

In March 2020, many countries worldwide implemented a debt moratorium to alleviate household debt burdens due to the coronavirus pandemic. These moratoriums have already expired in many places, which raises some tough questions regarding what additional policies should be adopted to address the pandemic’s lingering effects.

With people facing the challenge of prioritizing their payments, especially when considering the rapid increase in inflation that many countries are experiencing, many have turned to various financial tools such as refinancing to get them through these difficult times.

What Is Loan Refinancing?

Loan refinancing is when you take out a new loan to replace the old one. There are many reasons why you might want to refinance your loans; you may not be happy with how much money you are spending each month on your monthly payments, or maybe you have another loan with a higher interest rate that will save you money in the long run. In these uncertain times, refinancing is becoming more popular.

However, it’s important to note that refinancing only works if you have good credit and still owe some of the original balance of your original loan. Not all types of loans can be refinanced, but here are five loan types can:

  • Student loans
  • Credit card balances
  • Auto loans
  • Mortgage
  • Various bank loans

In conclusion, the effects of home loans on the cost of living are pretty significant for many people, not just in the US but also worldwide. This has caused many to use refinancing as the cost of inflation rises.

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