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Economist Tasks CBN on Approach to Forex Challenge

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By Tony Obiechina, Abuja 

The Chief Executive Officer, Centre for the Promotion of Private Enterprise (CPPE), Dr Muda Yusuf has called on the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to take a comprehensive approach in tackling the current foreign exchange challenges. 

Yusuf, an economist, spoke in Lagos against the background of the Federal Government’s plan to officially adopt a N750 to a U.

S.
dollar exchange rate for 2024.

He acknowledged that the CBN was currently implementing a new market-based approach in managing the foreign exchange market, perceived as more efficient and transparent.

He said that this had led to a weaker Naira currency, but noted that could improve over time.

According to him, the success of this new approach will rely on its ability to attract foreign investment, promote economic growth, and effectively manage inflation.

 He, however, said that the government’s decision to officially adopt a new exchange rate of N750 per U. S. dollar for 2024 could have positive and negative consequences for the economy.

According to him, the current exchange rate is more realistic and reflects the true value of the currency, as well as the government’s efforts to eliminate foreign exchange subsidies.

The economist said the development had resulted in increased government revenue, as the conversion of dollar earnings at N750 is more favourable compared to the previous rates.

He explained that the major advantage of the new exchange rate is its positive impact on government revenue.

Yusuf said, “unlike what was used before, the current exchange rate, as its used, is more realistic and reflects the market situation; the true value of the currency of the exchange rate.

“More importantly, the attempt to eliminate the foreign exchange subsidy that has existed before has helped to increase government revenue.

“So, these are some of the major advantages that this new exchange rate will bring to the economy and the governments; there will be major revenue advantages.

 “Can you imagine when we were converting our dollar earnings at N450?  You can imagine what it was under the previous governments compared to the dollar earnings at N750 to a dollar.

“You can see that the revenue implication is huge. So, there’s a major revenue advantage,’’ he said.

He noted that challenges encountered during previous attempts to manage the exchange rate included corruption and a large difference between the official rate and the parallel market rate.

According to him, such discrepancies create incentives for round-tripping and hinder economic stability.

“The premium between the official rate and the parallel market rate was very high; getting close to almost 100 per cent. You can’t run an economy that way such that you now create incentives for people to now be round tripping.

 “So, there’s a major problem of corruption and round tripping that the previous foreign exchange regime created.

`Secondly, it lacked transparency because we didn’t know who was getting what and what the criteria for the allocation was. This eroded public trust and confidence in the financial system, among others.’’

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Insecurity: State Police Bill Passes Second Reading in Reps

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By Ubong Ukpong, Abuja

A bill seeking to alter the provision of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to provide for the establishment of state police passed through second reading in the House of Representatives on Tuesday.

Entitled “A Bill for an Act to Alter the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 to Provide for Establishment of State Police and for Related Matters (HB.

617),” the proposed legislation was sponsored by the Deputy Speaker Benjamin Okezie Kalu and 14 other lawmakers.

Leading the debate on its general principles, one of the co-sponsors, Hon.

Tolani Shagaya noted that the primary purpose of government as enshrined in Section 14(2)(b) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (As Altered) is the security and welfare of the citizens.

He noted that in recent times, the nation’s collective security has been greatly challenged and state policing is not only inevitable, but urgently desired to tackle the mounting challenges of insecurity.

The lawmaker explained that the establishment of State Police is a clarion call for a tailored, community-centric policing system; and an acknowledgment that our states are uniquely positioned to address the security challenges within their borders.

Listing some of the key innovations of the proposed alteration, he said, “the transfer of “Police” from the “Exclusive Legislative List” to the “Concurrent Legislative List”, a move that effectively empowers States to have State controlled policing; the introduction of a comprehensive framework to ensure cohesion as well as accountability and uniform standards between the Federal Police and State Police; the provision of prescribed rigorous safeguards preventing unwarranted interference by the Federal Police in State Police affairs, emphasising collaboration and intervention only under well-defined circumstances.

Others included: “the establishment of State Police Service Commissions as distinct from the Federal Police Service Commission with clearly defined roles and jurisdictions; a re-calibration of the National Police Council to include the Chairmen of the State Police Service Commissions, emphasising the collaborative and consultative nature of policing in our federal system, a recognition of the possible financial challenges which may be faced by States Police, by empowering the Federal Government to provide grants or aids subject to the approval of the National Assembly, thus ensuring adequate resources for effective policing, etc.”

Shagaya added that the alterations proposed in the Bill are not just alterations to the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, but also the building blocks of a more secure, accountable and resilient Nigeria.

Contributing in support of the bill, Hon. Ahmed Jaha stated that the bill is timely as security is the responsibility of all and everybody’s business.

He noted that with community policing and Nigerian police working in tandem, they will rid our communities of all forms of crime.

Also, Hon. Babajimi Benson supported the bill, commending the Deputy Speaker for initiating it.

On his part, Hon. Awaji-Inombek Abiante in supporting the bill noted that Nigeria has had enough of insecurity and establishing state police is a way to improve the situation.

The bill when put to vote got the support of the majority of the members.

It was later referred to the Committee on Constitution Review by the Deputy Speaker who presided over the session.

He urged members who have further inputs on the bill to channel such concerns to the committee.

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MOFI Launches N100bn Fund to Stimulate Investments

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By Tony Obiechina, Abuja

Ministry of Finance Incorporated (MOFI) has launched a N100bn project preparation fund to stimulate investments in Nigeria.

The Managing Director/Chief Executive of MOFI, Mr Armstrong Takang disclosed this at the Public Wealth Management Conference in Abuja on Tuesday.

The conference which was declared open by Vice President Kashim Shettima had in attendance the Minister of Finance Wale Edun, the Chairman of the MOFI Board Dr Shamsudeen Usman, a former Finance Minister Dr Olusegun Aganga, Chairman of Heirs Holdings Tony Elumelu and other top officials in the public and private sectors of the economy.

As part of a broader strategy to deal with these challenges, Takang said MOFI, as the trusted custodian and the shareholder for the Federal Government of Nigeria’s investment assets is executing a number of initiatives aimed at contributing towards building a more inclusive and sustainable economy.

According to him, the conference would foster collaboration among stakeholders, facilitating the exchange of insights, experiences, and best practices in managing public assets.

He said by working together, stakeholders can find innovative solutions to the challenges the economy is currently facing.

He explained that efficiency and transparency and accountability are at the heart of effective public wealth management, pointing out that the conference will be used as an avenue to optimize the performance and returns from federal government’s assets under MOFI’S management, ensuring that they deliver maximum value for the Nigerian people.

He stated that given the importance of public wealth in rebuilding the economy, especially at a time when there is a need for more focus on domestic resource mobilisation, now is the time to encourage the exploration of innovative mechanisms such as public-private partnerships and alternative financing models.

By unlocking hidden value in public assets, Takang said the country can attract investments and drive economic growth for Nigerians.

He also disclosed that the conference would provide potential investors with data-driven insights on federal government assets, noting that by presenting compelling investment opportunities, MOFI can attract the capital needed to fuel economic development and create jobs for Nigerians.

Speaking also at the event, Usman said MOFI will leverage and explore innovative strategies that will unlock the full potential of the government’s public assets.

He said, “We are starting a journey that other nations such as Singapore or Sweden, or more recently Saudi Arabia have undertaken before.

“We will blend the lessons learnt from such country’s experiences with the unique circumstances of Nigeria. We are committed to working collaboratively with all stakeholders to achieve our project.

“From the 10 year plan, we have in line with Mr. President’s emphasis on delivering results, identifying a number of key deliverables, and setting specific key performance indicators to track and report our performance.

“We aim to maximise returns, attract investment, and guarantee sustainable economic growth.”

Foreign Investment Drops by 80 Percent

Meanwhile, foreign investment into Nigeria dropped by 80 percent to $3.9bn in 2023 from the $5.3bn that was invested in the country in 2022, analysis of a report of Capital Importation into Nigeria has shown.

The report which was released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) showed that Nigeria attracted $1.1bn in Q1 2023, $1.03bn in Q2, $654.6m in Q3 and $1,08bn in Q4.

In 2022, $1.57bn was imported into the country in Q1, which reduced to $1.53in Q2. It further went down to $1.15bn and $1.06bn in Q3 and Q4 respectively.

However, the report said the S$1.08bn that was imported into the country in Q4 2023 was slightly higher than the $1.06bn recorded in Q4 2022, indicating an increase of 2.62 per cent.

“In comparison to the preceding quarter, capital importation rose by 66.27 per cent from the $654.6m in Q3 2023,” the report added.

It said other investments ranked top accounting for 54.64 per cent ($594.7m) of total capital importation in Q4 2023, followed by portfolio investment with 28.46 per cent ($309.76m) and Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) with 16.90 per cent ($183.9m).

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Wike Gives Ultimatum to Illegal Land Owners in FCT Communities

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By Laide Akinboade, Abuja

Minister Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA), Nyesom Wike on Monday gave ultimatum to illegal settlers in Chika Aleita Abuja Science and Technological Village to leave.

Wike stated this during an inspection tour of the technology village in company of his counterpart in the Ministry of Science and Technology, Uche Godfrey Nnaji, in Abuja.

Issuing the order, Wike said the fast encroachment was aided by inability of the past administration to take action and stop individuals from building illegally despite the payment of compensation.

He noted that the money expended in providing infrastructure to the village will not be a waste.

“I will give Development Control a go ahead to demolish because I heard they have been compensated since 2018.

“We want to take over the place so that infrastructure can come in. It will even attract investors. I can tell you that they have been compensated.

“No amount of propaganda can stop us from doing the right thing,” The FCT Minister said. .

Earlier, the Minister of Science and Technology, informed Wike that leaving illegal settlers that have encroached the buffer of the village constitutes a big risk and loss to the country’s investment drive to the village that is a the replica of London technology village.

He said the government of Great Britain was able to generate 6 billion pounds in six years.

Nnaji noted that the country stands the chance of making more if right environment is put in place.

The Abuja technology village was the creation of Federal Government during the return of democracy to the country.It is a Free Trade Zone expected to incubate science and technology but subsequent administrations failed to execute the project.

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