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Nigeria Will Appeal $9bn Debt Judgment- Emefiele

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CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele
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‘Buhari’s directive on food import part of CBN policies since 2016’

By Mathew Dadiya, Abuja

The governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele Monday, said that the country would appeal the recent judgment of the United Kingdom, Business & Property Courts (the Commercial Court) which awarded a cumulative sum of $9bn against Nigeria and in favour of a foreign firm, Process & Industrial Developments Limited.

 

The central bank governor, disclosed this while speaking to State House correspondents at the sidelines of a  presidential retreat for ministers – designate, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

Emefiele also assured investors across the globe not to entertain any fear over the matter adding that Nigeria has sufficient and strong grounds on the basis of which it could file a stay of execution and appeal.

He maintained that the federal government would aggressively follow through to ensure that the execution of that judgement was stayed and that the appeal succeeds at every level both within Nigeria and abroad. 

“It is important for me to use this opportunity to assure our friends, local and foreign investors who called to expressed solidarity with us, not to express concern but to say that there is no need for anybody to worry, ” he said.

The apex bank boss explained that  there were certain anomalies in the process leading to the award of the contract which was being looked into by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission(EFCC).

”I am not scared at all and I think it is also important that this question has come up. Since the news about the judgement broke out late on Friday, we have been discussing with our counsel, and they have advised that there are sufficient and strong grounds on the basis of which we could file a stay of execution and also an appeal against that judgement. 

“We know that the implication of that judgement has some impact on monetary policy and that is why the CBN is going to step forward and very strongly too to ensure that we defend the country and defend the reserves of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. 

The CBN governor also clarified that  President Muhammadu  Buhari’s recent  directive on food importation was already on the bank’s management forex policies since 2016.

He explained: ”Mr. President’s comment on the issuing of forex to people who import food items into the country, is in the logic of CBN’s management foreign exchange policies that we started since 2016.

“If you recall, we started with about 41 items (food and non-food items), because we believe that those items can be produced in the country.

“As we stand today, there are about 43 items on that list and I will say substantially most of them are food items. We are basically saying, if we have a food item that can be produced in the country, why should we waste scare foreign exchange importing those items into the country, when those can be produced in the country.

He  also described the  attempt to misrepresent the comments of the President as very unfair and unfortunate. 

According to him,the move  by the president is  to strengthen the position of CBN, “to say that he believes in what the CBN has been doing since 2016 and there is need for us to reinforce that going forward.”

“I will say that to be honest, we would aggressively go more into the list of items that are being imported into the country, items that can be produced in Nigeria. 

“I will like to stress that we would ensure  that more of these items will get on the list of items that are going to be restricted from accessing foreign exchange in Nigerian banking industry not just from the CBN source.

” Because, I have heard some comments that maybe it’s about the CBN’s source, it is not the CBN’s source, we are saying you will not be able to access foreign exchange from the Nigerian banking industry because it is important for us to produce these items in Nigeria and we will follow through on them. 

The CBN governor maintained that there would not be an amendment to the forex restriction policy for some items.

“There will never be an amendment because the issue is this, why should we be exporting jobs to other countries? Today we are complaining that there is a high rate of unemployment, leading to some extent the level of insecurity in the country, why should we allow people to import food that can be produced in the country?”

He emphasised that Nigeria needs to improve wealth in her rural communities, insisting, “we will not change course, we will even be more aggressive on this programme.”

On whether the President’s directive  will affect the  Africa Free Trade Continental Area Agreement Emefiele explained that it would not affect the content of the AfCFTA. 

He said, ”in any case the AfCFTA is an agreement that is ongoing, the terms of engagement are still being discussed and negotiated.

” The important thing is that Nigeria needs to stand as the largest economy in Africa and the largest populated country in Africa, we need to stand and dictate the terms under which we want to be in it and this is what we are staying.  

The CBN governor said it’s wrong and inappropriate that an item that could be produced in Nigeria should be imported into Nigeria.

 At this time, Emefiele said “we need to create jobs for our country, for the youths. 

“We yearn for growth and the only way we can really accelerate growth in Nigeria between now and next four years is to see to it that items that can be produced in Nigeria are indeed produced in Nigeria rather than being imported into the country.”

Business News

CBN Unveils Strategy to Boost Remittances, Grants AIP To 14 New IMTOs

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By Tony Obiechina, Abuja 

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has activated plans to double foreign-currency remittance flows through formal channels by granting 14 new International Money Transfer Operators (IMTOs) Approval-in-Principle (AIP).

This was disclosed in Abuja on Wednesday, by the Bank’s Acting Director of Corporate Communications, Mrs.

Hakama Sidi Ali, who stated that the initiative will help increase the sustained supply of foreign exchange in the official market by promoting greater competition and innovation amongst IMTOs to lower the cost of remittance transactions and boost financial inclusion.
 

She said, “This will spur liquidity in Nigeria’s Autonomous Foreign Exchange Market (NAFEX), augmenting price discovery to enable a market-driven fair value for the naira.

“It will be recalled that the CBN Governor, Mr. Olayemi Cardoso, had recently declared: “We’ve set ourselves a target to double remittance flows into Nigeria within a year, a goal I firmly believe is within reach. 

“We are wasting no time driving progress to remove any bottlenecks hindering flows through formal channels permanently. We have a determined pathway and a sequenced approach to tackling all challenges ahead, working hand in hand with key stakeholders in the remittance industry,” she stated.

Continuing, Sidi Ali, said that the CBN viewed increasing formal remittance flows—one of the major sources of foreign exchange, accounting for over 6% of GDP—as a means of reducing the historical volatility in Nigeria’s exchange rate caused by external factors, such as fluctuations in foreign investment and oil export proceeds.

The increase in the number of IMTOs is one of the primary actions initiated by the CBN’s remittance task force, overseen by Governor Cardoso as a collaborative unit pulling together specialists to work closely with the private sector and market operators to facilitate the ease of doing business in the remittance ecosystem in Nigeria. 

The task force was established as a direct result of an executive learning session with IMTOs during the World Bank/IMF Spring Meetings held in Washington DC, United States of America, in April 2024. The task force will meet regularly to implement strategy and monitor the impact of its measures on remittance inflows.

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Economy

FG Vows To Ensure Continuous Flow of Tax Revenue – Madein

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By Tony Obiechina, Abuja 

The Federal government is committed a tax culture that will ensure the continuous flow of revenues into government coffers, the Accountant General of the Federation, Dr Oluwatoyin Madein has said.

Madein stated this at the 26th Annual Tax Conference of the Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria (CITN) in Abuja, with the theme: “Sustainable Tax Culture and Economic Roadmap for Nation Building”.

Madein said, “Like the CITN, the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation is committed to a sustainable tax culture that will ensure the continuous flow of revenues even at an improved level.

“Tax revenue as at today is the highest source of revenue accruing to the federation.

Therefore at the Federation Account Allocation Committee meetings we eagerly await the numbers coming from the FIRS because the performance keeps on increasing and brings succour to all tiers of government.”

She charged tax practitioners to work harder in getting more revenue from taxes, stressing that tax revenue is currently the highest income source for the federation.

The government noted that based on the current high revenue from taxes, members of the Federation Accounts Allocation Committee were always looking forward to the figures from the Federal Inland Revenue Service every month, in order to have funds to share to the three tiers of government.

“Tax revenue as at today is the highest source of revenue accruing to the federation. Therefore at the Federation Account Allocation Committee meetings we eagerly await the numbers coming from the FIRS because the performance keeps on increasing and brings succour to all tiers of government”, she added. 

FIRS exceeded its 2023 revenue target by N816bn, as its total actual revenue collection for last year stood at N12.37tn, outperforming the N11.56tn target.

This is contained in a presentation by Amina Ado, Coordinating Director of Special Tax Operations Group at the FIRS.

The accountant-general tasked tax practitioners to step up efforts in collecting taxes, so as to shore up more revenue for the government to provide infrastructure and other amenities.

Madein said, “Let us remain steadfast in our commitment to building a better future for all. Together we can harness the transformative power of taxation to create a more prosperous, equitable and sustainable world.

“Like I said earlier, at FAAC we eagerly look forward to tax numbers because at the moment revenue from non-oil has been a great revenue source to the federation.

“Therefore, to tax practitioners, you are doing so well, but we need more of this to be able to deliver on all the areas that the citizens are looking forward to, because for even infrastructure development, it is only through funds that we can get it done.”

She further stated that it was her strong belief that “the conference will go a long way to deepen the collaboration between our organisations in building capacity for all the professionals, experts and tax payers for better understanding of the tax laws, rules and regulations.”

In his remarks, the President/Chairman of Council, CITN, Samuel Agbeluyi, pointed out that the withdrawal of subsidies on fuel and electricity had reduced the purchasing power of the masses.

He noted that raising electricity tariff for a selected band after fuel subsidy was withdrawn “is going to reduce the purchasing power of the masses. So we urge govt to consider these actions on the masses.

He, however, stated that the institute was happy to know that President Bola Tinubu had asked the Central Bank of Nigeria to slow down on the recent cybersecurity levy that was approved by the apex bank.

“We will continue to advise the govt on its policies, considering how these polices affect the citizens,” Agbeluyi stated.

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Economy

Access Holdings Awards Shares Worth N427.13m to 8 Senior Executives

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Access Holdings Plc has awarded 23.8 million ordinary shares worth N427.13 million to its senior executives and those of its subsidiary, Access Bank.

This was disclosed in a notice sent to the Nigerian Exchange Ltd.(NGX) in Lagos.

The notification was sent in line with the disclosure requirements of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the NGX.

It is also in pursuant of the terms of its shareholders’ approved Employees Performance Share Plan.

The group said that Ms Bolaji Agbede, Acting Group Chief Executive Officer, Access Holdings, Mr Roosevelt Ogbonna, Managing Director/CEO, Access Bank, and six others were vested with 23,883,790 shares worth N427.

13 million in total.

According to the filings, Ogbonna got the highest amount of shares, totalling 12,345,679 and valued at N220.37 million, having been traded at N17.85 per share.

Agbede was vested with 2,216,992 shares, valued at N39.795 million.

Other directors who had shares vested on them include: Mr Seyi Kumapayi, Executive Director, African Subsidiaries, Access Bank, with 1,234,568 shares worth N22.16 million.

Ms Iyabo Soji-Okusanya, Executive Director, Commercial and Investment Banking Division, Access Bank, got 1,691,308 shares at N17.95 per share, valued at N30.36 million.

Mrs Chizoma Okoli, Access Bank’s Deputy Managing Director, Retail South, also got 1,728,395 shares valued at N30.85 million.

Dr Gregory Jobome, Executive Director, Risk Management, and Hadiza Ambursa, Executive Director, Commercial Banking, were vested with 1,728,395 shares each,valued at N30.85 million and N31.02 million respectively.

Also, Access Holdings’ Company Secretary, Mr Sunday Ekwochi, was vested with 1,210,058 shares worth N21.72 milion.

The group stated that the shares were vested on May 3 and May 6.

It noted that the vesting of the shares was not a purchase or sale transaction in the context of the Exchange’s rules.(NAN)

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