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CBN hammers BDCs for aiding graft, money laundering

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The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), on Tuesday, announced the cessation of forex sales to Bureau De Change (BDCs) operators.

CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, who disclosed the new policy after the July 2021, Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) meeting in Abuja, said the apex bank was funneling $5.7 billion (about N2.346 trillion) annually through the BDCs.

He said the $5.7bn allocated to BDCs has become unsustainable as $20,000 is allocated to over 5,500 BDCs in the country, amounting to $110 million per week.

Economists and financial experts interviewed by Daily Trust expressed mixed feelings about the new policy and its immediate and long term implications.

They predicted a shock that will further shot up the dollar rates at the parallel market, which will stabilise in the long run. They also blamed the CBN for the downside of the expunged practice.

Emefiele also said the CBN will no longer continue registration of new BDCs as subsequent forex will be channelled through commercial banks.

The CBN governor said as part of the new forex sales policy, all commercial bank branches will create a separate desk for the purpose.

“The BDCs were regulated to sell a maximum of 5,000 dollars per day, but CBN observed that they have since been flouting that regulation and selling millions of dollars per day.

“The CBN also observed that the BDCs aid illicit financial flows and other financial crimes.  The bank has thus decided to discontinue the forex sales to BDCs with immediate effect.

“We shall, henceforth, channel all forex allocation through the commercial banks,” he said.

The apex bank head also urged banks to ensure that every deserving customer got their forex demand adding that any bank found circumventing the new system would be sanctioned.

“Once a customer presents all required documentation to purchase forex, the commercial banks should ensure they get the forex. Any customer that is denied should contact the CBN on 0700385526 or through the email- cbd@cbn.gov.ng.”

In another development, during the MPC press briefing, the CBN governor said the apex bank has continued to rev up interventions in the real sector to spur economic growth.

The CBN governor said the MPC meeting retained all existing monetary rates.

Other policies, interventions

Emefiele said “Under the Bank’s development finance initiatives, the Bank granted N756.51bn to 3,734,938 smallholder farmers cultivating 4.6m hectares of land, of which N120.24bn was extended for the 2021 Wet Season to 627,051 farmers for 847,484 hectares of land, under the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP).”

He further stated that under the “Agribusiness/Small and Medium Enterprise Investment Scheme (AGSMEIS), the sum of N121.57bn was disbursed to 32,617 beneficiaries, and for the Targeted Credit Facility (TCF), N318.17bn was released to 679,422 beneficiaries, comprising 572,189 households and 107,233 Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs).”

Similarly, “Under the National Youth Investment Fund (NYIF), the Bank released N3bn to 7,057 beneficiaries, of which 4,411 were individuals and 2,646 SMEs. Under the Creative Industry Financing Initiative (CIFI), N3.22bn was disbursed to 356 beneficiaries across movie production, movie distribution, software development, fashion and IT verticals.”

Under the N1tr Real Sector Facility, Emefiele said “The Bank released N923.41bn to 251 real sector projects, of which 87 were in light manufacturing, 40 in agro-based industry, 32 in services and 11 in mining.

“On the N100bn Healthcare Sector Intervention Facility (HSIF), N98.41bn was disbursed for 103 healthcare projects, of which, 26 are pharmaceuticals and 77 are in the hospital services.”

He also said, “The sum of N232.54m was disbursed to five beneficiaries under the CBN Healthcare Sector Research and Development Intervention (Grant) Scheme (HSRDIS) for the development of testing kits and devices for COVID-19 and Lassa fever.”

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Dangote seeks loans for Lagos giant refinery as costs balloon to $19B

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President of Dangote Group, Aliko Dangote is in talks with some of the world’s biggest oil traders to help finance his mega refinery project in Lekki, Lagos, Reuters has reported quoting close sources to the project.

The 650,000 barrel-per-day refinery, once complete, will be the continent’s largest plant and redraw major trade flows of crude and fuel in the Atlantic basin.

The refinery has been delayed by several years and the cost has ballooned to $19 billion from Dangote’s earlier estimates of $12-14 billion.

Construction was also delayed due to COVID-19 outbreaks among workers at the site and delays getting materials, two sources with knowledge of the project said.

Many industry sources do not expect any products before the second half of next year.

Hit by economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic and soaring construction costs, Dangote needs a cash injection.

Nigeria’s state oil firm NNPC has agreed to buy a 20% stake in the refinery for about $2.8 billion but Dangote is looking for outside cash.

NNPC’s head Mele Kyari said a process was on-going to raise $1 billion with Afreximbank to fund part of its stake purchase.

The billionaire has held talks as recently as a month ago with executives from the world’s top two oil traders – Trafigura and Vitol.

Trafigura and Vitol declined to comment. A spokesperson for the Dangote Group did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

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No plan to convert domiciliary accounts into naira

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The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has denied a claim that it directed banks to convert all customers’ domiciliary accounts meant for dollar and other hard currency transactions into naira accounts.

In a statement on Saturday, Director, Corporate Communications, Osita Nwanisobi, the apex bank said a fake circular with a fake CBN logo curiously dated “13 September 2021” (next Monday), and purportedly issued by its Trade and Exchange Department directed that all Deposit Money Banks, International Money Transfer Operators (IMTOs) and members of the public are to convert domiciliary account holdings into naira.

“We wish to reiterate that the Bank has not contemplated, and will never contemplate, any such line of action. The speculation is a completely false narrative aimed at triggering panic in the foreign exchange market,” CBN said.

The apex bank recalled that it had assured that there was no plan to convert the foreign exchange in the domiciliary accounts of customers into Naira in order to check the alleged shortage of availability of the United States Dollar (USD).

“Operators of domiciliary accounts and other members of the banking public are therefore advised to completely disregard these fictitious documents and malicious rumours, and go about their legitimate foreign exchange transactions.”

The apex bank also warned corporate bodies and members of the public against the unauthorised use of the bank’s logo for any purpose, stating that the appropriate authorities have been notified and culprits will be sanctioned.

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NNPC’s assets rise by 18.7%

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For the third time since it was established 44 years ago, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) yesterday officially released its Audited Financial Statement (AFS) for year 2020.

With the development, the corporation has now joined other state-owned global oil concerns that publish the details of their operations, to among others, boost investors’ confidence and enhance business transparency.

President Muhammadu Buhari last month announced a profit after tax (PAT) of N287 billion for the NNPC for the financial year ended 2020 and had directed the corporation to ensure prompt publication of its AFS in line with the requirements of the law.

The latest financial statement of the national oil company showed that aside the already announced PAT, from a loss position of N1.7 billion in 2019, to N287 billion in 2020, NNPC’s total current assets increased by 18.7 per cent compared with that of 2019, while its total current liabilities increased by 11.4 per cent within the same period.

In addition, the group’s working capital remained below the line at N4.56 trillion in 2020, as against N4.44 trillion in 2019, while the corporation’s group revenue for the 2020 financial year stood at N3.718 trillion as against N4.634 trillion in 2019.

According to the national oil company, the decrease in the group’s revenue could be attributed to the decline in production and price of crude oil due to global impact of Covid-19.

The corporation first published its AFS last year, the first being for 2018 and the second dealing was on its activities for 2019.

But the NNPC’s independent auditors, namely PriceWaterhouse Coopers (PwC), SIAO Partners and Muhtari Dangana & Co, drew attention to a section of the document which indicated that the corporation’s liabilities still outstripped its assets.

The auditors stressed that though the NNPC announced a profit of N287 billion, but the large discrepancy between assets and liabilities cast some uncertainty on the corporation’s operations.

“We draw attention to note 42 of the consolidated and separate financial statements, which indicates that the group recorded a net profit of N287.2 billion (Corporation: N235.3 billion) during the year ended 31 December 2020 and, as at that date, the group’s current liabilities exceeded its current assets by N4.6 trillion (Corporation: N729.1 billion).

“As stated in note 42, these events or conditions, along with other matters as set forth in note 42, indicate that a material uncertainty exists that may cast significant doubt on the group and corporation’s ability to continue as a going concern. Our opinion is not modified in respect of this matter,” they noted.

The newly released AFS also indicated that the NNPC recorded a profit before tax of N719 billion in 2020, compared with N93 billion loss in 2019, and a total comprehensive income of N655 billion compared to a loss of N20.1 billion last year.

The financial statement was signed by the Group Managing Director of the corporation and the Chief Financial Officer, Mallam Mele Kyari and Mr Umar Ajiya respectively and was dated September 3.

However, despite their misgivings, the auditors stated that records showed an improvement from prior year based on several group improvement efforts put in place by management, including elimination of the cost drivers responsible for the accumulation of the shortfalls in settling domestic crude obligation to Federation Account.

The auditors further acknowledged the introduction of the Price Modulator mechanism in the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) template designed to eliminate the major cause of the losses as well as minimising the breaches to pipeline networks.

Under the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA), they projected that the NNPC when given the autonomy, would operate profitably, noting that the recapitalisation of the corporation would enable the resolution of all outstanding related party payables and receivables to enable NNPC start on a clean slate.

Kyari had while explaining how the NNPC arrived at the profit, attributed it to aggressive cost cutting, automation of the NNPC system and renegotiation of contracts downwards by about 30 per cent, among other tough measures.

During the year, the NNPC said it donated a total sum of N3.6 billion and N9 million respectively to various charitable organisations, higher education institutions and other organisation, while no donation was made to any political party.

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