CBN adjusts guidelines for agric credit scheme, accommodates other

By NewsDesk,

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has adjusted its guidelines for Commercial Agriculture Credit Scheme (CACS), to include Non-Interest Financial Institutions (NIFIs), the review of which was said to be part of efforts to deepen access to finance and reduce exclusion rate.

 

It disclosed that it would also look at the possibilities of revising guidelines for other intervention funds to the interest of the public, and that it was expected that adjustment other funds would follow in due course.

Through a circular posted on its Website on Wednesday, the apex implored public to note that CBN would continue to review  guidelines for other intervention funds currently managed by the bank to factor the needs of the non-interest banking public.”

However, as indicated, the scheme was aimed at fast tracking development of agricultural sector by providing credit facilities to large scale enterprises with a minimum asset size of N50 million at a single digit interest rate of 9 per cent.

The scheme also targeted at enhancing national food security by increasing food supply in the country.

11,000 Youths to undergo training in ITF scheme

By Newsdesk, 

As part of the efforts to equip youths with skills for employability and entrepreneurship, the Industrial Training Fund ( ITF ) is set to train and empower 11,000 youths in the National Industrial Skills Development Programme (NISDP) across Nigeria.

The Director General of ITF, Joseph Ari who disclosed this during the closing ceremony of the National Industrial Skills Development Programme in Minna yesterday said that the youths would be trained in various skills to make them successful entrepreneurs and employers of labour.

He said that 11,000 youths have already been trained for three months in Tailoring and Fashion Design, Welding and Fabrication and Plumping and Pipe-fitting adding that they would be given start-up kits to enable them set up their businesses.

“The three trades were carefully selected based on their potential value addition to the individual trainees and to the growth and development of the Nigerian economy.

“The start-up packs that are being distributed should be viewed as our practical example and message to our stakeholders that training without corresponding support will not lead to expected outcomes” Ari said.

The Director General who was represented by the Director, Research and Curriculum Development,  Zakari Peruma stated that the current universal currency is skills which a lot of youths should make an effort in getting it.

He added that the ITF will be implementing Technical Skills Development Projects, Women Skills Empowerment Programme and Agripreneur that will be targeted at job and wealth creation.

The DG urged the beneficiaries not to sell the start-up packs given to them saying, “the start-up packs to be presented to you are if high standard and therefore cost ITF several millions of naira to procure. Do not contemplate selling any of the items presented to you. Your destiny is in your own hands, do not toy with it. ”

The Niger State Area Manager, Ifeoma  Ihezue said 300 youths were trained in the state, “150 were trained in tailoring, 70 in welding and fabrication and 80 in plumbing and pipe-fitting.”

The Niger state Governor, Alhani Abubakar Sani Bello who was represented by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Youths, Alhaji Husseni Ahmed urged ITF to step up it’s monitoring and evaluation to ensure that the youths make good use of the training given to them and do not sell the start-up packs.

He expressed the readiness of the state government to partner with ITF in the aspect of human capacity development, vocational education and training adding that job creation and women and youth empowerment is the top priority of the government.Ahmed commended the effort of ITF in making government to have faith in the youths stressing that the synergy between the state government and ITF will be strengthened and sustained.

AfDB makes available $10M loan for African infrastructural development

By Newsdesk, with Agency report,

Nigerian and other African nations may soon start receiving funding from African Development Bank (AfDB) grant disbursement designed for Africa after its board approved a $10 million dollar grant for African Local Currency Bond Fund (ALCBF) to boost its portfolio across the continent.

It said that the ALCBF was also approved by the bank to promote development of domestic capital markets in Africa and had a tenor of seven years with a two-year grace period.

The Principal, Communications Officer, AfDB, Olivia Ndong-Obiang, stated that the loan would improve access for non-sovereign issuers to long-term funding in local currency, reduce currency and maturity mismatches and increase local financial intermediation.

Speaking to the approval through a statement in Abuja on Tuesday, Ndong-Obiang explained that fund would catalyse investments in critical sectors such as renewable energy, housing, health, education, the financial sector and agriculture in line with the bank’s High five priorities.

She added that the bank’s high five priorities were Light up and Power Africa, Feed Africa, Industrialise Africa and Improve the quality of life for the people of Africa.

“This will ultimately help grow private sector financing through capital markets,” she said.

Meanwhile,  ALCBF was incorporated in December 2012 by German Development Bank on behalf of the German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development.

“The fund has invested in Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Zambia, Lesotho, Senegal, Côte d’Ivoire, Nigeria, Uganda, Malawi, Gabon and Togo.

“As of December 31, 2017, the fund had made 27 investments across 19 companies and in 10 currencies,” Ndong-Obiang said.

Nigeria is still in recession-Kalu

By Newsdesk,

The Abia State former Governor, Orji  Kalu, has declared that Nigeria was still in recession and that situation was made worse by fact that the president equally met an empty treasury.

Kalu also noted that Buhari was putting every necessary stimulus into the economy to ensure that the country exits recession by 2019 as he came to power at a time there was recession all over the world .

Speaking to journalist on Monday, the former governor disagreed quarters up holding that the country was already out of recession, but that the government already has a road map to work the economy out of recession.

“You can’t just tell people that we are out of recession because the indices are there. What the president and the government are doing is to continue to pump in stimulus, which is what the economy needs to come out of recession. And I can see us moving out of recession in 2019.”

“The president is restraining himself because if he says what happened in NNPC or central bank, Nigerians will not feel good about governance,” he said.

Kalu also revealed that the problem in Libya, which led to upsurge of emigrants into Nigeria and the president’s health challenges, caused a lot of havoc on his plan for the country.

He noted that the president had not done very well in terms of economy, but added that “he is grappling with it. There is a lot of stimulus going into the economy.”

Adeosun puts excess crude oil account balance at $2.31bn

By Abdulwaheed Usamah,

Despite situation of economic and reported hardship in Nigeria, the Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, has dissclosed that the country still has up to $2.31 billion in Excess Crude Account (ECA) as at date

However, Adeosun provided the detail against backdrop of some legal challenges by some states to the plan by the Federal Government to spend $1billion out of the money to battle security challenges.

Speaking on Tuesday after Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC) shared N655.17 billion among three tiers of government as revenue for January, the minister hinted that the money was disbursed under four sub-heads and total statutory revenue for the month was N540.44 billion.

She explained that the revenue was made up as follows: Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation contributed N104.3 billion, DPR, N77.61 billion, FIRS collection from the oil sector is N88.37 billion and N116.9 billion from the non-oil sector.

“We also generated N51.98 billion from the Nigerian Customs Service. There was also a refund of some excess bank charges to the tune of N1.93 billion.

“There was a deduction of seven per cent cost of collection to the customs, four per cent to the FIRS and another four per cent to DPR.

“There was also a provision for FIRS tax refund of N2 billion and another refund by Customs to the tune of N8 billion.

“So the distributable revenue for the month is 655.17 billion, which includes VAT of N83.96 billion and N30.76 billion from the Forex Equalisation Account,” she said.

Adeosun indicated that oil revenue continued to be impacted negatively due to the continued sabotage of oil pipelines in the Nigeri-Delta region and the declaration of Force Majeure at Bonny Terminal.

“The decrease in crude oil exports sales by 0.59 million barrels resulted in decreased revenue from export sales of $11.65 million.

“However, the average price of crude oil increased from $52.07 to $56.83 per barrel during the period under review.

“There were also marginal increases in revenues from Petroleum Profit Tax and VAT, while Import Duty and Oil Royalty recorded decreases,” she said.

To this end, Adeosun said that Federal Government received N252.5 billion, states, N150.1 billion and the local government, N98.7 billion.

She also said that N47.7 billion was also shared among the oil producing states, representing 13 per cent of the oil revenue generated in the month of December and shared in January.

FG disburses over N600Bn as states’ Nov. revenue

By Abdulwaheed Usamah,

As part of effort to ensure economic hardship becomes soften, the Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC) has disbursed N609.95 billion to Federal, States and Local Government as revenue generated in November.

It was noted that for month of November, the disbursed fund was N77.25 billion more than ones distributed in October.

The Accountant-General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris, stated that the distribution was  also timely as it will enable states and local councils to pay workers ahead of Christmas.

Speaking to press on Saturday in Abuja,  Idris said that after cost of collection deductions by FIRS, Customs and DPR, the Federal Government received N248.2 billion, representing 52.68 per cent; the states got N125.9 billion, representing 26.72 per cent and the 774 local councils received N97.06 billion, amounting to 20.60 per cent.

According to Idris, oil producing states got N54.48 billion, which represents the derivation share of 13 per cent.

He said that the country generated N356.07 billion as mineral revenue and N193.46 billion as non-mineral revenue in November, both showing improvements over the earnings in October.

Mineral revenue increased by N38.78 billion, while non-oil mineral revenue also jumped by N68.65 billion.

Idris said that oil revenue continues to be negatively impacted by low production due to poor maintenance, sabotage and the Force Majeure declared at Bonny Terminal.

He said that the balance in the Excess Crude Account (ECA) as at Dec. 15 remained $2.317 billion. He also put the balance in the Excess Petroleum Profit Tax account, at $133 million.

Idris said the Federation Account has received instruction from the National Economic Council that $1billion be removed from ECA to fight Boko Haram.

“The instruction has been given. But there is a process before money is taken out of an account. So unless that withdrawal is made, the balance remains the same.

“On what the money will be used for, the appropriate institution will have to give you that, namely the military, who are the ones that will utilise the money, and they know their needs.

On why the money is being taken from the ECA, Idris said everyone should know that it is a savings account and ordinarily should have been distributed to the three tiers of government.

“So if the same owners decide that part of it should be utilised to secure the country, to secure the system, to make the system work and provide security for life and property, I don’t think it should be an issue.

“If the Governor of Ekiti state has a problem with that, he should have made his position known to his forum, which is the Governor’s Forum.

“His dissension should not come to me on the pages of newspapers. He is entitled to whatever, but it should be directed to the appropriate place,”

FG recovers N17Bn through voluntary asset, income declaration program

By Abdulwaheed Usamah,

The Federal Government has recovered N17 billion through Voluntary Asset and Income Declaration Scheme (VAIDS) which it newly introduced, the scheme of which was designed to cub tax avoidance and other sharp practices

Through it tax agent, Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), the government was able to to record the figure reported between July and November after the scheme was introduced.

The Executive Chairman, FIRS, Babatunde Fowler, disclosed that N17 billion was voluntarily paid by various companies through VAIDS, an amnesty programme inaugurated by the government for taxpayers to regularize tax status relating to previous tax periods.

Speaking at a media workshop on VAIDS on Wednesday in Lagos, Fowler added that initiative has bee making progress as additional six billion naira was expected to be paid by some corporate bodies before the end of 2017.

To him, Nigerians need to embrace VAIDS in order to benefit from the forgiveness of overdue interest and penalties before its expiration on March 31, 2018, raising concern that, Nigeria’s tax Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ratio at just six per cent, was one of the lowest in the world when compared to India’s 16 per cent, Ghana’s 15.9 per cent and South Africa’s 27 per cent.

The tax agent boss explained that VAIDS was introduced to usher in an opportunity to increase the nation’s general tax awareness and compliance, just as he noted that the scheme was a time-limited opportunity for taxpayers to regularise their tax status in exchange for fully and honestly declaring previously undisclosed assets and income.

“Tax payers will benefit from the forgiveness of overdue interest and penalties,’’ he said.

On his part, the Managing Cousultant, Pedabo Professional Services, Albert Folorunsho, Nigerians should embrace the initiative while it last to regularise their tax status and that the initiative was put together by the Ministry of Finance to ensure tax compliance without regulation.

He said that VAIDS offers an opportunity for taxpayers to redress themselves before government wields its big stick at the end of the nine months amnesty programme and that it was introduced to act as immediate tax revenue to the government and to widen tax revenue.

The company’s head stated  that VAIDS would help boost the level of compliance to tax revenue contribution to the GDP, just as he indicated that the nation’s tax revenue contribution to GDP, standing between 5.9 per cent and six per cent was low when compared to South Africa, China and India.

According to him, those countries have 56 per cent, 11 per cent and 10 per cent respectively and government introduced the scheme to give Nigerians the opportunity to regularise tax status voluntarily within the period while the programme was on.

Folorunsho warned that that there would not be amnesty for late payment after the scheme had ended while enjoining people who front for others in businesses to transfer assets back to rightful owners.

Meanwhile, the  Deputy Director, Tax Policy and Advisory Department, FIRS, Grabriel Ogunjemilusi, stated that the scheme was not new as some countries had used it in the past to generate more revenues for developmental purposes; and that Indonesia, one of the countries which had used the scheme was able to generate up to12 billion dollars in three different amnesty schemes.

According to him,  South African government also used the scheme to broaden the citizens’ compliance culture and the tax payers base.

The deputy director said that the country, being a member of Automatic Exchange of Information (AEOI) and the nation’s compliance to International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) would help to reduce tax evasion.

Benue Gov. affirms state’s readiness for investment

By Abdulwaheed Usamah,

The Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, affirmed his state’s readiness absorb investment, describing its as virgin and vital, suitable for investment, having put in place necessary measures and provided a conducive environment in past two years.

Ortom, while fielding questions on Tuesday, from newsmen, at opening of a 300 million litre capacity tank farm in Ibefun, Ogun State, built by Petrolex, an Oil and Gas Company, said that investors were welcome to invest in the state in virgin areas and especially the agro-allied sector.

According to Ortom, private sector partnership in boosting economic growth and creating jobs is key to the development of any society.

 

The governor appealed to Nigerians to take a cue from the ingenuity of the Petrolex management noting that, globally, it was the private sector that has been driving economy while government regulates, provides policy and then monitors.

“I want to say that my state is virgin and ready for investors to come in, in whichever capacity, the government will give the necessary support for them to thrive.

He said: “I want to congratulate Segun for this wonderful idea. I think this is what we need in Nigeria – creating 10,000 direct and indirect jobs is what we need to take our children off the streets, government alone cannot do it, they do not have the capacity.

“Private sector must come in forcefully, the government must provide the necessary environment and conducive atmosphere for business to thrive and I think that Segun has taken the right step.’’

The Petrolex tank farm has the capacity to store 300 million litres of petroleum products – the largest of its kind in Africa.

It can conveniently hold 4,000 trucks at a time, and a jetty capable of berthing 30 million metric tons of cargo which will substantially improve retail distribution in Nigeria and increase domestic storage capacity for petroleum products.

The facility will decongest the Apapa and Ibafo tanker traffic and facilitate distribution to practically anywhere in the country.

Federal, states, LGs receive N532.7Bn in October

By Abdulwaheed Usamah,

For month of October, Federal Government, States and Local Governments have been said to have shared N532.7 billion, the amount of which, according analysis,  showed a decline of N25.3 billion compared disbursed in September.

At ministry of finance, there were concerns that the decline must have been as result of drop in revenue and that of export sales due to cut down in oil production .

The Permanent Secretary,  Ministry of Finance, Mahmoud Isa-Dutse, attributed the decline to the decrease in revenue from export sales of 42.94 million dollars due to a decrease in crude oil production by 1.25 million barrels.

Speaking on Thursday in Abuja while briefing newsmen on the outcome of the monthly Federal Account Allocation Committee (FAAC), Isa-Dutse said that even though, the average price of crude oil increase from 46.29 dollars per barrel to 48.66 dollars per barrel, it was not enough to make up for the loss in production.

According to him, issues that impacted negatively on crude oil production were attributed to ageing facilities which resulted to shut-ins and shut-downs of pipelines at various terminals for repairs and maintenance.

He explained that Petroleum Profit Tax increased significantly while Import Duty and Value Added Tax improved only significantly but that Companies Income Tax and Oil Royalty recorded slight decreases in the month under review,” he said.

Isa-Dutse indicated that after deductions as cost of collection by FIRS, Customs and DPR, the Federal Government received N205.7 billion, representing 52.68 per cent; states and N104.3 billion, representing 26.72 per cent.

As for the local governments, he hinted that, the cuncils received N80.4 billion, amounting to 20.60 per cent of the amount distributed.

The ministry boss declared that N40.8 billion representing 13 per cent derivation revenue was also shared among the oil producing states, just as he maintained  country generated N317.2 billion as mineral revenue and N124.4 billion as non-mineral revenue.

He said this showed an increase of N41.6 billion from what the country generated as mineral revenue and a decrease of N23.5 billion in non-mineral revenue from what was generated in the month of September.

Meanwhile, the Chairman, Commissioners of Finance Forum, Mahmoud Yunusa,  tendered apologies delay process of the breaking on entire disbursed fund, disclosing that, due to discrepancies found in revenue figures presented by some of the revenue generating agencies, several procedure had to be rgularised.

Yunusa confirmed that the NNPC had increased what they had initially presented to FAAC as what they had generated after the states showed their displeasure.

He said that to avoid such occurrence, the states as a major stakeholder in NNPC, would henceforth keep “an eagle eye on the affairs of the NNPC”.

“Going forward we will be fully involved in what the NNPC does to avoid this kind of errors in future. We will scrutinise their books,” he said.

Nigeria spends $6bn on wheat importation annually

By Abolaji Adebayo

The Federal Institute of Industrial Research (FIIRO), has disclosed that over $6billion was spent annually on the importation of wheat as the country refused to embrace the locally developed cassava flour.

According to the Institute, the country would have saved save up to N127billion in foreign exchange through the adoption of cassava bread.

The Director General, FIIRO, Prof. Gloria Elemo, noted that bread would be cheaper and affordable through inclusion of cassava flour, adding that prices of bread could be reduced by 20-45 percent at 20 per cent inclusion in the long term, if policy adopted.

She said, “We have carried out consumers’ acceptability studies on cassava bread produced at various levels of inclusion of high quality cassava flour and the response is very encouraging. But also, one may not rule out some resistance from some quarters due to reluctance to change but change is one thing that is inevitable”.

Elemo disregarded that claim by some laymen that cassava bread could cause diabetes or aggravate diabetic condition, saying the institute, through scientific analysis, has been able to debunk the claim through Glycemic Index (GI) studies using human samples.

“The subjects consumed the cassava bread and we monitored the effect on the blood glucose. Interestingly, at 20 per cent inclusion, even at 10 per cent inclusion, there has been a slight drop in the GI for both bread than it is with bread baked with 100 per cent wheat flour.  So there is no threat and it is not the cause of diabetes. Rather, I will even say it is better to use it for management of diabetes. Cassava bread is safe just like wheat bread for human consumption”, she added.

She maintained that it would get to a time when the nation would have more than enough cassava to export. “Presently, there are demands in the export market for cassava but because it is our food security crop we are using it extensively for foods like garri, fufu, so it is not easy to meet export demand. But by the time the value chain is pulled, there will be need for us to increase production.  A country like China is in high demand for our cassava”, she added.

The institute therefore promised to train more entrepreneurs on its research and development, saying this would reduce the importation of items that could be produced locally.