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Following the fast appreciating nation’s external reserves that hit $32bn on September 18, the Central Bank of Nigeria has stated that as at October 25 it has hit $34bn from $33.6bn.

This was disclosed by the Deputy Governor, Financial System Stability of the Apex bank, Dr. Joseph Nnanna, on Saturday in Lagos, as he said the exchange rate stability achieved so far by the apex bank had come to stay.

He expressed confidence that the usual end-of-the-year rush would not push up the naira-dollar exchange rate contrary to some people’s expectations.

The CBN deputy governor said this while fielding questions from journalists at a forum organised by the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria.

Nnanna was among the chief executive officers of companies who were conferred with the CIBN Fellowship Awards.

Asked if the exchange rate would go up as the end of the year was approaching, Nnanna said, “No, the rate will not go up, take it from me. We have achieved stability and the stability is here to stay.

“The sustainability is already evident, the reserves are growing. As I speak, the reserves are $34bn. When we had volatility, the reserves were as low as $20bn. But let me say one thing: Nigeria can make do with a reserve level of $20bn but it is the press who gives the impression that if the reserves fall below $30bn, then there is a problem.

“No, there is no problem. All we need to manage the economy and manage it properly is reserves that can cover at least three months of import. And in fact, as it is, $10bn or $12bn can give us reserve coverage of four months.”

The CBN chief said the Investors and Exporters foreign exchange window had performed beyond the bank’s expectations, adding that forex inflows in the past few months were huge.

Nnanna stated, “Our exchange rate is convergent; we are getting southward. In the IMF, they talk about the need to have one rate. The one rate can happen organically or inorganically. For us at the CBN, we believe that organic convergence is the way to go. Inorganic convergence, which is forced, will always produce an arbitrage and that we don’t want.

The President, CIBN, Prof. Segun Ajibola, said a flexible exchange rate was helpful in an environment that lacked hiccups in forex management and supply strategies.

He stated, “But in an environment that is so susceptible to the vagaries of foreign exchange market, in terms of inflow of foreign exchange income and over-reliance on basic items for importation, you run the risk of allowing the exchange rate to go to the rooftop, if you free it absolutely.

“Normally, you hardly find any economy where the foreign exchange management succumbs totally to the forces of demand and supply. The best that we have seen is managed floating, which is what the Central Bank of Nigeria introduced in February this year. But as the economy stabilises and is diversified, and as we see more sources of forex earnings stabilising, especially the non-oil export, then we can be more and more flexible in our foreign exchange management policy.”

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BUSINESS

FirstBank Hits N1 Trillion in Transactions Processed through its Firstmonie Network

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Nigeria’s premier financial services provider and Bank of first choice, First Bank of Nigeria Limited has announced that its Firstmonie network has processed a cumulative transaction value of N1 trillion from its relaunch in January 2018. The network also achieved nationwide coverage in record time, enabling access to financial services for many locations that never had a way for its residents to access financial services. This is in line with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)’s objective of bringing banking services close to all Nigerians, irrespective of where they live.

FirstBank’s Firstmonie service provides financial/banking solutions to rural and semi-urban locations across the country, such as account opening, cash deposit, cash withdrawals, airtime purchase, bill payments and much more. Through this channel, the Bank is committed to providing convenient services that endears trust and provides ease of access to banking products, thereby saving time and travel costs for users of our network.

According to Dr. Adesola Adeduntan, the Chief Executive Officer, First Bank of Nigeria Limited; “The Firstmonie scheme is supporting the Federal Government’s empowerment and job creation agenda as over 22,000 Nigerians, through this scheme, contribute to the increased economic activities of their neighborhoods. Our partner network is growing and we are particularly delighted about the progress we are making in actively driving nationwide Financial Inclusion, exposing communities to opportunities for growth, jobs, empowerment, and improved live conditions. Yet again, we are delighted to score another first in promoting financial inclusion in the country.”

“We appreciate our partner network and remain committed to working together to achieve even greater impact on the lives of Nigerians”, he concluded

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SEC approves MTN listing on NSE

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The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) said that it has approved MTN Nigeria’s application to list on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) by way of introduction.

Mrs Efe Ebelo, SEC Head, Corporate Communications, confirmed this to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos.

Ebelo said the commission has approved the company’s application to be listed on the nation’s bourse by way of introduction.

She said that the company has successfully completed the registration of 20,354,513,050 ordinary shares of N0.02 each with the commission.

NAN recalls that MTN Nigeria on May 6 filed an application with SEC and the exchange for listing by introduction.

SEC recently said that it received an application from MTN requesting for registration of their existing securities.

“They have applied for listing by introduction which will enable the company to be listed and allow shareholders sell their shares on the floor of the exchange,” Ebelo said.

Mr Henry Rowlands, SEC Acting Executive Commissioner, Corporate Services, told NAN that the commission was committed to work with MTN Nigeria.

“SEC is committed to work with them, when they list by way of introduction naturally it will translate to public offering by and large.

“It’s better that they come to the market even if it’s by way of introduction because it will encourage other service providers to access the market,” Rowlands said.

Reacting to the approval, Mr Ambrose Omordion, the Chief Operating Officer, InvestData Ltd commended SEC for speedy approval.

Omordion said that MTN Nigeria July target for listing would be feasible with the approval, noting that the listing might be concluded before the target date,

NAN reports that MTN Nigeria recently changed its status from a private company to a public liability company (PLC) ahead of its listing on the exchange.

NAN reports that the conversion was one of the requirements for listing on the exchange.

The company had previously announced that it looks to list on the NSE before July, saying it plans to enter the market by way of listing by introduction.

Speaking on the conversion, Fredi Moolman, MTN Chief Executive Officer, said the listing was part of its commitment to localisation in the markets in which it operates.

“Our conversion to a Plc is a major step towards listing by introduction on the Nigerian Stock Exchange in the first half of 2019.

“It is a reaffirmation of our long-term commitment to expanding investment opportunities for Nigerians, in addition to providing everyday services to them.

“We look forward to continuing our engagement with the SEC and NSE to take forward the listing process,” Moolman said.

NAN reports that listing on the NSE was one of the conditions reached in the resolution of a N330 billion fine placed on the telco by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) for its inability to disconnect improperly registered SIM cards.

NAN

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Osinbajo orders extension of 50% discount for business registration

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Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has directed the Corporate Affairs Commission to extend by three months, the special window for MSMEs to register businesses at 50 per cent discount.

Osinbajo gave the directive today at the first quarter MSMEs stakeholder meeting held at the Presidential Villa, encouraged by the successes recorded when the policy first came into force last year.

The special business name registration window of 50% discount was granted by the Federal Government through the Corporate Affairs Commission to help to bring as many MSMEs to formalise their businesses.

The Vice President also directed the Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON) and National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) to speedily harmonise issues relating to overlapping responsibilities for product registration.

In the same vein, Prof. Osinbajo directed relevant government agencies to speedily come up with better funding strategies for small businesses in the country.

“Having listened to all the issues raised in the report and from your various contributions about funding, I think you should come up with suggestions on better funding for startups and MSMEs. We need to address this issue as quickly as possible,” he said.

He said relevant agencies of government must ensure that loan beneficiaries were equipped with the necessary skills and knowledge to better manage their businesses.

Prof. Osinbajo urged regulators in the MSMEs sector to leverage technology to help build capacity for owners of small enterprises as well as broaden the impact of their interventions.

The Vice President solicited the support of the relevant agencies for the Shared Facilities project for MSMEs which has already commenced in locations across the country.

Earlier, a presentation on the National MSMEs Clinics indicated that the clinics have been held in 23 states of the federation while One-Stop-Shops have been established in seven cities and shared facilities built in Oyo and Bauchi states.

The report also indicated that business registration increased from 54,000 to 163,000 within six months of introducing the special window for subsidised registration costs.

The Managing Director of the Bank of Industry (BOI), Mr Kayode Pitan emphasized the need for MSMEs to establish a company to de-risk BOI loans to MSMEs.

He said the organisation was working in partnership with the Development Bank of Nigeria to enhance access to finance for MSMEs by providing a guarantee for commercial banks.

The meeting was attended by the Special Adviser to the President on Economic Matters, Ambassador Adeyemi Dipeolu, and heads of relevant agencies in the MSMEs sector including the BOI, Federal Inland Revenue Service, NEXIM Bank, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria, Development Bank of Nigeria, Nigerian Export Promotion Council, Bank of Agriculture, Standards Organisation of Nigeria, and NAFDAC.

NAN

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