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Instead of phasing out, a new denomination of N5,000 should be issued out — NACCIMA

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By Omolola Dede Adeyanju

The Director General, Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mine and Agriculture (NACCIMA), Sola Obadimu has enumerated the chamber’s view of the country’s current situation.

In his words, “The issues of naira scarcity is for CBN Governor to rectify, he can’t be getting the reward of office and not do the responsibilities of the office. The three go together; when you get the recognition and rewards of office you should take charge of the responsibilities. You can’t be enjoying the rewards of office and not take up your responsibilities. The Governor is highly rewarded but he can’t do a simple job he is expected to do.

“Honestly, this money-changing exercise has been largely disruptive to the economy, needlessly. The management of the currency exchange exercise could certainly be better. The past few weeks have been quite traumatic for a lot of Nigerian citizens and small businesses particularly – coupled with the fuel issue. This week, for instance, a lot of ATM Machines in both Lagos and Abuja had no cash – including at the Airports. This is not decent enough. And, given this development, whatever is happening in the rural areas is better imagined

“Though we appreciate and commend CBN for the 10 days extension but, in going forward, CBN should try to be more proactive than reactive. Secondly, they are advised to consult more widely with stakeholders before taking crucial decisions that are likely to affect people’s lives and businesses, particularly the private sector.

“Personally, I wish the CBN Governor would pay more attention to basic CBN management issues and monetary policy guidelines. The INEC Chairman should worry more about electoral matters. There are more important CBN/monetary policy related issues begging for urgent attention – widening gap in interest rates (between lending and savings) unhealthy gap in forex rates (between official & parallel), soaring inflation rates, etc. When we are responsible for discharging the elements of our assignment as a public official, we should be careful of losing focus.

“I don’t think we should shut down the economy because of pending elections. Imagine a visitor coming into Nigeria for the first time and, on arrival at the Airport, couldn’t withdraw any money from any ATM Machine in either Lagos or Abuja, what kind of investment-friendly rating would he give us? I understand some rating agencies have recently downgraded us, including Moody given recent developments. We should be concerned about investment related ratings.

“Again, we must be careful lest we lose focus in discharging our various duties as public officials. The common man on the streets and busineses must be put into consideration at all times. Businesses keep people in employment and also pay taxes. We mustn’t forget that! Rather than punish everyone because you want to discourage vote-trading, why can’t we seek to deal with issues that have kept the masses perpetually impoverished over the years? If people are adequately economically empowered, why would monies distributed on election days be attractive to them.

“Unfortunately, bad government economic policies over the years have impoverished people and disabled them economically thereby turning the masses into beggars. Let’s deal with the basic issues include massive concentration in improvement of infrastructure, particularly power supply. If people are constructively engaged, they wouldn’t be waiting for 4 years to collect N5,000 only (or even less) from politicians at election times!

“The facts are that the Nigerian economy remains significantly cash transactions-based and most small businesses depend almost entirely on cash-based transactions. It is therefore necessary to advise that enough notes are issued to effectively go around to adquately and sufficiently replace the old notes by the new deadline date of 10th February 2023. In other words, by now, we would have expected all Banking halls and ATMs to effectively issue out only the notes exclusively, while mopping up the old notes

“Also, while creating and maintaning a cashless economy is highly desirable and progressive – particularly with the advantageous ability to track transactions (with particular reference to criminal and money laundering activities, etc), all over the world, cash-based transactions remain an option – but never the only option. This applies even in advanced countries where the infrastructure is more robust and reliable.

“The CBN should not be rationing cash. In fact, it behoves on the CBN to ensure that there is enough cash in circulation for people’s needs. Cash in circulation is not equal to available money and it remains, at most, just about 6 per cent of available money in circulation as most monies are stored up in banks and other electronic systems.

“We have seen that rationing cash can neither control inflation nor make the currency stronger. The US dollar currency notes are available globally. That has never weakened the dollar, neither has it contributed to inflation in the United States. Same goes for other convertible currencies (including the GB Pounds Sterling, Euro, etc) that are available all over the world.

“Our infrastructure remains weak and electronic transaction systems are still largely unreliable. Whenever the system malfunctions (daily, people’s accounts get debited despite recording declined or failed transactions), it takes the banking system between 2 to 3 weeks at times to reverse and refund these accounts. Most ordinary people on the streets cannot bear this sort of delay.

“Therefore, there is a need to ensure that the infrastructure is strengthened and the electronic banking system is more reliable. Currently, we have an environmental of mistrust and delayed transactions which is hugely frustrating, unreliable and unacceptable.

“Besides, due to the inadequacies of cash service of the banking system, a lot of PoS transaction points/outlets have sprung up, creating jobs directly or indirectly for millions of people. Whatever policies that are issued should not have any negative effects on these people’s source of livelihood.

“As a matter of fact, as I have always maintained, I believe, rather than issuing new N1,000, N500 and N200 notes, just a new denomination of N5,000 should have been issued out. This would have helped to achieve the same set of objectives that CBN craves for as: those who have stored up old N1,000, N500 and N200 notes would definitely have brought them out to change for the new N5,000 notes as, being a higher denomination, it would be less burdensome and more convenient to carry.

“It is not nice for our sovereignty and our economy that our highest currency denomination is just $2 or less in equivalent value. This is unacceptable and greatly inconvenient as credible store of value.

“Less number of currency notes would have been required to be printed, again, being a higher denomination and store of value. Thereby, less funds would have been required to be spent.

“Therefore, there’s no doubt at all that this is to be considered sometime in the bear future.”

The DG added, “Going forward, it is necessary to urge the CBN, government and all policy makers to always engage in adequate consultations with the private sectors as well as ordinary Nigerians before announcing and/or implementing any policy that are likely to significantly impact on businesses as well as the lives of the general public. This will help government and all policy makers feel the pulse of the nation first and make policies that will further enhance improved welfare of the citizenry.”

Business

NDIC sustains fight against corruption with inauguration of ‘Anti-corruption & transparency unit’

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By Seun Ibiyemi

The Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC) has inaugurated its Anti-corruption & Transparency Unit.

“NDIC has a culture of zero tolerance for corruption, which is further strengthened by its core values of Teamwork, Respect and Fairness, Integrity, Professionalism, and Passion,” said MD/CE, NDIC Mr. Bello Hassan.

He was represented by NDIC Executive Director, Operations Mr. Mustapha M. Ibrahim during the inauguration of the Corporation’s Anti-Corruption and Transparency Unit (ACTU) by officials of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commi ssion (ICPC) at the NDIC headquarters in Abuja.

He said, the NDIC ACTU has strengthened the Corporation’s operational system through the implementation of various compliance measures to ensure ethics, integrity, transparency and accountability in the workplace.

He explained that the specific measures include robust Internal Controls, regular Risk Assessments, strict adherence to regulatory guidelines, and comprehensive training programs for employees.

Mr. Hassan described the inauguration as a significant step in the Corporation’s ongoing commitment in the fight against corruption and enhance transparency. He emphasised that NDIC Management remains committed to supporting ACTU activities, recognising the unit’s critical role in ensuring the Corporation’s operations are conducted with integrity, free from corruption, and fostering public trust.

The ICPC Chairman, Dr. Musa Adamu Aliyu who was represented by ICPC Acting Director System Study and Review, Mr. Olusegun Adigun, praised NDIC Management for their dedication and active support in establishing and advancing the activities of the ACTU to address corruption issues and foster ethical practices.

He applauded the efficiency and diligence of the NDIC ACTU in fulfilling its mandate, resulting in the Corporation retaining the first position for two consecutive years on the annual ICPC Ethics and Integrity Compliance Scorecard.

He urged the new ACTU members to see their nomination as an opportunity to build on the good legacies of the previous members and to complement Management’s efforts in promoting the core valu es of the Corporation through their assigned duties.

He stressed the need for the NDIC Management to sustain its commitment and support to ACTU so that the Unit can perform optimally and remain a veritable tool in embedding laid down ethical standards amongst staff and sustaining a positive image for the Corporation.

Ten (10) members of staff were sworn in as members of the NDIC ACTU during the inauguration. Their key functions include annual sensitisation of staff against corruption; Conduct of System Study & Review and Corruption Risk Assessment to strengthen internal systems; monitoring budget implementation of the Corporation, co ordinating whistleblowing platforms, identifying and rewarding outstanding members of staff amongst other responsibilities.

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IPMAN hinges erratic petrol availability on allocation issues from NNPC 

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The Independent Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) says petrol availability has been erratic because of the small allocation currently allotted to its members by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).

IPMAN National Vice-President, Alhaji Hammed Fasola, disclosed this in an interview with journalists in Ibadan on Tuesday.

Fasola said the allocation issue has led to haphazard operations by its members, who now buy from third parties (private depot owners) at prices they can no longer afford.

According to him, NNPC has been the one bringing the product to the country and sharing it with major marketers until the involvement of the private depot owners.

He added that there had been a shortfall in the supply of the product because NNPC would naturally supply its retail outlets first.

“That is why you see a kind of on-and-off situation from the independent marketers’ filling stations.

“We still get some trucks directly, but very inadequate to the number of marketers we have.

“We are waiting for when the product will be available, especially through NNPC depots, the Port Harcourt refinery, and by the time Dangote comes up with its petrol, that is PMS.

“We believe that all these problems will be solved,” he said.

However, he said the association would continue to engage NNPC because it had been a long-term partner.

 ”We are very positive that when things come to normal, they will be giving us our due allocation,” he said.

On the issue of subsidy, Fasola said he believed there was no more fuel subsidy because the government had said so.

Many filling stations are not selling due to the unavailability of the commodity.

Others, who open for business intermittently, sell between N620 per litre to N700 with NNPC retail outlets selling at the official rate but with long queues.

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Business

Finance Ministry launches digital incentives, evaluation platform 

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By Matthew Denis

In a significant advancement to streamline fiscal management, the Honourable Minister of Finance and the Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Mr Wale Edun has announced the integration of the Incentive Monitoring and Evaluation Platform (IMEP) into the Import Duty Exemption Certificate (IDEC) programme, thereby allowing for enhanced monitoring and evaluation.

This is contained in a statement signed by Mohammed Manga Director, Information & Public Relations of Federal Ministry of Finance and made available to NewsDirect on Tuesday.

“The IDEC programme strategically reduces import duty burdens for priority sectors such as manufacturing, agriculture, and healthcare, stimulating economic growth and national development.”

The statement stressed that integrated into the IDEC framework, the newly launched IMEP ensures that only eligible entities benefit, rigorously enforcing compliance and optimising tax expenditures to reduce waste, block leakages and enhance economic equity.

“Key features of the IMEP include an automated claw-back mechanism for recouping waivers from defaulters, real-time e-report generation and a centralised database that enhances the efficiency of our verification processes.

“IMEP aims to ensure that tax incentives are rationalised to deliver maximum economic impact, aligning with the government’s commitment to reducing waste, blocking leakages, and fostering a robust and equitable economic environment. IMEP’s precise monitoring capabilities will significantly enhance the strategic allocation of exemptions and support the government’s objective to  ultimately reduce tax expenditures.”

To acquaint all stakeholders with the upgraded IDEC framework, the Ministry of Finance will host a webinar on April 25th, 2024, by 12 noon (WAT). Key industry participants, including manufacturers, importers, and representatives from MDAs and NGOs, have been invited to engage in this session to understand the enhanced features and benefits of the IMEP. Details for the webinar will be available on the Ministry of Finance’s official website and the IDEC YouTube channel.

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