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We are delighted with IMF Nigeria’s economic growth rate — Emefiele

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By Matthew Denis

Following a flat rate forecast by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for Nigeria’s economic growth rate in the 2023 and 2024, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has picked the challenge and set to sustain its recent policy directions.

While the IMF retained its 3.2 per cent forecast for 2023 it dropped the 2024 forecast to 3.0 per cent from  3.1 per cent. The World Bank dropped its forecast to 2.8 per cent from 3.0 per cent.

Responding to journalists on the sidelines of the on-going World Bank and IMF Spring meetings in Washington DC, USA, the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, said that by retaining its 3.2 per cent forecast for 2023 it means the IMF is endorsing the policies the monetary and fiscal authorities have put in place in recent months to address the adverse fallouts from the global economic challenges arising from the war in Ukrain and the global financial crises.

He stated, “We are delighted that in Sub-Saharan Africa, the growth levels in Nigeria, even though by our assessment is still sub-optimal, that the IMF would, among all the countries in Africa, say that growth in Nigeria should be retained at 3.2 per cent; it gladdens our heart.

“It means we are doing certain things that are correct, and we’ll continue to do those things that are right.

“But it also means that we are not going to remove our eyes on monetary policies, which is to focus extensively on how to moderate inflation, but at the same time, ensure that banking system stability remains resilient and then strong as it is right now.”

Reflecting on the current challenges in the Nigerian economy, Emefiele also stated, “The forecast at the meeting remains that, yes, a lot of work has been done in 2022, and growth is gradually returning again, but it is still at the sub-optimal level.

“Inflationary pressures continue, and even though inflation is coming down as a result of measures being taken by monetary authorities to bring down the inflation rate, it still remains at very high levels globally to the extent that even as global inflation is projected at 7 per cent it remains very high. And the high point of all the consequences of what we’ve seen in 2022 is that poverty which was very well discussed here has risen quite astronomically and over 700 million people are being struck by poverty.

“Food insecurity has also risen quite tremendously to the extent that over 350 million people globally are hit by extreme food crises.

“The IMF also talked about the fact that the debt portfolios and lending portfolios have reached all-time highs. In two decades, this is the highest level of debt portfolio that the IMF has seen in its books and unfortunately warning that they may not be in a position to do much for countries that really require more money to be able to restructure the balance sheet and then keep going on.

“So, the focus remains that monetary policy authorities must continue to focus on inflation so as to continue to bring it down.

“While monetary authorities are doing their work, to bring down inflation, they must also keep their eyes on banking systems’ stability, through monitoring, supervision, and regulatory frameworks and the rest of them.

“For the fiscal, of course, because of the limited fiscal space, the IMF insists that countries need to reduce their spending but, in my case, I will say, well if you want to spend then raise revenue to be able to spend. I think it’s important that we must raise revenue and not get ourselves constrained in an environment where there is no debt, where financial market conditions are very tight and very limited, and where interest rates are high and could create a lot of burden for economies and the only option for fiscal in this case is to expand the revenue base so as to be able to spend.”

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SIFAX Shipping partners ECU Worldwide to boost LCL export

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By Seun Ibiyemi

SIFAX Shipping Company Limited, a subsidiary of SIFAX Group, has sealed a partnership deal with ECU Worldwide, the world’s number one LCL player, to boost export activities from Nigeria.

Less-than-Container Load (LCL) is one of two main types of containerised transportation services.

The other is Full-Container Load (FCL). LCL is optimal when an entire container isn’t filled up. LCL allows the transportation of small cargo volumes without paying for the whole container.

The partnership will help business owners and exporters whose consignments are less than container load to access the international market.

According to MD, SIFAX Logistics Company Limited,  Paul Linden, this service was offered in response to inquiries from various customers who are desirous of exporting their products but do not have the required huge volume.

He said, “We know that many SMEs and business owners are desirous of accessing the international market, but are hampered by their lack of large volume.

“This service is designed particularly to address this concern. It will boost Nigeria’s export and be a game changer for our small and medium-scale businesses. We have put all facilities in place to ensure the business runs smoothly in partnership with ECU Worldwide.”

AGM, SIFAX Shipping, Adekunle Owobamirin, noted that all arrangements have been perfected to make the service a success.

“Our partners from ECU have inspected our warehouse and we have already assigned dedicated staff who would work on this service.

“ECU Worldwide and SIFAX Shipping is the first consolidator partnership to offer dedicated LCL export services from Nigeria to the world. Our partners have established 2,400 direct trade lines with a presence in over 180 countries.

“This will allow all our customers to export their goods anywhere in the world,” Adekunle said.

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RIFAN applauds NAICOM,  IGP over compulsory insurance enforcement

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The Retail Insured Family Association of Nigeria (RIFAN), the country’s largest community of insurance consumers, has praised the Commissioner for Insurance, Olusegun Omosehin, and the Inspector General of Police, Kayode Egbetokun, for their recent efforts to enforce mandatory third-party insurance.

RIFAN’s major aim is to restore public confidence in insurance policies.

This commendation follows a meeting on June 11, 2024, where Omosehin visited Egbetokun at Louis Edet House, Force Headquarters in Abuja to discuss the enforcement of compulsory third-party insurance.

Omosehin highlighted the illegality of driving without valid motor insurance and announced that the benefits attached to third-party insurance have increased to N3 million.

Responding to Omosehin’s request, Egbetokun committed to deploying the Deputy Inspector General of Operations to ensure the enforcement of this mandate.

RIFAN’s Director General, Ali Theophilus, expressed support for this initiative and indicated RIFAN’s readiness to collaborate on enforcement and public awareness.

He emphasised that proper enforcement could significantly boost premium income for the insurance industry, facilitating easier claims payments and enhancing public confidence in insurance.

He said getting the enforcement done is also in line with the Road Traffic Act for any vehicle plying Nigerian roads to have 3rd party motor insurance.

Theophilus commended the Inspector General of Police (IGP) for his proactive steps towards enforcing third-party motor insurance and urged him to extend this message of hope to all police officers and relevant law enforcement agents.

He emphasised that third-party insurance benefits every vehicle user, including law enforcement personnel, regardless of their career or social status.

He pointed out that many law enforcement officers neglect this insurance under the guise of “Esprit de Corps,” which does not cover damages in the event of an accident. This negligence costs the insurance industry over N15 billion annually, which could otherwise be added to premiums to facilitate claim payments.

Theophilus reiterated the importance of third-party insurance, explaining that while it does not cover personal vehicle damage directly, it covers damages caused to other vehicles due to negligence. This coverage can help settle such claims, benefiting all parties involved.

Furthermore, Theophilus urged the IGP to enforce licensing for insurance agents through an initiative he called “Operation Show Your Licence.” This would reduce the prevalence of fake agents and help NAICOM reach its goal of increasing licensed insurance agents to three million by the end of the year.

He called on the Nigeria Police Force and all law enforcement agents to join RIFAN to unite in restoring public confidence in the insurance industry. He stated RIFAN membership benefits, including easy access to claims payments, unique insurance covers, and professional advice etc.

Theophilus also announced plans to collaborate with underwriters to create a funeral insurance policy as an additional membership benefit, particularly in Southern Nigeria, where funeral expenses are significant. RIFAN plans to hold town hall meetings to educate grassroots communities about the importance of insurance.

Theophilus called on the IGP, law enforcement agencies, the Commissioner for Insurance, the Director General of NIA, and underwriters to register with RIFAN to help build the insurance industry of Nigeria’s dreams and restore public confidence in insurance.

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Afreximbank, First Bank sign $200m facility agreement to finance clients’ needs

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Afreximbank and First Bank of Nigeria(FBN) have signed a 200 million dollar facility agreement for financing the needs of FBN’s numerous clients.

The signing took place at the ongoing 31st Afreximbank Annual Meetings (AAM2024) in Nassau, The Bahamas, on Friday.

The facility will finance the needs of FBN’s numerous clients engaged in oil and gas and energy, manufacturing, telecommunications and associated infrastructure projects.

The parties who signed the agreement included Olusegun Alebiosu, Acting CEO, FBN, Awani Kanayo, Executive Vice- President, Intra-African Trade Bank (IATB), Afreximbank, and Viswanathan Shankar, CEO, Gateway Partners on behalf of African Credit Opportunity Fund.

The 31 AAM2024 is being held in Nassau, The Bahamas from June 12 to June 15, with the theme: “Owning our Destiny: Economic Prosperity on the Platform of Global Africa’’.

The AAM is taking place alongside the 3rd edition of the AfriCaribbean Trade and Investment Forum (ACTIF2024).

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