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Cornerstone Hails Insurance Best Practices

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Cornerstone Insurance has commended professional brokers and other stakeholders in the collective drive to enhance the ethics and compliance with best practices in the Nigerian Insurance Industry.

Cornerstone Insurance recorded the highest gross premium earning in its 18 years of existence underwriting N3.8 billion in 2008, in spite of the adoption of a wholly ethnical approach to insurance business.

Mr. Adedotun Sulaiman, chairman Cornerstone Insurance Plc, at the yearly general meeting of the company in Lagos recently, said the top line performance of the company was due to supports from professional brokers, corporate Nigerian, institutions, businesses operators in the formal and informal sectors and individual policy holders.

According to him, despite choosing the ethnical route and emphasising that it will not pay bribe to acquire business, the company had tremendous support and patronage from professional brokers which saw it recording its all-time high gross premium of N3.8 billion.

Sulaiman said 80 per cent of Nigeria’s insurance businesses are controlled by brokers, which underlined their importance as strategic business partners are influencing factors in the drive to reposition the Nigerian insurance industry.

He called for closer collaboration between brokers and underwriters in the country to enable the industry give the highest value to policy takers adding that all stakeholders stand to benefit in the growth of the industry.

“Cornerstone as a responsive and transparent company, will always meet its obligation to brokers and those on whose behalf they placed their insurance risk with Cornerstone”, Sulaiman said.

He assured shareholders that the Company’s definitive strategic medium term growth plan would translate into significant shareholders’ value in the years ahead.

He said the company has undertaken comprehensive renew of its process and resources and already implementing measures to realise the company’s vision of being the leading insurance-based financial services company in Nigeria. According to him, the company’s unwavering commitment to enshrining an ethical culture and promoting best business practices informed its resolve to put in place a robust governance structure, which importance in the creation of shareholder value cannot be overemphasised.

We are taking sure and steady steps, more than ever before, to take advantage of the opportunities and are confident that the prospects are bright.

We are strengthening the leadership of the business – Life, General and Financial Services and intensifying our brand reputation in line with our corporate mission to deliver value beyond the expectations of stakeholders”, Sulaiman said.

He pointed out that in spite of the recession in the financial markets, the company has maintained its focus on building the company for sustainable success and leadership.

He noted that the company was constantly engaging its customers to identify and create tailor-made solutions to meet their needs as part of efforts to deepen existing market share and break new ground.

He urged shareholders and other stakeholders to support the on-going efforts by the company to redefine Nigerian insurance practice along ethical line noting that it is possible to business successfully without engaging in unethical practices.

He added that the nature of insurance business as a long-term business also requires understanding and patience given the ups and downs that sometimes characterise investments.

He said the company’s determination to ensure prompt claim payment irrespective of the global and national macro-economic conditions and the recession in the stock market adversely affected the performance of the company in 2008.

He noted that many one-off costs such as rebranding and relocation of the head office of the company in 2008 would not reoccur and as such mitigate costs while significantly adding value to the business.

He said the board took a courageous decision to make almost full provisions for the potential loss in the market value of its investments, although the recovering trend at the stock market suggests that the potential loss is unlikely to crystallise.

Audited report and accounts of Cornerstone Insurance for the year ended December 31, 2008 showed significant improvements in the top line and bottom-line with group gross premium rising but 37 per cent from N2.7 billion in 2008. Profit before tax and diminution in value of investment jumped by 76 per cent to N678.9 million in 2008 as against N386.6 million in 2007.

A provision of N1.11 billon as diminutions in value of investments however impacted negatively on the bottom-line, leaving the company with a net loss of N419.5 million in 2008 compared with a net profit of N325 million in 2007.

Sulaiman however assured shareholders that the company would deliver better results in 2009 noting the interim reports for the first half of the year showed significant improvements.

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Nigeria’s Revenue-To-GDP Ratio Lowest, Private Sector Choking – World Bank

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Nigeria’s revenue-to-Gross Domestic Product ratio, which fell to between five and six per cent last year, is the lowest in the world, the World Bank said on Monday.
The Country Director for Nigeria, World Bank, Dr Shubham Chaudhuri, said this during a panel session at a virtual public sector seminar with the theme ‘Nigeria in challenging times: imperatives for a cohesive national development agenda’ organised by the Lagos Business School.
Chaudhuri, who stressed the need for private investment for the country to realise its potential, said the private sector in the country ‘is struggling to breathe’.
“In Nigeria, I think the basic economic agenda is about diversification away from oil because oil has really been like resource curse for Nigeria on multiple dimensions,” he said.
He noted the aspiration of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty by the end of the decade.
He said, “Nigeria is a country with tremendous potential. If you look at the synopsis for this panel, it suggests that Nigeria is at a critical juncture – almost at the moment of crisis.
“Despite all of that, Nigeria is still the largest economy in Africa. So, just think about the potential that Nigeria has because of its natural resources, but more than that, because of its dynamism and all of its population. Nigerians are more entrepreneurial by nature.
“No country has become prosperous and realised its potential, eliminated poverty without doing two simple things: investing in its people, and unleashing the power of the private sector in creating jobs by investing and growing business. And then, of course, the basic function of the state is to provide security and law and order.”
According to Chaudhuri, to invest in people entails basic services, basic education, primary healthcare and nutrition, among others.
He said, “On this, Nigeria at the moment ranks sixth from the bottom in terms of the human capital index that we produce every year.
“So, obviously, there is a huge agenda in terms of investing in human capital. Nigeria spends more on PMS (premium motor spirit) subsidy than it does on primary healthcare in a year, and we know who the PMS subsidy is benefitting.”
He indicated that despite the country’s huge potential to attract private capital, the non-oil part of the economy ‘is not growing that robustly and certainly not generating revenues that the government needs’.
Chaudhuri said, “So, we see as priorities investments in human capital. But for that, one needs revenues. And there again, Nigeria unfortunately has the distinction of having about the lowest revenue-to-GDP ratio in the world.
 ”The standard rule of thumb is that for government to provide the basic services and law and order, it needs between 15 to 20 per cent of GDP as being revenue, and this will be both at the federal and state levels combined.
“In Nigeria, it was eight per cent in 2019. In 2020, in the middle of the Covid-19 crisis and with the fall in oil prices, that went down to about between five and six per cent.
“So, domestic revenue mobilisation is huge. And then the third is enabling the space for private investment. You have to fix the power problem. Power is like the oxygen of an economy. In Nigeria, the private sector is struggling to breathe.”

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CBN Stops Sale Of Forex To BDCs

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The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) as announced immediate discontinuation of sale of Foreign Exchange (forex) to Bureau de Change (BDC) operators in the country.
Mr Godwin Emefiele, the CBN Governor , made this announcement yesterday, while presenting a communique from the apex bank’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) meeting in Abuja.
Emefiele said that the decision was informed by the unwholesome business practices of the BDCs, which he said had continued to put enormous pressure on the Naira.
He  said ,  henceforth,  the apex bank would sell forex to deserving Nigerians through the commercial banks.
“ The BDCs were regulated to sell a maximum of 5000  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 sale of forex to the BDCs with immediate effect.
“We shall, henceforth,  channel all forex allocation through the commercial banks,” he said.
He urged the commercial 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 “ he said.
The Tide source reports that stakeholders have been calling on the CBN and its MPC to take urgent steps to halt unending depreciation of the Naira.
Recently,  a past President of the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN),  Mr Okechukwu Unegbu,  urged the MPC to focus on policy decisions that would curb rising inflation and stabilise the Naira.

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RSG To Privatise Songhai, Fish Farms

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There are strong indications that the Rivers State Government has concluded plans to privatise the moribund Songhai Farm in Tai and Fish Farm in Buguma.
The State Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Amb. Desmond Akawor, gave this indication while appearing in a phone-in radio programme organised by Silverbird Communications in Port Harcourt at the weekend.
He explained that the previous administration in the state failed to put in place a sustainability programme for these farms, hence they went moribund.
In order to reverse the situation, he said that the present administration was now contemplating a rehabilitation scheme to be driven by a privatisation policy to enable those investments come on stream.
He said the scheme had reached an advanced stage and is to executed by the State Ministry of Agriculture.
On the issue of job creation, Akawor said the administration of Chief Nyesom Wike was using the various construction projects around the state to empower the youths.
He explained that the government had floated a special scholarship scheme in Law and Medical Sciences to create opportunities for young people in various professions.
He called on the opposition to desist from de-marketing the state through propaganda as it’s capable of scaring investors away from the state.
Akawor insisted that the Wike led administration has provided an enabling environment for businesses to thrive through infrastructure and improved security.

By: Kevin Nengia

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