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Oil Companies And Bank Loans

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Olusola Bello

The five banks which last weekend had their managing directors sacked by the apex bank are also known to have been involved in what is now called banks unusual romance with the oil and gas industry. The former bank bosses may have marched into the slippery terrain of the industry without first of all doing their home work on the vagaries of the sensitive sector. The bait which forced them to lower their guard was the fact that the oil firms continued to service their accounts a tendency which subsequently took the place of the good old collateral. Many analysis have faulted the banks’ failure to conduct due diligence on the sector before offering the companies jumbo loans that were not secured.
On their part, the oil firms selling the idea that the escalating price of crude oil would continue to point skywards, took advantage of the situation to churn out irresistible bankable proposals.
There was a sudden rise in the price of crude oil to about $140 per barrel while the price of products like Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) or petrol, Automotive Gas Oil (AGO) or diesel was sold at about N140 per litre. However, against the importers’ and their bankers’ expectations, prices started falling. Through this the importers incurred heavy losses.Again, the banks influenced by greed and their level of solvency threw so much money into the oil sector because they considered the sector as the honey pot that yielded quick and fantastic returns.
A source said that there are many factors that prompted the oil companies to also seek for loans, one of which was that some of them have no genuine intention to pay back the loans.
The loans, the source said were used for other purposes that were also hit by the economic recession and this has made it difficult for them to repay back the loans.
There have also been allegations of diversion of some of the loans by the oil companies to real estates. Unfortunately, the sector like other sectors of the economy also crashed, leaving their investments in danger.
Some of the oil companies were said to have taken loans to import products at higher prices only to sell at much lower prices in the bid to under-cut the established oil companies and gain popularity among consumers. While this was going on, the prices of the product plummeted and have not risen since that time. So, rather than make returns on their investments, the firms were recording loses.
Compounding the problems associated with the loans, was the steady upward movement of interest rates, exchange rate fluctuations and the devaluation of naira which some of the firms could hardly cope with because of their capital base.
For instance, the exchange rate was $1 to N117 as at the time the imports were made before they could arrive the country the exchange rate had risen to N150 to $1.
This situation made oil marketing companies to threaten to stop fuel importation into the country. They consequently gave conditions under which they would import products especially Premium Motor Spirit or petrol.
The private sector which imports at leat 50 per cent of the nation’s Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) requirements under the Petroleum Subsidy Fund (PSF) scheme while Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) delivered the balance were aggrieved that the government was not paying them what could cover their cost of importation.
The exchange rate was beyond what was provided for the Petroleum Product Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) import template. As a result, when the verified private sector subsidy claims for the third quarter of 2008 of $1,189,964,305.45 was paid in naira, on the 10th of January, 2009 at the rate of N117.91, the naira payment of N139,225,823,738.27, could only purchase $870,161,398.36 at the prevailing exchange rate thereby leaving a shortfall of $319,802,907.09, a sum equivalent to the nation’s cost of PMS import for a month.”
By virtue of the Clause 3.3 of the agreement between the PPPRA and importers on PSF, subsidy payment should be made monthly and within 15 days of submission of claim.
They argued that they were unable to recover these additional costs from the regulated pump price. The marketers had to fight for a foreign currency window to be made available for PMS importation, at current market trends. The private sector requires between $200m. $250m monthly for importation of petroleum products.
To ensure continuous supply of products, the marketers stated that they would require the following.
Immediate payment of all outstanding cost and exchange rate differential.
All payments for subsidy claims or contribution should be based on the prevailing exchange rate.
Interest on late payments of subsidy claims should be paid on past claims to enable importers recover cost of funding.
Current interest rate as a result of worldwide economic situation must be reflected in the template, PPPRA and Ministry of Finance must make payment within the period stipulated in the contract to avoid additional costs.
Foreign exchange availability is a precondition for guaranteed supply of petroleum products in some of the relatively new companies engaged in frivolous extravagance in their attempt to be heard and seen in places where ordinarily they should not be. A couple of them spend valuable time lobbying lawmakers and sponsoring government officials to international events and seminars without taking a look at the implications of the flamboyant lives on the business they are doing.
The government liberalisation of the sector which gave room to all manner of people coming into the sector with the hope of bringing in products and getting refunds through the Petroleum Support Fund (PSF) did not help matters. But this was not forthcoming on time as the government had to delay for a long while before paying up the difference between the landing cost of the products and the official price at the pump stations.
Lack of human capacity in the energy sector by most of the banks was a major snag in the way the banks transact their oil businesses. This has resulted in their inability to do due credit analysis on the various companies that were given the loans even as some of the companies that received credits did not have storage facilities. They are brokers or bulk purchasers who go about to beg fellow operators with depot to assist them with letters stating that they would be allowed to use their facility in order that federal government may give them licence to import products.
A particular company among the ones listed as owing some of the banks was alleged to have imported four ship loads of Automotive Gas Oil (AGO) without having any storage facilities. The ships were said to have stayed for 60 days on the Nigerian territorial waters without much success before they sailed back to Europe.
Culled from Business Day

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Stakeholders Meet To Assess Nigeria’s Preparedness For AFCFTA

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Stakeholders are expected to converge in Lagos today to take a look at the Nigeria’s preparedness to maximize the gains of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). 
The Tide learnt that stakeholders will be converging at the instance of a popular online newspaper, Primetime Reporters, to assess the progress made so far by the Federal Government through the National Action Committee on AfCFTA agreement.
The event which is the Third Annual Lecture and Awards of the online medium has as its theme: “Assessing Nigeria’s Preparedness to Maximize the Gains of AfCFTA.” 
The event will also witness conferment of awards on eight eminent Nigerians who have distinguished themselves in various fields of human endeavours.
The Managing Director/Editor-In-Chief of Primetime Reporters, Mr. Saint Augustine Nwadinamuo, made this known in a statement made available to The Tide in Lagos on Monday.
According to him, the event will hold at the National Institute of International Affairs (NIIA), Kofo Abayomi Street, Victoria Island, Lagos beginning from 10.00am.
Nwadinamuo said that the event would be chaired by a renowned legal practitioner, Barr. Osuala Emmanuel Nwagbara of the Maritime and Commercial Law Partners, Lagos, while the Director General, Lagos Chambers of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Dr. Muda Yusuf, would be the lead paper presenter.

By: Nkpemenyie Mcdominic, Lagos

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Business

EFCC Nabs 419 Kingpin Over N250m Fraud

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), has arrested a leader of a deadly 419 syndicate, Abayomi Kamaldeen Alaka (a.k.a Awise) over an alleged attempt to swindle an innocent Nigerian of N250 million. 
The Tide learnt that the syndicate operates from a shrine at Ashipa Town, near Abeokuta, Ogun State.
According to a statement made available to The Tide in Lagos on Sunday, by the EFCC, Awise’s arrest followed a petition by his victim, Juliet Bright who lost N250m to the fraudster after she was tricked to provide money for sacrifices and invocations to heal her of an ailment.
The statement said Bright was introduced to Alaka by one Akinola Bukola Augustina (a.ka. Iya Osun) whom she met on Facebook in the course of her search for solutions to her health challenge. 
What drew her to Augustina was the latter’s post under the name, Osunbukola Olamitutu Spriritual Healing Centre.
 Once Bright contacted Augustina, the latter promised to heal her if she could pay N16 million. 
The victim paid the money through an Access Bank account belonging to one Mohammed Sani, who later turned out to be a Bureau De Change Operator.
After paying the money without receiving healing, Augustina transferred the victim to other members of the syndicate, notably Awise. 
Bright revealed that she met Awise at his shrine in Ashipa Town and was hypnotized and subsequently transferred various sum through bank accounts and in cash to the suspect and his syndicate members, until she lost N250 million to them.
Despite all the monies collected from her, her health conditions has never improved.

By: Nkpemenyie Mcdominic, Lagos

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Business

Expert Wants Farmers To Grow Plant Produce For Export

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An expert in Quarantine Agriculture, Dr Vincent Ozuru, has advised Nigerian farmers to give more attention to growing plants produce that could be exported.
He said that plant like the hibiscus, popularly known as Zobo is on high demand in some countries around the world, today.
Ozuru who gave the advice while speaking to aviation correspondents at Port Harcourt International Airport, Omagwa, noted that some plants produce, particularly hibiscus, had yielded huge revenue to the Federal Government through export.
According to him, Nigeria exported about 1,983 containers of hibiscus to Mexico alone in 2017 and earned $35 million within nine months of that year.
The agricultural quarantine expert explained that the export of the plant had a setback as a result of storage pest discovered by the Nigeria Agricultural Quarantine Service in some consignments.
“The issue has now been taken care of and the export is resuming again, and all matters have been resolved with the stakeholders across the value chain.
“Mexico is the largest importer of Nigerian hibiscus, and our farmers should brace up to the challenge.
“The good news is that Nigeria has a vast growing belt in hibiscus, and the harvest is available all year round.
“We need to take advantage of this opportunity to earn foreign exchange for ourselves and for the country at large, even with the commitment of the present administration to diversify the economy”, he said.
Ozuru called on Nigerian farmers to show more commitment to the growing of export produce and also endeavor to get ready information on it in order to increase their income.

By: Corlins Walter

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