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UN Tasks Nigeria On War Against Graft

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The United Nations Global Compact Office has asked the Federal Government to step up the fight against corruption in Nigeria to enhance development.

Ms. Jobi Makinwa, the UN Head of Anti-Corruption Initiative, made the call at a two-day workshop on Public Private Partnership against Corruption in Abuja, yesterday.

She said there was need to streamline the activities of companies doing business in the country as their attitude to business had promoted corruption in the country.

“The government of Nigeria needs to step up by ensuring that there is incentive for companies to abide by the laws. “One of the incentives is making sure that the laws and policies are put in place, not only that, but that they are fully enforced. “This will act as an incentive; the government itself must create a level playing field for other actors to be able to fight corruption in all its forms, ’’ she said.

Makinwa described corruption as a major challenge to the advancement of sustainable development worldwide.

She noted that for the fight against corruption to be effective, the private and public sectors must collaborate to ensure its elimination.

She said: “The business community at the international level is now required to step up more than ever before, in the elimination of corruption. “

She called for the enforcement of the anti-corruption law to tackle corruption in the country.

Also speaking, Mr Foluso Phillips, the Chairman of the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG), said corruption was the major challenge for the Nigerian economy.

“There is no doubt that corruption has become a major issue in the lives of all of us here in this country; it has affected and it continues to affect so many aspects of our economy.’’

According to him, the level of corruption in the country has made it difficult to attract foreign direct investment flow.

He, therefore, charged the business community to take steps to address the vice as it undermined the interest of all Nigerians.

Phillips said that the magnitude of corruption was mind boggling, and that the culture of impunity was waxing strong.

He affirmed NESG’s belief in the deregulation of the downstream of oil and gas sector, saying the policy would help reduce corruption in the country.

The Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC), Mr Ibrahim Lamorde, said the issue of fighting corruption topped the commission’s priority list.

The EFCC boss, who was represented by the Commandant of EFCC Academy, Mr Ayo Olowoniyi, lauded SIEMENS as one of the organisers of the event.

“In the recent past as you are all aware, the company had gone beyond the strict parameters of international business practice and strayed into the murky territory of unethical business practice and had gotten itself into a huge mess.’’

Lamorde described SIEMENS’ participation as a step in the right direction and commended the business community for recognising the need to partner with government to tackle corruption.

He gave the assurance that the commission would continue to fight corruption until it was wiped out, adding that the commission had begun the screening of its workers to ensure that they lived up to expectations and not to compromise on matters of ethical structure.

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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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