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Making Nigeria Investment Haven

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On assumption of office on May 29, 2011, President

Goodluck Jonathan created the Ministry of Trade and Investment to boost the fulfilment of his embryonic Economic Transformation Agenda.

The new ministry was carved out from the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, with an expanded mandate of creating the enabling environment to stimulate domestic investments and attract foreign direct investments.

The raison d’être behind the creation of the  Ministry was to enhance job creation, wealth generation and all-inclusive economic growth in the country.

A year after the ministry’s creation, stakeholders and industry watchers say that the government’s action is, to a large extent, getting the desired results.

Commenting on the ministry, Gov. Babangida Aliyu of Niger commended the Federal Government for its establishment, saying that it had since been providing quality service delivery.

He noted that the Mr Olusegun Aganga, Minister of Trade and Investment, had also brought his wealth of experience to bear on the affairs of the ministry.

“His (Aganga’s) appointment by President Jonathan, first as the Minister of Finance, and now as Minister of Trade and investment, has resulted in the introduction of policies and reforms which have helped to put Nigeria on a sound footing to attract local and foreign direct investment across all sectors of the economy,” Aliyu noted.

Aganga’s most favourite slogan since his assumption of office has been the popular “Investment Golden Rule’’, which states that “investment flows in, settles and ultimately grows where it is treated well and appreciated.”

As part of efforts to make Nigeria the preferred investment destination, Aganga said that the ministry had embarked on the reform of the country’s investment climate, working in tandem with UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) and the World Bank.

He has also inaugurated committees on “Doing Business’’, “Competitiveness’’ and “Investor Care’’, while establishing the “Competitiveness Council’’.

In addition, the ministry has made concerted efforts to strengthen the One-Stop Investment Centre (OSIC) of the Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission.

Just recently, the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) officially inaugurated its start-to-finish 24-hour business incorporation service.

What this means is that it now takes just one day for anyone to register or incorporate a business.

Aganga stressed that the target was to ensure that companies were registered within two hours, while instituting a vibrant and transparent companies’ registry.

“We want a registry where services will be user-friendly; we want to show local and international investors that Nigeria means business,’’ he said.

To ensure the scheme’s effectiveness, the minister directed that a complaints register should be opened to accommodate the complaints of those who were not able to get their companies registered within 24 hours.

All the same, these investment climate reform programmes have been yielding the desired results, going by the latest statistics released by the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).

The statistics placed Nigeria as Africa’s biggest destination for Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in 2011, with a total FDI inflow of 8.92 billion U.S. dollars (about N1.3 trillion)

According to the 2012 World Investment Report, subtitled “Towards a New Generation of Investment Policies”, released by UNCTAD in Geneva in November, Nigeria received 8.92 billion dollars in FDI, thereby placing it as first in Africa.

In the report, South Africa was ranked second with a total FDI inflow of 5.81 billion U.S. dollars.

Besides, reports from the Ministry of Trade and Investment indicated that Nigeria secured over N6.8 trillion investment commitments from local and foreign investors within the last one year.

Aganga explained that the investment commitments were secured from over 70 investors’ meetings held at home and abroad.

The minister said that such meetings held in 2011 alone showed a total commitment of N3.9 trillion over the next three years.

International relations experts and diplomats have attributed the growing interest in Nigeria by both local and foreign investors to the large untapped investment opportunities existing in the country.

Speaking during his visit to Nigeria, Mr Simon Smits, Kingdom of the Netherlands’ Vice-Minister of Foreign Trade, noted that the opportunities in Nigeria far out-weighed the challenges.

“What I have observed during the past few days of my visit to Nigeria is that when I discussed with business people from Nigeria and The Netherlands, they agreed that the opportunities in Nigeria out-weigh the challenges,’’ Smits said.

Similarly, a renowned economist, Mr Charles Robertson, said in a recent interview with Reuters that Nigeria was currently the best investment destination globally, with prospects for high returns on investments.

“We know Nigeria is not risk free. But look around the world and find another economy with a population of 160 million and with such a great potential. It’s a struggle to find them,’’ Robertson said.

Sharing similar sentiments, Mr Ketan Makwana, the Special Adviser on Youth, Commerce and Culture to the Cabinet Office of the British Prime Minister, said in a recent interview that foreign nationals should disregard insinuations that Nigeria was not safe for investment, visitation, or residency.

“Nigeria is most definitely an emerging economy, with more of its population seeking entrepreneurship as a way of life. I am one of those who believe that you cannot comment on something except you have experienced it yourself.

“I will advise foreigners to disregard the erroneous impression that Nigeria is not safe. Ignore what you hear, come and experience it yourself. Then, you can make a decision. Nigeria has almost become a second home to me,’’ Makwana added.

Economic analysts, nonetheless, appeal tothe government toi sustain the drive for foreign direct investment in the country, while providing  to necessary logistics support for the Ministry of Trade and Investment.

“The ministry is well-positioned to boost the country’s economic growth,” some of them noted.

Aregbesola is of the  NAN.

 

Isaac Aregbesola

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Osinbajo Solicits Support For FG’s Housing Scheme

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Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has urged financial market experts to support the Federal Government’s efforts by developing an appropriate housing finance model that will significantly transform the housing sector on a large scale.
Osinbajo stated this on Monday when he received, on a courtesy visit to the Presidential Villa, a delegation from the Financial Markets Dealers Quotations Group (FMDQ) led by its Chief Executive Officer, Bola Onadele; who came alongside a delegation from the Independent Petroleum Producers Group.
Senior Special Assistant to the Vice President on Media and Publicity, Laolu Akande, disclosed this in a statement titled ‘Let’s unlock Nigeria’s housing deficit, Osinbajo tasks financial market experts.’
Economic experts posit that the housing deficit in Nigeria is estimated between 18-22 million housing units, while the ratio of mortgage finance to GDP in the country is only 0.5 per cent, it is 31 per cent in South Africa and two per cent in Ghana and Botswana.
In his address, the Vice President said, “I like the point you made about the National Housing Blueprint. I very strongly believe that if we can unlock the conundrum in the sector, we can get things working.
“In our ESP, we have something on social housing but one of the critical issues there is how to market these houses, how we can provide the finance so that people can afford to buy them. These are houses that are in the order of about N2 million or N2.5 million.
“But there are still constraints on account of the fact that we just do not have anything like a feasible housing finance model, I think it is time for us to do so. It just looks like it has always escaped our capacity to find a real solution to the problem”.
Speaking on the possibility of having a model that will work, Osinbajo noted that “everyone recognises that we are in very challenging times. But I agree with you that the sheer range and vastness of our potentials make it seem almost intuitive that we are bound to succeed.
“I have no doubt in my mind whatsoever, that given the right mix of policy initiatives, we can get these things done. And your characterization of what needs to be done like attracting capital and sustaining it is so important because ultimately, capital will go where it is best treated.
“And if we are able to attract it (because we have the market, we have everything going for us), even in the worst of times, despite the situation, you find that there is still a great deal of interest.”
Speaking earlier, Onadele said the visit was to inform the Vice President about the transformation taking place in the FMDQ and the need for government support in growing the financial market for the benefit of Nigerians and the economy.

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Nigerians Spent N2.33trn On Petrol In 13 Months – NNPC

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The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) on Monday said that the total revenue generated from the sale of petroleum products for the period of May 2020 to May 2021 stood at N2.35tn.
Out of this amount, the corporation disclosed, Premium Motor Spirit contributed about 99.61 per cent of the total sales with a value of N2.34tn.
A statement by the Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division of the Corporation, Garba-Deen Muhammad, said the figures were contained in the May 2021 edition of the NNPC Monthly Financial and Operations Report.
The statement was titled, “NNPC records crude oil, gas sales of $219.75m in May …posts N295.72bn from sale of petroleum products”
It read in part, “Total revenues generated from the sale of petroleum products for the period of May 2020 to May 2021 stood at N2.345tn where Premium Motor Spirit contributed about 99.61 per cent of the total sales with a value of N2.336 trillion.
“In terms of volume, the figure translates to a total of 2.241 billion litres of white products sold and distributed by PPMC in the month of May 2021 compared with 1.673billion litres in the month of April 2021.”
Total sales of petroleum products for the period May 2020 to May 2021 stood at 18.65 billion litres and PMS accounted for 99.69 per cent of total volume.
The corporation also recorded a total crude oil and gas export sales of $219.75m in May this year.
The $219.75m represents an increase in sales of 180.29 per cent when compared to the previous month of April this year.
The report stated that crude oil export sales contributed $181.19m (82.45 per cent) of the dollar transactions compared with $4.22m contribution in the previous month, while the export gas sales component stood at $38.56m in May 2021.

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Forex: CBN To Engage Crime Agencies To Fight Fraudsters

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The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has vowed to engage financial crime fighting agencies to pursue fraudsters who have been deceiving the banks with fake documents to buy foreign exchange at cheap rates and sell at higher rates at the black market.
The apex bank had, few weeks ago, stopped selling forex to Bureau De Change operators and asked legitimate travellers to approach the banks to access cheap forex.
This is against the backdrop that many customers have been deceiving commercial banks with fake documents to obtain the forex at cheaper rate, and prevented genuine travellers from gaining access to forex.
The CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, had in an earlier statement, said that the BDCs defeated their purpose of existence to provide forex to retail users and had become wholesale and illegal dealers.
“They have remained renegade and so greedy, recalcitrant with abnormally high profit from these sales, while ordinary Nigerians have been left to feel the pain and therefore suffer,” the CBN boss said. 
Emiefele had posited that the CBN had maintained its stand to discontinue the sale of forex to the BDCs.
He urged Nigerians with legitimate business to approach the banks for cheap forex.
According to him, travellers could access up to $4,000 for personal travelling allowance and $5,000 for business travelling allowance.
Findings, however, showed that commercial banks have been reporting fraudulent forex demands to the CBN.
Confirming this, the CBN governor said, “We conducted a study; one of the banks in one day sold to 52 people who said they wanted to travel. After two weeks, they went to check, 40 out of the 52 had cancelled their tickets.
“How could you have a situation where about 70 per cent or 80 per cent who went to bank to buy BTA on the reason that they want to travel, banks sold to them, they turned back and went and sold to the black market. They were asked to return it and we are going to pursue you if you are involved in these nefarious activities.
“If you go to bank with fake visa, fake passport, we have told them not to sell to you. If they sell to you mistakenly, and after two weeks, we check and find that you cancelled your ticket or your visa is fake, they will call you because you are their customer.
“They have your BVN, they have your number, they will call you to return the dollars. If you do not return it, they will place your name on their website, your BVN on their website, we will pick those details.
“We will send them to EFCC and other crime agencies, they will pursue you and you must return the dollars because you cannot acquire it illegally. That is our position”.

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