Minister of Foreign Affairs Geoffrey Onyeama on Wednesday said the currency deal signed between Nigeria and China during the recent visit of President Muhammadu Buhari to China would boost the economies of both countries.
The minister, who was briefing State House correspondents in Abuja on the outcome of the president’s visit to China, noted that the currency deal would eventually make Nigeria a hub of the Chinese currency.
According to him, the Chinese are looking for a hub in West Africa, stressing that Ghana is interested in being the hub for the currency to circulate it for those who want to use it but not compulsory.
He, however, explained that it had become attractive for China to make Nigeria the hub because of the size of the country and economy, adding that the currency deal would also give the country more flexibility.
“So, if Nigeria is buying Chinese goods, for instance, it will be in our interest to use the Yuan because we know there is a lot of squeeze for the dollar.
“But, we still use the dollar. But if it is not enough and there are some people who want to invest in the country, instead of crying that they cannot take dollar out, there might be Yaun that they would be happy to take out because it is now internationalised as a currency and they can use it.
“So, it gives us a much larger option.
“As you know, a lot of importers now are complaining that they are not able to access the dollars to buy goods and things like that.
“What it takes is that as the Chinese economy goes strong, there are some pressures on them from the trading partners, international financial institutions. They agreed that the money should be internationalised.
“They were protecting it also. They did not allow it to be fully exchangeable. But now, their economy is fully strong; they are looking for a way to internationalise the currency.
“Now, they were saying essentially that they wanted to segment it,’’ he said.
The minister said that for Southern Africa, South Africa was going to be the sort of a hub for the currency.
Also addressing the correspondents on the issue of petroleum distribution and fuel scarcity, Minister of State for Petroleum Ibe Kachikwu assured that government would address the systemic issues facing the distribution chain of the product.
“We are hoping that by July we will be able to sign up agreements that will enable upgrades and joint venture of the refineries to take effect.
“We expect that to last for about 12 months, and we expect that by 2017 we should have all the refineries back where they ought to be.
“The target is that by 2018 we will reduce fuel import by 60 per cent and by 2019 with our refineries producing 400,000 barrels, we will exceed our refined importation and begin to export petroleum products,’’ he said.
According to the minister, the present fuel queues are due to sabotage, saying that some marketers are diverting the products to the hinterlands for economic gains.
“As at today, we are delivering about 1,200 trucks.
“By weekend we should be delivering same number of trucks, it will take a bit of days to even out but you can see improvement already.
“I hope by the end of next week, with the refineries helping us to stay on course, every part of the country will get fuel,’’ he added.
Nigeria’s Revenue-To-GDP Ratio Lowest, Private Sector Choking – World Bank
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.”
CBN Stops Sale Of Forex To BDCs
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- email@example.com “ 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.
RSG To Privatise Songhai, Fish Farms
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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