A European Union (EU) official, Fillippo Amato, has advised the Federal Government to devalue the Naira as part of measures to tackle the economic recession.
Amato, who is also the counsellor and head of Trade and Economics Section of EU, made this known in an interview with newsmen, in Abuja.
The EU official said that recession could not be addressed with traditional development tools.
He said the recession was a recent development which was due to a number of factors, including the fall in oil prices and resurgence of militancy in the Niger Delta.
“To come out of recession, the country has to take brave decisions, regardless of how unpopular they may be such as fully and effectively devaluing the Naira.
“Devaluing the Naira is a measure, which will finally reassure investors and attract new capitals to the country.
“At the same time, it will further reduce imports, thereby removing artificial forex restrictions, and removing any potential waste of scarce resources such as the fuel subsidy.
“Improving security (in the North-East and Niger-Delta) and ease of doing business are also key factors on which the government must urgently work to re-launch the economy,’’ he said.
Amato said that EU had been at the forefront of aid for trade support activities in Nigeria and ECOWAS.
He said the most important programme the EU was implementing in Nigeria with its partners – GIZ, DFID/Adam Smith International and UNIDO – was the Nigeria competitiveness Support Programme.
“The programme aims at improving the quality of Nigeria products to comply with international standards.
“The programme is providing capacity building to several Ministries, Departments and Agencies such as Ministry of Agriculture, Standards Organisation of Nigeria, Consumer Protection Council, Nigerian Customs Services and NADFAC.
“We support the trade institutions in the formulation and implementation of a sound trade policy (support to the Federal Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, and Nigerian Customs Service).
“This is to improve the business environment, with pilot projects in Kano and Kaduna to improve the procedures for obtaining land titles, and business licences,’’ he said.
He said Nigeria also needed to take advantage of the devaluation of its currency by diversifying its sources of foreign exchange revenue and this mainly through boosting its non-oil exports.
Amato said that EU would increase its support to the country under the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) if ratified.
“EPA aims at boosting industrialisation and sustainable development of West Africa, both through improved (predictable, transparent and long-term) trade relations and through a development cooperation component.
“In addition, on September 14, the EU has launched a European External Investment Plan which will further support private sector investments in the African continent, including Nigeria.
“The plan will support investments in the continent by providing targeted guarantees and ameliorating the investment climate and the overall policy environment in partner countries.
“The plan will be implemented through the new European Fund for Sustainable Development, with EU funds totalling €3.35billion until 2020.
“The EU Funds are expected to mobilise up to €44 billion additional investments,’’ the official said.
He, however, advised Nigeria to take into consideration all the opportunities the EPA would offer to Nigeria and communicate them to all interested stakeholders.
“The role of the government is also to reassure all stakeholders that there is no reason to be worried in the course of implementation of the EPA.
“The government will use all instruments offered by the EPA to ensure it will achieve its objective to promote industrialisation and development of Nigeria and West Africa.
“The EU will do its part to ensure these objectives are achieved,” he said.
According to him, in a globalised world no country or regional community can ignore the destiny of its neighbours.
“The EU, in particular, due to its historic ties and geographic proximity to West Africa, has a strong interest in promoting and supporting West Africa’s development, well-being, prosperity and stability.’’
Osinbajo Solicits Support For FG’s Housing Scheme
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.
Nigerians Spent N2.33trn On Petrol In 13 Months – NNPC
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.
Forex: CBN To Engage Crime Agencies To Fight Fraudsters
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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