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…As Pension Fund Rises To N10trn

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Pension fund assets rose from N9.81trillion recorded on October 31, last year to N10 trillion in November 30, the  monthly report dated January 16, 2020, released by the regulator, the National Pension Commission (PenCom) has shown.
The fund grew by N18 billion in the period under review, representing a 1.84 per cent growth.
The fund also grew from N9.58 trillion in September, 2019 to N9.81 trillion in October, representing 2.39 per cent and N22.8billion growth.
Besides, the fund, which stood at a deficit of N2trillion in 2004 hit the record high of N10 trillion last November.
The report showed that pension fund operators invested N7.08 trillion representing over 70 per cent of the fund in Federal Government of Nigeria Securities.
According to PenCom, the operators invested N4.85 trillion amounting to 48.6 per cent in FGN Bonds; N2.11 trillion in Treasury Bills (21.2 per cent); N10.8 billion in Agency Bonds (NMRC and FMBN),(0.11 per cent); N78.11 billion in Sukuk (0.78 per cent) and N15.64 billion in Green bonds, (0.16 per cent).
The report read: “A total of N535.9 billion, which is 5.36 per cent of the funds, was invested in domestic ordinary shares; while N68.56 billion, amounting to 0.69 per cent in foreign ordinary shares.
“The operators invested N117.7 billion (1.18 per cent) in State Government’s Securities; Corporate bonds got N597.4 billion (5.98 per cent); Corporate Infrastructure bonds, received N15.8 billion, (0.16 per cent); Corporate Green bonds, N26.5 billion(0.27 per cent); Supra-National Bonds got N4.1 billion (0.04 per cent); local money market, N1.17 trillion, (11.73 per cent) commercial papers, N95.26 billion (0.95 per cent); Banks, N1.07 trillion (10.77 per cent).
Others are, Reits, N11.56 billion, (0.12 per cent); Foreign Money Market Securities, N5.03 billion, (0.05 per cent); private equity fund, N32.31 billion, (0.32 per cent), Real Estate Properties, N244.6 billion, (2.25 per cent); infrastructure funds, N40.52 billion, (0.41 per cent) and cash and other assets, N45.14 billion (0.45 per cent).
The Acting Director-General of PenCom, Mrs Aisha Dahir-Umar, said the CPS has introduced transparency and integrity in the pension administration system in the country.
She reiterated that from inception of the reform to date, there had not been a single incidence of fraud or mismanagement of the pension funds and assets under the Scheme.
On pension reform, she stated that the level of implementation of the Pension Reform Act (PRA) 2004 and now PRA 2014 by the Commission since the take off of the reform in 2004 has yielded positive reports.

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Business

COVID-19: CBN Grants Two-Week Market Holidays To BDCs

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The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has granted a two- week market holidays to the Bureaux De Change operators.
This followed a request by the Association of Bureaux De Change Operators of Nigeria to the CBN for the regulator to grant it market holidays, given the ongoing challenges faced in local and global economies due to the impact of the Coronavirus (COVID -19) pandemic.
In a notice  to BDC operators and directors,  ABCON President, Alhaji Aminu Gwadabe, said the CBN’s approval meant that sales of foreign exchange to BDCs is now suspended till further notice.
Gwadabe also advised the  public not to go into panic buying, hoarding  and partronasing  the street traders as  the CBN has enough reserves to sustain supplies when the BDCs return to operations.
The CBN had also acknowledged the contributions of BDCs in promoting stable exchange rate in recent months despite challenging circumstances facing the Forex market due to drop in crude oil prices.
Gwadabe advised members to observe strict guidelines on the preventive measures on the dangers of the COVID 19, wear their mask, gloves, and frequent washing of hands.
“We also want to advise members to  strictly  comply with their regulatory obligations on their daily operation. If you are trading, be cautious not to fall under the hand of security agencies. Don’t be involved in giving black market rates,street trading  as doing so might create regulatory breach,” he said.
Gwadabe said that  CBN/NFIU were tracking large movements of funds within the financial sector and noted the need to be cautious.
“Once again, accept our continuous assurances on serving you better as we continue to ponder on lasting solutions to the growing challenges facing our operations amongst them, crowd management, expansion of scope of our buisiness, lesser penalties, automation, among others,” he stated.

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…Suspends Cheque Clearing Amidst Lockdown

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The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has suspended clearing of cheques until further notice following the lockdown in Lagos, Ogun  and FCT to contain the spread of COVID-19 pandemic.
The suspension was announced in a circular to Deposit Money Banks and the Nigeria Interbank Settlement System (NIBSS) by the Director of Banking Services at CBN, Mr Sam Okojere.
President Muhammadu Buhari had, on Sunday ordered a lockdown in Lagos, Ogun and the FCT with effect from 11 p.m. on Monday, March 30 FCT), as a response to contain the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The bank explained that in view of these developments and in furtherance to the Bank’s effort to ensure hitch-free clearing and settlement activities, the CBN had therefore suspended it until further notice.
The apex bank further stated that the clearing of cheques instruments in the Nigerian clearing started from March and for the avoidance of doubt, no fresh cheque instrument would be allowed to pass through March 31.
The CBN noted that only returned cheque would be treated on the said date.
“However, settlement activities for electronic instruments will continue to hold during this period of suspension”, it said.

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Nigeria’s Economy Fragile Before COVID-19 Pandemic –Finance Minister

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The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, has said that prior to the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, the Nigerian economy was already fragile.
She said this in a statement issued by her Special Adviser on Communication, Mr Yunusa Abdullahi, on Monday in Abuja.
Ahmed, according to the statement, said this during her meeting with the leadership of the National Assembly where she spoke on implications of the global economic crisis on Nigeria.
The coronavirus pandemic had led to unprecedented disruptions to global supply chains, a sharp drop in global crude oil prices, turmoil in global stock and financial markets, the lockdown of large swath movements of persons in many countries, among others.
These outcomes have had severe consequences on households’ livelihoods and business activities, resulting from drop in global demand, declined consumer confidence and slowdown in production.
But the finance minister said that prior to the outbreak which had led to decline in crude oil prices, the Nigerian economy was already fragile, vulnerable and deteriorating.
She said the global economic downturn had forced international oil prices to drop to as low as $22 per barrel.
The minister said international travels and trade had been severely disrupted, while demand for goods and services is deteriorating as a result of the social distancing policies.
This, she said had led to financial markets uncertainty which had resulted into capital flows’ reversal from emerging and frontier markets such as Nigeria.
She said, “Increasing pressure on the naira and foreign reserves as the crude oil sales receipts decline and the macroeconomic outlook worsens.
“Central Bank of Nigeria, just as in other countries, has resorted to quantitative easing, by reducing interest rates to support economic activity and governments announcing fiscal stimulus plans for healthcare and social safety nets.”
She said the government was working on a fiscal stimulus package to cushion the impact of the crisis on the most vulnerable individuals and communities.

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