The United Kingdom Export Finance Agency pre-approved status for the naira as a medium of exchange will enhance the financial position of small and medium enterprises, a financial expert has said.
The Head of Banking and Finance Department, Nasarawa State University Keffi, Prof. Uche Uwaleke, expressed the view in an interview with newsmen in Abuja on Monday.
Uwaleke said that with such development, the naira had joined other 62 pre-approved currencies directly accepted for trade by the UK Government.
The UK Export Finance Agency (UKEF) recently stated that it had concluded plans to include the naira in its list of “pre-approved currencies”.
The granting of a ”pre-approved currency” status by UKEF gives exporters from the UK the opportunity to offer their overseas customers UKEF-backed finance in local currency of the importers.
”It will enhance the financial position of small and medium enterprises as foreign exchange risk associated with international trade is minimised thus eliminating a major source of uncertainty over debt servicing cost of credit facilities.
”Therefore, business enterprises are in a stronger position to negotiate better terms with their banks in Nigeria and avoid variable debt service costs linked to fluctuations in exchange rate,” Uwaleke said.
According to him, the bank in Nigeria will receive a guarantee for full repayment of the loan, it will help to improve the quality of risk assets of Nigerian banks and enhance financial systems stability.
Uwaleke said that the expected increase in Foreign Direct Investments could bring about transfer of technology to small businesses in Nigeria.
”The UKEF flexible financing solutions have been described as the “next best thing to concessionary financing” due to their relatively cheap and flexible nature which is particularly healthy for small business enterprises,” he said.
Uwaleke said that the UKEF pre-approved status for the naira had the potential for strengthening economic ties between Nigeria and Britain.
He said that with the deal, it meant that import bills from the UK could be settled in naira rather than the British pound.
”This deal makes it possible for the importer to access a loan from a bank in Nigeria of at least 85 per cent of the contract sum for a maximum period of two years.He said that under the arrangement, “the Nigerian bank is guaranteed repayment by the UKEF in case the importer defaults.”
According to him, while applauding this UKEF privileged status for the Naira, it is important to note that the British credit agency has not been without knocks especially as it relates to its aggressive export drive.
He said that for instance, Amnesty International has lampooned the agency for lack of transparency and severally accused it of human rights abuses.
Uwaleke, however, said that the Federal Government out to be cautious in embracing the deal, especially as UKEF had been accused of human rights violation issues.
He said Amnesty International report of 2013, entitled ”A history of Neglect: UK Export Finance and Human Rights”, highlighted the concern.
Uwaleke noted that the report stated that UKEF’s “eagerness to help secure new overseas contracts for British companies often comes at the expense of human rights”
He said against such backdrop, the Federal Government should be mindful of these controversies, including the likely impact of the deal on Nigeria’s rising public debt.
Uwaleke said the Federal Government should be concerned since UKEF would coordinate the advance of loans to businesses and entrepreneurs for the purchase of goods made in Britain,
He advised the government to put in place mechanisms to ensure that the loans were essentially for infrastructure-related projects, especially in sectors, such as power, water and transport.
He said that the government should also firm up measures already in place to guard against dumping as this development would ease the importation of goods from the UK.
”In this new deal, the interest of Britain should go beyond export promotion to helping Nigeria, a dependable ally, create the enabling environment for a private sector-led inclusive growth.
”Indeed, the strategy of ”pre-approved currencies” by the UKEF is a clear case of ”thinking outside the box”- a major lesson for Nigeria’s sole export credit agency, the Nigerian Export-Import Bank,” Uwaleke said.
Redeployed Customs Officers Assume Office At New Posts
Redeployed Zonal coordinators and controllers affected by the recent swapping exercise in the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) have since taken over their new posts.
Assistant Comptroller General and Comptrollers affected by the change of batons have gone into action in the respective Zones and Area Commands respectively.
As at Press time, ACG Bello Jibo, the new Coordinator, Zone A, has begun to hold forth at the Harvey Road Zonal Headquarters in Yaba, Lagos.
Comptroller Dera Nnadi, Jaiyeoba, and Shuaibu have resumed their duties as Customs Area Controllers of Tincan Island Port, Apapa and Idiroko Commands respectively.
Comptroller Timi Bomodi has also begun overseeing customs activities at Seme-Krake Border Command.
In an exclusive chat with The Tide, Chairman, Seme Chapter of the Association of Nigeria Licensed Clearing Agent (ANLCA), Chief Oyekachukwu Ojinma (aka Sule) described the outgoing Controller of the Command, Comptroller Dera Nnadi, as a very hard-working and dedicated man, while welcoming the new Customs Area Controller to the border post.
The ANLCA Chairman expressed his wish for a successful tenure of office for Compt. Timi Bomodi.
By: Nkpemenyie Mcdominic, Lagos
‘Electricity Act Will Transform Power Sector’
Minister of Power, Adebayo Adelabu, has stated that the recently signed Nigerian Electricity Act, 2023, will play a fundamental role in transforming the power sector.
According to him, it will unlock the potential of the energy mix and promote the integration of renewable energy technologies into the grid system.
Speaking at the ongoing Nigeria Energy Conference and exhibition in Lagos, Adelabu said the Act aims to create an environment that supports sustainable growth and investment in the power industry by focusing on accelerated private investment and the promotion of renewable energy sources.
“As a game-changer that reformed the NESI, the Electricity Act will, undoubtedly, engender increased access to electricity and regulatory oversight, clean energy transition, improved service delivery, and infrastructural developments.
“In particular, the act will stimulate economic growth by creating a conducive environment for investment and competition. It will generate job opportunities, encourage entrepreneurship, and attract foreign direct investments”, he said.
The Minister called on operators in the power sector to intensify their efforts towards improving communication with the general public, emphasising that the Nigerian masses have a lot of roles to play in safeguarding power infrastructure.
He said issues such as vandalism, passing of meters, and damage to TCN and DisCo infrastructure must be addressed holistically to make significant gains in the power sector.
Adelabu emphasised that the power sector is a cornerstone for economic growth in the country and that the gains made over the years in the power sector can only be consolidated by unlocking equity investments and funds for power development.
He said: “Of course, a lot of investment is required in the power sector. In three weeks, I’ve seen humongous investments that have come into this sector.
“But what are the steps that are required for those investment opportunities to reap the benefit of those investments, additional investments in the form of equity and capex need to come into this industry.
“The power sector is not an industry for short-term players to invest in less than two to three years and expect to make maximum benefits.
“The industry requires medium to long-term investments. Investors must understand that the moment we can break even, we will start making profits in the power sector.
Adelabu also urged operators in the NESI value chain to improve their service delivery, adding that Nigeria’s energy expansion plan of 60,000 Megawatts by 2060 is an achievable target.
He, therefore, called on gas companies, GenCos, TCN, and DIScO to showcase their success stories in generating and transmitting power to the last mile that pays for all the segments of operators in the value chain.
‘Nigeria Loses $1.5bn Annually To Malnutrition’
Minister for Budget and Economic Planning, Abubakar Bagudu, has said Nigeria loses $1.5 billion of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) annually due to micronutrient deficiencies.
Bagudu therefore called for coordinated efforts to ensure a swift response with expected positive outcomes.
A statement released by the Ministry said the Minister disclosed this, last Tuesday, while speaking at the 53rd Annual General Meeting and Scientific Conference of the Nutrition Society of Nigeria in Abuja.
In the statement, Bagudu noted that the government was determined to tackle malnutrition through the inclusion of nutrition in the National Development Plan, and the Nigeria Agenda 2050.
“It is also a commitment to achieving optimal nutrition status for all Nigerians with particular attention to the vulnerable group as highlighted in the National Multisectoral Plan of Action for Food and Nutrition”, he said.
Bagudu, who urged experts in nutrition in the country to research and develop innovations that will boost nutrition, explained that doing this “would contribute towards achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), ensuring Universal Health Coverage, and bringing about significant positive changes in the nutrition sector in Nigeria”.
He told members of the Nutrition Society of Nigeria “to prioritise innovation and research in the field of nutrition towards the attainment of Sustainable Development Goals, Universal Health Coverage and transformation of the landscape of nutrition in Nigeria.
“Nigeria currently requires nutrition professionals who have extensive knowledge, good communication skills to address nutrition education, emotional intelligence as well and a good understanding of self-motivation and drive to address nutrition dynamics”.
The Minister urged the NSN to embrace technology, leverage digital solutions, and invest in research and development to find sustainable and scalable solutions to Nigeria’s nutrition challenges.
He assured members of the NSN that his ministry would strengthen coordination and provide the required leadership for the nutrition sector.
The Kwara State Governor, AbdulRahman AbdulRasaq, in his goodwill message, said the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF) had identified areas of key commitments for the realisation of a healthier citizen and country, including increasing budgetary spending on nutrition and strengthening the nutrition profile.
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