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Update: CBN did not reverse ban on 41 items (mix-up explained)

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Nairametrics| The Central Bank of Nigeria has issued a press release clarifying interpretations  that it had reversed the ban on 41 items. Nairametrics had on Thursday interpreted the circular as a lifting of the ban on 41 items. The 41 items, according to the CBN, remains banned from accessing foreign exchange on the official forex market.

The CBN had on Thursday, issued a new circular (which is still not visible in its website) titled REVISED DOCUMENTATION REQUIREMENT FOR ALLOCATION OF FOREIGN EXCHANGE OF FOREIGN EXCHANGE FOR SMALL – SCALE IMPORTATION. However, the apparent confusion was in the final paragraph of the circular where it mentioned that items not valid for forex, shall now qualify for forex allocation, subject to a limit of $20,000 and provided a Form Q is completed.

“Please note that importers of items classified as “Not Valid For Forex” with transaction value of $20,000 and below per quarter shall now qualify for allocation of foreign exchange subject to completion of Form Q”

The CBN in a subsequent press release on Friday, published in its website, clarified the misinterpretation of the circular issued on Thursday. It explained that it was a “misinterpretation” of the circular” to the effect that importers of items” classified as “ineligible for Forex” with transactions value of $20,000 and below per quarter shall now qualify for allocation of foreign exchange subject to the completion of Form Q.

It then went on to assert that the provision DOES NOT REFER TO THE 41 ITEMS THAT REMAIN INELIGIBLE FOR FOREX SALE in the Nigerian Forex market.

Why the confusion?

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Back in 2015 when the CBN issued its circular on the 41 banned items, it had titled the circular as follows; INCLUSION OF SOME IMPORTED ITEMS ON THE LIST OF ITEMS NOT VALID FOR FOREIGN EXCHANGE IN THE NIGERIAN FOREIGN EXCHANGE MARKET.

Without listing or mentioning the items previously not valid for forex and now qualifying for forex as contained in its circular dated May 3rd 2017, it left most analysts without a choice but to interpreted the circular as all previously banned items including the 41 banned in 2015.

By using the term “Not Valid For Foreign Exchange” the CBN inadvertently alluded to all items that may have been hitherto banned from accessing the forex market.

Observers of CBN’s circular issuance over the years also suggest the circular may have been a gaffe and that this is not the first time they have had to clarify circulars that include semantics thus leaving room to varying interpretation.

The CBN still did not provide a list of imported  items now eligible for forex subject to the limit of $20,000 as mentioned in its May 3rd circular. It appears thus that the May 3rd circular now refers to “small scale importation” that at least excludes the 41 banned items.

To refresh our readers, these are the key details of the May 3rd circular.

  • Importers of the items that were previously banned, will now be allocated $20,000 a quarter.
  • The importers will be required to provide Form Q.
  • Applicants for the foreign exchange would be required to have been account holders for at least six months.
  • Foreign account bank transfer details will be provided along with an invoice.

Below is a copy of the circular.

Download (PDF, 35KB)

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Onome Ohwovoriole has a degree in Economics and Statistics from the University of Benin and prior to joining Nairametrics in December 2016 as Lead Analyst had stints in Publishing, Automobile Services, Entertainment and Leadership Training. He covers companies in the Nigerian corporate space, especially those listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE). He also has a keen interest in new frontiers like Cryptocurrencies and Fintech. In his spare time, he loves to read books on finance, fiction as well as keep up with happenings in the world of international diplomacy. You can contact him via [email protected]

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Energy

CBN introduces N250 billion stimulus package for gas investment to ease pain of fuel price increase

The CBN has introduced a stimulus package to help stimulate investment in gas as an alternative to fuel.

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To test FX market, CBN pumps $50 million, CBN issues guidelines to Finance Institutions on establishment of Subsidiaries and SPVs, CBN injects $2.63 billion to defend naira in one month, CBN’s COVID-19 N50 billion targeted credit facility, CBN’s heterodox policies buoys credit growth

As part of the palliative following the sharp increase in the price in the pump price of petrol, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has introduced a N250 billion stimulus package under a National Gas Expansion Programme that it hopes will help stimulate investment in the gas value chain and spur its use in transportation as an alternative to fuel-powered cars.

Large scale projects under this intervention programme will be financed under the Power and Airlines Intervention Fund (PAIF), in line with existing guidelines regulating the PAIF, while small scale operators and retail distributors will be financed by the NIRSAL Microfinance Bank (NMFB) and/or any other Participating Financial Institution (PFI) under the Agribusiness/Small and Medium Enterprises Investment Scheme (AgSMEIS).

This initiative is to be implemented in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources.

The objectives of the facility include;

  • Improved access to finance for private sector investments in the domestic gas value chain.
  • Stimulate investments in the development of infrastructure to optimize the domestic gas resources for economic development.
  • Fast track the adoption of Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) as the fuel of choice for transportation and power generation, as well as Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) as the fuel of choice for domestic cooking, transportation, and captive power.
  • Fast track the development of gas-based industries particularly petrochemical (fertilizer, methanol, etc) to support large industries such as agriculture, textile, and related industries.
  • Provide leverage for additional private sector investments in the domestic gas market.
  • Boost employment across the country.

The activities that are eligible under the intervention shall include;

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  • Establishment of gas processing plants and small scale petrochemical plants.
  • Establishment of gas cylinder manufacturing plants.
  • Establishment of L-CNG regasification modular systems
  • Establishment of autogas conversion kits or components manufacturing plants.
  • Establishment of CNG primary and secondary compression stations.
  • Establishment and manufacturing of LPG retail skid tanks and refilling equipment.
  • Development/enhancement of autogas transportation systems, conversion, and distribution infrastructure.
  • Enhancement of domestic cylinder production and distribution by cylinder manufacturing plants and LPG wholesale outlets.
  • Establishment/expansion of micro-distribution outlets and service centres for LPG sales, domestic cylinder injection, and exchange and
  • Any other mid to downstream gas value chain related activity recommended by the Ministry of Petroleum Resources.

The aggregators, manufacturers, processors, wholesale distributors, and related activities shall be funded under the Power and Airline Intervention Fund (PAIF), while the Small and Medium-scale Enterprises (SMEs) and retail distributors shall be funded by NIRSAL Microfinance Bank under AgSMEIS.

For the manufacturers, processors, wholesale distributors, etc, the term loan shall be determined based on the activity and shall not exceed N10 billion per obligor. The working capital shall be a maximum of N500 million per obligor.

While for the small and medium enterprises, the term loan shall be based on the activity and shall not exceed N50 million per obligor. The working capital shall be a maximum of N5 million per obligor.

Interest Rate

The interest rate under the intervention shall be at not more than 5% per annum (all-inclusive) up to February 28, 2021, thereafter, interest on the facility shall revert to 9% per annum (all-inclusive) with effect from March 1, 2021.

Loan Tenor and Moratorium

The manufacturers, processors, wholesale distributors, will have term loans which shall have a maximum tenor of 10 years (not exceeding December 31, 2030) with a maximum of a 2-year moratorium on principal repayment only. The working capital facility of 1 year with a maximum rollover of not more than twice, subject to prior approval.

The small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and retail distributors will have term loans that shall have a maximum tenor of 5 years (not exceeding December 31, 2030) with a maximum of 2 years on principal repayment only. The working capital facility of 1 year with a maximum rollover of not more than twice and subject to prior approval.

This new initiative involves getting many vehicles to run on gas by collaborating with investors to build the required infrastructure such as pipelines and petrol stations. It is also expected to help accelerate the use of natural gas and end gas flaring.

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Business

School Resumption: Parents commend Lagos Govt, request e-learning infrastructure support for public schools

Government reopening of schools has no doubt been welcomed by concerns by some parents.

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Covid-19 School Reopening: WhatsApp messages reveal fear among Nigerian Parents

Parents of students in leading private schools in Lagos, including Meadow Hall, RMS, Wellspring College, Christ College, Children International School, Alpha Soteria, and many more, are happy with the Lagos State Government’s resolution to re-open schools on the 21st of September.

72.73% of parents surveyed expressed confidence that their children’s schools are COVID-19 compliant and ready, while 27.27% are not sure the schools are ready. The above stats show that the efforts of the government in making sure the schools are well-prepared to resume during this pandemic are paying off and parents are grateful for this; however, 54% of the parents want a new session to start from 21st of September, effectively canceling the 3rd term like other state governments have done.

About 60% of the parents surveyed said that they got value for money from online schooling for their wards, but the challenges were many. They implored the Lagos State Government to work with the schools in solving these challenges, which include:

  • Contents not rich and extensive enough.
  • Work overload without assessment.
  • Feedback mechanism from teachers and performance ratings for the children not properly done.
  • No time focused /attention per child, making lecture times ineffective.
  • Some parents also said it was stressful navigating the platforms.
  • The greatest of all issues mentioned was data, as many lectures were held via video streaming for hours daily.

In all, the parents commended the efforts of the teachers who, regardless of the challenges, tried their best to get the children engaged during the lockdown period. They did this, even without proper warning or planning for online schooling.

Over 90% of the parents surveyed had attended public schools in the past; they encouraged the state government to do more for the public schools in this new normal digital education era, so that public school children wouldn’t be disadvantaged and lag behind.

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The parents asked that public schools be equipped with e-learning facilities, internet access for teachers, an internet library for the students, training to skill up teachers in the use of Information Technology for teaching, and laptops for the schools. They also requested that the government provides low-cost funding for the required resources.

In all of this, 60% of the parents surveyed said they are willing to support the government, in a bid to digitally empower the public schools in the state.

Speaking to Sobowale Temiloluwa, CEO, Intelligent Interactive Limited, a digital analytics and technology company on the survey, he said:

“There can be no progress without measurement and feedback, whilst the government is doing their bit, they need to get feedback from all stakeholders, including parents, in order to innovate and improve. The pandemic came as a shock to all, and we were all forced to go online, without adequate preparation. Having done this for months, we need to look back, see where we performed well, and where we performed poorly and improve.”

On public schools he said:

“In the new normal, everyone needs access to the internet, and these resources must be provided, else, the public school children will lag behind. However, this Government cannot do it alone, parents that have benefited from the public schooling system in the past must also support the government to achieve the task of empowering all children with access to digital tools for education.”

“Many global technology giants in Nigeria and Globally, are supporting governments with grants and tools to aid e-learning, the government can reach out to these top companies for help and partnerships. But it must be known that digital education has come to stay, and there must be moves to scale up, so we can meet up with the demands of this new normal period,” he concluded.

Below are the results of the survey conducted:

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Lagos shuts 3 container terminals, hotel in Amuwo Odofin, seals 17 buildings in Lekki

The government has moved to seal illegal terminals and unapproved structures in the state.

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Lagos issues ultimatum to Tank Farm Operators over planning permit, Lagos seals 27 residential and commercial buildings in Lekki, LASG Seals 19 more Buildings in Banana Island over planning permit

The Lagos State Government has moved to stop activities of the illegal container terminals with the sealing up of 3 illegal locations along Festac Link Bridge, Amuwo Odofin. This also includes the one used for batching sand underneath the bridge, among others.

The state government, in its continued clampdown on illegal structure, sealed off 17 buildings at Oniru Estate, Lekki and several others along Oniru Beach. It also sealed the Festival Hotel and a 9-floor serviced apartment illegally renovated in Amuwo Odofin.

This disclosure was made by the Lagos State Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development, Dr. Idris Salako, while supervising the sealing off of the facilities, in the company of the Special Adviser to the Governor on Urban Development, Ganiyu Adele Ayuba, and Permanent Secretary of the ministry, Arc. Foluso Dipe.

Salako noted that the existence of container terminals and docks must be controlled in order to forestall abuse of the physical environment and ensure environmental sustainability.

He explained that the container terminals, some of which also operated unapproved docks, are located indiscriminately in apparent contravention of the Lagos State Urban and Regional Planning Law 2019 which stipulates that prospective developers must obtain Planning Information and Planning Permit as necessary conditions for locating such facilities.

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While ordering the removal of the container trucks along Festac-Mile 2 link-bridge, the Commissioner said that the State Government would not condone the existence of illegal terminals or similar facilities across the metropolis in view of their impacts on the infrastructure and natural resources of the State.

Salako urged anyone interested in setting up such facilities to approach the Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development for Planning Information, which would give informed advice on approvable locations, and also obtain a Planning Permit from the Lagos State Physical Planning Permit Authority (LASPPPA).

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