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How well has President Buhari delivered on his empowerment promises?

This is arguably the first time that the Federal Government is involving the very bottom of Nigeria’s economic pyramid.

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Social intervention programme, SIP, Tradermoni, Farmer Moni, Market Moni

Based on his promises to change Nigeria for the better, and empower citizens, President Muhammadu Buhari rode into power. With total faith in his competence to achieve the promises, the Nigerian populace at large voted him in, believing that Buhari would be the Moses of the present generation, who had been anointed to take Nigerians to the promised land.

To his credit, since the President Buhari-led administration took over the country’s governance, some empowerment programmes have been introduced. The Federal Government has often expressed its commitment to provide funding for businesses, a move which is unarguably to drive the nation’s economy.

Under the Federal Government’s introduced Social Investment Programmes (SIP) is the Government Enterprises Entrepreneurship Programme (GEEP), which was established as an intervention programme to tackle lack of funding to the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs).

The Federal Government, under GEEP, has ‘Tradermoni’, ‘Farmer Moni’ and ‘Market Moni’.

While Tradermoni is an interest-free loan scheme created especially for petty traders and artisans, Market Moni was established to provide financial aid for the underbanked and unbanked at no interest rate, besides a five per cent administrative fee.

Farmer Moni, like the other programmes, is ongoing in the country’s 36 states. This initiative is targeted mainly at disbursing loans to farmers.

Are the programmes effective?

There have been claims by the Federal Government, applauding itself for the intervention programmes, which it believed had tackled unemployment and lack of funding to Nigeria’s businesses.

Contrary to the Federal Government’s claims, the intervention programmes introduced so far have done little to tackle the main purpose of their establishment. Unemployment under the incumbent administration has been on the rise, more so, lack of funding to MSMEs.

When our correspondent visited some markets in Lagos, he gathered that the Federal Government’s intervention scheme, as against what was publicised in the media space, didn’t circulate. Petty traders, artisans and market women, lamented bitterly how they struggled to register but none of them got the funding.

A trader who simply identified herself as Iya Basira, said that in the entire market of Ile-Epo, she was yet to see any of her colleagues who had benefitted from the scheme. This claim was corroborated by other traders in the market. They only had tales of disappointment to tell.

It is almost similar at Oshodi market. Out of the many traders our correspondent spoke to, only one claimed to have got a N10,000 funding. The trader even lamented that she got the money at a time she had forgotten she even applied for the scheme. She said the money had remained in her account ever since she got it.

Also, at Obalende market, traders shared their frustrations, though about ten traders out of those spoken to by our correspondents claimed to have got the money.

In view of the highlighted experiences with those whom the intervention schemes are targeted at, it won’t be erroneous to say that the programmes failed woefully to address the pressing needs of small business owners and Nigerians at large.

Any repayment plans? 

While the government is more concerned about adequate funding to drive Nigeria’s businesses, it is pertinent to note that the funds are not giveaways. Rather, they are intervention loans expected to be paid back by beneficiaries in anticipation of being given more loans.

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However, all the traders spoken to by our correspondents, claimed that they were yet to be briefed on how to return the funds. Some even claimed that it is “Abacha’s looted money” which the Federal Government is sharing to Nigerians.

If you are curious to know whether those who got the N10,000 loans, stand chances of getting access to further loans upon reimbursement, you may have gotten the answer you need, as so far, the beneficiaries claim that they haven’t been briefed on how to make the refunds.

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Experts’ verdict

One of the experts, who preferred to be anonymous, said that it is too early to tell if the program has had the desired impact. According to him, there are issues with the way the program was designed and rolled out.

“I think they should have done a smaller pilot before rolling out nationwide. While the intentions are good (access to finance for SMEs), only time will tell if it has been relatively successful or a complete failure.”

Feyi Fawehinmi, an economist, stated his misgivings about intervention schemes.

“They are giving traders loans to expand in an economy that is not expanding and has weak demand. The greater likelihood is that they’ll simply pocket the money.”

As far as Ojebola Matthew, Managing Director of Cibo Prima Farms, is concerned, there is nothing like empowerment by the incumbent administration. Ojebola said that as an Agric investor, he has strived to be a beneficiary of the intervention programme, and all his efforts have proved abortive.

“They will claim they are empowering farmers, train people for poultry farming and after all the trainings, you give them 1 or 2 feeders each. Is that empowerment?”

CEO of Owambe Group, Emmanuel Ola Abraham, is confident that Buhari’s intervention scheme isn’t positioned to drive the nation’s economy. Abraham, who is a beneficiary of YouWin, a youth development programme, established by the Former President Goodluck Jonathan to empower Nigerian Youths, said the incumbent administration has failed to empower the Nigerian populace.

Abraham mused that unlike how the YouWin fund helped him get his feet on the ground, many beneficiaries of Buhari’s intervention programmes cannot afford to pay tax and expand their businesses in a way that requires the employment of staff.

He maintained that since he got the fund, his contribution to the country’s GDP, just like his other colleagues, can’t be swept under the carpet.

The laudable aspect of Buhari’s intervention programmes

While it is pertinent to acknowledge that this is not the first administration to prioritise the empowerment of citizens, this is arguably the first time that the Federal Government is involving the very bottom of Nigeria’s economic pyramid for direct financial stimulus which is aimed at creating wealth within the informal sector of the economy. Previous regimes had targeted mostly big economic players, i.e. corporate Nigeria and the middle class.

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Famuyiwa Damilare is a trained journalist. He holds a Higher National Diploma (HND) in Mass Communication at the prestigious Nigerian Institute of Journalism (NIJ).Damilare is an innovative and transformational leader with broad-based expertise in journalism and media practice at large. He has explored his proven ability in the areas of reporting, curating and generating contents, creatively establishing social media engagements, and mobile editing of videos. It is safe to say he’s a multimedia journalist.

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CBN “Naira 4 Dollar Scheme” Explained

What the CBN’s Naira 4 Dollar scheme means for your money.

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CBN

In what appears to be an attempt to incentivize dollar remittances by all means possible, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) released a circular to Deposit Money Banks (DMBs), International Money Transfer Operators (IMTO), and the General Public, advising that remittances paid into a bank account will attract an additional credit alert for every USD$1 received!

Yes, you read that correctly. The CBN will facilitate a special additional credit alert of N5 for every USD$1 received. In other words,

  • if someone sends you $10,000, you get an additional special credit alert for N50,000.
  • If someone sends you $100,000, you get an additional special credit alert for N500,000.

Who is eligible?

To be eligible, the diaspora remittances need to be processed and received from one of the registered IMTOs and funds received into a Bank account operated by the DMBs. (So, if you are receiving funds via Crypto sorry you are not eligible).

Additionally, the circular says this “incentive runs from Monday 8th March 2021 to Saturday 8th May 2021″. So, if you have plans to receive dollars, you can plan accordingly.

The circular is not clear how exactly the commercial banks will know which account to pay the extra special credits into. Although, that may be a question diaspora funds recipients will need to ask their DMB accounts officers to clarify for them.

How will this be funded?

The circular notes that the “CBN shall through commercial banks, pay to recipients the N5 incentive for every USD$1”. In other words, it is the CBN funding the cost of this special extra credit.

  • One would argue that given the costs of alternative incentives to attract dollars such as the special OMO window for FPI, this may be a cheaper alternative for the CBN.
  • But we will need to see the volume of expected remittance to be certain of that. Nigeria attracts about $5billion per quarter in remittances and only trails oil in terms of foreign earnings.

Why this matter to Nigerians?

Following the collapse of US Dollar inflows into the country, the CBN initially tried to balance its current account deficits and avoid an official devaluation by tackling FOREX demand (Think ban of 41 items, etc).

Finally, this short-term Naira-4-Dollar scheme will not be called an official Naira Devaluation. But a question is what do we call the new short-term price of N412.50 + N5.00? Maybe we can call it Naira Modulation.

 

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Nigerian Breweries leveraging, but stacking cash through rising input costs

The marathon continues for Nigerian Breweries with its 2020 financials.

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Humanity might need more booze to survive the increasingly daunting intricacies of life, but Nigerian Breweries 2020 financial statement is proof that even the best can get caught up in the reality of changing business lifecycles.

Nigerian Breweries Plc had floored the market providing both alcoholic and non-alcoholic premium quality beverages across the nation. But with brands like Star lager beer launched as far back as 1949, Gulder lager beer launched in 1970, and even the family-friendly Maltina introduced as far back as 1976, it is only natural that both the old and new generation competition gives them a run for their market share.

Much like other old money companies, Nigerian Breweries has done its bit to remain relevant in the industry from creating new variants of existing favoured brands to paying dividends consistently annually for the past few years. Yet within the same period, the company’s financial statements have been a testament to its streamlined market share and reducing profits. The marathon continues with its 2020 financials. The industry giant may as well be setting itself up for a debt quagmire peradventure its projections do not match the true reality of events.

READ: How COVID-19 has changed Nigeria’s consumer goods & industrial markets –KPMG

2020 financials: A tale of higher costs & larger debts

2020’s unfavourable financial/ business environment led to the increase in the prices of raw materials and disruptions in logistics for many Nigerian-domiciled businesses including Nigerian Breweries. Raw materials and consumables witnessed a 17% increase despite the marginal growth in revenue.

While the group’s 2020 results revealed a 4.35% increase in revenue from N323 billion in the prior year to around N337 billion, these gains were curtailed by a higher-than-par increase in cost of sales which had risen by 13.9%, from the N191.8 billion expended in 2019 to N218.4 billion as its 2020 financials reveal and interest rates going way up.

READ: Flour Mills and its diverse challenges

The company’s lower operating expenses were not enough to salvage the disruption caused by the raging interest expense following increased charges paid on bank loans and overdraft facilities as well as the significant increase in overall debt. Between 2019 and 2020 alone, long term loans and borrowings increased by 974% from N4.8 billion to as much as N51.8 billion. Even trade and other long term payables increased by 35%.

In its financials, the company noted that it has revolving credit facilities with five Nigerian banks to finance its working capital. The approved limit of the loan with each of the banks range from ₦6 billion to ₦15 billion (total of ₦66 billion) and each of the agreements had been signed in 2016 with a tenor of five years. The Company had also obtained Capital and Working capital finance from the BoI in 2019.

READ: Manufacturing sector in Nigeria and the reality of a “new normal”

It is no news that the company is involved in diversified lease arrangements. Following reclassifications made in 2019 to some of its lease assets, the 2020 asset base also witnessed significant increase in Right of Use Assets which increased by 288%% from N11.1 billion to N42.9 billion. Yet, the fact that in one year, interest expense on Lease Liabilities rose from N19.7 million in 2019 and to a whopping N4.171 billion shows that the company is taking way more debt than its books require.

But what’s it using all the cash for?

Beyond rising material costs, borrowing costs have been huge and the annual interest payment by virtue of these loans make the possibility of higher profits for the company a mirage. That said, the overall increase in total liabilities might not have been such a bad idea if the funds were being used to increase revenue and profits. But having a huge chunk of all that money in cash creates a different kind of challenge. Cash and bank values in its statement of financial position significantly increased by 377% from N6.4 billion in 2019 to N30.4 billion in 2020.

Is the cash being held to mitigate possible challenges of the volatile economy or are they being used to pay dividends? Even at a share price of N52 per share, the company’s price-to-book value sits at 2.5816, testament of its dire overvaluation. Consequently, there is an ardent need for the company to come up with newer ways to attract the wider market and keep its book in the green with a little less external funding.

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