The Federal Government has concluded plan to borrow N2 trillion from the current N10 trillion pension funds to finance the development of infrastructure. The disclosure was made at the National Economic Council (NEC) meeting presided over by the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, on Thursday in Abuja.
Briefing newsmen at the end of the NEC meeting in Abuja, Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai, stated that the decision of the Federal Government to pull N2 trillion out of the pension funds was reached by a NEC sub-committee.
Bridging Infrastructural Deficit: According to el-Rufai, the country will never be able to address its road infrastructure deficit with the current budgetary allocation for road construction and maintenance. He explained that with the N200 billion in the 2019 budget and N169 billion in 2020 budget, roads cannot be properly fixed.
“In 2019 budget, N200 billion was budgeted for construction and maintenance of federal highways. In 2020, the budget is N169 billion. If we continue this way, we will never be able to fund highway infrastructure. We need to unlock funds to construct and maintain highways.
“We will never be able to construct and maintain highways with N200 billion every year. Highway infrastructure and maintenance can only be done with long term funds.”
Speaking on the rationale to borrow from the N10 trillion pension fund, El-Rufai stated that the decision followed an interim report earlier presented to the council, and the decision to borrow N2 trillion from the pension fund was in compliance with the Pension Reform Act 2004, which empowers the government to borrow 20% of the fund to address national issues.
According to him, various countries of the world such as Chile and South Africa funded their infrastructure growth by borrowing money from workers’ pension funds. El-Rufai also stated that with Nigeria’s pension funds largely dominated by youths in their 30s, who still have several years ahead of retirement, utilising the funds for infrastructure would not generate any problem.
Other infrastructures mentioned by the El-Rufai included rail and power projects. According to him, the committee had identified three areas (rail, road and power) where the pension funds would be invested, He added that the borrowing would be done through bonds with private companies investing in road and rail infrastructure and paying within a period of 20 years.
While lamenting on the moribund state of infrastructures in the country, El-Rufai stated that in the last three years, the Federal Government had invested N1.7 trillion in the power sector, without any meaningful effect. According to him, the committee has thrown open consultations on how to fix the endemic crises plaguing the power sector, by inviting memoranda from the general public.
What it means: The latest move by the government shows revenue crisis in Nigeria continues to linger. In spite of Nigeria’s burgeoning debt profile, which currently stands at over N26.2 trillion, the figure is expected to hit a new height in 2020.
Speaking recently at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Switzerland, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed reaffirmed that Nigeria does not have a debt problem but the challenge of under-performing revenues, which makes debt service obligation a struggle for the country.
Ahmed has consistently insisted that the nation faces no debt problem.
Niger Insurance Plc gets shareholders nod to restructure business
Niger Insurance Plc has announced plans to restructure its insurance business into distinct but mutually dependent business entities.
Niger Insurance Plc has obtained shareholders’ approval to restructure its insurance business into general, life and business insurance, with each segment to be structured as a separate legal entity.
This is part of the resolutions passed at the 50th Annual General Meeting of Niger Insurance Plc., held on 20th of January, 2021 at Peninsula Hotel in Lekki, Lagos.
The decision to restructure the company is in a bid to make it more efficient and profitable to stakeholders, especially as efforts are geared towards overturning a loss of about 1,1723.2% Year-on-Year, earlier made by the company in its last reported financial statement, Q2, 2020, as reported by Nairametrics.
Other key decisions reached at the 50th AGM include;
- The re-appointment of Mr Ebi Enaholo and Mrs. Olufemi Owopetu as Directors of the company.
- Acceptance of the presented financial statement for the year ended December 31, 2019 and the report of the audit committee, directors and auditors.
- Directors were authorized to fix the remuneration of the auditors.
- Directors were authorized to appoint external auditors to replace retiring auditors of the company.
- The appointment of four individuals as members of the audit committee.
- A decision to restructure the company’s business capital was also reached.
In case you missed it: The shareholders of Niger Insurance Plc in the 49th Annual General Meeting approved the decision by the company’s board to raise additional capital to the tune of N15 billion, in a bid to meet the revised recapitalization targets for general and life insurance companies.
What you should know: The House of Representatives had in December 2020 directed NAICOM to suspend the mandatory deadline for the first phase of 50%-60% of the minimum paid-up share capital for insurance and reinsurance firms.
Nigeria’s Qua Iboe crude exports resume as ExxonMobil lifts force majeure
ExxonMobil has lifted a force majeure on Nigeria’s Qua Iboe crude oil exports as production resumes.
ExxonMobil has lifted a force majeure on Nigeria’s Qua Iboe crude oil export terminal, as crude exports resume for the first time in almost six weeks after a fire at the terminal halted operations.
This is according to a company spokesman yesterday, who confirmed the company had lifted force majeure on Qua Iboe crude loadings.
Qua Iboe production started to ramp up to normal levels of 200,000 b/d in the past week, according to sources, with the release of both the February and March loading programs.
The VLCC Dalia was also in the process of loading a 1-million-barrel stem at the Qua terminal since January 21, 2021, according to data intelligence firm Kpler. This will be the first export of Qua Iboe since December 15, 2020, after a fire hit the facility and injured two workers.
The company has been under pressure since the closure and prices have taken a hit as a result of the disruption. S&P Global Platts last assessed the grade at a discount to Dated Brent of 50 cents/b, down from a premium against the benchmark in December.
Bonny Light, a mainstay Nigerian crude which typically trades at roughly the same level as Qua Iboe, was last assessed 30 cents/b higher.
What they are saying
One trader said: “If you get a cargo of Qua now it could be 50 cents to a dollar below Bonny even – a January cargo is completely out of cycle and the reliability issues mean people won’t touch it.”
Another trader stated that: “[The return of Qua Iboe] is not what West African crude assessments (WAF) differentials needed.”
What you should know
- Qua Iboe is one of Nigeria’s largest export grades, and is very popular among global refiners, with India, the US, Canada, Italy, Spain, Indonesia, and the Netherlands being key buyers.
- Qua Iboe is light sweet crude, which has a gravity of 36 API and sulfur content of 0.13%. The crude, produced from fields 20-40 miles off the coast of southeast Nigeria, is brought to shore at the Qua Iboe terminal via a seabed pipeline system.
- Indian demand has steadied following a buying spree late last year, and European demand has been hit by renewed coronavirus lockdowns in the region.
- Prices for Nigerian crude have suffered in recent weeks, even with lower supply due to the outage.
- February and March loading programs have been issued for Qua Iboe averaging 169,643 b/d and 153,226 b/d respectively.
- Production of this key grade ranged between 180,000-220,000 b/d in 2020, according to S&P Global Platts estimates.
CBN says revised new cheque book to become fully operational from April 1, 2021
The CN has announced plans to discontinue the use of old cheque books with effect from March 31, 2021.
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has in a circular to all Deposit Money Banks (DMBs), accredited Cheque Printers/Personalisers, and the Nigeria Interbank Settlement System (NIBSS), stated that the revised cheque book will become fully operational from April 1, 2021.
The apex bank has directed all DMBs to enlighten their customers on the revised cheque book, introduced across all banks as full enforcement of its usage will commence on the stated date.
The disclosure is contained in a circular that was issued by the CBN and signed by its Director Banking Services, Mr Sam Okojere.
The CBN in the circular noted that the clarification became necessary as some stakeholders had been interpreting the circular differently from the intended purpose.
The CBN in the circular stated, ‘’Please refer to our circular dated 9th December, 2020, referenced BKS/DIR/CIR/GEN/02/042 on the above subject.
It has come to our notice that some stakeholders interpret the circular differently from the intended purpose. Consequently, it has become imperative for the CBN to issue the following clarifications;
- The parallel run, in which old and new cheques are allowed to co-exist, will end on 31st March 2021, and thus only new cheques would be allowed in the clearing system from 1st April 2021.
- Full enforcement of the second edition of the Nigeria Cheque Standard (NCS) and Nigeria Cheque Printers Accreditation Scheme (NICPAS) Version 2.0 will commence April 1, 2021 and the NCS/NICPAS 2.0. Sanction grid will be fully operational on April 1, 2021.
- All deposit money banks are (therefore) directed to actively enlighten their customers and ensure necessary provisions are put in place for a smooth migration to the New standard.
- The extension of full implementation date from Jan. 1 to April 1, 2021 is due to outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic and the impact it had on the Nigeria Cheque Standard (NCS) and Nigeria Cheque Printers Accreditation Scheme (NICPAS) Version. 2.
What you should know
- It can be recalled that in an earlier circular issued on the revised cheque book, the CBN had put the cut-off date for the parallel run of the old and new cheques at August 31, 2020.
- This was further extended to December 31, 2020, with only new cheques intended to be allowed in the clearing system from January 1, 2021, due to the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic and the impact it had on the project.
- This further adjustment of the deadline gives room for more sensitization by the deposit money banks to their customers, taking into consideration the disruptions that have happened in the economy.