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Coronavirus

Instruct EFCC, ICPC to monitor spending on Coronavirus, group tells Buhari

SERAP has asked President Muhammadu Buhari to instruct the EFCC and ICPC to jointly track and monitor spending by federal agencies and state governors to combat Coronavirus pandemic in Nigeria.

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Instruct EFCC, ICPC to monitor spending on Coronavirus, group tells Buhari

Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has sent an open letter to President Muhammadu Buhari, asking him to instruct the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) to jointly track and monitor spending by federal agencies and state governors to combat Coronavirus pandemic in Nigeria.

According to SERAP, this move would reduce the incidence of corruption and mismanagement in the Coronavirus outbreak.

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COVID-19: President Buhari sets up committee to look at impact on 2020 budget

President Muhammadu Buhari

The letter was signed by SERAP Deputy Director Kolawole Oluwadare and made available to Channels TV.

It read in part, “Coronavirus crisis requires quick responses but it also requires corruption safeguards to ensure public funds are well spent, and promote access to basic public health and other services to those most in need. 

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“By prioritising transparency and accountability in the spending of funds to combat coronavirus, your government will be taking preventive measures to ensure that the efforts to reduce the spread of the pandemic and promote the health and safety of Nigerians are not compromised by corruption.” 

[READ MORE: JUST-IN: Atiku Abubakar’s son tests positive to coronavirus)

SERAP also drew attention to the Nigerian health systems, which they described as ‘challenged’ and urged the government to quickly improve the sector so that the country could have a better-equipped response to such outbreaks.

The group observed the need to increase spending on efforts to combat the spread of the virus by setting up a COVID-19 Trust Fund to which wealthy individuals and corporate bodies could contribute, even while ensuring that all avenues of corruption are eliminated from the system.

“The EFCC and ICPC should ensure that anyone found to have mismanaged or stolen public funds meant for addressing the coronavirus pandemic are effectively prosecuted and punished,” it emphasized.

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The group alluded to the Ebola crisis in Sierra Leone and Liberia where patients reportedly paid bribes to access health services and urged the government to ensure that all Nigerians enjoy their right to health services, especially at these perilous times of the COVID-19 outbreak.

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Why the need to monitor? Amidst mixed reactions, the National Assembly had on March 5, 2020, approved the release of N620 million to the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), an amount budgeted for the emergency response to novel coronavirus.

[READ ALSO: Nigeria confirms another three coronavirus cases)

A couple of weeks earlier, the Federal Government released N386 million in two batches, to two health agencies to strengthen Coronavirus (COVID19) preparedness in Nigeria and prevent an outbreak of the virus in the country.

Barely 7 days after the release of the first tranche, the first case of Coronavirus in Nigeria was confirmed in Lagos state.

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Since then, several others have been detected and the total cases in Nigeria currently stand at 30.

Ruth Okwumbu has a MSc. and BSc. in Mass Communication from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, and Delta state university respectively. Prior to her role as analyst at Nairametrics, she had a progressive six year writing career. As a Business Analyst with Narametrics, she focuses on profiles of top business executives, founders, startups and the drama surrounding their successes and challenges. You may contact her via ruth.okwumbu@nairametrics.ng

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Global oil market to re-balance in 2 months’ time

In the meantime, OPEC+ wants to keep the existing production output cuts beyond the June expiry date as part of efforts to rebalance the market. Countries like Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Iraq, have all reaffirmed their commitment to this effect.

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Crude oil prices, bonny light

With the uncertainty that still prevails in the global oil market due to the prevailing coronavirus pandemic, analysts have been coming up with different forecasts on the future of the market. The latest forecast is that the market will most likely recover by July 2020.

Crude oil prices and oil demand plunged over the past few months as a result of the pandemic. However, with the lifting of global lockdowns and gradual reopening of global economies, oil prices are expected to rebound. Russia’s energy minister, Alexander Novak, said the global oil supply and the oil demand will most likely rebalance by July.

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In the meantime, OPEC+ wants to keep the existing production output cuts beyond the June expiry date as part of efforts to rebalance the market. Countries like Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Iraq, have all reaffirmed their commitment to this effect.

In his analysis earlier today, OPEC’s Secretary-General, Mohammed Barkindo, urged OPEC+ members not to flout the output cut. According to him, OPEC+ members must remain committed to production cuts despite signs that oil demand is beginning to recover.

(READ MORE: Oil price gains likely to halt over demand uncertainty, as US-China tension intensifies)

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Global oil market to rebalance in 2 months’ time

On its part, Russia had agreed to cut down its oil production to 8.5 million barrels of crude per day in May and June, down from 10.5 million barrels.  There is a possibility that the country could extend the current level of output cut beyond June, a situation that is expected to serve as a major boost in the rebalancing of the oil market.

Last week, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said that it had seen signs that the oil market would rebalance quicker than originally expected after the United States and OPEC implemented the agreed output cut. The development came as a big relief to Nigeria because the rebound of oil prices and the rebalancing forecast will help reduce the country’s fiscal pressure and boost its revenue.

Note that the Brent crude and Bonny light crude sold for about $36 per barrel and over $33 per barrel respectively. These are above the revised budget oil benchmark of $25 per barrel for the 2020 budget.

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Covid-19: Timeline of every pronouncement made by Nigeria to support the economy.

Timeline of every action announced since the outbreak hit Nigeria.

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IMF, COVID-19, CBN OMO ban could give stocks a much-needed boost , CBN’s N132.56 billion T-bills auction records oversubscription by 327% , Nigeria pays $1.09 billion to service external debt in 9 months , Implications of the new CBN stance on treasury bill sale to individuals, Digital technology and blockchain altering conventional banking models - Emefiele  , Increasing food prices might erase chances of CBN cutting interest rate   , Customer complaint against excess/unauthorized charges hits 1, 612 - CBN , CBN moves to reduce cassava derivatives import worth $600 million  , Invest in infrastructural development - CBN Governor admonishes investors , Credit to government declines, as Credit to private sector hits N25.8 trillion, CBN sets N10 billion minimum capital for Mortgage firms, CBN sets N10 billion minimum capital for Mortgage firms , Why you should be worried about the latest drop in external reserves, CBN, Alert: CBN issues N847.4 billion treasury bills for Q1 2020 , PMI: Nigeria’s manufacturing sector gains momentum in November, CBN warns high foreign credits could collapse Nigeria’s economy, predicts high poverty, MPC Member, BVN, Fitch, Foreign excchange (Forex), Overnight rates crash after CBN’s N1.4 trillion deduction

The number of people living with the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) and deaths from it have been on the increase daily.

The Federal Government and its relevant agencies, especially the Central Bank of Nigeria, have responded with policies to cushion the economy, restore investors’ confidence, and support Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and households.

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A look at some of the initiatives:

 

MAY 21, 2020

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CBN introduced N100 billion credit intervention scheme to mitigate the impacts of COVID-19 on businesses, particularly those in the health sector. The scheme, which was planned to be funded from the Real Sector Support Facility – Differentiated Cash Reserves Requirement, is to have an interest rate of 5% per annum until March 1, 2021, when it will revert back to 9%.

The apex bank insisted that the money would be given to people that would import or source for foreign exchange for materials that can be source locally

CBN also postponed the much-awaited  May 2020 Monetary Policy Commission (MPC) meeting. The meeting that was earlier scheduled for Monday and Tuesday, May 25 and 26, 2020,  was shifted to Thursday, May 28, 2020. This is as a result of the
declaration of Monday and Tuesday, May 25 and 26, 2020, as Eid-el Fitr holidays.

The apex bank assured that it has put in place all necessary machinery for the meeting to now hold for only one day on account of the on-going COVID-19 national lockdown and to align this meeting with extant rules of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 and advisories from other relevant agencies.

 

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MAY 19, 2020

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The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) tasked industrial conglomerates operating in the country to support efforts of the government to grow the nation’s economy and return it to its green days. CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, warned that the apex bank would not support the importation of items that could be produced in Nigeria.

In a virtual meeting with Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) of conglomerates in Nigeria, Emefiele explained that the CBN, in line with President Muhammadu Buhari’s desire, was determined to return the Nigerian economy to the period when the manufacturing and agricultural sectors formed the base of the economy.

 


MAY 18, 2020

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) tasked industrial conglomerates operating in the country to support efforts of the government to grow the nation’s economy and return it to its green days. CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, warned that the apex bank would not support the importation of items that could be produced in Nigeria.

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In a virtual meeting with Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) of conglomerates in Nigeria, Emefiele explained that the CBN, in line with President Muhammadu Buhari’s desire, was determined to return the Nigerian economy to the period when the manufacturing and agricultural sectors formed the base of the economy.

 

 


MAY 18, 2020

The Federal Government of Nigeria extended the gradual easing of the COVID-19 lockdown across the country by two weeks.

Chairman of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, Boss Mustapha, stated that in spite of the modest progress made, the country is still not yet ready for full reopening of the economy and said that tough decisions have to be taken for the good of the greater majority.

Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) also signed an agreement with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to spend as much as N1 billion as quarantine costs for about 3,000 Nigerian returnees.

The decision by the duo regulator was disclosed by Nigeria’s Foreign Affairs’ Minister, Geoffrey Onyeama. According to Onyema, this is a CSR gesture by the CBN and the NNPC. The N1 billion is expected to cover the costs of hotel accommodation and the feeding of the returnees

 

 


MAY 16, 2020

Federal Government announced that new Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) will access National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC) registration of their products at an 80% discount, over the next 6 months.

This concession covers MSMEs that are into production of foods, drugs, and related consumables. As an added incentive, the first 200 micro and small businesses to register on the e-platforms will be allowed to do it at no cost – zero tariffs.

In view of current economic challenges faced by businesses due to the pandemic, the government has also authorised NAFDAC to grant a waiver on administrative charges for overdue/late renewal of expired licenses of products for a period 90 days.

 

 


MAY 12, 2020

CBN disclosed that it was developing a framework to provide financial support to aid the fight against Coronavirus Disease in the country. According to Emefiele, the fund would be released as soon as the vaccine was validated by health authorities.

 


MAY 10, 2020

CBN assured foreign investors that repatriating their funds from the country was secured despite forex related revenue shortages due to the drop from the sale of crude oil globally.

The apex bank had put in place policies to ensure an orderly exit for those that might be interested in doing so and also urged investors to be patient as such repatriations were being processed, owing to the Bank’s policy of orderly exit of investments.

 

 


MAY 3, 2020

CBN and the Bankers’ Committee ordered all banks in the country not to retrench or lay-off any staff of any cadre (either full-time or part-time). The apex bank also said that its approval must be sought if it became absolutely necessary to lay-off any such staff.

 


MAY 2, 2020

The Nigeria Incentive-based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL) Microfinance bank, on behalf of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), started the disbursement of the N50 billion Targeted Credit Facility (TCF) to beneficiaries.

The facility is a stimulus package which was introduced by CBN, to help mitigate the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on households and MSMEs.

 


APRIL 30, 2020

CBN extended the deadlines issued to Microfinance banks (MFB) to comply with its revised minimum capital requirements.

 

 


APRIL 29, 2020

CBN resumed the sales of dollars to SMEs who need foreign exchange for essential imports, as well as Nigerian students in foreign schools who need to pay their school fees.

This comes as the world-wide COVID-19 lockdown begins to ease up, even as business activities are expected to gradually return to normal. In view of the gradual easing of the COVID-19 lockdown both globally and in Nigeria.

 

 


 

APRIL 28. 2020

The apex bank lifted the temporary suspension placed on cheque clearing in the country with effect from Tuesday, April 28, 2020.
In the circular, it explained that it lifted the suspension in furtherance of its efforts in the development of a safe and efficient payment system in the country.

IMF loan
The executive board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), approved $3.4 billion as Rapid Financing Instrument (RFI) as fiscal support to Nigeria during this period of coronavirus pandemic.

The fund that was requested by Nigeria is to be used to mitigate the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on Nigeria’s economy as the country grapples with dwindling government revenue and an economic crisis following the crash of crude oil prices globally.

 


APRIL 14, 2020

In preparation for post-COVID-19, CBN announced four major areas of focus. They are:

Provision of affordable housing: Here the CBN will create an intervention fund which will target housing construction by developers who provide proof of profiled off-takers with the capacity to repay the loan.

The BVN will be used to verify the information given by the off-takers before the developers can access the facility. The CBN will also assist the mortgage finance sub-sector, assist land administration agencies at the states to build capacity for prompt processing and issuance of land titles.

Renewable energy: The CBN, over the next three years, will be providing financial support to environmentally friendly energy production, as this has tangential long term health benefits.

Cutting edge research: Also, the bank will be providing funding and encouraging efforts aimed at driving innovation and research in every sector through our universities, research institutions, creative industry initiatives and so on.

Light manufacturing: The apex bank plans to set up a N500 billion intervention fund over a medium, and targeted at manufacturing firms for the procurement of state of the art machinery and equipment and automated manufacturing models that would fast track local production. It will also help increase the patronage of locally processed products.

CBN intends to close the funding gap needed for the replacement of machinery and equipment in order to enhance local production.

 

 


MARCH 30, 2020

* The Federal Government also gave a directive that all economic and social activities in Ogun, Lagos States and Federal Capital Territory should be suspended for two weeks. The lockdown affected the movement of people across the states, except for people in the essential services sectors.

• CBN suspended the clearing of all cheque instruments in the Nigerian Clearing System. According to the bank, the directive was intended to “ensure hitch-free clearing and settlement activities” during the previous 14-day lockdown.

CBN’s suspension was based on the earlier envisaged two-weeks lockdown which was later extended to about 5 weeks.

 

 


MARCH 27, 2020

CBN and the Banker’s Committee formed the Nigerian Private Sector Coalition Against COVID-19. The apex bank explained that the coalition was in partnership with the private sector, led by Aliko Dangote Foundation and Access Bank.

 


MARCH 25, 2020

Following the request of the Association of Bureau de Change Operators of Nigeria (ABCON) to declare market holiday on its members’ weekly bidding, the CBN suspended the sales of foreign exchange to operators of Bureau de Change.

 


MARCH 24, 2020

The Monetary policy committee unanimously voted to:
• Retain the MPR (Monetary policy Rate) at 14%.
• Retain the asymmetric corridor at +200/-500 basis points.
• Retain the CRR (Cash Reserve ratio) at 27.5% and retain liquidity ratio at 30%.

 


MARCH 20, 2020

• The CBN officially devalued the naira by 15% moving from N307/$1 to N360/$1. Depreciation at the “market-determined” I&E window is 5%, having moved from N360/$1 to N380/$1.

• CBN sold dollars to banks at N380/$1 in a move signifying a devaluation of the currency. Banks trading at the Investor and Exporter (I&E) window bought dollars at N360/$1 from the CBN on Friday, March 20, 2020. The I&E window is the official market where forex is traded between banks, the CBN, foreign investors, and businesses

 

 

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Dollar drops against major world currencies

The U.S dollar index that tracks the American dollar against a basket of other major currencies was down 0.67% to 99.22 by 12 noon Nigerian time on Tuesday.

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American Dollar remains king as stimulus fails to stop global financial market panic,Demand for “Inflow dollars” drive exchange rate to as high as $N420/$1 compared to “Cash dollars”, U.S dollar drops against major currencies, tension rises between America and China, U.S dollar gains against major currencies, America threatens China with sanctions., U.S dollar down against major currencies, more countries start lifting of COVID-19 induced lockdowns

The American dollar dropped on Tuesday afternoon, owing to the strengthened global investors’ risk appetites as more countries cautiously ease lockdowns caused by the deadly COVID-19 virus.

The U.S. Dollar Index that tracks the American dollar against a basket of other major currencies (like the Japanese yen, British pound sterling, Swedish Krona, Euro), was down 0.64% to 99.252 by 12-noon Nigerian time on Tuesday, after global investors retreated from the safe-haven asset.

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What it means: Nigerians hoping to meet foreign exchange payment obligations, via dollar transactions to countries like Europe, and Japan, would need to pay more dollars to fulfil such transactions.

(READ MORE: Why Forex trading is becoming popular in Nigeria )

But the U.S dollar upside was capped as global investors continued to track the U.S.-China relationship. Tensions between the two most powerful world economies flared up last week after China enacted national security laws for Hong Kong. 

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“Markets are caught between two conflicting currents,” Michael McCarthy, CMC Markets’ chief strategist, told Reuters.

“Rising tensions between China and the U.S. are raising concerns while easing COVID-19 lockdown measures are fueling growing optimism.” Michael McCarthy added.

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