The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) had on Thursday said that interest rate on its health intervention facility, which was reduced to 5% over a week ago, shall revert to 9% p.a. (all-inclusive) as from 1st March 2021.
The CBN had introduced a N100 billion credit support intervention for the health sector as part of the measures to mitigate the effect of the Coronavirus pandemic on the economy.
As a follow-up, the apex bank, on Thursday issued operational guidelines for credit support to the healthcare sector for indigenous pharmaceutical companies and healthcare practitioners that hope to build or expand their capacity.
The operational guideline, which was signed by Kevin Amugo, Director, Financial Policy and Regulation, CBN, stated that interest rate under the intervention shall be at not more than 5% per annum, (all-inclusive) and is valid up until February 28, 2021.
This scheme is going to be funded from the Real Sector Support Facility – Differentiated Cash Reserves Requirement (RSSF-DCRR).
The objectives of the scheme include:
- improving access to affordable credit by indigenous pharmaceutical firms in order to expand their operations;
- reducing medical tourism in order to conserve foreign exchange; and
- providing long-term, low-cost finance for healthcare infrastructure development that would lead to the evolvement of world-class healthcare facilities in the country, reduce the cost of healthcare delivery in the country and so on.
Stakeholders, who are eligible under the scheme are:
- healthcare product manufacturers which include pharmaceutical drugs and medical equipment;
- healthcare service providers/medical facilities which include hospitals/clinics, diagnostic centres/laboratories, fitness and wellness centres, rehabilitation centres, dialysis centres, blood banks, etc.;
- pharmaceutical/medical products distribution and logistics services; and
- other human healthcare service providers as may be determined by the CBN from time to time.
Financial institutions like the Deposit Money Banks (DMBs); and Development Finance Institutions (DFIs) are ineligible.
The guidelines show that the collateral to be pledged by borrowers under the programme shall be as may be required under the RSSF-DCRR.
The apex bank said periodic joint monitoring of activities financed under the Scheme will be conducted by the PFI and the CBN.
Also, the CBN has issued the guidelines for the implementation of the N50 billion targeted credit facility for households and Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs that have been particularly hard hit by the Coronavirus.
The broad objectives of the CBN’s N50 billion Targeted Credit Facility include cushioning the adverse effects of coronavirus on households and MSMEs; supporting households and MSMEs whose economic activities have been significantly disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic; stimulating credit to MSMEs to expand their productive capacity through equipment upgrade, and research and development.
FG announces schedule for 4th evacuation flight from the USA
The evacuees will be expected to present an original COVID-19 negative test result not older than 14.
The Federal government has approved the fourth evacuation flight for Nigerians stranded in the United States of America for July 28.
According to a statement that was signed by the Consulate General of Nigeria, the Ethiopian Airline with flight number ET509 will depart Newark Liberty International Airport, New Jersey on Tuesday 28 July 2020 by 21:15hrs and arrive Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja on Wednesday 29 July 2020 by 13:25hrs.
“All prospective evacuees duly registered with any of the three Nigerian missions in the USA should purchase their one-way tickets at a cost of $1250 for economy class and $2800 for business class for adult/child fare including all taxes with the usual percentage reduction for infants under 2 years,” the statement read.
READ ALSO: FG acquires profiling robots for airport
In line with the earlier announced protocols from the Nigerian Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, the evacuees will be expected to present an original COVID-19 negative test result not older than 14 days on the day of departure at the airport.
There will also be a temperature check at the airport, and any intending evacuee with a body temperature above 38°c or any symptoms suggestive of COVID-19 will not be allowed to check-in.
Evacuees are also required to wear a face mask as a matter of necessity and be in possession of hand sanitizer for intermittent use during the flight, while also adhering to the instructions of the
Furthermore, all returnees are enjoined to adhere strictly to all instructions of Port Health Services (PHS) officials and observe other entry screening protocols on arrival.
Notice on the FOURTH Evacuation Flight from the United States of America to Nigeria. #StayHomeSaveLives #COVID19Nigeria #COVID19 #PTFCOVID19 @NigeriaGov @DigiCommsNG @USinNigeria @FMICNigeria pic.twitter.com/NFVWWDGgSx
— Geoffrey Onyeama (@GeoffreyOnyeama) July 10, 2020
Covid-19: British High Commission to resume visa application in Nigeria
Nigerians who want to visit the UK can do so as soon as international flight operations resume.
The British High Commission in Nigeria has announced plans to resume visa processing in the country. It revealed that it will soon begin receiving visa applications from Nigerians who want to travel to the United Kingdom (UK).
This was disclosed in a public statement by the British High Commission in Abuja on Thursday, July 9, 2020.
It said that Nigerians who want to visit the United Kingdom can do so as soon as the international flight operations resume in the country. The statement said:
“We know there are many Nigerian nationals hoping to be able to travel to the UK when flights resume, both for employment and to see family members.
“UKVI are working closely with TSL contact, our commercial partner, to reopen visa application centres that were suspended due to COVID-19. UK visa application centres are reopening in phased manner globally when it is safe to do so and when we can operate an effective service.
“TSL contact are putting appropriate measures in place and working hard to reopen in Nigeria. We will share details of when VACs will reopen soon,”
READ MORE: US to stop issuing visa for Birth Tourism
It can be recalled that the Federal Government had shut down the airports to both domestic and international flight operations in March as part of measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus disease.
Following the gradual resumption of domestic flight operations, Nigerians are expecting that international flight operations might be resuming soon.
Nigeria’s excess crude account falls to $72 million
Nigeria’s excess crude account has now fallen by a whopping 98% in just 5 years.
Nigeria’s Excess Crude Account (ECA) now stands at $72 million as the country continues to grapple with an unprecedented revenue crisis not seen since the early eighties. The ECA account has now fallen by about 98% within the last 5 years.
The information on the excess crude account was revealed by the Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed in a National Economic Council Meeting during the week. The ECA is a savings account retained by the Federal Government and is funded by the difference between the market price of crude oil and the budgeted price of crude oil as contained in the appropriation bill.
There were major concerns last November when it was reported that the ECA balances held just $324.5 million one of the lowest balances recorded at the time. At $72 million the ECA is in low territory highlighting the effect of the fall in crude oil prices this year. Crude oil prices have crashed to sub-zero in March and have risen back o just over $40/barrel in recent weeks. However, it still remains low from Nigeria’s previous budget benchmark.
ECA in the news
About a year ago Nairametrics reported Nigeria’s Excess Crude Account has dropped to $480 million. This is as controversy continues to trail the $1 billion military spendings which were withdrawn from Nigeria’s Excess Crude. According to the Central Bank of Nigeria’s annual report for 2018, Nigeria’s crude excess account fell from $2.45 billion in 2017 to $480 million as of December 2018.
Just 5 years ago (August 2015) the ECA stood at $2.2 billion. This was the early days of the Buhari administration. It was $3.6 billion in February 2014, one of the highest balances on record. That same month, at its monthly FAAC, the government agreed to remove fuel subsidy from its books. Fuel subsidy is currently being borne by the NNPC.
The Controversies: Last year, the federal government under President Muhammadu Buhari was accused of mismanaging the country’s Excess Crude Account especially the $1 billion reportedly spent on military equipment.
- The National Security Adviser (NSA) retired Major General Babagana Monguno Gen. Babagana was quoted to have disclosed that he was not aware of the whereabouts or disbursement of the $1billion drawn from the ECA by the Buhari presidency in 2017 for security purposes.
- While controversies trail the statement credited to the NSA, with many describing it as diversion of public funds, the Presidency provided some explanations.
- Responding to the allegations, Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, disclosed that various procurements had been made for the purchase of critical equipment for the Nigerian Army, the Nigerian Navy, and the Air Force, contrary to the allegations.
Nigeria’s ECA in retrospect: In Nigeria, there are two Sovereign Wealth Funds: the Excess Crude Account and the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA). Note that these two are funded by the savings earned when oil prices are at peak.
- Hence, as a larger chunk of revenue is appropriated for ECA and NSIA, the country’s external reserves are likely to fall.
- Note that the sovereign wealth fund was established to address the controversies surrounding the Excess Crude Account.
- The fund is usually expected to generate revenue to meet budget shortfalls in the future, provide dedicated funding for the development of infrastructure and saves for future generations.
ECA depleted by 98% in 5 years: A closer look at the various annual reports of the Central Bank of Nigeria shows that Nigeria’s excess crude account has now fallen by a whopping 98% in just 5 years.