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Business

FG stops telecom firms from withdrawing USSD services as minister intervenes

The FG has directed telecommunication companies to suspend the planned withdrawal of banks’ USSD services.

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The Federal Government has directed telecommunication companies to suspend the planned withdrawal of banks’ Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) services.

This is coming after Telecom operators decided to suspend USSD services over a N42 billion debt owed by banks with effect from Monday, March 15, 2021.

This directive is contained in a press statement titled, ‘Impending Suspension of USSD Banking Services Put on Hold’, which was signed by the Technical Assistant on Information Technology to the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Femi Adeluyi, on Saturday, March 13, 2021.

The statement says that the Minister is intervening to ensure an amicable resolution of the dispute, adding that he has called for a meeting of all stakeholders.

READ: NIPOST reclaim stamp duty collection from FIRS after years of dispute

The statement partly reads, ‘’The Honourable Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, has directed that the impending suspension of the USSD services by the Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) be put on hold.

‘’The suspension which was to take effect on Monday, 15th of March, was due to the lingering debt owed MNOs by commercial banks for the provision of USSD banking services.’

“In a bid to ensure amicable resolution of the impasse, Dr Pantami has called for a meeting of all stakeholders, including Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, the Executive Vice Chairman of the NCC (Nigerian Communications Commission), the MNOs (Mobile Network Operators), and the financial institutions.

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“The meeting is scheduled to hold on Monday, 15th of March, 2021. The outcome of the meeting will determine the next step regarding the status of the USSD financial services.

READ: Ecobank seeks court permission to sell Obat Oil’s property over N5 billion debt 

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What you should know

  • Nairametrics had earlier reported that the Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria said telecommunication firms will withdraw the USSD services to Financial institutions with effect from March 15 due to N42bn debt.
  • ALTON had explained that the service withdrawal becomes necessary due to the lack of agreement on a payment structure with the banks that did not involve the end-user being asked to pay.
  • The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Issa Pantami, had issued a letter to the Central Bank of Nigeria, seeking a resolution of the on-going dispute between the banking sector and the telecoms sector over appropriate methodology to use to charge for USSD services.

 

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Chike Olisah is a graduate of accountancy with over 15 years working experience in the financial service sector. He has worked in research and marketing departments of three top commercial banks. Chike is a senior member of the Nairametrics Editorial Team. You may contact him via his email- [email protected]

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Business

Sanwo-Olu flags off Red line rail project as Lagos compensates property owners

The 37-km Rail Mass Transit Red Line will traverse from Agbado to Marina, moving over 1 million commuters daily.

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FG inks $3.9 billion deal with Chinese firm for construction projects

The Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has flagged off the construction of the 37-km Rail Mass Transit Red Line, which will traverse from Agbado to Marina, moving over 1 million commuters daily.

This is as the state started the compensation of identified project-affected persons of the Lagos Rail Mass Transit Red Line project with the Governor handing over cheques to displaced property owners who were affected by the right-of-way.

The groundbreaking ceremony which took place at the Ikeja Train Station on Thursday was witnessed by the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, who was represented by the Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr Bashir Jamoh, and the Deputy Governor of Lagos State, Dr Obafemi Hamzat.

What the Lagos State Governor is saying

Sanwo-Olu said the Red Line project which is to be fully operational in the last quarter of 2022 with 8 train stations from Agbado to Oyingbo, is another initiative of his administration to deliver enduring infrastructure for the transport system and make Lagos a competitive megacity.

The Governor said: “Today’s flag-off of the construction of infrastructure for the standard gauge Red Line is another promise kept and it demonstrates, in practical terms, our commitment to achieve the objectives of traffic management and transportation pillar in our development agenda. This is because we recognise the role which an efficient transportation system plays in enhancing people’s quality of life and as a major driver of socio-economic development.

The State’s Strategic Transport Master Plan, which encompasses a number of projects that are germane to achieving our vision for a Greater Lagos, is founded on imperatives that seek to increase transport choices for all users and make the transit system integrated, attractive, convenient, affordable and accessible.

Since efficient transportation is the backbone of any economy, we are happy to be committing this investment in our transport infrastructure, so that our people can meet their daily targets and aspirations. This all-important transport project we are all gathered to witness today represents a major step in this direction.

Sanwo-Olu said that in order to facilitate smooth operations of the Red Line, the State Government would be constructing ancillary infrastructure, including 6 overpasses at strategic level crossing points along the rail corridor to eliminate interactions between the rail system, vehicular and pedestrian traffic.

The overpasses will provide grade-separated crossings that will enhance safety for the rail system and road users.

He said: “The unique characteristics of the Red Line is its integration with the Ikeja Bus Terminal, Oshodi–Abule Egba Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) lane, the future Orange Line, which goes from Ikeja to Agbowa, and the General Aviation Terminal One of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport through a skywalk.

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Another unique feature of the Red Line is that all the stations have elevated concourses with either at grade island or side platforms for easy boarding and alighting of passengers. The Red Line also integrates with our Bus Terminals at Oyingbo, Yaba, Oshodi, Ikeja and Iju, giving modal options to our people in their daily commute, either for business or leisure.”

The Governor presented cheques of different amounts as compensation to 25 residents whose properties, businesses and accommodation will be affected by the project. Over 263 properties are affected with many of the property owners and tenants smiling as they got their cheques.

What you should know

  • The Red Line is part of the state government’s vision of an integrated multimodal transportation system contained in the State’s Strategic Transport Master Plan (STMP), developed by LAMATA, which aims ultimately to birth a world-class transportation network that will support the state’s profile, as the economic capital of Nigeria and Africa.
  • It is to raise mass transportation capacity in the State, complementing the Blue Line that traverses from Okokomaiko to Marina.
  • The rail corridor will be constructed in three phases. The first phase (Agbado-Iddo), which will be completed in 24 months, will be sharing the track with the Federal Government’s Lagos-Ibadan Railway Modernisation Project up to Ebute – Metta and will have its dedicated track from Ebute – Metta to Oyingbo and reduce travel time from about two and a half hours to just 35 minutes.

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Business

CBN includes sugar, wheat on FX restriction list

The CBN is set to include sugar and wheat in the forex restriction list.

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CBN forex restrictions on food itemsCBN approves new cheque standard for banks

The Central Bank of Nigeria has announced plans to place sugar and wheat on its FX restriction list.

The plan was disclosed by the apex bank via its verified Twitter handle in a statement credited to the CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele.

The tweet stated: “Sugar and Wheat to go into our FX restriction list. We must work together to produce these items in Nigeria rather than import them. #Emefiele.”

It would be recalled that over the years, the CBN has been reviewing its list of restricted food items to include more items, with the most recent being the addition of maize, a widely-consumed staple food in the country.

What you should know

  • The CBN governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele, had earlier (on Thursday) given this hint while on an inspection visit to the proposed $500 million sugar processing facility in Nasarawa state, belonging to Dangote Sugar.
  • In 2015, the CBN listed 41 items that had been placed on its FX restriction list citing that the move was necessary to conserve the nation’s foreign reserve and boost local production of the items on the restriction list.
  • Some of the items which made the 2015 list are margarine, poultry and eggs, rice, and cement.
  • In 2020, the apex bank included maize in its FX restriction list as it directed all authorised dealers to immediately discontinue the processing of Forms M for maize/corn importation into the country.
  • Nairametrics had also earlier explained in its publication following the new policy shift, that the government’s premise for deciding to restrict FOREX on food is faulty, especially since Nigeria has not attained full food security and the agricultural sector is still struggling.

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