By Comfort Barida
The National Assembly
- Nigeria would be increasing its external debt by 150 per cent in the next two years if the National Assembly approves President Muhammadu Buhari’s plan to borrow $29.960 billion (about N9.12 trillion). The president’s request to the National Assembly explained that the N9.12 trillion would help the country tackle its socio-economic challenges. In a correspondence read by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara at the plenary session, Buhari explained that the borrowing would span 2016 to 2018 and will be used to implement projects across all sectors of the economy. Currently, the country’s external debt profile stands at $11.3 billion (N3.19 trillion in official rate).
- The Senate approved a bill seeking to end all forms of business monopolies in Nigeria and promote trade competition in the 36 States of the federation. The upper legislative chamber, therefore, approved scrapping of the consumer protection council (CPC) and ratified its replacement with the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission.
- The Senate proposed 10 per cent of total revenue for Hydroelectric Power Producing Areas Development Commission (HYYPPADEC) host communities.
- The House of Representatives yesterday mandated its Committee on Banking and Currency to investigate the non-liquidation of N2.473 trillion owed the Assets Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON). The Committee, which is to fully investigate the failure of obligors and debtors to liquidate their loans is to report back to the House in four weeks.
Nigerian Economy Update
- The Minister of State for Petroleum, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu initiated the Nigerian-Indian upfront oil payment deal during a three-day working visit to India. The deal is expected to help the federal government tackle the foreign exchange (forex) problems in the country.
- The Chairman of National Population Commission (NPC), Chief Eze Duruiheoma, said that Nigeria will require N222 billion to conduct accurate, reliable and acceptable population and housing census, proposed for 2018. With the challenges the country is passing through, the 2018 census might not hold.
- The State Commissioner for Agriculture in Anambra, Mr. Afam Mbanefo stated at the Commodity Alliance Forum/Consultative meeting organized by the State Value Chain Development Programme (VCDP) in Awka that Anambra State is now self-sufficient in rice production, and it is expected to surpass the target of 210,000 metric tonnes by December.
- The Federal Government is set to produce vaccines for consumption in the country and hopes to get $280 million exporting them to African countries. This was stated by the Chairman of the National Immunisation Financing Task Force Team (NIFT), Dr. Ben Anyene to the Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu that when the vaccines are fully in production, the vaccines from Nigeria will cater for seven million children. They could also yield $280 million in export. This will be the second time Nigeria is producing vaccines for local use and export.
- According to the President, Cyber Security Experts Association of Nigeria (CSEAN), Remi Afon, Nigeria is responsible for at least $9.3 billion out of the total global loss to the rising cybercrime. He disclosed this at the National Cyber Security Awareness Month organised by the American Embassy in Lagos. While making reference to a report, he said that somebody’s identity is stolen every three seconds as a result of the menace. Cybercrime was said to have surpassed illegal drug trafficking as a criminal means of making money around the world.
Oil and Gas Sector
- The Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) on Wednesday began investigation into some depot owners in Apapa who sold fuel to marketers above the official ex-depot price of N133.28kobo. Mrs Dorothy Bassey, Assistant Director, Public affairs, DPR told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos that the agency would sanction depot owners found guilty.
- The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and Total Nigeria Plc. are considering the movement of petroleum products through the rail system in other to reduce the cost of transportation. This, they believe, is possible if plans by government to overhaul the rail sector becomes realistic. Speaking at the Oil Trading and Logistics Africa (Downstream in Lagos, representatives of the two oil firms said he option remained viable to address some key challenges in the downstream sector and boost return on investment.
- The Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) stated on Thursday that remittance of the nation’s electricity distribution companies had dropped to 30 per cent. The TCNTO noted that the 30 per cent remittance level from the DISCOs was a threat to the stability of the sector. Despite the declaration of the contract-based Transitional Electricity Market (TEM) almost two years ago, indiscipline and lack of compliance by operators have worsened the sector’s woes, leading to liquidity challenges and low funds to expand critical infrastructure.
- The Nigeria naira tumbled to 470 against the United States dollar on Wednesday, down from 455 on Tuesday as fresh dollar shortage hit the official and parallel foreign exchange markets. The naira has been relatively stable, hovering around 455 against the greenback in the last one week. This came after Travelex and First Bank of Nigeria Limited commenced sale of foreign exchange to Bureau De Change operators following the Central Bank of Nigeria’s approval. Forex traders, however, said on Wednesdays that the scheme had failed to ease the biting dollar shortage in the country.
Banking and Financial Institutions
- The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has ordered four commercial banks operated by MTN to suspend dividend pay-out from its Nigerian subsidiary, MTN Nigeria, over an alleged illegal repatriation of funds to South Africa. The banks are Standard Chartered Bank, Stanbic IBTC, Diamond Bank and Citi Bank. However, the CBN Spokesman, Isaac Okorafor stated that he was not aware of the order.