Don’t Take Breast Cancer for Granted

Image result for Don’t Take Breast Cancer for GrantedOctober is “Breast Cancer Awareness Month” and is an annual campaign to increase awareness of the disease. It provides an opportunity for us all to focus on this dreaded and devastating disease and its impact on those affected by it. Breast cancer is becoming more and more prevalent yet whilst many people are aware of the disease, many neglect to actually take the steps to try to detect it in its early stages, when there is a much greater chance of survival.

Most people tend to overlook the financial implications of a serious illness. In our society it is seen as a taboo to even consider the possibility that one could become really ill let alone the fact that one could die; it is often seen as tempting fate. Yet statistics indicate that one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer.

Mary Johnson regularly checked her breasts so in late August 2017 she could tell that all was not well. She immediately visited their family doctor. He referred them to the teaching hospital and a biopsy confirmed that she had Stage three aggressive breast cancer. Mary and her husband Deji had been planning to subscribe to a family Health Insurance scheme but had not got round to it.

Mary had surgery in September at a cost of N250,000 to remove the lump and she is now receiving treatment including chemotherapy which is costing the family 400,000 each month. She will need six sessions in the first instance. She will require a second operation in due course, followed by radiotherapy for which a down-payment of N300,000 is required. Beyond this she is told that she will require treatment for at least five years for ultrasound scans, blood tests, kidney and liver function tests, chest x-rays, and so on; some of these will have to be repeated.

Members of Mary’s extended family rallied round as best they could but now the exorbitant costs over a prolonged period of time have made it impossible for them to continue to contribute as they did in the early stages of her treatment. Her husband has had to put their new home up for sale to release badly needed funds to try to save her life. They have also had to withdraw their children from their current school and have settled for a cheaper option as their funds are running out.

How healthy are you? If you or anyone in your family were to ever become gravely ill, can you afford the best medical treatment available? Do you have health insurance in place? Health insurance covers some of the cost of treating the insured person’s illnesses or injuries. In some cases, it pays for preventive care, such as annual physicals and diagnostic tests. You may have health insurance as an employee benefit from your job or you may also buy individual health insurance directly from an insurance company. You then pay premiums to purchase coverage and the insurer is obliged to pay some or all of your healthcare costs, based on the terms of your contract.

Far too many people ignore the need for insurance until a major mishap or setback occurs; it is only then that the impact of inadequate insurance coverage is glaring. No matter how meticulous you are with your finances, failure to purchase adequate insurance can impair your financial future and put you or your loved ones in a desperate situation in an instant.

Health insurance varies significantly from plan to plan. Generally, most plans will cover a combination or hospitalization, prescription drugs, and treatment for serious illnesses but up to a limit. Dire medical conditions are difficult enough to cope with; if you become ill, the last thing you need to have to worry about is mounting financial challenges.

It is imperative that you read the fine print and understand your coverage just make sure it will actually provide the necessary coverage should you ever need it.

Critical illness cover is a relatively recent addition to the life insurance industry. It was never intended to replace health, life or disability insurance. Instead, its purpose is to fill the gap in existing medical insurance coverage to pay for illness and specific kinds of treatment not ordinarily covered by traditional insurance.

We all pray for good health. Whilst you can’t plan for cancer, you can be prepared for some of the unexpected costs of a serious illness. A cancer diagnosis can be devastating, but equally so is not having the means to pay for it. It is important to be realistic and proactive. The truth is one nasty illness can decimate a lifetime of savings and investing. Nothing is more important than early detection through regular mammograms and clinical breast exams.

At some point in time you might need to call upon some form of insurance. Whilst insurance will not eliminate the risk of loss or damage to property, injury, illness or death, it does relieve the insured of at least some of financial losses these risks bring. The cost of coverage of all these scenarios is far lower than if you were to have to service them if they do indeed arise. If you don’t have the necessary insurance cover, do make this one of your financial priorities before the end of this year.

2017 budget: Reps raise concerns over 15% capital releases

Image result for 2017 budget: Reps raise concerns over 15% capital releasesMembers of the House of Representatives are unimpressed with what they term “poor capital releases” for the 2017 budget just as President Muhammadu Buhari is set to lay the 2018 estimates before the National Assembly, The PUNCH has learnt.

The 2017 budget of N7.441tn has a capital component of N2.2tn. But findings indicated that as of the last releases by the Ministry of Finance, capital funding of projects totalled only N336bn out of the N2.2tn, representing 15.22 per cent. And there are only 67 days left for 2017 to come to a close.

Lawmakers, who had become impatient with the development, on Sunday described the release of N336bn out of N2.2tn as “no budget at all.”

The PUNCH gathered that the issue was a topic on the agenda of a meeting held by some principal officers of the House in Abuja last Wednesday.

Concerns were reportedly raised over the poor releases, particularly for major projects and zonal intervention projects of National Assembly members.

One senior official of the legislature stated, “The money made available is not encouraging. The pattern of spending on recurrent and leaving out capital projects is still continuing.

“Yes, it is true that the budget was signed into law in June, but the capital releases should have improved to at least N800bn by now.”

The PUNCH learnt that out of the N336bn released so far, the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing got the highest allocation of N90bn.

The Ministry of Defence got N71bn; Ministry of Transportation, N30bn; Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, N30bn; and Ministry of Water Resources, N12bn.

All other sectors combined received a sum of N103bn, bringing the total to N336bn.

When contacted, the Chairman, House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Mr. Abdulrazak Namdas, confirmed to The PUNCH that there were concerns.

He said, “Actually, more needs to be done on the implementation level. In terms of the capital releases, only a few ministries have received money. Attention has been largely given to works, transport and agriculture. While this is commendable, other sectors need to benefit too.

“There is a need for the government to increase the capital releases. For now, they are not enough.”

The Chief Whip of the House, a key principal officer, Mr. Alhassan Ado-Doguwa, also confirmed that there were worries about the budget.

Ado-Doguwa, a member of the All Progressives Congress from Kano State, said, “The capital component of the 2017 budget is as good as no budget at all. It was characterised by selective implementation and insufficient releases. This was largely responsible for the unprecedented economic hardships and inactivity in our economy that depends on government patronage.

“Even the 2018 budget that is expected to be presented to the National Assembly soon would have no supplementary relevance to the grossly-underfunded 2017 budget, if it were to be based on policy continuity and economic coherence.

“I am of the opinion that government must step up its financing strategy of this budget to be able to turn around the economy to fight poverty and create jobs for our youths.”

Another member of the House,  Mr. Igariwey Iduma-Enwo, told The PUNCH that the slow releases had made the 2016 budget appear better implemented than that of 2017.

Iduma-Enwo, a Peoples Democratic Party lawmaker from Ebonyi State, added, “Comparatively, the 2016 budget appeared to be better implemented than the 2017 budget.”

Findings also showed that members held the view that while it was okay to plan for 2018, what was more urgent was the timely release of funds for 2017 projects.

“We already have the 2018-2020 MTEF with us, but our interest is the implementation of what is already on the ground, the 2017 budget. It is very critical to the full recovery of the economy from recession. Yes, the government has said that they will bring the 2018 budget, let them bring it, but how well has the one on the ground been implemented so far?” Namdas said.

BVN court ruling: Bank heads to meet, Nigerians in diaspora kick

Image result for Malami, EmefieleCompany secretaries and legal teams of 19 Deposit Money Banks in the country will on Tuesday hold an emergency meeting to fashion out modalities to comply with a court order directing commercial banks to freeze bank accounts without the Bank Verification Number and publish names and details of the customers.

The Federal High Court in Abuja had ordered the Central Bank of Nigeria and the commercial banks to disclose all accounts in their custody and the balances in such accounts.

The court ordered the banks to disclose the details of all such accounts, their owners and their proceeds in their affidavit of compliance deposed to by their chief compliance officers.

It also made an interim order directing the banks to freeze all the said accounts by stopping “all outward payments, operations or transactions” pending the hearing of the substantive application seeking the forfeiture of the balances in the accounts to the Federal Government.

The banks were also directed to disclose “any investments made with funds from these accounts without the BVN in any products.”

Spokespersons for some of the banks told our correspondent on Sunday that they would comply if there was no court ruling negating the order within the time stipulated for compliance.

Bank secretaries and legal teams of the 19 banks are scheduled to hold an emergency meeting to fashion out their plan for compliance.

“Fidelity Bank will comply and publish the names once there is no challenge to the ruling/order within the stipulated period,” the Chief Information Officer, Fidelity Bank Plc, Mr. Gbolahan Joshua, said.

The spokesman for Guaranty Trust Bank Plc, Oyinade Adegite, also said the bank would comply with the court order.

“We have started taking steps towards compliance. We have been trying to collate the names and bank accounts that will be affected. If there is no contrary order, we will comply,” he said.

The Access Bank Plc’s spokesman, Mr. Abdul Imoyo, said, “It is a management decision and I am sure steps are being taken in that direction. It is a court decision; we will have to see if there is no appeal to that.”

Heritage Bank’s spokesman, Mr. Fela Ibidapo, said the bank would comply.

A UBA spokesman said the bank would also comply, adding, “it is a court order and we will have to comply.”

A spokesman for Unity Bank Plc, Mr. Matthew Obiazikwor, said the bank had frozen bank accounts without the BVN and would publish the names of the affected customers as soon as the bank was in possession of the court order.

An industry stakeholder, Mr. Johnson Chukwu, lauded the policy but said there was a need for the Federal Government to give more time to enable rural dwellers to comply with the BVN requirement.

According to him, most of the learned customers have complied, and the majority of those who have yet to comply are illiterate people dwelling in the rural places.

He said the CBN needed to communicate through local languages in order to get the rural dwellers to comply.

“Another  category of people who have not complied are those who opened the bank accounts with fictitious names, or those who got their money through illegal or criminal proceeds and would not want to come up to claim ownership of such accounts. These people constitute the highest amount in terms of the value of the money,” he said.

Some bank officials said there were certain accounts that the banks could not link up due to names mismatch.

Meanwhile, fear has gripped Nigerians in the Diaspora, who have yet to obtain their BVN, over the development.

They said majority of Nigerians in the Diaspora had yet to comply because the Nigerian Interbank Settlement System Plc failed to provide enough BVN centres overseas to enable them to register.

Reacting through punchng.com, a Nigerian in the Diaspora, identified as Band Olu, said, “You forget that some of us are living abroad in countries where the BVN centres are not located or can’t be found. I have made several efforts to contact the BVN accredited companies to obtain this BVN but it has been a hell to hear back from them. What do you want someone like me to do? Go back to Nigeria unplanned because of the BVN?”

Another online reader queried the order seeking to make owners of the accounts to forfeit their deposits.

The anonymous reader said, “It is not enough reason to forfeit such funds to the government. This administration has not been fair to banks.”

Meanwhile, labour unions have also reacted to the court order.

The President, United Labour Congress, Mr. Joe Ajaero, faulted the court order asking the CBN to freeze all bank accounts without the BVN.

Speaking with one of our correspondents on Sunday, he said, “I do not agree with the court. The court should have taken into consideration that most owners of those accounts have not been around to register for the BVN, or are incapacitated to do so now.”

Ajaero also said, “We are aware that a good number of the account bearers have been out of the country and cannot get the BVN until they return, while others have been indisposed over the years due to severe health challenges, to seek or request for BVN numbers.”

He added, “The right thing would have been an order asking the banks to suspend the operation of such accounts pending when the BVN is allocated to it.”

But the General Secretary, Nigeria Labour Congress, Mr. Peter Ozo-Esan, disagreed with Ajaero, saying that the order came at the right time.

“If we don’t shut those accounts now, people will continue to use them to carry out criminal activities, and then the crime rate will continue to rise,” he said.

Ozo-Esan added, “This is similar to the situation in the telecoms sector then when all unregistered lines were blocked until the defaulting subscribers duly and properly registered them. Before then, criminals used such lines for their activities. This is the case with bank accounts without the BVN.”

Meanwhile, lawyers have differed over the court ruling.

A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr. Ifedayo Adedipe, said though the Federal Government should be commended for the BVN policy, it was unconstitutional for citizens to be ordered to forfeit their money over failure to supply the BVN.

Adedipe said, “I think the objective of the BVN policy is to enable the government to track accounts and individuals who own them. If we are serious about fighting money laundering and financial crimes, I think that is a commendable step. As to whether the government can say because somebody has not obtained the BVN, the money should be forfeited, that is a different matter. If the real owner of the money comes forward and there is a proof that an individual owns the account, maybe there would be a penalty, but clearly to forfeit the money will appear to me an overkill.

“But I am immediately concerned about the Federal Government’s attempt at appropriating other people’s property under the guise of fighting fraud or corruption. Much as we all agree that corruption is a debilitating disease, the fact of the matter is that we have a constitution and it is that constitution that we must allow to guide us, irrespective of our feelings. Constitutions are made to protect the citizens against the government. A lot of people do not know it. You have a government in office now that does not believe in the right of Nigerians.”

Another SAN, Mr. Seni Adio, expressed reservation about the order, saying there was a question mark on its constitutionality.

Adio said, “I have a reservation as to whether you can just give an order that if you don’t respond by 14 days, your money is forfeited. That has to be unconstitutional. You can’t just take my property because I haven’t fulfilled a condition and say I have forfeited it. It is ridiculous.”

Also a Lagos-based lawyer, Mr. Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, contended that the BVN was not a condition precedent for operating an account under the Money Laundering Act.

Adegboruwa said, “There is nothing in Section 3 of the Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2011 that makes the BVN a condition precedent for operating a bank account in Nigeria; nothing at all. What the law requires is the verifiable identity of the customer, such as name, address, photographs and identity cards. The BVN is a policy decision of the Central Bank of Nigeria and a court of law should not base its orders on executive policies that are not backed by law.”

He added, “The other point is the binding force of an ex parte order upon the whole world and upon all millions of bank customers in Nigeria, who are not directly parties to the suit. How proper is it for a court to seek to determine the rights of parties in their absence, in view of the clear provisions of section 36(1) of the 1999 Constitution and Article 7 of the African Charter?”

But another Lagos-based lawyer, Mr. Jiti Ogunye, said there was nothing unlawful about the interim forfeiture order of accounts without the BVN.

He said anyone who had a genuine reason for not supplying the BVN for the past three years since the BVN policy came on board had the opportunity of going before the court to give such reason.

Ogunye said, “The BVN policy came about not in the life of this administration. It was a policy that was inherited by this administration. And so, that policy has been implemented now for upwards of three years. So, if for the three years people didn’t come forward to the banks to supply their BVN, what is the presumption here? I daresay that the presumption is that the monies that are in accounts not covered by the BVN could be said to be illicit money.

“Now, based on that presumption, which is refutable, the Federal Government approached the court, through the office of the Attorney General of the Federation to obtain an order ex parte. The news is now out. So, if there are people who, for one reason or the other, could not go to the banks to supply their BVN, they have the right to go to that court and explain and ask the court to discharge the order.”

Nigeria on track for global aviation growth – Demuren

Image result for Former Director-General, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, Dr. Harold DemurenA former Director-General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority, Dr. Harold Demuren, has said that despite the challenges facing the nation’s aviation sector, it will not be left out of the global industry growth prospect.

Demuren, in an interview with journalists in Lagos, said the future of aviation in the country was bright and would be driven by a projected increase in population from over 180 million currently to about 399 million by 2050.

“Most of the airlines by 2050 will be going low-cost, our airlines are already low-cost airlines, and with the right infrastructure in place and a population of almost 400 million people, if we do the economy right, the industry will grow leveraging the population. Where there is population, purchasing power is sure to increase and more people will take to air travel,” he said.

The International Air Transport Association had predicted that the aviation industry globally should expect between 5.8 billion and 7.2 billion passengers to travel yearly by 2035, a near doubling of the 3.8 billion air travellers in 2016, and an anticipated change for the industry to handle about 16 billion passengers and 400 million tonnes of freight in 2050.

Boeing also recently predicted that over the next 20 years, the world would manufacture over 39,600 airplanes valued at more than $5.9tn as the total number of aircraft in year 2015 would increase from 22,510 units to 45,240 units by 2035.

This, according to the aircraft manufacturer, will come from the manufacture of 39,620 new units of various types of aircraft worth $5,930bn.

“Nigeria will not be left behind in global aviation growth. Nigeria has a large number of youths and when they are strong in Information Technology, things will begin to happen; the government only needs to look at this area and create value,” Demuren said.

He however stated that the government should improve on the ease of doing business in the industry and the provision of infrastructure.

“We need to look critically at infrastructure especially the land and air side. State-of-the-art terminals will not ensure safety. We need to continue to ensure safety regulations without political intervention,” he said.

He added that the government should also consider establishing a national carrier to be able to harness the industry’s potential.

“If we had developed a national carrier, we will not be where we are today. The government must learn to support the industry; all over the world, the government is the biggest supporter of airlines. We don’t manufacture aircraft; we may be able to do that by 2050 but we have to start with maintenance facility. Our government should focus on public-private partnership to make this happen,” he said.

FG to spend N15bn on solid mineral exploration

Image result for Minister of Solid Minerals Development, Dr. Kayode FayemiNigeria plans to spend N15bn ($42m) next year to explore for solid minerals and attract investors into mining and reduce its dependence on oil, the Minister of Solid Minerals Development, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, has said.

“Because we are starting from a low base, we want to have a portfolio of exploration activities in place that could whet the appetite of the average investor who wants to come in,” Fayemi said in an interview in Abuja, according to Bloomberg.

President Muhammadu Buhari’s government planned to support investments in the exploration of its priority minerals including gold, bitumen, iron, barite, limestone, lead and zinc, Fayemi said.

The government would be hoping to attract as much as N60bn of private investment into mining, he said.

The report by Bloomberg also noted that tapping resources other than oil, Nigeria’s main export, had been part of the government’s economic recovery and growth plan after the country went through its worst economic slump in 25 years as oil output and prices fell. Nigeria is Africa’s biggest oil producer. The contribution of solid minerals to Gross Domestic Product is expected to increase to more than eight per cent by 2020 from less than one per cent, according to the government.

To further encourage investors, incentives including tax holidays of as much as five years for new companies entering the market, duty free imports on mining equipment and mining licences for 25 years had been put in place, the minister said.

Additional support for the industry is expected through a $600m bond to be sold by the end of the year to raise more funds to provide required infrastructure and help accumulate data on minerals, according to the Executive Secretary of the Solid Minerals Development Fund, Fatima Shinkafi.

“Nigeria is one of the lowest spenders on exploration as far as mining activity is concerned,” Fayemi said, adding, “This government is determined to turn the tide on that because we’re quite convinced of the opportunities.”

The country has at least 44 minerals that can be extracted in commercial quantities, according to the solid minerals ministry. Mining in the country is currently dominated by artisans, who produce gold, tin and others in small amounts.

Skye Bank, First Bank to take over Evans Medical

Image result for skye bank nigeriaEvans Medical Plc, on Friday, informed its shareholders and other stakeholders as well as the Nigerian Stock Exchange of the move by Skye Bank Plc and First Bank of Nigeria Limited to take over the company.

This was contained in a letter filled with the NSE.

Both banks were said to have served Evans Medical with an ex- parte order of the Federal High Court dated July 4, 2017 granting them the right to take over the company’s assets used as collateral against facilities granted to the company by the bankers due to loan default.

According to the letter, a receiver manager has also been appointed and has taken over the assets of the company.

The firm was quoted to have said, “Evans Medical would like to announce that the company’s bankers (Skye Bank Plc and First Bank of Nigeria Limited) have served the company with an ex-parte order of the Federal High Court dated 4th July, 2017 granting them the right to take over the company’s assets used as collateral against facilities granted to the company by the bankers due to loan default.

“A receiver manager has been appointed and has taken over the assets of the company.”

The board of Evans Medical however said it had begun discussions with the two lenders with a view to arriving at an amicable resolution of the matter.

The company added, “The discussions are progressing favourably and we are optimistic that a mutually beneficial workable arrangement will be arrived at between the banks and our board as soon as possible in order to safeguard the company’s properties and assets as well as protect the shareholders’ investments.”

“We shall keep you informed accordingly and we appreciate your understanding in this matter,” it assured its stakeholders.

Nigeria lowers 2017 economic growth forecast — Report

Image result for IMFNigeria has revised down its forecast for 2017 economic growth to 1.5 per cent from 2.19 per cent, according to a document reportedly seen by Reuters on Thursday.

The report said oil production, on which Nigeria relies for about two-thirds of government revenues, was at 1.9 million barrels per day for 2017, as of July, against an estimated 2.2 million barrels per day.

Titled ‘The 2018-2020 Medium Term Expenditure Framework and Fiscal Strategy Paper,’ the document was prepared by the Ministry of Budget and National Planning and is dated August 2017.

The International Monetary Fund last week affirmed its earlier forecast of only 0.8 per cent growth for Nigeria this year, indicating that the government’s projection of 2.19 per cent growth in the economy for 2017 was unrealistic.

This is well below the global economic growth projection of 3.6 per cent, a slight increase from the 3.5 per cent earlier projected in July.

The IMF had earlier predicted the exit of Nigeria from recession this year with an economic growth of 0.8 per cent, but warned that threats to recovery remained elevated, and that the economy would not grow enough to reduce unemployment and poverty.

The IMF then advised the Federal Government to pursue a policy of fiscal consolidation through higher non-oil revenues, to ensure stability in growth.

Nigeria slipped into a recession last year as low crude oil prices and production slashed government revenues, caused dollar shortages and crippled the nation’s economy.

The IMF had said, “Economic growth in Nigeria is expected to recover slightly to 0.8 per cent this year after the country slipped into its first recession in more than two decades last year.”

 

Shell Nigeria lifts force majeure on Bonny Light crude

Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Limited, a subsidiary of Royal Dutch Shell, has lifted force majeure on the exports of Bonny Light crude oil, one month after it was declared.

A spokesperson for Shell said the force majeure was lifted on Thursday.

Reuters reported that Shell declared the force majeure last month following the shutdown of the Nembe Creek Trunk Line, one of the two main pipelines taking Bonny Light grade to the export terminal. Exports have been continuing via the Trans Niger Pipeline.

Aiteo, operator of the NCTL, said on Tuesday that repairs to the pipeline had been completed.

Meanwhile, spot trade was limited on Thursday due to competition from alternative light, sweet grades and the overhang of Nigerian crude was set to worsen with a rise in Bonny Light exports, according to Reuters.

November-loading Nigerian cargoes have been selling slowly, weighed down by competing United States exports and rising light, sweet exports from elsewhere such as Libya.

One trader said about 20 million barrels remained unsold.

There was still no sign of either the November or December programmes for Bonny Light. The December programme for Qua Iboe emerged on Wednesday.

Nigerian Forcados was being offered at around dated Brent plus $1.70-$1.80 a barrel.

Nigerians may repay $5.5bn loan for 30 years, says FG

Image result for Nigerians may repay $5.5bn loan for 30 years, says FGThe Federal Government has said its external borrowing plan, for which it is seeking the approval of the National Assembly, will take Nigeria between five years and 30 years to repay.

The government also insisted it would have to borrow more to complete a number of ongoing infrastructural projects.

The Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, who was represented by the Director-General, Debt Management Office, Patience Oniha, at a defence session organised by the Senate Committee on Local and Foreign Debts in Abuja on Thursday, gave the indication and urged Nigerians to focus on the long-term benefits of the loans.

President Muhammadu Buhari had written to both chambers of the National Assembly, seeking approval for $5.5bn external loans to finance the 2017 Appropriation Act.

In the letter dated October 4, 2017, Buhari referred the Senate to the 2017 budget, with a deficit of N2.356tn and provision for new borrowing of N2.321tn.

He said the Act also provided for domestic borrowing of N1.254tn and external borrowing of N1.067tn (about $3.5bn).

At the session on Thursday, the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Local and Foreign Debts, Senator Shehu Sani, asked Oniha to provide details of the proposed loans, including the rate and tenure.

In her response, Oniha said, “In terms of tenor, from the figures that distinguished senators have reeled out, we have them in various tenors. What you do is at the time you get to the market and you want to price, you will be more certain about the price. It could be anywhere from five to 30 years.

“On borrowing, when the current generation may not be around at that time (payment completion), the truth is that if we are borrowing in the long term, we are using it to finance capital projects, which are also long-term (projects) and the benefits of those projects are also long-term (benefits).

“I believe that some of the roads and even institutions like some universities that we see today were built before some of us were born. We should look at it this way; that the benefits are also long-term (benefits).”

She also responded to the question on whether the development of the first generation infrastructure in the country was funded with loans, saying, “I can remember that the Federal Government issued development loan stocks under the first plan and some are actually yet to mature. Those development loan stocks were what the Federal Government used in the 60s and maybe early 70s. I know that some of them had 20 to 22 years’ maturity. At the time, they appeared to be very long. This is not the first time that the government is borrowing on a long-term basis.”

The DMO boss further explained that out of Nigeria’s debt current stock of N19tn, 77 per cent was from the domestic market through the various products issued, including Treasury bills, the Federal Government of Nigeria Bonds, the Federal Government Savings Bonds and the recent Sukuk.

“The implication of having that large amount in domestic debt is high debt service because the costs of – meaning interest rates – are high. If the government is so visible and prominent in the local market, it means that we have taken some of the money that should go to the private sector.

“Banks should be able to have large amounts of money to extend to the real sector. If we are not too prominent in the domestic market, there should be more room for banks and other financial institutions to lend to the private sector and, thereby, contributing to economic growth.”

In a statement made available in Abuja on Thursday, the DMO said $2.5bn of the proposed external borrowing would be used to finance some projects while $3bn would be used to refinance some domestic debts.

The DMO said, “The first component of $2.5bn represents new external borrowing provided for in the 2017 Appropriation Act to part finance the deficit in that budget.

“It will be recalled that the 2017 Appropriation Act provided for new external borrowing of N1.067tn or $3.5bn at an exchange rate of USD/N305.

“Out of this amount, $300m has been raised through a Diaspora Bond that was issued in June leaving a balance of $3.2bn out of which $2.5bn is to be sourced through a Eurobond issuance.

“The $2.5bn proposed Eurobond will be used to finance critical road and rail projects included in the 2017 Appropriation Act.

In his presentation, the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, said Nigeria would borrow more to finance ongoing rail projects.

According to him, the country needs $36bn to complete the projects.

He said, “What is in this (2017) budget that we are asking for now is Kano-Kaduna and Port Harcourt-Calabar, but the bank that is lending us money will prefer if we ask for Ibadan-Kano so that we can finish the whole stretch from Lagos to Kano.”

When asked which particular rail projects the loan would be used to finance, Amaechi said, “It depends on what they do with the virement; it will affect a lot of the funding. This money we are asking for will fund the completion of the Itakpe-Warri line; that will be ready in June next year. It will also fund the Kano-Kaduna and Port-Harcourt-Calabar (rail lines).”

He added, “It means that we will still come back to ask for more funding for the Ibadan-Kaduna rail, even if we got this (the current request).   

Barclays to find new investors for 9mobile

Image result for Barclays to find new investors for 9mobileThere are indications that Barclays Bank has been saddled with the responsibility of finding investors for 9mobile based on the decision of Nigerian lenders.

Reuters reported on Thursday that sources in the bank revealed that Barclays had started work on the mandate and was in the process of setting up a database for prospective investors and conduct due diligence.

Although banking sources had previously said Citigroup and Standard Bank were in the running for the role, lenders decided against them due to their previous links with 9mobile, the sources said.

Standard’s local unit, Stanbic IBTC Bank, is among the group of lenders to 9mobile while Citi had advised the telecom company in the past, they said.

However, Barclays was not immediately available for comment.

9mobile, formerly known as Etisalat Nigeria, had secured a loan of $1.2bn in 2013 from a consortium of Nigerian banks to finance a major network rehabilitation project and expansion of its operational base in Nigeria.

The consortium is made up of Access Bank Plc, Zenith Bank, GTBank, First Bank, UBA, Fidelity Bank, Ecobank, FCMB, Stanbic IBTC Bank and Union Bank, among others.

However, the lending banks threatened to take over the company since discussions on the debt restructuring of the $547m yielded no result.