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CBN’s forex window ‘ll reinforce investors’ confidence in economy – Babayemi

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A fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN), Mr. Joseph Babayemi, has said that the Central Bank of Nigeria’s sustainability of its intervention in the forex market would reinforce the confidence of the Nigerian investors and the International community in the improvement in the nation’s economy.
Babayemi, who stated this over the weekend in Lagos, noted that the forex window recently created by the CBN for investors and exporters (Investors’ & Exporters’ FX Window) has not only succeeded in boosting liquidity in the forex market, but has equally ensured timely execution and settlement for eligible transactions.
He lauded the CBN for not only been able to curb excesses and supply shortfalls since its intervention policy, but also for its ability to prevent volatility in the forex market and reduce the gap between the official and parallel markets’ exchange rates of the naira, stressing that this strongly indicated that the apex bank was on track.
The financial expert noted that with the opening of the special window, Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) operators would no longer have to patronize or source forex through unofficial windows and there won’t be any more pressure on either the Bereau De Change operators or any other unofficial source.
Babayemi, who attributed the slum in the naira to depletion of foreign reserves by successive administrations, drop in oil price at the international market and attacks on oil facilities by militants, however, stressed that the CBN’s intervention policy in the forex market had enabled the apex bank to be gradually winning the battle to give the naira its value against major international currencies.
The chartered accountant urged the government to checkmate the trend of inflation in the country by not only ensuring the reduction of the people’s dependence on imported goods, but by also creating an enabling environment that will be attractive to investors and small scale business owners in order to have positive effects on the naira, provide job opportunities and bring down inflation to an acceptable limit.
He lamented the state of the nation’s economy, stressing the urgent need for the diversification of the economy with massive investment in agriculture and in improving the infrastructure like steel, rail transportation and power, while the government should take bold steps in blocking all tax related loopholes of avoiding tax and ensuring that effective systems were on ground for strict compliance.
The financial expert, who noted that the country was blessed with enormous human, material and natural resources, counseled the government to give urgent attention to the raging unemployment situation in the country by encouraging entrepreneurship and innovations as a way of creating new products and market demand, as well as give necessary support to small and medium business owners in the areas of funding, accessibility to raw materials and technical training.

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NCC says 123m Nigerians now have internet

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The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) says the number of Nigerians with access to the internet has increased to 123.5 million in October.

This is in comparison to the 114.3 million internet subscribers recorded in January 2019; indicating an increase of 9.2 million within nine months.

Data released by the commission also showed that active mobile voice subscribers increased from 174,012,136 to 180,386,316 within the same period.

This means that 91% of Nigeria’s 198 million population now have access to telecommunications services.

MTN Nigeria still holds the lion share of the market, having 67,348,858 subscribers which translate to 36.93%.

Globacom has 51,137,642 subscribers and Airtel, 49,650,155 subscribers.

In total, there are 49 individual internet service providers operating in the country.

These 49 provide services to 274,717 subscribers.

At present, there is a risk of increased charges on the part of service providers as 14 states recently increased their right of way (RoW) charges.

The RoW charge is the levy paid to state governments for laying of optic fibre on state roads.

Some of the states increased the charges to N5,000 per linear metre as against the N142 per linear metre agreed on by the national economic council.

Isa Pantami, the minister of communications and digital economy, has warned the states to reverse the charges as it could lead to increased costs of telcos and a hike in consumer charges.

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Crude oil prices approach $70 after US attack on Iranian general

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Crude oil prices spiked by 4% on Friday upon news that a top Iranian general was killed in an airstrike by the United States military. 

Brent crude futures, the international benchmark for crude oil, stood at $69.01 per barrel, an increase of 4.17%.

US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) also stood at $63.34 per barrel, a 4% increase.

The Pentagon said the attack was carried out on the order of President Donald Trump to deter “future Iranian attack plans”.

It added that Soleimani was killed because he “was actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region”.

The airstrike comes days after an Iran-backed militia and its supporters breached the US embassy in Baghdad.

Iraqi Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF) confirmed that Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, deputy head of the force, was also among those “martyred by an American strike”.

In September, oil prices increased by 14% after coordinated attacks were carried out on Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities which cut off 5% of global oil supplies.

Working in Nigeria’s good

Although world leaders are holding their breath awaiting Iran’s next action, the situation is working in favour of oil producing nations like Nigeria.

Already, Brent crude price is $9 above Nigeria’s crude oil budget benchmark.

A reprisal attack by Iran could send oil prices as high as $100 as global crude supply could be threatened.

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Sylva: FG making plans for fuel at N97 per litre

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Timipre Sylva, minister of state for petroleum resources, says the federal government is working to make fuel available at N97 per litre, using the compressed natural gas (CNG) as an option to premium motor spirit (PMS).

CNG is a fuel that can be used in place of gasoline, diesel fuel and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG). It is used in traditional gasoline/internal combustion engine automobiles or specifically manufactured vehicles.

Fielding questions from reporters at his office in Abuja on Thursday, the minister said the common man would not notice that subsidy on PMS has been removed when they have CNG as an option.

“If we are thinking of reducing pump price for fuel? I could easily say yes and I’m sure all of you wonder why I am saying that,” he said.

“We are thinking of giving the masses an alternative. Today we are all hooked on PMS, what we want to do going forward is to see that we are able to move the masses to CNG gas.

“CNG unit for unit costs less than even the subsidised PMS. Per litre the subsidised rate of PMS is N145/l. CNG will cost N95 to N97/l that is why I could say we want to reduce the cost of fuel, that way when we are given an alternative Nigerians will not notice when the subsidy on PMS is removed.”

The minister said he is hoping that the petroleum industry bill (PIB) will be passed by the national assembly before May.

According to him, the PIB “has taken us back for too long.”

“We are very ambitious about the PIB and we are hoping that it will pass before May this year which is the first anniversary of this administration and second tenure of this government,” he said.

“We are counting on the excellent relationship between the executive and the legislature but I must say that it is a hope and that is why I am mobilising the support of all of you. We are also mobilising the support of the national assembly and everybody else in the industry.

“Let us build a consensus around the PIB because the PIB has taken us back for too long, it has held us down for too long and we need to get it passed quickly. It is taking us a while to tidy up because we want to take every interest on board.”

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