Immigration to hike price for international passport – Vanguard

By Michael Eboh

 

ABUJA— The cost of acquiring a Nigerian international passport is set to rise in the next couple of days, as the Nigeria Immigration Service, NIS, yesterday, said it had commenced the process to review its charges. ADVERTISING inRead invented by Teads According to the service, it is no longer possible to produce the passports at the current rates. Comptroller-General of the NIS, Mr. Muhammad Babandede, disclosed this at the flagging off ceremony for the capacity building programme on Information Communication Technology, ICT, for Immigration officers, organized in conjunction with Huawei Technologies Company, in Abuja.

The ICT training programme, according to Managing Director, Abuja Office of Huawei Technologies, Mr. Tank Liteng, is part of its Corporate Social Responsibility, CSR, and had been carefully designed for 500 staff of the NIS for a period of five days in batches of 50 officers per training time at nine different locations across the country.

Liteng expressed optimism that the programme would empower officers of the NIS with appropriate ICT skills, awareness and soft skills that give competitive advantage globally to catch up with the world trends, change Nigeria into the ICT talents centre of the region and the world. Commenting on the plans to hike the charges for the issuance of the Nigerian passport, Babandede, who did not disclose the take-off date for the new charges, stated that the NIS had written to the Presidency on this issue, and as soon as it receives approval, it would proceed with the review, which would also enable it to deliver better services.

He further warned that if the prices were not reviewed, its revenue to the country would be negatively affected. He said: “It is not easy for us to pay for booklets because of the cost. You will agree with me that air tickets have doubled in this country. You are aware that a lot of things have changed, but the passport fees have not changed.

Read more at: Vanguard

WEEKAHEAD-AFRICA-FX-Nigeria’s naira seen broadly stable, Ghana’s cedi to firm – Reuters

Dec 15 Nigeria’s naira and some other African currencies are expected to stay broadly stable over the coming week as the tempo of business slows ahead of Christmas festivities but Ghana’s cedi could strengthen, helped by flows from commodity sles.

NIGERIA

The naira is expected to remain firm at both the official interbank rate and on parallel markets ahead of the festive season as businesses wind down activities and demand for hard currency slows.

The naira has traded steady this week at 485 to the dollar on the parallel market as demand for the greenback waned.

“There should be little pressure in the currency market in the coming days because many businesses are already winding down their operations,” a currency changer told Reuters.

Nigerians living abroad who will be visiting home for the holidays are also expected to bring in hard currency inflows and offer extra support to the naira.

 
 

GHANA

Ghana’s cedi is seen being underpinned by foreign exchange supplies from cocoa sales.

The currency stabilised this week after a streak of losses ahead of a presidential election on Dec.7, won by opposition leader Nana Akufo-Addo.

At 1030 GMT the cedi was quoted at 4.14 to the dollar, compared with 4.22 a week ago.

Analyst Joseph Biggles Amponsah of the Accra-based Dortis Research said the cedi would “extend its gains in the coming week to trade below 4.1000 and towards the 4.0000 levels”.

TANZANIA

Tanzania’s shilling is seen appreciating slightly due to a slowdown in demand for hard currency from importers while players are expecting some inflows from the agricultural sector and big firms converting some of their hard currency holdings.

Commercial banks quoted the shilling at 2,178/2,183 to the dollar on Thursday, barely moved from 2,174/2,184 a week ago.

“There is a big demand for shillings at the moment as corporates are selling dollars to meet payment obligations in local currency,” said a dealer at a commercial bank.

KENYA

The Kenyan shilling could lose ground due to importer demand and spillover negative sentiment after the U.S. Federal Reserve raised rates, traders said.

At 1145 GMT, commercial banks quoted the shilling at 102.00/102.10 to the dollar, little changed from last Thursday’s close of 101.95/102.15.

“We are likely to see emerging market currencies, Kenya being one of them trading lower (weaker) against the dollar,” said a trader from a commercial bank.

UGANDA The Uganda shilling is forecast to trade with a firming bias, helped by a large mop-up of excess local currency liquidity by the central bank.

At 1214 GMT commercial banks quoted the shilling at 3,600/3,610, stable from last Thursday’s close.

Bank of Uganda, the central bank, removed a total of 831 billion shillings ($230.51 million) from the interbank market via a 7-day repo.

“I see the local unit playing in a stable range but probably inclined toward the strengthening side,” said a trader from a leading commercial bank who added the mop-up would trim appetite for the greenback among banks.

ZAMBIA

The kwacha will likely trade in a stable position on the back of ebbing demand for hard currency as most firms start to close or cutback business ahead of the Christmas and year-end festivities.

At 0948 GMT, commercial banks quoted the kwacha at 9.8900 per dollar from a close of 9.8400 a week ago, according to Thomson Reuters data.

“Activity in the market has slowed. The kwacha has traded in the 9.850/9.900 range over the past few weeks and should remain in the current range as we go into 2017,” the Zambian branch of South Africa’s First National Bank (FNB) said in a note. ($1 = 3,605.0000 Ugandan shillings) (Reporting by Kwasi Kpodo; Elias Biryabarema; John Ndiso; Chris Mfula; Fumbuka Ng’wanakilala and Oludare Mayowa. Compiled by Elias Biryabarema; editing by Jeremy Gaunt)

NIGERIA LOSES $4.8 BILLION IN OIL REVENUE BECAUSE OF MILITANT ATTACKS IN 2016: OFFICIAL – Newsweek

NIGERIA LOSES $4.8 BILLION IN OIL REVENUE BECAUSE OF MILITANT ATTACKS IN 2016: OFFICIAL

The Niger Delta Avengers and other groups have blown up oil pipelines throughout the year.

Nigeria’s state oil company lost more than 1.5 trillion naira ($4.8 billion) as a result of attacks on pipelines and facilities by militants in 2016, its managing director said Wednesday.

Militants in the Niger Delta—a vast, oil-rich swampland in southern Nigeria—have launched frequent attacks on oil facilities throughout the year. Groups like the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) say their aim is to ensure a fairer distribution of Nigeria’s oil wealth.

The attacks have slashed Nigeria’s oil production by as much as half and were a major factor in the country slipping into recession in August. Nigeria relies on oil products for more than 90 percent of its export revenues, according to OPEC.

The group managing director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Maikanti Baru, told a conference in the capital Abuja that the corporation had recorded 59 attacks on facilities that resulted in full or partial shut down—and consequently, a loss in revenue.

“We are all conversant with the seriousness and frequency with which national assets in [the] form of pipelines, flow stations etc. are vandalized and crude oil and white products stolen with impunity,” said Baru, according to an NNPC statement.

The Nigerian government has agreed several ceasefires with the NDA and other groups, only for them later to fall apart. According to its website, the NDA last claimed an attack on November 15, suggesting that the latest break in hostilities is holding.

Despite being the hub of Nigeria’s oil industry, the Niger Delta remains impoverished and its communities have suffered the impact of multiple oil spills in recent years. A 2006 report by the United Nations Development Program found that the region was suffering from “administrative neglect, crumbling social infrastructure and services, high unemployment, social deprivation, abject poverty, filth and squalor, and endemic conflict.”

Nigeria’s oil minister Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu recently announced $10 billion of investment to improve the region’s oil infrastructure, including improving security and overhauling the NNPC, while President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration also launched a $1 billion cleanup operation in Ogoniland, a part of the Delta where oil spills have been frequent. The operation is planned to take up to 30 years.

Oil production is currently around 1.8 million barrels per day, Kachikwu said on Thursday, according to Reuters. Buhari put forward a record 7 trillion naira ($24 billion) budget to lawmakers on Wednesday, with the intention of returning oil output to 2.2 million barrels per day

Usman moves to recover NPA funds in banks – Businessday

Hadiza Bala Usman, the managing director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) has assured that the authority will aggressively pursue all the funds trapped in banks to ensure that such funds are remitted into the federation accounts.

Bala Usman also said that the authority under her administration would ensure that all the debt owed NPA especially the debt owed by terminal operators and other leasors, is recovered and remitted into the Single Treasury Accounts (TSA) in a shortest possible time.

Usman, who revealed that NPA is having meetings with the Central Banks of Nigeria (CBN) to see that all the money of NPA is returned to the Federal Government coffers, also disclosed that the authority also working hard to see how the fund that is stocked in a mortgage bank is released. “We need a letter that states when the account was opened, what is for and all the other details of the account to enable us recover the money.”

NPA, according to her, has a huge debt profile that runs to about N10 billion and another $585 million debts, considered as bad debt. “All we need is to go through the legal process of considering them as bad debt and taking them out of our books. We also have debt that were accrued by terminal operators as well as debt that were accrued through the lease agreements we had.”

According to Usman, NPA is working on removing the debt that accrued by a leasor that was unable to have access to a piece of land contained in the lease agreement due to an encroachment.

“We will remove such fees has been put forward by NPA as a debt that is owed by that entity to NPA over the years.  This is because the fundamental to lease is that the leasor has to have access to the property and we believe that it is very irresponsible to force a particular entity to pay for lease that was encumbered by encroachment; topography or others.  We have identified the entire lease under this category and we will address them,” she promised.

The NPA boss, who stated that the authority would develop a framework for debt recovering, said that the authority has loss quite a significant through deliberate intention to avert payment of debts owed NPA.

“We also have indebtedness where entities owe NPA but at a point such entity will pack up and will not be found within the address given to NPA. We have quite a significant indebtedness in that area and we have develop a framework for debt recovering, to remove the bad debt and to have a proper position on what our indebtedness actually was.”  ‎

 

AMAKA ANAGOR-EWUZIE

Unremitted funds: FG recovers N1.44bn from NEPC, RMRDC, NSC – Punch

By Ifeanyi Onuba, Abuja

The Federal Government has so far recovered N1.44bn from three of its agencies alleged not to have remitted their operating surpluses as stipulated by the Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2007.

The agencies are the Nigerian Export Promotion Council, from which N108m was recovered; the Raw Materials Research and Development Council, N278m; and Nigerian Shippers Council, N1.05bn.

The development was confirmed by a statement issued by the Director Information, Ministry of Finance, Mr. Salisu Dambatta, on Wednesday.

The statement explained that the recovery was made following actions taken by the committee set up by the government with the task of recovering the unremitted N450bn operating surpluses from the revenue generating agencies.

It added that a meeting was scheduled with 33 of the agencies where demand notices were issued to 17 of them on how the unremitted funds would be repaid.

The statement explained that out of the 17 that were supposed to be at the meeting, which held on December 6, only 10 attended owing to the short notice, while others were asked to present their repayment plans at a later date.

Those present at the meeting were the NSC, NEPC, National Health Insurance Scheme, Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority and the Nigerian Communications Commission.

The rest are the Nigerian Postal Service, National Pension Commission, Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading Company, RMRDC and the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria.

The ministry said those agencies that failed to appear would do so at a rescheduled date.

Some of the agencies that will now appear before the committee to present their repayment plans are the Central Bank of Nigeria, Nigerian Television Authority and the National Information Technology Development Agency.

The statement read in part, “As the Federal Government intensifies efforts to recover unremitted operating surpluses by agencies and increase independent revenue, an additional sum of N793m has been recovered from three Federal Government agencies by the recovery committee set up two weeks ago by the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun.

“So far, the cumulative total amount recovered is N1.44bn, given the earlier recovery of N650m from the Nigerian Shippers Council, even as several other agencies are in the process of submitting repayment plans for approval.”

Adeosun had while announcing the amount that was not remitted by the agencies lamented that while the Fiscal Responsibility Act, 2007 was designed to provide guidelines and control to elicit greater accountability and transparency in fiscal operations, actual compliance by revenue generating agencies had been poor.

This, according to her, has resulted in revenue leakages as confirmed by the audit findings conducted by the ministry.

The minister gave the infractions committed by these agencies to include non-remittance and under-remittance of operating surpluses due to the Consolidated Revenue Fund; operating without approved budgets; overstating of budgets and spending above budgeted amounts; and under-reporting of revenues.

The audit report, according to the minister, also revealed that payments were made without invoices and payment receipts; while loans and grants were given to parent ministries without prior approval.

Stanbic IBTC unveils first 24-hour digital branch – Punch

By ’Femi Asu

Stanbic IBTC Bank says it has inaugurated its first self-service digital branch drive optimal financial services in Nigeria. 

It said the processes and systems of the branch, located at Maryland Mall, Lagos, were completely digitalised and equipped with tablets, touch screens, electronic banking devices and new digital technologies to enable customers to conduct financial transactions seamlessly while enjoying a delightful banking experience.

The inauguration took place on Wednesday, with the founder of Zinox Technologies Limited, Leo Stan-Eke, declaring the facility ready for business.

Among other facilities available at the branch are automated teller machines, bulk note acceptor, personal teller machine, smart table, self-service kiosk, self-service smart tablets, Internet banking kiosk, and instant debit card issuance machine.

The Chief Executive Officer, Stanbic IBTC Bank, Yinka Sanni, described the digitisation of banking services as the path to the future as consumers increasingly embrace the online world to meet their needs.

He said, “The benefits of digitalisation and innovation are huge for the individual, business or economy. As technology evolves, Stanbic IBTC Bank will keep pace with it to deliver impeccable value to its customers.”

According to him, Stanbic IBTC Bank expects to report further growth in digital branch numbers and innovations as fresh investments are made to deliver on the bank’s long-term goal to build a bank for everyone.

“This milestone is important to us because it fulfils our pledge to leverage on evolving technologies and innovations to deliver convenience and round-the-clock access to financial services to our clientele. It provides a solid platform from which to continue to grow and consolidate our position in the Nigerian market,” Sanni said.

He said as an African institution, the Standard Bank Group, to which Stanbic IBTC belongs, would continue to demonstrate commitment to the development of Nigeria and Africa by supporting critical sectors of the economy and to help highlight investment opportunities therein.

“We will continue to build first-class, on-the-ground banking services in Nigeria, investing in people, branch networks and systems. We are confident that future revenue flows will justify these investments in branch and customer infrastructure.”

Eke, who commended Stanbic IBTC Bank for taking the initiative, noted that the facility was defined by consumer protection, trust and security as the technologies deployed are best-in-class in technological delivery and quality.

“Digital banking is the way of the future, not just for banks but also for the economy,” he added.

The Executive Director, Personal and Business Banking, Stanbic IBTC Bank, Mr. Babatunde Macaulay, described the new branch as the first in a series of digital branches to be established across Nigeria.

He, however, said non-digital consumers would not be left behind as the bank continues to expand its footprint and increase access channels and touchpoints.

“We are always seeking to understand the needs of the entire spectrum of our clientele and by so doing, strive to connect with every market segment so that we can provide the much needed solutions to their financial needs,” he stated.

Nigeria sells 69.2 bln naira in bonds, less than initial offer – Reuters

Dec 15 Nigeria auctioned 69.2 billion naira ($227 mln) worth of domestic bonds on Wednesday, less than it offered, after investors demanded higher yields for the notes, traders said.

Nigeria had initially offered to sell 95 billion naira in bonds maturing in 5, 10 and 20 years time, but cut back supply after investor demanded yields as high as 19 percent for the notes. (Reporting by Oludare Mayowa, Writing by Chijioke Ohuocha, Editing by Angus MacSwan)

Nigerian Inflation Accelerates for 13th Consecutive Month – Bloomberg

  • Median estimate in Bloomberg survey was for inflation of 18.6%
  • IMF forecast Nigerian economy will contract by 1.7% this year

Nigerian inflation accelerated for the 13th consecutive month in November, even as the central bank left its main lending rate at a record-high to balance price pressures with supporting a slumping economy.

The inflation rate in West Africa’s biggest economy climbed to 18.5 percent from 18.3 percent in October, the Abuja-based National Bureau of Statistics said in an e-mailed statement on Thursday. Prices increased 0.78 percent in the month. The median estimate of 10 economists surveyed by Bloomberg was for inflation to accelerate to 18.6 percent, a level last hit 11 years ago. 

Inflation quickened on higher import costs, after lower prices and output of oil, Nigeria’s main export, led to foreign currency shortages. Dollar scarcity that persisted even after the Central Bank of Nigeria removed a currency peg in June and the naira lost 40 percent its value to the U.S. dollar contributed to the economy contracting for the first nine months of this year. The International Monetary Fund expects it to shrink by 1.7 percent for all of 2016.Food inflation increased by 17.2 percent, while the average price of gasoline climbed to 146.7 naira compared with 145.9 naira in October, according to the statistics agency’s data. The index’s rise was mainly driven by increases in the prices of imported foods, meat, bread and cereals and fish, according to the report.

The weak supply of basic food items such as rice also helped drive up prices, according to Ayodele Akinwunmi, head of research at Lagos-based FSDH Merchant Bank Ltd. 

“The foreign exchange rate is also very weak,” Akinwunmi said by phone on Thursday. “People are sourcing the more expensive dollars from the black market to import items.”

Economic Slump

The central bank continues to bar imports of 41 items it deems non-essential from sourcing foreign currency from the official market, forcing them to buy dollars from the black market. While the naira gained 0.16 percent to 315.75 against the dollar by 9:53 a.m. in Lagos, it’s trading at 485 on the black market.

Mindful of the slumping economy, the central bank left its benchmark lending rate at 14 percent last month to fight inflation. 

“With the CBN’s tight monetary stance, if there are no further structural shocks, inflation is likely to peak at a rate slightly above 20 percent in March 2017,” Abuja-based Time Economics Ltd. said in an e-mailed note before the data was released. “The inflation in the economy is largely due to structural factors.”

An interest-rate reduction wasn’t justifiable under the current inflation scenario and a weak foreign exchange rate, Akinwunmi said.

President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday asked lawmakers to approve a 20 percent increase in spending plan to 7.3 trillion naira ($23 billion) for 2017, to help the economy recover. Budget and National Planning Minister Udo Udoma said Wednesday that the government reduced its 2017 economic growth forecast by half a percentage point to 2.5 percent.

The Rout Isn’t Over for Nigerian Markets – Bloomberg

  • Economy set for full-year contraction, first in two decades
  • Currency still overvalued, deterring foreign investors

Nigerian markets can’t catch a break.

The nation’s economy is set to contract in 2016 for the first time in more than two decades as the crash in oil prices, militants blowing up pipelines and capital controls deter foreign investment. Nigerian stocks have been the world’s worst this year, losing 42 percent in dollar terms.

The following charts show the rout probably isn’t over.

Currency Valuation

Until investors are convinced the naira is priced fairly, they’re unlikely to re-enter Nigerian markets. The currency, which has already depreciated 37 percent to around 315 per dollar since central bank Governor Godwin Emefiele ended a peg on June 20, is still trading well below the black-market rate of 485. One-year non-deliverable forward contracts trade at 436, another sign investors see more weakening to come.

Corporate Profits

Investors are anything but optimistic about the prospects for company profits over the coming year. Even after rising for five straight days, Nigerian stocks are the cheapest in Africa. The 12-month price-to-earnings ratio for members of the Nigerian Stock Exchange All Share Index was 8.1 as of Wednesday, below even that of Zimbabwe’s main gauge.

Index Weighting

With Nigeria’s weighting in in the MSCI Frontier Markets stock index down to 7.3 percent from 15.3 percent two years ago, there’s less demand for the nation’s equities from the $12 billion of funds tracking the gauge. Argentina, Pakistan, Morocco and Vietnam overtook Nigeria in the weightings, while Kenya and Oman closed the gap.

Dollar’s Surge Sparks Jitters – WSJ

U.S. currency soars to 14-year high after Fed’s interest-rate decision

The dollar rose to a 14-year-high on Wednesday, renewing fears that a strong U.S. currency could strain a global economy that is more leveraged than ever to the dollar.

The WSJ Dollar Index, which measures the U.S. currency against 16 others, rose 1.1% after the Federal Reserve said it expects to increase U.S. interest rates at a faster clip next year.

The dollar rose 1.6% versus the Japanese yen and was sharply higher against emerging-market currencies such as Russia’s ruble and Mexico’s peso. 

The dollar’s gains are a concern for overseas borrowers that have accumulated trillions of dollars in liabilities. This debt becomes more expensive to repay in local-currency terms as the dollar rises. Dollar credit to nonbank borrowers outside the U.S. hit $9.8 trillion at mid-2015, according to the Bank for International Settlements.

A third of that was borrowed in emerging markets, where currencies tend to be much more volatile against the dollar and more subject to sharp depreciation when U.S. rates are rising. The iShares MSCI Emerging Market exchange-traded fund, which was up 11% this year heading into Wednesday, fell 3% after the Fed’s rate-increase decision.

Many analysts are closely watching currency trading, including action in China’s yuan, for signs that a stronger dollar is intensifying pressure on nations already facing significant capital outflows.

Expectations for a faster pace of interest-rate increases would likely boost the dollar, as higher rates make the U.S. currency more attractive to yield-seeking investors.
Expectations for a faster pace of interest-rate increases would likely boost the dollar, as higher rates make the U.S. currency more attractive to yield-seeking investors. PHOTO:BLOOMBERG NEWS

A stronger currency makes U.S. residents richer by increasing their purchasing power overseas and making imports cheaper, but it also limits the profits earned overseas by large multinational companies that make up the lion’s share of the major U.S. stock indexes.

The dollar already had been rallying over the past month on hopes that President-electDonald Trump could stimulate economic growth with tax cuts, infrastructure spending and by rolling back regulation.

The Fed guidance on Wednesday gave traders another big reason to buy dollars. The central bank nudged up its benchmark short-term interest rate by a quarter percentage point and indicated that it expects to raise rates three times next year, up from its previous forecast for two increases in 2017.

“The Fed is feeling more optimistic about the economy and it wants to hike more,” said Vassili Serebriakov, a currency strategist at Crédit Agricole. “That’s going to be good for the dollar.”

Higher U.S. rates typically support the dollar by making U.S. assets more attractive to yield-seeking investors.

Still, some investors fear the dollar’s strength is threatening to repeat the market turmoil that followed the Fed’s December 2015 interest-rate increase. Global markets slid in January and February of this year amid fears about the health of China’s economy and depressed U.S. oil prices—both of which were being pressured by the dollar’s strength.

A stronger dollar hurts emerging-market nations like China by making their dollar-denominated debt more expensive to pay back. It also pressures currencies pegged to the dollar and can lead to big outflows as emerging-market assets become less attractive to investors seeking yield.

Commodities come under pressure, too. Gold and oil are priced in dollars and become less attractive when the dollar strengthens. U.S. crude oil lost 3.7% to $51.04 a barrel on Wednesday.

The Russian ruble fell 2.5%, while the Mexican peso fell 0.9%. The South Korean won fell 1.3%.

The dollar’s strength appeared to already be on the Fed’s radar before Wednesday’s decision.

Minutes from the Fed’s November meeting showed participants discussed “the possibility that a further appreciation of the dollar stemming from developments abroad could renew disinflationary pressures and postpone the need for policy firming.” Minutes from the Fed’s December meeting will be released in the weeks ahead.

The stronger dollar can also hinder growth at home by making the exports of U.S. companies less competitive abroad. Corporate profits have only recently begun to rebound, with a key measure of after-tax earnings across U.S. corporations rising 5.2% in the third quarter, according to the Commerce Department. That was the first annual increase since late 2014.

Earnings for S&P 500 companies are expected to rise 3% in the fourth quarter, FactSet data shows.

Write to Chelsey Dulaney at Chelsey.Dulaney@wsj.com