Nigeria declares Monday, Tuesday holidays – NAN

Nigeria has declared Monday 26th, Tuesday 27th December, 2016 and Monday 2nd January, 2017 for the celebration of festivities lined up in the coming weeks.

The Public Holidays were specifically declared to mark the Christmas, Boxing Day and New Year 2017 celebrations.

The Minister of Interior, Lt Gen Abdulrahman Dambazau (rtd), declared the holidays on Wednesday in Abuja.

He urged Christians and Nigerians in general to remain committed and supportive of the Government of President Muhammadu Buhari.

The minister said the solicited support was help sustain efforts toward building a peaceful, united and prosperous nation.

According to a statement issued by the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Interior, Alhaji Muhammadu Maccido, on Wednesday, the minister also urged Nigerians to use the occasion to pray for peace, unity and peaceful co-existence across the country.

The minister wished all Nigerians at home and abroad, a Merry Christmas and prosperous New Year 2017.

    FOREX-Dollar dips but longer-term rally still seen in play – Reuters

    (Recasts after start of European trade, changes dateline from previous TOKYO)

    * Dollar falls back from a 14-year-high on profit-taking

    * Several U.S. economic indicators due Thursday

    * Euro shows no impact so far from Monte dei Paschi

    * Graphic: World FX rates in 2016 tmsnrt.rs/2egbfVh

    By Jemima Kelly

    LONDON, Dec 22 The dollar dipped for a second day on Thursday as traders booked profits ahead of a batch of U.S. data later in the day, though the greenback was still trading less than a percent away from a 14-year high touched earlier in the week.

    The U.S. currency surged last week when the U.S. Federal Reserve hinted that interest rates would be increased three times in 2017, after its first rate hike in a year, with the dollar index – which measures the greenback against six major peers – hitting its highest since December 2002.

     
     

    It has gained more than 5 percent since Donald Trump was elected as U.S. president six weeks ago, with investors betting that the president-elect’s planned tax cuts and increased spending in areas like infrastructure will boost growth and inflation, leading to higher interest rates.

    The dollar edged down 0.1 percent on Thursday, having also fallen around a quarter of a percent on Wednesday. But analysts said this week’s moves must be viewed in the context of thin liquidity, and there was no clear evidence to suggest the dollar’s rally had run out of steam.

    “In the months ahead I’m not seeing any signs that that’s turning,” said HSBC currency strategist Dominic Bunning, in London.

    “What we might be seeing is when you’ve had such a strong run, like we’ve seen in the dollar, and you go into a period where liquidity is thin … people take profit and close out some positions, so I think that’s why we’re getting some consolidation coming through in the dollar at the moment.”

    While trade is expected to slow further ahead of Christmas on Sunday, the market’s near-term focus is on U.S. economic indicators due on Thursday, including revised GDP for July to September, durable goods orders for November, and weekly initial jobless claims.

    “The market is relatively quiet in a holiday mood, but if the U.S. economic data is worse than the market expects, the dollar is likely to be sold further,” said Kumiko Ishikawa, FX market analyst at Sony Financial Holdings in Toyko.

    The euro was up 0.2 percent at $1.0440, rebounding from $1.0352 on Tuesday, the lowest since January 2003.

    However, the common currency could come under pressure as investors contemplate the future of the ailing Monte dei Paschi di Siena bank, Italy’s third largest lender, some analysts said.

    The world’s oldest bank has all but failed to pull off a last-ditch private sector rescue plan, making a state rescue appear to be inevitable, sources said on Wednesday.

    For Reuters new Live Markets blog on European and UK stock markets see reuters://realtime/verb=Open/url=http://emea1.apps.cp.extranet.thomsonreuters.biz/cms/?pageId=livemarkets (Additional reporting by Yuzuha Oka in Tokyo; Editing by Alison Williams)

    Six common mistakes to avoid when sending money abroad – Punch

    By Oyetunji Abioye

    International payments are complicated. With the math involved, you can easily be losing out on thousands of naira unnecessarily, via poor exchange rates and hidden fees.

     

    According to the Co-Founder of MyCurrencyTransfer.com, Mr. Daniel Abrahams, whether you are planning to relocate, making business payments or you are simply sending money to a family member abroad, there are many ways to get the best deal on money transfers no matter what currency you are using.

    According to medium.com, there are six common mistakes to avoid when making and receiving international payments.

    1. Paying high transfer fees without realising

    Do you know that your bank will charge you up to N10,000 for making an international money transfer? You may just shrug and think: “Well, they have to make their money somehow,” but do you know that a non-bank foreign exchange specialist can transfer your money for you for a significantly lower fee. In fact, many currency brokers can provide free transfers if they are above a certain threshold. As a starting point, it pays to shop around.

    1. Not knowing the actual exchange rate you are getting

    Over N10,000 transfer fees (depending on the amount being transferred) are explicit costs. Unfortunately, the greatest costs are ‘hidden’ implicit fees built into the rate of exchange. Unless you are an experienced trader, it can be quite a complex market to understand. This can lead to complacency and hefty exchange fees.

    The difference between the ‘real’ rate and the ‘sell’ rate is a key yardstick when analysing the cost of transaction. As a first step, use an accurate currency converter tool. The ‘actual’ exchange rate is also called the interbank exchange rate and is the wholesale rate that brokers and banks use to buy and sell currency. When you know this rate, it makes it so much easier to compare exchange rates offered and to choose the best deal for you. Remember, you always have a choice. If you are not given a quote that is within one per cent of the actual exchange rate, it’s probably best to seek out another deal.

    1. Not fixing exchange rates ahead

    There is a way to fix that great exchange rate you found today to ensure that you continue to transfer at the same rate throughout the year and beyond. A forward contract is a service provided by many money transfer specialists and commercial banks. Most forward contracts can run for up to 24 months and let you lock in today’s exchange rate. You only pay a 10 per cent deposit and settle the balance when your contract matures.

    1. Settling for the first deal

    Shopping around is great, but clicking on the first deal you find is not. Do you know that you can now use comparison sites to compare foreign transfer exchange rates and the services offered by online money transfer specialists? You can also shop around through the websites or contact centres of some commercial banks to get the best deal. A good comparison site will also give you customer reviews on the companies featured so that you can make a wise and informed choice.

    1. Falling for the marketing hype

    Are you tempted by that zero per cent commission transfer? Stop and think about how any company can afford to offer their services for free. Whilst there may not be any commission involved, you can bet that you will be getting a poor exchange rate. Companies offering zero per cent fees buy currency at one rate, work out their profit margin, and then sell it for a much less competitive rate. Just remember, a competitive exchange rate always wins no matter what the marketing hype may say.

    1. Not planning ahead

    Whilst some money transfers are urgent and unexpected, most can be planned ahead. Emergency money transfers will often incur higher fees, but if you can plan out regular or future transactions as far in advance as possible, you can often gain access to lower fees. Prepare in advance.

    Recession: Investment inflow into Nigeria shrinks by $4.5bn – Punch

    By Ifeanyi Onuba, Abuja

    The level of investment inflow into the country recorded a huge decline of $4.51bn from the $8.08bn in the first nine months of 2015 to $3.57bn in the same period of 2016, an analysis of the capital importation report obtained from the National Bureau of Statistics revealed.

     

    The report, which was obtained by our correspondent in Abuja on Wednesday, showed that the decline of 55.2 per cent was as result of the harsh economic climate.

    A breakdown of the inflow revealed that $710m investment was indicated in the first quarter of this year, while the second and third quarters had $1.04bn and $1.82bn, respectively.

    These are against the $2.67bn, $2.66bn and $2.74bn recorded in the corresponding periods of the 2015 fiscal year.

    The report attributed the huge decline in capital importation to what it described as the symptoms of the challenging period that the Nigerian economy was going through following the fall in crude oil prices.

    It stated that while there were a number of reasons why the amount of capital imported in recent years had been higher than usual, the drop between last year and this year suggested that there were further reasons why Nigeria had attracted less foreign investments in recent quarters.

    The report stated, “Investors may be concerned about whether or not they will be able to repatriate the earnings from their investments, given the current controls on the exchange rate.

    “In addition, as growth has slowed in recent quarters, there may be concerns about the profitability of such investments.”

    In terms of the composition of the investment inflow, the report revealed that the largest component of capital importation in the nine-month period was portfolio investment, attracting a total sum of $1.52bn.

    This was followed by “other investments, with $1.35bn, and foreign direct investment, with $699.39m.”

    A breakdown of the $1.52bn portfolio investment showed that equity accounted for $682.6m; bonds, $370.5m; and money market instruments, $475.55m.

    The report added, “The relatively strong growth in portfolio investment meant it regained its position as the largest investment type, and it accounted for 50.51 per cent in the third quarter, compared to 18.69 per cent and 30.80 per cent for other investments and the FDI, respectively.

    “Year-on-year growth rates remained negative; the FDI, portfolio and other investments declined by 52.54 per cent, 8.80 per cent and 45.05 per cent, respectively compared to the third quarter of 2015.

    “In the case of the FDI and other investments, however, this was partly the result of a base effect, as there was a spike in the value of the FDI equity in the third quarter of 2015.

    “Nevertheless, it is also possible that the weaker growth in the economy in the first half of 2016 has had an impact on the value of capital importation.”

    Why international money transfers run into problems – Punch

    International wire transfers can be effective, quick and even cheap, but there are problems that can cost you time and money.

    There are a number of problems that can occur when sending an international money transfer. According to www.nerdwallet.com, here are some big ones to avoid:

     
    1. Getting account details wrong

    Many international money transfers require bank account and routing numbers for both the sender and receiver. But these details aren’t always straightforward. The account and routing numbers, which together identify the bank accounts on either end of a transfer, have formats that vary by country. For instance, American banks use nine-digit routing numbers and various lengths for account numbers.

    “Sometimes people transpose the account number and the routing number,” says James Dowd, financial advisor and managing director at North Capital Incorporated in San Francisco.

    1. Not checking the estimated delivery time

    Not all transfers go at the same speed, especially overseas. Non-bank providers sometimes offer more than one payment method and delivery option, which can impact the speed of a transfer. Paying with a debit card usually speeds up delivery, for instance, but it can be more expensive than a direct withdrawal from a bank account. To avoid the long processing time of bank-to-bank transfers, you can wire cash through Western Union and MoneyGram locations, which generally takes minutes.

    In contrast, banks have limited payment and delivery options. They charge your bank account directly and send only to another account abroad, while other providers have broad networks of cash pickup locations. If you need money to get somewhere quickly, using a non-bank service is often faster.

    Knowing your options in terms of providers, cost and delivery speed will help you send money the way that best suits you, as long as you get the transfer details right, too.

    1. Not converting dollars to foreign currency first

    When you make an international transfer, you start with dollars and you expect the right currency to arrive to your recipient’s bank account. If you skip converting on your end, the transfer can be rejected at the other end, or the foreign bank may convert the money at a higher exchange rate or for a fee. This can put a strain on the recipient, especially if it results in delivery delays or the person receives less money than expected.

    1. Mixing up fees

    There are two main costs when sending international money transfers. The first is the service fee providers charge for sending money. The second is what you end up paying to change dollars into the currency of the country you’re sending money to. This cost depends on the foreign exchange rate between the two currencies, say dollars and Mexican pesos, which differs by provider.

    Banks and other providers generally mark customer exchange rates up to make a profit on a transfer.

    For example, a bank may receive euros at a rate of $1 to 0.89 euros, meaning $1,000 will be 890 euros. When you transfer $1,000, though, your bank gives you a less favourable exchange rate of, say, $1 to 0.86 euros, meaning you’re sending only 860 euros. That’s 3.4 per cent less, and the transfer will cost you the equivalent of $34 on top of the bank’s fee.

    External reserves hit $25.2bn as dollar shortage bites – Punch

    By Oyetunji Abioye

    The nation’s foreign exchange reserves have risen to over three-month high of $25bn, according to data on the website of the Central Bank of Nigeria. 

    Specifically, the statistics showed that the external reserves rose to $25.2bn on December 19.

    The last time the reserves recorded this figure was on September 8 when it had the balance of $25.16bn.

    The country’s fast-depleting reserves had recorded $23.89bn low on October 19.

    The reserves have dropped by 15.9 per cent from last year when they closed at $29.7bn.

    The CBN data showed that the foreign exchange reserves declined to $24.92bn on September 14 from $25.11bn on September 9.

    At the end of November, the reserves stood at $24.77bn, up from $23.95bn on October 31.

    Currency and economic experts are not sure if the tiny upticks in the external reserves’ level are sustainable amid the falling naira and acute shortage of dollar in the foreign exchange markets.

    “We are not certain of the extent this can go. Currently, the FX market is not a free-float one where the interplay of demand and supply determines price and volume. The uptick in the external reserves is not as a result of increase in supply over demand. It happens when there is a slowdown in the allocation of FX,” the Chief Executive Officer, Cowry Asset Management Limited, Mr. Johnson Chukwu, said.

    A senior associate in investment banking at Afrinvest, a research and investment firm, Mr. Ayodeji Ebo, said the gradual accretion of the external reserves could only become sustainable if the global oil price maintained its current level and there was also a continuous ramp up in oil production.

    The CBN had on June 20 lifted its 16-month-old currency peg and auctioned about $4bn on the spot and futures market to clear a backlog of dollar demand to help boost interbank market trading.

    The reserves had fallen from $26bn on August 4, 2016 to $25.97bn on August 5 as the central bank stepped up dollar sales to boost liquidity at the interbank market and support the ailing naira.

    The naira, which touched an all-time low of 365.25 per dollar on August 18 at the official market, has consistently closed around 305.5 in recent weeks.

    AFRICA-FX-Ugandan shilling, Nigerian naira seen lower – Reuters

    JOHANNESBURG Dec 22 (Reuters) – The currencies of Uganda, Kenya and Zambia are seen trading sideways in the week to next Thursday as most investors closed positions ahead of the end of the year while Nigeria’s naira is seen weaker as a dollar shortage persists, traders said.

    UGANDA

    The Uganda shilling is set to trade weaker over the next few days as commercial banks exert demand to square positions as the year nears its close.

    At 0811 GMT commercial banks quoted the shilling at 3,562/3,572, stronger than last Thursday’s close of 3,590/3,600.

    “In the last days of the year you normally see banks moving to cover short positions, so I expect some demand in that sense,” said a trader at a leading commercial bank.

    NIGERIA

    Nigeria’s naira is seen depreciating further and could hit the 500 mark to the dollar on the black market by next week as greenback scarcity persists and the central bank cuts supply to forex operators.

    The local currency was trading around 495 to the dollar on the black market on Thursday, compared to 485 per dollar last week due to dollar shortages, traders said.

    The naira was quoted at 310.5 to the dollar on the official interbank window on Thursday by commercial lenders.

    “There is an acute shortage of dollars in the market because of supply being slashed by half to bureau de change from international money transfer agents, pushing the naira down,” one trader said.

    Bureau de change operators are now getting $8,000 each per week from Travelex against the usual $15,000 each per week.

    KENYA

    The Kenyan shilling will likely to hold its position over the next week amid continued vigilance from the central bank, traders said.

    At 0900 GMT, commercial banks quoted the shilling at 102.35/45 to the dollar, slightly weaker than last Thursday’s close of 102.00/102.10.

    “Liquidity is a big thing at the moment, we do expect some consolidation and we expect the central bank to hold a strong dollar value against the shilling,” said one trader at a commercial bank.

    ZAMBIA

    The kwacha is expected to hold firm with a dampening in demand for hard currency and large corporates converting hard cash to settle their month end obligations.

    At 1005 GMT on Thursday, the currency of Africa’s No.2 copper producer was quoted at 10.8050 compared to a close of 9.8500 a week ago, according to Thomson Reuters data.

    “We continue to see some conversions of hard currency by major corporates for kwacha obligations. The local unit is expected to remain firm against the greenback in the interim,” the Zambian unit of Atlas Mara, BankABC said in a note. (Reporting by Elias Biryabarema, Katharine Houreld, Oludare Mayowa and Chris Mfula; Compiled by Mfuneko Toyana; Edited by Ed Stoddard)

     

    Poor refinery output questions Kachikwu’s hold tight stance – Businessday

    A new report by the Nigerian Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative, NEITI which puts average capacity utilisation of Nigerian refineries at 8.55% in 21 months is questioning Federal Government’s insistence to hold on to the derelict assets.

    The report states that the refineries did not process crude oil at all in seven out of the 21 months under review.

    “Consolidated capacity utilisation of the refineries was above 20% only in August 2015 (24.08%),” the report states.

    Meanwhile, NEITI reports also, that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) recorded a cumulative loss of N418.97 billion in 21 months between January 2015 and September 2016 earning marginal profits in only two months during the period under review.

    “Apart from January 2015 when the group made a profit of N7.6 billion, it also realised N0.27 billion as profit in May 2016, with total profit in 21 months coming to N7.87 billion, as against the loss of N418.97 billion, with total loss coming to N411.1 billion,” NEITI said in its report.

      Out of the 245.48 million barrels that NNPC received for domestic supply in 21 months, only 24.78 million barrels were delivered to the refineries for processing, amounting to only10.06% of what the NNPC received for domestic consumption, said the report which ranked Kaduna and Port Harcourt refineries as worst and best performing refineries respectively.

    Ibe Kachikwu, receiving members of the House of Representatives Committee on Petroleum (Upstream), who were on oversight visit to the ministry on December 20, said Nigeria’s three refineries were not up for concession or privatisation.

    Kachikwu said government rather favours private sector investments and subsequent joint ownership and management of the plants for greater efficiency, adding that it would not spend its money to repair them.

    In March this year, the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) opened bids for the co-location of refineries with the objective of increasing the nation’s refining capacity from 445,000 barrels per day to 650,000 and claimed it received bids from nine companies.

    Yet nine months later, there is no evidence that the refineries have met their capacity, prior to the collocation bid, let alone added capacity.

    Austin Avuru, chief executive officer of Seplat Petroleum Development Company Plc, a major player in the oil and gas industry, in a December 3 article for African Oil & Gas Report, called for the sale of the refineries, as they have been a drain on the national purse.

    “The NNPC’s own financial reports in the last ten years, show that about 80 per cent of the losses they have been reporting come from operations of two major segments of their business: refineries and the PPMC (Petroleum Products Marketing Company) so what does the country honestly lose today by selling the refineries?” he asked.

    Cyprian Nwuya, former Lagos State chapter chairman of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria, agrees. He says the refineries are adding little value to Nigeria and they should be sold.

    Taiwo Oyedele, PwC head of Tax told BusinessDay that he is in total support of selling virtually all  of government’s assets, especially the refineries on the basis that private sector led businesses are well managed.

    “Generally, in terms of assets, I think government should sell off everything, not just because we need this money but because we need those things to run efficiently.

    “America produces more than 9 million barrels of crude oil per day, they don’t have a national oil company, they make more money from oil than Nigeria, so from the angle of efficiency they should be sold,”

    A review of NNPC losses indicated volatility in the pattern in which its expenditure consistently outstripped revenues, with the difference varying from N3.55 billion in January 2016 to N45.49 billion in September 2015.

    Waziri Adio, executive secretary of NEITI, commended the NNPC for providing up-to-date information to Nigerians on the state of the country’s petroleum sector, through the monthly financial and operational reports published since August 2015.

    Adio however called on the NNPC to improve on its self-declared commitments to openness, transparency, and accountability.

    ISAAC ANYAOGU

      Flour Mills of Nigeria says dollar shortage boosting sales – Businessday

      By Emele Onu, Tope Alake, Bloomberg

       

      Flour Mills of Nigeria Plc, the country’s biggest miller by market value, said a shortage of dollars in Africa’s most populous nation is boosting sales as buyers starved of the U.S. currency buy more food products locally.

      “Everyone is trying to see how to source locally and that is good’’ for Nigerian farmers and processors, Managing Director Paul Gbededo said in a Dec. 16 interview at the company’s corporate headquarters in Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial capital. “We have almost tripled production in refinery of palm oil, palm kernel and soy bean,’’ he said.

      Prices have risen alongside demand, Gbededo said. “Fifteen months ago, one ton of corn was sold for 60,000 naira ($190). Today it is 125,000 naira,’’ he said.

       Nigeria’s U.S. dollar reserves dwindled after authorities tightened capital controls and restricted banks’ ability to trade foreign-exchange as part of a plan to prop up the naira after it plunged alongside crude prices. In addition, the Central Bank of Nigeria banned importers of 41 items, including palm-oil and rice, from accessing official foreign-exchange markets in June 2015.
       

      Although authorities allowed the naira to float in June in a bid to attract inflows, the U.S. currency remains scarce as most foreign investors that exited the country are yet to return. The economy has shrunk every quarter this year and is forecast by the International Monetary Fund to contract by 1.7 percent in 2016. Inflation accelerated to 18.5 percent in November, the highest rate in 11 years, according to the statistics agency.Flour Mills’ sales jumped 44 percent to 255 billion naira for the six months through September, according to an Oct. 31 filing to the Nigerian Stock Exchange. Profit after tax dropped to 6.5 billion naira from 24 billion naira due to foreign exchange losses, it said.

      The shares have declined 11 percent this year, compared with a 7.3 percent fall on the Nigerian Stock Exchange Main-Board Index. That values the company at 49 billion naira.

      The company, which has a milling capacity of 12,000 tons per day, also faces challenges from the lack of dollars as it imports about 1.7 million tons of wheat a year, which is processed into flour and sold to makers of bread, cookies, pasta, noodles and confectionery, according to Gbededo. Flour Mills plans to mitigate against that by growing more of the crop locally and starting a sorghum plant next year that will mill 75,000 tons of sorghum flour annually, Gbededo said.

       “Our goal is to depend less on the import of food into the country,” he said. “I want imports to end today, but it will take time.’’

      Flour Mills is expanding in the cultivation and processing of “six key crops” including sugarcane, cassava and maize to sell locally and export to markets in Africa and Europe, according to Gbededo. It has invested 40 billion naira in a sugar mill plant in the country’s Niger State and is developing 5,000 hectares of cassava farm and 10,000 hectares of maize farm, he said.

      “We are talking with equity and technical partners for expansion in those crops,’’ he said, without disclosing the partners.

      100 entrepreneurs get N144 mn loan from CBN – Businessday

      By Akinremi Feyisipo

       

      No fewer than 100 owners of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the southwest‎ have so far accessed over N144 million as loans from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

      Olumide Ajayi, programmes director of the CBN- Entrepreneurship Development  Centre(EDC) initiative, Southwest Zone,  who disclosed this at the graduation ceremony  of 500 trainees of the centre in Ibadan,  said from the inception of the second phase of the project in March 2015,it has trained 3,649 SMEs till date,

      Ajayi said 2,213 SMEs had been trained in 2016 alone, including start-ups and existing entrepreneurs.

      According to him, among those that were trained this year alone, more than half had submitted their business plans, 22 start-ups had commenced business while 732 businesses were expanded. He said  about 490 new jobs had been created from them.

      “Today, about 500 trainees of the centre are graduating, having met the condition of attending minimum 70 percent class attendance, passing their post-training assessment, submission of business plans and obtained clearance for graduation,” he said.

      “What do these figures show us? First, it shows us considerable improvement from what we achieved last year. We have performed 140 percent better in terms of enrolment and training; and we also improved considerably in terms of internship and access to funding for start-ups and existing businesses. These figures also tell us that there is more ground to cover in the Southwest States,” he added.

      The centre,he pointed out, had partnered  both private and public institutions to provide entrepreneurship training in their respective communities.

      ” It is important to state here that the State of Osun is, so far, the only state that has provided state sponsored trainees to the EDC for training. The state provided us with 196 persons who underwent entrepreneurship training in Oshogbo and more than percent have submitted their business plans,” he stated.

      He therefore called  on the state governments of Oyo, Ekiti, Ogun, Lagos and Ondo to replicate the same initiatives in their respective states.

      He disclosed that Oyo State Government, under the leadership of Abiola Ajimobi, facilitated N120 million  as business loans to 100 trainees of the centre who were both indegenes of the state and had their businesses domiciled in the state.

      “More than half of these trainees have accessed this fund and have started paying back to the bank, which, we believe, will create opportunity for other trainees to access the fund,” he said.

      He stated that the centre’s  vocational training programme, in partnership with Oodu’a Investment Company Limited and the Oyo State Government, focused on carefully selected trade lines with higher multiplier effects in terms of employment and income generation.

      ‎In his address, Femi Adebiyi, training and business manager of the centre, said the centre had been able to change the orientation of participants in regards to acquiring entrepreneurial skills.