The value of Nigeria’s export fell by 3.9 per cent in the first quarter of this year, compared to the same period in 2018.

The country’s total exports was valued at N4.535tn in Q1 2019, representing a 1.78 per cent rise compared to the fourth quarter of 2018.

The value of total imports increased to N3.7tn in Q1 2019, representing an increase of 3.39 per cent and 29.84 per cent compared to Q4 2018 and Q1 2018.

The trade balance remained positive at N831.6bn in Q1 2019, boosted by increases in both exports and imports.

The boost also helped total trade increase to N8.239tn, 2.50 per cent and 7.52 per cent higher compared to Q4 2018 and Q1 2018, according to the National Bureau of Statistics’ report on foreign trade statistics.

Export trade was dominated by crude oil exports, which contributed N3.376tn or 74.45 per cent to the value of total exports in Q1 2019.

Further analysis revealed that Nigeria exported mainly mineral products, which amounted to N3.95tn or 87.1 per cent of the total value of exports.

This was followed by vehicles, aircraft and parts; prepared food stuff, beverages, spirits; and vegetable products, which respectively accounted for N418bn or 9.22 per cent, N55.4bn or 1.2 per cent and N49.0bn or 1.1 per cent of the total exports.

In Q1 2019, products exported to Europe, Asia and Africa were valued at N1.833tn (40.43 per cent of total exports), N1.324tn (29.2 per cent) and N936.8bn (20.67 per cent) respectively.

The country exported goods worth N405.8bn (8.95 per cent) to the Americas and N34.5bn (0.76 per cent) to Oceania.

Within Africa, Nigeria exported goods valued at N300.6bn to ECOWAS member states (representing 32.08 per cent of total merchandise exports to Africa).

By country of destination, the country exported goods mainly to India, Spain, Netherlands, South Africa and France, valued at N745bn (16.43 per cent), N487.1bn (10.74 per cent), N405.4bn (8.9 per cent), N325.5bn (7.2 per cent) and N302.3bn (6.7 per cent) respectively.

The President, Insurance Industry Consultative Council, Mr Eddie Efekoha, has assured that operators in the insurance industry will support the National Insurance Commission to grow the industry.

Efekoha said this at the 2019 IICC retreat in Ijebu Ode, while applauding NAICOM for setting the pace of recapitalisation in the financial sector.

Efekoha said, “The wind of recapitalisation is blowing. When we came back from South Africa, we heard that of Ghana Insurers and the Central Bank of Nigeria planned recapitalisation, and I think the insurance regulator should be recommended for setting the pace.

“I can assure you that the operators will not go against our regulator because the consequences of that is too grievous. However, there is a limit at which operators can control other stakeholders like the shareholders and investors. We cannot stop them from speaking their minds, but whatever they have said do not represent the operators’/managers’ decision.”

Efekoha, while giving reason for the recapitalisation exercise, said, “The reasons NAICOM gave for the recapitalisation exercise are the same reasons CBN is giving which are the issues of exchange rate and capacity.

“If these are the main reasons for the recapitalisation exercise, the truth of the matter is that the exchange rate that applied in 2005/2007 is not the same in 2018/19.

“Secondly, if the exchange rate has changed, our ability to retain businesses has weaken. Should we enhance it? Yes! I think we should enhance it.”

The President, Institute of Loss Adjusters of Nigeria, Alhaji Femi Hassan, said, “We, at ILAN, want this recapitalisation to take place. We are eagerly waiting for it to take place, because it will enable the operators to put some structures in place that will help to grow the industry.

Banks’ non-performing loans fall to 9% – CBN

The non-performing loans of the banks fell by six per cent from 15 per cent in June 2017 to nine per cent in May 2019, the Central Bank of Nigeria said.

It stated that Capital Adequacy Ratio for the banking industry improved from 11 per cent in June 2017 to over 16 per cent in May 2019 and liquidity levels had also increased by over 20 per cent within the same period.

The bank said, “In addition, the ratio of non-performing loans in the banking system has reduced from 15 per cent in June 2017 to nine per cent in May 2019, due to concerted efforts by the CBN and the Deposit Money Banks, although more work is being done to moderate NPL levels to the maximum prescribed level of five per cent.

“Our financial institutions are well-positioned to perform their intermediation role, which will ultimately help in supporting the growth of our economy.”

According to the bank, the drop-in commodity prices affected a good number of banks given their exposure to the oil and gas sector.

Unfortunately, it added, these resulted in an increase in non-performing loans of its banks.

As a result of risk management measures embarked upon by the CBN, it added, capital adequacy and liquidity ratios of commercial banks were now above the prudential level.

Banking sector’s non-performing loans stood at N1.676tn as of the end of March 2019, the latest statistics from the National Bureau of Statistics revealed.

The gross loans recorded in the banking sector stood at N15.480tn, while the loans after specific provisions stood at N13.739tn in the period under review.

The ratio of the non-performing loans to total loans was 10.83 per cent, while non-performing loans to total loans after specific provisions was 12.2 per cent.

The figure of non-performing loans at the end of 2018 was N1.792tn, while the gross loans and loans after specific provisions were N15.353tn and N13.562tn respectively.

PenCom assures retirees of prompt pension payment

 The National Pension Commission on Monday assured retirees of prompt payment of their pension. The Acting Director-General, PenCom, Mrs Aisha Dahir-Umar, gave the assurance during the opening session of a pre-retirement workshop for Federal Government workers that are due to retire in 2020 under the Contributory Pension Scheme.

She said the commission considers contributors who are about to join the CPS retirees as very important stakeholders, adding that everything was being done to ensure they enjoy life after retirement.

The PenCom boss said the objectives of the Pension Reform Act of 2014 was to ensure that every person who worked in either in the Public Service of the Federation, Federal Capital Territory, States and Local Governments or the Private Sector receive his or her retirement benefits as and when due.

She said through the Pension Reform Act,  the commission had been able to establish uniform set of rules, regulations and standards for all aspects of pension administration, including payment of retirement benefits to retirees among others. As part of of its annual regulatory activities, Dahir-Umar said the commission had finalised arrangements to commence the verification of prospective retirees who would be retiring in the by next year from the public service of the federation.

She said the verification exercise which was scheduled to hold next month in 15 centres across the country, necessitated the need to undertake adequate sensitisation and public enlightenment in order to prepare prospective retirees on the steps to take towards a hitch-free retirement life.

The Acting DG urged the prospective retirees to make suggestions during and after the workshops on issues that may further help to make retirement life more comfortable for the future retirees.

“There is nothing to fear at retirement. We expect the session to be interactive, make suggestions. “We appreciate all our contributors; without contributors, no pension industry. You will become even more important to us at retirement. And I hope this relationship continues even in retirement,”Dahir-Umar said.

NPA sets up committee on Apapa gridlock

The Nigerian Ports Authority has set up a committee to look at the contending issues surrounding the Apapa gridlock, its effect on stakeholders and mitigating steps.

The General Manager, Corporate and Strategic Communications, NPA, Jatto Adams, disclosed this to our correspondent over the weekend.

Also during the weekend, reports had surfaced that the agency might be prevailed upon to grant a-30 per cent waiver on lease and container throughput fees to terminal operators in order to cushion the effect of the Apapa traffic.

The report had quoted the Executive Secretary, Nigerian Shippers Council, Hassan Bello, as stating this when he said the traffic situation in Apapa called for special sacrifice from all stakeholders involved in the port process.

Bello was quoted to have said that the NSC was currently in talks with NPA on the need to grant the 30 per cent waiver in port dues to terminal operators.

He said “We are also talking with NPA to relax and make the charges and give 30 per cent waiver of certain charges within the period contemplated. This is a temporary measure, but this is what I call general average sacrifice in order to save the situation. When a ship is about to capsize, we have a general average situation where the heavy cargoes are jettisoned and thrown overboard in order for the ship to survive.

“This is what we have been doing, everybody is coming along. Why the usual taskforce failed at that time was because there was no coming together of minds. It was just touching of one thing. Meanwhile, the problem of the port is a hydra-headed monster, when you cut one, another three will spring up.”

Adams, however, said a decision had not been taken concerning a-30 per cent waiver on the agency’s lease.

“I am not aware of this 30 per cent waiver on our lease, but talks are ongoing and a committee is in place to look at contending issues. So, until the report of the committee is made available to the management for an informed decision, no waiver has been granted,” he said.

Lagos bars export, empty containers from Tin Can

Image result for Lagos bars export, empty containers from Tin CanThe Lagos State Government has barred trucks carrying export containers and empty ones from accessing the Tin Can Island Port between June 28 and July 1.

The directive was contained in a traffic advisory, which was released for Apapa by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Transportation, Lagos State, Dr Salami Olufemi.

The government noted that there was an ongoing heavy construction work around the Mile 2–Apapa axis.

It also announced that it had secured a 12-day demurrage extension period for the operators.

The advisory read in part, “Due to ongoing re-construction work on Apapa-Oshodi Express Road, Creek Road and Liverpool Road, all in Apapa Port area, there are currently massive road diversions and ongoing port operations enhancement.

“With effect from midnight, Thursday, June 27, 2019, trucks carrying export and empty containers for Tin Can Island Port operations are to stay out of Lagos for the next three days, until Monday, July 1, to allow for the palliatives and opening of the axis for truck use. Also note that the government has secured a 12-day demurrage period extension.

“All trucks approaching Apapa Wharf Port are to approach the port via Wharf Road (Ijora, Orile and Iganmu) through their various nominated parks and Lilypond transit truck park.”

The government equally directed loaded trucks from Tin Can Island Port to exit through the Apapa Oshodi Express Road service lane via Liverpool Road roundabout and Coconut.

CIBN unveils e-learning platform for members

The Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria, Lagos State branch, has reiterated its willingness to make the education and examination of its current and prospective members more convenient and cost effective.

The Chairman of the state branch, Peter Ashade stated this at the unveiling of the institute e-learning platform in Lagos.

Ashade noted that the advent of technology brought dramatic changes to way things are done in every field of human endeavour.

He explained, “Technology has changed the way we live, work, communicate and indeed learn. Since the beginning of the digital revolution, regions, countries, organisations and even individuals have had to adjust accordingly to ensure that they remain competitive in this ever-evolving world.

“Technology has brought about many changes in key sectors of the economy, including education. In the past few years, we have seen the advent of several digital platforms for learning and lecturers and school administrators alike are continually looking for new ways to innovate in line with the recent technology advancements and adoption.”

The President and Chairman of Council, CIBN, Dr. Uche Olowu, said that the institute was noted for quality.

Olowu commended the branch for the quality of job delivered, saying there was no other greater service than leaving a legacy behind for the younger generation to continue.

Ghana denies $2bn railway contract with Chinese firm

Image result for Ghana denies $2bn railway contract with Chinese firmThe Ghanaian government has denied signing a contract with the China Railway Construction Company (International) Nigeria Limited to develop and modernise the country’s railway network.

The Minister of Railway Development, Joe Ghartey (MP), disclosed this in a letter while reacting to an online report (not Saturday PUNCH) which alleged that the country had reached an agreement with the firm on a 560km railway worth $2bn, about the same cost the firm was using to build the156km Lagos-Ibadan rail line.

The letter, dated June 3, 2019, was titled, ‘Re: CRCC to construct 560km railway line for $2bn — same cost as the 156km Lagos-Ibadan rail’

Ghartey, in the letter, explained that although there had been a memorandum of understanding between the two parties for the Trans-ECOWAS line, the MoU was cancelled due to an alleged breach of the confidentiality clause by the company.

The Trans-ECOWAS line runs along the coast of Aflao on the board of Togo and Elubo, a town near Ghana’s  border with Cote d’Ivoire.

The letter further reader in part, “Messrs CRCC expressed interest in supporting the Ministry to develop and modernise Ghana’s railway network, particularly the Trans-ECOWAS line, which runs along the coast between Aflao, on the border with Togo, and Elubo, on the border with Cote d’Ivoire. The purpose of the MoU is for CRCC to undertake feasibility studies through the use of independent consultants.”

“The CRCC has not submitted any report of the feasibility studies to the Ministry of Railways Development, let alone the project cost estimate. The Ministry of Railways Development has not received any offer from CRCC for the construction of the proposed Aflao-Elubo railway line(Trans ECOWAS line).”

“The Ministry of Railways Development, therefore, does not intend to proceed with the relationship between the two parties as established by the non-binding MoU.”

Meanwhile, the Managing Director of the Nigeria Railway Corporation, Fidet Okhiria, had on Tuesday dismissed the $2bn contract story.

He challenged anyone that said otherwise to publicly provide proof of the $2bn Ghana railway contract.

He had said, “The point is that the rumour-mongers are comparing something(Lagos-Ibadan rail project) with nothing because there is no such rail contract in Ghana as it’s been peddle by the mischief makers”.

NAFDAC suspends new tariffs on pharmaceutical products, others

Image result for NAFDAC suspends new tariffs on pharmaceutical products, othersThe National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control has suspended the implementation of the new tariffs on pharmaceutical, food and allied products.

NAFDAC disclosed this on Friday in a statement signed by its Director of Public Affairs, Dr Abubakar Jimoh.

It said the decision became necessary following the agitations against the new tariffs.

The implementation of the tariffs was expected to have commenced on June 1, but it was resisted by stakeholders.

To douse the tension, the council urged all the parties to maintain status quo, while it continued to dialogue with critical stakeholders on the review of tariffs.

The statement read in part, ‘In a decisive and quick move to douse tension and assuage the yearnings of stakeholders in the pharmaceutical, food and allied industries, the Governing Council of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control has suspended implementation of the new tariffs, which came into effect on June 1, 2019.

“After a marathon stakeholders’ forum and meeting of the Governing Council, it was resolved that all NAFDAC stakeholders affected by the new tariffs will henceforth revert to payment of the old tariffs until further notice.”

The statement quoted the Chairman, NAFDAC Governing Council, Mr Inuwa Abdul-Kadir, as saying that the status quo remained while the agency would continue to dialogue with all the concerned stakeholders on the tariff review and other regulatory issues.

Abdul-Kadir said the council had considered substantially the inputs of the stakeholders in arriving at a new tariff regime, which would soon be released by the agency after concluding all the necessary procedures,  including sensitising the public before it would become effective.

According to him, the suspension of the new tariffs is borne out of NAFDAC’s avowed commitment to the promotion of the growth of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises in the country.

MTN targets faster Internet speed, launches 4G+

MTN Nigeria Communications Plc has launched 4G+ in Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt.

A statement issued by the country’s largest telecommunication company on Tuesday described the MTN 4G+ technology as a 4G LTE advanced technology using a combination of the recently acquired 800 MHz spectrum and 2600 MHz.

The telco explained that the added spectrum and advanced technology extended the reach and capacity of its data network in Nigeria and enabled speeds of up to 200 megabytes per seconds.

According to MTN, the new technology means a 30-minute HD video could take as little as three minutes to download on 4G+, while the same video would take around eight minutes to download on standard 4G.

Commenting on the new service, the Chief Operating Officer, MTN Nigeria, Mazen Mroue, said, “It’s about the customer. We put the customer at the heart of everything that we do.”

He said the launch of 4G+ represented a natural evolution from MTN’s already fast and reliable 4G network and further demonstrated the company’s commitment to continued investment in technology that caters to the present and future needs of its customers and country.