NITDA to boost foreign direct investment

The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) says it will explore ways to boost Foreign Direct Investment in the country.

The Director-General of NITDA, Dr Isa Pantami stated this in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital, when a delegation from the Embassy of the United States of America in Nigeria paid him a visit.

Dr Pantami also said both countries will discuss the 2013 Nigerian Guidelines on Local Content Development in ICT.

He therefore urged the Tech giants to come to Nigeria and domesticate their businesses, products and services, adding that NITDA is committed to working with stakeholders to move the country’s IT sector forward.

On his part, the leader of the delegation and the Deputy Economic Counsellor, Mr Michael Carney appealed on behalf of top US Information Technology Companies for a soft, friendly regulation to allow for investment in Nigeria’s IT sector.

Financial expert advocates new opportunities for generating more VAT

A financial expert, Dr Samuel Nzekwe, has emphasized the need for government to perfect new opportunities of generating more Value Added Tax (VAT) in the country.

He made the suggestion in an interview with source in Ota, Ogun state, South-West Nigeria.

Nzekwe spoke against the backdrop of the Federal Government’s move to increase the VAT in order to meet the demand of the new N30,000 national minimum wage in the country.

Nigeria’s Minister of Budget and Planning, Mr Udo Udoma, had said the Federal Government is planning to increase the nation’s VAT to 50 percent from 2 percent to meet its challenge.

Nzekwe, also a former President, Association of National Accountants of Nigeria (ANAN), said increasing the nation’s VAT would not solve the revenues challenge, instead it would contribute to inflation rises in the country.

“The Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRs) has not been able to capture all people into the VAT net.

“A lot of people in the country are not paying VAT. More people are paying taxes without VAT due to poor compliance on the FIRS officials.

“What they should have done is to get more people to pay VAT,’’  he said.

Nzekwe noted that compliance was the major problem with the provisions of VAT because of its poor management.

The ex-ANAN president suggested that the FIRS should redouble its efforts to ensure that more people were captured into the VAT net in order to boost the nation’s revenues.

He also said increasing VAT was an indirect way of inflicting pains and shortchanging Nigerians, which was not good for the economy.

Access, Diamond host female entrepreneurs

Access bankAccess and Diamond Bank commemorated the International Women’s Day by hosting female entrepreneurs to a conference held in Lagos.

The event themed ‘Think W… Build Smart and Innovate’ featured insightful sessions, as the speakers highlighted issues and solutions on how women can effectively leverage on technology and finance to build profitable and innovative businesses.

While delivering the keynote speech, the CEO/ Group Managing Director of Access Bank, Herbert Wigwe said “Women, over the years, have continued to break boundaries, reinvent the status-quo and take advantage of the opportunities provided by technology and quality financial systems to make things better in the society.

This year, the International Women’s Day Conference, has been designed to educate women on how best to leverage innovations because we have come to the realization that female-owned businesses also hold the key to the growth and stability of our economy”.

NIBSS extends POS transaction timeout to 45 seconds

The Nigerian Interbank Settlement System (NIBSS) yesterday extended Point of Sale (POS) transactions timeout from 15 second to 45 seconds.

NIBSS Acting Managing Director, Niyi Ajao, who disclosed this during a press briefing in Lagos, said the agency was aware of the poor transaction network going on in the country, and pains it has caused to e-payment users.

He said the move was to improve on poor network quality for e-payment transactions by extending the time it takes to complete a transaction, especially, POS and restore confidence in the e-payment system.

Ajao said that NIBSS facilitated 285 e-payment transactions in 2018, and that the transaction volume will hit 600 million by this year end.

He explained that transaction timeout is the total turn-around-time (TAT) for a POS transaction cycle from the time it is received from a POS to the time a response is sent back to the terminal. “This TAT had been configured at 15 seconds in agreement with banks and processors. However, delayed responses from Issuers after this timeout in recent times could cause authorised debits not to return to the terminal before the set TAT, hence the adjustment to 45 seconds,” he said.

He said there has been several meetings between the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), banks and Payment Service Providers on the need to improve transaction quality and provide seamless e-payment services to customers.

According to the NIBSS boss, the adjustment to the timeout will be done on March 22, and is meant to reduce the number of failed transactions in the country.

He said the reversal for failed transactions is one area that NIBSS will henceforth, pay more attention to, so as to strengthen e-payment users confidence in the system.

“Whenever there is a transaction decline the system is supposed to reverse the transaction such that a debited cardholder would receive a reversal credit. Delays on reversal could be caused by platform downtime, network issues at processor level or delayed responses and Issuer/Switch Inoperative – Processor or bank is not available to receive the reversal even when it’s transmitted by NIBSS,” he said.

He said that NIBSS has taken remedial actions in fixing the rising e-payment challenges in the country, by fixing all platform application issues by  February 21; network remediation carried out with concerned Processor and implementation of a secondary process whereby all reversals for any business day are re-transmitted between 10pm and 12 mid-night to return credit back to cardholders through their banks/Processors by March 22.

NNPC: Kolmani River-II drilling ongoing

The Kolmani River-II Well which spud-in was flagged off last month by President Muhammadu Buhari is progressing satisfactorily, with drilling so far of 6,700 feet, the Group Managing Director, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Dr. Maikanti Baru, has said.

A release yesterday stated that Dr. Baru spoke while receiving an Award presented to him by the Petroleum Technology Association of Nigeria (PETAN) Executive for his landmark achievement in the development of inland basins in the country, especially the drilling of the Kolmani River-II Well and his efforts in deepwater operations.

Baru explained that the target was 14,200 feet, although the depth could be longer depending on findings, even as he explained to the visiting PETAN Executive that President Muhammadu Buhari should be commended on the progress being made on the drilling of the well.

Prospecting for oil and gas in Kolmani River-II Well is one of the recent foray of the government into inland exploration in parts of the country.

Electronic offerings to use USSD, mobile devices

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has released draft guidelines for transition to electronic offering of shares and other securities in the  capital market.

Electronic offering (e-O) is the use of internet or other electronic means, including mobile or Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) platforms to provide access to prospectuses, offering memoranda, subscription forms and other documentation for the subscription to securities and related documentation as well as payment for such subscription.

Electronic offering will be done on a platform purposely established by an eligible service provider registered with SEC.

In a circular, SEC said the electronic offering platform will translate the current paper-based process of securities offerings into electronic form through electronic display of offer documents, subscription and payment through a combination of web portals, mobile applications, USSD and other electronic means.

Under the electronic initial public offering (e-IPO) and other electronic public offers, investors will be able to get allotment and value for their subscriptions within few days as against the current cycle of nearly four months.

The full automation of primary issuance will involve automation of the process, approval, documentation, subscription and allotment of all issues, especially IPOs and public offers. With this, investors will be able to subscribe and make payment for IPOs and public offers online with such orders being matched and allotted electronically and directly to the investment accounts of the investors at the Central Securities and Clearing System (CSCS) and any other designated clearing centre.

The full automation will enable the primary market to operate within a designated transaction cycle, possibly within the T+3 four-day trading cycle being operated at the secondary market.

According to the draft guideline, the e-Offering platform shall give subscribers access to general information regarding the offer, the application input screen, download, view and print the offer documents, provide for electronic online payment options, which shall be seamlessly integrated with the e-offering platform, allow integration with identity management systems such as Bank Verification Number (BVN) database for the purpose of Know Your Customer verification and integrate with the depositor to enable electronic crediting of approved allotments to subscribers’ depository accounts.

The platform shall also permit subscribers to select a broker of their choice for the purpose of the electronic crediting of the approved allotment, while providing mandatory information fields for subscribers to supply surname and other names, full company name and registration number, BVN or any other SEC-approved biometric numbering system, bank name and account numbers of subscribers and mobile telephone number and email address.

The platform is also expected to provide for the upload of provisional rights allocation for rights issues by the relevant registrar to the issue.

In order to strengthen investors’ protection, the e-O platform must mandatorily require subscribers and end-users to confirm that the subscriber has been provided with sufficient opportunity to access the offer documents and the information disclosed therein and that the information provided by the subscriber is to the best of the applicant’s knowledge, true and accurate in all material respects before submitting the application.

The e-O platform will also permit subscribers to print a copy of the relevant application screen or page containing the details of information submitted by the subscriber.

The e-O platform is also expected to provide instructions and information for subscribers outlining the procedures and any requirements subscribers shall comply with in order to use the platform as well as the process and procedure a subscriber shall follow to make a valid application.

PTAD chief wins Africa personality award

The Executive Secretary, Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate (PTAD), Barr. Sharon Ikeazor, has been announced the winner of this year’s Africa Pension Personality of the year, CEO Leadership Category, Gold Awards.

A statement by the Directorate stated that other institutions nominated for the award include the Government Pensions Administration Agency (GPAA), South Africa, Metropolitan Pensions Trust Ghana Limited, Ghana and Axis Pension Group, Ghana.

It read: “Other corporate organisations also declared as winners in other categories include Modion Communication, Propertymart, Vitafoam Nigeria Plc and STL Trustees.

“According to AFA 2019, the selection was done with input from Pension industry analysts, corporate executives and finance experts from six African countries (Ghana, South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya, Cameroon and Sierra-Leone) who selected winners in all categories of awards including CEO Awards, West Africa Award etc. with Sharon Ikeazor winning Africa Pension Personality of the year, CEO Leadership Category- Gold. This was in recognition of her contributions to the development of the industry and positive changes she brought to PTAD.”

Sharon Ikeazor was appointed as the Executive Secretary of PTAD by President Muhammadu Buhari on September 26, 2016.

“She was able to identify areas in need of critical changes in PTAD and took appropriate measures that have changed the negative story of pension administration under Defined Benefit Scheme to a positive one today. She introduced efficient payment platform, painstaking I.T driven verifications with empathy and anti-corruption crusade with the inauguration of Anti-Corruption and Transparency Unit (ACTU).

“She works in collaboration with ICPC, EFCC and Nigeria Police to stamp out corruption in the system.The hope of pensioners under the Defined Benefit Scheme has been restored by her.AFA 2019 says, Sharon Ikeazor will be presented with the awards at the ceremony slated for March 29, 2019 at the prestigious Sheraton Hotel & Towers, Ikeja, Lagos.

Access Bank issues N15bn green bond

Access Bank Plc on Monday issued a five-year fixed rate senior unsecured green bond worth N15bn.

The green bond, which has been awarded an Aa- rating by Agusto & Co and certified by the Climate Bonds Initiative having met the global climate bonds standard, saw its offer by way of a book build fully subscribed.

The bonds, which are priced at a coupon of 15.5 per cent, had participation from a wide range of asset managers and pension fund administrators.

The management of the bank launched the Nigerian Green Bond Market Development Programme in June 2018 in partnership with FMDQ OTC Securities Exchange and the Securities and Exchange Commission in anticipation of the issuance.

The Group Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Mr Herbert Wigwe, while speaking at the signing ceremony in Lagos on Monday, said, “With our pace-setting experience in the mainstreaming of sustainability in our business operations, we are confident that this issue will further help in supporting environmentally friendly investors to meet their investment objectives while simultaneously supporting the bank’s customers towards realising growth opportunities in developing low carbon economy fast.”

Wigwe added that the new funding would be directed towards financing new loans and refinancing existing loans in accordance with the bank’s green bond framework and supporting projects directed at flood defence, solar generation facilities and agriculture.

According to him, the bank supports the global climate change mitigation and adaptation agenda and seeks to promote responsible green lending globally.

He noted that the green bond issuance was a demonstration of the bank’s commitment to sustainable operational practices and being a pioneer operator, both in domestic and international capital markets.

He added, “The bank has a strong track record in deploying environmental and social risk management tools and partnering local and international agencies to deliver a greener outcome from investing activities.

“Over the last five years, the bank has pioneered various resource conservation programmes in water usage, energy consumption and waste recycling, aimed at reducing carbon emissions. It is worthy to note that all the bank’s sustainability efforts are well aligned with the Federal Government’s Nationally Determined Contributions, the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan and the Vision 2020:20.”

Chapel Hill Denham acted as the lead issuing house on the Green Bond issuance, while the joint issuing house was Coronation Merchant Bank.

Kwara owes N30.2bn debt, says Finance Commissioner

Image result for Kwara owes N30.2bn debt, says Finance CommissionerThe Kwara State Government has said that its debt profile, which it owed both the Federal government and external creditors, currently stands at N30,203,632,608.29.

The Commissioner for Finance, Alhaji Demola Banu, while making a clarification in a statement in Ilorin on Tuesday, said that contrary to public speculation, the state’s current debt portfolio stood at N30,203,632,608.29 with a monthly repayment of N496,367,109.08.

He said, “The debt profile of the state was N31,481,082,712.95 in 2017 and stood at N30,751,665,421.83 at the end of 2018, contrary to social media speculation of N50.2bn.”

Giving a breakdown of the current indebtedness, Banu explained that “the N30.2bn includes N15,325,541,483.03 as the balance of the Federal Government restructured loan , N4,002,948,667.07 as salary bailout, excess crude account loan outstanding of N9,324,613,607.52 and vehicle loan balance of N128,916,612.87.

“Others are the Commercial Agriculture Credit Scheme and the Anchor Borrowers Programme (Agriculture Scheme) with respective balances of N646,213,285.03 and N679,233,857.13 as well as International Aviation College loan balance of N96,165,095.64. “

While clarifying that the repayment of N496,367,109.08 was deducted from the state’s monthly federal allocation, Banu added that the figure include a monthly deduction of N39,632,016.56 as repayment for foreign loans obtained by the government in the 1970s.

Giving a further breakdown, Alhaji Banu explained that the Federal Government restructured the state government’s short and long-term bank loans to reduce monthly repayment, while the state also benefitted from a N5bn salary bailout loan in 2015.

Additionally, the commissioner stated that the excess crude account loans were Federal Government-backed bank facilities which served as seed money for the Kwara State Infrastructure Development Fund and payment for ongoing projects in the state while CACS and ABP were state-government guaranteed Central Bank of Nigeria loans to farmers in the state.

Utilise capital market to fund budget, experts tell FG

Capital market experts have urged the Federal Government to utilise the capital market to fund the budget.

The experts, who spoke at the 3rd Annual Budget Seminar of the Securities and Exchange Commission, themed, “Budgets, Elections and capital markets: Risks and opportunities in 2019, urged the government to make the capital market the fulcrum of its industrialisation agenda and economic development in a bid to urgently lead the country out of poverty.

The acting Director General, SEC, Ms Mary Uduk, said the government budget always affected the economy, while the economy in turn would affect the capital market.

She said, “Stakeholders, both local and foreign, are interested in the budget and try to analyse how it affects them. Investors also sit down and analyse the budget and that is why the capital market is looking at the impact of the budget and how the market can aid its implementation.

“The capital market is very important in funding for a lot of projects in the economy. The capital market is important in raising the money to fund the budget. We want to be in the driver seat and contribute to the budget of the Federal Government.

“We are interested in driving and contributing to this economy and that is why we are having this seminar. We believe there are a lot of opportunities for the capital market in this budget. There is a need for us to sit down again as a capital market community and find ways of driving the budget.”

The Chief Executive Officer, Emerging Africa Group, Mrs Toyin Sanni, said there was a misalignment of priorities in the 2019 budget allocation.

She stated that infrastructure development was of optimal importance for the achievement of development of sustainable prosperity, adding that all sectors were dependent on infrastructure to attract investment and ensure the active participation of the private sector.

The Head, Economic Research, SEC, Dr Afolabi Olowookere, said opportunities existed for equities and sub-national issuances and urged state governments to explore the capital market for the funding of their projects.

He urged the Federal Government to lower its domestic borrowing to make room for private issuances.

He stated that some of the ways the budget could be funded were the creation of money market-based instruments and trading, commodity trading and derivatives, investment in eligible companies under tax credit scheme as well as the attraction of restructured oil assets to list.

Speaking on elections, the Head, Department of Banking and Finance, Nassarawa State University, Professor Uche Uwaleke, said a lot of the factors that contributed to the negative performance of the capital market pre-election were still in play.

According to him, uncertainties around the recently concluded general elections are still lingering in the market.

He noted that most stock prices remained low, despite the positive and encouraging earnings report posted by companies.

Uwaleke, however, urged investors to take advantage of the low prices, describing it as a good entry point.