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Nigeria-China N720 Billion Currency Swap Collapses

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Nigeria-China N720 Billion Currency Swap Collapses

•Operators allege sabotage –Expert

Three years after the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) signed a currency swap deal with the People’s Bank of China (PBoC), Nigerians are yet to feel the impact of that arrangement, especially as the free fall of naira, currently standing at N570/$1 at the parallel market persists.

In April 2018, the CBN issued the regulations for a US$2.5 billion currency swap agreement in June same year; designed to facilitate trade between the two countries and enhance foreign reserve management.

But tongues have already started wagging that the N720 billion swap deal for at least 15 billion Yuan (Renminbi) (equivalent of $2.4 billion in June 2018) between the two countries has failed to achieve its purpose since it was sealed.

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The Bilateral Currency Swap (BCS) agreement was inspired by trade facilitation. It was to allow importers of goods from China to conclude their transactions in Yuan instead of the US Dollar) and vice-versa. This was done to reduce the demand of the US dollars, lift the undue pressure on the naira at the time, consistent with the CBN’s naira management strategies.

While the CBN has continued with the implementation of the BCS with the Peoples’ Bank of China through fortnightly Renminbi auctions, it was gathered that bureaucratic bottlenecks have become a major challenges for traders and importers transacting business with China.

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Petrol May Sell Above ₦340/Litre, Marketers Plan Imports Amidst Forex Crisis

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Petrol May Sell Above ₦340/Litre, Marketers Plan Imports Amidst Forex Crisis
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Petrol May Sell Above ₦340/Litre, Marketers Plan Imports Amidst Forex Crisis

The pump price of Premium Motor Spirit, popularly called petrol, may go higher than the projected N340/litre in February 2022 when the Federal Government removes its subsidy on the commodity, oil marketers said on Tuesday.

Also, it was gathered that both independent and major oil marketers were perfecting plans to resume PMS imports once the government halts the subsidy regime.

They, however, expressed worry over the fluctuation in foreign exchange rates and how this would impact on petrol price next year.

For about four years, the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited has been the sole importer of petrol into Nigeria. Marketers stopped importing the commodity due to their inability to effectively access the United States dollar for imports.

Last week, the Group Managing Director of NNPC, Mele Kyari, announced at a World Bank event in Abuja that petrol would sell for between N320 and N340 per litre from February 2022 by which time the Federal Government have removed the subsidy.

He explained that Nigeria would be out of the subsidy regime in the first quarter of next year, stressing that subsidy would have been eliminated this year but was stalled due to certain conditions.

The current pump price of petrol at filing stations is between N162 and N165/litre, although the product is mostly sold at the upper N165/litre rate due to recent challenges in the downstream oil sector.

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But marketers told our correspondent on Tuesday that the cost of petrol would be higher than the projected N320 – N340/litres if there was no improvement in the foreign exchange rate.

Dealers under the aegis of Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria and Petroleum Products Retail Outlets owners Association of Nigeria stated that though they were set to import petrol, the cost of the commodity would be high in February.

IPMAN and PETROAN members own bulk of the filling stations across the country and currently make purchases from depots before selling to final consumers at their various retail outlets.

“Yes, if there is no subsidy, some marketers can import, but the only thing is that it will be costly. The price will be higher than the projected cost because of the exchange rate,” the National Vice President, IPMAN, Abubakar Maigandi, stated.

He added, “The challenge of accessing forex will definitely affect imports because over 90 per cent of petrol that will be consumed across the country will depend on importation. Also this is because the refineries are not functioning.”

The National Public Relations Officer, IPMAN, Chief Ukadike Chinedu, also stated that the foreign exchange rate would determine the cost of petrol from next year after subsidy removal.

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He said, “If the Federal Government says there is no going back on subsidy removal this time round, which is a challenge that has dragged on for about 30 years, then it means that they are going to liberalise the market.

“By liberalising the market it will now help independent and major marketers to be able to freely import petroleum products from any source so that products will be available in Nigeria.”

He added, “However, it is pertinent to note the forces of demand and supply will determine the price of the commodity in Nigeria. So literally, whatever the dollar rate is in the international and local markets will pose the actual challenge to marketers

“The issue of black market and official exchange rates is a serious challenge that we foresee. But we believe that the Federal Government is doing something by meeting with the bureau d’change operators on this, so that whatever is obtainable at the banks is what you get in the open market.”

On whether the forex issue could lead to a higher price than the projected N340/litre, Chinedu replied, “Aside from the adverse effects of the removal of subsidy on the wellbeing of Nigerians, we will, of course, see a price that is higher than what they project.

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“The price will be higher. It will be higher because the dollar to a large extent determines the price of petroleum products. If the dollar goes up, the price of petrol will increase, and vice versa.”

The President PETROAN, Billy Gillis-Harry, confirmed the position of IPMAN, as he, however, explained that members of his association were ready to import the commodity.

He said, “At PETROAN we already have a vehicle that is in place to start importation petroleum products, gas and other products. We encourage the government to completely remove subsidy.

On the possibility of higher pump price than the projected N340/litre, Gillis-Harry said, “That is why we said that every single thing about petroleum products should be premised on the forces of the market.

“The forces of demand and supply should determine the price.”

The spokesperson of NNPC, Garba-Deen Muhammad, told our correspondent that the issue of petrol pricing was not the function of the oil firm.

“Price issues are policy matters. NNPC does not fix price, it has no mandate. It operates in the sector as a business concern governed by CAMA Laws,” he stated.

Marketers, however, urged the government to consider carrying out programmes that would help ameliorate the plights to be faced by consumers when it eventually puts an end to petrol subsidy.

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MTN Nigeria launches sale of shares to Nigerians

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MTN Nigeria launches sale of shares to Nigerians
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MTN Nigeria launches sale of shares to Nigerians

MTN Nigeria Plc (MTN) has announced the trial of e-SIM services on its network based on approvals received from the Federal Government.

MTN Nigeria Communications Plc (MTNN) has announced the price of its initial public offering to retail investors.

The company is making 575 million of its shares available to the public at N169 per unit, the telecoms heavyweight said on Tuesday.

Sales will open at 8:00 am on December 1 and close at 5:00 pm on December 14. It is the first time the company will invite subscriptions from the public nearly two years after it debuted on the Nigerian Exchange Limited (NGX).

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MTNN made the disclosure in a statement on the NGX website, signed by Company Secretary Uto Ukpanah and seen by newsmen.

“The minimum subscription is for 20 shares and lots of 20 shares thereafter. The offer includes an incentive in the form of 1 free share for every 20 shares purchased, subject to a maximum of 250 free shares per investor,” he said.

“The incentive is open to retail investors who buy and hold the shares allotted to them for at least 12 months, post the allotment date.”

This retail offer will be delivered via a digital platform, the first in Nigeria. By using the power of technology, the telco intends to facilitate the maximum possible participation by Nigerian investors, MTNN said.

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Commenting on the price announcement, MTN Nigeria’s Chief Executive Officer, Karl Toriola, said: “The success and growth of MTN Nigeria is intrinsically linked to that of Nigeria and Nigerians. Therefore, we are very excited to offer Nigerians the opportunity to own shares in MTN Nigeria.”

“Our journey to becoming the largest network in Nigeria has been humbling, but we still have a long way to go. There is much more to do to support the evolution of an inclusive digital economy, and we continue to invest as we evolve into a truly digital operator, capable of seamlessly integrating value across the evolving telecommunications, digital and fintech segments.”

The MTN Group President and Chief Executive Officer, Rolph Mupita, said the offer aligns with MTN Group’s strategic priority to create shared value.

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“In the last 20 years, we have worked diligently to connect 68 million subscribers onto voice and data networks and ensure that we deliver the benefits of modern connected life. With this Offer, we will contribute to the further deepening of Nigeria’s equity capital markets. It is the first in a series of transactions as the MTN Group implements its plans to ensure broad-based ownership by reducing its shareholding in MTN Nigeria to 65% over time.

This move is a broader arrangement to enlarge its market capacity to other African countries including Zambia and Uganda.

MTNN’s shares, listed in Lagos, closed at N190 per unit on Tuesday, recording no movement.

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Cryptocurrencies Bear High Risks – Putin

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Cryptocurrencies Bear High Risks - Putin
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Cryptocurrencies Bear High Risks – Putin

On Tuesday, Vladimir Putin, President of the Russian Federation, voiced his criticism regarding the state of the criticism sector at the “Russian Calling” investment forum in Moscow.

According to local news outlet lenta.ru, the president made the following remarks, as translated: “It is not backed by anything, [and] the volatility is colossal, so the risks are very high. We also believe that we need to listen to those who talk about those high risks.”

Putin called for the greater monitoring and regulation of cryptocurrencies and pointed out that certain countries worldwide are seeing significant adoption of digital currencies. Currently, cryptocurrency regulation is still in its infancy in Russia. Although the government is considering the launch of a central bank digital currency, at least eight federal laws and five legislative codes must be changed for the digital ruble to take effect.

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Cryptocurrencies Bear High Risks – Putin

Furthermore, no regulation exists in the country regarding cryptocurrency mining. This has led some to claim that $2 billion in crypto mining revenue is generated annually in Russia, but on that, no taxes are paid. Due to the lack of a regulatory framework, cryptocurrency use has soared among ordinary Russians, with transactions surpassing $5 billion each year.

In other parts of the former Soviet Union, cryptocurrencies are also rapidly gaining in traction. Kazakhstan has become the world’s largest Bitcoin (BTC) miner by hash rate, and its president is seeking to collect more taxes from such activities to fund the country’s expenses. In Ukraine, the government is actively encouraging legal crypto operations. Last year, the city of Olsztyn, Poland, began adopting the Ethereum (ETH) blockchain for emergency services.

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