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Protest at IMF, World Bank meeting over Nigeria’s borrowing

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Protest at IMF, World Bank meeting over Nigeria’s borrowing

 

NaijaNews reports that as the 2023 edition of the World Bank Group, WBG, spring meetings draw to a close tomorrow in Washington, DC, United States of America, Nigeria’s participation for the first time ever appears to have been colored by policy protests coming from the civil society groups.

On the sidelines of the meetings, Auwal Rafsanjani, the Executive Director of the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Center (CSLAC, one of the groups from Africa at the meeting, told a select group of journalists that the representatives of civil society groups in Africa had a unique session with the Bretton Woods Institutions where the issues of accountability and governance in respect of debt were discussed.

According to him, they raised a concern with the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, IMF, about Nigeria’s incessant borrowings from the two institutions, especially the latest borrowing of $800 million.

He also said that the backdrop to the concern was the worsening economic situation of the country amid continued borrowing, which he said was plunging the country deeper into debt crises that would be faced by generations of citizens that did not benefit from the loans.

He alleged that the funds borrowed were not used for the purpose but rather were taken up by corruption.

His words: ‘‘The Nigerian economy is really suffering from so many problems: corruption, mismanagement, misplacement of priorities, lack of compliance with our financial regulations, and even what we may see as deliberate efforts by public officials to undermine the revenue by creating leakages that further put the economy in jeopardy.

‘‘Nigeria continues to repay this money (loans) despite the deficit in our infrastructure and other social sectors that suffer significantly, like the collapse of education and the healthcare system, and other important aspects of governance like security.

‘‘Yet the Nigerian government is borrowing money to finance subsidies. ” Closely related to this development is the government’s recent pronouncement to borrow and spend over $800 million in the name of subsidy palliative.

‘‘This is another scam, because in 2020, during COVID, the Nigerian government approached the IMF for a loan of $3.4 billion with a view to cushion the effects of COVID. But what we have seen is that the money was not judiciously utilized, and ordinary Nigerians who were promised palliatives did not see any. ” In fact, because of official corruption, money was diverted by different agencies and parastatals in the name of palliative care.

‘‘We all remember how NNPC came to the National Assembly to testify about the billions they used in the name of COVID palliatives. We also remembered the Humanitarian Affairs Ministry and how they told the whole nation that, while children were at home, they were doing school feeding programs.

‘‘So this is how the money borrowed by the Nigerian government and the contributions and donations by international partners and even Nigerian philanthropists disappeared without accountability.

‘‘So for you to now, at the last minute of your regime, be leaving next month and borrowing $800 million to share without any clear accountability framework, it calls for alarm, worry, and concern.

‘‘With the rising inflation, increase in unemployment, and increase in poverty, the country’s economy is becoming more and more worrisome. ” This is why the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Center came along with other civil society organizations to the spring meeting taking place here in Washington, DC, to have discussions with World Bank and IMF officials.

‘‘So yesterday we met with the directors of the IMF and World Bank, with a few select civil society groups from Africa, of which I happen to be one, to discuss our concern about the way and manner in which our country quickly ran to come and borrow money, even in deviation from the fiscal responsibility law, which clearly states how government should borrow money.

‘‘But they borrow this money to finance non-economic projects. In many instances, the so-called constituency projects also take up a large chunk of the money they are borrowing to finance the budget.

‘‘So, we have come to discuss with them to express our worries and concern that the non-transparent spending of borrowed money by our government is of great concern to us and that they must not continue to give these monies without putting in place an accountability mechanism and also safe reporting for whistle-blowers.

“And if these monies are meant for the people of Nigeria, then they must involve non-state actors at least to observe and monitor how these monies are spent.”

‘‘Now, the Nigerian government continues to borrow money from all sorts of commercial banks. The worst part of it is that we are borrowing at the highest interest rate, which is difficult to repay.

‘‘Even the conventional ones that they earlier wanted, we are finding it difficult to repay, not to mention those other commercial banks whose charges are very high and whose interest rates are very high.

By Emeka Anaeto, Business Editor in Washington, DC

As the 2023 edition of the World Bank Group, WBG, spring meetings draw to a close tomorrow in Washington, DC, United States of America, Nigeria’s participation for the first time ever appears to have been colored by policy protests coming from the civil society groups.

On the sidelines of the meetings, Auwal Rafsanjani, the Executive Director of the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Center (CSLAC, one of the groups from Africa at the meeting, told a select group of journalists that the representatives of civil society groups in Africa had a unique session with the Bretton Woods Institutions where the issues of accountability and governance in respect of debt were discussed.

According to him, they raised a concern with the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, IMF, about Nigeria’s incessant borrowings from the two institutions, especially the latest borrowing of $800 million.

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He also said that the backdrop to the concern was the  worsening economic situation of the country amid continued borrowing, which he said was plunging the country deeper into debt crises that would be faced by generations of citizens that did not benefit from the loans.

He alleged that the funds borrowed were not used for the purpose but rather were taken up by corruption.

His words: ‘‘The Nigerian economy is really suffering from so many problems: corruption, mismanagement, misplacement of priorities, lack of compliance with our financial regulations, and even what we may see as deliberate efforts by public officials to undermine the revenue by creating leakages that further put the economy in jeopardy.

‘‘Nigeria continues to repay this money (loans) despite the deficit in our infrastructure and other social sectors that suffer significantly, like the collapse of education and the healthcare system, and other important aspects of governance like security.

‘‘Yet the Nigerian government is borrowing money to finance subsidies. ” Closely related to this development is the government’s recent pronouncement to borrow and spend over $800 million in the name of subsidy palliative.

‘‘This is another scam, because in 2020, during COVID, the Nigerian government approached the IMF for a loan of $3.4 billion with a view to cushion the effects of COVID. But what we have seen is that the money was not judiciously utilized, and ordinary Nigerians who were promised palliatives did not see any. ” In fact, because of official corruption, money was diverted by different agencies and parastatals in the name of palliative care.

‘‘We all remember how NNPC came to the National Assembly to testify about the billions they used in the name of COVID palliatives. We also remembered the Humanitarian Affairs Ministry and how they told the whole nation that, while children were at home, they were doing school feeding programs.

‘‘So this is how the money borrowed by the Nigerian government and the contributions and donations by international partners and even Nigerian philanthropists disappeared without accountability.

‘‘So for you to now, at the last minute of your regime, be leaving next month and borrowing $800 million to share without any clear accountability framework, it calls for alarm, worry, and concern.

‘‘With the rising inflation, increase in unemployment, and increase in poverty, the country’s economy is becoming more and more worrisome. ” This is why the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Center came along with other civil society organizations to the spring meeting taking place here in Washington, DC, to have discussions with World Bank and IMF officials.

‘‘So yesterday we met with the directors of the IMF and World Bank, with a few select civil society groups from Africa, of which I happen to be one, to discuss our concern about the way and manner in which our country quickly ran to come and borrow money, even in deviation from the fiscal responsibility law, which clearly states how government should borrow money.

‘‘But they borrow this money to finance non-economic projects. In many instances, the so-called constituency projects also take up a large chunk of the money they are borrowing to finance the budget.

‘‘So, we have come to discuss with them to express our worries and concern that the non-transparent spending of borrowed money by our government is of great concern to us and that they must not continue to give these monies without putting in place an accountability mechanism and also safe reporting for whistle-blowers.

“And if these monies are meant for the people of Nigeria, then they must involve non-state actors at least to observe and monitor how these monies are spent.”

‘‘Now, the Nigerian government continues to borrow money from all sorts of commercial banks. The worst part of it is that we are borrowing at the highest interest rate, which is difficult to repay.

‘‘Even the conventional ones that they earlier wanted, we are finding it difficult to repay, not to mention those other commercial banks whose charges are very high and whose interest rates are very high.

‘‘We are also concerned that there is no civic space to discuss the economic management of Nigeria with non-state actors in Nigeria. For example, the minister of finance is here, the CBN governor is here, and so many government agencies are here, but they are not able to have this kind of discussion with non-state actors that are also attending this meeting, unlike what we see in other countries.

‘‘For other countries, they sit down with their non-state actors, like civil society organizations, to discuss how to even approach the IMF and the World Bank.

‘‘But the arrogance of a few tiny public officials in Nigeria is closing the space for the civil society to make valuable contributions to address the economic deterioration in Nigeria.

‘‘So that is why, since we have a voice here, we have the opportunity to interact with them (the World Bank and IMF). They are the ones who are giving this loan, and they are the ones who are also talking to the Nigerian government.

‘‘We are talking through them sadly, which is not supposed to be the case. We are supposed to be taking them to our government, but our government has decided to close the civic space to enable civil society to give concrete recommendations and suggestions on how to rebrand the economy.

‘‘So we also want the administration of Bola Tinubu to ensure that they strengthen our fiscal responsibility law so that whenever we are borrowing, we are in compliance with the fiscal responsibility law. And those loans must not be just for consumption; they must actually be for productivity that will even pay back those loans’’.

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First Bank reinforces commitment to empowering FMCG distributors

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First Bank reinforces commitment to empowering FMCG distributors

First Bank reinforces commitment to empowering FMCG distributors

 

FirstBank of Nigeria Plc has reaffirmed its dedication to bolstering businesses through a range of initiatives aimed at fostering a robust business environment and stimulating economic growth.

Mrs. Olaitan Martins, Group Executive of Transaction Banking, reiterated this commitment during an interactive session with Fast-Moving Consumer Goods (FMCGs) business owners held on Wednesday in Lagos.

The session was specifically designed for FMCG distributors in the Southwest region to provide insights into business development strategies and avenues for expanding their revenue streams.

Martins reiterated that the forum was a component of the bank’s continuous endeavors to actively involve and instruct its customers on business improvement, acknowledging the crucial function performed by principals and important distributors in the FMCG industry.

significance of supporting businesses

Highlighting the significance of supporting businesses that contribute to the national economy through the distribution of fast-moving commodities, Martins underscored the importance of the bank’s clientele, which comprises major distributors and principal players in Nigeria’s corporate landscape.

“The participants in today’s event represent the core distributors and principals within the FMCG sector, serving as integral components of Nigeria’s distribution network for fast-moving commodities.
This occasion serves as both a platform to acknowledge and celebrate their contributions to the nation’s economy and an opportunity to provide valuable insights into managing the intricacies of the value chain business,” stated Martins.
She further emphasized the imperative of providing support to customers navigating the inherent risks associated with business operations, reaffirming the bank’s commitment to assisting its clientele in navigating these challenges effectively.

Martins underscored First Bank’s enduring presence in Nigeria, spanning over 130 years, and its pivotal role in both the nation’s economy and the lives of its citizens.

She elucidated that the distributor’s scheme is geared towards providing financing solutions to companies, thereby contributing to the growth of the economy.

“FirstBank is steadfast in its commitment to supporting every business endeavor. We stand ready to assist, but it is imperative that we collaborate and work together to foster economic growth and national development,” she affirmed.
Engagement with distributors
Earlier, Mobolade Ojeahere, Group Head of Transaction Banking at FirstBank, highlighted the necessity for the bank’s engagement with distributors in light of exchange rate fluctuations.

He explained that the interactive session aimed not only to gather feedback but also to identify solutions and capitalize on challenges as opportunities for growth.

During the session, bank officials presented various products offered by the institution, dispelled misconceptions surrounding bank loans, and elaborated on strategies for distributors to leverage available opportunities.

Discussions also delved into market trends within sectors heavily influenced by FMCGs and emphasized the importance of digital solutions and embracing cashless transactions, especially within the FMCG sector, which boasts a substantial market share in Africa valued at 41.78 billion dollars.

The panel addressed inquiries ranging from calculations for different bank facilities to interest rates on various products, addressing concerns about overdeductions and elucidating product dynamics while providing valuable advice to attendees.

Subsequently, awards were conferred upon the top-performing distributors from the Southwest region in recognition of their outstanding contributions.

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Stanbic IBTC Bank Nigeria PMI® – Input Costs Rise At Record Pace In February

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Stanbic IBTC Bank Nigeria PMI®: Input Costs Rise At Record Pace In February

Stanbic IBTC Bank Nigeria PMI®: Input Costs Rise At Record Pace In February

Price pressures intensified in the Nigerian private sector during February and were unprecedented in over a decade of data collection. Both input costs and output prices increased at the sharpest rates on record, with rising prices impacting demand.

As a result, rates of expansion in output and new orders slowed sharply over the month, while employment decreased for the first time in ten months. Meanwhile, business confidence dropped to the lowest on record. The headline figure derived from the survey is the Purchasing Managers’ IndexTM (PMI®). Readings above 50.0 signal an improvement in business conditions in the previous month, while readings below 50.0 show a deterioration.

The headline PMI dropped markedly in February to 51.0 from 54.5 in January, remaining above the 50.0 no-change mark for the third month running, but only just. The improvement in business conditions was the weakest since the recovery in the private sector began last December.

Input costs surged higher in February, often as a result of exchange rate weakness, which drove up material costs but also raised fuel prices. The latest rise in overall input costs was by far the sharpest since the survey began in January 2014, with around 78% of respondents signaling an increase over the month.

Similarly, output price inflation also hit a fresh record high in February as firms passed through rising input costs to their customers. Steep price pressures acted to limit new orders in the private sector. Although new business increased for the third successive month amid some positive signs of underlying demand, the rate of expansion slowed sharply and was the weakest in this sequence.

This was also the case with business activity, which increased only slightly. Rising activity in the agriculture and services sectors contrasted with falls in manufacturing, wholesale, and retail.

Muyiwa Oni, Head of Equity Research West Africa at Stanbic IBTC Bank, commented: “Stanbic IBTC Bank headline PMI slowed to its weakest level since Dec 23, moderating remarkably to 51.0 in Feb from 54.5 in January. Employment level dropped below the 50.0 no-change mark for the first time in 10 months, while output and the new order’s expansion both weakened significantly in the month.”

“These weaknesses were in line with the sharp local currency depreciation, increase in fuel prices, and rapidly rising food costs in February, thereby driving overall cost pressures in the month. These lingering pressures may push domestic demand low, limiting growth potential in Q1:24.”

Signs of weakness in the private sector led companies to lower their staffing levels for the first time in ten months, albeit marginally. Purchasing activity was also scaled back following a marked expansion in the previous survey period. Firms were able to keep on top of workloads, however, and reduced outstanding business for the first time in three months.

A desire to be able to respond to new orders in a timely manner meant that companies continued to increase their inventories. Meanwhile, suppliers’ delivery times shortened again.

Unprecedented inflationary pressures amid currency weakness and signs of demand softening meant that business confidence dropped to the lowest on record in February. Firms remained optimistic regarding the year-ahead outlook for activity, however, often reflecting business expansion plans and hopes for an improvement in economic conditions.

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Sterling One Foundation Set To Host Africa Social Impact Summit 2024

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Sterling One Foundation Set To Host Africa Social Impact Summit 2024

Sterling One Foundation Set To Host Africa Social Impact Summit 2024

Sterling One Foundation has announced plans to host the third edition of the Africa Social Impact Summit between July 25 and 26 this year.

This was disclosed at a dinner organised to appreciate the Foundation’s corporate and development partners who have contributed to the success of previous editions of the Summit and other social impact initiatives.

The Chief Executive Officer of Sterling One Foundation, Mrs. Olapeju Ibekwe, expressed profound gratitude to the partners, stating that their multi-faceted partnership and moral support have been instrumental to the success achieved over the years.

“Last year, we planned to convene about 1,000 physical delegates at the Eko Convention Center but eventually had over 1,500 participants join us for the two-day summit. Post-event, we have also realised that over 30 percent of the social impact players that joined us got financial and non-financial support just because they were part of the summit.

This is a testament to the immense value the convening offers the ecosystem and why I would like to sincerely appreciate all these esteemed organizations dedicated to fostering sustainable change in Nigeria and across the African continent.”

Among the recognised partners were co-conveners United Nations Nigeria, Coca-Cola Company, the UN Global Compact Network Nigeria, Sterling Bank, Afreximbank, the British Council, Microsoft, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and the MTN Foundation.

She also appreciated deal rooms and technical partners such as the UNIDO Investment Technology and Promotion Of­ficer (ITPO), African Venture Philanthropy Alliance, Oando Foundation, Palladium SCALE Project, Nigeria Climate Inno­vation Center, Woodhall Capital Foundation, the Impact Inves­tors Foundation, Nigeria Eco­nomic Summit Group (NESG), Lagos Business School Sustain­ability Centre, the Private Sector Health Alliance of Nigeria, TRACE, Proshare, Ventures Africa, as well as other partners and exhibitors.

Mr. Abubakar Suleiman, a member of the Foundation’s board, also remarked that one of the reasons the Sterling One Foundation exists is to address issues rooted in poor collabo­ration in Nigeria, which has birthed increased costs for the various foundations attempting to resolve the country’s and continent’s problems.

“We wanted to ensure we didn’t repeat the same mistake, so our objective was to bring people together and help them see what they might not have seen before. To that extent, I think the summit has done very well,” he said.

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