Director-General, WAIFEM, Prof. Akpan Ekpo
By Obinna Chima and Nume Horsfall
The West Africa Institute for Financial and Economic Management (WAIFEM) has said that for Nigeria to fully optimise the benefits of globalisation and also avert future global economic crisis, there is need to build a strong and dynamic economy.
Director-General, WAIFEM, Prof. Akpan Ekpo, gave this advise in a speech presented at the second Finance Correspondent Association of Nigeria (FICAN) roundtable titled: “Nigerian Economy in 2013: The Issues and Expectations,” held in Lagos at the weekend.
Ekpo also insisted that in order to stimulate growth of the real sector, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) must ensure that lending rate was reduced.
He expressed concern that most of the banks were declaring huge profits, just as some of them were retrenching workers.
“Again, the banking sector is not competitive as few of the banks lead, others follow. Some of them spend a lot of money advertising abroad and I don’t see who will want to come here and borrow money when rates are lower outside this country. And that is why I said the CBN must ‘force’ banks to bring down lending rates. I agree that there are other things to be done, such as power and infrastructure for rates to drop,” he added.
Commenting on investment opportunities in the country, Ekpo stated: “If you put everything right, people will come here to invest. You don’t need to take government officials out of the country, stay in the most expensive hotels, just to sell Nigeria. That is a waste of resources!
“Look at China, they have built an economy and today, the country is a force to reckon with globally. Nigeria has all it takes because everything you need to grow the economy is in this country. We need to build an economy such that even though there is a crisis, the economy would be able to withstand it. For me, building a strong economy depends on a lot of things.”
He called for an economic framework that would centre on development.
According to the WAIFEM boss, the power sector must be developed to enhance the growth of small scale enterprises.
Ekpo added: “In addition, human capital development must be paramount in government’s priority list. For example, serious efforts must be taken towards revamping the public school system, the public system and others. If government can achieve that, it will restore confidence in the system.
“Government also needs to address the worsening unemployment situation. The unemployment rate is about 24 per cent, with almost 30 million youths unemployed. It is only government that can address the crisis in the labour market.”
In his presentation, Head of Research, Sterling Capital Limited, Mr. Sewa Wusu, listed improved risk-based supervision and enhanced oversight functions, entrench corporate governance as well as sanction for market infractions, implementation of the International Financial Reporting Standards, disclosure issues, amongst others, as factors that would influence the capital market growth this year.
“Given the level of performance in 2012, the capital market is expected to witness another impressive performance this year. Performance will be driven more by strong macroeconomic environment, good corporate performance and companies’ fundamentals.
“Expected monetary policy easing in 2013 should induce investment switch to favour stock market. We expect continuous bond issuance by sub-nationals,” he added.
Also, Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Financial Derivatives Company Limited, Mr. Bismarck Rewane, argued that anticipated improved power output due to completion of privatisation process, expected passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill, increased agricultural output, stable oil production, expectations of expansionary monetary policy as well as effective fiscal policy, would drive Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product growth this year.
Caption: Access Bank
Access Bank Sensitises Customers on Anti-money Laundering
Access Bank has said it organised an awareness forum to enlighten its customers and other groups on the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN’s) policy on additional Know Your Customer (KYC) requirements for Designated Non-Financial Businesses and Professions (DNFBPs).
Specifically, the apex bank had mandated all financial institutions to obtain evidence of registration of DNFBPs with the Special Control Unit on Money Laundering (SCUML) of the Federal Ministry of Trades and Investments prior to establishing business relationships.
Addressing participants, Group Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Access Bank, Mr. Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede, acknowledged the contributions of the regulators towards the growth of the Nigerian banking
According to a statement, the Access Bank boss who was represented by the bank’s Chief Compliance Officer, Pattison Boleigha, also described the directive as part of the regulator’s effort to elevate the fight against money laundering and terrorist financing in Nigeria to a much more commendable height.
He informed the banks' customers at the occasion, whose profiles fell under the category of the DNFBPs that the gathering was organised to provide an opportunity to address all grey areas concerning the registration requirements and interact with the relevant regulatory authorities for proper understanding of the directive.
Also, in his presentation titled: “The Challenges of Keeping Nigeria off the Financial Action Task Force Blacklist”, the Deputy Director, CBN, U.A. Obot, who was represented by Matthew Alabi, encouraged the participants to appreciate why DNFBPs were required to obtain evidence of registration with SCUML before opening account, adding that it would help tighten loopholes being exploited to launder illicit wealth.
The forum held in Lagos, had in attendance representatives from regulatory authorities such as the CBN, Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit, the SCUML, as well as other categories of stakeholders whose contributions facilitated customers understanding of the importance of complying with the directive.