Obinna Chima

In line with the federal government’s drive to ensure transparency in the public-private partnership (PPP) model it is deploying to finance critical infrastructure projects, the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC) at the weekend launched the first of its kind contract disclosure portal.

The acting Director-General of the ICRC, Chidi Izuwah, in a presentation at the event that took place in Abuja, obtained by THISDAY, revealed that the World Bank and ICRC developed the dedicated web portal for the disclosure of all PPP contracts information by the government.

He said the portal would ensure timely disclosure of contract information from project initiation through to the implementation and hand-back phase of PPP projects to the government.

According to Izuwah, the disclosure exercise supports President Muhammadu Buhari’s effort at institutionalising transparency and accountability in the procurement of PPP projects in Nigeria.

He further pointed out that the onus for information generation and uploading on the web-based platform would be shared by ICRC, the contracting authority, and the private party to the contract.

“Information will be uploaded by the contracting authority and ICRC after redacting confidential information.

“The contracting authority will upload all information and documents in the web-based platform, so as to leave at least seven days within the given timelines for ICRC to validate and approve the information for public disclosure.

“The web portal will be dynamic in nature. More information is made available as the various projects progress. It will be a respiratory of information of current happenings and events regarding PPPs in Nigeria,” he explained.

Furthermore, the ICRC boss said the portal’s framework clearly shows the various elements for disclosure depending on the stage of the project.

A PPP is a contractual agreement between a public agency (federal, state or local) and a private sector entity. Through this agreement, the skills and assets of each sector (public and private) are shared in delivering a service or facility for the use of the general public. In addition to the sharing of resources, each party shares in the risks and rewards potential in the delivery of the service and/or facility.

ICRC is the main repository of information of federal PPP projects in the country. ICRC regularly publishes news and general information on its website, on PPP activities, workshops, events, and basic information on legacy, on-going, and under-consideration PPPs.

“However, the information provided is limited to the project title and type, government agency responsible, name of the private concessionaire (where selected), and duration of the concession for the projects.

“In recognition of this limitation the Commission Partnered the World Bank to ensure adequate disclosure of PPP contract Information.

“The Commission in collaboration with the World Bank consulted with MDAs, Concessionaires, Financiers, Civil Society Organisations and relevant stakeholders towards the actualisation of this exercise,” Izuwah added.

CBN Intervenes with $195 Million

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) yesterday boosted the foreign exchange (forex) market by offering a total of $195million in three segments of the market.

In the wholesale Secondary Market Intervention Sales (SMIS), of the interbank forex market, it auctioned $100 million and also intervened in the small and medium scale enterprises (SMEs) and invisible segments with the sum of $50 million and $45 million respectively.

This week’s intervention came in the midst of the Monetary Policy Committee meeting whose outcome would be announced today.

The CBN had last week carried out a major intervention, to the tune of $545 million.

CBN’s acting Director, Corporate Communications, Isaac Okorafor reiterated that the Bank’s intervention was to maintain its commitment to sustain liquidity in the market to meet genuine requests as well as deepen flexibility in the foreign exchange market.

He said the CBN would continue to work on achieving the objective of convergence of rates in the various segments of the market, and would continue to strive that the forex market guarantees transparency in the sale of foreign exchange.

Okorafor recalled that only last week, the CBN had threatened to sanction any Deposit Money Bank (DMB) in breach of its earlier directive of March 3, 2017, which instructed them to, among other things, open teller points for retail forex transactions and to have electronic display boards in all their branches, showing rates of all trading currencies.

He stated that the Bank’s firm stance goes to reiterate its commitment to ensure liquidity in the foreign exchange market, where all genuine requests will be met in line with extant forex guidelines, noting that it would foster more transparency and to make the public become aware that these facilities exist.

Financial Advisers Begin Collation of Returns on N100bn Sukuk

The financial advisers to Nigeria’s maiden N100 billion Sukuk – FBN Merchant Bank Limited and Lotus Financial Services Limited – are currently collating the offer returns after receiving submissions from the receiving banks and placement agents.

The Sukuk will then be allotted to successful investors after this process.

However, there are indications that the financial advisers may require some time for the collation and allotment due to the level of interest shown by retail investors in the offer which closed on Friday.

The federal government had expressed the desire to use the Sukuk issuance as a tool for financial inclusion by giving retail investors the opportunity to invest in the country’s development.

The Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun at the weekend explained that the bond offering which closed last Friday, was issued to raise funds for infrastructure development.

Adeosun said the government had identified projects the funds raised would be deployed to.

She explained: “So, there is no religious driver behind it. It is really a financial product to meet the financial needs. This particular one of N100 billion is going to be used for road projects.

“We have identified the road projects that it is going to be tied to and there is no religious attachment to it. South Africa even did a sovereign Sukuk before Nigeria. So, there is no Islamisation agenda at all.”

The minister stressed that the Sukuk was part of the government’s programme to deepen the financial market.

Furthermore, Adeosun disclosed that the framework for the debt instrument predated the present government.

According to the minister, a lot of investors were not even bothered about the ethical consideration surrounding the Islamic bond, but were more focused on the yield.

Stanbic IBTC to Empower SMEs

In line with its promise to help stimulate and grow a strong and viable small and medium scale enterprises sector, Stanbic IBTC Bank, a member of Stanbic IBTC Holdings Plc has concluded plans to host the fourth edition of its capacity building workshops scheduled to run from 9 October – 30 October 2017 across eight cities in the country.

The bank said the rationale behind its sustaining the capacity building series, stems from its deep understanding of the important role enterprises play in providing linkages to industries, employment generation, and the enthusiastic participation by operators over the last three years since the initiative was inaugurated.

It explained in a statement that expanding the scope, reach and impact of the specialised training last year was to benefit more businesses as part of its contribution to building capacity and deepening knowledge essential to business success and continuity in the sector.

The events would hold in Lagos, Ibadan, Abuja, Kano, Port Harcourt, Aba, Onitsha and Enugu over the above mentioned period.

Speaking on modifications made to this year’s series to further drive value, enrich the training as well as the course content, Executive Director, Personal and Business Banking, Stanbic IBTC Bank, Mr. Babatunde Macaulay, said the bank had engaged the services of the renowned China Europe International Business School (CEIBS), which offers a range of functional and integrative general management Executive Education programmes.