By James Emejo in Abuja
Following its maiden Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) meeting for 2019, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) at the weekend injected the sum of $289.76million into the retail Secondary Market Intervention Sales (SMIS) and CNY38.70 million in the spot and short-tenored forwards segment of the inter-bank foreign exchange (FX) market
The Director, Corporate Communications Department at the CBN, Isaac Okorafor, confirmed the figures, noting that the dollar-denominated interventions were for transactions in the agricultural and raw materials sectors.
On the spot and short-tenored sales in Chinese Yuan, he said they were similarly for payment of Renminbi denominated Letters of Credit for agriculture and raw materials based on bids received from authorised dealers.
While reiterating the Bank’s support to the inter-bank FX market, he disclosed that the Bank’s management was pleased with the level of stability at both the Bureau-de-Change (BDC) and the Investors’ and Exporters’ (I&E) window of the FX market.
According to him, the CBN management was also satisfied with the current implementation of the Bilateral Currency Swap Agreement (BCSA) with the Peoples Bank of China (PBoC), coupled with a recent inflow of about US$2.8 billion Eurobond.
Okorafor, expressed confidence that the FX market in Nigeria would continue to enjoy stability in the coming months and beyond, given the marginal increase in the country’s external reserves.
The CBN had on Tuesday, January 17, 2019, intervened in the wholesale, Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and invisibles windows of the interbank FX market to the tune of the sum of $210 million.
Meanwhile, the naira exchanged for N361 at the Bureau de Change (BDC) segment of the FX market, while CNY1 exchanged for N53.
TraderMoni: FG Disburses N12bn to Boost Petty Traders
James Emejo in Abuja
The Executive Director, Micro Enterprises, Bank of Industry (BoI), Mrs. Toyin Adeniji, has disclosed that total sum of N12 billion had been disbursed to traders across the country under the federal government’s TraderMoni initiative.
She added that the scheme had also assisted 1.2 million small businesses.
Speaking during an interactive session with journalists over the weekend, she said the loan disbursement was part of President Muhammadu Buhari’s commitment to empower over two million petty traders across the country.
Each state of the federation is expected to have a minimum of 30,000 beneficiaries under the programme.
The scheme, which is being implemented by BoI allows each beneficiary to get an interest free loan of between N10,000 to N15,000.
Adeniji, however, insisted that the initiative is not a vote-buying strategy by Buhari administration to woo the sympathy of beneficiaries ahead of the 2019 general election.
According to her, there was no way the programme could have been set up primarily to secure votes as alleged in some quarters as it represented one of the components of the federal government’s Enterprises and Empowerment Programme (GEEP) which commenced in 2016.
She said: “Trader-Moni is a microcredit loan for petty traders designed to meet the need of the larger population of Nigerian micro-enterprises who do not meet the more stringent starting requirements of BVN, bank accounts.
“Qualified petty traders start at N10,000, they progress to N15,000, N20,000, N50,000 and then N100,000. As they pay back the preceding amount, they automatically qualify for the next loan. Over 1.2 million petty traders have benefitted till date and we have disbursed about N12 billion.”
She said the need to come up with the GEEP initiative was borne out of the realisation that out of all bank loans given in the last five years in the country, less than one per cent had gone for small scale business owners.
According to her: “GEEP has two primary goals, access to finance and financial inclusion. We need to provide capital to these groups in a highly methodical manner. This is access to finance.
“GEEP results to date have been encouraging. Since launching the programme, we have provided these loans to over 1.5 million Nigerians in over 2,600 markets and clusters across the 36 states of the country and the Federal Capital Territory with over 4,000 agents.
“About 53 per cent of our beneficiaries on the GEEP programme are female and 46 per cent of our beneficiaries are below the age of 35.”
She added: “GEEP leverages on a private-sector-driven agent network that is spread across the 36 states to enumerate beneficiaries.
“Agents are prohibited from requesting for any information not listed in the criteria for each facility. Under no circumstance us a Permanent Voters Card or any political consideration.”
Nonetheless, she pointed out that there had been an impressive compliance rate by beneficiaries.
Adeniji said: “We have seen a high uptake in repayments since we commenced a push and provided a wide array of options as our beneficiaries want to stay on the journey to higher loans by repaying their previous loans.”
NBC Transforms Enugu Plant to Logistics, Distribution Hub
The Nigerian Bottling Company Limited (NBC), a member of Coca-Cola Hellenic Group, said it has transformed its Enugu plant into a hub for material handling and logistics for the region.
According to the company, the decision to transform was largely informed by the desire to deliver value to its consumers and trade partners not only in Enugu State but in the entire south-east region.
The Acting Director, Public Affairs & Communications, Mr. Ekuma Eze, who spoke on the development further explained that the move was in line with the holistic strategy to reposition the company’s operation for better efficiency and accelerate the business transformation plan.
Eze said the repurposing of some NBC facilities across Nigeria, Enugu inclusive, was in line with the company’s sustainable business strategy with the overarching goal of improving efficiency and boosting production capacity to meet the ever growing demand of its discerning consumers.
“While production activities have stopped at the Enugu facility, the company would continue to carry out logistics and commercial operations from the location,” he added.
He stated that the company’s business transformation and optimisation plan which commenced in 2015 involves huge investments worth over €500 million for the massive expansion and upgrade of some key plants. These he said includes Asejire, Ikeja, Abuja, Owerri, Challawa, Maiduguri, Port Harcourt, and Benin, resulting in increased production capacity, hence, the need to transform some other plants including Ilorin, Jos,Kaduna and most recently Enugu to handle commercial and logistics activities.
Speaking on the employees whose roles were rendered redundant by the transformation, Eze said: “As a result of business optimisation, some roles became redundant. However, the whole process was conducted with utmost respect and consideration for our employees and engagement with the Unions. The company provided robust and generous severance packages way above statutory requirements and industry average.”
He also noted that the company as a responsible corporate citizen had engaged with key stakeholders in Enugu State as well as key opinion leaders in the host communities before the action was taken noting that it was done to optimize performance of the company. He added that the company remains totally committed to investing time, resources and expertise to improve the socio-economic well-being of the communities through locally relevant initiatives.
Reaffirming the commitment of the company, Eze said “our confidence in the Nigerian market is underscored by the huge investment we have made in our operations in the last four years which has seen an inflow of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in excess of €500 million.
“Today, we are better positioned to refresh our consumers in Nigeria with our eight world-class manufacturing plants, mega distribution centres and enhanced commercial and logistics capability across Nigeria. We are confident that these investments and re-engineering of our operations will bring mutual benefits to the economy, our business, employees and our communities.
“With operations in Nigeria for over 67 years and thousands of Nigerians in direct employment, NBC remains committed to Nigeria’s economic prosperity and its people.”