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Rewane: AFCFTA threatens ECOWAS’ common external tariff policy

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Rewane: AFCFTA threatens ECOWAS’ common external tariff policy

 

As the countdown begins to the formal inauguration of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AFCFTA) agreement on July 7 and 8, the Chief Executive Officer, Financial Derivatives Company (FDC) Limited, Mr. Bismarck Rewane, has said that the treaty could undermine implementation of the Economic Community of West African States’ (ECOWAS) Common External Tariff (CET) policy.

 

In line with a global movement toward customs unions, ECOWAS had, at a Heads of State Summit in October 2013, adopted the CET, which is aimed at ensuring that same customs duties will apply to all goods entering ECOWAS member States, regardless of which country within the area they are entering.

 

ECOWAS Director of Trade, Gbenga Obideyi, said in September 2016, that 10 member states, including Nigeria, had as at then implemented the CET, which came into effect earlier that year. He also disclosed that member states were expected to implement the common tariff within five years.

 

However, with AFCFTA legally taking effect on May 30th, Rewane, in a presentation obtained by New Telegraph last weekend, stated that while the agreement would significantly boost intra-African trade in addition to bringing other benefits for the continent, it: “Could undermine the setting of CET in ECOWAS.”

 

The respected economist further noted that subdued growth in Africa’s two largest economies-Nigeria and South Africa- could negatively impact regional and continental trade flows.

 

According to him, although the agreement could result in Africa having a combined consumer and business spending of $6.7trillion by 2030, “protectionist policies will hinder total elimination of tariffs.”
In addition, he pointed out that more diversified economies with better infrastructure have greater opportunities of benefiting from the pact.

 

It will be recalled that Nigeria is among three countries that are yet to sign the agreement agreed upon by the 55-member state African Union (AU).
The Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) is among several powerful groups in the country opposed to the country signing AFCFTA. They argue that it will lead to the dumping of cheaper imports in Nigeria, thereby leading to shut businesses and job losses.
However, last Thursday, former President, Olusegun Obasanjo, reiterated his call that the Federal Government should sign the agreement.

 

He said: “ I believe we have enjoyed the time of delay but of course we have no choice than to sign it. I do hope that sincerely before the formal inauguration in Niamey on July 7 and 8, that Nigeria will not be absent at the launching because I see no reason why Nigeria can be present when it has not signed the agreement.

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ICT / e-World

Facebook probe by US states expands to 47 attorneys general

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Facebook probe by US states expands to 47 attorneys general

A New York-led probe into allegations that Facebook Inc put consumer data at risk and pushed up advertising rates has expanded to include attorneys general from 47 U.S. states and territories, New York Attorney General Letitia James said in a statement on Tuesday.

The investigation of Facebook announced in September had included Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nebraska, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee and the District of Columbia. It now includes most U.S. states as well as the U.S. territory of Guam, reports Reuters.

Facebook shares closed down 3.9% at $182.34 on Tuesday.

The statement provided a list of states involved in the probe and added that other states “cannot confirm their participation in pending investigations.” California, the largest state by population, was not on the list.

Some states, particularly New York and Nebraska, have raised concerns that Facebook and other big tech companies engage in anti-competitive practices, expose consumer data to potential data theft and push up advertising prices.

Facebook said that its users had multiple choices for the services that the company provides.

“We understand that if we stop innovating, people can easily leave our platform. This underscores the competition we face,” said Will Castleberry, vice president, state and local policy, at Facebook. “We will work constructively with state attorneys general and we welcome a conversation with policymakers about the competitive environment in which we operate.”

Facebook also faces probes by the U.S. Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission, as well as the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee.

The Facebook investigations are part of a larger landscape of probes of big tech firms.

Reuters and others reported in June that the Justice Department and FTC had divided responsibility for the companies being investigated, with the Justice Department taking on Alphabet Inc’s Google and Apple Inc while the FTC looked into Facebook and Amazon.com Inc.

The Justice Department later said it was opening a probe of online platforms, which would include Facebook.

Continue Reading

ICT / e-World

Facebook probe by US states expands to 47 attorneys general

Published

on

Facebook probe by US states expands to 47 attorneys general

A New York-led probe into allegations that Facebook Inc put consumer data at risk and pushed up advertising rates has expanded to include attorneys general from 47 U.S. states and territories, New York Attorney General Letitia James said in a statement on Tuesday.

The investigation of Facebook announced in September had included Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nebraska, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee and the District of Columbia. It now includes most U.S. states as well as the U.S. territory of Guam, reports Reuters.

Facebook shares closed down 3.9% at $182.34 on Tuesday.

The statement provided a list of states involved in the probe and added that other states “cannot confirm their participation in pending investigations.” California, the largest state by population, was not on the list.

Some states, particularly New York and Nebraska, have raised concerns that Facebook and other big tech companies engage in anti-competitive practices, expose consumer data to potential data theft and push up advertising prices.

Facebook said that its users had multiple choices for the services that the company provides.

“We understand that if we stop innovating, people can easily leave our platform. This underscores the competition we face,” said Will Castleberry, vice president, state and local policy, at Facebook. “We will work constructively with state attorneys general and we welcome a conversation with policymakers about the competitive environment in which we operate.”

Facebook also faces probes by the U.S. Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission, as well as the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee.

The Facebook investigations are part of a larger landscape of probes of big tech firms.

Reuters and others reported in June that the Justice Department and FTC had divided responsibility for the companies being investigated, with the Justice Department taking on Alphabet Inc’s Google and Apple Inc while the FTC looked into Facebook and Amazon.com Inc.

The Justice Department later said it was opening a probe of online platforms, which would include Facebook.

Continue Reading

Business

CBN: Consumer confidence index rose to 3.8 in Q3

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CBN: Consumer confidence index rose to 3.8 in Q3

C

onsumers’ overall confidence index rose to 3.8 points in the third quarter of this year, up by 2.3 points compared with the index in the corresponding period of 2018, according to the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) Consumer Expectations Survey (CES) Q3 2019 report.

The report, which was posted on the apex bank’s website yesterday, attributed consumers’ favourable outlook to, “improved family income and family financial situation.”

 

It also shows that the consumer outlooks for the next quarter and next 12 months were positive at 22.8 and 31.5 points, respectively and  attributed this to the “expected increase in net household income, an anticipated improvement in Nigeria’s economic conditions and expectations to save a bit and/or have plenty over savings in the next 12 months.”

 

However, despite their optimistic outlook, most respondents, according to the report, expect prices of goods and services to rise in the next 12 months, with an index of 25.0 points. It stated that the major drivers for the expected increase in prices include the purchase of appliances/ consumer durables, savings, education, purchase of car/motor vehicle, purchase of house and transportation.

 

Similarly, the report stated  that the overall buying conditions index for big-ticket items in the Q3’19 stood at 30.3 points, adding that this indicates that most consumers believed that the current quarter was not the ideal time to purchase big-ticket items such as  consumer durables, motor vehicles and houses.

 

 

Likewise, the overall buying intention index in the next twelve months stood at 36.2 index points, indicating, according to the report, “that most consumers do not intend to buy big-ticket items in the next 12 months.”

 

It added that the buying intention indices for consumer durables, motor vehicles and houses were below 50 points, an indication that respondents have no plans to make these purchases in the next twelve months.

 

On the borrowing and exchange rates outlooks for the next 12 months, the report stated that: “With indices of -6.2 and 13.9 points, consumers expect the borrowing rate to fall, but expect the naira to appreciate in the next 12 months.”

 

In addition, the report shows that the unemployment index for the next 12 months remained positive at 21.8 points in Q3 2019, indicating that consumers generally expect the unemployment rate to rise in the next one year.

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Business

Lafarge refutes reports on alleged SEC probe

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Lafarge refutes reports on alleged SEC probe

C

ement company Lafarge Africa Plc has in a notification to the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) and the investing public, debunked a purported investigation ordered by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on its activities over alleged poor corporate governance practices and abuses.

 

In a statement, the General Counsel & Company Secretary, Adewumi Alode, said the cement firm was not in receipt of any letter from and SEC that would warrant the company to believe that an investigation has been launched against it.

 

One of the national newspapers, not New Telegraph, had reported that the apex capital market regulator had launched investigations into activities at Lafarge Africa Plc over allegations of poor corporate governance practices and abuses.

 

According to the report, documents obtained indicated that SEC’s investigation was sequel to a petition written by concerned shareholders of the publicly–quoted company.

 

 

Shareholders had raised several allegations of infractions and poor practices by the company, urging the SEC to act.

 

 

Shareholders called for forensic audit of Lafarge Africa to determine the propriety of acquisition of Lafarge South Africa, a subsidiary of LafargeHolcim by Lafarge Africa Plc and the subsequent sale of same Lafarge South Africa to LafargeHolcim after many years of losses that negatively impacted Lafarge Africa. LafargeHolcim is the majority core investor in Lafarge Africa.

 

According to the petition, there is need to ascertain the veracity of the transactions to ensure the minority shareholders were not shortchanged as corporate acquisition of such magnitude ought to have involved comprehensive due diligence to forestall the subsequent round-tripping of assets.

 

The forensic audit is expected to focus on the nature and independence of due diligence on the transactions, share pricing and valuations, board’s oversight functions and insider dealings, interference of the majority core investor and the current composition of the board of Lafarge Africa.

petition alleged that the entire transactions on Lafarge South Africa were skewed in favour of LafargeHolcim, leaving the Nigerian minority shareholders with reduction in shareholding and avoidable losses.

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SEC: Capital master plan’ll boost economic growth

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SEC: Capital master plan’ll boost economic growth

T

he Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has stressed the need to mainstream the capital market master plan into the national economic development policy.

 

This was stated by Acting Director General, Securities and Exchange Commission, SEC, Ms. Mary Uduk, at an interactive session with the Senate in Abuja, yesterday.

 

According to Uduk, it will improve Nigeria’s competitiveness, promote a savings culture, improve market depth and liquidity and catalyze economic growth, also stated that this will be beneficial not just to the capital market but also to the entire economy.

 

She said: “More importantly, since the capital market over time serves as the barometer of any economy, the successful implementation of the Nigerian Capital Market Master Plan will aid the actualisation of the nation’s economic development aspirations.

 

“The Commission also needs to continue to encourage efficient market through disclosure and investor protection, while making efforts at diversifying the products currently available.”

 

On this, Uduk said the commission was working towards developing a vibrant commodity ecosystem as well as developing the derivatives and fintech space.

 

These, she stated, required adequate support from relevant stakeholders and huge investment in capacity building.

“Also, government’s recent effort to reduce internal borrowing to be replaced with external borrowing for lowered interest rates is expected to release funds to the private sector and engender capital market growth.

 

“In addition, conscious efforts by the government to privatise enterprises and seek long term capital through the capital market will go a long way in deepening the Nigerian capital market, raising financial inclusion and wealth distribution,” she said.

 

In his remarks, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Capital Market, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, urged stakeholders in the capital market to meaningfully contribute their quotas in the development of the market to either strengthen the confidence of existing investors or new ones that are coming in.

 

He said: “The Senate is not unaware of the challenges facing the growth of the Nigerian capital market. It is our desire as a committee to support you with unnecessary legislation to develop the Nigerian capital market.

 

“Therefore, we are ready to work to bring back investor confidence to the capital market, by creating laws so that investments can start, which was stagnant since 2007. Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA) will also look into it to remove obsolete information.”

Amosun assured that the National Assembly would ensure the passage of relevant laws, amend some and enact new ones.

 

“This committee in assuring you of its readiness to advise and to ensure cooperation, wavers on tax holidays, if and where necessary. There is equally the need to revive the commodity exchange and make the market robust and functional.

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NSE: Bears overrun bulls

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NSE: Bears overrun bulls

 

LOW CONFIDENCE

Market breadth closed negative as Courtville led 12 gainers against 13 losers topped by Eterna Oil at the end of trading session

 

T

rading activities on the floor of the Nigerian Stock Exchange yesterday witnessed another drop in share prices as bears sustained their grip on the local bourse following sell-off that has persisted on the equities market.

Market breadth closed negative as Courtville led 12 gainers against 13 losers topped by Eterna Oil at the end of the trading session.

 

 

Consequently, the All-Share Index dipped 24.25 basis points or 0.09 per cent to close at 26,365.83 index points as against 26.390.08 recorded the previous trading session while market capitalisation of equities depreciated by N12 billion from N12.846 trillion the previous day to N12.834 trillion as market sentiment remained on the negative territory.

 

 

However, turnover closes positive as volume moved up by +182.29 per cent as against -20.84 per cent downtick recorded in the previous session.

Meanwhile, a turnover of 694 million shares exchanged in 2,780 deals was recorded in the day’s trading.

 

 

 

The premium sub-sector was the most active (measured by turnover volume); with 392.3 million shares exchanged by investors in 1,193 deals.

Volume in the sub-sector was largely driven by activities in the shares of Zenith Bank Plc and UBA Plc.

 

 

Also, the banking sub-sector, boosted by activities in the shares of Fidelity Bank Plc and GTBank Plc, followed with a turnover of 64.4 million shares in 532 deals.

 

 

Further analysis of the day’s trading showed that in percentage terms, Courtville Business Solution Plc topped the day’s gainers’ table with 10 per cent to close at 22 kobo per share while Cutix Plc followed with 9.92 per cent to close at N1.44 per share. Cornerstone Insurance Plc added 8.57 per cent to close at 38 kobo per share.

 

 

On the flip side, Eterna Oil Plc led the losers with a drop of 9.52 per cent to close at N2.85 per share while Omomor Bank Plc shed 9.09 per cent to close at 50 kobo per share. May and Baker Plc trailed with 8.68 per cent to close at N2.00 per share.

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CBN grapples with rising cost of printing currency

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CBN grapples with rising cost of printing currency

O

ver seven years after it introduced the cashless policy as part of efforts to tackle the problem of printing cash, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) seems to be making little headway in its struggle to reduce the costs, findings by New Telegraph show.

 

 

According to data obtained from the CBN’s Currency Operations 2018 Annual report released a few days ago, the apex bank spent a whopping sum of N231.27 billion to print currency between 2013 and 2018.

 

 

New Telegraph’s analysis of the report shows that the cost of printing currency has been rising steadily since 2016.

 

For instance, while the CBN spent the sum of N33.37billion to print currency in 2016, the amount increased to N49.52 billion and N64.04 billion in 2017 and 2018 respectively.

 

For 2013, 2014 and 2015, the report indicates that the regulator spent N31.10 billion, N23.13 billion and N30.09 billion respectively for the same purpose.

This means that between 2013 and 2018, the banking watchdog spent the highest amount (N64.04billion) to print currency last year.

 

Similarly, the report shows that the CBN approved an indent of 3,351.34 million pieces of banknotes of various denominations in 2018, which was 25.3 per cent higher than the level of the preceding year, to meet the currency needs of the economy.

 

 

It stated that although  the Nigerian Security Printing and Minting (NSPM) Plc was awarded the  contract for the entire indent, the company delivered 2,653.31 million pieces or 79.2 per cent of the total with an outstanding balance of 698.03 as at the end of December last year.

 

 

The 3.35 billion pieces of currency indent ordered from NSPM last year is, in fact, the highest the CBN has requested since 2014 when it ordered 1.76 billion.

 

 

Aside the massive amount it spent on printing currency last year, the CBN also disclosed in the report that it expended a total of N74.6 billion on currency operations, while  “the sum of N662.21 million was expended on currency notes disposal,” during the period.

It, however, said it generated an income of N7.9 billion from penal charges on unsorted bank notes deposited by deposit money banks (DMBs) and charges for authentication of foreign currency deposits that lenders deposited with it, during the period.

 

 

It would  be recalled that when the CBN,  then under the leadership of Sanusi Lamido,  introduced  the cashless policy in 2012, it said  the initiative, which is  aimed at curbing the use  of and handling (or abuse) of  naira notes, would also result in huge savings for the regulator with regard to the massive amounts it spends on printing  currency.

 

 

Indeed, as part of efforts to encourage better handling of the naira, the CBN on June 30, this year in Lagos, unveiled its “Clean Note Policy and Bank Note Fitness Guideline,” which, the bank said, provided a unified standard for the circulation of only clean and fit notes.

 

Speaking at the event, the Director of Currency Operations of the CBN, Mrs. Prinscilla Eleje, revealed that the apex bank no longer printed naira notes abroad as all currencies are now printed by the NSPMC.

 

Eleje, who also disclosed that the CBN had reduced the cost of   replacing mutilated currencies from N50 to N5, urged banks to accept mutilated and over-circulated notes and bring them to the apex bank for replacement.

 

 

Industry sources told New Telegraph at the weekend that the need to encourage Nigerians to fully embrace the cashless policy, thereby reducing its currency printing costs, was one of the key reasons the CBN recently introduced new charges on deposits and withdrawals above certain thresholds.

 

Specifically, the CBN had in a circular released on September 17, this year, stated that  with effect from September 18, 2019,   a three per cent processing fee on withdrawals and two per cent processing fee would be charged on lodgments of amounts above N500,000 for individual accounts.

 

For corporate accounts, the CBN said that lenders would charge five per cent processing fees for withdrawals and three processing fee for lodgments of amounts above N3,000,000.

 

 

The statement, however, disclosed that the charge on deposits would apply in Lagos, Ogun, Kano, Abia, Anambra, and Rivers States as well as the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

 

It added that the implementation of the cashless policy would take effect in other states from March 31, 2020.

However, in a circular it released last Friday, the CBN announced that it had exempted all embassies, diplomatic missions, multilateral and aid donor agencies in Nigeria, as well as revenue generating accounts of government agencies, from charges on cash withdrawal and deposits with regard to the implementation of the cashless policy.

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Investor protection fund germane to boosting market confidence

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Investor protection fund germane  to boosting market confidence

The  sustenance of Investor Protection Fund (IPF) will bolster confidence in the capital market. Chris Ugwu writes

 

 

A

t the Nigerian Stock Exchange like its counterparts world over, corporate governance is one of the key elements in improving economic efficiency and growth as well as enhancing investor confidence.

An effective corporate governance system within an individual company and across an economy as a whole helps to provide a degree of confidence that is necessary for proper functioning of a market economy.

 

Sound corporate governance helps to lower the cost of capital, and firms are encouraged to use resources more efficiently, thereby strengthening growth.

 

Meanwhile, the degree to which corporations observe basic principles of good corporate governance is an important factor for investment decision.

 

However, in Nigeria, lapses in adherence to these principles have contributed mainly to crisis in the Nigerian Stock Exchange, even as most countries have recovered from the global financial meltdown.

 

Investors cannot forget in a hurry the unreasonable manipulation of share prices, which firms, in collaboration with dealing members of the exchanges and other financial institutions, indulged themselves, a despicable practice that saw the market bubble to a peak on March 5, 2008, with market capitalisation and index hitting N13 trillion and 66,371.20 points respectively only to reverse speedily to N6.957 trillion and 31,450.78 by December, 2008.

 

It is, therefore, not surprising that market regulators have continued to wield the big stick by penalizing some companies especially for market infractions and also finding ways to reward investors who incurred losses as a result of wrong doing by dealing member firms and other quoted companies of the Exchange.

 

 

On of such was the launch of Investors Protection Fund (IPF).

 

 

Investors Protection Fund

The IPF is a statutory fund established pursuant to Section 197 of the ISA to compensate investors who suffer pecuniary loss arising from the revocation or cancellation of the registration of a dealing member firm by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC); the insolvency, bankruptcy or negligence of a dealing member firm of the Exchange; and defalcation committed by a dealing member firm or any of its directors, officers, employees or representatives in relation to securities, money or any property entrusted to, or received or deemed received by the dealing member firm in the course of its business as a dealing member firm.

 

 

The NSE had on September 21, 2012 inaugurated the new board of the fund, with the late Gamaliel Onosode as the chairman.

 

Also, the Securities and Exchange Commission, in January 2014, approved the proposed rules to govern the fund.

 

However, following the demise of Onosode, the Nigerian Stock Exchange in 2016 appointed Mr. Lawrence Fubara Anga as the Chairperson of the Board of Trustees.

 

In line with the provisions of part XIV of the Investment and Securities Act (ISA) 2007, which requires the NSE to establish and maintain an investor protection fund, the NSE launched its IPF with about N625 million in the coffers as at 2013.

The SEC had in 2015 also inaugurated a National Investors Protection Fund (NIPF) worth N5 billion.

 

The then SEC Director-General, Mounir Gwarzo, at the ceremony, explained that NIPF would complement the existing Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) Investor Protection Fund (IPF).

 

Gwarzo said that the global financial challenges made the new NIPF imperative in the nation’s capital market.

 

Gwarzo described NIPF as a trust scheme established to compensate investors, like those involved in private placements, not covered under the existing IPF administered by NSE.

 

Previous worries

However, many investors had expressed concerns over the feasibility, accessibility and compensation process of the fund.

A former National Coordinator, Independent Shareholders Association (ISAN), Sir. Sunny Nwosu, had said that retail investors were not aware of the fund.

Nwosu said that the shareholders’ representative on the IPF board was not appointed by the shareholders to represent their interest, but was selected by the NSE.

He said that the fund lacked credibility because nobody had benefited from it over the years.

Nwosu also said that domestic investors had suffered untold hardship between 2008 and 2010 and needed to be compensated.

 

 

Also, the President, Progressive Shareholders Association of Nigeria, Mr. Boniface Okezie, said that besides the constitution of the board, approval of the rules, investor education on the benefits and those eligible were necessary.

Okezie said that many investors left the market because they did not know their rights and needed to be enlightened.

 

He lamented the failure of the regulators to provide information until when there was a problem, adding that investors needed to be carried along by the market regulators.

Beneficiaries get N66m in 3yrs

 

Some investors who suffered pecuniary losses due to activities of capital market operators have so far been compensated by Board of Trustees of Investor Protection Fund IPF with N65.58 million during the past three years.

 

Investigation by New Telegraph showed that pursuant to Part XIV of the Investment and Securities Act 2007 (ISA), compensated a total of 62 claims valued at N15.42 million bringing it to a total of N65.58 million paid out to beneficiaries within the past three years.

 

 

The Chief Executive Officer of the NSE, Mr. Oscar Onyema, who is also a trustee of the IPF, said: had said “This milestone gives me great pleasure as it affirms our commitment to the continuous development of initiatives that will bolster confidence in the capital market. Though the compensation payment may not be a complete restoration, it is a show of good faith on our part to investors. I thank the Board of Trustees for their guidance and commitment, the claimants for their valuable patience, and all other stakeholders for their contributions towards the success of this exercise.”

 

 

SEC’s stance

 

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)  said it was determined to ensure capital market investors were adequately protected in all transactions.

This was stated by Acting Director General of the SEC, Ms. Mary Uduk, during a meeting with the Association of Corporate Trustees in Abuja recently.

Uduk, who was represented by Acting Executive Commissioner, Operations, SEC, Mr. Isyaku Tilde, said it was the responsibility of the commission to ensure that investors are not short changed in any transactions.

She, therefore, urged them to participate to grow the market.

 

Uduk said to this end, the commission was taking steps to reduce transaction costs in a bid to ensure investors do not bear unnecessary costs.

According to her, “we are doing a lot to boost investors’ confidence in our market. But I want to say that both local and foreign investors are very good for the market. For instance, the foreign investors, because they trade their shares all of the time it leads to price discovery as against the local investors that just takes a long term view on their investments.

 

“Investors’ fears can be two-fold; firstly, they could be afraid because they feel that capital market operators will mismanage their investments, secondly, it is looking at the volatility of the market that makes investors sceptical.

 

 

“For the first scenario, we have a number of initiatives that we have put in place to boost investors’ confidence. We have the e-dividend mandate system, the direct cash settlement as well as multiple subscriptions in place. For the second category, investors have to take ownership of their investments. They have to be able to monitor their investments, attend annual general meetings as well as read the annual reports sent out to them.”

 

The acting DG said investors were also protected through the National Investors Protection Fund (NIPF) Risk Based Supervision that enables the commission to supervise operators to do the right thing.

 

 

According to her, the complaints management framework enables investors to know where to complain to and how long it takes for such complaints to be resolved. For those of the investors that are averse to risks, they should get their financial advisers to tell them where to invest.

 

“We also advise retail investors to invest in Collective Investment Schemes and Mutual Funds because those are managed independently by professionals and they are diversified thereby reducing risks. We are committed to protecting investors in the work we do. We will keep working on our rules and the possibility of amending them when the need arises, we want more transparency in the market so that investors will feel comfortable and the market can be better,” Uduk added.

 

Operators’ take

Managing Director, Crane Securities Limited, Mr. Mike Eze, in a telephone chat with New Telegraph, described the development as a step in a right direction that will help to bring sanity in the local bourse.

Eze noted that the foundation of a successful market was integrity and where there is integrity, investors feel confident that their funds are safe.

 

To Mr. Olabisi Peter, an independent shareholder, the compensation will boost investors’ confidence and help bring both local and foreign investors back to the volatile capital market.

 

He noted that to build a world class market, the SEC and NSE should focus more on investor protection, the restoration and sustenance of investors’ confidence in the market.

Last line

 

However, if investors lose confidence in the capital market, the ability of the market to mobilise and channel long-term funds, which are vital for economic development, will be a mirage.

The bold step will bring the much needed sanity to the market as both local and foreign investors will feel protected and confident to participate when a market is perceived to be fair, efficient and transparent with a strong enforcement regime.

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AfDB, others launch report on livable cities

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AfDB, others launch report on livable cities

R

apid urbanisation has provided most cities in the world with opportunities to provide more sustainable, vibrant, and prosperous centers for their citizens. But they must first address challenges such as inadequate infrastructure investments, pollution and congestion, and poor urban planning, according to a new report released at the weekend.

 

 

The report, “Creating Livable Cities: Regional Perspectives,” which  looks at urbanisation trends across emerging and developing economies in Africa,  Asia and the Pacific,  Eastern Europe, Southern and Eastern Mediterranean  as well as  Latin America and the Caribbean, is a joint publication by four regional development banks (RDBs) operating in these regions—African Development Bank (AfDB), Asian Development Bank (ADB), European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), and Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).

 

“Cities offer access to key infrastructure, institutions, and services for a good quality of life,” ADB President, Takehiko Nakao said.

 

 

“They can be centers of innovation for a more livable future for all. But realizing that potential requires forward thinking and flexible planning, adequate capacity at the municipal level, and good governance,” he added.

 

 

The world’s urban population has grown from just 750 million in 1950 (or 31% of the total population) to 4.2 billion in 2018 (55% of the total population)—a number that is estimated to reach 5.2 billion in 2030 (60% of the total population). While the majority of leading economic hubs are still in advanced economies, the center of economic activity is moving toward the developing and emerging markets, the report says. Asia and Africa will account for 90% of urban population growth between 2018 and 2050, with more than a third of this growth to happen in just three countries—the People’s Republic of China (PRC), India, and Nigeria.

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Lagos ports risky for vessels, seafarers

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Lagos ports risky for vessels, seafarers

All types of ships are now vulnerable to attack in Gulf of Guinea, which now accounts for 86 per cent of crew   hostage globally in 2019, BAYO AKOMOLAFE reports

 

 

P

iracy has remained one of the biggest crimes in the maritime industry and  has caused immense financial and economic losses to ship owners and government as well as physical harm to crew members.

For more than one decade, Nigerian waters have been labeled as the hot spot for piracy,  armed robbery and kidnapping.

 

 

Piracy includes attacks on shipping on the high seas, which are more than 12 nautical miles off the coastline and not under the jurisdiction of any state.

 

 

Inside a country’s territorial waters and within port facilities, the attacks are defined as robberies at sea.

 

Report

 

Mostly affected in the last three months is the Lagos port, which has become the hotbed of armed robbery, especially in the third quarter of 2019.

 

It was learnt that 37.9 per cent or 11 incidents of the 29 incidents were recorded in 2019, the highest number in any port in the world were recorded in Lagos.

 

Although, for the first time in the first quarter of 2019, Nigeria experienced a decrease in reported piracy incidents, according to the International Maritime Bureau’s (IMB) report.

 

The country reported 14 incidents of piracy for Q1, 2019, in comparison to 22 incidents in Q1, 2018 because of government efforts to reduce robbery on the sea.

 

However, despite efforts to reduce robbery, Nigerian waters  have remained risky for vessels, especially the ports of Lagos and Rivers where some incidents have been reported between April and June this year

Attacks

 

Despite reporting more attacks than any other country, Nigeria has reduced Q3 piracy attacks from 41 in 2018 to 29 in 2019.

 

For instance in 2019,  no fewer than 119 incidents of piracy and armed robbery against ships were reported to the IMB Piracy Reporting Centre (PRC)’s compared to 156 incidents for the same period in 2018.

The IMB’s report for the third quarter of 2019 revealed that the incidents of piracy and armed robbery against ships were fewer in the first nine months of 2018.

 

Overall, the bureau noted that 95 vessels were boarded, 10 vessels fired upon, 10 attempted attacks, and four vessels hijacked.

 

Also, the number of crew taken hostage through the first nine months declined from 112 in 2018 to 49 in 2019.

 

According to the bureau, “incidents involving guns and knives remain consistent. There have been 24 knife-related and 35 gun-related incidents reported in 2019, compared to 25 and 37 for the first nine months of 2018. These statistics confirm IMB’s concerns over continued threats to the safety and security of seafarers.”

 

2019 incidents

This year, the Gulf of Guinea (GoG) accounted for 86 per cent of crew taken hostage and nearly 82 per cent of crew kidnappings globally.

 

In July, a general cargo vessel was hijacked approximately 120 nautical miles (nm) South West from Brass. Also, 10 crew members were kidnapped from the vessel and released four weeks later.

In August, a bulk carrier and a general cargo vessel were boarded within hours of each other at Douala anchorage, Cameroon and a total of 17 crew were kidnapped from the vessels. Within six weeks, all kidnapped crew were released.

This incident demonstrates the range of piracy activity in the Gulf of Guinea and that all types of ships are vulnerable to attack.

 

According to the Director of IMB, Pottengal Mukundan, the Gulf of Guinea  had continued to be a concern for piracy and armed robbery-related activities with kidnappings of crew members increasing in both scale and frequency.

He noted: “It is important that shipmasters and owners continue to report all actual, attempted and suspected incidents to ensure that an accurate picture of these attacks emerge and  action is taken against these criminals before the incidents further escalate.”

 

Solution

However, the Federal Government has signed Suppression of Piracy and other Maritime Offences Bill into law to prevent and suppress piracy, armed robbery and any other unlawful act against a ship, aircraft and any other maritime thefts in the country’s territorial waters and exclusive economic zone.

 

Speaking on the new law, the Director-General of NIMASA, Dr. Dakuku Peterside, explained in  Lagos that the Act would ensure an increasingly safer and more secure environment for profitable maritime business especially at the very critical stage of the country’s  blue economy drive.

 

He listed some of the significant provisions of the Act as including a distinct definition of piracy, maritime offences/unlawful acts, punishment upon conviction for maritime crimes, restitution to owners of violated maritime assets or forfeiture of proceeds of maritime crime to the Federal Government and establishment of a Piracy and Maritime Offences Fund (MPOF) with prescribed sources of funding that will be utilised in the implementation of the Act.

 

 

Dakuku added that the law would empowers relevant authorities mentioned under the Act to seize vessels or aircraft used for maritime crimes anywhere in Nigeria and in international waters or in the jurisdiction of any country where the ship is reasonably believed to be a pirate-controlled ship or aircraft.

Last line

Government should beef up security around the ports to ensure that ships, crew and cargoes are protected.

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