The need for collaboration among all relevant stakeholders to discourage flow of illicit funds into the Nigerian capital market has become very urgent. Chris Ugwu reports
oney laundering is a serious crime that affects the economy, impedes the socio-economic, political and cultural development of societies worldwide.
The central objective of regulators is to boost confidence in the financial system, and to use all available tools to ensure that financial institutions are not controlled by criminals or misused for criminal purposes.
Fighting money laundering involves combating the recycling of illegally gained proceeds and providing additional tools to detect and go after the underlying crime.
It is on this premise that the need for collaboration with all relevant stakeholders has become necessary given the important role the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) plays in the financial system.
The necessity to increase the level of collaboration has also become more necessary given the fact that terrorism can only thrive when terrorists have access to funds.
Terrorism and its financing are also affecting both national and international economies.
Money launderers and terrorists raise their funds through various profitable activities that mainly stem from criminal acts such as kidnapping, extortion, large scale smuggling, narcotics trafficking, robbery and theft.
Terrorism would require the financial services infrastructure to mobilise and channel their funds.
Effect of illicitt funds in economy
Akin Olawale Oluwadayisi and Moruf Oluwakayode Mimiko of Faculty of Law, Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba-Akoko, Nigeria, in their research work entitled “Effects of Money Laundering on the Economy of Nigeria,” said illicit funds were used in bringing goods to the market and such goods are being sold below cost price.
This will undoubtedly after the business of other entrepreneurs in the same business.
“Money laundering promotes none or low profit making enterprises, which tends to discourage indigenous entrepreneurs who got their funds from legitimate sources.
“This eventually frustrates these indigenous entrepreneurs out of the system leaving the economy of the countries into the hands to launderers,” he added.
The resultant effect of this is that the economy of the country depends on the unsteady operators of its economy, the launderers, who have no intention of making profit, thereby jeopardising the economic stability of the country.
Another effect of money laundering on the economy is that it attacks reliability of people in financial institutions.
It was observed that between the 80s and 90s, the reputation of financial institutions in Nigeria was very low because they relied extensively on illicit proceeds of economic and financial crimes.
These financial institutions only enjoyed these funds for a very short period, before they became disintegrated and some liquidated because they could not stand the test of time.
Banks like the National Bank, Allied Bank, Bank for Credit and Commerce International were some of the banks that were affected during this period.
Foreign investors found it extremely difficult to invest in any venture in the country during the periods due to obvious reasons.
This also hindered the growth of the economy of the country. Money laundering could lead to increase in liability and heighten the risks for asset quality in the financial system.
When this happens, it may create systemic risks for the financial services industry and consequently lead to loss of confidence and credibility in the financial institution.
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) recently expressed commitment to ensuring that the capital market domain is not used in any way to inject illegal funds into the sector and the financial system as a whole.
This was stated by Acting Director General, SEC, Ms. Mary Uduk, in her opening remarks at the anti-money laundering training for compliance officers of capital market operators.
Uduk, who was represented by Malam Adamu Sambo, a Deputy Director and Head of Department, Monitoring, at SEC, said being the apex regulator of the Nigerian capital market, with a vision “to develop and regulate” a world class market that is free from any criminal activity, the commission is not relenting in its drive to fight the menace of money laundering and terrorism financing.
According to Uduk, “financial institutions shoulder great responsibility in ensuring compliance with all rules and regulations governing financial system.
“It is our collective responsibility as stakeholders to collaborate and work together as a community in building more capacity in the system for effective compliance programme.
“The principles for market intermediaries is to have an efficient functioning system that delivers compliance with standards for internal organisations and operational conduct.
“The commission is investing in human capital training and developments in addition to the promotion of innovative technology and proffer solutions in the SEC’s and the Capital market operations as contained in the SEC 10-year Capital Market Master Plan (CMMP).”
She said the anti-money laundering training, which is being done in collaboration with the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU), was going to be hands on, a practical approach aimed at addressing challenges by capital market operators in rendition of statutory returns and taking compliance to the next level.
Uduk further emphasised SEC’s willingness to engage relevant stakeholders in building capacity on developments and trends in compliance, changes in laws and rules and regulations, interpretation and application of same by relevant authorities in order to encourage and promote the culture of compliance among financial institutions.
“Anti-money laundering software application is a fully integrated software solution developed specifically for use by Financial Intelligence Units (FIU’s) and is one of United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, UNODC’s strategic responses to financial crime, including money-laundering and terrorist financing.
“The training is in line with the initiatives introduced by the SEC to sustain the confidence of investors in the capital market and to instill discipline in the transactional processes in the market,” she said.
SEC’s partnership with NFIU
SEC and the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU), last week, agreed to collaborate in combating crime in capital market to ensure that suspicious transactions are eradicated from the capital.
Uduk, who spoke in Abuja during the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the NFIU, said the collaboration was necessary in order to close ranks in the face of insider dealings, re-awakening of ponzi schemes, cybercrime and other fraudulent activities that have engulfed the market in the last few years.
Uduk said the commission was paying close attention to digital transactions and was in the process of amending its rules to capture such transactions.
The acting DG disclosed that the commission already had regulations that prohibits shell companies from operating in the capital market and implored the NFIU to assist with solutions to track suspicious transactions as they occur.
“If we have solutions that will help us track transactions, it will reduce incidence of insider dealing greatly. We would be very willing to collaborate with you on that in our determination to ensure that our markets are efficient and transparent and all investors are protected,” Uduk said.
According to Uduk, some areas where the MoU seeks cooperation of both agencies include training, secondment of middle cadre officers between both organisations, cross boarder monitoring, repatriation of stolen funds from the capital market and prosecution of offenders amongst others.
On the rising spate of ponzi schemes in the country, Uduk stressed the need for more collaboration between both organisations and further sensitisation to ensure unsuspecting Nigerians do not continue to lose their hard earned money.
In his remarks, Director of NFIU, Mr. Modibbo Tukur, commended SEC for the relationship that exists between both organisations and assured that the NFIU would continue to play its part in ensuring that the financial system is safe for Nigerians to operate.
To this end, Tukur disclosed that the NFIU was making efforts to ensure that the financial system is rid of shell companies, adding that for companies to exist, they should have physical addresses.
“If anyone establishes a company, it has to be a company indeed and we have to be firm on this. This has become more important now given the roll out of the ECOWAS single currency, because with that, we know that capital and investments will move across borders and it is a single currency. So we have to step up regulation to avoid fraudulent transactions.
“We will commence by September and some companies would have to be deregistered if they do not meet the criteria. We will publish the parameters and also give them enough time to regularise after which those that do not comply before the deadline will be shut down. If you have an empty company hanging in the system, it is a potential danger and we should not allow it to thrive,” Tukur said.
He stated that by the time the NFIU commences due diligence on the shell companies, the information would be shared with SEC for further action.
He commended the SEC on its regulation that does not presently allow shell companies to operate in the capital market.
“Analysis would now be digital so the organisation would be able to share information on transactions as fast as possible adding that the capital market being a very sensitive one, care has to be taken on information dissemination to avoid disruptions,” he added.
Money laundering has become another terror threatening the growth of the economy such that it drags the wheel of governance and economic development, hence there is urgent need to combat the menace frontally.
Dollar tumbles as U.S.-China trade tension intensifies
The U.S. dollar dropped broadly last Friday after President Donald Trump ordered U.S. companies to start looking for an alternative to China after Beijing imposed more tariffs on American goods, further escalating tension between the world’s two largest economies in a prolonged trade dispute.
According to Reuters, Trump’s order triggered mass selling in the dollar, which fell from a three-week high against the euro and to one-week troughs versus the yen and Swiss franc.
The dollar, however, strengthened against the Chinese yuan in the offshore market, hitting a two-week high CNH=.
“Our great American companies are hereby ordered to immediately start looking for an alternative to China, including bringing your companies HOME and making your products in the USA,” Trump wrote on Twitter.
His tweet followed China’s earlier move last Friday when it announced retaliatory tariffs against about $75 billion worth of U.S. goods, putting as much as an extra 10 per cent on top of existing rates
“Clearly when you look at the U.S. yields and the dollar’s reaction, there are concerns that these latest comments from Trump on China will push the U.S. into recession,” said Marvin Loh, senior global markets strategist, at State Street in Boston.
Trump’s comments overshadowed a speech from Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell, who did not announce a major stimulus measure to ease a worsening global economic outlook, but set the stage for further interest rate cuts.
Powell said the U.S. economy was in a “favorable place” and the Fed would “act as appropriate” to keep the current economic expansion on track.
Tax appeal tribunal resolves disputes worth N10bn
The Tax Appeal Tribunal sitting in Kaduna and with jurisdiction over the North West Zone, comprising Kaduna, Kano, Kebbi, Katsina, Zamfara, Sokoto and Jigawa States, has resolved tax disputes amounting to over N10billion since it commenced sitting eight months ago.
According to a press release, the total worth amount recovered via the various suits filed by either taxpayers, or various revenue generation agencies, within the North West Zone rose to above N10billion following the payment of N129,335,033.02, by Hadejia Jamaare River Basin Development Authority, to Kano State Internal Revenue Service, on the 17th of July, 2019.
Specifically, on July 17, 2019, the tribunal was able to resolve the long-standing dispute between the Kaduna State Internal Revenue Service and Ahmadu Bello University Zaria.
On that day, the panel was to commence the hearing of the defence of the respondents (ABU), Francis Kozah the lead Counsel for the Kaduna State Internal Revenue Service informed the tribunal that parties had reached an amicable settlement of the long standing dispute, with the payment received from ABU, of the sum of N4.71 billion, being the principal tax liability, less penalty and interest, that was waived in the interest of the settlement.
Similarly, the tax dispute between, Kaduna State Internal Revenue Service and Kaduna Polytechnic also enjoyed the same amicable settlement, as counsel to the appellant also tendered before the tribunal a payment receipt of the sum of N2.63 billion being final payment of the disputed taxes, less penalty and interest, waived in the interest of an amicable settlement.
The same Tribunal had earlier awarded judgment in the sum of N6382 million in favour of the Kano State Internal Revenue Service, against the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Furthermore, in the matter between the Kano State Internal Revenue Service vs the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) (1st Respondent) and the Minister of Finance, which also had to do with the failure of the 1st Respondent to remit both PAYE (pay as you earn) and withholding taxes in the sum of N200 million, the tribunal was able to reconcile the disputed taxes, to a revised sum of N63 million.
Commenting on the figures, the Chairman of the North West Zone of the Tax Appeal Tribunal, Umar Mohammed Adamu, enjoined all taxpayers and critical stakeholders within the Zone, to embrace the speedy resolution of tax disputes promoted by the Tax Appeal Tribunal.
Access Bank promotes savings culture among children
Access Bank has partnered MTN at the mPulse planet to educate pre-teens and teenagers on the importance of practicing good savings culture through fun and innovative methods.
The event, which held at Landmark Event Centre, Lagos, saw children taking part in gamified learning on platforms such as Dreamville.ng – a community where children can learn about managing money and other financial instruments – while also providing attendees with lots of exciting attractions and activities to enhance early savings culture.
Speaking at the event, Adaeze Ume, Group Head, Consumer Banking, Access Bank Plc., said the bank was committed to engaging and empowering young Nigerians for the future by investing in their knowledge, improving their capabilities.
“From our gamified platform Dreamville.ng, to Early Savers and SOLO products, we are committed to helping the youth imbibe a healthy savings culture from an early age.
“This event reflects Access Bank’s obligation to our young customers by improving financial literacy and encouraging learning in a fun way. For example, users can earn points, badges, and rewards on Dreamville.ng for positive financial behaviours, especially by managing finances and budgets, setting savings goals and achieving them,” she said.
The new initiative by Access Bank leverages on digital innovation and technology towards enhancing customer experience and driving financial inclusion while building on its ‘More than Banking’ promise.
Since the formalisation of its merger, Access Bank has continued to challenge the financial market by introducing new products and innovative solutions – setting new bench marks in line with international best practices.
NSE postpones rules on regulatory announcements, others
he Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) has deferred rules on release calendar for regulatory announcements and filings of listed companies till further notice.
According to a notice signed by the Executive Director/ Regulation, NSE, Tinuade Awe, the earlier announced effective date of the rules was slated for Monday, September 2, 2019.
The release calendar was part of the exchange’s issuers’ portal, which displays a list of expected and actual filing dates of specific financials, corporate actions, and meetings of companies listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange.
The calendar will be maintained on the exchange’s website and will be accessible to the investing public. To guide investors in making informed investment decisions, the calendar will provide information on the expected and actual filing dates of different categories of financial and non-financial information on listed companies.
The rule stipulates that “by the third (3rd) quarter of its current financial year, but not later than the last day of its current financial year, each Issuer listed on the main board and premium board of the exchange shall submit to the exchange via the issuers’ portal information on the items stated in Rule 2, for the subsequent year.
“Each Issuer shall publish and retain the information relating to the Issuer on the items stated in Rule 2. Changes to any dates already disclosed by an Issuer, shall be promptly communicated to the exchange via the Issuers’ Portal at least five (5) business days prior to the date of the relevant event.
“Where the issuer does not disclose the date changes within the time specified above, or is unable to do so within the specified time, the issuer shall release a notice to the market, prior to the earlier disclosed date of an event, stating the reasons for such changes and the new proposed date for the event.
“A company newly listed on the exchange shall submit information on the items in Rule 2, for the current year to the exchange, and release it to the market, at least three (3) business days prior to the date on which its securities are set to begin trading on the exchange.”
On the treatment of non-compliance the rule stated that the exchange shall notify the market about any issuer that fails to comply with any of the requirements of these rules.
“Where an issuer fails to file information on the items in Rule 2 after the due date, the exchange shall on its own volition, within five business days after the due date, populate the release calendar with relevant information on the defaulting issuer, on the basis of (a) the regulatory deadline by which each Issuer’s obligations in respect of each specific filing became due, and (b)for announcements of dividends, and dates of board and annual general meetings, the earliest date on which an Issuer took such corporate action in previous years, and the Issuer shall be bound to fulfil its regulatory obligations by the above dates.
“Where an Issuer defaults in filing any expected returns by the above dates, the applicable penalties for failure to comply and submit such returns shall begin to run from those dates,” the rule stated.
SERAP asks AGF to open register for corrupt public officials
rights organization, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has asked the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), to develop and adopt public registers for corrupt state governors and other high-ranking public officials charged with and convicted of grand corruption since the return of democracy in 1999.
In an open letter dated August 23, 2019, which was signed by its Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, SERAP also urged the AGF to push for a legislation that will require public officials charged with and convicted of grand corruption at the federal, state and local government levels to put their names in the public registers.
The organization argued that the proposed registers would not only have a deterrent effect but would also be a proportionate response to the grave crime of grand corruption and impunity of perpetrators.
It further noted that there can be no reasonable expectation of privacy in matters already exposed to public viewing such as prior arrest, charges and conviction records.
According to SERAP, public registers for high-ranking officials facing corruption charges and those convicted of corruption would be a pivotal moment in the fight against corruption by the government of President Muhammadu Buhari.
The open letter reads: “SERAP is concerned that corruption is so pervasive across many states and at several levels of governance and has remained a constant feature of Nigeria’s political scene since 1999, turning public service for many into a kind of criminal enterprise.
“Grand corruption has continued to fuel political violence, deny millions of Nigerians access to clean water, and even the most basic health and education services, and reinforcing police abuses and other widespread patterns of human rights violations.
“The lack of public registers containing detailed information about high-ranking public officials charged with and convicted of corruption since 1999 has allowed many politicians, often with impunity, to use apparently illicitly acquired wealth to fund political parties, build corrupt patronage networks, thereby preventing fair access to economic and political power, serving to further the wealth and power of ruling elites, and exacerbating inequality.
“Registers would help protect the public from corrupt officials and their collaborators and improve the ideal of representative government, as it would assist the citizens to properly exercise their right to participate in their own government.
“Public registers would improve transparency by making it easier for the public to track the government’s fight against corruption and make the government as open as possible in its anti-corruption efforts.
“Everyone has the right of access to any information held by the state or by any other person, which is reasonably required for the exercise or protection of any rights, including those of citizens’ right to human dignity and freedom from corruption.
“Registers for corrupt officials would also address the paucity of information about politicians and others complicit in the mismanagement of the country’s natural wealth and resources, with devastating consequences for citizens’ enjoyment of their human rights.
“Many citizens lack knowledge and awareness of those charged with and convicted of grand corruption, and those that are complicit in the mismanagement of the country’s wealth and resources”.
Oyebanji: AMCON may takeover more fuel terminals due to bad debts
The Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) has taken over many tank farms and loading terminals belonging to some independent marketers and importers of petroleum products in Nigeria due to inability to pay the debts they owe banks. Chairman, Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN), Mr. Adetunji Oyebanji, speaks on these crises and other burning issues in the downstream subsector of the petroleum industry, in this interview with Adeola Yusuf. Excerpts:
In other countries we see fuel retail outlets owned and operated by international oil companies such as Shell, Chevron and ExxonMobil, among others, why is it not the same here in Nigeria? Don’t you think it’s time the Federal Government compelled them to do so?
Most governments across the globe promote free market enterprise. People and businesses invest in different sectors out of their free will based on opportunities there. You cannot coerce people or institutions to invest in an industry when the environment is not conducive or acceptable to them.
Some Nigerians and organisations have expressed concerns about the huge amount of money being spent on fuel subsidy, what will be your advice to the government if asked to do so?
Government should put a robust plan in place to wind down their involvement in fuel importation by liberalizing and deregulating petrol. This would channel very scarce resources used in its importation to other sectors of the economy in dire need of attention, for example, Education, Health, Security, among others for true benefit of the citizenry.
What is the state of the debt owed oil marketers by the Federal Government?
Kudos to this government as two thirds of marketers’ debts, which are largely legacy debts inherited by the present government in 2015 have settled them. The instrument used for payment is promissory notes, which can be discounted for cash.
Banks, we learnt, have been directed to waive the interest that accrued on the N800 billion owed marketers, will that make marketers commence importation of fuel?
Marketers cannot compete because the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) is capable of accessing forex for product importation at a rate others cannot. They, alone, can take the shock of product cost landing at above pump price and every other person buys from them. It is currently not a level-playing field at all.
Over the years, the Federal Government had been advised severally to deregulate the fuel marketing arm of the oil industry, but the government is not excited to implement it because it will make the citizens to unnecessarily pay more for fuel. What do you think can be done to deregulate the sector and still keep the price of fuel (PMS) at a reasonable level?
Pump price of petrol is cheapest in Nigeria than all our neighbouring countries. This is mainly the case due to the subsidization of the product. Unfortunately we have porous land/sea borders and these fuels find their way to other countries where they do not subsidize fuel. So technically, Nigeria is subsidizing fuel for other countries and making some black marketers super rich. Government can plan deregulation in phases and put palliative measures in place to cushion any sharp or adverse effect of the process.
The major oil marketing companies have not been increasing their retail outlets in the past few years, what’s responsible for this action? Is it a collective decision by the umbrella body – MOMAN?
Personally, the downstream is not very attractive, as a lot of companies today are trying to stay afloat or survive due to the very thin margin on petrol because it is a regulated product. A lot of fuel terminals are under AMCON’s management, as they could not meet their financial obligations to banks, among others. The margins have not been reviewed since 2016 and for many years before then, it’s been the same. The subsidy payment came as a relief, but some companies had passed redemption even with the inflow and suffered the inevitable. Necessity is the mother of invention, as a lot of marketers have divested or reengineered just to remain relevant. This is the same reason why most international oil companies (IOCs) have divested from Nigeria and even people who took them over have in some cases also moved on to other more profitable ventures.
Normally, when the price of crude oil is low, the price of petroleum products should be low. Why doesn’t that apply in Nigeria?
The government is already bleeding as a result of cushioning the price of the product, as the landing price of petrol is more than the pump price. So naturally when price is low, it may at best be at breakeven point with pump price. At least, government will have some relief at those seasons.
The downstream subsector has not been attracting foreign and local investors, what’s the cause?
The answer to this question is not farfetched. With the right environment such as free enterprise and a level playing field, investors will be encouraged and participate in building capacity and infrastructure, as they will be guaranteed of a reasonable return for their investment. If this isn’t the case, as we are now currently experiencing in our polity, even the existing players will pack their bags to leave.
MOMAN is recognised as a cardinal and reputable organisation, why isn’t it helping the government to find solution to the downstream problems?
MOMAN is an association made up of member companies driven by their core values, which is primarily to provide energy solutions to Nigerians at a reasonable return. However, we also share a mandate to ensure there is fluidity in Federal Government’s plan in reaching policy solutions. Unfortunately what we find is successive governments using fuel/PMS as a political commodity and trying to solve our problems of deregulation politically as opposed to using economical approach to resolving it.
Having headed both multinational and local oil firms, what are the things that we are not doing properly or we should do differently as a country to put the downstream on a strong footing?
First and foremost as a nation, we should formulate proper policies that will entrench fair play and promote free market enterprise. One of the key reasons for this, fundamentally, is it will attract a lot of both local and foreign investment. On the area of Safety, Corporate Governance, Operational Efficiency etc, the world now is a global village and a lot of best practices are easier shared across companies and industries more now than never before.
Should the Federal Government sell Nigeria’s refineries to private investors?
It is a general rule and very popular school of thought, which says government are not very efficient in running state corporations due to the usual inherent bureaucracies and usual inherent corruption that we tend to find prevalent. Having said this, government may encourage private partnerships to run and oversee the refineries by putting proper policies and plan in place for its workability.
How should government go about it?
Partner with the right team to gradually see government’s involvement in running the refineries diminish. Right policy framework that will ensure the new managers enjoy tax exemption and other incentives before the refineries become fully operational and viable again.
Does the nation stand to benefit from selling off these refineries?
Yes to the extent that they will be more efficient and produce more molecules for the Nigerian populace. Hopefully this will put less and less pressure on the need to import refined products and also reduce the pressure on our foreign exchange reserves.
There is agitation that there will be job loss if the refineries are sold. Will this not be counter-productive?
Yes and no. Yes in the sense that some of the existing jobs on the refining line currently out dated will be replaced by more modern machinery with less human intervention, but overall the economy will likely see a boom and will be freed up. This has a ripple effect of generating a robust growth and earnings potential that will exponentially create more jobs and income for Nigerians.
Will selling the refineries now not have negative impact on price of refined products for Nigerians?
From our experience the impact of our refined product is largely minimal overall, as we import close to 70 – 80 per cent of our premium motor spirit (PMS) or petrol consumption from foreign refineries. So, by government finding right partners and moving away from directly managing the refineries to a more efficient manager will see government concentrate on other social- economic role beneficial to all as opposed to a purely business-driven venture approach needed to run modern refineries properly.
How is 11Plc faring in the industry? Have you resolved your case with Ascon Oil on the Mobile retail outlet at Gbagada?
We are trying to compete favorably and face all of the challenges being faced by all the local players. Our edge, however, is staying within the ambit of the law and doing those things we are known for flawlessly. For the Mobil Gbagada service station, the case is still in the courts.
We gathered that 11plc sacked some workers due to inability to pay while some workers are still working as casuals; can you throw more light on these issues?
There isn’t any iota of truth in this story. Members of staff who leave are those who attained the retirement age or choose to leave based on pursuing other passions or dreams. At 11PLC, we pride ourselves as a company that develops our manpower, as we see our people as our strongest asset and like I said, the management and staff of 11PLC always stay within the ambit of the law of the land.
Last year, MOMAN engaged with some stakeholders on the need to clear the Apapa gridlock. What is your assessment of the situation?
If you look at the bridges today, you will see that most of the trucks that are on those queues are trucks for dry goods. Hardly will you see any tanker that is parked indiscriminately in Apapa. To that extent, I think we have worked hard to make sure that MOMAN members and other companies that are coming to lift from our facilities have places where they can park their trucks without being a distraction. However, the overall problem of Apapa still remains. On our own side, in our own industry, a good percentage of the imports into Nigeria come in through the Apapa ports. So that is a problem, although it has been decentralised to a certain extent so people also go to places such as Calabar and Warri to lift products.
But the vast majority comes into Apapa. So that is one problem. Secondly, the major ports here, Tin Can and Apapa ports are still here. So most of the dry goods that are imported into the country again, are coming in through the same ports that were built several years ago, despite an increase in volume. So, I would say the major problem is really lack of investment. If the country has invested in more ports’ receipt facilities, infrastructure in this area in different parts of the country then, we would not really have this problem. Until that fundamental problem is addressed, we are going to continue to see this kind of problem intermittently. In addition, the roads are bad, not only in coming into Apapa but all over the place and that has also compounded the issue.
For me, you have to decentralize this place. l do not think any new tank farm should be allowed here. We already have enough. They should take them to other places. And then if the roads are also fixed, that will improve. We have a big truck pack. Most of our MOMAN members have truck parks and we are able to park our trucks. But I think it’s something that needs to be done for not only the petrol tankers or trucks coming into Apapa.
How come most of the multinationals have left with the exception of Total? How was Total able to do this?
Well, what I would say clearly is that the downstream in Nigeria is not healthy. As you know, we operate on a fixed margin. The last time any review was done on our margins was in 2016. Inflation continues to rise, workers continue to demand a higher salary as well as an increase in all the inputs. If you want to build a mega station now, the cost is probably two or three times over what it would have cost a few years back and yet our margins remain the same. Today, NNPC is the sole importer of fuel; so all of us have to go cap in hand to NNPC to beg for allocation. So with all the stress and combination of things, regulations are not applied to all. In some cases, you will find this regulation will be applied here, for another person the same will not be applied.
So those kinds of differential ways of doing things and then, when you add to all these multiple taxations, every local government, every environmental agency, three different agencies can come requesting for the same things and charging you huge amounts of money, all coming from a fixed petrol price on a fixed margin. With that, it doesn’t take rocket science to know that things will be bad. And that’s why I think people have left. For TOTAL, I think the only reason why they are still here, I can’t speak for them, but I believe Africa is a corner piece of their own strategy. So they have been expanding significantly in Africa and maybe that is why they feel it’s important to remain in a large economy like Nigeria. But for other people, that made a business decision that this is not a sustainable economic environment that can keep their companies going and they have decided to vote with their feet.
What solutions will you proffer to these problems you mentioned?
Well, we are in a competitive industry. We believe in competition. We believe that when you allow players in the industry a free hand to go into the market and to compete effectively, it brings out the best in them and the investment that is lacking. You can see the trucks on the road, most of the trucks you see on the road are not good, many of our stations you see are not what you call state-of-the-art stations. If you go abroad, you can see much better service stations. Many of our facilities are old and getting older. We believe that the government needs to free up the industry just like it has done in so many other industries and we have seen the massive development there. I believe that we should deregulate the industry. Deregulation doesn’t mean there will be a lack of regulation. The regulation will still be there but the government will concentrate on setting standards and making sure that everybody is playing according to the rules, and that people are not creating monopolies in terms of oppressing people.
Today, even though the margins have not been touched for quite some time, they are fixed and they are known. At least you know what you are dealing with. In a deregulated environment you may not know what those margins are. In fact, your margins could go negative if possible but at the end of the day what that means is that, those who are not running the business efficiently would die and the strong will survive or there’ll be consolidation in the industry, which is part of what you see happening in the banking sector because the competition is stiff. People have to consolidate.
With all the benefits you outlined, why do you think the government is yet to sign up on deregulation?
It is from a political standpoint and it is always going to be a challenging thing. Unfortunately the longer you wait, the more difficult it is going to become. It is not going to run away. You really have to take the bull by the horns because what we keep on doing is that, when there is an attempt to deregulate and there is a lot of pushback, eventually when the government has to take a step backward what they end up doing ultimately is just to increase the price. Deregulation is not about just increasing prices periodically. What usually happens is that when the pressure on government finances becomes so much, they have no choice and they will say we want to deregulate and immediately they say that there’s outrage, people in different places carry placards, strikes and all that.
SEC to partner CBN on E-DMMS charges
Brokers and registrars are required to make information available on multiple subscription account, on a periodic basis
he Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has said it will partner the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to include e-Dividend Mandate Management System (E-DMMS) charges in guideline for bank charges.
This is just as it disclosed that following its efforts to resolve the issue of multiple subscriptions, which is believed to be one of the reasons for rising wave of unclaimed dividend, about 3.4 billion units of shares have been effectively regularised.
Multiple subscriptions to public offers occurred during the market boom when investors joggled their names in different forms to enable them purchase more than the permitted units of shares in public offers.
Addressing financial journalists at the commission’s second quarter Capital Market Committee (CMC) meeting at the weekend, Acting Director General, SEC, Mary Uduk, noted that after extensive discussions with the capital market committee, the commission intended to partner with the apex bank to issue charges on E-DMMS transactions.
“The CBN has a published charges for the banks, this means that any transactions carried out by any bank, there is an established charge. The e-dividend charge is not part of the charges from the CBN and so because of that, investors are having issues with banks where for instance they are charged for some transactions that are not listed as bank charges which they do not know.
“They complained to us and so we decided that we will engage CBN to actually make this part of their charges and so any e-dividend carried out will be charged by the CBN. This came up as a result of us stopping the payment of the e-dividend mandate as we were underwriting the initiative before we mandated investors to pay a token of N150 per mandate,” she said.
She added that brokers and registrars were required to make available to the committee on multiple subscription account, on a periodic basis, the number of regularized accounts and noted that the commission would continue to engage with relevant stakeholders on e-dividend and multiple subscription accounts.
Ag. Executive Commissioner, Corporate Services at SEC, Henry Rowland, revealed that over 3.4 billion units of shares had been effectively regularised and 2.7 million accounts mandated as regards e-dividend.
“As we all know the unclaimed dividend issue is a dynamic one, while we were solving the issue, new ones come in. we can confirm that about 2.7 million accounts have been mandated and when you look at that, you go back to think that if each mandated account will attract a number of dividends unclaimed, then it is of essence.
“In addition to e-dividend registration approach, the SEC launched an initiative that is called regularisation of multiple subscriptions whereby people have used different names for one company or share. The regularisation has been moving effectively and we can confirm that about 3.4 billion units of shares have been effectively regularized,” Rowland noted.
Pension: Paramilitary gulps N8.64bn under defined benefit
The Federal Government has consistently paid pension since the beginning of this administration
o put an end to lingering arrears of pension owed paramilitary personnel in Nigeria, the Federal Government has released a total of N8.64 billion to cover payments for 2018 and the first quarter of this year.
The sum, which was managed by the Pension Transitional Administrative Directorate [PTAD], was used in settling pensioners of Nigeria Customs Service, Nigerian Immigration Service as well as Nigerian Prisons Service.
Out of the amount, N6.81 billion was utilized in 2018, while the balance of N1.84 billion was used in the first quarter of this year.
Similarly, the sum of N7.78 billion was released for police pension out of which N6.12 billion was utilised in 2018, while the balance of N1.65 billion was for the first quarter of 2019.
The various payments came after the verification exercise by PTAD, culminating in pension payment to public sector pensioners to the tune of N102.82 billion, spanning a period of 15 months from January 2018 to March 2019.
According to the breakdown, the highest amount of N59.97 billion was utilised to fund Parastatal Pension Department in the 15-month period. Out of this amount, the sum of N45.05 billion was utilised in 2018, while the balance of N14.92 billion was spent in the first quarter of this year.
For Civil Servants Pension Department, the sum of N26.4 billion was released during the period – made up of N21.21 billion for 2018 and N5.19 billion for the first three months of this year.According to the Executive Secretary, PTAD, Sharon Ikeazor, the release of the fund to pensioners was a demonstration of the commitment of the Federal Government to make life easier for them.
Ikeazor described the 2018 fiscal period as a very busy year for PTAD, adding that the agency had made significant progress in ensuring regular payments of pension to retirees.
She said: “2018 was a busy year at PTAD and we dare say a successful one too. Pension payments have been regular and up-to-date.
“We concluded the Civil Service Pension Department verification and commenced the verification of the Parastatal Pension Department pensioners, starting with the defunct agencies.
“We made significant progress on the payment of the long outstanding 33 per cent arrears, which we are hopeful will soon be a thing of the past.
“Incidents of pension fraud are on the decline as we continue to create awareness and partner with the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, to arrest and prosecute fraudsters.”
Ikeazor, who is quitting the directorate for Ministry of Environment as Minister of State, said last week that non-payment of pension was the greatest social injustice that would be meted out on anyone who has served the country in any capacity whatsoever.
She said given President Muhammadu Buhari’s stance against social injustice and her desire to fight against social injustice, PTAD has been built into a strong institution that would stand the test of time.
New Telegraph recalled that despite the smooth process undertaken by the agency during the verification, some pensioners, however, had cause to complain over some challenges bordering on inappropriate presentation of their service documents.
Speaking on this, PTAD said it was the duty of the directorate to verify the retirees with documents presented and not to create same for those with issues.
According to the Deputy Director, Parastatals Pension Department, PTAD, Kabiru Yusuf, one of the obligations of every pensioner is to present his/her career document, and when that is done, “we review it, and on the basis of that we then verify them.”
He said there were instances when pensioners who could no longer trace their career records are giving options, and one of the options is for them to go back to their agencies because these agencies are existing to get a letter of introduction, which will now state the details of their career such as date of entry, date of last promotion and the grade and date of exit.
“We are exercising civility to accept this letter of introduction along with affidavits and other banks statements and related records to verify them with a caveat that we will stamp the form ‘verification incomplete subject to further validation’ so that when we get back to the headquarters, we can then revalidate because our primary purpose is to ensure that only qualified pensioners get back onto our payroll. Secondly, the amounts we pay them are computed accurately and we pay them the correct amount. Thirdly, of course, we do not verify dead pensioners to ensure that only pensioners that are alive remain on the payroll,” he said.
CPS: Public confidence fortified with asset growth
The steady growth in pension assets and introduction of micro-pension plan has further signaled an end to painful retirement for active contributors under the Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS). Sunday Ojeme reports
he anguish, pains and disillusionment that hallmarked the nation’s pension atmosphere have continued to change for good, as more Nigerian workers key into the Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS).
While more workers are still being enrolled by the Pension Fund Administrators (PFAs), the steady rise in the asset under management is also reinforcing public confidence in the scheme currently being supervised by the National Pension Commission (PenCom).
Specifically, within a space of three months, the assets grew by as much as N1 billion from N9.12 trillion in April to N9.33 trillion in June 2019, just shortly after the micro-pension segment of the scheme was inaugurated by the Federal Government.
No doubt, the current drive by the commission, under Mrs. Aisha Dahir-Umar, to get the Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) operators into the scheme through the micro-pension plan, has been identified as a further elixir to boost the assets and expand the investment portfolio.
At the end of 2018, it was reported that the Global Pension Industry had an estimated asset under management of $41.4 trillion, which represents 53.9 per cent of global assets under management.
For Nigeria, the pension industry has witnessed a new deal as PenCom has effectively regulated and supervised it to ensure that retirement benefits are paid as and when due.
Growth in asset
The N29 billion growths in the first quarter have been attributed to salient policies being implemented by the commission under Dahir-Umar.
Data obtained from the commission also shows that AuM in the second quarter of the year increased by N21 billion.
According to the monthly report on summary of pension fund assets and RSA registration published on its website, pension fund assets rose from N9.12 trillion in April 2019 to N9.33 trillion in June 2019, indicating a N21 billion inflow.
A breakdown showed that while investment in Federal Government securities fell by N6 billion from N6.55 trillion in April to N6.49 trillion in June, RSA Fund 11, which has continued to attract more investment, moved from N4.02 trillion to N4.10 trillion, representing an increase of N8 billion.
As it is, the total fund had grown to N8.74trillion in January; N8.91trillion in February; N9.03 trillion in March.; N9.12 trillion in April, N9.22 trillion in May and N9.33 trillion in June, which translates to N686 billion increase in six months. The report further showed that a major chunk of N7.21 trillion out of the N9.33 trillion recorded in June is from RSA holders.
A further breakdown of the June report under review showed that out of the RSA fund of N7.21 trillion, retirees fund, categorised under Fund IV is N751.73 billion while contributors, categorised under Fund I, Fund II and Fund III, own N6.51 trillion.
Other contributions to the fund include N958.2 billion from existing schemes and N1.24 trillion from Closed Pension Fund Administrators (CPFAs).
The PFAs, the report added, invested a major chunk of the fund, totaling of N6.48 trillion into Federal Government Securities out of the N9.33 trillion in the period under review.
Out of the N6.48 trillion invested by the PFAs, N4.43 trillion was invested in Federal Government Bonds; N1.93 trillion in Treasury Bills; N11 billion in Agency Bonds (NMRC and FMBN); N86 billion in Sukuk Bonds; N12 billion in Green Bonds and N129 billion in state government Securities.
The PFAs, however, invested N505.82 billion in corporate debt, while N1.04 trillion was invested in Local Money Market Securities and N23 billion in Mutual Funds.
Mrs. Dahir-Umar attributed the successes achieved since the inception of implementation of the CPS to the commission’s esteemed contributors.
According to her, “the achievements recorded by the commission in the last 15 years would not have been possible without the support and understanding of all stakeholders, especially you, our esteemed contributors who are about to retiree.
“I, therefore, urge you to contribute positively towards the success of the pension peform programme.”
The Industry’s growth, according to analysts, isexpected to exceed 14 per cent by the end of 2019 supported by an improved macroeconomic environment that will drive increased contribution.
Analysts also view positively the commencement of the micro pension scheme as increasing the industry coverage ratio and help ramp up AuM.
PenCom, under its Acting Director-General, is carrying out massive campaigns through various channels to enlighten the public, even at the grassroots, to embrace CPS at all stages of their business growth in order to guarantee a better life in retirement.
The micro pension scheme covers farmers, teachers, hair dressing saloon owners, petty traders, musician, actors/ actresses, shoe shiners, bricklayers, among others.
Income earners from age 18 qualifies and can contribute based on his income even as the contributions can be daily, weekly or monthly.
Besides, should anything happen to a contributor’s business, such person can get 40 per cent of the total contributions back to begin a new life. Also, in case of death, the contributor’s next of kin will be paid the total balance left in the account of the contributor.
The extension of the CPS to the informal sector and the flexibility of its operation is one of the incentives expected to encourage participation and growth of the pension industry.
Drivers of asset growth
PenCom has under current management achieved visible milestones as seen in the geometric growth in pension contributions, which is projected to hit N10 trillion by year-end and N15.1 trillion by 2023.
Among other initiatives, it introduced the Enhanced Contributor Registration System (ECRS) meant to solve the challenges faced with the existing Contributor Registration System (CRS).
Besides helping to lift contributors’ confidence in the industry and bringing in more people, the enhanced application is expected to open up transfer window for RSA holders to switch PFAs.
“Electronic submission of employer code requests by Pension Fund Administrators (PFAs) on employers and the full automation of the process of issuing employer codes. Updates and edits of contributors’ information on the National Databank maintained by the National Pension Commission by the PFAs. The deployment of the ECRS is a major step towards the introduction of the transfer widow, which will enable contributors change to the PFAs of their choice, in line with Section 13 of the Pension Reform Act (PRA) 2014,” it said said.
Section 2(3) of the Pension Reform Act, 2014 (PRA 2014) provides that employees of organisations with less than three employees as well as the self-employed persons shall be entitled to participate in the CPS in accordance with guidelines issued by the Commission. Majority of these categories of persons are found in the informal sector and have generally low and irregular incomes.
“As you are aware, the informal sector workers constitute the larger percentage of the working population in the country, there is therefore no doubt that robust participation would result to exponential growth of the ension funds which would consequently, provide funding for allowable and relevant investments that would impact positively on the economy. The MPP would contribute immensely to archiving the Pension Industry’s strategic objective of covering 30 per cent of the working population in Nigeria under the CPS by the end of 2024.
“The low income earners, the high income earners and the SMEs, each of these categories is going to be targeted with appropriate MPP products and sensitization programmes that meet their peculiarities. As earlier mentioned, the commission is engaging relevant unions and associations in its enlightenment drive.
“Some of these unions and associations cover the artisans and grassroots operators. The commission is aware that public enlightenment and pension education are key success factors and as such is working assiduously with the Pension Operators Association (PENOP) to ensure effective coverage.”
Analysts said achieving the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN’s) financial inclusion mandate of having 80 per cent of adult population into the financial system by 2020 requires the backing of key stakeholders like PenCom.
Speaking further on the workings of the scheme, Head of Communication Department of PenCom, Peter Aghahowa, said the scheme, introduced in 2004 by the Federal Government, was a process where certain percentage of enrollees’ salaries was saved on monthly basis in a pool with the employers also contributing.
Aghahowa said the scheme had made the life of retirees much easier, unlike the defined benefits scheme, which it replaced.
To instill more confidence in the system and the nation’s pension arrangement, it is expected that the commission would continue to protect contributors’ funds and drive compliance by private sector employers through public awareness campaigns and engagement.
This is aimed at educating employees/employers and expanding the coverage of the scheme, as the commission also monitors compliance through onsite inspections to ensure that employees of private sector organisations open accounts with PFAs.
Study: Fund managers’ communication critical for investors
lmost three quarter of institutional investors believe it is important for them to have direct and regular contact with fund managers, a global study has found.
And this is particularly true at times of underperformance, with nearly eight in 10 investors saying the importance of communication rises when a manager falls below expectations.
Seven in 10 think a proactive client relationship (CRM) is more important at this time, while two-thirds believe communication of specific market events takes on added weight.
According to The Actuary, CoreData Research, which carried out the study, said that the ability of asset managers to communicate effectively could be the difference between retaining and losing clients.
“However, strong relationships are not built overnight, and companies need to create dialogue during benign times,” said Craig Phillips, CoreData Research head of international.
“This will allow them to call upon those well-trodden channels when a portfolio hits speed bumps. If communication is lacking, there is a higher possibility for the mandate to be terminated sooner,” he noted.
The study also found that US investors attach most value to communication when performance slips.
Nearly nine in 10 said that direct, regular contact with the fund manager, and a proactive CRM, take on heightened importance during periods of underperformance.
Similarly, investors in the US value communication related to specific market events more highly than their global counterparts.
However, it was found that a robust investment process and philosophy is the most important factor in the relationship with fund managers, cited by nine in 10 investors.
Investment professionals with a long tenure was the second more important factor mentioned, followed by detailed knowledge of their objectives and portfolios.
“The importance of communication and dialogue is predictable. However, it is telling that these human interaction elements do not take overall priority.
“This suggests institutional investors do not necessarily value this side of their service experience until they need it,” Phillips said.
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