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The News Agency of Nigeria in Owerri on Thursday gathered information from citizens of Imo State on their Opinion on the new launched airline by their governor.

A civil servant, Marcel Onuekwe, has said the new Imo Airline would provide job opportunities for the many unemployed youths of the State.

He said the launch of an indigenous airline “is a step in the right direction as it would help in reversing the economic downturn”.

He added that if managed properly, the airline would generate good revenue for the state. This airline is the first of its kind and it will greatly improve the economy of the state if it is properly managed.”

A retired teacher, Benson Nwakuche, said the governor should have redirected the funds used to procure the aircraft towards offsetting pension arrears.

Nwakuche added that the news of the airline would have been better received if the salaries and pension arrears had been cleared.

He said: “This would have been very welcome if the governor had paid off pension arrears before embarking on such a capital intensive project.

“To own and maintain an airline is no mean feat and if the state can handle it then it should be able to pay off our pensions without resorting to tricks.”

Hyacinth Iwuagwu, a farmer, said the government should have invested more in boosting agriculture in the state.

Iwuagwu said this would have improved the agriculture sector as well as provide more employment opportunities in the state.

He said: “If the government had invested instead in agriculture, not only would the economy of the state improve, but more jobs would have also been created.

“Some states have grown so much in the agric sector that they’re even exploring dry season farming, but nothing is being done to encourage farming in the state in spite of its many benefits.

SOURCE:NAN

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Dr. Bafred Enjugu, the managing director of Port Harcourt Refining company says the refinery can meet its target of making a profit of N1.3 trillion yearly.

Enjugu, made the remark during a media workshop organised by the company in Port Harcourt, Rivers State on Wednesday, said the factors militating against achieving such a feat at present were equipment and security.

He said in spite of the challenges, the doggedness of the staff of the refinery had contributed to the achievements of the company so far.

Enjugu said the refinery made N12.6 billion operating margin in spite of “very low supply” of crude in 2014.

He attributed the feat to the crash in the price of crude oil at the time, adding that a total volume of 188.9 billion barrels of petroleum product was produced.

The figure, he said, was arrived at after netting out the cost of crude, processing, processing chemicals, energy as well as staff salaries and benefits.

Enjugu said that the company ran aground in 2015 due to the absence of crude supply until July 15 when it received approval to process, but was cut off by equipment problem.

He said that the company incurred a loss of N2.25 billion due to the challenges, adding that about N13 billion was made in 2016.

He said: “Now at the end of 2016, which was a better year for us, we made something in the region of about N12 to N13 billion.

“We are yet to complete those figures.

“We made N2.95 billion in December, only after netting out the overhead cost.”

Enguju, however, said the company would meet up with the projected N1.3 trillion profit for the nation once it started operating at 100 per cent capacity.

He said: “We have to take up the challenge to keep the skills.

“We will make sure we deliver on that.

“We have to get all of the N1.3 trillion and beyond.

“We are looking at N1.5 trillion, but we have to upgrade facilities at the PHRC.”

Enjugu commended the Nigerian National Petroleum Company for signing a Memorandum of Understanding with Eni SPA, an Italian company, for the upgrade of the refinery’s equipment.

He said that he had confidence that Eni would assist the refinery to achieve 100 per cent of its target and surpass other competitors.

According him, the modular refineries and Dangote’s refinery posed a serious challenge to the nation’s refineries.

He, however, said the nation has high capacity to meet the consumers’ demand.

Enjugu also said the refinery had entered into partnership with some governments for the production of fuel from agricultural products.

He further said that the company had concluded plans to commence the production of aviation kerosene.

SOURCE:TODAY.NG

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According to the Minister of Works, Power and Housing, Babtunde Fashola the Federal government has blamed declining electricity supply in the country on liquidity problems, pipeline vandalism and sabotage of oil infrastructure in the Niger Delta.

He briefed newsmen after yesterday’s Federal Executive Council (FEC) ‎meeting presided over by Acting President Yemi Osinbajo, however, disclosed that the government was working hard to address the challenge.‎

According to Fashola, “You heard that there was liquidity problems. Gas suppliers have not been fully paid; generating companies (GENCOs) have also not been fully paid. You heard this ‘back and forth’ between distribution companies (DISCOs) and GENCOs. So, those are some of the issues.”

He explained: ‎”Apart from sabotage that we have had from the Western axis of the Niger Delta, the Escravos Lagos pipeline is not operational, the Forcados export terminal too has been out of operation. If you cannot produce oil you cannot take the gas. And gas is the fuel that the power plants need. You have seen what we have been doing in increasing the capacity in firing transmission but we don’t have gas to fire the plants. That is the reason.”

He said: “We have been meeting with the gas suppliers, trying to see how we can pay off some of these debts, while we fix other problems. As I continue to say, it is not technical, but financial.”

The minister, however, maintained that vandalism of pipelines is not technical. People were destroying, they were angry.

“Also, until we resolve some behavioural issues: people collect money and have not been remitting in a manner that is fair,” Fashola stated.

The Federal Government also pledged to commit additional ‎N3.5 billion for the completion of the Odogunyan transmission sub-station in Ikorodu, Lagos State, to improve power generation.

This, the government said would provide additional transformer capacity at the sub-station as well as 260mva transformers and transmission lines of 132 kva to complete the works in that area generally known within the power industry as Ayobo West.

 

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Currency retailers and experts have said the naira will trade slightly below 500 per United States dollar this week despite the commencement of the sale of foreign exchange to Bureau De Change operators by the Central Bank of Nigeria last week.

The CBN had through the International Money Transfer Organisations resumed the sale of dollars to BDCs on Thursday, after stopping it for almost a month due to the Yuletide holiday.

Travelex, one of the IMTOs in the country, sold about $20m to 2,500 BDCs with each getting $8,000, the President, Association of Bureau De Change Operators, Alhaji Aminu Gwadabe, said.

According to a Reuters report, the naira is seen unchanged on the parallel and official forex markets in the coming days even as the IMTOs continue the sale of dollars to the BDCs this week, boosting greenback liquidity.

The naira was quoted at 498/ dollar at the parallel market on Friday, down from 497 on Thursday. It traded flat at 497/dollar between Monday and Wednesday

On the official market, commercial banks quoted the naira at 305.75 a dollar on Friday, around the same level the local currency has traded at since August last year.

“Once dollar liquidity improves in the market I see the naira trading around 380-400 a dollar in the short-term,” Gwadabe said told Reuters.

The BDC operators are quoting the naira at 399 to the dollar.

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The naira fell against the United States dollar at the parallel market to 498 on Thursday, from 497 on Wednesday.

This came hours after the Central Bank of Nigeria resumed dollar sales to Bureau De Change operators through Travelex.

Before dropping to 498, the naira had appreciated to 495/dollar early on Thursday.

The currency traded flat at 497/dollar consecutively between Monday and Wednesday.

Economic and financial experts said the resumption of dollar sales to the BDCs by the CBN through Travelex would help boost the naira.

The local currency has been under persistent pressure owing to scarcity of dollar in the economy.

Economic and financial experts are divided over the outlook of the naira and most economists believe the local currency would continue to fall against the greenback unless the CBN reviewed its monetary and foreign exchange policy.

According to an economic expert, Mr. Henry Boyo, the currency monetary policy framework adopted by the CBN is flawed and there is an urgent need for the central bank to jettison it for a framework that can take the country off the current economic challenges.

He stressed that unless this was done, the rising oil prices would not make the economy better.

Boyo said, “The oil revenue is not the problem; the primary cause of the oppressive dilemma is the distortional process the CBN adopts for infusing the dollar revenue into the domestic money market to drive economic growth.

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The Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency on Thursday denied reports speculating an imminent fuel scarcity over the Federal Government’s inability to pay fuel marketers’ N660 billion debt‎. ‎

In a statement released in Abuja by the PPPRA spokesman, Lanre Oladele, the agency said the report was misleading and “a gross misrepresentation of facts”. ‎

The statement said: “There were reports that fuel queues may soon return following the Federal Government’s inability to settle marketers’ N660 billion debt and non-availability of foreign exchange to fund fuel imports.

“PPPRA wishes to state unequivocally, that these stories are gross misrepresentation of available facts at our disposal, hence misleading.

“For the avoidance of doubts, the National Petroleum Products Stock data and import plan, currently indicate that the country has two months Premium Motor Spirit (petrol) sufficiency.

“Hence, we want to assure motorists and commuters alike, that the products supply situation is robust and able to cater for the fuel needs of all Nigerians, pending when ongoing challenges are addressed.

“As a corollary to the above, PPPRA also wants to inform that contrary to a widely-held belief on the status of kerosene, the product is fully deregulated.‎

“We hereby appeal to all Nigerians to remain calm and desist from any form of panic-buying, as we assure of our total commitment to adequate products supply and distribution across the country, in line with our mandate.”

Oladele appealed to all depot owners to adhere strictly to the subsisting truck-out principle in order to ensure that products get to retail outlets across the country in a seamless manner.

“The Agency shall not hesitate to apply appropriate sanctions where necessary,” he warned.

SOURCE:PREMIUM TIMES

 
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According to verified reports, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), has ruled out transactions in bitcoin and other virtual currencies by any bank in the country.

The apex bank, in a circular to all banks on Tuesday, signed by its Director of Financial Policy and Regulation Department, Kelvin Amugo, said the move was necessitated by money laundering and terrorism financing risks inherent in operations of virtual currencies.

Amugo added: “The emergence of Virtual Currencies (VCs) has attracted investments in payments infrastructure that provides new methods of transmitting value over the internet.

“Transactions in VCs are largely untraceable and anonymous making them susceptible to abuse by criminals, especially in money laundering and financing of terrorism.

“VCs are traded in exchange platforms that are unregulated, all over the world. Consumers may, therefore, lose their money without any legal redress in the event these exchanges collapse or close business.

“The development of VCs Payment Products and Services (VCPPS) and their interactions with other New Payment Products and Services (NPPS), give rise to the need for guidance to protect the integrity of the Nigerian financial system. There is, therefore, the need to address the Money Laundering/Terrorism Financing risks associated with VC exchanges and any other type of institutions that act as nodes, where convertible VC activities intersect with the regulated fiat currency financial system.

“The attention of banks and other reporting financial institutions is hereby drawn to the above risks and you are required to take the following actions pending substantive regulation or decision by the CBN.”

CBN, therefore, advised banks to ensure that they do not use, hold, and transact in virtual currencies.

The apex bank also warned the banks to ensure that existing customers that are virtual currency exchangers have effective AML/CFT controls that enable them to comply with customer identification, verification and transaction monitoring requirements.

“Where banks or other financial institutions are not satisfied with the controls put in place by the virtual currency exchangers/customers, the relationship should be discontinued immediately; and any suspicious transactions by these customers should immediately be reported to the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU),” the CBN said.

The apex bank stressed that virtual currencies such as Bitcoin, Ripples, Monero, Litecoin, Dogecion, Onecoin and similar products are not legal tenders in Nigeria, thus any bank or institution that transacts in such business does so at its own risk.

The apex bank’s directive is coming after the Securities and Exchange Commission, SEC, issued a warning against virtual currencies.

“Given that these instruments and the persons, companies or entities that promote them have neither been authorized, nor any guidelines/regulations developed for them by any of the regulatory authorities in Nigeria, there is no protection available to users or investors in these virtual currencies from financial losses if the virtual currencies fail or the companies promoting them go out of business,” the commission had said.

 

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Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has disclosed the Federal Government is currently conversing with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to close the gap between foreign exchange rates at the official and parallel markets.

“The gap between the official and parallel markets isn’t helpful,” Reuters quoted Osinbajo as saying to reporters at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

“If you look at economic recovery and growth plan, it is the expectation that this is a conversation we are having with central bank,” he said.

The vice president, who was in the Niger Delta last Monday and early Tuesday, led the country’s delegation to the forum where pivotal issues concerning the Nigerian and global economy will be addressed.

Laolu Akande, Special Assistant to Osinbajo on Media and Publicity, said via a statement that the vice president would be accompanied by Adeyemi Dipeolu, Special Adviser on Economic Matters to the President.

“At the forum, the vice president will lead a discussion on Business in Nigeria, where ministers from the Federal Cabinet who are members of the Nigerian delegation would also feature,” the statement read.

“The yearly forum, which draws together governmental and business leaders around the world to discuss economic issues and review developments, is normally composed of panel discussions, country/continent-specific themes and other subjects.”

Aliko Dangote, Africa’s richest man, and Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), will also be at the forum.

Meanwhile, Osinbajo has hinted that Nigeria hopes to sell Eurobonds worth $1 billion in March. The euro-denominated issue would come rather in March than February, he told reporters at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

SOURCE:PREMIUM TIMES

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British American Tobacco agreed Tuesday to pay almost $50bn for control of US firm Reynolds American, creating the world’s largest listed tobacco company.

BAT will purchase the 57.8-percent of Reynolds American that it does not already own, BAT said, unveiling an improved cash-and-shares offer after the US giant had rejected its previous $47-billion bid.

The deal brings together a raft of global brands, including BAT products Lucky Strike, Rothmans and Kent, and Reynolds’ brands such as Newport, Camel and Pall Mall.

The combined company will have a strong foothold in the United States, and a significant presence in high-growth markets including South America, the Middle East and Africa.

BAT added it would also create a “truly global” business for fast-growing next generation products (NGP) like e-cigarettes or vaping.

“We are very pleased to have reached an agreement with … Reynolds and we look forward to putting the recommended offer to shareholders,” said BAT Chief Executive Nicandro Durante in a statement.

He added that the blockbuster deal “will create a stronger, global tobacco and NGP business with direct access for our products across the most attractive markets in the world”.

“We believe this will drive continued, sustainable profit growth and returns for shareholders long into the future.”

Reynolds shareholders will receive $29.44 in cash and 0.5260 BAT ordinary shares, under the terms of the transaction.

That represented an increase of 26 percent compared with the closing Reynolds share price on October 20 — the day before BAT’s unsuccesful bid.

The offer comprises $25 billion worth of BAT shares and $24.4 billion in cash and values the entire Reynolds group at more than $85 billion.

BAT forecasts that it will make at least $400 million in annualised cost savings following the purchase, while the deal remains subject to shareholder and regulatory approvals.

The London-listed firm plans to expand further in the vaping and e-cigarette market — where it is already the largest international company outside the US — adding Reynolds’ popular Vuse vapour brand to its portfolio.

Major global tobacco companies are smoking out emerging markets to offset sliding demand in Western Europe, where high taxes, public smoking bans and health worries have persuaded many people to give up or turn to e-cigarettes, battery-powered devices that heat a nicotine liquid.

The world’s biggest cigarette producer by market share is the state-owned China National Tobacco Corporation, followed by Marlboro maker Philip Morris International.

However, BAT says the Reynolds deal will create the biggest listed tobacco firm by net turnover and operating profit.

Reynolds is the second biggest player in the US market and has three out of the four top-selling cigarette brands.

 

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Heavy transactions in the shares of some banks, especially Fidelity Bank Plc and Diamond Bank, last week, lifted the volume of shares traded, as a turnover of 1.117 billion shares worth N9.041 billion was recorded in 16,482 deals by investors on the floor of the Exchange.

This volume of shares traded, was, however, higher than a total of 4.319 billion units, worth N7.376 billion that changed hands in 9,330 deals during the preceding week.

Specifically, the financial services industry (measured by volume) led the activity chart with 903.696 million shares valued at N3.336 billion in 9,240 deals; thus contributing 80.88 per cent and 36.90 per cent to the total equity turnover volume and value respectively.

The conglomerates industry followed with 67.147 million shares worth N109.014 million in 609 deals. The consumer goods industry ranked third with a turnover of 59.710 million shares worth N4.002 billion in 2,686 deals.

Trading in the top three equities namely – Fidelity Bank Plc, Omoluabi Savings and Loans Plc and Diamond Bank Plc (measured by volume) accounted for 299.270 million shares worth N277.933 million in 1,029 deals, contributing 26.79 per cent and 3.07 per cent to the total equity turnover volume and value respectively.

Also traded during the week were a total of 2,443 units of Exchange Traded Products (ETPs) valued at N730,619.05 executed in 23 deals, compared with a total of 55 units valued at N505.65 transacted last week in 11 deals.

A total of 5,200 units of Federal Government Bonds valued at N5.004 million were traded this week in five deals, compared with the 5,100 units valued at N5.120 million transacted last week in two deals.

The NSE All-share index and market capitalisation appreciated by 0.28 per cent to close the week at 26,325.93 and N9.058 trillion respectively.

Similarly, all other Indices finished higher during the week except the NSE-Main Board, NSE Insurance, NSE Consumer Goods, NSE Oil/Gas and NSE Lotus II indices that depreciated by 0.39 per cent, 0.34 per cent, 1.82 per cent, 3.15 per cent and 1.87 per cent respectively

About 31 equities appreciated in price during the week, higher than 18 equities of the previous week. However, 34 equities depreciated in price, higher than 31 equities of the previous week, while 110 equities remained unchanged lower than 126 equities recorded in the preceding week.

 

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