Nov 18, 2019
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October 21, 2019580

MTN Nigeria on Monday said it will go ahead to charge its customers for Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) voice or text message, saying no one can stop them.

The USSD service allows them access to bank services via their mobile phones.

The telecom giant said it would start charging its subscribers from today, being Monday despite a directive by the Federal Government to halt the plan.

The Central Bank of Nigeria has also declared the charge as illegal just like the Nigerian Communication Communication has ordered the stoppage of its implementation.

But MTN said the meeting leading to the comment of the charge was entered into with the CBN, the banks and all telecom network service providers.

MTN, however, said the USSD charge is not new as other telecoms coys have been charging that for long.

A staff who spoke with Daily Mail OnLine, preferring not to be named said, the management had ordered the commencement of the charge. He said the management had made it “a fait accompli.”

Attempts to speak with the management of the telecom company was unsuccessful.

A management staff however confided that CBN or NCC, not even the Ministry can stop it because MTN is licenced to carry out business operations and no rule has been broken.

“The rules are clear and we are abiding by the rules. USSD is not new. The manager has said we go ahead, so be it.”

Some customers of the company have received notifications today of its commencement.

One of the messages from MTN read, ‘’Yello, as requested by your bank, charging you directly for USSD access to banking services commences today. Please contact your bank for more info.’’

Daily Mail OnLine reports that N26 will be deducted. While the banks will retain N22, MTN will take the charge of N4.

The initial agreement entered into by the CBN and all telecom companies and banks it was revealed was to allow banks retainership of N18 while telecoms companies take N4.

But MTN has alleged banks retain the whole N22 leaving them with no choice than to charge fresh N4.

 


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October 21, 201960

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October 20, 2019960

The Central Bank of Nigeria has declared and illegal plans by MTN to charge their subscribers for Unstructured Supplementary Service Data access to banking services from Oct. 21.

It therefore opposes.

The Governor of CBN, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, gave the bank’s position at a news briefing by the Nigerian delegation to the just-concluded World Bank/IMF Annual Meetings, in Washington on Sunday.

News Agency of Nigeria reports that MTN, in an SMS message to its subscribers, had said the decision was on the request of the banks and would take effect from October 21.

“Yello, as requested by your bank, from October 21, we will start charging you directly for USSD access to banking services.

“Please, contact your bank for more info,’’ the message said.

Responding to a question seeking his reaction to the announcement, the CBN governor said the bank would not allow that to happen.

“About five, four months ago, I held a meeting with some telecom companies as well as the leading banks in Nigeria at Central Bank, Lagos.

“At that time, we came to a conclusion that the use of USSD is a sunk cost.

“What we mean by a sunk cost is that it is not an additional cost on the infrastructure of the telecom company.

“But the telecom companies disagreed with us. They said it was an additional investment on infrastructure and for that reason, they needed to impose it.

“I have told the banks that we will not allow this to happen.

“The banks are the people who give this business to the telecom companies and I leave the banks and the telecom companies to engage.

“I have told the banks that they have to move their business, move their traffic to a telecom company that is ready to provide it at the lowest possible, if not zero cost.

“And that is where we stand, and we must achieve it,’’ he said.

NAN reports that the transactions to be affected by the charges include intra- and inter-bank money transfers, through USSD, among others.

 


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October 20, 201930

Apple has taken over the crown of world’s most valuable company from Microsoft as its market capitalization on Friday morning was valued at about $1.065 trillion, edging past Microsoft’s $1.063 trillion.

Microsoft has held the market-value crown since April 25, when it beat estimates for quarterly earnings and breached the $1 trillion threshold for the first time, businessinsider.com reported.

The Cupertino, California-based company’s stock has surged in recent weeks as numerous analysts predict better-than-expected iPhone 11 sales.

Many firms anticipated consumers would skip out on Apple’s latest phone lineup to wait for rumoured 5G iPhones to release in 2020.

Further, Microsoft was caught in broad stock sell-off, falling as much as 2.2% on Friday. Apple was largely spared, declining just 0.4% at its intraday low.

Meanwhile, Interbrand has ranked Apple as the world’s most valuable brand name Friday and placed Microsoft in fourth place.

Google and Amazon took second and third place, respectively. The brand consultancy firm based its rankings on current brand strength, value added to the company by the brand, and future plans for the brand.

The report marked Apple’s seventh consecutive year at Interbrand’s top spot.


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October 20, 2019260

Shell Nigeria Exploration and Production Company Limited has a share of about $13.65bn in the $62bn which five international oil companies allegedly owe Nigeria following the 2018 Supreme Court’s judgment on Production Sharing Contracts between the country and the firms, reports say.

The apex court’s verdict enabled the Federal Government to increase its share of income from the PSCs.

Shell is opposing the demand for a total of $13,651,034,052.59 by the Federal Government on the grounds that it was planning to commence arbitration proceedings in respect of the issue.

The firm which accused the Federal Government of unilaterally making adjustments in the PSC in respect of the Oil Mining Lease 118 in enforcing the apex court’s verdict sought a court order stopping the government from taking further action on its demand for the money until its planned arbitration is concluded.

The company filed the suit, marked, FHC/ABJ/CS/154, before the Federal High Court in Abuja, in which it sought an injunction against the government.

The four other IOCs from whom the Federal Government had demanded various sums of money based on the Supreme Court’s verdict filed similar suits at the Federal High Court in  Lagos.

Parts of the court documents filed by Shell were seen by our correspondent on Saturday.

The documents indicated that the Federal Government demanded $13,651,034,052.59 from Shell, through a letter dated January 14, 2019, issued on its behalf by Trobell International Nigeria Limited.

Trobell is joined as the second respondent in the Shell’s suit, while the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation is joined as the first respondent and the Attorney-General of the Federation as the third.

Shell’s suit filed through its lawyer, Ogunmuyiwa Balogun of the Olaniwun Ajayi law firm, is anchored on section 251(1)(r) of the Nigeria Constitution, section 53 of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, Article 26(3) of the Arbitration Rules, section 11 and 13(1) of the Federal High Court Act and Order 28 Rule 1 of the Federal High Court (Civil Procedure) Rules.

But Trobell, in its response to the suit, had asked the court to dismiss the suit for lack of jurisdiction.

The firm’s preliminary objection was filed through its lawyer, Oladapo Agboola.

It argued that the matter could not be “re-litigated” after the Supreme Court had made a pronouncement on it.

It also argued among others that the affidavit filed in support of the suit contained extraneous issues which the court could not rely on.

Meanwhile, there are indications that there are ongoing talks aimed at an amicable resolution of the dispute out of court.

The matter was scheduled to come up before Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu on October 15 but the judge did not sit.

Court’s list of cases scheduled for that date showed that the matter was adjourned till November 7 for “report of settlement.”

The Supreme Court had on October 17, 2018, ordered the Federal Government to immediately commence steps to recover all revenues lost to oil exploring and exploiting companies due to wrong profit-sharing formula termed as the Production Sharing Contracts since August 2003.

A seven-man panel of the apex court led by then Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, made the order in a consent judgment in respect of a suit filed by three states, Rivers, Bayelsa and Akwa Ibom against the Federal Government in 2016.

The states, through their various Attorneys-General and the Federal Government, through the Attorney-General of the Federation, had on April 6, 2018, filed the terms of settlement which the apex court adopted as its judgment on Wednesday.

The term of the settlement was signed by the Attorneys-General of the three states, Emmanuel Aguma (SAN) (for Rivers), Kemasuode Wogu (for Bayelsa) and Uwemedimo Nwoko (for Akwa Ibom) as well as the lead counsel for the AGF, Mr Lucius Nwosu.

The Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Justice, Mr Dayo Apata, signed as the witness.

Additional reports from Punch.


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October 19, 20196350

The Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA) is calling for a total boycott of all Nigerian products imported to Ghana.

The move, the traders union believes, will force the Nigerian government to open up its land borders for foreign goods. Nigeria partially shut its borders since August.

According to Ghanaweb, Greater Accra Regional Secretary of GUTA, David Kwadwo Amoateng on Adom FM’s morning show, Dwaso Nsem, Friday said the Nigerian government has not been fair to foreign traders.

In return, he expects the Ghana government to prevent Nigerian traders from bringing goods into Ghana, but that plea has fallen on deaf ears.

“Either somebody’s bread has been buttered or we are cowards. Government is not being fair to us,” he fumed.


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October 15, 2019570

The latest inflation figure has shown a sharp race increasing by 0.22 to hit 11.24% showing another sign on acceleration again.

The consumer price index, that measures the rate at which the prices of goods and services in increase, stood at 11.24% in September.

This is a 0.22 percentage point increase from the 11.02% recorded in August.

All the indices that measure inflation recorded an increase.

“The urban inflation rate increased by 11.78 percent (year-on-year) in September 2019 from 11.48 percent recorded in August 2019,” the CPI report released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) read.

“The rural inflation rate increased by 10.77 percent in September 2019 from 10.61 percent in August 2019.”

Food inflation increased by 0.34 percentage points to hit 13.51%.

The food inflation number was reported to have been caused by “increases in prices of bread and cereals, oils and fats, meat, potatoes, yam and other tubers, fish and vegetables”.

On a year-on-year basis, the highest food inflation was recorded in Niger (16.65%), Nasarawa (16.57%) and Abuja (16.31%), while the slowest rise was recorded in Akwa Ibom (11.72%), Benue (11.22%) and Bayelsa (9.95%) recorded the slowest
rise.

“On month on month basis however, September 2019 food inflation was highest in Kogi (4.90%), Delta (3.82%) and Kwara (3.70%), while Kano (0.18%) and Zamfara (0.17%) recorded the slowest rise with River recording price deflation or negative inflation (general decrease in the general price level of food or a negative food inflation rate).”

An analysis of the data released by the NBS showed that food and urban inflation recorded the highest increase (in percentage points).

Nigeria has closed its borders with neighbouring countries since August with President Muhammadu Buhari saying the action was taken to curb smuggling.

Since the border closure, the price of rice, imported chicken and turkey has recorded an increase.

On Monday, Hameed Ali, the comptroller general of the Nigeria Customs Service, announced that import and export of goods through the land borders has been suspended.



October 7, 201970

Vietnam seems to be the consensus pick for winner of the U.S.-China trade war, as Chinese and other manufacturers shift production to the cheaper Southeast Asian nation. If there’s a loser, at least in terms of missed opportunities, it may be the countries of South Asia.

To understand why, remember that the trade war has only accelerated an important trend a decade in the making. Faced with rising costs, Chinese manufacturers must decide whether to invest in labor-saving automation technologies or to relocate. Those choosing the latter present an enormous opportunity for less-developed countries, as Chinese companies can help spark industrialization and much-needed economic transformation in their new homes.

There may not be another such chance this generation. The only proven pathway to long-lasting, broad-based prosperity has been to build a manufacturing sector linked to global value chains, which raises productivity levels and creates knock-on jobs across the whole economy. This was how most rich nations, not to mention China itself, lifted themselves out of poverty.

Yet the evidence suggests that South Asian countries are lagging behind in attracting manufacturing investment. It’s not just Vietnam that’s racing ahead. African countries, too, are making manufacturing a top priority. Ethiopia alone has openednearly a dozen industrial parks in recent years and set up a world-class government agency to attract foreign investment. The World Bank has lauded sub-Saharan Africa as the region with the highest number of reforms each year since 2012.

A Chinese factory in Ethiopia.
Photographer: Jenny Vaughan/AFP/Getty Images

Vietnam seems to be the consensus pick for winner of the U.S.-China trade war, as Chinese and other manufacturers shift production to the cheaper Southeast Asian nation. If there’s a loser, at least in terms of missed opportunities, it may be the countries of South Asia.

To understand why, remember that the trade war has only accelerated an important trend a decade in the making. Faced with rising costs, Chinese manufacturers must decide whether to invest in labor-saving automation technologies or to relocate. Those choosing the latter present an enormous opportunity for less-developed countries, as Chinese companies can help spark industrialization and much-needed economic transformation in their new homes.

There may not be another such chance this generation. The only proven pathway to long-lasting, broad-based prosperity has been to build a manufacturing sector linked to global value chains, which raises productivity levels and creates knock-on jobs across the whole economy. This was how most rich nations, not to mention China itself, lifted themselves out of poverty.

Yet the evidence suggests that South Asian countries are lagging behind in attracting manufacturing investment. It’s not just Vietnam that’s racing ahead. African countries, too, are making manufacturing a top priority. Ethiopia alone has openednearly a dozen industrial parks in recent years and set up a world-class government agency to attract foreign investment. The World Bank has lauded sub-Saharan Africa as the region with the highest number of reforms each year since 2012.

By contrast, in terms of foreign direct investment as a percentage of GDP, South Asia lags both the global average for least-developed countries and sub-Saharan Africa. While South Asia’s total GDP is more than 70% greater than Africa’s, the continent received three-and-a-half times the investment from China that South Asia received in 2012, the most recent year for which the United Nations has publishedbilateral FDI statistics. In the last five years, the American Enterprise Institute’s China Global Investment Tracker has recorded 13 large Chinese investment deals in Africa and only nine in South Asia.

The World’s Next Factory Won’t Be in South Asia

The region is losing out to Africa and elsewhere in the race to attract manufacturing investment.

A Chinese factory in Ethiopia.
Photographer: Jenny Vaughan/AFP/Getty Images

Vietnam seems to be the consensus pick for winner of the U.S.-China trade war, as Chinese and other manufacturers shift production to the cheaper Southeast Asian nation. If there’s a loser, at least in terms of missed opportunities, it may be the countries of South Asia.

To understand why, remember that the trade war has only accelerated an important trend a decade in the making. Faced with rising costs, Chinese manufacturers must decide whether to invest in labor-saving automation technologies or to relocate. Those choosing the latter present an enormous opportunity for less-developed countries, as Chinese companies can help spark industrialization and much-needed economic transformation in their new homes.

There may not be another such chance this generation. The only proven pathway to long-lasting, broad-based prosperity has been to build a manufacturing sector linked to global value chains, which raises productivity levels and creates knock-on jobs across the whole economy. This was how most rich nations, not to mention China itself, lifted themselves out of poverty.

Yet the evidence suggests that South Asian countries are lagging behind in attracting manufacturing investment. It’s not just Vietnam that’s racing ahead. African countries, too, are making manufacturing a top priority. Ethiopia alone has openednearly a dozen industrial parks in recent years and set up a world-class government agency to attract foreign investment. The World Bank has lauded sub-Saharan Africa as the region with the highest number of reforms each year since 2012.

By contrast, in terms of foreign direct investment as a percentage of GDP, South Asia lags both the global average for least-developed countries and sub-Saharan Africa. While South Asia’s total GDP is more than 70% greater than Africa’s, the continent received three-and-a-half times the investment from China that South Asia received in 2012, the most recent year for which the United Nations has publishedbilateral FDI statistics. In the last five years, the American Enterprise Institute’s China Global Investment Tracker has recorded 13 large Chinese investment deals in Africa and only nine in South Asia.

Bangladesh is a striking illustration of the problem. The country needs to create 2 million jobs per year at home just to keep up with its growing population. Yet, despite a world-class garments manufacturing sector, it seems unable to cut red tape and enact the reforms needed to attract investment to diversify beyond apparel. In the past few years, Bangladesh has fallen to 176 out of 190 countries in the global Ease of Doing Business country rankings. DBL Group, a Bangladeshi company, is investing in a new apparel manufacturing facility that will generate 4,000 jobs — in Ethiopia.

The fantasy, most common in India, that a country might somehow “leapfrog” from a rural, agriculture-heavy economy straight to a services-based economy is just that: a fantasy. South Asia can’t afford to lose this chance to grow its manufacturing sector.

Attracting manufacturing investments will require, first and foremost, that governments in the region acknowledge the competition is passing them by. India, for example, must abandon its overconfidencethat investors will come simply for its large population. Pakistan needs to stop relying on its government-to-government friendship with China. Chinese state financing of infrastructure won’t automatically lead to manufacturing investment, most of which is dominated by private Chinese companies motivated by competitive forces, not government diktats.

Secondly, South Asian countries need to undertake a concerted, whole-of-government push to boost investment levels. Specifically, they need to create the conditions manufacturers need to thrive, from steady power supplies to efficient port operations and customs clearance.

Moreover, they need to understand the specifics of these businesses. Factories have unique requirements depending on what they make. For example, cloth and clothing factories, despite their seeming similarities, have extremely different requirements: The former is capital-intensive, with huge amounts of power-hungry machinery churning out bolts of cloth, whereas the latter is labor-intensive and features rows of workers cutting and sewing.

Countries need to analyze which manufacturing sub-sectors they are best positioned for, meet the requirements those manufacturers have in order to set up shop, and target the regions of China (and elsewhere in the world) where those types of manufacturers are to be found.

The good news is that all of these measures are eminently feasible. And in many cases, the first steps are already being taken, such as with the construction of Bangladesh’s first deep sea port at Matarbari. The bad news is that unless South Asia moves faster, others may have already seized the opportunity to industrialize. (Irene Yuan Sun for Bloomberg).


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September 22, 2019460

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele on Friday said he sympathises with Nigerians over the hike in Value-Added Tax (VAT) from 5% to 7.5% and the newly-introduced bank charges for cash deposits and withdrawals in line with the cashless policy.

Speaking at the bi-quarterly Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) meeting in Abuja, the governor said he was sympathetic to the pains Nigerians were subjected to with regards to the new programmes, even as he appealed for total support and understanding.

The CBN governor assured that the citizens will be best for it in no distant time.

He said: “The federal government has to fend for everyone and has to generate funds for expenditure. We are saying debt stock is too high. Debt service ratios are also too high. This means interest rate is very high compared to revenue. It means revenue we generate is too low.

“So, if it must raise revenue without heavy borrowing, then it calls to rational that VAT moves from 5-7.5%. Government has its responsibilities. And even with our VAT at 7.5%, it’s still one of the lowest, if not the lowest in the world. I appeal to Nigerians to show understanding. Let us look at the positive side of this. Government needs to meet its obligations, ensure GDP growth, raise revenue, carry out capital projects, tackle infrastructure.”

On the newly-introduced charges in its effort to complete the cashless policy cycle, the CBN governor begged: “I sympathize with the banking public and inconvenience it causes them. But thiscashless policy is not new. It was first launched in 2012 after several engagements with all relevant stakeholders. Deposit and withdrawal charges above certain threshold has always been in place since 2012.

“Withdrawal charges have always been there but we only introduced depositcharges that was halted in 2014.

“We wanted those who kept their money outside to come in. But over five years now, we feel all those who kept cash in pillows and mattresses will be ready to  bring them into the bank. Besides, it only affects six states for now. By March 2020, it’ll be for all Nigerians”, he stated.

Explaining the benefits of cashlesspolicy, Emefiele said it will reduce ransom payment, advanced fee fraud and ultimately improve transparency and accountability.

He further revealed that many of the Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) have various options for collecting legitimate payment for goods and services rendered.

“There’s PoS, USSD, e-banking etc. Really, it’s in public interest to gocashless to reduce charges passed on to the customers. Again, since thecashless policy commenced, electronic transactions have increased by 4,692% and has hit N2.3 trillion as at the end of 2018”. (Sun)


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September 21, 2019250

The Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency, PPPRA, yesterday, disclosed that the supply of Premium Motor Spirit, also known as petrol, dropped by 10.78 million litres to 50.22 million litres per day, since the commencement of the partial closure of the country’s borders.

In a statement in Abuja, General Manager, Corporate Services of the PPPRA, Mr Kimchi Apollo, explained that the high volume of fuel supply before the closure of the border was mainly as a result of widespread smuggling of the commodity, especially with the high opportunity for arbitrage in fuel prices in neighbouring countries.

He stated that as at August 11, 2019, before the commencement of the partial closure of the borders, fuel supply across the country, stood at 61 million litres, noting that it dropped to 50.22 million as at September 8, 2019, after recording series of decline over the period of the closure.

He said, “The PPPRA has observed with keen interest the Premium Motor Spirit, PMS, supply trend since the partial closure of the country’s border, as indicators point to the gradual reduction in the volume of PMS trucked out.

“According to statistics, records from various depots nationwide for 5th to 11th August 2019 stood at about 61 million litres, representing the average daily volume trucked out before the border closure.

“The Agency observed from the data obtained between the 12th and 18th August 2019, a drop of about 35 per cent in volume trucked out from the previous week, which could be attributed to the reduction of activities at various facilities during the Sallah holiday.

“However, from the 19th to 25th August 2019, which falls within the period in which the borders were partially closed, the Agency recorded an average daily truck out the figure of about 57 million litres which falls below the daily average figure for the week 5th to 11th August 2019.”

He added, “Similarly, from 26th August to 1st of September 2019, 371.82 million litres of petrol was trucked out, averaging a daily figure of 53 million litres. This represents a decline of about four million litres when compared to the previous week.

“Available data from the agency indicates that the downward trend continued from 2nd to 8th September. The daily average truck out figure for that week was 50.22 million litres, indicating a further reduction of 2.9 million litres.”

Apollo argued that the high truck-out volume recorded before the partial closure of the country’s borders could be attributed to the seepage of petroleum products across the border, coupled with the widening fuel price arbitrage with neighbouring West African countries.

“While the downward trend in the consumption pattern is a welcome development, the Agency assures stakeholders that efforts are being made not only to curb the smuggling of products but to ensure that petroleum products are available in the country,” he said. (Vanguard)



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