Thursday, May 24, 2018

Nigeria

Mixed news, Nigeria ranked 4oth on the transparency index for most corrupt countries in the world. It ties with six other countries for that spot. Nigeria has always ranked in the top twenty before now. It seems the fight against corruption is working for the country

Somalia received the dubious honor of most corrupt country in the world for the 10th straight year in the Corruption Perceptions Index 2016 released on Wednesday.

The index, which is published by Berlin-based Transparency International, aims to rank nations “based on how corrupt a country’s public sector is perceived to be.” The index ranked 176 countries on a scale of 0 (perceived to be highly corrupt) to 100 (perceived to be very clean).

The group estimates that “corruption, bribery, theft and tax evasion, cost developing countries US $1.26 trillion per year.” According to José Ugaz, the chair of Transparency International, in the most corrupt countries “we often see democracies in decline and a disturbing pattern of attempts to crack down on civil society, limit press freedom, and weaken the independence of the judiciary.”

In total 122 of the 176 countries ranked finished with a score below 50, which Transparency International identifies as having a “serious corruption problem.”

Here is the bottom 46:

176. Somalia: 10
175. South Sudan: 11
174. North Korea: 12
173. Syria: 13
170. Libya: 14
170. Sudan: 14
170. Yemen: 14
169. Afghanistan: 15
168. Guinea-Bissau: 16
166. Iraq: 17
166. Venezuela: 17
164. Angola: 18
164. Eritrea: 18
159. Burundi: 20
159. Central African Republic: 20
159. Chad: 20
159. Haiti: 20
159. Republic of Congo: 20
156. Cambodia: 21
156. Democratic Republic of Congo: 21
156. Uzbekistan: 21
154. Turkmenistan: 22
154. Zimbabwe: 22
153. Comoros: 24
151. Tajikistan: 25
151. Uganda: 25
145. Bangladesh: 26
145. Cameroon: 26
145. Gambia: 26
145. Kenya: 26
145. Madagascar: 26
145. Nicaragua: 26
142. Guinea: 27
142. Mauritania: 27
142. Mozambique: 27
136. Myanmar: 28
136. Nigeria: 28
136. Papua New Guinea: 28
136. Guatemala: 28
136. Kyrgyzstan: 28
136. Lebanon: 28
131. Iran: 29
131. Kazakhstan: 29
131. Nepal: 29
131. Russia: 29
131. Ukraine: 29

Somalia has not had a functioning central government since warlords overthrew longtime dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991. The East African nation held a parliamentary vote late last year, but the process was marred by violence, corruption, vote buying and clan disputes.

Lagos-based real estate classifieds start-up ToLet.com.ng today has raised a $1.2 million Series A round of funding from Frontier Digital Ventures.

“The new funds raised will be used to improve the platform’s technology offering to both property seekers as well as that used by listing agents. The rest of the funds will be channelled into improved marketing efforts and aggressive expansion across Nigeria over the next 12-18 months,” says To Let’s Chief Executive Officer, Fikayo Ogundipe.

ToLet.com.ng was founded in 2012 as Estanode.com by four young Nigerian graduates –Fikayo Ogundipe, Sulaiman Balogun, Dapo Eludire and Seyi Ayeni. It received $230,000 in seed funding from Jason Njoku’s Tech company accelerator Spark.ng in 2013, and subsequently rebranded to ToLet.com.ng. Since then, the real estate classifieds start-up has quietly grown into one of the leading and recognizable online property portals in Nigeria.

 “Our Agents are much happier to stick with us because, unlike competitors who use subscription models, we collect commissions, which essentially makes our service a performance-based one and ensures ‘we don’t get paid unless our agents get paid’. The commission fee is the model locally operated among Nigerian real estate agents. Our research showed that Nigerian real estate agents prefer the model of sharing commissions on closed deals as against paying subscriptions that don’t have guaranteed returns,” says co-founder Sulaiman Balogun.

From inception till date, ToLet.com.ng has facilitated over 8 million dollars in transactions value and currently boasts of roughly 20,000 listings online from a growing number of just over 3,500 real-estate agents.

Frontier Digital Ventures is a Malaysia-based investor in leading classifieds companies in emerging markets. Last year it invested $500,000 in Ghanaian real estate classifieds start-up MeQasa and has made several investments across frontier markets including Panama’s general classifieds Encuentra24.com and Pakistan based property website Zameen.

By Mfonobong Nsehe ,(Forbes.com)

The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, has predicted that the nation’s economy will likely come out of recession by the fourth quarter of this year when the result of the various measures put in place by the Federal Government and the monetary authorities becomes manifest.

One of such measures, according to him, is the decision of the CBN to establish a bridge fund for the government to utilise to stimulate the economy whenever there is a need for it.

Emefiele, who spoke to media executives in Lagos on Saturday, said, “We are already in the valley, the only direction is to go up the hill and the government is doing everything possible to ensure that we move up the hill. I am optimistic that based on the actions being taken by the monetary and fiscal authorities, the fourth quarter results will show evidence that we have started to move out of the recession.

“The worst is over. The Nigerian economy is on the path of recovery and growth. So, please if you are a bystander or sideliner, you are losing; join the train now before it leaves the station.”

While explaining the reasoning behind the bridge fund, the apex bank boss said, “Both the monetary and fiscal authorities are working together and that is why you can see a situation where today even when we have revenue shortage or deficit, the monetary authority is trying to bridge the gap.

“We said to the fiscal authority that we can give you a bridge to go ahead and spend, and when you obtain the foreign loan that you are negotiating, or when your revenue improve, you can repay the bridge that we have created for you in order to stimulate spending. That is a practical case of collaboration between the monetary and fiscal authorities.”

He alluded to the release of another batch of N350bn by the Ministry of Finance to stimulate the economy as another measure taken by the government to get the nation out of recession.

Following the introduction of a flexible exchange rate regime, Emefiele said foreign investors’ interest in the Nigerian economy was gradually increasing, adding that in the last three months, almost $1bn in Foreign Direct Investment had come into the country.

He stated, “I wasn’t optimistic that the FDI would come initially, but with what we have seen in three months, almost $1bn, I feel very confident that there will be more inflow into the system and more and more people will have foreign exchange available for them to do their business.

“That will improve industrial capacity. The rate may be high now, but there’s high possibility that with more availability of foreign exchange, the rate will come down. I am very optimistic that a lot of positive things will happen.

“I have talked about how the fiscal authority is trying to push in liquidity to stimulate consumption, demand consumption expenditure; and of course, when consumer consumption is stimulated, demand for goods will go up and if the demand goes up, the industrial capacity will improve. If we maintain a steady course in the way we are going, and if all those who have foreign exchange repatriate them, more and more people will have foreign exchange to do their business, that will improve industrial capacity.”

Another way to inject liquidity into the system, according to the CBN governor, is for the Federal Government to sell some of its assets in the oil and gas industry in order to raise money.

Emefiele said, “In April 2015, even before this government came on board, I had opined that there was a need for the government to scale down or sell off some its investments in oil and gas, particularly in the NNPC and the NLNG, at that time when the price of oil was around $50-$55 per barrel. We actually commissioned some consultants that conducted a study and at the end of that study, we were told that if we sell 10 per cent to 15 per cent of our holding in the oil and gas sector that we could realise up to $40bn.

“Unfortunately, the markets have become soft. If we choose to do that now, we can still get $10bn to $15bn, or maybe $20bn. If we have that kind of liquidity, it will be easy for us to really stimulate spending and also to turn the economy around. That proposal is still on the table, because I have also heard that some of our colleagues in the Federal Executive Council have talked about it and a lot of people too.

“If we take that option, I am optimistic we will be able to stimulate the economy and earn the foreign currency that we can really use to kick-start it.”

Another measure being considered by the Federal Government, according to him, is the shortening of the procurement process in order to accelerate the process of executing capital projects in view of the fact that the budget was not passed until May.

On the factors that pushed the economy into recession, the apex bank boss said the plunge in the prices of crude oil in the international market severely affected Nigeria’s earnings, in addition to the country’s inability to save when the prices were high and invest massively in infrastructure.

He also blamed unbridled appetite for the consumption of foreign goods for the recession, adding, “In 2005, Nigeria’s import bill was only about N70bn, but by 2015, Nigeria’s import bill had risen to about N790bn. What were we consuming?”

While reacting to the governor’s optimism that the recession would start easing off in the fourth quarter, economic and financial experts said on Sunday that it would be nearly impossible for the nation to come out of recession this year.

They said if the Federal Government implemented appropriate measures to tackle the problem, the country might be fortunate to witness a positive growth sometime next year.

“I am not sure we can come out of recession this year. Already, we are at the end of the third quarter. If the policymakers allow liquidity into the system and adopt appropriate measures, we may be lucky to come out of the recession early next year,” a professor of Economics at the Olabisi Onabanjo University, Sherriffdeen Tella, said,

The Head, Research and Investment Advisory, SCM Capital, Mr. Sewa Wusu, is of the opinion that the nation may not be able to come out of the recession until the second or third quarter of next year if appropriate measures are taken.

He said, “Recession is not something you come out of easily. It is going to be a long haul thing. We must take counter-cyclical measures to reflate the economy and get us out of recession. Nigerians need to be patient with the government. Countries that went into recession and came out did not come out so quickly.

“We need to spend money on sectors that can stimulate growth easily and also spend massively on infrastructure. Sectors that can stimulate growth, create employment, production and consumption, which we need to spend on are transportation, manufacturing and housing.”

The Chief Executive Officer, Cowry Asset Management Limited, Mr. Johnson Chukwu, said, “It is not possible for us to come out of recession this year. There is a time lag between the time policies are implemented and the time we begin to see their effects on the economy.

“We are already at the end of the third quarter. The stimulus package will come in the fourth quarter. Before we can begin to feel the effect, it will get to next year.”

By Akinpelu Dada and Oyetunji Abioye. The Punch Newspapers

 

The Federal Government, in a bid to stimulate economic activities, on Friday said that it would release additional N350bn for capital projects captured in the 2016 budget.

The Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, gave the figure while briefing journalists on intervention measures being taken by the government to reflate the economy which is currently in recession.

She said that the provision of the additional N350bn brought the total capital releases made by the government to N760bn.

She said since the economy is currently in recession, the level of consumer demand would be reduced drastically hence the need for government to step in by injecting liquidity.

She said, “What government wants to do is to step in and begin to spend and push more money into the economy and then get things moving again.

“Since the budget was passed in May, we have released and cash-backed fully N420bn capital releases. As we speak now, we are about releasing another N350bn that’s between May and now.

“Of the sectors we spent the money on, of course the largest had been power, works and housing. Quite a lot has gone on defence,  because we need to rebuild the credibility of our army to continue in their efforts in the new phase; also interior and  transport.”

The minister said out of the N350bn, the government would be setting aside N60bn for the implementation of the social intervention programme.

She said the implementation of social safety schemes was vital as it would enable the government to provide direct cash of N5,000 to vulnerable Nigerians

She said, “There will also be the funding of about N60bn in the social intervention programme and that’s very important in terms of putting money into people’s pocket.

“Those are the programmes that we really cash-backed. The N5,000 to some of the poorest and most vulnerable, the home school feeding programme, which is very important.

“That will also generate economic activities in a lot of our local governments with women and maybe men cooking for the children.

“The graduates that will be going into primary schools as teachers so they will begin to get salaries/stipends from the end of the month.

Adeosun also assured Nigerians that the present economic recession would not be a prolonged one as the government was taking strategic steps to see that the recession ends soon.

She said, “We have a strategic plan that will take us out of the recession we have found ourselves in; we want to make sure the recession is as short as possible because we do not want a prolonged recession.

“From what we are looking at, we do not think that it will be a prolonged recession; we think that some of the initiatives that we are working on will now begin to bear fruits.

“We are on course and are confident that the plan we have put together will work and put the economy back on track.

“It is a long term plan that will reposition the economy so that we do not go into this boom and burst cycles that are driven by the oil price.

“The economy has to be more resilient than that so that we do not find ourselves back where we are.’’

Adeosun also said the government would be raising $1bn in Eurobond, adding that additional funds would be raised from the World Bank, African Development Bank among others at low interest rate of 1.5 per cent with repayment period of 40 years.

The proceeds from the Eurobond issuance is expected to get into the coffers of government by mid December

The fund, according to her, would be used to finance critical projects such as railway, ,health, agriculture among others.

She said, “We are raising money. The Eurobonds capital raising is on. We are about to appoint our advisers. We are raising additional $1bn.

“Two weeks ago, we approved the external borrowing plan. That was very important because we said we would be borrowing the cheapest money first.

“We have approved that plan from the World Bank, the ADB, with interest rates as low as 1.5 per cent with tenor as long as 40 years to intervene in some specific areas which include agriculture, education, health, rebuilding of the north east and railway projects which are very key to what we are doing.”

She also said the ministry was working with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation to get out of the Joint Venture cash call as this was affecting funds available for government projects.

She said, “This month, for example, from the Federation Accounts Allocation Committee, we only got N41bn from oil. We had to use N110bn to fund cash calls.

“If we had that money, we could have channelled it into the economy. We are working with the Ministry of Petroleum Resources and the NNPC to get out of the cash calls. That is the long term plan; to allow those joint venture to borrow money that they need rather than taking money from the Federation Account and that will improve the money in circulation.”

On the recovery of looted assets, the minister said that the committee set up to manage the assets was in the process of collating the non-cash assets such as farmlands, vehicles and houses.

She said that a fixed asset register would soon be opened to determine their value.

She said as a result of the efficiency in the management of government resources, huge savings had been made from the eviction of ghost workers.

She said in this year alone, about N100bn had been saved by the government from personnel cost.

“Sometime in January, personnel cost was N165bn along with pension cost, but so far so good.

“We have reduced through the removal of about 40,000 ghost workers from the personnel cost by around N10bn per month. Now we have saved about N100bn this year.’’

She said the budget support initiative, which allowed the government to provide N90bn as loan to states, has started yielding results as some states can now pay workers’ salaries.

Article from The Punch Newspaper

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