Items filtered by date: Saturday, 22 September 2018
 

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has continued its intervention in the retail Secondary Market Intervention Sales (SMIS) by injecting a total of $317.52million in that segment of the market in addition to CNY58.40 million in the spot and short-tenored forwards segment.

The figures obtained from the apex Bank on Friday revealed that the US dollar-denominated interventions were only for actors in the agricultural and raw materials sectors while the Yuan was for Renminbi denominated Letters of Credit.

Confirming the figures, the CBN’s Director, Corporate Communications Department, Mr. Isaac Okorafor, said the Bilateral Currency Swap Agreement (BCSA) with the Peoples’ Bank of China had continued to receive encouraging responses from customers.

While noting that Friday’s sale was the fifth in the series of interventions, he said the BCSA was achieving its major objectives of reducing the use and influence of a third currency transactions; reducing the pressure on the naira exchange rate; easing trade transactions between Nigeria and China and maintaining financial market stability in Nigeria.

Mr. Okorafor further assured that the CBN would remain committed to ensuring that all the sectors of the foreign exchange market continue to enjoy access to the needed foreign exchange by Nigerians.

It will be recalled that the Bank on Tuesday, September 18, 2018 intervened in the inter-bank Foreign Exchange Market to the tune of $210 million.

Meanwhile, $1 exchanged for N361 at the Bureau de Change (BDC) segment of the foreign exchange market, while CNY 1 exchanged for N53.

Source News Express

Published in Bank & Finance
In President Cyril Ramaphosa's statement on the Economic Stimulus and Recovery Plan for South Africa, he highlighted the visa changes approved by the cabinet on Wednesday.
 
One of the key economic reforms mentioned in the president's speech was the country's visa regime, focusing on the amendments that will be made to regulations on travel of minors to South Africa, the list of countries requiring visas to enter South Africa, an e-visas pilot that will be implemented, and visa requirements for highly skilled foreigners that will also be revised.
 
"These measures have the potential to boost tourism and make business travel a lot more conducive. Tourism continues to be a great job creator and through these measures we are confident that many more tourists will visit South Africa," says Ramaphosa.
 
The full details of the visa reforms and waivers have yet to be made available but will be officially gazetted in October - ahead of the busy December holiday period.
 
Expected visa changes:
Cabinet received a joint report from the Ministers of Home Affairs and Tourism - Malusi Gigaba and Derek Hanekom - which reiterate the visa-related reforms that will make it easier for tourists, business people and academia to visit South Africa.
 
The biggest issue is the hoops foreign tourists have to jump through when travelling with minors and obtaining unabridged birth certificates, and changes to this regulation will also be included in the reforms, the state has confirmed. 
 
There are also negotiations on visa waivers and relaxation of visa requirements from certain countries which are being finalised, and further details will be announced later this week.
 
This is expected to include China and India, as part of high-level agreements between the countries and South Africa that was announced in July during the BRICS summit. 
 
While the details of the Chinese visa agreement is not confirmed, Hanekom did mention that one of the options being considered was a “multiple entry Visa” that would be valid for five years and offer tourists up to 90 days in the country. 
 
South Africa is also rolling out e-visas soon, set to be a gradual roll-out starting with "Phase 1, Release 1, for applications for temporary residence visas, adjudication of temporary residence visas, applications for waivers, notifications to the applicant via email and biometrics captured at the Mission."
 
The ePermit will be piloted at one Mission or local office in the last quarter of the next financial year by 31 March 2019. This is to ensure system stability. Once stable, more offices locally and abroad can then be gradually brought online, says the DHA
 
This is sure to make travel to South Africa much simpler and less complicated once it is up and running.
 
 
News24
Published in Travel & Tourism
Smoking dagga can still get you fired, under the right circumstances. And staying away from cannabis – at least just before you go to work – could still be a legitimate requirement for some jobs.
 
But things got a whole lot more complicated after the Constitutional Court on Tuesday said the use of dagga is not a criminal act.
 
And during the two-year period the ConCourt gave Parliament to bring legislation in line with the Constitution, things are going to be particularly difficult when it comes to people getting high on the job, experts say.
 
"This is a curveball," Richard Malkin, managing director of company wellness provider Workforce Healthcare, told Business Insider South Africa after the Concourt judgment, even if, ultimately, "nothing is really going to change from a workplace perspective."
 
South Africa's highest court on Tuesday allowed the private use of marijuana, upholding a lower court's ruling that found the criminalization of cannabis was unconstitutional.
 
Occupational health and safety rules demand that companies keep the workplace safe, and that includes making sure nobody operates dangerous machines while inebriated – whatever the substance of choice.
 
For jobs involving heavy machinery, Malkin says, policy should require employees to disclose, up front, if they are using tranquillisers, for instance, even if under the direction of a doctor.
 
"The requirement is that you can't be under the influence of any mind-altering substance; whether it is legal or illegal doesn't really come into play."
 
Jobs in finance, or customer-facing jobs such as call centre agents advising customers, should also come with policies on inebriation.
 
But testing for dagga use is not as straight-forward as a breathalyser test for alcohol. The common, cheap, and fast urine test for cannabis actually detects a metabolic product that can linger for days – well after the user is no longer mentally affected.
 
So what happens if that test shows dagga use, and you tell the boss you smoked dagga days before? Right now, at least, Malkin believes the only thing a company could do is ask for a spectrophotometric test, which takes around two days and costs around R2,000.
 
In the meantime, the employee will have to be temporarily suspended from sensitive duties, as a precaution.
 
The result of such a test could be grounds for dismissal, speculate labour specialists who were still studying the ConCourt ruling, on the basis of dishonesty. Using dagga may not be a firing offence, but lying about it could be.
 
First, though, there could be a considerable fight about the whole process.
 
"Someone may have okayed drug testing by a company in a contract, but now that company can no longer look at THC [the active ingredient in cannabis]," says Quintin van Kerken, of The Clear Option, an organisation that works in the cannabis and addiction-treatment industry.
 
"It is pointless, because THC now falls under your right to privacy, so they can't do anything with a THC test."
 
Van Kerken believes there will be test cases about cannabis intoxication and medicinal use of cannabis in the workplace – perhaps soon – but until then there will be considerable confusion about the matter.
 
In the meanwhile, employees and employers both had better look at the exact wording of policies around drugs and inebriation at work, because a blanket reference to "alcohol, illegal drugs, and prescription medication", such as those now commonly found, don't strictly apply do dagga anymore.
 
 
Source: Business Insider
Published in Opinion & Analysis

An Italian judge sentenced two defendants in a Nigerian corruption case to jail on Thursday in the first ruling on one of the oil industry’s biggest graft scandals.

Nigerian Emeka Obi and Italian Gianluca Di Nardo were found guilty of international corruption and each given four-year jail sentences, three sources with knowledge of the ruling said.

Lawyers for Obi and Di Nardo declined to comment.

The long-running case revolves around the 2011 purchase by Italian oil company Eni and Anglo-Dutch peer Royal Dutch Shell of Nigeria’s OPL 245 offshore oilfield for about $1.3 billion. Milan prosecutors allege bribes totaling around $1.1 billion were paid to win the license to explore the field which, because of disputes, has never entered into production. 

The main trial - which besides Eni and Shell also involves Eni CEO Claudio Descalzi and four ex-Shell managers including former Shell Foundation Chairman Malcolm Brinded - is expected to drag on for months.

But Obi and Di Nardo, accused of being middlemen and taking illegal kickbacks, had asked for a separate fast-track trial which, under Italian law, allows sentences to be cut by a third.

Thursday’s ruling will not tie the court’s hand in the main trial.

But Barnaby Pace, anti-corruption campaigner at Global Witness, said: “This judgment will send shivers down the corporate spines of the oil industry.”

In an emailed statement, a spokeswoman for Shell said neither Obi nor Di Nardo worked on behalf of the company, adding it was waiting to see the fast-track judge’s written decision.

“Based on our review of the Prosecutor of Milan’s file and all of the information and facts available to us, we do not believe that there is a basis to convict Shell or any of its former employees of alleged offences,” it said.

Also in emailed comments, Eni reiterated it had acted correctly in the purchase of OPL 245, saying it had worked directly with the Nigerian government.

Nigeria’s OPL 245 is one of the biggest sources of untapped oil reserves on the African continent with reserves estimated at 9 billion barrels.

Eni, the biggest foreign oil producer in Africa, has been doing business in Nigeria since 1962 and last year produced 109,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day.

Shell is the biggest foreign investor in the country, producing 266,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day in 2017.

The sources said the Milan judge had ordered the seizure of $98.4 million from Obi and more than 21 million Swiss francs ($21.9 million) from Di Nardo.

Prosecutors had alleged Obi received a mandate from former Nigerian oil minister Dan Etete to find a buyer for OPL 245, collecting $114 million. Di Nardo, they said, took $24 million of that amount for putting Obi in touch with Eni.

The next hearing of the main trial involving Eni, Shell and 13 people is set for Sept. 26.

 

(Reuters)

Published in Opinion & Analysis
Saturday, 22 September 2018 06:15

Skye Bank’s operating licence revoked by CBN

The operating licence of Skye Bank has been withdrawn, Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin I. Emefiele, CON, announced on Friday evening in Abuja, the nation’s capital.

He told the media: “You will recall that on 4th July 2016, we took a regulatory action on Skye bank Nigeria PLC. Specifically, this action led to the resignation of the Chairman, all Non-Executive Directors on the Board as well as the Managing Director, Deputy Managing Director, and the two longest-serving Executive Directors on the Management Team

“At that time the proactive action was informed by unacceptable corporate governance lapses as well as the persistent failure of Skye Bank PLC to meet minimum thresholds in critical prudential and adequacy ratios, which culminated in the bank’s permanent presence at the CBN Lending Window.

“The focus of the action then was to save depositors’ funds and to ensure that the bank continued as a going concern, being a systemically important bank. Part of our intention was also to stem the imminent job losses to staff if a liquidation option had been adopted. These objectives have been fully achieved and the bank has been able to meet customer obligations, having curtailed the liquidity haemorrhage and restored depositor confidence. 

“Indeed, the bank’s performance has improved considerably compared to the pre-July 2016 era.

“The result of our examinations and forensic audit of the bank has, however, revealed that Skye bank requires urgent recapitalisation as it can no longer continue to live on borrowed times with indefinite liquidity support from the CBN. The shareholders of the bank have been unable to recapitalise it.

“As a responsible and responsive regulator and in consultation with the Nigerian Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC), we have decided to establish a bridge bank, Polaris Bank, to assume the assets and liabilities of Skye bank. The strategy is for the Asset Management Company of Nigeria (AMCON) to capitalise the Bridge Bank and begin the process of sourcing investors to buy out AMCON. By this decision, the licence of the defunct Skye Bank is hereby revoked.

“We wish to assure all depositors that under this arrangement, their deposits shall remain safe and that normal banking services shall continue in the new bank on Monday, 24th September, 2018, to enable customers to transact their businesses seamlessly.

“Thus, all customers of Skye Bank shall be automatic customers of the new bank and their accounts and records duly purchased by Polaris Bank.

“Given the good performance of the board and management, the CBN shall retain them.  In addition, all employees of Skye Bank shall be absorbed by Polaris Bank under a new contract unless any employee decides to opt out.

“We wish to assure the general public that the Nigerian banking industry remains safe and resilient and that the CBN will continue to live up to its responsibilities of promoting stability in the banking and financial system.”

Source News Express

Published in Bank & Finance

Of all sharks and rays worldwide, sawfishes – related to stingrays and manta rays – are considered to be the family at greatest risk of extinction. The long, toothed saw – which gives them their unique appearance – also makes them extremely vulnerable to entanglement in fishing nets.

Their numbers have fallen because they are caught accidentally in industrial fishing nets. In addition to that, they are targeted by some fishermen because their fins can fetch high prices.

There are five species of sawfish globally. Two can reach around seven metres in total length (including the saw), making them the third largest members of the shark and ray family.

Sawfishes were formerly common along both the west and east coasts of Africa. Until a few years ago there was no knowledge of whether they still inhabited these waters, or if populations had plummeted as they have done elsewhere.

I set about addressing this gap six years ago. Since then, I have interviewed more than 500 fishers in six different African countries. I collected information on when and where people last caught sawfishes, how they used them and what their local value was. My research showed that sawfishes are now locally extinct from many parts of West Africa, but are still encountered – at least occasionally – by fishers in Madagascar and northern Mozambique.

Working in fishing communities and engaging in the lives of fishers has provided me with some insights into how sawfishes can best be protected in countries like Madagascar, as well as an understanding of the approaches that won’t work.

In the two developed countries where sizeable sawfish populations still exist – Australia and the US – an important step in preventing further declines of these endangered species is to declare them protected under national law and to prohibit activities that threaten them. So catching and killing of sawfishes is banned.

This is an effective approach in countries with the capacity and funding to enforce such laws. But in developing countries, a different approach is needed - a “bottom-up” approach in which communities take the lead. And for that to happen, scientists need to convey the implications of their research to the people who rely directly on the natural resources around them, in relevant, easy-to-digest ways.

The challenge

Sawfishes are not legally protected in most African nations. And even if they were, legislation is rarely an effective approach in countries with little or no capacity to enforce species protection laws.

In addition, fishers who catch sawfishes value them as sources of income (through the sale of their fins, meat, and occasionally other parts) and food. Artisanal fishers along the coasts of Madagascar and Mozambique are some of the poorest communities in these countries; they often live in remote rural areas and have few alternatives to fishing as a way to make a living.

A juvenile largetooth sawfish, Australia. David Morgan

Unless fishers are provided with livelihood alternatives, any efforts to prevent sawfish mortality could be considered to compromise their immediate wellbeing. Fishers are unlikely to sign up to an approach which will mean more hardship for them.

What can be done

We need to reduce the number of sawfishes being caught in fisheries, and ensure that their habitats, especially coastal waters and mangroves, are protected. These two steps would have far-reaching and long-term benefits.

But in my view, the only way to achieve these goals is by encouraging communities to become caretakers of the natural resources they rely on for their own survival. And to achieve this, they first need to understand why these goals should matter to them.

The right educational tools can be used to explain that freshwater and marine ecosystems, fished responsibly, provide food and saleable goods, while mangroves protect coastal communities from storm surge and erosion. The communities themselves can then understand the trade-off between short-term, personal gain and longer-term, communal value, and can choose which path they wish to take.

My insight from working in fishing communities is that as a scientist, I have a duty to explain my findings, their implications and encourage communities to engage in developing strategies to address conservation issues. This benefits the communities as well as the species and habitats that need protection.

To this end I developed a short educational film and a story book. These both aim to convey the importance of sharks and sawfishes as part of healthy marine and freshwater ecosystems. They also point out the many ways in which communities stand to benefit from the sustainable use of sawfishes and other aquatic resources.

Children in Madagascar reading ‘The King of the Fishes’. Ruth H. Leeney

The film was made in multiple languages for both Mozambican and Malagasy audiences to ensure it could reach the widest possible audience. These resources have also given audiences beyond Africa insight into the lives of fisherfolk and the specific challenges facing sawfish conservation in these places.

The experience has taught me that we may be missing opportunities to use stories built around our work, to inspire interest and change where it is most needed: at community level. Armed with the right knowledge and understanding of why protecting mangroves, coastal waters and their inhabitants is important, communities can be the caretakers of these natural resources, both for their own benefit and for the planet’s.The Conversation

 

Ruth H. Leeney, Scientific Associate, Department of Life Sciences, Natural History Museum

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Published in Agriculture
Saturday, 22 September 2018 04:23

NNPC records N17.16bn trading surplus in April

The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has said it recorded a trading surplus of ₦17.16 billion in April.
 
In a statement on Thursday in Abuja by the corporation’s Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division, Ndu Ughamadu, the surplus indicated a ₦5.43 billion improvement, representing 46.29 percent on the trading surplus recorded in March.
 
According to him, the trading surplus was part of the highlight of the corporation’s Monthly Financial and Operations Report for April, 2018.
 
He said the report is the 33rd edition since NNPC commenced the publication of its financial and operations report on a monthly basis as part of efforts to instill a culture of transparency and keep stakeholders and the general public informed of its activities.
 
The NNPC boss added that the trading surplus was achieved through a combined higher performance by the upstream, midstream (refineries) and downstream sectors as well as a reduction in Corporate Headquarters’ operational expenditure.
 
He quoted the report to have said, “This enhanced performance is attributable to robust revenues from sales of crude oil and petroleum products by NPDC and PPMC as well as the upsurge in refineries’ performance, particularly in the Port Harcourt Refining Company (PHRC).”
 
On the gas production and supply front, the report indicated that the average daily production for April, 2018, stood at 8,054.46 billion cubic feet (bcf), out of which an average of 835.27 million metric standard cubic feet (mmscf), equivalent of 3,283 megawatts of electricity, was supplied to the power sector daily during the period under review.
 
“The result when compared with that of April, 2017, implies an increase of 496mw of power generated relative to same period last year,” Ughamadu said, quoting the report.
 
It further showed that in the period under review, a total of 1.61 billion litres of Premium Motor Spirit (petrol) was supplied by NNPC in furtherance of the zero fuel queue policy of the Federal Government.
 
The NNPC said it recorded a 48.21 percent reduction in the rate of pipeline vandalism which fell to 166 from 224 vandalized points in the previous month.
 
According to the report, the Aba-Enugu pipeline segment accounted for 78 vandalized points, representing 84.78 percent of total vandalized points on the nation’s network of products pipelines.
 
 
Source: The Ripples
Published in Business

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