24 Aug

Daily Watch – Nine banks in FX dragnet, States saddled with ₦3.7 trillion in debt

  • The CBN has suspended nine banks from the interbank currency market for failing to remit money owed to the government, Reuters reports citing banking sources. The suspension comes after the central bank tightened restrictions on the flow of dollars to domestic lenders in March. That has forced the banks to delay hard-currency loan and trade repayments and increased their risk of default. FCMB, First Bank, UBA, Heritage Bank, Keystone Bank, Skye Bank, Diamond Bank, Sterling Bank and Fidelity Bank failed to remit $2.1 billion, the government’s share of dividends from the state-owned gas company, NLNG. The banks were supposed to pay the money into the government’s CBN account. An FCMB spokesman said that the default “is really a function of the dire macroeconomic situation and illiquidity in the FX markets rather than wilful non-compliance by banks.” This comes as the regulator issued new guidelines Monday, requiring banks and other authorised dealers in the forex market to allocate 60 percent of total their total forex purchases from all sources, including the interbank market to manufacturers.
  • A consortium led by sub-Saharan Africa-focused private equity firm 8 Miles has bought a minority stake in biscuit maker Beloxxi for $80 million, a deal described as a bet on the company’s ability to meet the rising demand of a growing consumer class. Obi Ezeude, chief executive of Beloxxi, said the company has reduced its dependence on imported raw materials and was striving to keep the prices of its biscuits affordable for the poorest Nigerian consumers.
  • Nigeria’s 36 states and the FCT are creaking under ₦3.7 trillion of debt, an analysis of DMO data by the Daily Trust has shown. The sum, which constitutes nearly two-thirds of their combined 2016 spending plans, has made it almost impossible for state workers to receive salaries on time and has hampered the execution of capital projects – with many states utilising a large chunk of their statutory monthly allocations to service debt deductions. The states with the highest domestic debts include Delta (₦320 billion), Lagos (₦218 billion), Akwa Ibom (₦147 billion), Osun (₦144 billion), Rivers (₦134 billion), FCT (₦133 billion), Cross River (₦115 billion), and Bayelsa (₦103 billion). Anambra and Yobe states are the states with the least domestic debts of ₦3.6 billion and ₦3.9 billion respectively. All states also held ₦1.148 trillion in foreign debt.
  • NBET and the CBN are currently negotiating a new financial stimulus plan worth ₦180 billion to support electricity operators in Nigeria’s power sector. NBET’s Acting MD, Waziri Bintube, said that negotiations on the new package have reached an advanced stage. Bintube said the CBN, in addition to the ₦213 billion it approved in its Nigerian Electricity Market Stabilisation Facility for disbursement to operators at a concessionary term, agreed to put an additional ₦180 billion into the facility.
  • Cross River governor has signed a pact with a Dubai-based firm, Skipper Seil to provide a 100KVA solar power generating plant. The state governor Ben Ayade also signed an agreement for a 26MW gas power turbine at the Tinapa Business and Leisure Resort, as well as the training of personnel from the Institute of Technology and Management, Ugep. “We will work very hard, fine tune all the activities and try to be on ground after the PPA in December. I want to assure you that the plant in Tinapa for 26 megawatts will give a boost to electricity and will be completed in 18 months time,” Skipper Sell CEO Jitender Sachdeva said at the signing ceremony.
  • The BPP says only 355 federal MDAs have complied with a directive to collate and submit their 2014 procurement records to the agency. According to BPP spokesman, Thomas Odemwingie, of that number, 146 complied with the directive only after receiving queries from the bureau and at the end of June, 187 MDAs had not complied with the directive. The SGF’s office had directed all MDAs in October 2015 to provide procurement records or face sanctions.