30 Mar

Daily Watch – IMF unimpressed with ERGP, Sterling wins Islamic banking facility

  • The IMF is expected to warn Nigeria its economy needs urgent reform, according to a report seen by Reuters that could delay talks over $1.4 billion in international loans. The Washington-based fund will urge the country to introduce immediate changes to its exchange rate policy, and say its recent reform plan is not enough to drag Africa’s biggest economy out of recession, according to the 68-page report. “Much more needs to be done,” the IMF said in the document, written after a final meeting between its representatives and top officials in the capital Abuja before the fund issues its verdict on Nigeria’s economy, expected on March 29. Three people familiar with the negotiations said it would send an important signal to institutional lenders.The World Bank has been in talks with Nigeria for a loan of at least $1 billion for more than a year and the African Development Bank has $400 million on offer, but discussions have stalled over economic reforms.
  • The National Assembly has approved a $500 million Eurobond sale, Finance Minister Kemi Adeosun said on Wednesday, as the country seeks to plug a yawning budget deficit. The bond was a 15-year Eurobond at 7.5 percent, the finance ministry said in a statement. The Eurobond sale is part of Nigeria’s efforts to plug its record budget deficit.
  • The CBN has approved a licence for the Development Bank of Nigeria, the finance ministry said on Wednesday. The bank aims to support small-scale businesses with loans of varying lengths at lower interest rates than currently available as the country contends with its first recession in 25 years. The finance ministry said approval for the licence was subject to meeting the minimum capital requirement of ₦100 billion ($326 million), the reconstitution of the bank’s board and a review of the organisation’s structure. The development bank has $1.3 billion in seed money provided by the World Bank, African Development Bank and German state bank Kfw, the finance ministry said on its Twitter feed.
  • The Nigerian Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending, plans to facilitate about ₦60 billion in fresh commercial bank lending to farmers in the current financial year. The agency also said it will execute the $300 million African Development Bank, AfDB’s Youth Enable Programme, and operationalising the $500 million Mechanisation Partnership with the Brazilian Government and a host of others. The moves are geared toward enhancing access to credit by farmers as well as making agribusiness more attractive to the youths to curtail the high rate of rural-urban migration. In a statement from the agency, NIRSAL Managing Director, Aliyu Abbati Abdulhameed also expressed the agency’s readiness to play its role in the realisation of the economic recovery plans, while listing its key plans for the year. He said: “NIRSAL’s broad objective is to increase lending to 3.8 million farmers by 2026 through cooperatives and value chains.
  • FBN General Insurance has announced gross premium of ₦2.2 billion from the 2016 financial year. The firm’s audited financial statements showed that it had maintained upward movement in business performance as the 2016 financial performance indicates a 17.4 percent growth from the ₦1.8 billion premium it grossed in the previous year. The report, however, showed that its claims expenses rose by 24 percent from ₦205 million in 2015 to ₦270 million in the year under review. This, the company said, was a direct reflection of shrewd management efforts at expanding the company’s client base, excellent underwriting capabilities as well as increased customer acceptance of the brand. Commenting on the performance, CEO Bode Opadokun, said: “That we paid more claims this year than the last, shows our customers trust us more and are willing to allow us to bear more of the risks they would normally bear themselves. This lends credence to the widely known fact that we are not just a responsible insurer, we are responsive and committed to our policyholders’ well-being at all times.” According to details of the audited accounts, the company’s total assets within the period stood at ₦6.1 billion, an 11.9 percent increase from the ₦5.3 billion it had in 2015.
  • The Non-Interest Banking unit of Sterling Bank has received a $15 million facility from the Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector. ICD, a multilateral development financial institution said it recognised the contribution of the Sterling Bank to the growth of Islamic banking in Nigeria and Africa barely four years after it commenced operations. Sterling Bank received a line of $25 million in 2014 from the International Islamic Finance Trade Corporation and $30 million from the ICD in 2015, both of which are members of the Islamic Development Bank Group. Sterling Bank bagged the Non-Interest Bank of the Year Africa award, for its non-interest banking window – The Sterling Alternative Finance.