Friday, 19 January 2018
Business and Economy

Business and Economy (750)

Zaria (Kaduna), Dec. 22, 2012 (NAN) The Institute for Agricultural Research (IAR) in Zaria, Kaduna State, has developed and released improved varieties of crops to farmers across the country.

The Executive Secretary of the institute, Dr Ahmed Falaki, disclosed this when Mr Alex Abutu, Project Coordinator (Nigeria), Biosciences for Farming in Africa (B4FA), led some journalists to the institute. He listed the improved varieties of crops as cowpea, cotton, groundnut, maize and sorghum. Falaki, who was represented by Prof. Ezra Amans, a Deputy Director at the institute, explained that IAR had over the years introduced, bred and tested select crops.
According to him, the institute has also formally released numerous improved crop varieties to farmers for planting. Falaki said the institute had added appropriate production packages which included pest, disease and weed control, harvesting, processing and storage techniques.
"For cowpea, we have released nine varieties for different ecologies, with yield potential of 2.5 tonnes per hectare. The new 13 cotton varieties are long staple and resistant to leaf spots and bacterial light.’’ He said that the institute had been supplying a variety of cotton to the numerous textile industries and oil mills across the country. Falaki also said that the most popular of the new 23 groundnut varieties were the rosette and drought-resistant varieties. He added that the new 14 maize varieties had higher levels of lysine and tryptophan, the two limiting essential amino acids in maize. "The 45 sorghum varieties are suitable for Sahel, Sudan and Guniea Savanna ecologies,’’ he said, adding that Nigerian Breweries had been using the varieties as substitute for barley.
He said that the release of the crops would go a long way in conserving the foreign exchange needed to import barley.
According to him, the development of new crop varieties is an important aspect of research aimed at improving production. He said that significant progress had been made in the development and release of high-yielding disease and pest-resistant varieties with acceptability to consumers.
"For rapid agricultural development to take place, local inputs such as technology generated on continuous basis through research and development activities must be ensured.’’
Earlier, Abutu said that the essence of the visit was to acquaint journalists with some of the remarkable achievements of the institute. He said journalists found it difficult to report researches because most researchers conceal some of their findings.
The B4FA, a six-month fellowship programme for Journalists, was launched this year.
Abutu said the programme is aimed at bridging the gap between science and the public by promoting better understanding and dialogue on developments in agriculture and biosciences throughout Africa. It is also aimed at encouraging dialogue and promoting better understanding of the available options for improving agricultural productivity in Ghana, Tanzania, Nigeria, and Uganda.
He said that the intention was also to enhance reportage of science and agriculture-related issues, especially food production challenges.
Posted On Tuesday, 25 December 2012 03:21 Written by

Kano, Dec. 24, 2012 (NAN) The Federal Government has spent more than N24.3 billion on the rehabilitation of railway track from Lagos to Kano.

The Managing Director of the Nigeria Railway Corporation (NRC), Mr Adeseyi Sijuwade, made this known in Kano on Sunday. He said that 488 km Lagos-Kano was rehabilitated at N12.1billion, while the 638 km Jebba-Kano cost N12.2 billion. He said that the projects were completed within the 2012 budget and commended President Goodluck Jonathan, for approving the request of the corporation.
Sijuwade told newsmen that the corporation was planning to introduce air-conditioned train system in 2013. "By 2013 plan, there will be modern air-conditioned coaches on the track.
"There will be no cause for alarm security wise because the corporation will ensure the safety of lives and property of the passengers. "We have just completed 30-hours journey from Lagos by rail down to Kano, passing all the major cities and state capitals between Lagos and Kano,’’ he said.
He called on Nigerians to patronise the rail system to move their goods from Apapa to others parts of the country. NAN recalled that on Dec 21, the NRC commenced the inter-city train service from Lagos-Kano. The train service, which started on weekly basis, from Lagos to Kano, would depart Iddo Terminal from 9 am every Friday, and Kano station from 9 am every Monday.

Posted On Tuesday, 25 December 2012 02:41 Written by

Niger Commissioner for Information Alhaji Danladi Abdulhamid on Tuesday said the state government has spent over N1billion on disaster related issue from 2007, among  which was the 2011 December Madalla  bomb blast.

Abdulhamid made this known while addressing news men on the one day
National Emergency Management Agency Stakeholders training and
workshop held in Minna. According to the Commissioner, “the government has always been very
proactive in responding to disaster issues, offered assistance and
support to the victims of such disasters”.``We have always support and cooperate with security agencies, so that  they can carry out their job in the highest possible standard without
any hindrance or interference.
``This pledge for support is what prompted the approval for the
release of N440m to purchase equipment and vehicles for security
agencies in the state``, he said. Abdulhamid appealed to the Federal government to give ‘Executive support’ to Niger to help the government tackle problems faced by the
over populated Suleja local government in the state.
The problems which he said resulted from the relocation of the
nation’s capital from Lagos to Abuja.


Posted On Tuesday, 25 December 2012 01:38 Written by

Mr Victor Eyaru, President, National Association of Air Traffic Controllers (NATCA) has called on the Federal Government to declare national emergency on aviation communication facilities in the Nigeria airspace.

Eyaru, who made the disclosure in a statement on Monday in Lagos, said that the reason for the declaration was in the interest of Nigerians and to forestall any mid air collusion in the airspace that would cause tragedy.

He noted that radio communication in the Nigerian airspace has not improved despite spirited efforts by the Nigeria Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) to fix the problem.

 “If all operational Air Traffic Controllers, who are members of NATCA, through their daily loggings, are saying the communication equipment available to them should be improved upon to avert impending air disaster are termed as alarmists and saboteurs, then, the system needs a curative measure fast.

 “All the claims of NATCA on the issue on the precarious state of VHF radios used by the two Area Control Centres in Kano and Lagos are verifiable facts. “And NAMA management attested to this by saying that it has challenges in solving the radio problem,’’ he said.
Eyaru noted that the communication problem with the radio has existed for three decades, saying that the solution to the problem has overwhelmed the agency overtime. He expressed sadness that the NAMA management expended over N400 million for the total VHF coverage project.  “The problem with communication facilities is not new to this management because Air Traffic Controllers (ATC) reports this to the NAMA management on daily basis through the ATC Watch Log Books. “Aviation is a global phenomenon and not Nigeria's and no lie told in the sector can stand the test of time. The issue of bad radios within Nigerian airspace has been a thing of concern to aviation international bodies,” he said.
Reacting to the allegation, the NAMA management said it finds it difficult to understand the motive behind the combative posture of the air traffic controllers over the communication status of the agency. In a statement signed by the agency’s management, it noted that the picture being painted by NATCA does not exist as the daily statistics show more traffic across the nation's airports.

“Apart from this, daily foreign flights into the country have been on the increase just as the nation is being inundated with more requests by the foreign airlines aspiring to explore Nigerian market.

“What else do you need to measure a safer sky? If there are no communication as being alleged by the controllers, one may then ask of their magic wand in handling these flights in question,” it said.

The statement noted that over 300 controllers had so far been trained this year alone to enhance productivity and was on record that NATCA enjoys upmost priority in the scheme of things. “We confirm again the ongoing effort to the Lagos Area Control Centre by deploying 120.9MGH and what we demand from the controllers is co-operation. “To achieve this drive as a recent test run of the frequency by both controllers and engineers proved successful. It said that the Federal Government had expended more than N15 billion on various capital projects at NAMA covering TRACON and VHF radio coverage among other safety critical projects to boost air safety in Nigeria.
Posted On Tuesday, 25 December 2012 01:28 Written by

The relevance of tax in the global economy cannot be under-estimated. In the developed world and in some of the emerging economy, emphasis is highly placed on revenue-drive through taxation to boost economy. However, in Nigeria the case is different because the cumbersome tax administration system. For instance, the 2012 World Bank in collaboration with PricewaterhouseCoopers report ranked Nigeria economy 138 out of 183 on the ease of paying tax.

According to the report, Nigeria dropped from its 134th position last year, to 138, making it the worst for the country, since the annual report was first published in 2006.Responding to the development, Mr Taiwo Oyedele, Partner/Tax and Corporate Advisory Service Leader, PricewaterhouseCoopers told News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that the report showed the weakness of nation’s tax system. According to Oyedele, the report was a yearly report put together by the World Bank and PricewaterhouseCoopers.

According to him, the aim was to ascertain the countries doing well in terms of revenue generation using the instrument of taxation to boost her economy. Oyedele said that the report examined three aspects of tax payment, which were “the tax cost, ease of paying tax and the time involved in tax compliance”. The tax expert said that among the three tax indicators, Nigeria ranked 180 making it the worst in Africa on the time it took to comply with tax issues and only ahead of three countries in the world: Vietnam (181), Bolivia (182) and Brazil (183).

Oyedele explained that a medium size company in Nigeria made 35 tax payment annually, paid 32.7 per cent of its business profit in taxes and spends 938 hours to comply.  He added, Nigeria ranked 123 on number of tax payment, 56 on total tax rate and 180 on time required to comply out of 183 economies. “The World Bank and PricewaterhouseCoopers looked at how difficult it is pay tax which is called ease of paying tax in 183 countries around the globe. “The body also examined the number of tax payment and the amount of time it takes to comply with tax issues, the time it takes to calculate your tax, file result and collect Tax Clearance Certificate (TCC). “They looked at these three factors and calculate the average for every country,” he said.Oyedele attributed the enormous time required for tax compliance in Nigeria to the bureaucratic, complex and cumbersome tax administration system. He said that Nigeria should avoid multiplicity of taxes where Federal, State and Local Governments collect different taxes thus making it difficult for tax payers to comply.Oyedele condemned the uncoordinated policies by the government were issues relating to tax administration were not well implemented.

“The National Tax Policy approved by the Federal Executive Council and the National Executive Council is there to guide tax administration. The idea is to reduce the number of taxes and be able to streamline our tax system,” he said. Oyedele suggested the adequate use of Information Communication Technology (ICT) to facilitate tax administrations in the country. Also speaking, Mr Rasaq Quadri, President West Africa Union of Tax Institutes said that the report may not necessarily represent the actual state of the nation’s economy. Quadri said that certain factors like security, epileptic power supply, transportation and other infrastructural challenges may have been put into consideration. “For instance, there is no investor that will like to invest where his life and business is not secured. “We should stop deceiving ourselves by saying that we are talking to investors, direct foreign investment when there are no amenities on ground,” he said. Quadri said if Nigeria economy must grow in 2013, there was need to diversify into agriculture, tourism and other non-oil sectors. He that the United Arab Emirate (UAE) solely depends on tourism to drive her economy, adding that Nigeria had numerous untapped tourism centres.

Quadri also suggested the immediate implementation of the recommendation by the working group constituted by the Federal government in 2002 to under-study the ways to improve the nation’s tax system. According to him one of the recommendations was that we should have a virile tax administration, good tax policy and laws. “Unfortunately, the National Tax Policy has been launched in February but since then it has not been implemented,” he said.

Quadri said that the implementation of the tax policy would enable us do away with the direct system of taxation and embrace indirect system of taxation where people would pay as they consumed. He said that the pay as you consumed system of tax as practiced in most part of the world would raise the revenue profile of the country. The tax expert condemned the five per cent Value Added Tax (VAT) practiced in Nigeria, saying it slowed down the nation’s revenue portfolios. He said that there was a need to increase it in the interest of the economy noting that the taxation industry was bright because of the abundant human and natural resources. He urged government to create an enabling business environment that would encourage investors, ‘Once there adequate and functional infrastructure, every other thing will fall into place. Quadri commended the federal government for the new Personal Income Tax Act (PITA) Amendment 2011 saying it had draw the President and every other political office holders into the tax dragnet. Mr Chukwuemeka Eze, former president, Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria (CITN), Ikeja branch said that the taxation sub-sector had faired well in year 2012.

Eze said that various reforms like the PITA and Industrial Trust Funds (ITF) Act were brought into limelight in the year under-review despite the fact that they were introduced last year. He said that the introduction of the rule of Transfer Pricing (TP) by the Federal Inland Revenue Service was also another milestone in the taxation industry. On the World Bank ranking, Eze said that the ranking portend danger for the economy because it showed that we do not have “sufficient power economically to absorbed shocks”. He said that the inflationary rate was 12.3 per cent in the economic index because we spent too much on recurrent expenditure. Eze said that for the nation improve economically in 2013, government should invest more on infrastructure like power, transportation and well security. He said those indices would encourage rapid economic transformation in the country.Mr Peter Olarenwaju, member CITN said the tax industry was vibrant in the year 2012 despite some challenges in the nation’s economy.

Olarenwaju said the World Bank ranking was as a result of poor utilisation of the nation’s resources. He urged the government to implement the various tax laws in the country to enable the tax authorities discharged their duty effectively in 2013. Similarly, Mr Anthony Aslem, a tax expert said that Nigeria had no justification to be ranked so low in the Word Bank reports. Aslem said that the taxation industry was bright if the “right pegs were put into the right holes” He urged government to put taxpayers’ money into use in 2013 saying that was the only way to encourage tax compliance.


Posted On Monday, 24 December 2012 19:38 Written by

The Nigerian capital market, which was severally hit by the impact of the last global financial crisis in 2008, has seen massive recovery this year.  In what many analysts described as response to fundamental respite in economic down turn across the globe and series of attempt at reforms at the local level, the local bourse has seen large flows of investment in the second half of the year.

By the last count, the market has moved from huge loss recorded last year to achieve one of the biggest growth among its peers in the frontier market as the reforms in the financial market, the major driver of the market and strict adhere to governance by the regulators continue to yield positive result.  
Record of trading on the Nigerian Stock Exchange as at December 20, 2012 showed that the equity market rose by 33 percent year-to-date with the market rated the best investment stopover in sub-Saharan Africa as offshore investors scramble to take position and benefit from the recovery in the market.
As part of move to stem the drift in the market and restore public confidence, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) introduced major reforms such as the licensing of market makers in September, establishment of securities lending and short selling, while the upward review of circuit breaker and new listing rules kicked in investors’ interest in the market.
Others factors are the latest announcement of N22.6 billion forbearance packages for 84 stockbroking firms, elimination of stamp duties and Value Added Tax (VAT) on stock market transactions and improved regulatory framework.  
The market was also positively impacted by the stability in the exchange rate, which encouraged more foreign investors to stay in the market. The market remains relatively stable around N157 to the dollar for the better part of the year due to various measures by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to stem capital flight and encourage offshore investment in local debt paper.
The key driver of offshore investors into the economy during the year was the change in the leadership of both the SEC and Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) with it attendant reforms.
The new leadership of the market has bolster confidence with fresh policy initiative aimed at increased regulations, enforcement of market rules and surveillance which have kept in check major breach that characterized the operations of the market in the past.  
Market data showed as at the closed of Market on December 19, the All-Share Index of the Exchange during the review period appreciated by 31.93 per cent year-to-date to close trading at 27,349.10 against opening year index of 20,730.63. Also, the market capitalisation which opened trading for the year at N6.53 trillion grew by N2.24 trillion to close trading on Dec. 19 at N8.73 trillion.
Speaking on the market performance, Ms Arunma Oteh, the Director-General of SEC, attributed the growth to concerted efforts of by operators, regulators and the Federal Government through various reforms and initiatives to boost activities in the market. Oteh debunked claims in some quarter that the recent growth in the market will soon fizzy out, noting that "the capital market is not driven by euphoria, but by fundamentals of different sectors of the economy represented on the exchange."
She said the recent growth in the market was not only in the financial sector, “but the banking sector is leading because globally everybody recognizes the bold steps that Nigeria took to address the challenges in the financial sector."
"It is broader reflections that today many people recognise that Nigeria is indeed the preferred investment destination despite the challenges," Oteh said.  According to her, SEC is monitoring the present reforms in the nation’s economy, including the privatisation programme of the government to ensure that privatised companies are encouraged to list on the local bourse.
She added that efforts are on top gear to create the enabling environment for energy companies operating in the upstream and downstream sector, and telecommunications companies also list on the Exchange.
Mr Nicholas Nyamali, the Managing Director, Investment One Financial Sevices Ltd., on his part noted that the recent growth in the market was driven by both the reforms in the banking sector and the performance of quoted companies. Nyamali said the last crash in the market brought it below par with its peers in other market with major stocks undervalued for several years, noting that the recent growth has ensure that most equities, including banking stocks have started reflecting their real values.
He however expressed optimism that the trend would continue if the reforms were sustained in the years ahead. Mr Emeka Madubuike, President, Association of Stockbroking Houses of Nigeria (ASHON), said that the growth being witnessed in the market could also be attributed partly to the activities of market makers, while the impressive financial results by listed companies further strengthened investor confidence in the market.
He urged local investors to take advantage of the current market trends and improved companies’ results to increase their stake in the market. However, Mr Ariyo Olushekun, President, the Chartered Institute of Stockbrokers (CIS) expressed his reservation on the gains so far recorded in the market, saying over 70 percent of transactions are done by offshore investors, leaving local investors with mere 30 percent.
"We will only say that the market has recovered when we have more local investors participating in the market than foreign investors," Olushekun said. Over all, the Nigerian capital market no doubt has recorded impressive growth in 2012 but the market still has so many challenges to contend with in 2013 which borders on local investor confidence. This stemmed from the fact that local investor participation in the market is still very low with 30 per cent while foreign investors is dominating with 70 per cent. 


Posted On Monday, 24 December 2012 19:17 Written by

Nigeria and two other oil-producing African nations are preparing to sell as much as $3.75 billion in international bonds in 2013, the most from the continent ever, after yields sank below Italy and Spain and investors set aside concerns sparked by Ivory Coast’s default almost two years ago, reports Bloomberg.

 Nigeria, the continent’s top oil producer plans to borrow $1 billion on overseas markets, twice as much as in 2011, while Angola is seeking $2 billion of debt.
Ghana, which issued the first Eurobonds in sub- Saharan Africa outside of South Africa in 2007, may sell a further $750 million, Deputy Finance Minister Seth Terkper said by phone from Accra December 13.

Sales the past 14 months by Namibia and Zambia drew five to 20 times more demand than sought. As the World Bank estimates sub-Saharan Africa needs $93 billion a year to overcome poor road networks and shortages of power and water, governments are taking advantage of historic- low yields across emerging markets.

Yields on Nigeria’s dollar bonds due January 2021 have dropped 201 basis points this year to 4.1 percent, while similar-maturity debt sold by Spain yields 5.18 percent and that for Italy 4.38 percent. Ivory Coast, which defaulted on $2.3 billion of bonds in January 2011, rewarded investors with the world’s best returns.

“Given their inherent financing needs and the lack of capital, it would be beneficial for African issuers to access cheap financing while it is available,” Kojo Amoo-Gottfried, a London-based analyst at FM Capital Partners Ltd., which manages about $1 billion, said by phone December 11. “Conducive market conditions will not persist indefinitely.”

Average emerging-market dollar-denominated bond yields have fallen 85 basis points, or 0.85 percentage point, this year to a record 5.57 percent, according to JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s EMBI Global Index.

The International Monetary Fund estimates developing nations will post growth rates next year almost four times faster than the developed world. Even with the declines, average yields compare with 1.8 percent on 10-year U.S. Treasuries, luring investors seeking higher returns.

Sub-Saharan Africa’s gross domestic product will expand 5.7 percent in 2013, the fastest pace after developing nations in Asia, from 5 percent this year, the IMF said October 9, boosted by higher commodity prices.
Investors are looking to tap into “a good growth story,” Aurelien Mali, a senior analyst at Moody’s Investors Service, said in a Nov. 7 phone interview from London.

While yields on Ghana’s dollar notes due October 2017 have dropped 164 basis points this year to 4.89 percent, those on five-year cedi-denominated debt stood at 21.25 percent, according to Standard Chartered Plc prices. The higher domestic yields reflect “underdevelopment of the domestic capital market and also the fact there is macroeconomic instability, inflation volatility and public finance with fiscal deficit volatility,” Mali said. “There is not a lot of credit stability for those markets.”

The drop in dollar funding costs reflects a “bubble” for emerging markets and doesn’t compensate for the risks investors are taking on, Charles Robertson, global chief economist at Renaissance Capital, said in a November 13 interview in London.

Nigeria’sinflation rate has stayed above the Central Bank’s 10 percent target this year, with price growth accelerating 12.3 percent in November. Sub-Saharan Africa’s second-biggest economy also relies on crude exports for about 95 percent of foreign-currency earnings and 80 percent of government revenue.

Ghana’s cedi has dropped 14 percent this year against the dollar, the worst performing currency in Africa after Sudan’s pound and Malawi’s kwacha. Kenya’s shilling plunged as much as 32 percent last year amid a fourfold surge in inflation.

“We are in a hard currency bond bubble globally,” Robertson said. “Local debt is the better prospect” because yields are higher than foreign securities to compensate for risk, he said.

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan said in his budget speech in October that the West African nation will sell its second Eurobond in 2013. Yields on Angola’s next international bonds may be lower than the 7 percent on seven-year debt sold in August because market conditions have improved, VTB Bank OJSC Chairman Andrey Kostin, which helped Angola sell its notes, said Oct. 31 after meeting the country’s President Jose Eduardo dos Santos and Vice President Manuel Vincente.

Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and Mozambique may also issue their first foreign-currency bonds in the next few years, Moody’s said in October. Of the 54 countries in Africa, 13 have sold foreign-currency denominated debt on international markets, according to Moody’s. Dollar funding shields investors’ from currency swings and inflation, while giving issuers access to financing at lower rates than at home.

Investors are favouring African dollar bonds because they are scarce and holding them means they can diversify their portfolios, said Moody’s Mali. About 10 percent of the region’s external debt stock is international issuance, he said.
As Ivory Coast resumed interest payments in June and got an agreement from bondholders to service arrears by 2014, the government’s notes due December 2032 have returned 87 percent this year to 93.09 cents on the dollar, with yields dropping 765 basis points to 7.23 percent, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

“If you’re looking for yield its really one of the last frontiers to find it,”Daniel Broby, deputy chief executive officer of Silk Invest Ltd., which holds Nigerian, Zambian and Senegalese Eurobonds, said in a Dec. 12 phone interview from London. “The risk is they get greedy. I just hope that in this rush for this window they act prudently.”

Posted On Saturday, 22 December 2012 21:30 Written by

Mrs Folorunsho Alakija, a Nigerian billionaire oil tycoon, Fashion designer and philanthropist is now the richest black woman in the word, according to report published by Ventures Africa, an African business magazine and news services.

Alakija, 61, is worth at least $3.3 billion- contrary to a recent Forbes Magazine ranking which pegs her net worth at only $600 million. She is $500 million richer than media mogul, Oprah Winfrey, whose wealth estimated at $2.7 billion in September.


Folorunsho Alakija is the founder and owner of Famfa Oil, a Nigerian oil company which owns a 60 percent working interest in OML 127 that produces about 200,000 barrels a day.

Alakija, was born into a wealthy, polygamous Nigerian family. She started out her professional career in the mid 70s as a secretary at the now defunct International Merchant Bank of Nigeria, one of the country’s earliest investment banks.

In the early 80s, Alakija quit her job and went on to study Fashion design in England, returning to Nigeria shortly afterwards to start Supreme Stitches, a premium Nigerian fashion label which catered exclusively to upscale clientele. The business thrived, and Alakija quickly made a tidy fortune selling high-end Nigerian clothing to fashionable wives of military bigwigs and society women.

Oil Prospecting License
In May 1993,  Alakija applied for an allocation of an Oil Prospecting License (OPL). The license to explore for oil on a 617,000 acre block – (now referred to as OPL 216) was granted to Alakija’s company, Famfa Limited.

Posted On Wednesday, 05 December 2012 17:29 Written by
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