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FG May Lose $12Bn to Oil Theft this Year

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Revenue earned by Nigeria this year may be as much as $12 billion short of budget estimates as theft of crude and output disruptions persist in the oil-rich Niger River delta, according to Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, minister of Finance

Nigeria depends largely on proceeds from crude oil but crude theft, which a report by the London-based Chatham House blamed on a cabal of politicians, officials of international oil companies (IOCs) and military formations in the Niger Delta has been a major problem for the Nigeria’s economy.

Okonjo-Iweala said in an interview with Bloomberg in Abuja that the government will draw down its oil savings in the Excess Crude Account to compensate for the drop in revenue to keep the budget deficit under control.

Savings in the special crude account have dropped by half as President Goodluck Jonathan’s government tries to make up for the drop in oil revenue and fund a deficit that has reached 2.5 percent, according to the Central Bank.

With a 2013 budget based on a daily output of 2.53 million barrels and an oil price of $79 a barrel, Nigeria expected revenue of almost $80 billion from exports.

In the first half of the year, oil receipts amounted to $28.2 billion, more than $7 billion below the estimate, according to central bank figures.

“What is amazing now is that we’ve had this quantity of shock and we were able to weather it,” Okonjo-Iweala said. “You can say theft, but it’s still a quantity shock.”

Nigeria depends on crude exports for about 80 per cent of government revenue and 95 percent of export income.

Criminal gangs tapping oil from pipelines for illegal sale have posed the biggest threat to output since a government amnesty in 2009 reduced armed attacks led by rebels fighting for greater control of the region’s resources.

The revenue shortfall due to output disruptions will probably be between $6 billion and $12 billion, said Bright Okogu, director of the Budget Office, who sat in on the interview with the finance minister.

The government saves the balance of oil revenue above the budgeted price in the Excess Crude Account, which had a balance of just under $5 billion, down from about $9 billion at the beginning of the year, according to the minister. 

Nigeria’s vulnerability to shocks is heightened because of lower government revenue from oil, putting pressure on the currency, central bank Governor Lamido Sanusi said in an interview in Oslo.

“The great challenge now is that the fiscal buffers are not as strong as they would be because of the revenue shortfall,” Sanusi said. “If there are any adverse external developments that would feed into this weak revenue profile and put pressure on exchange rates.”

The Central Bank draws     down its foreign-currency reserves to sell dollars at twice-weekly auctions to keep the naira within a band of 3 percent around 155 per dollar. The naira gained 0.2 percent to 158.73 against the dollar on the interbank market as of 2:09 p.m. in Lagos, the commercial capital.

“This increases the pressure on the external balance which means the external reserves and exchange rate will be under pressure,” Bismarck Rewane, chief executive officer at Financial Derivatives Co., said by phone from Lagos today. “Once the external balance is under pressure, there is an underlying threat that will manifest in speculative attack against the currency.”

Okonjo-Iweala is seeking to meet a budget deficit target of 1.9 percent of gross domestic product this year. The shortfall reached 2.5 percent in the second quarter during the peak of the output outages, according to data from the central bank.

President Goodluck Jonathan is due to present his 2014 budget to lawmakers on Nov. 12.  ”When there’s a breakage the impact is that the pipes are shut down, the effect is that 400,000 barrels are shut down,” Okonjo-Iweala said. “The actual theft is like 70 to 80,000 barrels a day.”

The average price of Nigeria’s light, sweet crude has stayed above $100 a barrel this year. The official selling price of Nigeria’s benchmark Qua Iboe crude for November loading was set at $3.50 a barrel more than dated Brent, the European benchmark, according to state-run Nigerian National Petroleum Corp. Dated Brent was priced at $108.92 a barrel at 9:18 a.m. in London. Income earned by Nigeria from crude exports, taxes and other sources are shared among the three tiers of government, including the federal, 36 state governments and 774 local councils.

At allocation meetings in August and September, funds received were not enough to meet expected allocations, prompting complaints from some state officials. The disputes over allocations “are over,” Okonjo-Iweala said. “Everybody realizes that we have to allocate what comes into the coffers.”


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CBN Pulls Rate Cut Trigger, King Dollar Returns

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By Lukman Otunuga, Senior Research Analyst at FXTM,

In a move that caught investors off-guard this week, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) slashed interest rates by 100 basis points bringing the MPR to 11.5%. Given how inflation has been above target since 2015, rates were expected to remain unchanged for the rest of 2020 and possibly early 2021.

 

The question on the mind of many is whether the rate cut will achieve the desired effect by stimulating consumption and economic growth? Ongoing border closures and disruptions created by COVID-19 have pushed inflation to levels not seen since March 2018 above 13.20% while a drop in the production and price of Oil continues to rub salt into the wound. While looser monetary policy could support growth, it may come at the cost of rising inflation and weaker Naira.

 

Over the past few months, central banks across the globe have deployed unprecedented measures to defend their respective economies against the coronavirus menace. However, fiscal policy has been identified as the sharper tool with governments across the world providing a critical lifeline to keep the wheels of their respective economies rolling.

 

Outside of Nigeria, King Dollar made a return by appreciating against every single G10 currency. In times of uncertainty, everyone wants a juicy piece of the world’s most liquid currency. As coronavirus cases rise in Europe and other parts of the world, the flight to safety is likely to boost appetite for the Dollar. This is bad news for many emerging markets currencies, especially those with high Dollar-denominated debt.

 

On the commodity side, Oil prices remain heavily influenced by demand-side factors and the state of the global economy. Prices are likely to remain stuck around the $40 regions in the near term, especially If another round of possible lockdowns hit Oil demand. Looking at the technicals, WTI Crude is under pressure on the daily charts. If prices are unable to break away from the sticky $40 regions, the next key point of interest remains around $38. A weekly close above $41.50 could pave a path towards $43.


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NCC Arrests Man for Hacking into DSTV System

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Nigeria Copyright Commission (NCC), has arrested one Mr Aliu Olalekan, for allegedly hacking into DSTV system and watching the channels free without subscription.

NCC Arrests Man for Hacking into DSTV System

Mr Matthew Ojo, NCC Director in the Lagos Directorate Office said this while speaking with newsmen in Lagos, on Tuesday.

He said that the suspect used to watch DSTV channels free without subscription on his Android phone via an app which he downloaded on google play store.

“This suspect distributed the know-how to his telegram followers and on his blog with the aim of gaining more followers and viewership on his blog and makes more money through google ad-sense.

“The operation was based on surveillance which had earlier been carried out by the Multi-choice team and verified by a copyright inspector, ” he said.

He added that the arrest was made in collaboration with a team of copyright inspectors led by the Head of Enforcement Department, Mr Charles Amudipe.

Others included; a team from Multichoice Nigeria led by Mr Umar Ibrahim and policemen from Lagos Command Headquarters, Ikeja.

Ojo said that the joint team conducted an anti-piracy operation at the premises of the culprit in Amukoko, Lagos.

According to him, the suspect was contacted on phone by a member of the operation team on the disguise of patronising him. “The suspect came out to meet the caller and in the process of discussion, he was apprehended.

“The suspect took the team to his resident. The squad paraded his one-room apartment and recovered his laptop and phones used in perpetrating the ungodly act. “He was arrested and brought to the copyright commission office for further investigation, ” he said.

Ojo said that, on getting to the commission’s office, the statement of the suspect was taken and the inventory of items seized from him taken. He said that investigation on the matter was still ongoing and if found guilty the suspect will be charged to court.

 


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NCC, Digital Encode Support NITRA Innovative Tech Forum On Post-COVID-19 Strategies

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The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Nigeria’s telecommunications regulator and Digital Encode, Cybersecurity and Compliance advisory company, have indicated interest to partner with the Nigeria Information Technology Reporters Association (NITRA), the national umbrella body of ICT reporters, as it organizes a forum that will x-ray the industry’s future plans for ICT growth post pandemic era.

 

The event, slated to hold on October 15, 2020, will seek to discuss the needs for a fortified ICT sector after the COVID-19 era, and the level of preparedness of ICT stakeholders to embrace the challenge of being pivotal to the stability and growth of all other sectors.

 

A statement from NITRA National Secretariat in Lagos indicates that due to the pandemic and need to observe the COVID-19 protocol on social distancing, the event will be held via a Webinar.

 

This year’s theme, “Multi-stakeholder Approach To National Recovery Post-Pandemic”, is in line with the annual event’s generic theme, ‘NITRA Innovative Tech Forum’, a contribution by NITRA to the development of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) innovations and policies in Nigeria.

 

Prof. Umar Danbatta, executive vice chairman, NCC is expected to deliver the keynote speech at the event and will throw more light on Federal Government’s plans, programmes and policies on post-pandemic strategies using ICT.

 

Dr. Adewale Obadare and Dr. Seyi Akindeinde, founders of Digital Encode, while accepting to support the event expressed their readiness to offer their expertise in Cybersecurity for organisations to prepare against cyber- attacks with the new normal.

 

They will also highlight areas that are high risks that need fortification in terms of cybersecurity.

 

Speaking on the event, Mr. Chike Onwuegbuchi, national chairman, NITRA, noted that as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to leave its negative trails across the globe, economic reboot for countries will not only depend on how well they readapt to the new normal, but also more on their recovery plans.

 

According to him: “While the federal government has consistently expressed its willingness to set all policies in place to engender growth, and accelerated implementation of these policies, private sector firms have also shown great hunger for the task ahead in post-COVID-19 era.

 

However, the question that needs to be answered is whether all stakeholders are ready for the required task ahead.”

 

The event will also offer participating companies opportunities to publicize some of their individual efforts at contributing to reacting a soft landing or lifeline for SMEs and other ancillary companies as the pandemic threatens their survival.

 

Digital Encode is a multi-award winning and leading consulting and integration firm that specializes in the design, management, and security of business-critical networks, telecommunications environments and other Information Technology (IT) infrastructures.

 


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