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FG Slashes Business Registration Cost for SMEs by 60%

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Federal government has reduced the costs of registering Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs) with the Corporate Affairs Commission by 60 per cent.

Olusegun Aganga, minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, stated this while speaking at the 8th annual Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises finance conference.

The conference with theme ‘MSME financing in Nigeria: Past, present and future’ was conceptualised to look at the MSME finance sub-sector from a holistic perspective.

Aganga said the directive for the reduction of the business registration costs was given by President Goodluck Jonathan, adding that the development underscored the importance of the sector to poverty reduction, job creation and inclusive growth.

He said since SMEs account for about 80 per cent of businesses registered with the CAC as well as about 50 per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product, there was need to remove all factors that would impede their development to nation building.

He said, “The administration of Mr President has made it a matter of importance to support MSME in certain key areas-access to affordable finance which we are doing here today, access to markets, formalization of businesses, skill acquisition, provision of infrastructure to reduce the cost of businesses for SMEs.

“Already, the president has approved a reduction in the cost of setting up SMEs by 60 per cent and the idea is to reduce the cost of doing business.

“So today if you are going to CAC to set up a company, then know that the costs have been reduced by 60 per cent already.”

He said the N220bn facility whose disbursement was flagged off at the event by Jonathan would help not only to empower SMEs, but address the access to financing needs of the sector in an efficient and sustainable manner.

Jonathan while speaking at the event commended the CBN for providing the fund for the development of the sector at an interest rate of nine per cent.

He added that the decision of the apex bank to set aside 60 per cent of the fund for women was in line with his administration’s commitment to women empowerment.

The president said MSMEs have been recognized globally as the engine of growth in any development-oriented economy.

He added that due to their inherent labour intensive production processes, they also provide a veritable platform for job creation.

He said, “All over the developed world, the contribution of MSME to GDP is on the average of about 47 per cent, this shows clearly how important the MSME are to us.

“With about 17.3 million SMEs in Nigeria, there is need for more concrete and concerted efforts to expand the activities of MSMEs in our country.”

He said the focus of this year’s conference which is geared towards enhancing access to finance was appropriate noting that a vibrant MSME sub sector was indispensable to achieving sustainable transformation in the Nigerian economy.

Jonathan said as Africa’s largest economy with excellent prospects of becoming one of the 20 largest economy in the world in the nearest future, it is imperative that the challenges confronting MSMEs are addressed “frontally at this time.”

The President said his administration had already instituted a number of reforms to improve the business environment and build strong institutions that would fast track the growth and progress of MSMEs.

He said, “Given that the structural transformation of the economy remains our core priority, we are investing heavily in critical infrastructure to promote job creation and inclusive growth.

“We are aware that inadequate infrastructure increase the cost of production by estimated 30 per cent making Nigerian goods under-competitive and we need to improve on that.

“The federal government believes that stable power supply is the bedrock of our industrial development. It will not only reduce the cost of manufacturing and services significantly, it will also engender investments and create jobs.”

He also said as part of measures to enhance the contribution of MSMEs to economic growth, the Federal Government will establish a wholesale development finance institution, which would provide long term funds of up to 15 years for industrial development.

He added that existing DFIs would be restructured for better performance and improved access to finance by the MSMEs.

He said the enormity of the task ahead requires immediate and dedicated action adding that this underscores the need to effectively disburse the N220bn MSME fund.

In his keynote address delivered at the event, Mr Godwin Emefiele, CBN governor,  said the MSME financial gap, which is estimated at N9.6tr was one of the major reason why the apex bank intervened in the sector.

He said in view of the fact that cost and access to credit had continued to be an inhibiting factor to the survival and growth of many MSMEs in the country, the apex bank would be working with relevant stakeholders to establish a Secured Transaction and National Collateral Registry to facilitate the registration and acceptability of movable property as loan collateral.

He added that the bank would also encourage venture capital companies to fund MSMEs, as well as set up a National Credit Scoring System to improve access to information on borrowers to positively influence credit decisions,

“We would also enhance the operations of Credit Reference Bureaus. We believe that these efforts would improve the information available to potential lenders on persons seeking loans and therefore, help to isolate bad borrowers from credible ones,” he said.

He said going forward, the CBN’s focus would remain on sectors that can create jobs on a mass scale as well as reduce the country’s import bill and conserve the country’s foreign exchange.

For example, he said the bank would maintain a keen interest in supporting the creation of an enabling environment to trigger private sector investment to curb the growing trend of medical tourism, which has depleted the nation’s foreign reserves.

In the power sector, he said 36 power projects have received N115.73bn from the Power and Aviation Intervention Fund noting the apex bank would also carefully consider funding viable gas to power projects.

He said, “In fact, we are currently collaborating with the Ministries of Power and Petroleum Resources, the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission and all relevant stakeholders to find innovative ways of dealing with the legacy gas to power debt.

“This is to ensure that the international oil companies and other producers of gas can significantly increase the production and supply of gas to power plants across the country.”

At the event, Union Bank of Nigeria Plc with a total loan exposure of N4.17bn for 14,752 projects was decorated by the president as the best performing bank in the Agricultural Credit Guarantee Scheme.

Similarly, Sterling Bank Plc, with a total exposure of N6.16m in nine projects won the best performing bank in Commercial Agriculture Credit Scheme.

Based on the guidelines of the MSME fund, each state of the federation would be able to access the sum of N2bn which would be administered to beneficiaries at an interest rate of nine per cent.

Already, the apex bank had signed Memorandum of Understanding with governors from Delta, Akwa Ibom, Osun, Oyo, Bayelsa, Gombe, Zamfara, Enugu, Ondo and Benue state to access the fund.

Also, two per cent of the fund would be made available for economically active physically challenged entrepreneurs.


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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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