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Ambode Hails Longrich for Siting Manufacturing Plant in Lagos

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Gov. Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State on Sunday said his administration had performed well.

NAN reports that the outgoing Lagos helmsman spoke at the pre-launch of a $50 million manufacturing plant in the Lekki Free Zone, belonging to Longrich, a Chinese firm.

He said that the facility was another success story of the efforts of the government in attracting investment and an eloquent confirmation of the strategic importance of the free trade zone to the state’s economy.

Ambode noted that no less than 25 companies had set up their manufacturing plants within the zone, saying that it was indeed gratifying that the efforts to drive investments were yielding positive results.

Ambode said that the most important thing to him was that whether in government or outside of government, factories were springing up in the zone, thereby creating job opportunities for the people and improving the economy of the state.

According to the Governor, one of the most fulfilling feelings in life was to see one’s efforts yielding positive results.

Ambode said: ”It gives me immense satisfaction to be here today to witness this pre-launch of Longrich Nigeria Manufacturing Plant to be located in the Lekki Free Zone in Lagos State, Nigeria.

”At the inception of this administration, one of our core focus areas was attracting investments to our state; to create employment opportunities for our people and wealth for our investors.

”Today’s event is one of those crowning moments that confirm that our efforts have been rewarded.”

He commended Longrich Group of Companies for the decision to site the $50million factory in Lagos of all the cities and countries in Africa, saying the state and the country stand to benefit immensely from the investment.

”I have been informed that this Lekki Longrich facility, upon completion, will not only be the hub for the distribution of the products to the African sub-region but will provide employment for at least 1,000 new workers in our state.

”It will boost the nation’s foreign exchange earnings from exportation of manufactured products to other African countries.

”If we go by the success story of Longrich in China and the company’s track record, there is no doubt that Longrich Nigeria will be modelled after the world class LONGLIQI Bio-Industrial Park in China which covers an area of more than 133 hectares and serves as location of LONGLIQI Bio-Science Co., Ltd,” Ambode said.

While describing the firm as a global brand with a range of top class quality products and unique business model, the governor lauded the fact that Longrich had created wealth for over 500,000 people.

These people, he added, were trading in more than 30 brands of the company, with the majority of the traders residing in the state.

Ambode assured the people that the state government would continue to play its role as business enablers, especially by providing the necessary infrastructure and services required to support all investors and businesses who decide to make Lagos their home.

”Our administration has embarked on massive and ambitious projects. We have introduced public sector reforms and policies aimed at making it easier to do business in our state.

”Our governmental institutions like the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Cooperatives, Office of Public Private Partnership and Office of Overseas Affairs and Investment are more than ever before, in the fore front of providing an enabling business environment for local and foreign investments to thrive.

These are just a few indicators to assure you of our commitment to securing not just Longrich’s investment in the South-West quadrant of Lekki Free Zone but to secure and attract more investments to our state,” he said.

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CBN Declares No Going Back on Cashless Policy, Says only 10% of Customers to Be Affected

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The Central Bank of Nigeria on Friday said it would continue to implement the cashless policy in line with its mandate to ensure an efficient payment system.

The CBN Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele, said this while briefing journalists shortly after the Monetary Policy Committee meeting.

He said that contrary to claims in some quarters that many Nigerians would suffer the negative impact of the policy, only about five to 10 per of bank customers would be affected.

The apex bank had in a circular to Deposit Money Banks stated that from Wednesday, September 18, it would impose three per cent processing fees on withdrawals and two per cent processing fees on lodgements of amounts above N500, 000 for individual accounts.

For corporate accounts, the apex bank in the circular said that DMBs would charge five per cent processing fees on withdrawals and three processing fee on lodgements of amounts above N3m.

The House of Representatives had on Thursday through a resolution directed the apex bank to suspend the policy.

But responding to the development, Emefiele said if the Nigerian economy was to compete effectively with those of developed countries, a payment system that encourages the use of non-cash channels was desirable.

He said that before the cashless policy was first inaugurated in 2012, a lot of stakeholder engagements were done to sensitise Nigerians on its benefits.

He said the policy was suspended in 2014 to allow more payment channels to be developed by Deposit Money Banks.

The governor said that since the policy was suspended, currency management cost had continued to increase year-on-year at an average annual growth rate of 33 per cent.

However, he said the bank had continued to provide alternative channels, adding that people had embraced it.

He said Point of Sale transactions had moved from N48bn in 2012 to N2.2tn while electronic transfer had moved from N3.8tn in 2012 to N80.46tn in 2018.

Emefiele said, “Since the policy was first launched, currency management costs have continued to increase year-on-year at an average annual growth rate of 33 per cent.

“Notwithstanding, electronic transactions have increased within the economy. We have provided alternative channels and people have embraced it.

“This is a strategic timing of these actions because on Monday, September 23rd, the mutual evaluation by GIABA (Inter-governmental Action Group Against Money Laundering in West Africa) on the country’s anti-money laundry and CFT (Combating Financing of Terrorism) regime will begin.

“Passing the mutual evaluation positions Nigeria as a safe and credible destination for financial transactions across the world.

“GIABA will be in Nigeria to access the rate at which Nigeria has embraced anti-money laundry and CFT regime. It is important that we display and show to them that Nigeria is indeed in conformity with their practices as enshrined in their anti-money laundry and CFA laws.”

The apex bank boss said if the CBN did not implement the cashless policy, credit cards owned by Nigerians might not be used abroad.

On the Value Added Tax, he said the MPC supported the decision of the Federal Government to increase the rate from five per cent to 7.5 per cent.

He said with Nigeria having one of the lowest VAT rate in the world, and faced with fiscal challenge, the best way to shore up revenue was to increase tax.

He said, “The MPC endorsed the increase in the VAT rate from five per cent to 7.5 per cent. The government has the responsibility to fend for everybody.

“In fending for everybody means that it has to spend money to provide infrastructure – roads, airports, different things that will improve the lives of its people.

“There are two ways through which government can fund these expenditures. It’s either it raises revenue or goes for debt. You all know that the government has been criticised that the debt stock is too high.

“You all know that government debt service ratios are too high. What that means is that your revenue is small because if your revenue is large, then your debt service ratios will be lower.”

He added, “If we say government should not borrow; then, government must raise revenue. If government must raise revenue and we think this is one way government can raise revenue to meet its obligation.”

Emefiele said while the decision to increase VAT might be painful to Nigerians, the benefit of such move far outweighed the cost.

On the Monetary Policy Rate, Emefiele said this was left unchanged at 13.5 per cent.

He explained that nine out of the 11 members that attended the meeting unanimously agreed to hold the monetary policy stance.

The governor said apart from the MPR that was retained at 13.5 per cent, the committee decided to hold the Cash Reserves Ratio at 22.5 per cent.

Also retained are the Liquidity Ratio, which was left at 30 per cent; and the Asymmetric Window which was left at +200 and -500 basis points around the MPR.

Explaining the rationale for the decision, he said the MPC felt compelled to review the options of whether to tighten, hold or loosen.

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CBN Introduces Charges on Deposits, Withdrawals Above N500, 000

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The Central Bank of Nigeria on Tuesday said that the nationwide implementation of the cashless policy will begin by March 2020.

The apex bank said this in a circular to all Deposit Money Banks in the country.

It said that implementation of the policy would signal the imposition of charges on deposits in addition to already existing charges on withdrawals.

According to the circular, the charges, which take effect from Wednesday (today) will attract three per cent processing fees for withdrawals and two per cent processing fees for lodgments of amounts above N500, 000 for individual accounts.

For corporate accounts, the apex bank in the circular said that DMBs would charge five per cent processing fees for withdrawals and three per cent processing fee for lodgments of amounts above N3, 000, 000.

The statement, however, disclosed that the charge on deposits would apply in Lagos, Ogun, Kano, Abia, Anambra, and Rivers States as well as the Federal Capital Territory.

It added that the implementation of the cashless policy would take effect from March 31, 2020.

To further promote the cashless policy and enhance the collection of applicable government revenues, the CBN also announced a review of the process for merchant settlement.

It added that with effect from Tuesday, September 17, the CBN had given approval for banks to unbundle merchant settlement amounts and charge applicable taxes and duties on individual transactions as stipulated by regulations.

A statement signed by the Director, Payments System Management Department, CBN, Sam Okojere, said a downward review of the Merchant Service Charge had been approved.

It said henceforth, the charges had been reduced from 0.75 per cent capped at N1, 200 to 0.50 per cent capped at N1, 000.

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Buhari Sacks Osinbajo’s Team, Appoints Soludo, Others in New Economic Team

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President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday replaced the Economic Management Team (EMT) headed by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo with an Economic Advisory Council (EAC).

The new EAC, which reports directly to the president, will be chaired by an economist, Prof. Doyin Salami.

Buhari’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity Femi Adesina in a statement said the EAC would advise the president on economic policy matters, including fiscal analysis, economic growth and a range of internal and global economic issues, working with the relevant cabinet members and heads of monetary and fiscal agencies.

He said the council, which is expected to assist the president in the development of critical policies, would hold monthly sessions.

Other members of the council are: Dr. Mohammed Sagagi (vice chairman), Prof. Ode Ojowu (member), Dr. Shehu Yahaya (member), Dr. Iyabo Masha (member), Prof. Chukwuma Soludo (member), Mr. Bismark Rewane (member), and Dr. Mohammed Adaya Salisu (secretary).

Adesina said: “This advisory council will replace the current EMT and will be reporting directly to the president. The EAC will have monthly technical sessions as well as scheduled quarterly meetings with the president. The chairman may, however, request unscheduled meetings if the need arises.”

Membership of the disbanded EMT, chaired by Osinbajo, had the following members: Minister of Finance; Minister of Budget and National Planning; Minister of State for Budget and National Planning; Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment; Minister of Agriculture; Minister of Information and Culture; Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria; Special Adviser to the President on Economic Matters; Director-General of the Budget Office; Director-General of the Debt Management Office; and Director-General of the National Bureau of Statistics.

The team met weekly at the State House.

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