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Naira Appreciates to N1,474/$ At Official Rate Despite Parallel Market Drop

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The Nigerian currency, the Naira, strengthened its position against the US dollar and other major currencies in the foreign exchange market on Friday, according to data from FMDQ Securities Exchange.

The Naira closed at N1,474.62 per US dollar on Friday, up from N1,479.47 on Wednesday, marking a 0.6 percent or N9.5 increase. This was also higher than the N1,433.89 recorded on Tuesday.

However, the Naira lost some ground compared to Monday, when it opened the trading week at N1,419.86 per US dollar.

The Naira also weakened in the parallel market, where it fell to N1,490 per US dollar on Friday, down from N1,440 on Thursday.

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Olayemi Cardoso, assured the public of the stability of the exchange rate when he met with the Senate Joint Committee on Banking, Insurance and Financial Institutions in Abuja on Friday.

He said the CBN was committed to implementing the ‘Financial Markets Price Transparency and Market Notice of a revision to the FMDQ FX Market Rate Pricing Methodology’ and other reforms that were introduced two weeks ago, which boosted the Naira to N1,500 per US dollar from N891.

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SIM-NIN linkage: Blocked lines rise to 40 million

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No fewer than 40 million telephone lines were barred by telecommunication operators over the weekend following the expiration of the February 28, 2024 deadline issued by the Nigerian Communications Commission mandating telecom consumers to link the Subscriber Identity Module to their National Identity Numbers.

This represents a 28 million increase from the 12 million telephone lines initially planned to be deactivated by telcos, following the NCC directive.

In a December 2023 notice, the NCC had asked telcos to bar SIMs that had not been linked to their owners’ NINs by February 28, 2024.

On Thursday, the NCC Director of Public Affairs, Reuben Mouka, ruled out an extension of the deadline, warning that telcos that failed to enforce the deadline would be sanctioned.

The Chairman of the Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria, Gbenga Adebayo, then disclosed to The PUNCH telcos would bar 12 million lines as a result of the directive.

However, on Sunday, the ALTON chair revealed that the number of barred lines had risen to 40 million, pointing out that SIMs without NIN were included in the number.

In an exclusive interview with The PUNCH, Adebayo said, “I can tell you that over 40 million lines have been blocked and the affected customers are those who didn’t submit their NIN at all. Some persons have not presented any NIN to operators. They haven’t registered their SIMs or participated in the harmonisation programme.

They simply haven’t made any presentation of the NIN number to their operators and those were the persons blocked. So why is the number so alarming despite repeated warnings? It shows many people still communicate but are not registered.”

In the December 2023 notice, the NCC had also asked the Global Satellite Mobile Communications operators to bar SIMs holders whose NINs have been submitted but not verified by March 29, 2024; and interdict those who have less than five lines linked to an unverified NIN by April 15, 2024.

The Federal Government had, on December 16, 2020, introduced the SIM-NIN synchronisation initiative meant to enable security agencies to track criminals.

The synchronisation involves validating the NIN with the National Identity Management Commission and matching the subscriber’s NIN records with the SIM registration information (verification) to ensure proper subscriber identification.

However, Nigerians have raised questions on why security agencies have not used the SIM-NIN linkage to track criminals, especially bandits and kidnappers, who often use mobile telephone lines to speak with victims’ families during ransom negotiations.

Presently, there are 224.7 million active mobile telephone lines in the country, according to the information released by the NCC on its website.

On Sunday, the ALTON chairman did not give the breakdown of subscribers or SIMs that were deactivated by telcos over the weekend.

He said, “No, we currently don’t have the breakdown of disconnected lines per network right now but I know over 40 million lines have been deactivated.”

Adebayo further hinted that another series of disconnections would be implemented by the end of the month and mid April.

Adebayo said, “The second tier of disconnections that will happen are those who have provided NIN but have more than five Mobile Subscription Identification Numbers associated with their NIN, and these have not been verified.

This is because some have differences in the order of their names, and some have differences in their date of birth.

The information provided to the operator when they did the SIM registration is different from what they provided (to NIMC) when they did their NIN. Some subscribers also have some differences in other records that are very critical to their verification process.

“So these people who have more than five MSINs attached to their NIN and haven’t been verified will be disconnected effective March 30, 2024. So we may have more disconnections happening by the end of this month.

If somebody has given a name that has not been verified and has been receiving text messages to verify and they haven’t done that, by March 30th, those people will be disconnected and the figures will further increase.”

He explained, “There are two sources of data-primary and secondary. During the first registration process, the customer’s information is on-boarded to a server when everyone did the SIM registration but the secondary record is for details given during NIN. Hence your primary record has to be uniform with the secondary data across the platforms before you can be verified.

“Furthermore, for those who have less than five MSINs, by April 15th, they will be disconnected if they don’t harmonise their records before then. So we are going to go through a series of disconnections or service suspensions over the next two months if people don’t follow the laid down regulations.”

Reacting, the President, National Association of Telecoms Subscribers, Adeolu Ogunbanjo, has said the body will seek redress in court on Thursday if the deadline is not extended.

Adeolu, who confirmed that the number of barred subscribers was above 12 million earlier indicated, asked the NCC to consider the plight of customers and grant a 31-day extension.

In an interview with The PUNCH on Sunday, he said, “We have appealed to the Nigerian Communication Commission to extend the deadline till March 31st. But if this is not done, we will observe the situation for the next three days, that is Monday to Wednesday and if this is not granted, we will have to file a case in court on Thursday.

“We have and still appealing that this deadline be extended. We understand their position concerning security issues but a 31-day extension would not harm anyone and that is why we didn’t ask for three months. The NCC boss should please give us this gift as a resumption gift and not punish subscribers.”

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MPC: FG fights inflation as CBN mops up N5trn

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Efforts by the Federal Government to curb the rising inflation will lead to N5 trillion cash mop up from the banking industry as the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN implements the hike in banks’ Cash Reserve Ratio, CRR to 45 per cent.

The CRR which represents banks’ cash reserves for purposes of meeting cash obligations on demand was moved from 32.5 percent to 45 percent in apparent bid to curtail inflation.

Meanwhile, Financial Vanguard learnt that the apex bank is now working with some foreign portfolio investors, FPIs, to address concerns over recent reforms introduced in the foreign exchange market as well as the 400 basis points hike in the Monetary Policy Rate, MPR.

This is one of the outcomes of a virtual meeting, tagged Foreign Portfolio Investors Call, organised in collaboration with NGX Group, which was addressed by the CBN Governor, Mr. Olayemi Cardoso, Deputy Governor, Economic Policy, Mohammad Abdullahi, and moderated by the Group Managing Director/ CEO of NGX Group, Mr. Temi Popoola.

While speaking at the meeting with FPIs in response to inquiries about the impact of the hike on banking system liquidity, CBN Deputy Governor Abdullahi said that the banking system has a shortfall of N5 trillion to meet the 45 per cent CRR.

He, however, said that the apex bank will not debit the banks N5 trillion at once adding that the apex bank will implement the new CRR in a way that will not be disruptive to the industry. He disclosed prior the MPC decision, the effective CRR for the industry was close to 40 per cent.

He added some banks already have surpassed the 45 per cent CRR and they would be refunded the excess while banks with shortfall will have build up their cash reserves. Excess liquidity The estimated N5.0trillion which represented the outstanding system liquidity in excess of the initial CRR range is expected to impact the liquidity of many banks adversely.

Financial Vanguard learnt the decision to tighten came against the backdrop of deanchored inflationary trend which rose to 29.9 percent yearon- year, the highest since return to democracy in 1999. But financial analysts project the inflation rate would remain elevated in the near-term amid persisting exchange rate pressure, rising energy cost, and sustained fiscal imbalances.

In defending the huge jump in MPR and CRR, the CBN Governor, Yemi Cardoso, highlighted the disruptive impact of deficit financing to the Federal Government by Ways & Means, and also the direct intervention of the apex bank in the real sector which is estimated in excess of ¦ 10.0 trillion.

He also noted the structural inefficiencies within the foreign exchange market, and the need to collaborate strongly with fiscal authorities to effectively manage non-money factors. Analysts’ recommendations Commenting on this development, analysts at Afrinvest West Africa, a Lagos based investment house, said: “We suggest that in addressing inefficiencies, the apex bank prioritises the use of policy to minimise distortions and should remain focused on improving supply rather than countering the symptoms of illiquidity.

“In assessing impact on markets, we anticipate an immediate and strong bearish repricing of fixed-income yields especially on short-dated bills. “Furthermore, expectations of higher interest environment over the near-term coupled with liquidity squeeze amid costlier Standing Lending Facility (SLF) access should strengthen bearish sway”.

Free entry, exit for FPIs Meanwhile, Cardoso assured the FPIs of free entry and exit from the forex market. He added that the focus of the apex bank is to ensure stability of the exchange rate and ensure reasonable price discovery.

He also reiterated commitment of the CBN to achieving price stability adding that the MPC members are unanimous on the need to tame rising inflation and the 400 basis points hike in MPR is a strong signal to this effect. Cardoso assured the FPIs on policy consistency adding that the various measures introduced by the CBN in the forex market were product of extensive debate and strong conviction that is the right direction to go.

Higher interest rates in TBs Speaking further at the meeting, Abdullahi assured the FPIs the CBN will from today review upward interest rate on Treasury bills, TBs, in tandem with the hike in MPR. He further disclosed that from today, the CBN will increase frequency and size of Open Market Operations, TBs, to expedite liquidity mop up and provide instruments for FPIs to invest.

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CBN gives major reason for revoking over 4,000 operational licenses of BDCs

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CBN has revealed the major reason why the apex bank revoked 4,173 Bureau De Change operators’ licences.

Naijablitznews.com reports that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on Friday revoked the licences of 4,173 Bureau De Change operators over their failure to meet regulatory guidelines.

This online news platform understands that the apex bank disclosed this in a statement by its acting Director, Corporate Communications, Sidi Hakama.

This means there will now be 1,517 operational BDCs from the initial 5,690.

In the CBN statement, Hakama said the licence withdrawal was in exercise of the powers conferred on the apex bank by the Bank and Other Financial Institutions Act, 2020, Act No. 5, and the Revised Operational Guidelines for Bureaux De Change, 2015.

The statement read in part, “The Central Bank of Nigeria, in the exercise of the powers conferred on it under the Bank and Other Financial Institutions Act, 2020, Act No. 5, and the Revised Operational Guidelines for Bureaux De Change, 2015, has revoked the licences of 4,173 Bureaux De Change Operators.

 

“The list of affected BDC operators is available on the Bank’s website (www.cbn.gov.ng).”

It added that the affected institutions failed to observe at least one of the regulatory provisions.

According to the statement, the regulatory provisions include payment of all necessary fees, including licence renewal, within the stipulated period.

It added, “The affected institutions failed to observe at least one of the following regulatory provisions: Payment of all necessary fees, including licence renewal, within the stipulated period in line with the guidelines.

“Rendition of returns in line with the guidelines; compliance with guidelines, directives, and circulars of the CBN, particularly Anti-Money Laundering, Countering the Financing of Terrorism and Counter-Proliferation Financing regulations.

“The CBN is revising the regulatory and supervisory guidelines for Bureau de Change operations in Nigeria. Compliance with the new requirements will be mandatory for all stakeholders in the sector when the revised guidelines become effective.

“Members of the public are hereby advised to take note and be guided accordingly.”

 

Recall that the CBN had recently introduced a draft guideline for BDC operations across the country.

Major provisions introduced in the guidelines include the introduction of N2bn minimum share capital for Tier-1 BDCs, limiting buying and selling of forex in cash by BDCs to $500, and $10,000-year limit for school fees, among others.

Reacting to the development, the Chief Executive Officer of the Centre for the Promotion of Private Enterprise, Dr Muda Yusuf, applauded the move to regulate the operations of the BDCs.

He said, “Definitely, revoking the licences of non-operational BDCs is the appropriate thing to do now. It is the right move because the previous number was difficult to manage and unwieldy.”

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