President Buhari has signed a new law that empowers the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria to put the bank accounts of its debtors under supervision. This comes after the vice president Yemi Osinbajo set up a task force, on 31 June, with a mandate to devise strategies to recover the ₦5 trillion owed AMCON. AMCON’s chairman, Muiz Banire had said 20 individuals and companies owe 67% of the ₦5 trillion debt. Ita Enang, Buhari’s aide on national assembly matters, said the signed law, AMCON (amendment) Act, 2019, empowers the corporation to access the financial details of any of its debtors through any computer system component, electronic or mechanical device with a view to establishing the location of funds belonging to the debtor. He said, quoting the new law, banking secrecy, and the protection of a financial institution’s customer confidentiality is not a ground for the denial of the power of the corporation under the section. Enang added that all money standing to the credits of the corporation in any bank account is deemed to be in the custody and control of the corporation, according to the law.
The NCC has ordered all mobile network operators in the country to bring down their USSD charges to no more than ₦4.89 per session. The NCC said the order, which will take effect from 1 September, is a deviation from the current practice where the network operators negotiate the cost with financial service providers to arrive at what the consumers pay for mobile USSD services. The agency waded into the matter and issued orders on how digital financial services should be done with the aim of issuing new guidelines for licensing finance and getting more Nigerians into the government’s financial inclusion plans by reducing the cost of digital financial services. USSD is a service that allows mobile phone users to interact with a remote application from their device in real-time. All financial institutions in the country are using the USSD to offer services such as fund transfer, checking account balance, buying airtime, etc., which the customers pay for. According to a regulatory document titled, ‘Determination of USSD Pricing,’ issued by the NCC and which is binding on all MNOs, the MNOs from September are to charge maximum of ₦4.89 and minimum of ₦1.63 for a USSD session. While noting that one of the widest uses of the USSD platform is for delivery of digital financial services, NCC said the USSD charge was just one of the many cost components of DFS.
Data from the United States Department of Agriculture shows that Nigeria imported $1.4 billion (about ₦504 billion) worth of palm oil in the past five years. The global import data said that the country imported a total of 2.04 million tonnes of palm oil between 2014 and the first few months of 2019. The breakdown of the report showed that Nigeria imported 506,000 tonnes valued at $376.3 million in 2014 and 263,000 tonnes valued at $174.4 million in 2015. The country in 2016, imported 298,000 tonnes of the seed oil worth $219.2 million while in 2017, 302,000 tonnes valued at $226.7 million were imported. 330,000 tonnes of palm oil valued at $210.7 million was imported into the West Africa country, in 2018, while the first few months of 2019 witnessed the importation of 350,000 tonnes valued at $239.4 million. During the five-year span, average global price for palm oil ranged between $743.7 per tonne and $683.9/tonne. Nigeria imports palm oil from Malaysia in Asia and Cote d’Ivoire, Benin, which makes up for supply shortfall of over 1.42 million tonnes. Local consumption is put at 2.4 million tonnes while local production is put at 980,000 tonnes as of 2018. The CBN had in June blacklisted palm oil among imports not eligible for official foreign exchange as concern about the huge forex spent on importation of the commodity rose. The move by the monetary regulator is an effort to cause a boost in the local production of palm oil.
The ongoing construction at the Dangote oil refinery in Lagos will not be finished until the end of 2020 due to problems importing steel and other equipment for the facility, Dangote Group Executive Director, Devakumar Edwin, told Reuters. Africa’s largest oil refinery upon completion is expected to produce 650,000 barrel per day to help address the country’s challenge of oil production leading to the importation of virtually all its fuel due to moribund and underutilised refineries. An executive at the Dangote said the company could start using the refinery’s tank farms as a depot to warm-up operations despite the delays at the congested Apapa and Tin Can Island Ports in Lagos. The company expects fuel production within two months of completion of the refinery, which could transform Africa’s biggest crude producer from a fuel importer into a net exporter, upending global trade patterns. Aliko Dangote, who built his fortune on cement, first announced a smaller refinery in 2013, to be finished in 2016. Dangote then moved the site to Lekki, in Lagos, upgraded the size and said production would start in early 2020. Industry sources told Reuters last year that fuel output was unlikely before 2022.