The CBN lent commercial banks in the country a total of ₦19.64 trillion in 2019. Data from the regulator shows that this is a 73 percent increase compared to the ₦11.36 trillion the banks borrowed in 2018. This has raised concerns among analysts following the rising liquidity problems in the financial services sector and after the World Bank warned the CBN against supporting undercapitalised banks indefinitely. Commercial banks through the CBN Standing Lending Facility window borrowed ₦7.43 trillion between July and December 2019 as against ₦4.5 trillion borrowed in 2018, an increase of 65 percent, which analysis of the data showed. The banks borrowed N8.66 trillion from the regulator in the first quarter of 2019; ₦3.55 trillion in the second quarter; ₦6.11 trillion in Q3; and ₦1.3 trillion in the Q4. The commercial banks and merchant banks continued to access the CBN SLF window to square-up their financial position in 2019, top bank executives told Punch. The trend at the CBN’s SLF window showed more patronage while the Standing Deposit Facility declined as commercial banks strive to meet the regulator’s 65 percent Loan to Deposit Ratio policy. According to financial services executives, banks with more liquidity problems appear to frequent the CBN SLF window than those with fewer challenges. The report further showed that during the Q4 of last year, the commercial banks borrowed ₦2.8 trillion from the CBN, representing a 29 percent decline from ₦3.96 trillion borrowed in the Q4’18. Meanwhile, the Monetary Policy Committee on 26 March 2019 voted to reduce Monetary Policy Rate to 13.5 percent from 14.00 percent, applicable to the SLF interest rate of 15.50 percent as against 16 percent in 2018.
The Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, has said that the FG is analysing the Western Nigeria Security Network, set up by the umbrella of the South-West governors in the country, and would make its position known soon. This is coming on the heels of controversies that have greeted the new security outfit code-named ‘Operation Amotekun’. The Nigeria Bar Association has, however, advised the South-West governors and other drivers of Amotekun to publish the operation manual of the security initiative, a move it said would clarify all grey areas about its constitutionality. Some Senior Advocates of Nigeria have declared their support for the security initiative saying they have upheld the constitution of the country. The leadership of the Indigenous People of Biafra also commended the South-west governors for seizing the initiative to protect their people, unlike their South-east counterparts. The Northern Youths Council of Nigeria, however, faulted the creation of Amotekun, claiming it is not different from the outlawed IPOB and can be described as the military wing of the Oodua Peoples Congress.
Groups of oil marketers in Nigeria have given the FG an ultimatum to fully deregulate the downstream sector of the country’s petroleum industry and begin the process of increasing marketers’ margin from the sale of petrol, or risk a collapse of the industry. This confrontation is expected to trigger another round of fuel crisis in the country. A spokesperson for one of the oil marketing groups told the Vanguard that from the present arrangement in the fuel trading business, where the NNPC, is the sole importer of petrol, marketers are currently not making any profit from the sales of the commodity. He said that increasing oil marketers’ take, listed as Trader’s Margin in the petrol pricing template would lead to an increase in the price of petrol if other variables were left constant in the template. Deregulating the downstream petroleum industry would trigger a rise in fuel price, as the current template of the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency puts the expected open market of PMS at ₦179.50 per litre, he added. This indicates that the FG is paying ₦34.50 as subsidy per litre of petrol. According to the spokesman, the newly introduced ₦50 Point of Sale charge by the government was negatively affecting oil marketers and if not removed, would force many oil marketing companies to close shop. The country enjoyed uninterrupted fuel supply during the festive period because oil marketers agreed to work with the FG in that regard, he added.
MTN Nigeria has announced the attorney general’s decision to withdraw a $2 billion tax demand against it. The firm, in a letter filed with the Nigerian Stock Exchange, said the government had decided to drop its case and refer the issue to tax and customs authorities “with a view to resolving contentious issues.” MTN Nigeria’s CEO, Ferdi Moolman, said they are very pleased with the decision of the government in the case which critics had said damaged Nigeria’s appeal to foreign investors. Attorney-General, Abubakar Malami, had ruled that the firm owed taxes relating to the import of equipment and payments to foreign suppliers from 2007 to 2017. Shares in MTN Group, which Nigeria is its biggest market, with roughly 60 million users, rose by more than 4 percent after the announcement. The firm, whose local unit listed on the NSE last year, has said it would sell more shares to the public and increase local ownership once the tax row is resolved.