The power Distribution Companies (DisCos) has said that out of the N1.8 trillion so far injected into the power sector, they have only accessed N58 billion loan from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) N214bn loan facility, which is being repaid.
According to Executive Director, Research and Advocacy, Association of Nigerian Electricity Distributors (ANED), Barrister Sunday Odutan in a statement, the firms have never gotten any free money from the Federal Government.
He said this explanation is necessary to help in setting the records straight as there is a belief that power sector operators including the DisCos have been given N1.8trn free money by the Federal Government since the 2013 power sector privatisation.
At the opening session of a public hearing on “Power Sector Recovery Plan and the impact of COVID-19 Pandemic” by the Senate Committee on Power on Monday, the President of the Senate, Ahmed Lawan in his address said, “Government should not be giving free money. 1.8 trillion naira has been given to DisCos maybe in their books. The actual money might have been given to the GenCos.
“Government cannot afford to just spend money that you hardly understand why it is given and I will advise the Executive that next time, to give such money, bring it to the national Assembly for approval,” Lawan had said.
But ANED in the statement said only about three percent of the N1.8 trillion funding for the power sector has gone to the DisCos.
The association said CBN in 2014 provided N214bn Nigeria Electricity Market Stabilization Fund (NEMSF) but that the DisCos were only able to access N58bn of that till date, “and that is on the DisCos’ account books as collateral for our Letters of Credit (LC) which DisCos are repaying every month.”
The N214bn fund was not only for the DisCos but to all players in the power sector, including the GenCos, ANED said.
It noted that the federal Government gave the Payment Assurance Guarantee of N701.9bn to the GenCos in 2017 through the Nigeria Bulk Electricity Trading Plc (NBET) to help the power stations meet their gas obligations to sustain power generation.
Another N600bn was approved for the GenCos in 2019 through NBET for similar purposes. “However, the DisCos have only partaken in the N213bn NEMSF facility which is being deducted every month at source by CBN with about 10 percent interest rate for 10 years.”
ANED also reminded the government that at privatization, the N100bn commitment that was made by the government to cushion low pre-existing tariffs before commencement of tariff setting, was not implemented.
“The CBN NEMSF 1 fund was not a subsidy but a loan to address legacy gas debts and tariff shortfalls. The NEMSF Loans currently hamper DisCos’ balance sheets, worsened by the difference in Aggregate Technical, Commercial and Collection (ATC&C) loss as used in the Tariff Model in line with the reality.
“If the N100bn subsidy was given to DisCos, it would have reduced the liability of the DisCos for better services,” it noted.
The DisCos also decried cases of hardship caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. “As in other countries, recognition of hardship from COVID 19 should also be done by Nigeria. The Federal Government and its agents should embark on sensitization campaigns informing customers of the benefit of paying their bills and the need for cost reflective tariffs,” it advised.
Consolidated Hallmark Insures AtaraPay
Consolidated Hallmark Insurance Plc is providing cover to AtaraPay to enhance its escrow service in a way that can be trusted and reliable enough to take away the monetary bottlenecks and resolve every crisis during transactions.
The executive director of TrustPay Technologies Limited, Yemi Adebiyi, said the relationship with Consolidated Hallmark is a safe way to strike an equilibrium between customer and merchant credibility whilst eliminating fraud in the process.
He stated that the introduction of escrow service by African startups such as AtaraPay, Paylock and Truzo have come in handy in addressing the “issue of trust” between buyers and sellers in a way that promotes transparency and protects the interest of both parties.
“As an escrow service, AtaraPay protects the interest of both buyers and sellers by acting as a trusted third-party responsible for the collection of funds and only disburses funds when both parties are satisfied with the transaction. Their unique value proposition is that they limit the uncertainty of online sales and the risk of fraud,” he said.
“For AtaraPay, it goes beyond just solving the trust issue that hinders e-commerce. It hopes to serve as a commitment bridge between buyers and merchants with the aim of bringing about the end of the Cash on Delivery era.”
He pointed out that for merchants, the AtaraPay escrow payment service can enhance consumer confidence in a new company that does not yet have strong brand recognition, because they have total discretionary power to decide if the service offered or product delivered is satisfactory or not.
With the advent of growing internet businesses and tech entrepreneurs in Nigeria, many talented youths are being shortchanged due to inability for online buyers to trust the service they have to render. Examples include students, small business owners, freelancers and software developers that make money from selling online via social media or personal websites. For these crops of online savvy merchants, offering credible service isn’t their problem; finding a credible buyer online is.
In order to help build and maintain trust, AtaraPay was established as an online payment trust service in Nigeria. AtaraPay is a web and mobile tool used by seller and buyer for protection during any online or offline commercial transaction through funds held in escrow by a trusted third-party.
Private Schools Will Benefit From MSMEs Support Scheme – Osinbajo
Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo says private schools will benefit from the stimulus package the government of President Muhammadu Buhari has put in place for micro small and medium enterprises to cushion the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Speaking at the 2020 edition of the MSMEs awards which held virtually on Thursday, Osinbajo listed hotels and road transport workers among the beneficiaries.
Osinbajo said the survival fund would help provide payroll support to MSMEs with a minimum of 10 and maximum of 50 staff members.
“I am glad to note that this year has been an exception despite the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic. Locally, businesses are facing their most challenging time and the impact is particularly severe on MSMEs,” he said.
“The central plank of our response as a government to the economic challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic has been the Economic Sustainability Plan recently approved by President Muhammadu Buhari and the Federal Executive Council.
“In that plan which essentially envisages an overall N2.3 trillion stimulus package, we made extensive provision for financial support to MSMEs, ranging from a guaranteed off-take scheme to a survival fund that includes a payroll support programme for qualifying businesses.
“The guaranteed off-take scheme seeks to provide support for MSMEs, manufacturing local products by guaranteeing the purchase from them of qualifying products such as face masks, hand sanitisers, PPE for medical workers, etc.
“These products will be distributed to Nigerians, Nigerian institutions and entities that would require them.
“The survival fund will help provide payroll support to MSMEs with a minimum of 10 and maximum of 50 staff. The MSMEs that qualify for these will make available their payroll for verification by government.
“Companies that meet the requirements will then be eligible to have the salaries of their verified staff paid directly from the fund for a period of three months… the target beneficiaries of this scheme will include private schools, hotels, road transport workers, creative industries and others.”
He added that there is a N200bn fund which will be made available to MSMEs in the priority sectors such as healthcare, agro processing, creative industries, local oil and gas, aviation etc.
“This will be granted through a scheme jointly run by the BOI and NEXIM Bank especially for export expansion,” he said.
“The CBN is also committed to creating a N100bn target credit facility for MSMEs. Already the recently signed Finance Act already made provision for graduated company income tax rates with zero rates for small companies and a rate reduction for medium sized companies.”
He specially commended all those who have started businesses in Nigeria, no matter how small, describing them as champions.
“Every person who has taken it upon themselves to start a business in Nigeria no matter how small is a champion and we as a government owe it to you to create an enabling environment for you to thrive,” he said.
“This is President Muhammadu Buhari’s commitment to MSMEs in Nigeria that we will continue to stand by you and to support you and to create opportunities for you to grow and prosper.”
CBN Wants To Freeze Criminals’ Accounts
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has requested statutory powers to freeze accounts linked to criminals in the country.
The apex bank has also called for the creation of a Credit Tribunal to strengthen credit recovery processes and enforcement of collateral rights.
These positions were advanced, in Abuja, yesterday, at the Senate Committee Public Hearing on its Bill for an Act to Repeal the Banks and Other Financial Institutions Act (BOFIA) 2004 and re-enact the Banks and Other Financial Institutions Act 2020.
Mr Kofo Salam-Alada, CBN’s Director Legal Services, in his presentation told the lawmakers said that the 2004 BOFIA provided for the CBN Governor “to apply to the court for orders to freeze accounts which are deemed to be linked with criminal and other civil infractions.”
He noted, however, that in the new Bill, which has passed through the First and Second Readings, that provision was omitted, entirely.
“This omission he told the Senate “erodes the powers of the CBNand creates a huge gap in the regulatory and resolution framework. Therefore, we propose that the extant provisions should be reinstated,” Mr Salam-Alada pointed out.
On the Creation of Credit Tribunal, the director defended the position of the CBN, as according to him, such a tribunal would greatly enhance loan recovery in the nation’s banking industry.
“As part of measures to address the role of non-performing loans, we propose the creation of a Credit Tribunal. The overarching objective is to create an efficient regime for the recovery of eligible loans of banks and Other Financial Institutions (OFls) and enforcement of rights over collateral securities,” the director said.
On Dormant Accounts in banks, the CBN called for the inclusion of provisions to improve the administration of such accounts, adding, “such provisions should address such requirements as the criteria for determining dormancy, the processes for managing the funds in dormant accounts and procedure for reclaiming funds by beneficiaries.”
The apex bank called the inclusion in the Bill, statutory powers of the CBN to intervene in the process of managing a failing bank and bringing it back to sound financial health were possible.
The CBN urged a review of the framework for managing failing institutions in line with international standards to properly delineate roles for the agency tasked with managing failing banks and other financial institutions and those with responsibility for resolving banks and other financial institutions whose license has been revoked.
“In other words, the Central Bank of Nigeria does the former as provided in the BOFIA while NDIC is saddled with the latter under the NDIC Act. The global best practice is to have the banking legislation empower the Financial services industry regulator to regulate banks, promote their soundness and stability superintend issuance and revocation of operating licence without recourse to any other institution; while the Deposit insurer is in charge of bank resolution activities after the revocation of the operating licence,” the director said.
Mr Salam-Alada added: “There is a need to expand the options available to the CBN to resolve failing banks and manage the systemic crisis without recourse to the public treasury. In line with international best practices, we recommend the establishment of a resolution fund to pool resources for managing banking sector distress.
“We also recommend the adoption of additional resolution tools such as bail-in (ensuring that losses are absorbed by shareholders and creditors), sale of the business (allowing the resolution authority to sell all or part of the failing bank to a private acquirer) and asset separation (isolating the “bad” assets of the bank in an asset management vehicle for an orderly wind-down, if immediate liquidation is not justified in current market conditions).
“Several new types of licensed institutions have entered the Nigerian Financial Services sector since the enactment of the 1991 Act. These include the non-interest banks, credit bureaux, payment system service providers, among others. There is a compelling need to introduce new provisions in the Bill to address the unique peculiarities of these institutions.”
The Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC) agreed with the position of the CBN on the need to delineate the responsibilities of the two organizations in banking failure resolution.