Nigeria imports N165 billion fruit juice annually – MAN

Nigeria spends N165 billion annually to import fruit juice, the president of the Manufacturers’ Association of Nigeria (MAN), Frank Jacobs, has said.

In a paper presented at a workshop organised by the Raw Materials Research and Development Council (RMRDC) in Owerri on Friday, Mr. Jacobs noted that in spite of the high rate of fruit production and a thriving juice market, the country imported fruits concentrates.

In the paper entitled “Promoting Investments in Concentrate Production’’, he said the situation resulted in an estimated loss of one billion dollars annually.

Mr. Jacobs, represented by Nwabueze Anyanwu, observed that Nigerian farmers also lost 60 per cent of their produce as a result of lack of processing facilities.

He listed other factors to include limited demand and logistics challenges such as handling and transporting the fruits to the urban centres.

“Importation of concentrates has adversely affected local fruits cultivation for juice processing,’’ the MAN president said.

He also said that the continued dependence on massive importation of concentrates by industries was not healthy for the nation’s economy.

He said that the availability of raw materials, a large market, a ready domestic concentrate and good export potentials should serve as incentives to attract

Jacobs said that the challenge of poor concentrates in the country could be overcome with improved high-yield seedlings, technology and technical services and better education and enlightenment for farmers.

He urged the government to ensure policy consistency to avoid a repetition of policy summersaults of yester-years.

The workshop was organised in collaboration with the Imo state Polytechnic, Umuagwo. (NAN)

Nigeria’s Credit Rating Downgraded by Moody

The credit ratings of Nigeria and Angola, Africa’s two biggest oil producers, were among four countries downgraded by Moody’s Investors Service, citing the negative impact depressed oil prices have had on these governments’ balance sheets, liquidity and creditworthiness.

Nigeria and Gabon were cut to B1 from Ba3 as “the prospect of lower-for-longer oil prices” raises liquidity risks and external vulnerability, according to statements released by the ratings firm on Friday. Angola was lowered to B1 and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to B2 from B1 on similar concerns about the countries’ high dependence on oil, constraining their financing options, Moody’s said.

The moves mark the end of a review Moody’s began on March 4 for possible downgrades of more than 10 oil producing nations, as it assessed the impact of the selloff in oil. Russia and Azerbaijan’s ratings were affirmed while Kazakhstan and Trinidad and Tobago were downgraded to Baa3. Decisions are pending for Abu Dhabi, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Qatar and Papua New Guinea.

The collapse in commodity prices has forced governments to trim the spending that has helped fuel their economic growth over the past decade. Fiscal deficits are on the rise as these countries increase borrowing to make up for the shortfall in revenue.

In contrast to the other three African nation, Nigeria was issued a stable outlook on confidence in the country’s credit fundamentals when compared to its peers, Moody’s said in the statement.

Source: Bloomberg

We’ll use recovered money to create jobs for youths – Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday said his administration was determined to recover money stolen by former public officers to create jobs for the nation’s teeming unemployed youths.

The President said this at the NYSC Permanent Orientation Camp, Gbakuta, Iseyin, Oyo State, during the swearing-in of Batch `A’ corps members posted to the state.

Buhari, whose speech was read by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Youths and Sport, Mrs Ololade Agboola, said recovered funds would be used to create jobs.

“One of the disturbing problems inherited by this administration is increasing unemployment amongst young people.

“In fact, the unemployment situation has taken a great toll on the Nigeria youths at their prime productive ages.

“That is why this administration is anxious to recover illicit wealth to channel them into productive economic ventures to absorb thousands into employment’’, he said.

He said government was aware of rejection of corps members, infrastructure deficit at the orientation camps, and dwindling resources as some challenges facing the NYSC.

“I have been informed that these problems have persisted due to monumental growth in graduate population and inadequate corresponding resource provisions.

“These seemingly intimidating obstacles should not dampen your zeal to make the desired sacrifice to serve your fatherland as government is prepared to address these problems’’, he said.

The President implored corps members to settle down quickly and learn about ideals of life while contributing their quota to national unity. Coordinator of NYSC in the state, Mrs Funmilola Akin-Moses, said the camp, which opened on Wednesday, had registered 1,692 corps members.

According to her, the figure comprises 732 male and 960 female corps members. She said corps members would be exposed to various courses and training during the three-week orientation.

Source: Vanguard

Nigerian interbank rate falls on budget, treasury bill funds

LAGOS, April 29 (Reuters) – Nigeria’s overnight interbank rate eased to an average of 3 percent on Friday from 5 percent last week after banking system liquidity rose thanks to the March distribution of oil revenues to government agencies and the maturation of treasury bills.

Africa’s biggest economy, Nigeria distributes revenue from its crude exports among its three tiers of government – federal, states and local. A portion of state and local government revenues pass through the banking system.

Traders said that about 200 billion naira ($1.01 billion) in budget allocations were injected into the banking system on Monday, while 96.36 billion naira in matured treasury bills reached the system on Thursday, increasing liquidity and forcing down the cost of borrowing among commercial lenders.

The level of liquidity in the banking system was raised as well by additional cash inflow from a cash call payment to joint crude oil production partners by the government during the week.

Traders, however, said the central bank issued a series of treasury bills to mop up excess liquidity in the system, curbing inflation and reducing the negative impact on forex demand.

The central bank floated open market operations treasury bills worth 105.27 billion naira from the banking system twice in the week to get rid of excess liquidity. It also debited banks for cash reserves ratio of about 16.2 billion naira.

“Even with the cash withdrawals by the central bank through OMO auction and CRR debit, the market remains liquid and able to support lending activities at the 3 percent level next week,” one dealer said.

Traders said the liquidity level stood at around 454 billion naira on Friday, compared with 232.85 billion naira last week.

The interbank rate, which reflects the level of naira cash liquidity in the banking system, is expected to remain broadly stable next week because of expected lower cash outflow from the system, traders said.

OPEC oil output near record high in April as Iran, Iraq growth offsets outages

By Alex Lawler

LONDON, April 29 (Reuters) – OPEC’s oil output rose in April to close to the highest level in recent history, a Reuters survey found on Friday, as production increases led by Iran and Iraq more than offset a strike in Kuwait and other outages.

Top exporter Saudi Arabia, however, made no major change to output, the survey found, despite the kingdom hinting it could boost supply after OPEC and non-member nations failed to agree to freeze output at a meeting on April 17.

Oil has rebounded more than 75 percent from a 12-year low in January to reach $48 a barrel, helped by the freeze initiative and signs that lower prices are starting to curb higher-cost supply, despite high inventories and other persistent reminders of a glut.

“The market is massively oversupplied,” said Eugen Weinberg, analyst at Commerzbank in Frankfurt. “This rally doesn’t have strong legs.”

Supply from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries rose to 32.64 million barrels per day (bpd) this month, from 32.47 million bpd in March, according to the survey, based on shipping data and information from sources at oil companies, OPEC and consultants.

That almost matches January’s 32.65 million bpd, when Indonesia’s return as an OPEC member boosted production and output from the other 12 members was the highest in Reuters survey records, starting in 1997.

OPEC output has surged since it abandoned in 2014 its historic role of cutting supply to prop up prices, led by higher supply from Saudi Arabia and Iraq.

Iran saw the sharpest increase in production in April after Western sanctions were lifted in January. Tehran, which wants to recover the market share it lost, has refused to limit its supply until it reaches pre-sanctions output.

At 3.40 million bpd, Iranian output is within sight of the 3.50 million bpd it pumped at the end of 2011 before sanctions were tightened, according to Reuters surveys. However, some of the crude may have come from storage, giving a temporary boost to April supply, sources said.

Iraq, which saw the fastest growth in production in OPEC in 2015, also raised output. Southern exports have risen to what may be a new record in April – depending on whether tankers loading at the end of the month are treated as April or May. Shipments of Kurdish crude from the north also rose.

OPEC’s third-largest supply increase in April came from the United Arab Emirates, following the end of maintenance work on oilfields that produce Murban crude.

Of the countries that reduced output, the largest decline was in Kuwait due to a three-day workers’ strike which temporarily more than halved oil output and curbed refinery operations.

Nigerian output fell due to the continued lack of Forcados crude exports and a brief disruption to shipments of another stream, Brass River. Repairs on a pipeline to the Forcados terminal will take until June, the government said.

Loading problems, power failures and other problems dented Venezuela’s supply by an estimated 40,000 bpd. Oil services firm Schlumberger is cutting activity in the cash-strapped nation, posing a threat to future output.

Saudi Arabia kept output steady compared with March, sources in the survey said, even though use in domestic power plants is rising. Saudi production was estimated at 10.15 million bpd versus 10.18 million in March.

“Exports are lower,” said a source who monitors Saudi output. “The month is not over yet so let’s wait for the final number, but that’s what I am seeing here and now.”

OPEC meets on June 2 in Vienna and may discuss the freeze initiative again. However, OPEC officials have been encouraged by the price recovery, which may take the urgency out of a renewed attempt to forge a deal.

Source: Reuters

Nigeria’s forex reserves down 2.68 percent to $27.14b in April

Nigeria’s foreign exchange reserve account fell by 2.68 percent to $27.14 billion as of April 27 from a March, when they were 27.87 billion, Central Bank data exposed on Friday.

The reserves account also declined by 5.55 percent from $29.51 billion a year ago.

Lower oil prices and increasing demand for imported goods has depleted the foreign reserves of Africa’s largest economy, with the central bank adopting fixed exchange rate to protect further depletion of its reserves.

Earlier this month, Nigeria agreed to the frame work of a Naira-Yuan swap that will see the nation’s reserves diversified to include the Chinese renminbi

Oil prices hit new 2016 highs despite lingering excess

Brent crude reached fresh 2016 highs on Friday and was poised for its biggest monthly gain in seven years as a weak dollar and falling U.S. production tempered concerns about a lingering excess of physical oil.

A looming rise in Middle East output capped gains, but investor sentiment held the optimism that has helped lift oil futures nearly 80 percent higher than January lows.

Brent crude futures rose 12 cents to $48.26 a barrel by 8:20 a.m. ET (1220 GMT). U.S. crude was up 46 cents at $46.49 a barrel, with both contracts hitting fresh 2016 highs.

Investment bank Jeffries on Friday said the market “is coming into better balance” and would flip into undersupply in the second half of the year.

“Global spare capacity is now 2 million barrels per day (bpd), or about 2 percent of global demand. This is a precariously low level,” it added.

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Govs want funds in Excess Crude Account shared – Punch

By Olalekan Adetayo, Abuja

The 36 state governors have told President Muhammadu Buhari to approve the sharing of funds in the Excess Crude Account among the three tiers of government in order to improve the liquidity position of the states.

Currently, the ECA, which was set up when crude oil price was above $100 per barrel to save anything above the budget benchmark price in a special account for use in lean period, currently has a balance of $2.259bn.

The governors, under the aegis of Nigeria Governors Forum, made the request at the Presidential Villa, Abuja on Thursday during a meeting with the President on the current economic crisis facing the states, which has culminated in the inability of the state governments to pay workers’ salaries.

The Chairman of the forum and Zamfara State Governor, Abdulaziz Yari, and Governor Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna State, who chaired the committee that worked on a fiscal restructuring plan submitted to the President at the meeting, asked the Federal Government to do more to help the states financially.

The governors told the President that while they had resolved to take other measures to boost their states’ Internally-Generated Revenue, the implementation of the plan would help them to deal with the funding problems on short, medium and long-term bases.

They said if the plan was adopted and implemented by the Federal Government, the states would become more financially empowered to fulfil their constitutional responsibilities.

In an interview with State House correspondents, Yari said it was the governors’ decision at the NGF meetings that they should meet with the President to table their demands.

He said the states were still facing financial challenges despite the fact that they had received supports from the Federal Government in terms of bailouts, debt restructuring and sharing of 15 per cent of funds in the ECA.

Describing the past supports as temporary measures, the governor said the forum presented short, medium and long-term measures to Buhari, adding that the President accepted the proposals and announced plans to set up a committee to look at the matters, starting with the short-term proposals.

The governors also asked for an 18-month moratorium on their loans.

Yari said, “For the short-term, we are looking at a situation whereby our debts that are hanging from 2005 right from Obasanjo’s exit of the Paris Club are paid. There are some money that was not paid before. If it is paid, states that are having difficulties can get money from there.

“We are also looking at loan restructuring, bailout and the ECA. We are asking for an 18-month moratorium before we can start paying, so that we will able to strategise.

“To develop the IGR is not overnight, it is a long-term programme that one has to plan for. Also, our service has exploded and there is nothing we can do about it because people are getting their daily bread from there and we cannot say we are going to cut salaries and wages.”

The NGF chairman also said some states had committed their resources to some Federal Government’s projects like roads and airports.

He said a committee set up to look into the issue had been urged to hasten the process so that requests could be presented to the President for relief.

Buhari expressed concern that two-thirds of the 36 states of the federation were still having difficulties with the payment of their workers’ salaries.

He said the situation had become an issue of great concern for him because it had persisted despite the bailout provided for the states by the Federal Government.

According to a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, Buhari said he was disturbed by the hardship, which the state government workers across the country and their families were facing due to the non-payment of salaries.

To ameliorate the hardship being faced by affected workers, the President said the Federal Government would strive to make more funds available to the states.

This, he said, would be done by expediting action on refunds due to them for the maintenance of federal roads and other expenses incurred on behalf of the Federal Government.

Buhari also said he would constitute an inter-ministerial committee to study a fiscal restructuring plan for the federation, which was presented to him by the governors.

The President said the committee would review the plan to improve the finances of the state governments and make recommendations on how proposals in the plan should be dealt with by the Presidency, the Federal Executive Council and the National Assembly through legislation.

He, however, urged the governors to understand that while he was ready to do all within his powers to help the states overcome their current financial challenges, the Federal Government also had funding challenges to contend with.

“You all know the problems we have found ourselves in. You have to bear with us,” he told the governors.

On the recent allegation by a former Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, that state governors did not support savings during the last administration, Yari said the states were only taking 26 per cent of revenues available for sharing, whereas the Federal Government was taking 52 per cent.

He wondered how states could save under such a condition.

On the proposal by labour unions for a new minimum wage of N56,000, Yari said, “Well, they are right because we agree that what they are being paid is too small.

“But they must understand the situation the country is in because where we are deriving our resources from is now lower by 60 per cent.

“So, how do we do the magic? But we are going to do our best.”


Naira FOREX Rates Black Market – April 29, 2016


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International Airlines Operators in Nigeria Earn N302bn from Ticket Sales – ThisDay

Chinedu Eze

Airlines that operate international destinations from Nigeria made over N302 billion ($15 billion) from ticket sales in 2015. The airlines included European mega carriers, US carriers, African and indigenous operators.

Among the major carriers emirates earned the highest money of N50 billion, followed by British Airways with ticket sales of N48 billion during the period.

Also, Air France sold tickets worth N26 billion, Virgin Atlantic Airways, N16 billion, Ethiopian Airlines, N23 billion, Lufthansa, N17 billion, Delta Air Lines, N17 billion, United Airlines, N15 billion, KLM, N16 billion, Qatar Airways, N12 billion, South Africa Airways, N9 billion and Turkish Airlines N11 billion.

A total of 31 airlines including the indigenous carriers, Aero Contractors, Arik Air and Medview Airline operate international and regional destinations.

There are airlines such as African World Airlines, Air Cote d’ Voire, Alitalia, Asky Airlines, Cam Air, Egypt Air, Etihad Airways and Iberia.

Other airlines include Middle East Airlines, Royal Air Maroc, Rwanda Air Express, Saudi Airlines, Sudan Airways and Kenya Airways.

Industry experts said that comparatively the 2014 ticket sales was more than that of 2015 by a slight margin but there would be a gulf in the amount of tickets sold in 2015 and the tickets that would be sold this year because of Nigeria’s ailing economy and the sudden increase in fares by foreign airlines which discourages travel.

Records from the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) has already shown that there are fewer aircraft movement in the early part of this year compared to that of last year; the same with the passenger movement in the same period.

FAAN’s historical passenger traffic showed that 2011 to 2014 had the highest number of passenger movement, which began to slide in 2015 and is predicted to decline further in 2016 due to the economic downturn.

For example, the domestic terminals of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos processed over four million passengers in 2014, while it processed over three million passengers in 2015.

Also, the international wing of the airport processed over three million passengers in 2014, while it processed about two million passengers in 2015. The drastic drop was attributed to the fears and uncertainties that characterised the 2015 election.

“There is going to be a significant slide because you can see that one of the biggest carriers that come to Nigeria, BA has changed their equipment from Boeing B747 to Boeing B777 and I just learnt that they are going to drop a frequency in Lagos from seven times a week to six times a week. How many people are going to be travelling with this low value of the Naira?” a source said.

Also industry observer, Simon Tumba supported the view that less tickets would be sold this year because many parents whose children and wards are studying abroad have withdrawn them because of the high exchange rate to the Naira and government recently announced that top government officials would no more fly business class.

“Businesses are yet to pick up; everybody is talking about the budget, so it is about the law of supply and demand; definitely less tickets will be sold this year, Tumba said.