Category Archives: Economy

Avoid Ponzi Schemes, SEC warns Nigerians

‎Avoid Ponzi Schemes, SEC warns Nigerians

Kehinde Akinseinde-Jayeoba -Lagos

NIGERIANS have again been advised to desist from investing their money in investments that offer unreasonable levels of returns at little risk to investors.

This was stated by Acting Director General of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Ms Mary Uduk during a Town Hall meeting on Current Initiatives by the SEC Nigeria to enhance investor value held in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, Wednesday.

In a statement by the Commission, Uduk, while enjoining investors to be wary of any investment that is proposing return levels that are unreasonably high, added that they should always cross check that such fund managers and the products they are offering are registered with the SEC.

The Ag. DG told the audience that the specific objective of the meeting is to keep Nigerians abreast of the initiatives that SEC is currently undertaking in order to make the capital market more user friendly such that people can participate in it with greater ease, comfort and convenience.

“There is the added and all-important purpose of ensuring that the gains of your participation, be these dividends, proceeds from share sales/transfers, etc. accrue to you seamlessly, without sweat and in the shortest time possible.

The purpose is also to ensure that you do not fall victim to the antics of fraudsters who purport to be able to double any amount of money you make available to them as investment value.

“These fraudsters or promoters of Ponzi Schemes are the false prophets of the investment environment, they are the ill wind that blows no good and at whose sight you must flee; they are to be avoided. This is one message you must take home to family, friends, relations and acquaintances in order to save them from the agony of loss of their hard–earned money” she stated.

Uduk also used the occasion to inform investors that SEC is currently leading the entire capital market industry in an effort to migrate all shareholders to an e –Dividend regime.

The essence of the e-Dividend Mandate Management System she said, is to eradicate or reduce to the barest minimum the incidence of unclaimed dividend.

“Unclaimed dividend is an undesirable feature of the Nigerian capital market which denies investors/shareholders the gains of participating in the capital market. It denies the economy access to the huge amount of money which should have accrued to shareholders and would have gone into circulation to oil the wheel of the economy.

“It is a consequence of the bottlenecks which are inherent in the erstwhile paper dividend warrant regime such as postal system inefficiency, change in investors’ addresses, poor fidelity and human fallibility in dividend payment processes, amongst others.

Uduk stated that the e-Dividend regime bypasses these limitations by ensuring that dividends which do not exceed 12 years of issue are credited directly to an investors account after the declaration by the paying company and within a stipulated payment period through simple interbank transfer.

Recall that the e-Dividend registration exercise started on November 23, 2016. Each successful registration cost N150, however, between that time and March 31, 2018, the Commission underwrote the registration cost for all investors that mandated.

Other initiatives by the SEC according to Uduk include, Direct Cash Settlement, dematerialisation, National Investor Protection Fund, Recapitalisation of capital market operators, corporate governance scorecard, new rules for products innovation, development of commodity exchange, Collective Investment Schemes among others.

In his remarks, Head of Port Harcourt Zonal office of SEC, Mr Obi Adindu said the SEC is interested in making the capital market stronger and better and a means of creating wealth for Nigerians.

“We are here to get your views on our initiatives and policies so that we can fine tune them where necessary in a bid to ensure that your investments are well protected in the capital market” Adindu added.

Source: Tribune

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Third Mainland Bridge to be closed for repairs

Third Mainland Bridge to be closed for repairs

The Federal Controller of Works in Lagos, Mr Adedamola Kuti, said on Tuesday that consultations had begun for the closure of the Third Mainland Bridge for repairs.

Kuti said that the ministry of works was going to hold a meeting with stakeholders tomorrow to discuss how to manage traffic during the repairs.

He, however, did not specify the exact date the bridge would be closed to traffic or how long the repairs would last.

According to him, stakeholders attending the meeting to discuss the repairs include traffic regulatory agencies, transport unions, truck owners and drivers’ unions, law enforcement agents, among others.

“The Federal Executive Council has approved the maintenance work on the Third Mainland Bridge in Lagos State.

“The project has taken off already and in carrying out the work, we may at certain times be shutting down the bridge for maintenance.

“At the moment we may begin with tests on the bridge, so, we may shut it by 12 midnight on Thursday and carry out tests and some repairs and open it to traffic by midnight on Sunday.’’

He said that six other damaged bridges across the state were already undergoing maintenance and rehabilitation.

“We have contracts on maintenance of some of the bridges in Lagos.

“We are completing maintenance work on the expansion joints on the Coconut Bridge.

“We are expecting the contractor to start work on the Independence Bridge in Lagos.

“There is repair work going on currently on the Apapa Bridge, that is, Ijora/Leventis Bridge.

“Maintenance work is ongoing on the Ijora-7up Bridge, we are also changing the expansion joints.

“On the bridge around the National Stadium area, we are putting covers to all the stolen manholes, we are replacing the steel covers from stadium to Costain,” he said.

The controller said that some tests had been carried out on the Otedola Bridge, whose surface was recently burnt during a tanker fire.

Kuti said that the tests revealed that the bridge was safe for use and that the contractors would soon attend to the bridge. (NAN)

Dirty money in circulation

Dirty money in circulation

Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun

By Oshineye Victor Oshisada

Money is the medium of exchange and store of value. People describe it variously as bank notes, currency notes or simply “money”. But for the purpose of this piece, the description as “money” is chosen for prompt and lucid understanding of man and woman in the street. Bank note is the paper money that is issued by a Bank. The issue of notes in most countries is either entirely confined to or subject to strict control by the Central Bank. Currency is another name for money. A country’s own currency is that for internal transactions. Foreign currency is the money of other countries. In this country, the currency that is in circulation is “Naira”.

The poor appearance of our “naira” is the focus of this writer. For a long time now, our naira has been badly mutilated, smelling nauseatingly and in shreds, to the extent of using sellotape to stick together the pieces. In these appalling appearances, people whose lot it is to spend the money have their re-actions. Why not? To every action, there is a re-action. “Nigerian currencies are Legal tender.” By legal tender, it is meant, the forms of money which a creditor is legally obliged to accept in the settlement of a debt. For the reason of “inflation” coins have vanished from circulation for many years. If anybody holds coins in possession, it merely serves as a family heirloom for future generations. Therefore, by the expression, “legal tender”, it is the argument by concerned citizens. The currency is paid for services and purchases of all sorts. Prospective buyers are right to argue: “This money though tattered, it is the legal tender today.” The producers of the services or commodities on their parts, shall contend with a note of finality. “It may be a legal tender. But nobody shall collect sellotaped naira notes in this market or area. Give me better money.”

The buyers shall insist that the bad Naira notes must be accepted by the sellers on the premise: “It was given to me by a Nigerian. Besides, I carry no other notes with me.” In the course of these continual and fruitless arguments, three possibilities may emerge-the seller may not part with the commodity. This does not enhance good trade and economic growth. Both the sellers and the buyers are at losses. The products may remain unsold. The buyers may lose the desired utility that is derivable from the commodity. A scuffle may eventuate between the buyer and the seller. These are not beneficial to the society.

Therefore, the Federal Government, through its Central Bank, must opt for the plausibility of regularly printing fresh currency notes for people’s commercial transactions. This writer considers clean money to be one of the economic mirrors of a country. If the notes are clean, it shows that the economy is good; if it is dirty as it is now, it demonstrates that our economy is seriously sick, requiring surgical operation. By the way, if I may inquire: “Are our Federal Ministers not in receipts of these dirty notes? Are the members of the National Assembly blind to the abysmal conditions of these dirty notes? Is it not a shame to the Federal Finance Minister to find in circulation absolutely wretched Naira notes?” These dirty Naira notes are a disgrace to the nation. Some years ago, Nigerians were condemning tattered national flags flying in public places. Today, we are criticizing mutilated Naira Notes. It seems that our leaders are in love with things that are in tatterdemalions. It is a pity!

Why are the conditions of our Naira so revolting? This writer can ascribe some reasons for these. People are in the habit of rejecting these notes. But quite often, I point it out to them: “When it was in mint form, the same people made it dirty as it is now, because of the wrong style that it is handled. Invariably, rough handling contributes to the filthy appearance of our money”. For example, the market women and the bus conductors are guilty of this. It is typical of the market mummies to stock decent notes inside their brassieres, corsets and corse-lettes for keeps in the course of their trades. In that process, body perspiration moistens the naira notes. Likewise, some young men tuck naira notes inside their pairs of socks, and even their pants ostensibly for security, but in reality they are vandalized. To worsen it, some write their names and address on the notes, thinking that in course of time, the money shall return to them after a certain period of circulation. Also, some superstitious folks nip the edges of the notes believing that no spirit shall steal them from their possessions. Further, the quality of the materials used to produce our naira notes are inferior. In 2015, many of these notes that were printed and sent into circulations have today peeled off as the inscriptions are deleted and illegible. The N50, N100 and N200 denominations are the victims of this vandalisation sparing N500 and N1000 the blushes. Moreover, the Federal Government’s habitual tardiness in re-printing the notes renders them defaced and lose their original artistic beauty. That is the aesthetics. It costs money to mint and print money. Therefore very significantly, the perennial delay in passing the Annual Budget by the National Assembly may possibly contribute to the Federal Finance Ministry’s prevailing predicament. Lastly, in this country, there is too much pressure on cash, with less emphases on bank cheques for transactions. In my considered opinion, I believe that it is because of the predominantly illiteracy level which results to lack of confidence in cheque transactions. In other words, people more often than not, rely on the uses of cash and less on cheques. This creates the mutilation and filthiness on the lower denominations of naira notes.

With a pang of nostalgia, this writer remembers the colonial Nigeria era, to Tafawa Balewa administration when Chief Festus Okotie-Eboh was the Finance Minister, Nigerians were enjoying clean bank notes, compared with the present. At the introduction of new notes, a song was composed: “Okotie-Eboh ko owo tuntun de; aiye ndara bowa o e”, meaning, “Festus Okotie-Eboh has issued fresh and new currency notes; the country is assuming better economic era” Chief Festus Okotie-Eboh was a colourful politician in his days. He had the peculiarity of buoyancy in appearance and equally demonstrative in his gait that at any social milieu, the wrapper round his waist would be flowing behind him with the trailing tail held on by two youngsters. In the like manner, the currency notes, produced for circulation by his Ministry, were typically spick-and-span and undefaced. Today the exercise has detracted from what obtained in the days of yore. This writer is authoritatively informed that some banks are rejecting the mutilated money. The Finance Minister, Mrs Kemi Adeosun, must prove equal to the task of furnishing Nigerians with clean Naira notes, about which the quantities in different denominations cause inadequate balances (that is, change) for buyers and sellers.

From the foregoing submissions, what is clear writer is advocating is that Nigerians deserve clean Naira notes, instead of the present sellotaped “rags” that pass for money.
Oshisada, a veteran journalist, wrote from Ikorodu, Lagos.

MMM founder, Sergei Mavrodi, dies of heart attack at 62

MMM founder, Sergei Mavrodi, dies of heart attack at 62

Russian businessman Sergei Mavrodi, whose MMM pyramid scheme deprived millions of Russians of their savings in the 1990s, has died of a heart attack, according to Russia media.

Reports said the 62-year-old was rushed to the hospital late on March 25 with pain in his chest and died several hours later.

Mavrodi’s MMM financial pyramid was a typical Ponzi scheme in which earlier investors receive their profits from subsequent investors. Mavrodi promised returns of 20 percent to 75 percent a month, as well as lotteries and bonuses for investors.

As soon as the number of new clients stopped growing, the pyramid collapsed, causing huge financial losses for at least 10 million people, in some cases leaving them destitute.

In 1994, Mavrodi was elected as a lawmaker, a decision he later said was to ensure he received immunity from prosecution. In 1996, he lost his parliamentary mandate.

In 2007, a Moscow court found him guilty of financial fraud and sentenced him to 4 1/2 years in a penal colony.

In 2011, Mavrodi launched another pyramid scheme called MMM-2011, calling on investors to purchase so-called Mavro currency units in a bid to get rid of the “unfair” financial system. Some 15 months later, Mavrodi halted the project.

From 2011-16, Mavrodi launched Ponzi schemes under the MMM brand in India, China, South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Nigeria.

In many of those countries, Mavrodi’s operations were subsequently shut down or suspended.

(Radio Liberty)

New minimum wage to be ready in third quarter 

New Minimum Wage Ready In Q3 – FG

By ADEBIYI ADEDAPO, Michael Oche 

The federal government yesterday assured workers in the country that the new minimum wage would be announced before the end of the third quarter of 2018.

Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, made this known in Abuja during the first series of public lectures to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC).

This is just as the NLC warned those seeking to slowdown or frustrate the process of review of the minimum wage, saying they will be resisted.

It said it was time to re-strategise and change its tactics during engagements with government and employers.

In his address, Ngige said that the minimum wage is not something that the workers should be grumbling about because the wage will be ready not later than the third quarter.

He said, “In furtherance to the determination of the federal government to attain the Decent Work Agenda which involves opportunities for work that are productive and deliver a fair income, security in the work place and social protection for families, there have been overtime, three minimum wage reviews and currently the tripartite committee on national minimum wage is set to review the current minimum wage.

“Memoranda are being reviewed for relevant bodies and persons to enable the determination of a new minimum wage for the nation. Better late than never because some state governors are still owing and cannot pay the current N18,000 minimum wage to workers.

“That is why we are ensuring we bring all stakeholders along and announce the new minimum wage at the appropriate time. But I can assure you that the third quarter is the maximum time the new minimum wage will be announced.”

Ngige however warned workers to show respect to rights of employers during confrontation.

He said, “It is pertinent to point out a misnomer that exists amongst trade unions in their pursuits of their relative happiness in terms of industrial relations. Most often I get trade dispute declarations on issues of appointment, discipline and promotion.

“On these issues, the workers often have genuine cases and they are handled accordingly, with all intent to eliminate any unfair labour practices.

“However, often the workers through their respective trade unions do over step by dictating to the employer who to appoint or otherwise. This is not right. Workers cannot dictate to the employer how to run his business; also the employer has no business interfering with trade union affairs.

“There is need for mutual respect in the nation’s industrial relation system to create an amicable industrial relations environment that will create wealth, sustainable development and growth for the good of all citizens.”

The minister further noted that over the years the efforts of the federal government to ensure a sound industrial relations system by maintaining good employment relationship with labour had resulted in the establishment of a viable legal framework for labour administration.

He said, “I must use this opportunity to implore the NLC to be mindful of trade disputes of interest. Although such disputes of interest may invariably transmute to disputes of rights, the NLC must always bear in mind that social dialogue remains the critical tool in pursuing disputes of interest in order to fully realise the intent of declaring the dispute in the first instance.”

On his part, NLC president, Ayuba Wabba, said at 40, the NLC is still relevant today, as it has ever been, adding that it cannot be wished away.

According to Wabba, the NLC is today seen as a formidable force to be reckoned with by social partners and the entire society, stressing that increasingly, citizens look up to the NLC to resist anti-people policies that adversely affect them.

He stated that the NLC defend the people when their rights are violated and play key roles in influencing and shaping public policy to the advantage of citizens.

He said, “Today, we are still engaged in numerous contestations to protect our members and Nigerians as a whole. We are indeed clear that the architecture of the battlefield has changed from the militaristic control of politics and governance to an environment where democratic institutions such as the legislature, the executive, political parties and the judiciary are in existence.

“This scenario presents a golden opportunity for us to engage these institutions and we will continue to do so with the aim of securing concessions for our members and defend the rights of the general public. Our strategies and tactics may slightly change, but we will never deviate from our goals.”

Wabba said having attempted to outline the desirability and the inevitability of reviewing the national minimum wage in the country, the legitimate demand for the review of the current N18, 000 minimum wage is borne out of the current reality of higher cost of living, free fall of the naira, and high cost of goods and services.

He assured that NLC will continue to work with governments at all levels to find ways and means to upscale and maintain social protection regimes that can effectively contribute to walking millions out of poverty.

He continued: “Nevertheless, we will continue to resist casualization and the new forms of work that undermine decent work and threaten jobs.

“We are prepared to deal with employers, especially governors who deny workers and pensioners their salaries and pensions. Workers, pensioners and their families will not give them any further political support, especially their votes.

Era of carrying placards over – Oshiomhole

Meanwhile, former governor of Edo State, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, has urged the NLC to go beyond carrying placards or embarking on strike to acquire political powers if it hopes to continue to remain relevant and bring about the changes it is canvassing for.

Oshiomhole, a former NLC president, said placards can moderate and force employers to go back and restrategise, but placards and the most potent strike will not change their value system.

He said, “So, I came to the conclusion that those who are in power will never govern according to your role values. The position they take on or the policy choices they make are not the result of errors of your judgement. They are the conscious decision taken in order to ensure that a particular class gets more. And the more a particular class gets the less that is available for the rest of the masses.

“So, government and governance is value driven; it is a basic act to decide who gets what and who pays for it.

Placards can moderate and force them to go back and restrategise. But placards and the most potent strike will not change their value system. Rather, they go back and strategise on how best to continue to dominate and use the instrument of state to enrich those they wish and pauperise those they so wish to.

“Placards, persuasion and negotiation cannot make some certain changes that workers actually need. So, the NLC need to acquire some political powers. It needs to reposition itself and use it powers to effect those changes it desires. And the union needs not to doubt whether it has that kind of capacity.”

Also, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, assured that the House of Representatives will support ongoing effort to secure a living wage for the Nigerian worker and ensure that in retirement, workers are sufficiently taken care of.

The Speaker said the NLC has lived up to expectation in discharging its role of protecting the interests and welfare of the Nigerian worker.

Dogara acknowledged the struggle of former leaders of labour for their leadership and sacrifices that ensured the continued existence of one united and robust labour organisation in Nigeria.

In a statement signed by his special adviser on media and public affairs, Turaki Hassan, on the commemoration of 40th anniversary of the NLC, Dogara acknowledged the brave and courageous moves taken by the congress when necessary to ensure that better rights and privileges are conveyed on the Nigerian worker.

He said, “Indeed, the NLC has come of age. It has played a pivotal role in the struggle for better rights and privileges for the Nigerian worker. The NLC since its founding by a military decree has lived up to its responsibilities of articulating and pursing the enlightened interests of the working man and woman. It has sometimes confronted the authorities by using the mechanism of strikes and in some instances the mere threat of action has enough to bring relevant authorities to the negotiating table.

“We must use this occasion to salute the former leaders of Labour for their leadership and sacrifices that ensured the continued existence of one united and robust labour organisation in Nigeria. The present leadership must ensure that this legacy bequeathed to them is maintained and even surpassed”.

He continued: “The NLC must remain strong, united and progressive. It must work in concert with both government and the private sector to enthrone a viable and strong economy for Nigeria, which is the only sustainable way to ensure better working conditions for the Nigerian worker.

“The major challenge facing Labour today is to negotiate a meaningful National Minimum Wage for Nigerian workers. I wish to lend the support of the House of Representatives to the ongoing effort to secure not only a living wage for the Nigerian worker but to ensure that in retirement workers are sufficiently taken care of. The labour of our heroes past shall never be in vain.”

Also, former chairman of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof Attahiru Mega, said Nigerian workers deserve better than what has been offered to them so far by the present political class.

Delivering a lecture titled, ‘Labour, Politics and Governance in Nigeria’ at the opening event to mark the NLC 40th anniversary in Abuja yesterday, Jega who was the guest lecturer said workers must mobilise to engage in policy and legislative advocacy.

Jega also charged the current leadership of NLC to retrace its steps and rekindle the spirit and strength the NLC of old used during the military era, saying Nigerian workers need a more serious, effective and organised Labour union now than ever”.

Lagos Assembly passes N1.046tn budget for 2018

Lagos Assembly passes N1.046tn budget for 2018

The Lagos State House of Assembly on Tuesday passed the state’s 2018 appropriation bill of N1,046tn into law.

The passage followed the adoption of the report and recommendations of the House Adhoc Committee on Budget and Economic Planning, headed by Hon. Gbolahan Yishawu.

The house approved N347. 039bn as the total recurrent expenditure from the consolidated revenue fund.

It also approved N699. 082bn as the total capital expenditure from the development revenue fund for the year ending Dec. 31, 2018.

Yishawu, while presenting the committee’s report, said that efforts should be made to reduce the total overhead cost of the state.

The lawmakers, who took turns to commend the nine-man ad hoc committee for a job well done, however, called for quick consideration of the Private-Public Partnership (PPP) scheme.

Hon. Setonji David, the Acting Chairman, House Committee on Physical Planning and Urban Development said: “there are so many arrangements going on in PPP that the house does not know about’’.

The Deputy Majority Leader, Hon. Muyiwa Jimoh, said that PPP should be on its own and not operate under any ministry.

The Speaker of the House, Hon. Mudashiru Obasa, also commended Yishawu and members of the committee for thorough scrutiny of the budget within a short time frame.

The House passed the bill after Obasa conducted a voice vote on each of the sectoral allocations for ministries, departments and agencies.

Obasa directed the Acting Clerk of the House, Mr Azeez Sanni, to send a copy of the bill to Gov. Akinwnmi Ambode for his assent.

Fuel scarcity: Marketers give conditions to sell petrol at N145

Marketers give conditions to sell petrol at N145

OKECHUKWU NNODIM

The cost of petrol in the pricing template that is currently being reviewed will be determined by the rate of foreign exchange, oil marketers have said.

According to them, marketers will only import Premium Motor Spirit, popularly known as petrol, if the rate of forex is suitable enough to encourage the importation of the commodity, despite the ongoing review of template by the Federal Government.

On Friday, the Federal Government announced that it had commenced a review of the pricing template for petrol and insisted that the commodity would sell at N145 per litre.

However, oil marketers on Saturday, said the Federal Government could retain the cost of petrol at N145/litre after reviewing the pricing template, but outlined the conditions that will make this feasible for importers of petrol.

The National Vice President, Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, Abubakar Maigandi, told SUNDAY PUNCH that it was possible to review the pricing template for PMS and retain the cost of the commodity at N145/litre.

He said, “Yes, anything government says it wants to do on this issue can be considered possible because the minister had already outlined three conditions.

“The first condition has to do with regulation and the next is for the NNPC to sell at a given rate to marketers who will now add their margins, while the third is through forex (foreign exchange).

“So if the government can give forex to marketers, then automatically marketers can be able to sell at the rate of N145/litre.

“So whether the template is reviewed or not, one major factor is the issue of forex. Currently, the dollar is about N365 and if the government can make it available to marketers at a rate of about N250, then marketers will be able to sell the product at the rate of N145/litre when they import.”

The IPMAN official also stated it is expected that Nigeria’s refineries will start functioning properly in about 18 months based on what the petroleum minister said recently at the National Assembly.

Maigandi said, “We hope that in the next 18 months our refineries will be in order, because that is what the minister said recently and he (Kachikwu) also said we are expecting other refineries to come on stream, like the Dangote refinery, as well as other modular refineries.

“But the truth is that as it is now, marketers cannot import petrol because of the cost of the commodity in the international market and the high forex rate.

“So we are expecting government to tell which of the listed conditions it will adopt so that this fuel crisis will end once and for all.”

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Another oil marketer, however, wondered how the template would be reviewed to retain the cost of petrol at N145/litre, considering the price of the commodity in the international market.

This is coming as the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation on Saturday stated that the pump price of petrol was N143/litre in NNPC retail outlets and N145/litre in other filling stations, while PMS ex-depot price of N133.28k per litre to marketers was still being maintained
Source: The Punch