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CBN and global instability, vulnerability of cryptocurrencies




When in February, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) directed banks and other financial institutions to cease transactions in cryptocurrencies and facilitating payment for cryptocurrency exchanges, several stakeholders raised concern about the directive.

In the memo, dated February 5, the apex bank instructed banks and other financial institutions to identify individuals or entities that transact in cryptocurrency or operate cryptocurrency exchanges and close their accounts.

The memo was sequel to an earlier 2017 warning by the CBN that cryptocurrencies were not legal tender and that investors were unprotected. It explained that cryptocurrencies transaction was devoid of proper regulation and prone to financial crimes.

In spite of assurance by the CBN Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele, that the directive was not inimical to the development of technology-driven payment system in Nigeria, many stakeholders still kicked against it.

They urged the apex bank to revisit the ban and see digital currencies as a tool for economic growth.

Emefiele had explained that the Nigerian payment system had evolved significantly over the past decade, boosted by reforms driven by the CBN, adding that cryptocurrency had no place in the Nigerian monetary system.

Sometime in May, the price of Bitcoin, which is the most popular cryptocurrency, fell drastically, after China imposed fresh restrictions. China had earlier banned banks and payment firms from providing services related to cryptocurrency transactions, and warned investors against speculative crypto trading.

Crypto-currency trading has been illegal in China since 2019 in order to curb money-laundering, but people were still able to trade in currencies such as Bitcoin online.

Mr Elon Musk, Chief Executive Officer, (CEO) of Tesla, an auto manufacturer, was also accused by stakeholders of contributing to the fall in value of cryptocurrencies.

After his electric car company invested 1.5 billion dollars in Bitcoin in February, and assuring consumers that he would accept Bitcoin as payment for Tesla cars, Musk reversed that decision, citing the environmental effects of mining new coins.

This further resulted in a fall in Bitcoin of more than 10 per cent. Meanwhile, other digital currencies such as Ether, which acts as the fuel for the Ethereum blockchain network, and Dogecoin also plummeted in value.

Early in the week, Bitcoin jumped past 30,000 dollars as Elon Musk said Tesla is “most likely” to start accepting it as payment again.

This instability in value, and vulnerability to policy decisions from both state and non-state actors further accentuated the high risk involved in cryptocurrency. It also vindicated the idea by CBN to suspend its transactions in the Nigerian banking system.

Many countries are yet to come up with effective and efficient means of regulating the cryptocurrency space conceived to be a money laundering den and a tool for terrorists.

Due to the anonymous mode of transactions of these currencies, the world’s biggest criminal groups seem to have made them convenient and global source for laundering money.

Meanwhile, the CBN has assured Nigerians that it would soon create its own, more secure digital currency.

Emefiele said this while addressing journalists after the last meeting of the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) in May.

He said that the idea of a digital currency would soon become a reality in the country, and that the central bank had already set up a committee, which is working on the concept.

CBN’s Director, Information Technology Department, Mrs Rakiya Muhammed, at the end of the meeting explained that the Bank had been conducting research in regards to central bank digital currencies since 2017 and may conduct a proof of concept before the end of the year.

“Currently, there are two currencies, notes and coins. The CBN’s digital currency will be a third type of currency to supplement cash. Rather than carry cash about, digital currency lodges the money in a mobile phone,” she said.

Citing a recent report which indicated that Nigeria was at about 60 per cent in financial inclusion, she explained that the proposed CBN digital currency would enhance the inclusion drive, reduce the cost of cash management as well as enable innovations in the nation’s financial market.

The director noted that, with a target of 80 per cent at the end of the year, such a step needed to be taken to raise the percentage of the nation’s financial inclusion.

She added that a central governance structure would be set up to address all associated risks with a view to ensuring that the Nigerian public got the best technology for the digital currency.

Also, Director General of Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Lamido Yuguda, revealed that SEC was working with the CBN for a better understanding and regulation of cryptocurrencies in the country.

Analysts expressed confidence that a collaborative effort by the CBN and SEC would go a long way to deliver a safe digital currency platform in the country.

As the frailties and instability in cryptocurrency investment continue to manifest across the globe, and as more countries continue to take more stringent steps to restrict and regulate its transactions, stakeholders are commending the CBN for having the foresight to blaze the trail in identifying inherent dangers in cryptocurrency and restricting its transactions.

CBN’s move tallies with the thoughts of policymakers around the world, who have been considering the idea of central banks issuing their own digital currencies, called Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs) and to be made available to everyone, rather than just to licensed commercial banks.

Analysts agree that a national digital currency managed on a single network could allow money to change hands almost instantly like in crypto transactions, but in a more secure business environment.
***If used, please credit the writer and the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN)

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Business & Economy

Senate Gives Kyari, NUPRC Boss 24 Hours To Appear For Budget Defense



Mele Kyari


The Chairman of the Senate Appropriation Committee, Senator Adeola Olamilekan, on Wednesday, directed the Group Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL), Mele Kyari, to appear before the committee in 24 hours.

Olamilekan, who asked Kyari to appear in company of the Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission (NUPRC), warned that failure to appear undermines the legislature and sabotages the process.

They are required to present the list of all individual companies operating with OML licenses in Nigeria as well as total production output approved on a daily basis.

The lawmaker expressed concerns that some of the revenues required to drive the 2024 budget was attributed to the NNPCL, which according to him, was owned by the Federal Government and responsible to it, and by extension the three arms of government.

The NNPCL, had earlier shunned for a second time, summons by the Senate to appear before its committee probing over N11trn expenditure on turn around maintenance of refineries in the country between 2010 and 2023.

The absence of Kyari, whose entity is at the centre of the investigation, stalled efforts by the Senate panel to make progress on the matter.

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Business & Economy

Economic: IMF Wrong On Nigeria’s Projections – Budget Office



Director-General of the Budget Office of the Federation, Ben Akabueze


The Director-General of the Budget Office of the Federation, Ben Akabueze, says the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has been wrong in its projections of the Nigerian economy in the last four years.

“In the last four years, IMF has got it wrong about our projections,” Akabueze said on Channels Television’s Politics Today programme on Wednesday. “Our actual growth have always beat their projections.”

Akabueze spoke on the economic projections of the President Bola Tinubu government for 2024.

On November 29, 2023, the President presented his maiden budget estimates of N27.5trn for the year 2024 to the National Assembly (NASS).

According to the President, the economy is expected to grow by 3.76%, while “inflation is expected to moderate to 21.4 percent in 2024”.

“Budget deficit is projected at 18 trillion naira in 2024 or 3.88 percent of GDP (Gross Domestic Product (GDP),” the President had added.

The President’s projection was at variance and “ambitious” to the prediction of IMF earlier in October. The Washington-based lender had projected that the country’s economy would grow at 3.1% in 2024.

However, the Budget Office boss said IMF’s projections “do not represent the holy grail on economic growth”, adding that the organisation “can’t get it right better than the people who have direct responsibility for managing their individual economies”.

Akabueze said the growth rate projected by the Tinubu government in its maiden budget “doesn’t even yet reflect the ambition of the government”, adding that the incumbent administration “wants to double the GDP before the end of the first term”.

He said the 2024 budget estimates awaiting approval at the National Assembly was “way too small” to Nigeria’s need but the government had to cut its coat according to its cloth.

The Budget Office director general insisted that despite the criticisms against the 2024 budget estimates, the appropriation bill caters for the poor in terms of healthcare, security, education and the economy.

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Business & Economy




Asiwaju Bola Tinubu
President Bola Ahmed Tinubu

President Bola Tinubu says Nigeria’s national defence and internal security, local job creation, macro-economic stability, investment environment optimization, human capital development, poverty reduction, and social security are some of the top priorities of the 2024 Budget of Renewed Hope.

Addressing a joint session of the National Assembly on the 2024 Federal budget proposal on Wednesday in Abuja, President Tinubu said the nation’s internal security architecture will be overhauled to enhance law enforcement capabilities with a view to safeguarding lives, property, and investments across the country.

He said the proposed budget prioritizes human capital development, with particular attention given to children, because human capital remains the most critical resource for national development.

“To improve the effectiveness of our budget performance, the government will focus on ensuring value for money, greater transparency, and accountability. In this regard, we will work more closely with development partners and the private sector.

“To address long-standing issues in the education sector, a more sustainable model of funding tertiary education will be implemented, including the Student Loan Scheme scheduled to become operational by January 2024,” the President affirmed.

Speaking on the economy, President Tinubu said a stable macro-economic environment is crucial in his administration’s bid to catalyze private investment and accelerate economic growth; hence, his government shall continue to implement business and investment friendly measures for sustainable growth.

“We expect the economy to grow by a minimum of 3.76 percent, above the forecasted world average. Inflation is expected to moderate to 21.4 percent in 2024. In preparing the 2024 Budget, our primary objective has been to sustain our robust foundation for sustainable economic development. A critical focus of this budget and the medium-term expenditure framework is Nigeria’s commitment to a greener future.

“Emphasizing public-private partnerships, we have strategically made provisions to leverage private capital for big-ticket infrastructure projects in energy, transportation, and other sectors. This marks a critical step towards diversifying our energy mix, enhancing efficiency, and fostering the development of renewable energy sources. By allocating resources to support innovative and environmentally conscious initiatives, we aim to position Nigeria as a regional leader in the global movement towards clean and sustainable energy.

“As we approach the COP28 climate summit, a pivotal moment for global climate action, I have directed relevant government agencies to diligently work towards securing substantial funding commitments that will bolster Nigeria’s energy transition. It is imperative that we seize this opportunity to attract international partnerships and investments that align with our national goals. I call upon our representatives to engage proactively to showcase the strides we have made in the quest to create an enabling environment for sustainable energy projects.

“Together, we will strive for Nigeria to emerge from COP28 with tangible commitments, reinforcing our dedication to a future where energy is not only a catalyst for development but also a driver of environmental stewardship,” he said.

The President said a conservative oil price benchmark of 77.96 U.S. Dollars per barrel and a daily oil production estimate of 1.78 million barrels per day were adopted after a careful review of global oil market trends, and that a Naira to U.S. Dollar exchange rate of 750 naira per U.S. Dollar was adopted for 2024 as well.

Giving a breakdown of the 2024 Appropriation Bill, the President said: “Accordingly, an aggregate expenditure of 27.5 trillion naira is proposed for the Federal Government in 2024, of which the non-debt recurrent expenditure is 9.92 trillion naira while debt service is projected to be 8.25 trillion naira and capital expenditure is 8.7 trillion naira. Nigeria remains committed to meeting its debt obligations. Projected debt service is 45% of the expected total revenue.

“The budget deficit is projected at 9.18 trillion naira in 2024 or 3.88 percent of GDP. This is lower than the 13.78 trillion naira deficit recorded in 2023, which represented 6.11 percent of GDP. The deficit will be financed by new borrowings totaling 7.83 trillion naira, 298.49 billion naira from Privatization Proceeds, and 1.05 trillion naira draw down on multilateral and bilateral loans secured for specific development projects.”

President Tinubu said his administration remains committed to broad-based and shared economic prosperity, adding: “We are reviewing social investment programmes to enhance their implementation and effectiveness. In particular, the National Social Safety Net project will be expanded to provide targeted cash transfers to poor and vulnerable households.”

He also said efforts will be made to further contain financial leakages through the effective implementation of key public financial management reforms.

The President commended the patriotic resolve of the 10th National Assembly to collaborate with the Executive on the mission to renew the hope of Nigerians and deliver on the promises made to Africa’s largest population.

“As you consider the 2024 Budget estimates, we trust that the legislative review process will be conducted with a view to sustaining our desired return to a predictable January-December fiscal year. I have no doubt that you will be guided by the interest of all Nigerians. We must ensure that only projects and programs with equitable benefits are allowed into the 2024 Budget. Additionally, only projects and programs that are in line with the sectoral mandates of MDAs and those which are capable of realizing the vision of our administration should be included in the budget,” the President declared.


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