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Slash in Bank Charges Excite Nigerians

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Banks customers on Monday commended the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for its move in slashing various banks charges.

According to The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports customers in Abuja on Monday described the development as the right step in the right direction.

On Sunday, the apex bank in a new guidelines anounced the downward review of most charges and fees for banking services, other financial, and non-bank financial institutions, with effect from January 1, 2020.

Among the charges, CBN said bank customers will now pay N10 for electronic transfers below N5,000, and N25 for electronic transfer between N5,000 and N50,000. Only electronic transfer above N50,000 will attract N50 charge.

Previously, bank customers pay N50 charge for electronic transfers below N500,000.

The guide also slashed charges for cash withdrawal via Other bank’s ATM to “maximum of N35 after the third withdrawal within the same month” from “N65 after the third withdrawal within the same month”.

A bank customer, Mr James Onumah said that the CBN’s directive was a new year gift to the all bank customers.

Onumah said most Nigerian banks were still characterised with some inefficiencies yet they charge customers for services they didn’t provide.

He explained that withdrawal charges of about N65 being taken from bank users by banks was exploitative and uncalled for.

Mrs Hadiza Maikarfi said the announcement was a cheering news for her at the weekend.

Maikarfi said various bank charges before the reduction were too high for customers like her could bear urging the apex bank to still review them downward.

According to her, these charges can discourage people from getting involved in financial services thereby affecting financial inclusion being promoted by the bank.

Sani Nura, another bank customer urged CBN to supervise banks to ensure the directive was carried out and implemented fully.

Nura added that the bank’s charges reduction by the apex bank was timely due to the current hardship being experienced by the citizens.

Funke Akin told NAN that she had been celebrating over the reduction as anounced by CBN.

Akin said she was particularly happy over the removal of card maintenance charges adding that she never understood the essence of such charges by banks.

According to Mr Isaac Okorafor, the bank’s Director,  Corporate Communications Department, the guidelines will take effect from Jan. 1, 2020.

Okorafor, while briefing newsmen said the step was in furtherance of the bank’s quest to make financial services more accessible and affordable to various stakeholders in the economy.

He explained that some major highlights of the new guidelines included the removal of Card Maintenance Fee (CAMF) on all cards linked to current accounts.

He said there would be a maximum of one Naira per mille for customer induced debit transactions to third parties and transfers or lodgments to the customers’ account in other banks on current accounts only.

Okorafor explained that it all involves reduction in the amount payable for cash withdrawals from other banks’ Automated Teller Machines as Remote-on-Us transactions.

The director said the reduction was from N65 to N35 after the third withdrawal within one month.

According to him, other reductions include Advance Payment Guarantee (APG), now pegged at maximum of one per cent of the APG value in the first year and 0.5 per cent for subsequent years on contingent liabilities.

On debit card charges, Okorafor said that the new guide stipulated that a one-off charge of N1,000 applied to the issuance of cards, irrespective of card type regular or premium.

He noted that the same one-off charge of N1,000 applied for the replacement of debit cards at the customer’s instance for lost or damaged cards.

According to Okorafor, upon expiry of existing cards, customers are to pay the same one-off charge of N1,000 irrespective of card type and no charge should be required for pre-paid card loading or unloading.

He explained that the current NIBSS Instant Payments (NIP) charges applied to use of Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD), purchase with cash-back would attract a charge of N100 per N20,000 subject to cumulative N60,000 daily withdrawal.

The CBN spokesman noted that for cards linked to savings account, the maintenance fee had been reduced to a maximum of N50 per quarter from N50 per month amounting to only N200 per annum instead of N600.

The director hinted that there would be no more charges for reactivation or closure of accounts such as savings, current and domiciliary accounts while status enquiry at the request of the customer like confirmation letter, letter of non-indebtedness and reference letter would now attract a fee of N500 per request.

“On Current Account Maintenance Fee (CAMF), the guide expressly stated that this would be applicable only to current accounts in respect of customer-induced debit transactions to third parties and debit transfers and lodgments to the customer’s account in another bank.

“It emphasised that CAMF is not applicable to Savings Accounts.

“CBN carried out the review of the guide, which also prescribes charges permissible for Other Financial Institutions and non-bank financial institutions, in order to align with market developments.

“To guard against excess, unapproved or arbitrary charges by banks and other financial institutions, the guide stipulates a penalty of N2,000,000 per infraction or as may be determined by the CBN from time to time for financial institutions that breach any provision of the guide.

“The guide also emphasised that failure by any bank to comply with CBN’s directive in respect of any infraction shall attract a further penalty of N2,000,000 daily until the directive is complied with or as may be determined by the CBN from time to time. ”

He said that the CBN,  has directed banks to log every complaint received from their customers into the Consumer Complaints Management System (CCMS) in addition to generating a unique reference code for each complaint lodged, which must be given to the customer.

According to him, failure to log and provide the code to the customer will amount to a breach and is sanctionable with a penalty of N1,000,000 per breach. NAN

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Trusting Maritime, Nigeria Eyes Major Economic Growth in 2023 – SGF Mustapha

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Taking the maritime sector as economic anchor, the Federal Government says it is targeting placing Nigeria among the first 70 countries in the World Bank Ease of Doing Business index, a most sought-after economic feat globally, by 2023. The Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr. Boss Mustapha, stated this Saturday night in Lagos at the third edition of the annual Corporate Dinner and Merit Awards organised by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA).

That projection came as Minister of Transportation, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, said the transportation sector was being developed as a strategic driver of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration’s economic diversification and growth agenda. Amaechi said the government was focused on the establishment of a strong intermodal transport system that would facilitate seamless movement of goods and people and drastically reduce the cost of transportation and business, generally.

Mustapha, who chaired the evening of honours for outstanding maritime players, said recent improvements in the Nigerian maritime industry had positioned it as a viable guarantee of economic growth and wealth creation. He disclosed with delight that Nigeria had moved from 170 to 131 in the global ease of doing business table since Buhari established the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC) in July 2016.

The council was set up to remove bureaucratic constraints to doing business in Nigeria and make the country an increasingly easier place to start and grow a business.

Mustapha said the PEBEC initiative, coupled with significant developments in ports and maritime, had engendered great improvements in ease of doing business in the country.

“In our bid to improve efficiency and productivity in the maritime industry and the country at large, the PEBEC was created to ensure an enabling environment for port efficiency. Government will continue to support the maritime sector because on it rests opportunities for wealth creation and economic growth,” he stated.

On his part, Amaechi said with a developed transport sector, “There will be increased productivity, which comes with creation of more jobs and production of more goods and services. All these will make the economy more competitive, reduce dependence on oil, and usher in economic growth. This is our target.”

According to him, “We are aware that transportation is key in any economic development plan. The major elements of production – raw materials, machines, people, finished products, etc. – have to be seamlessly moved from one point to the other as the need arises.

“The President Muhammadu Buhari government is implementing a transport policy, which entails linking all seaports in the country by rail, in line with global best practices. All over the world, the most efficient way to transport heavy cargo is by water and rail.

“We have a 25-year rail modernisation programme, involving the development of a comprehensive intermodal system. We are taking the rail from where the past governments stopped to the seaports. The Lagos-Kano rail line, which began from Ebute Metta, is being taken from Ebute Metta to Apapa seaport.

“We will take it from Tin Can and Apapa to connect the new Lekki port. The rail line from Lagos to Calabar links Port Harcourt, Onne, and Warri seaports. Our goal is to have a system where importers would bring in their goods and load them on the rail that takes them to the hinterland, thus, easing the pressure on the roads and increasing their longevity.”

On the economic significance of transportation, Amaechi said, “Adequate investment in transport infrastructure will enhance the efficiency, reliability, and capacity of the transportation system, which will, in turn, lead to lower transport costs, shorter transit times, increased business efficiency, and business expansion, as money previously spent on transport is ploughed back into business.”

In his welcome address, the Director-General of NIMASA, Dr. Dakuku Peterside, noted the significant change in the reputation of the Agency in the last few years. Dakuku said the burnished image was part of the fruits of the Management’s deliberate effort to change the old ways of doing things in the industry and the Agency, for the overall good of the economy.

He highlighted some of the achievements of the Agency in the last three years to include the Final Billing regime, which has significantly reduced turnaround time for all vessel billing transactions from reduced turnaround time for all vessel billing transactions from between five and 10 years to two weeks of the ship’s departure; increased tonnage, with Nigeria currently placing second in Africa, after Liberia; and reduction of turnaround time for issuance of Sailing Clearance from about one year to 14 days.

Other achievements of the Agency, according to Dakuku, include digital transformation; improved maritime safety, security, and domain awareness; the tripartite agreement by maritime stakeholders, which has ensured harmonious labour relations in the industry; renewed capacity building drive through implementation of a five-year Cabotage cessation plan; and enhancement of the Nigerian Ship Registry.

Highlights of the occasion included the conferment of awards to outstanding maritime industry players and staff of NIMASA. One hundred and eighty one staff of the Agency bagged long service awards for 15-30 years of service, with Mrs. Constance Omagbemi getting the coveted Employee of the Year.

GAC Shipping Company won the Overall Shipping Company of the Year, among eight awardees of the Industry Stakeholders Merit Award. They were Total Exploration and Production Company, AP Miller Terminal, Tin Can Island Container Terminal (TICT), and the Maritime Academy of Nigeria (MAN), Oron.

Others were West African Ventures, Awaritse Nigeria Limited, and Sea Navigation International Limited.

Six state governors graced the occasion, including the host governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, of Lagos State, who came with his deputy, Femi Hamzat, Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau State, Dapo Abiodun of Ogun State, Abubakar Sani Bello of Niger State, and Godwin Obaseki of Edo State. Governor Inuwa Yahaya of Gombe State was represented by the Deputy Governor, Manassah Daniel Jatau.

Other dignitaries included Chairman, Senate Committee on Marine Transport, Senator Danjuma Goje, who represented Senate President Ahmad Lawan; Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Maritime Safety, Education and Administration, Lynda Ikpeazu; Minister of State for Health, Senator Olorunnimbe Mamora; Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Hadiza Bala Usman; and Managing Director of National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), George Muoghalu.

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NERC approves increase electricity hike

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Court orders FG to publish details of runaway electricity contractors contractors

The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission has approved an increase in electricity tariff by the 11 Electricity Distribution Companies (DisCos) in the country.

The directive on the new tariff regime for different DisCos and the category of customers was published on the NERC website on Saturday.

The directive was signed by the Commission’s Chairman, Prof. James Momoh, and Secretary, Mr. Dafe Akpedeye. The new directive, according to NERC, super ceded the earlier one issued on the matter, and “the takes effect from January 1.

The Commission noted that the order had taken into consideration, other actual changes in relevant macroeconomic variables and available generation capacity as of October 31, 2019. It said the order was in line with updating the Multi-Year Tariff Order (MYTO) operating -2015 Tariff Order for 2019 in line with the provisions of the amended MYTO Methodology. NERC said: “Projections are made for the variables for the year 2020 and beyond based on the best available information.

“The Commission, however, based adjustments in the tariff, on the relevant data obtained from the Central Bank of Nigeria and National Bureau of Statistics such as average monthly inflation rate of 11.3 percent, exchange rate of N309.97.”

According to the publication, the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company residential customers R3 previously paying N27.20 per unit are to now pay N47.09. NERC said the customers are now to pay N19.89 more per unit representing a 236.75 percent increase.

“The commercial customers C3 that paid N27.20 per unit in 2015, when the tariff was last adjusted and implemented are now to pay N47.09 in 2020,” it added. The Commission said for the Ikeja Electricity Distribution Company’s customers, the R3 category customers that were formerly paying N26.50 per unit are to now pay N36.92 per unit. The customers are, therefore, to pay additional N10.02 per unit, representing a 368.49 percent increase. “The commercial customers C3 that paid N24.63 per unit in 2015 are to now pay N38.14 per unit. “The customers are to pay additional N13.51 per unit representing 282.30 percent.

“The industrial customers of the IKEDC D3 that paid N25.82 per unit are now to pay N35.85 per unit.”

“The difference is now the additional 10.03 per unit, representing an increase of 357.42 percent.” NERC said Enugu Electricity Distribution Company residential (R3) customers that were paying N27.11 per unit in 2015 are to now pay N48.12 per unit.”

“The customers are to pay an additional N21.01 per unit, which translates to 229.03 percent. The Commission directed that “all DisCos are required to settle their market invoices in full as adjusted and netted off by the applicable tariff shortfall.” (NAN)  

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