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Author: AFRICA FREE ZONE

NAICOM moves to protect policy holders as COVID-19 bites harder

By Chris Ndibe

National Insurance Commission (NAICOM) has granted some regulatory forbearance, as part of business continuity measures to ensure availability of insurance services and protection of insurance policy holders during the COVID-19 movement restriction.

This is contained in a circular issued by the commission in Lagos.

The circular , dated April 1,  with the reference No:NAICOM/ DPR /CIR/29/2020, titled :Re: Effect Of COVID-19 On Insurance Operations, was signed by Mr Pius Agboola, Director, Policy and Regulation, for the Acting Commissioner for Insurance.

Agboola said the forbearance is in  furtherance to earlier circulars  on  the  above subject  matter, referenced : NAICOM/DPR/CIR/27/2020  and   NAICOM/DPR/CIR/28/2020, dated  March 24 and 27 respectively.

He explained that all post placement reports, Reinsurance treaties and other related special risk foreign reinsurance documentations due for submission during the pendency of the COVID-19 restrictions were to be submitted when movement restrictions were lifted.

The director said where Approval-In-Principle for the preceding insurance period had been granted, all renewals or extensions of the foreign reinsurance proportions that became due during COVID-19 movement restriction were permitted for renewal on existing basis.

” Where Approval-In-Principle   for   the   foreign   proportion of a  new insurance placement is required during the COVID-19 movement restriction, it shall be treated on the basis of “Use and File” subject to prior exhaustion of in-country capacity.

“For the avoidance of doubt, after utilising available local capacity, the lead insurer is permitted  to  reinsure  the  excess of the risk  offshore  and submit relevant documentations to the commission thereafter,” he said.

Agboola said that all insurance and reinsurance placements shall be done in accordance with other relevant extant insurance laws, regulations and guidelines.

According to him, all submissions to the commission, including hard copies sequel to the above forbearance, shall be done not later than seven days from the end of COVID-19 movement restrictions.

He urged all to be diligent, circumspect and supportive of government in its efforts to tame the COVID-19 pandemic.

Bank of Industry makes N39.33bn

By John Ndibe

The Bank of Industry (BoI) has recorded a profit before tax of N39.33 billion for the financial year which ended Dec. 31, 2019.

The bank said the profit represented a growth of 7.2 per cent when compared with ₦36.66 billion achieved in the corresponding period of 2018.

The Managing Director of BoI, Mr Olukayode Pitan, in a statement said that the performance reflects a strong balance sheet and sustained business growth in line with both regulatory requirements and global best practices.

“It also indicates a strong alignment with the strategic objectives of the Federal Government, especially in the areas of industrial growth and job creation.

“The group’s total equity as at year ended 2019 was ₦293.09 billion showing a 13.4 per cent increase over 2018 position of ₦258.24 billion,” he said.

Pitan said that the increase in profitability was as a result of improvement in the bank’s loan book, as well as the efficient management of the group’s assets and liabilities.

According to him, in spite of the slow start in the first quarter of the year due to the 2019 general elections, loans and advances grew by 16.7 per cent from ₦634.11 billion in 2018 to ₦740.03 billion in 2019.

He said that Interest Income and Interest Expense increased by 20 per cent and 54 per cent on a year-on-year basis respectively, due to increase in loan book as well as the impact of borrowings.

Besides, Pitan said that BoI in the year under review disbursed ₦234 billion to 10,145 enterprises across the country, thus reduced the country’s unemployment rate, as it created one million direct and indirect jobs.

Pitan noted that disbursement to the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) segment increased from ₦33.9 billion in 2018 to ₦53 billion in 2019, representing a 56.3 per cent year-on-year growth.

He said that the bank also consolidated its role as the managing partner of one of Federal Government’s Social Investment Programmes, Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme (GEEP).

According to him, ₦8.2 billion was disbursed to beneficiaries in 2019, bringing the total disbursed fund since inception of the programme to ₦36.9 billion, to 2.3 million beneficiaries nationwide.

“In light of this outstanding performance, GEEP was recognised by the Desmond Tutu Fellowship for its role in driving financial inclusion.

“The programme also won the African Development Bank’s African Bankers’ Award as the most impactful Financial Inclusion programme in Africa,” he said.

Pitan added that during the year, the bank initiated discussions with its international strategic partners towards raising funds to boost its operations, noting that the transaction was concluded in March 2020.

According to him, €1 billion (approximately $1.11 billion) was raised through a Syndicated Guaranteed Senior Loan Facility from 24 international financial institutions.

Pitan said that the success of the transaction would enable BoI to catalyse domestic production, job creation, enhance local industry competitiveness, and attract domestic and foreign investments.

Access Bank unveils service on access to funds

By Tanko Mohammed

Access Bank has intensified its campaign to shore up its fortunes especially with the introduction of a Dual Transaction Service (DTS), an enhanced debit card service that provides access to credit at the same time.

Mr Victor Etuokwu, the bank’s Executive Director, Retail Banking, issued a statement in Lagos on the issue.

Etuokwu said that the DTS was unveiled to enable customers stay safe and connected by going cashless.

He said the DTS was a bundled service designed to allow pre-approved customers access a credit line through their existing debit card.

“This is the first time any bank in Nigeria will be providing this kind of combined essential service to its customers.

“We have been encouraging our customers to stay safe and connected by going cashless while using our various digital channels.

“We know these are trying times and our customers may need an extra boost during this period. So rather than have them go through the rigorous process of applying for a credit card, we will give them access to more funds using their existing debit cards,” he said.

Etuokwu explained that the service was available to all Access bank customers who earn from N20,000 and above.

“Customers can also access three times the value of their salary during this period of restricted movement.

“This is a remarkable feat and we will continue to promote digital transactions and discourage branch banking until we are completely come out of the pandemic times,’’ Etuokwu added.

According to him, to activate this service, all our customers need to do is dial *901*14# from the comfort of their homes, choose credit as account type on any POS or ATM terminal during any transaction to access the credit line through their debit card.

“The dual card service from Access bank Plc is the first-of-its-kind on the continent.

“The features of the dual transaction service represents another milestone in our mission to transform banking and demonstrates how far we have come in such a short time” he said.

Etuokwu noted that the bank recently donated N1 billion as part of its contribution to fight coronavirus in Nigeria.

He said the bank had also reached out to its customers via several communications to go cashless by using the Access Bank electronic and digital platforms during this period of the pandemic to remain safe.

China invests $221m equity in Lekki Port

More by Tanko Mohammed

The dream of Mr Steven Heukelom, General Manager-Projects of Lekki Port, is coming through as Lekki Port LFTZ Enterprise Limited (LPLEL) reports that it has received a total of $221,047,248 as equity funding from China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC).

CHEC is one of the shareholders in seaport project, currently under construction at the Lagos Free Trade Zone, Ibeju-Lekki.

 ‘I am pleased to confirm that Lekki Port has received the  subscription.

In October last year, Lekki Port LFTZ Enterprise Limited (LPLEL) signed $629 million financing from China Development Bank for the Lekki Deep Sea Port project.

LPLEL reports that the  development of the project is under a 45-year concession from NPA.

World Bank warns East Asia, Pacific nations of recession

By DPA

Countries across East Asia and the Pacific face recession as economies grind to a halt due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to the World Bank.

The World Bank said this in a report published on Tuesday.

It also warned that “significant economic pain seems unavoidable” across what was one of the world’s fastest-growing regions prior to the virus’ outbreak.

Though East Asia’s developing economies grew at an estimated 5.8 per cent in 2019, 2.8 per cent contraction looms this year should a sustained pandemic force lengthy lockdowns and constrict business worldwide.

According to the bank, if the pandemic winds down soon and economies reboot quickly, relatively tepid growth of 1.3 per cent could be attained in a best-case scenario.

Growth in China, the world’s second-biggest economy, will range between 0.1 per cent and 2.3 per cent, weighing heavily on neighbouring countries that have become increasingly dependent on trade with and investment from Beijing.

The most vulnerable countries are marred by “poor disease control and prevention systems” while others that “rely heavily” on trade, tourism, and commodities will also face recession, the bank added.

Malaysia’s economy could shrink by 4.6 per cent, with Thailand and Indonesia looking at sharp drops of 5 per cent and 3.5 per cent respectively, it forecast.

Across Cambodia, Myanmar, and Vietnam – less-developed economies that have seen growth of around 7 per cent a year – a worst-case scenario will see growth slowdown of between 1 and 2 per cent.

The bank fears that nearly 24 million fewer people will escape poverty in the region this year than previously predicted, while the worst-case scenario could drive an extra 11 million across the region into poverty.

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