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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.

Shippers in move to move banks to Apapa port

In a move to ameliorate the difficulties faced by freight forwarders, the Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding in Nigeria (CRFFN) and the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) have resolved to move banks back to Apapa port.

The Registrar of CRFFN, Mr Sam Nwakohu, report in a statement in Lagos the move would enable freight forwarders in the area to make payments through commercial banks during the lockdown in Lagos.

He added that the banks had closed shops in accordance with the directive of President Muhammadu Buhari that all businesses in Lagos, Ogun and Abuja should close shops for 14 days and that there should be restriction of movements.

“As you are aware that this is a challenging and complex period and there is a limitation on financial activities being done in the state.

“This has brought a halt to the services performed by banks as they are no longer operating as usual.

“Nonetheless, the Executive Secretary of Nigerian Shippers’ Council and l have been able to appeal to some commercial banks to open shops in compliance with the Presidential directives,” he said.

Nwakohu listed the banks that would open to provide skeletal services within the vicinity of the ports, between the hours of 9a.m.-2p.m. daily for payments of duty on cargo.

The banks are United Bank for Africa, Zenith Bank Plc., First Bank of Nigeria and Access Bank.

He added that the banks are situated at Wharf road, Warehouse road, Burma road, Abebe Village road, Apapa-Oshodi Expressway and Mobile road.

Nwakohu pointed out that two additional banks are also expected to open in no distant time.

He also urged everyone to stay safe and healthy.

By Chris Ndibe

African finance ministers call for debt relief

As COVID-19 ravages Africa, ministers of finance from the continent called for debt relief from bilateral, multilateral and commercial partners.

They are calling for the relief to ensure that African countries get the fiscal space required to deal with the COVID-19 crisis.

They made the call during a virtual meeting hosted by the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), against the backdrop of rising COVID-19 cases in Africa.

 A statement issued by the Communications Section of the ECA in Addis Ababa on Wednesday, said the meeting was hosted by Vera Songwe, the Executive Secretary.

According to the statement, the ministers also appealed to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank Group (WBG) and the European Union (EU) to support the continent to get debt relief.

“The call for debt relief should be for all of Africa and should be undertaken in a coordinated and collaborative way.’’

They also called for a special purpose vehicle to be created to deal with all sovereign debt obligations.

“Substantial drop in revenue from commodity price drops coupled with increasing costs of imports is putting pressure on both inflation and the exchange rate.

“Given that the global economy has entered a period of a synchronized slow down, with recovery only expected after about 24 to 36 months, development partners should consider debt relief and forbearance of interest payments over a two to three-year period for all African countries.’’

The ministers also acknowledged the importance of the private sector for job creation and for the recovery effort. 

They called on Development Finance Institutions (DFIs) to support the private sector in this difficult time.

They said that since Africa was a net importer of pharmaceutical products, enabling local continental production could serve to protect some jobs and guarantee supply of essential medicines during the crisis.

The statement added that the ministers called for joint protocols on border closures to allow for trade and humanitarian corridors.

According to it, the ministers discussed the enormous losses being incurred in the airline and hospitality industry.

They, however, called for the protection and preservation of African airlines, logistics and tourism industry by advocating for a stay on interest, lease and debt payments.

“This is an important job creating sector for millions of Africans and must be protected,’’ they said.

They also agreed to set up a meeting for countries affected by transport and tourism losses due to the pandemic, to better plan on policies to combat the losses.

The ministers said that immediate focus must remain on the health and humanitarian front, adding that awareness raising, testing and social distancing should be continued.

They welcomed the use of technology such as mobile phones to support awareness raising, identify communities in need and create accountability and governance mechanisms around the use of the stimulus.

“The ministers asked the ECA to work with the telecommunications company to design a system to support these objectives,’’ the ministers said.

By Tanko Mohammed

Cooperative agencies mobilize to sustain business

For post coronavirus growth, the National Cooperative Financing Agency of Nigeria (CFAN) is collaborating with other African countries to strengthen and boost cooperatives on the continent.

Mr Emmanuel Atama, the Executive Secretary of CFAN, said in Abuja that the agency had contacted its global body, African Confederation of Cooperative Savings and Credit Association (ACCSCA) in Kenya.

It has also contacted other agencies with the aim of developing appropriate strategies to enable its members to continue with their businesses after the COVID-19.

He said the collaboration would also help them to discuss a common stand that all the financial cooperatives across the continent would follow in the face of the current global health challenge and beyond.

He disclosed that the agency had suspended all cooperative meetings hence, the use of electronic channels and banking platforms for business transactions.

The executive secretary appealed to members of the agency to support the government, development partners and the organised private sector in checking the spread of the virus.

“We are indeed facing a very challenging and trying times not only in Nigeria but across the globe in the face of the coronavirus.

“In view of the grassroots nature of cooperatives driven by self-help, we find it imperative to expand the sensitisation on COVID-19 to the grassroots by keeping our teaming members informed of various strategies put in place by the government.

“We normally get something like loan from government from all these intervention funds.

“What we are saying is that because our people are going to be at home for some time, by the time they are coming out from their homes, they will be completely exhausted.

“We are imploring on government and development partners that have been giving us some support in addition to what we have in our fund, so that our members who are into agriculture, SMEs will continue to do their businesses just like before.

“This afternoon, I will be hooked up to other African countries through our global body in Kenya to discuss a common stand that all the financial cooperatives across the continent will follow in the face of this challenge and beyond,’’ he explained.

Atama appealed to members to obey current restrictions by the government to contain the spread of the virus.

By Tanko Mohammed

Nigeria suspends hike in electricity tariff

The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) has suspended the planned increase in electricity tariffs for three months.

Minister of Power,  Mr Sale Mamman, made this known in  a statement in Abuja on Tuesday.

Mamman said that the delay in the implementation of the tarrif was one of several critical actions that the administration was taking to ensure citizens have power supply in this difficult time.

He said that the 3-month delay in the implementation of tariff  was consistent with  President Muhammadu Buhari’s  announcement on March 29 granting a moratorium for certain Federal Government funded facilities to the Nigerian Public.

The minister commended players in the Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry  (NESI ) that  made commitments to ensure stable power supply during this period.

”We must work together. I must specifically commend the Distribution Companies (DsCos) that have direct interface with the citizens.

“Many of the DisCos have announced that they will take measures to maintain power supply to citizens in this difficult time.

“I would like to implore that the DisCos uphold these commitments ,”he said.

He listed  the key emergency measures being taken to support NESI in the tariff delay for 3-months to limit economic hardship on Nigerians in this difficult time include ongoing engagements with key players involved in the NESI to ensure sustainable power supply.

According to him, players in the industry are working with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to ensure payments to the generators and gas suppliers .

He said that the payment to be done through the Payment Assurance Facility (PAF) would be expedited to support power supply.

By Tanko Mohammed

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