Poor Network: Reps Summon Telecom Firms
The House of Representatives has invited regulators and operators in the telecommunication sector over poor coverage and spread of their services in Nigeria.
The invitees, including the Federal Ministry of Communication and Digital Economy, Nigerian Communications Commission, MTN Nigeria, Airtel Nigeria, Globacom and 9Mobile, are to be grilled at an investigative hearing between May 8 and 10, 2023.
The invitation is by the House’ Ad Hoc Committee on the Need to Investigate Failure/Inability of the Nigerian Communications Commission to Promote Widespread Availability and Usage of Mobile Telecommunication Network Services throughout Nigeria As Well As Accruals/Utilisation of Funds in the Universal Service Provision Fund.
According to a notice issued by the ad hoc committee, others to appear before the panel are the Governing Board of the USPF, Accountant General of the Federation, Auditor General for the Federation, Federal Inland Revenue Service, telecommunication equipment vendors in Nigeria and civil society organisations.
The Chairman of the committee, Bamidele Salam, in the notice sent to The PUNCH, noted that the invitation and call for memoranda from the relevant stakeholders was based on an earlier resolution by the House.
Salam said the resolutions were on the “need to investigate the non-provision of mobile telecommunication network services to the under-served and unserved areas of Nigeria by the NCC despite the availability of the USPF, which was created for this purpose.”
The chairman added that the committee would also investigate the “total accruals into and utilisation of the USPF by the NCC since inception of the fund.”
The House had on April 6, 2023, resolved to investigate the NCC over how it had utilised the USPF, an allocation of 2.5 per cent of the annual turnover of the mobile telecommunication network operators as annual license renewal fee.
The House had specifically resolved to set up an ad hoc committee to investigate the matter and report back within four weeks for further legislative action.
Speaker of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila, had set up a panel to carry out the probe, which is made up of Messrs Bamidele Salam (Chairman), Jide Jimoh, Unyime Idem, Aisha Dukku, Sani Bala, Babajide Obanikoro, Abubakar Fulata and Chinedu Ogah, as well as sponsor of the motion, Sergius Ogun.
The resolution was based on a motion of urgent public importance was titled, ‘Need to Investigate the Non-Provision of Mobile Telecommunication Network Services to the Underserved and Unserved Areas of Nigeria by the Nigerian Communications Commission Despite the Availability of Universal Service Provision Fund.’
A member of the House, Sergius Ogun, while moving the motion, noted that under Section 4 of the NCC Act, Cap N97, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004, the Commission is saddled with the responsibility of facilitating investments in and entry into the Nigerian market for provision and supply of communication services, equipment and facilities.
The lawmaker added that Section 112(1) of the Act gives the NCC the power to consider, design and determine a system which shall promote the widespread availability and usage of network services throughout Nigeria by encouraging the installation of network facilities and the provision of network services to institutions in the un-served and underserved areas of the country, known as the Universal Service Provision.
He stressed that a community reading of the provisions of Sections 114 and 118 of the Act showed that the structure, governance, administration and control of the Universal Service Provision Fund shall be as determined or domiciled in the NCC.
Ogun had said, “The House is aware that in the wake of the rapid expansions of the Global System of Mobile Communication in Nigeria, most of the mobile telecommunication network operators were reluctant to move to the rural areas owing to the business considerations.
“The House is also aware that the Act empowers the NCC to receive 2.5 per cent of the annual turnover of the mobile telecommunication network operators as annual license renewal fee.
“The NCC is expected to utilise the funds generated from the contributions of mobile telecommunication network operators, for implementing Universal Access Strategy and Programme in accordance with Federal Government’s policy thereon (as enshrined in Section 4 of the Act).”
NNPC Welcomes FG’s Decision To Remove Fuel Subsidy
The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) Limited has welcomed the decision of the President Ahmed Bola Tinubu-controlled Federal Government to remove fuel subsidy.
In a press conference in Abuja on Monday, Mele Kyari, the Group Chief Executive Officer (GCEO) of the corporation charged with harnessing Nigeria’s oil and gas reserves, said the corporation was pleased with the decision of President Tinubu to remove the fuel subsidy.
“We welcome the decision of Mr. President to announce that the subsidy on PMS is over, and this has really been a major challenge for NNPC’s continued operations. We have been funding subsidy from the cash flow of the NNPC since the government is unable to defer the cost of subsidy that is due to the corporation,” Kyari said.
Burdened by the financial cost of importing fuel, Kyari said that the removal of this subsidy will free up funds to make it more commercially viable and do great work for the country.
“And we believe that this will be able to free resources for the NNPC to continue to do the great works that this company will do for our country, and it will allow us to function as a very commercial entity, and we welcome this development,” he said.
The Group Chief Executive Officer has assured Nigerians of the supply of petroleum products, informing Nigerians of an abundance of the products, particularly “Petroleum Motor Spirit product in our country, and there is no reason to panic.”
He urged Nigerians not to engage in panic buying as there would be no potential changes in the prices of petroleum products.
He promised that normalcy in the supply chain would be restored as soon as possible.
Refinery: We’ll Ask Dangote To Sell Forex At Good Rate — Emefiele
…Says CBN, govt helped him build a refinery
…Raises interest rate to 18.5 %lAs NACCIMA, IPMAN, and others react
With the Dangote Refinery set to deliver its first products in July, the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Mr Godwin Emefiele, said yesterday that the refinery would be persuaded to sell foreign exchange earnings to banks at a good rate.
Speaking at the end of the 291st Monetary Policy Committee, MPC, meeting in Abuja, Emefiele said his team would engage the promoter of the refinery, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, to ensure that Nigerians benefitted from the venture, adding that the CBN, the Federal Government and, indeed, the country helped him set up the refinery.
The CBN boss expressed optimism that the refinery would ease the foreign exchange scarcity in the country, noting that with local refining, about 20 per cent cost of the total cost of importing petroleum products could be saved, thereby reducing prices in the long run. He, however, said it was time to exit the fuel subsidy regime.
His words: “By the time the Dangote Refinery comes on stream, the price at which it (fuel) will be dispensed will be lower than what it is when we spend dollars to import because there will be no freight cost, no storage and all other logistics expenses.
“So we will be lucky to be having about 20 per cent savings from refining locally, rather than importing.
“But the important thing is that we have reached a point, whether we like it or not when we must exit subsidy.
“Dangote Refinery coming at this time gives us the confidence that even if we exit subsidy, the products will be available. And eventually, the interplay of market forces will also moderate the prices to a level that will help the country.
“So we are expecting that, no doubt, by the time he produces for domestic consumption, the excess will be exported by the numbers that he talked about, which we agree with.
‘’We should be able to save, conservatively, close to about $5 billion to $10 billion in foreign exchange that will come into the country.
“Whether it comes to our reserves or not is not the point, it is the fact that the dollar is available and it will be sold in the domestic market so that customers of banks who need to import do not necessarily resort to CBN for dollars.
“They can go to their banks and Dangote will sell dollars to their banks and we are going to ensure that it is done at a good market rate.
“What I would have loved to say on Monday (at the Dangote Refinery Commissioning) which I didn’t say was that the CBN, the government and the country have helped Dangote to set up that refinery.
“He is a Nigerian; Nigerians must benefit from that venture and we are going to engage him and talk to him and I am sure that being the richest man in Africa, he is going to throw a few crumbs so that the price will be lowered.”
N8trn interventions in 5yrs
Meanwhile, Emefiele revealed that the CBN had given out about N8 trillion in interventions to the private sector in the last five years.
He said: “In the last four to five years, we have done about N8 trillion in interventions to the private sector of the economy. The loans have been granted for 10 years, with a two-year moratorium and at single digit”.
The CBN boss disclosed, however, that going forward, the apex bank would reduce its quasi-fiscal activities.
MPR jerked up to 18.5%
At yesterday’s meeting, the MPC raised the Monetary Policy Rate (MPR) to 18.5 per cent from 18 per cent.
Emefiele said the strategy, which started in May last year, had been working as it had moderated the rate of inflation in the economy.
He admitted that the interest rate hike was constraining credit to the real sectors of the economy but that it remained the best option in tackling inflation.
He stated: “The current trend in price development would continue to be monitored by the bank with greater collaboration with fiscal authority to address the drivers of inflation.”
Meanwhile, the committee voted to keep the asymmetric corridor at +100 and -700 basis points around the MPR.
It also retained the Cash Reserve Ratio (CRR) at 32.5 per cent and equally left the Liquidity Ratio at 30 per cent.
We look forward to cost reduction — IPMAN
Reacting to the CBN’s declaration that Dangote would sell Dollars to banks at good rate, the National President of the Independent Petroleum Association of Nigeria, IPMAN, Elder Chinedu Okoronkwo, could not be reached for comments, yesterday.
But National Operations Controller, IPMAN, Mike Osatuyi, said: “Oil marketers are very happy about the Dangote Refinery. We were tied to the global market for several decades. Now, everyone will be free to patronise the refinery.
‘’We look forward to a significant cost reduction, apparently because freight and shipping costs will not apply anymore.
“With the coming onstream of the plant, the Federal Government will be encouraged to end fuel subsidy. This might be affordable to Nigerians, unlike what it could have been in the past.”
Dangote Refinery comes with multiplier effects — OGSPAN
Similarly, the National President, Oil and Gas Service Providers Association of Nigeria, OGSPAN, Mazi Colman Obasi, said: “On a serious note, Alhaji Aliko Dangote should be commended for making this gigantic investment.
“Every patriotic Nigerian and African should be proud of this refinery. It is very huge and it comes with a lot of multiplier effects for Nigeria.
“I completely agree with the CBN governor that it will culminate in the generation of additional foreign exchange into Nigeria as well as assist the nation to conserve foreign exchange currently expended on massive importation of petroleum products.
“As a major crude oil producer, Nigeria should not have been involved in the importation of petroleum products. ‘’The nation was compelled by circumstances to go into importation. I am happy that this big refinery will enable us reduce or completely stop dependence on the global market.”
CBN should merge forex rates — NACCIMA
Also commenting, Sola Obadimu, Director General, Nigerian Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture, NACCIMA, while acknowledging the capacity of Dangote Refinery to generate forex, said CBN should rather focus on merging forex rates.
He said: “Honestly, my take is that CBN should merge these forex rates to avoid whatever might be called ‘good’ or ‘bad’ rates. And that’s the responsibility of CBN – to determine the true value of the Naira. Various exchange rates are basic ingredients for grandiose corruption as we know it.
“Yes, this is a very commendable project that has the capacity to generate forex whenever it starts to export and the proceeds would be convertible to Naira.
“At present, exporters through official channels are complaining that conversion for forex generated from exports is only available to them at official rates which may be unfair, given the fact that they never get enough forex at official rates when they need it either for imported inputs or machinery/parts.
“That’s the danger of dual or multiple exchange rates, particularly when the gaps are too wide as we have it now. But then, the government now has some stakes in the project.
‘’So they may reach some agreements on that level. But it might be preferred to have policies that encourage export activities by all as much as possible.”
Cbn Raises Interest Rate To 18.5%; Highest In 22 Years
The Central Bank of Nigeria at its just concluded Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) meeting raised its benchmark interest rate (MPR) by 50 basis points to 18.5 per cent, the country’s highest in 22 years.
The CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele, made this known during the post-MPC press conference on Wednesday.
In April 2023, headline inflation increased to 22.22 per cent from 22.04 per cent in the previous month, marking its highest level since September 2005.
This is the third time the Mr Emefiele led apex bank will be raising it’s interest rate in 2023.
Nigeria has struggled with a high rate of inflation as well as a declining exchange rate at both the parallel and official markets.
In April 2022, headline inflation reached its highest level in more than 17 years, eroding the purchasing power of the populace.
However, the apex bank has continued to increase the interest rate to combat the continued rising inflation.
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