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CBN introduces new private sector-led agric scheme

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The Central Bank of Nigeria has unveiled guidelines for the operation of the Private Sector-led Accelerated Agriculture Development Scheme (P-AADS) to facilitate increased private sector agricultural production of staple foods and industrial raw materials as well as support food security, job creation and economic diversification.

The P-AADS is designed to complement the Accelerated Agriculture Development Scheme (AADS), earlier introduced by the apex bank to engage 370,000 youths in agricultural production, in collaboration with state governments as well as address the food security and youth unemployment challenges across the country.

Efforts at growing the economy also received a boost from the United Nations (UN) with the provision of $250 million for Nigeria’s Economic Sustainability Plan.

The UN offer, which is aimed at complementing Nigeria’s COVID-19 economic recovery efforts under the Nigerian Economic Sustainability Plan (ESP) initiative, was hailed by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.

The CBN, in a circular titled: “Guidelines for the Private Sector-led Accelerated Agriculture Development Scheme,” signed by the Director, Development Finance Department, Mr. Yusuf Yila, said the scheme shall be funded from the Anchor Borrowers’ Programme (ABP).

The CBN pegged the maximum loan accessible under the scheme at N2 billion per obligor- and to be repaid from the Economics of Production (EOP) for cultivating on the cleared farmland.

 

The apex bank also stated that interest rate under the intervention shall be five per cent per annum (all-inclusive) up to February 28, 2021.

However, interest on the facility from March 1, 2021, shall be nine per cent per annum (all-inclusive), it added.

The guidelines put the maximum tenor for annual crops at six years with a six months’ moratorium while perennial crops have a maximum tenor of 10 years with a one-year moratorium.

The framework also stipulated that the collateral be pledged by participants under the scheme shall be the title of the cleared land and other acceptable collateral prescribed under the ABP.

The CBN added that it will bear 50 per cent of the credit risk in the event of default by the participants while the repayment of the facility shall be made on instalment through the participating banks and spread over the EOP of the cultivated commodities.

The participating banks shall remit repayments received to the CBN on a quarterly or annual basis depending on the commodity financed.

The CBN listed the focal agricultural commodities eligible for consideration under the scheme to include rice, maize, cassava, cotton, wheat, tomato and poultry.

Others include fish, sorghum, oil palm, cocoa, livestock/dairy and any other commodities as may be listed by the CBN from time to time.

On the eligibility criteria, the apex bank stated that prospective P-AADS participants must be existing or new firms engaged in agricultural production with proven capacity and bankable proposal; possess the acceptable title for contiguous lands of not less than 20 hectares; have good credit record and be able to provide collateral for participation.

The beneficiary will also provide evidence of the capacity to cultivate a focal commodity directly or engagement of farmers, including youths as in-growers or out-growers to cultivate on the land after clearing.

The guidelines specified infractions and sanctions against participating parties.

According to the CBN, diversion of funds by the participating banks shall attract a penalty at its maximum lending rate at the time of the infraction.

In addition, such PFI shall be barred from further participation under the scheme.

Also, non-rendition or false returns shall attract the penalty stipulated by BOFIA, while charging interest rate higher than prescribed shall attract the penalty stipulated by BOFIA.

The CBN said any participating bank that fails to disburse the fund within the stipulated days of receipt to the borrower shall be charged penalty interest at the PFI’s maximum lending rate for the period the fund was not disbursed.

Also, failure to remit repayments received to CBN within the stipulated period shall attract penalty interest at the PFIs maximum lending rate.

Business

Give priority to local professionals, contractors, Buhari orders MDAs

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President Muhammadu Buhari has ordered all Ministries, Agencies and Parastatals (MDAs) to give priority to indigenous professionals for execution of national projects.

Buhari gave the directive on Thursday at the inauguration of the Presidential Monitoring and Evaluation Council of the Executive Order 5, at the Presidential Villa in Abuja.

This is contained in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, in which the President stressed that foreign professionals should only be considered where it had been certified that local expertise was not available.

“The Federal Government shall introduce Margin of Preference in National Competitive Bidding in contracts, in the evaluation of tenders, from indigenous suppliers of goods manufactured locally over foreign goods.

“All Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) shall ensure that any professional practising in Nigeria must be duly registered with the appropriate regulatory body in Nigeria.

“All MDAs shall ensure that for all consultancy contracts awarded to foreign companies, engineering drawings, necessary calculations, design, among others, are made available to their corresponding Nigerian partners, including arrangements with Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) as partners towards local production of needed materials,” the statement said.

It explained that Executive Order Number 5 was made to place Nigerian professionals and manufacturers at the centre of the nation’s economy.

The President said his administration would use the Executive Order 5 to midwife a new beginning that would transform Nigeria’s economy from resource-based to a knowledge-based and innovation driven.

President Buhari said suppliers and contractors under national competitive bidding process shall disclose local material (processed or unprocessed), where available and needed for the execution of projects. He added that designs for all contracts, programmes, projects, among others, shall be in English language before signing.

 

“The Ministry of Interior shall ensure that expatriate quota for projects, contracts, and programmes are granted according to the provisions of the Immigration Act and other relevant laws.

“This will apply where qualifications and competence of Nigerian Nationals are not available or cannot be ascertained, which shall be contingent on training such number of persons as may be required for the execution of the contract or project,” he said.

The President, who is also Chairman of the Presidential Monitoring Evaluation Council, said the team would oversee the general implementation of the Executive Order 5, while the secretariat would be domiciled at the Federal Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation, supported by the Strategy Implementation Task Office for Presidential Executive Order 5 (SITOPEO-5).

Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Ogbonnaya Onu assured the nation that the Council would harness the human and natural resources of the country, reduce exportation of jobs and remove the current renting pattern, which fuels inefficacy.

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Railway

Lagos blue rail project gets CBN N60bn support (with photos)

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  • Train to run every three minutes at peak period – LAMATA

The Central Bank of Nigeria says it has offered N60bn support through three commercial banks for a railway project being executed by the Lagos State Government.

The funds are being released specifically for the Lagos Blue (rail) Line, running between Marina and Okokomaiko, which is one of the seven mass transit rail projects being developed by the Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (LAMATA).

Director of Development and Finance at the CBN, Mr Phillip Yusuf, disclosed this on Thursday during an inspection of the project at Marina, Lagos.

Already, he said N45bn had been disbursed, adding that the last tranche of the funds would be released soon.

According to him, this is one of the projects the apex bank and some deposit money banks are supporting under its N1 trillion DCR Intervention, which is part of their response to the COVID-19 pandemic to businesses and projects affecting the people.

He named the banks involved as Access Bank Plc, Sterling Bank Plc and Fidelity Bank Plc.

“The total amount that we have made available for this line is N60 billion. We have disbursed N45 billion; there is another tranche of N15 billion due.

“So, we can see the progress made with the disbursement that had been made so far. This is just one of the many projects under its DCR Intervention.”

Yusuf expressed satisfaction with work done and the solid structure being put in place by the contractor.

He said, “I am quite impressed with what I see on the ground. LAMATA had taken us around and we can see the solid structure that is being put in place in Marina.

“The quality of work is quite impressive and they have shown us all the work done so far. Luckily, I am an engineer; I can appreciate the amount of work being done.

“Most importantly, I see young Nigerians welding, fabricating and there are over 500 jobs on site. For me, that is a very good take away.”

The Managing Director, LAMATA, Mrs Abimbola Akinajo, said, “The vision of the state is to ensure that this project will be operational in the first quarter of 2022, as we are on track.

“One of the major things in every project is funding, and with the support we have from the CBN and three other banks – Sterling, Fidelity and Access, we will ensure we meet our goal and target.”
She said that LAMATA was at present constructing the first operational phase of the Blue Line, adding that five stations at Mile 2, Alaba, Iganmu, National Theatre and the Marina would be constructed within the axis.

She said that the Marina station would actually serve as the hub in Lagos State because both the Blue and Red lines would terminate at the place and the Green Line which would come from Lekki would also terminate at the Marina station.

Akinajo said that the Marina station would serve as an interchange because every form of transportation would be catered for there.

She called for the stakeholders’ collaboration on the project to enable the state government to achieve its aim, stressing that three sets of coaches would commence on the line in 2022.

She said that each of the coaches would carry not less than 1,000 passengers, adding that the signalling system in place would allow the movement of train every three minutes during peak hours.

The line is expected to run on the surface in the central reservation of the Lagos-Badagry Expressway between Igbo-Elerin Road (Okokomaiko) and Iganmu. It will then be elevated from Iganmu along the south side of the expressway passing the junction with Eric Moore Road, crossing just south of the National Theatre to Iddo, then south to Lagos Island with a terminal at Marina.

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Railway

Concession of railway services coming soon – NRC MD

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Managing Director of the Nigerian Railway Corporation, Fidet Okhiria, has hinted about plans for the concession of train operations in the country as a way to speed up and sustain ongoing development of rail transport system.

He stated this just as he said the corporation would continue to run the system in ways that would make the repayment of loans taken easy.

Okhiria spoke on Wednesday when he appeared at a town hall meeting organised by Raypower FM under the theme: “Interrogating the Essence of Chinese loans in Nigeria”.

Recently, Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, said the Federal Government had taken $2.5bn loan to complete the new 156km Lagos-Ibadan railway built by China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation.

Okhiria said at the Raypower forum that the corporation was considering concession and efficiently moving rail at an affordable price to quickly turn out the repayment.

“We are not ruling out even concession of the railways,” he said.

The NRC MD however did not give details on when and how the concession would be achieved.

A concession agreement, according to Investopedia, is a contract that gives a company the right to operate a specific business within a government’s jurisdiction or on another firm’s property, subject to particular terms. “Concession agreements often involve contracts between the nongovernmental owner of a facility and a concession owner, or concessionaire. The agreement grants the concessionaire exclusive rights to operate their business in the facility for a stated time and under specified conditions,” the authority adds.

A project consultant and partner at ALG, Joan Miquel Vilardell, contributing to an AfDB Transport Forum discussion, had said that the private sector participation had been positive in several railways worldwide, usually under concession.

But he noted that the initial concession model used in Africa and Latin America had not led to enough investment, especially in infrastructure.

 

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