Home Finance N50 billion Agric Fund: low level of access worries Usman

N50 billion Agric Fund: low level of access worries Usman

by Business News Report

Emma Ujah
The Minister of Finance, Mrs. Nenadi Usman has expressed dissatisfaction at the low level of farmers access to the N50 billion Agriculture Credit Support Scheme (ACSS), as only N7.1 billion loans from 44 farmers has, so far, been granted under the scheme.
She said in Abuja that the sum of 46.7 billion has been mobilized by the ACSS out of the intended 50 billion but that participation of farmers for whom the schemed was designed was far too small, several months into the planting season. Infact, perennial crops such as maize and groundnuts are already being harvested.
The progress made in the approval and disbursement of the 46.7 billion available has been rather slow. Current figures from the Central Bank of Nigeria indicate that only 389 applications for loans amounting to 15.13 billion have been received. Unfortunately, only 44 loans amounting to 7.1 billion have been approved. Therefore to date, only 15% of mobilised funds have been allocated to farmers.
The slow progress has been attributed mainly to the low levels of participation in the scheme by the State Governments and Commercial Banks. The State Governments are yet to contribute their expected share of 7.2bn to the fund, she said.

According to the Minister not have the state governments not only made their own contributions into the Fund, they have not also set up the ACSS State Implementation Committees, as agreed in the guidelines between them and the federal government and charged them to, as a matter of urgency, establish Implementation committees to oversee the disbursement at the state levels.
Furthermore many of them are yet to set up their ACSS State Implementation Committees, which could have assisted in improving the awareness of the scheme within the farming communities around the country. To this end, stakeholders should increase pressure on the States to ensure that they set up their committees as quickly as possible, she said.

Comparably, the rate of loan disbursement by Commercial Banks to farmers remains a major challenge in achieving the goals of the ACSS. Many of the Commercial Banks are yet to make any loan approvals under the ACSS.
Some of the Commercial Banks have not even distributed the application forms necessary for the ACSS, to all nationwide branches, which is further weakening the take-off of the scheme in different areas of the country. These drawbacks are not acceptable and should be addressed immediately.
Mrs. Nenadi observed that the current low Commercial Bank participation might partly be due to low level of expertise on agriculture, within the Banks and therefore called on them to expedite action towards addressing the matter, she said
The minister called on banks to remedy this, by establishing desks specialising in agriculture financing in order to fast-track the scheme which she said was one of the strategies adopted by the present government in order to achieve the targeted 10 per cent GDP growth rate.
In the coming months we need to find a way to share the agricultural skills and knowledge existing within the various Ministries, Departments and Agencies of Government with the Commercial Banks, potentially through secondments and capacity building seminars. In addition, Banks may consider the utilisation of the enormous capacity residing in vastly experienced retirees from Government Agricultural Agencies, Mrs. Nenadi added.
Former Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala was the Chairman of the Presidential Committee placed over the scheme with members cutting across large scale farmers and banks Managing directors.

CAC looses over N400million to defaulting companies
By Umoru Henry
ABUJA- THE Registrar- General of Corporate Affairs Commission {CAC], Ahmed Al Mustapha disclosed Tuesday that the commission looses over N400 million yearly following failure of companies to file their annual returns as required by Companies and Allied Matters Act{CAMA}.
Disclosing this to Journalists in Abuja, Al Mustapha who noted that the commission had concluded plans to deregister 400,000 companies in August, said the commission charges a company at least N1,000 to file the annual returns, just as he said that with the deregistration of these defaulting companies, the commission will still be left with 200,000 limited liability companies.
Annual return of companies informs the Commission of the viability of that company as well as its status as a going concern.
The Registrar General who stressed that section 525 of CAMA gives the Commission the power to strike off defunct company, disclosed that 40,000 letters have been sent to some of the affected companies to intimate them of the commissions intention to deregister them, adding that the exercise is not about revenue, but that of compliant.
He said the commission could not carry out the exercise as publicly advertised in 2002 following the need to put its house in order, even as he said that 10,000 letters were sent out in March, another 10,000 in April while 10,000 in may and June respectively and 3,000 as at last week.
Al-Mustapha who failed to mention the erring companies, said their names would be published at the end of the exercise, just as he disclosed that some of the affected companies replying to the letters from the Commission, have identified the dwindling economic situation and industrial retrogression as some of the reasons why they have become non-operational, thereby leading to non filing of annual return, adding that the owner of a pharmaceutical company simply gave ill health as the reason for not operating.
According to him, the leaner the company’s register is, the more convenient and effective it is for the Commission to manage their records and provide better supervisory services, adding that authentic and reliable record of companies will have a positive over all impact on the economy, even as he said it will enable investors and government know the actual strength of the economy.
Dormant companies do not make any contribution to the economy and a realistic list of companies especially made up of largely dormant companies will give a wrong impression of the size of the economy and therefore make economic strategies difficult.
It will assist in effective planning as government will be working with the actual number of companies that are vibrant and contributing to the economy. A reliable list of companies will allow investors take actual investment decisions, he said.
AEA Boss seeks better capacity building, skills development
Stakeholders in the nations fledging Small and Medium Enterprises [SME] sector have been called upon to give serious attention to capacity building and businessskills development in the quest to make entrepreneurs wealth creators. The call was made recently by the Executive Director of Abuja Enterprise Agency [AEA], Mr. Tunde Popoola while speaking at the end of a 4-day business leadership programme organised by Leap Africa, an NGO, with support from the agency and Nigerian
International Bank Limited (a member of the Citigroup).
The AEA boss anchored his call on the experience of the agency, which he said had shown that there was a serious knowledge gaps between passion and execution of business ideas.
Said he Most people who have approached us for funding lack the necessary tools to translate their
ideas into sound business management, adding that this is one of the critical challenges that the
financial institutions face in giving support to budding businesses and start-ups Popoola explained that the experience informed the decision to support the business leadership programme designed to build a crop of young entrepreneurs who will assume business leadership in future and be change agents whose watch words would be professionalism, transparency and accountability.
He told the 49 young entrepreneurs drawn from the Federal Capital Territory [FCT] that the agency would give them other required business skills to make them successfully in their businesses.
The AEA boss informed the participants that they would soon be called upon to be volunteers for the Schools Entrepreneurs Club and Abuja Business Network programme of the agency established to empower residents of the territory in small and medium business formation and management.

Largest domestic bond issue to-date
DUBAI, U.A.E., 7th July 2006 – Dubai-based Emirates Airline today announced the successful close of its second Dirham denominated bond issue at AED 1.836 billion (US$ 500 million).
The issue will be a Floating Rate Note with a seven year term and will pay a return of 0.65 per cent over six month EBOR (Emirates inter bank offered rate) to the investors. The issue will be listed on the Dubai Financial Market.
This is the largest Dirham bond issue to date and is the first-ever such issue with a seven year term, with principal proceeds being paid on maturity.
The issue has been well received by a diverse set of investors which include banks, corporates and high net worth individuals.
The joint lead managers and joint book runners of the issue are Emirates Financial Services, HSBC Bank Middle East and National Bank of Dubai .
The size and pricing of the issue have been finalised on the basis of a book-building exercise undertaken alongside a roadshow event and investor presentations made in Dubai by senior members of the Emirates management team.
HH Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al-Maktoum, Chairman and Chief Executive, Emirates Airline and Group, said: We are pleased to conclude our fifth successful bond offering, and we are delighted with the positive response from the investor community to our second Dirham bond issue. This is testimony of their confidence in Emirates’ financial strength and credit quality.
The proceeds of the bond issue will be used for general corporate finance purposes.
Emirates is one of the worlds most profitable and fastest growing international airlines. It currently operates a fleet of 94 aircraft to over 80 cities in Asia, Africa, Europe, the Middle East and North America . The airline receives an average of one new wide-bodied aircraft a month, and intends to start services to Beijing and Bangalore in the coming months.


By Umoru Henry 11-7-2006
ABUJA- MINISTER of Science and Technology, Professor Turner Isoun said Tuesday that Nigeria cannot boast of sustainable development if her economy is still absolutely import dependent, just as he stressed that the time has come for Nigerians to take the issue of exploitation of the nations resources very seriously.
Speaking at the opening of a National Workshop on Small Scale Mining and Investment Opportunities in Solid Mineral sector jointly organized by Benson Idahosa University and the RMRDC, Professor Isoun stressed that it is unfortunate that the abundant resources of the nation are not harnessed, adding that if properly exploited, Nigeria would be launched into an industrialized nation.
For over three decades now, Nigeria has continued to depend entirely on crude oil for her revenue, neglecting the exploitation and development of the solid mineral sector in particular. The volatile nature of the oil market has now, more than ever before, made it imperative for the country to diversify its mono-product economy.
According to him, previous governments have put in place institutional frameworks and enacted appropriate governing mining and minerals development in the country with subsequent establishment of the Solid Mineral Ministry and the formulation of a new National Policy on Solid Minerals Development aimed at ensuring an accelerated and orderly exploration, exploitation and utilization of the solid mineral resources the nation is endowed with, even as he said that with these efforts, the Solid Mineral sector remains at its infant stage.
We therefore need to collectively re-examine the strategies so far put in place and chart a new direction for the sector, he said.

CPC Clamps Down on Suspected Sub-Standard Cigarette

By Umoru Henry 11-7-2006

ABUJA- THE Consumer Protection Council (CPC) has again swooped on cartons of a brand of cigarette product suspected to be sub-standard across the country.

It will be recalled that the council penultimate week convened a stakeholders meeting for tobacco producers.

The Councils officials raided retail outlets and warehouses of the affected company in Sokoto, Kano , Kaduna and Enugu .

The raid is coming five weeks after the Council alerted the nation of the existence of fake and substandard tobacco products in the country and traced to a tobacco marketing company in Nigeria .

Already, samples of the seized tobacco products are to be sent in for laboratory analysis and the results would determine further definite actions to be taken against the suspected erring company.

Speaking in Abuja Tuesday, the Councils Director General, Mrs. Ify Umenyi stressed that while the government is making genuine moves to control tobacco products in the country due to the grave risk its consumption poses to consumers, the CPC is poised to protecting the health and safety of Nigerian consumers in this regard.

She said while consumers are entitled to their right to choose, even in the consumption of tobacco products, regulatory bodies have the responsibility to ensure that products offered for sale comply with relevant standards and have adequate information for consumers on its health hazards.

Mrs. Umenyi, who noted that a long lasting solution to the problem is being worked out by the Council, however advised consumers to be watchful of the quality and safety of products by paying close attention to products physical state and other relevant features.

States need due process – BMPIU

Emma Ujah
Against the background all large scale fraud by political office holders in the oil-rich Niger Delta, officials of the Budget Monitoring and Price Intelligence Unit (BMPIU), otherwise called Due Process, have called for the establishment of similar organisations in all states of the federation.
The call was the high point of the decisions reached at a just concluded special national workshop on Contracts Due Process in Abuja, organised by the BMPIU.
A communiqué issued in Abuja, yesterday, said the participants underlined the need for all States and Local Governments in Nigeria to emulate, adopt and embrace transparency, openness and competition in the award and execution of Public Contracts in Nigeria, without further delay in the interest of efficient service delivery at the grassroots.
*Observed that the culture of Due Process was necessary for fast, reliable, efficient and even spread of social amenities to all parts of the country especially the rural communities.
*Welcomed the initiative and interest of all the States that have adopted the policy and commended the Governors of the affected States. The workshop however appealed to the Governors that have shown interest in the policy to support the reform with enough political will.
*called on the National Assembly to pass the Public Procurement Bill, the Fiscal Responsibility Bill and all other Bills relevant to the on-going Reforms into law without further delay to ensure that the Reforms are sustained beyond the life of this administration.
*Welcomed the on-going Reforms in the public Service at the Federal Level but advised that the Public Service Reforms should be implemented in a manner to address unemployment issues and alleviate the pains of all those to be disengaged from service. It recommended adequate arrangements to settle all labour issues, as well as create opportunities for the injection of young graduates into the service.
The group also commenced the Non-governmental Organisations which launched the reforms in the Oil and Gas Sector through the NEITI project but called for greater public education of the people especially at the States and Local Governments on the goals of the policy.
In-order to sustain the Reforms, the Participants expressed the view the electorate must take special interest in the electoral process by taking measures to elect into office Nigerians with vision, mission, credibility and integrity.
The participants from eight states of the federation expressed satisfaction with the achievements of the BMPIU in sanitizing public contract processes at the Federal level and pledged to lead the way to spread the message of the Reforms at their States and Local Government Areas.
The commended President Olusegun Obasanjo for the solidly of Due Process Policy and called on State Governors to emulate him, in the efforts to achieved a more equitable distribution of the federation allocations to the two lower tiers of government.
Participants also recommended better Media and Civil Society Advocacy especially at the States and Local Governments to ensure that those who do business with governments appreciated the need to embrace Due Process principles of competition, transparency and optimal cost in the delivery of goods and services.

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