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Interest Rate, High Energy Costs Putting Businesses Under Pressure, LCCI Laments

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The Lagos Chamber of Commerce & Industry (LCCI) has expressed concern about the elevated cost of conducting business in Nigeria, citing factors such as the recent hike in the Monetary Policy Rate (MPR) and the increase in electricity tariffs.

Dr. Chinyere Almona, the director-general of LCCI, conveyed these concerns in a statement addressed to LEADERSHIP. Almona highlighted the Chamber’s dismay over the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) decision to raise the MPR from 22.75 percent to 24.75 percent, stating that “similarly, we view the recent escalation in electricity tariffs as adding to the already unbearable cost of living and doing business in Nigeria.”

She underscored that these decisions are compounded by challenges in importing and clearing goods at Nigerian ports, with fluctuating import duty exchange rates making business planning arduous. Almona emphasized that feedback from businesses and analysts suggests that these actions will significantly burden the private sector, worsening an already challenging economic landscape.

Almona noted that the private sector, crucial for driving growth and employment in Nigeria, is grappling with heightened borrowing costs, reduced investment incentives, policy uncertainties, and pressure in the foreign exchange market. She observed that the recent MPR hikes have translated into higher interest rates, hindering businesses’ access to credit for essential functions like working capital, expansion, and sustainability.

While acknowledging the rationale behind removing the subsidy on electricity supply to attract foreign investors with a cost-reflective tariff, Almona advocated for subsidizing production rather than consumption. She urged for an extensive metering program to cover all electricity consumers and emphasized the necessity of a robust regulatory and policy framework to attract more foreign investments into the power sector.

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Almona pointed out that small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are disproportionately affected by the MPR hike policy, given their thin profit margins and reliance on affordable credit. The surge in borrowing costs stifles their ability to invest in productivity enhancements, hire new employees, and contribute to economic growth.

The Chamber urged the CBN to reconsider its monetary policy stance and refrain from further interest rate hikes. Almona also suggested that the CBN explore alternative policy measures to facilitate credit access, encourage investment, and support entrepreneurship. Additionally, she recommended creating an enabling environment for local meter manufacturing to address the gap in meter deployment.

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BREAKING: CBN Upbeat, Raises Interest Benchmark To 26.25%

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The Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) has raised the interest rate benchmark for the third time since Olayemi Cardoso became governor, as part of an aggressive tightening cycle.

After a two-day meeting, the MPC voted to increase the Monetary Policy Rate (MPR) by 150 basis points to 26.25% from 24.75%, while keeping other policy parameters unchanged. This decision was driven by Nigeria’s persistently high headline inflation, which rose to 23.69% in April, largely due to food inflation.

Despite this, the CBN governor remains optimistic that current efforts are yielding positive results and expects further relief in the near future. Additionally, the CBN is engaging with investors to enhance the financial sector’s robustness and market transparency, which will boost investor confidence in the Nigerian market.

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Shallow, insignificant – NLC, CSO, others knock Nigerian Govt over N18 electricity tariff reduction

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Nigerians, the organised labour, Civil Society Organisations and power sector experts have knocked the Nigerian Federal Government and Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, NERC, over the N18 downward review of electricity tariff for end-users under Band A.

DAILY POST reports that NERC announced a tariff decrease for customers under Band A feeders on Monday.

The Commission slashed electricity to N200.6 per Kilowatt-hour from N225.

Ikeja Electric, Abuja, Kaduna, Ibadan, Enugu, and other discos effected the new tariff implementation on Monday.

The development comes a month after NERC approved a 240 per cent tariff hike for electricity customers getting between 20-24 hours of supply.

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However, Nigerians, organised labour and other organisations have kicked against the hike, insisting on its reversal amid Nigeria’s economic hardship.

Recall that on Sunday, TUC issued a two-week ultimatum to NERC to reverse April tariff hike.

But, contrary to Nigerians and Organized Labour’s demand for an immediate electricity hike reversal, NERC settled for a downward tariff review.

NERC sighted Improved macroeconomic parameters as the reason for the downward review.

The Naira appreciated N1353.21 per Dollar on Monday at the foreign exchange market, up from N1400.4 on Friday last week.

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Explaining the decision, NERC said, “The Commission has considered changes in the macroeconomic parameters over the preceding month of April 2024 and especially the appreciation of exchange rates – consequently, the Commission has approved a downward review of end-user tariffs for Band “A” customers from NGN225/kWh to NGN206.8/kWh”.

Barr Dafe Akpeneye, Commissioner of Legal, Licensing and Compliance at NERC, stressed that, “It is based on other macroeconomic variables that the tariff was reduced”.

Meanwhile, the development did not go down well with NLC, Civil Society Organisations and many other Nigerians.

They described the reduction as silly, insignificant, tokenism, and shallow.

In an exclusive interview with DAILY POST on Monday, Benson Upah, the spokesperson of NLC, described the development as tokenism, stressing that it would not positively impact consumers.

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He said the downward review of electricity tariff for end-users under Band A fell short of Nigerian workers’ demands and expectations.

He called for a total reversal of April’s tariff hike and a review of Nigeria’s power sector privatisation.

“This is tokenistic. It falls far below our demand or expectations. Doubtful if this will make a positive impact on consumers.

“A total reversal and a review of the privatisation of the power sector is our demand”, he told DAILY POST.

On his part, the national secretary of the Network for Electricity Consumers Advocacy of Nigeria, Uket Obonga, said NERC was confused and was making a mockery of the sector.

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“NERC is confused. You wake up to issue electricity price hike. Is that the methodology of tariff fixing? NERC should not mock themselves.

“A methodology designed by the Commission has yet to be followed. All their claims about the benefit of electricity subsidy removal are scams,” he noted.

According to the 2023 Electricity Act, Section 116(6) provides that the proposed tariff will be published in Newspapers and the official gazette to enable stakeholders to raise concerns and representation to the Commission.

Additionally, it provides that the Commission shall issue notice to relevant stakeholders to submit their input within the timeframe determined by the Commission for consideration before the Commission updates the tariff methodology, which is why Obonga alleged that NERC failed to follow due process in issuing May’s tariff order.

Also, Ewetumo A A, a retired staff member of the defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria, PHCN, formerly the National Electric Power Authority, NEPA, said the recent review shows how shallow and misdirected NERC personnel have become.

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“It only shows how shallow and misdirected our bureaucrats and technocrats in NERC headquarters are.

“They refused to condemn a Gas-to-Power Policy denominated in US Dollar but are quick to pass on to hapless Nigerians the Forex fluctuations.

“NERC has no feasibility studies on Load Demand or a blueprint for building Power Plants to meet citizens’ energy needs nationwide but only to ration and price the little Megawatts remaining on the Grid”, he stated.

Similarly, the Lead Director of the Centre for Social Justice, Eze Onyekpere, said the tariff reduction is a silly manoeuvre by NERC.

He urged for a reverse to status quo before April’s tariff hike.

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“It is a silly manoeuvre. It is above the market cost of electricity. How sustainable is the Naira appreciation?

“If the Naira slumps tomorrow, will the tariff be increased? That is why I call it a silly manoeuvre.

“They should go back to the status quo. Nigerians should know the actual cost of electricity. I am not impressed”, he told DAILY POST.

CREDIT: DAILY POST

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FX crisis: Nigerian Govt to delist Naira from peer-to-peer platforms

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The Federal Government has announced intentions to remove the Naira from all peer-to-peer (P2P) platforms. Emomotimi Agama, the Director General of the Securities and Exchange Commission, revealed this during a virtual meeting with blockchain stakeholders on Monday. The objective is to address the manipulation of the Naira’s value in the foreign exchange market.

In recent months, regulatory authorities in the country have been closely examining cryptocurrency exchanges. On March 8, the largest cryptocurrency exchange, Binance, ceased its Naira services.

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