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Nigeria's foreign exchange reserves declined by 15.61 percent year-on-year to $29.13 billion by Dec. 29, from $34.52 billion a year ago, data from the central bank showed on Thursday.

The forex reserves of Africa's biggest economy and top crude exporter also dropped by 2.6 percent in one month from $29.91 billion a month earlier.

The forex reserves fell to their lowest since July 1, 2015 when they stood at $29.07 billion because the central bank has been using the reserves to support the ailing naira currency in the wake of falling global oil prices.

Source: Reuters

The Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Christine Lagarde has planned to visit the country today in a four-day working trip.  
Lagarde aged 59 is billed to hold talks with President Muhammadu Buhari and the key sector officials including the Finance Minister, Kemi Adeosun, and the Central Bank Governor, Godwin Emefiele on strengthening the economy.
The Daily Trust gathered that the four-day working visit between January 4 and 7 will be her second to Nigeria, after an earlier one in December 2011. Largarde, it was learnt will hold talks on ways of boosting the economy which experts said is showing signs of distress orchestrated by the falling oil prices.
Oil prices have been at a low of about $37 per barrel threatening the steady revenue generation in a heavily oil-dependent economy.
The talks, pundits say may help local policymakers to find ways of tackling the present challenges of foreign exchange (forex) restrictions, debit cards ban abroad and the restriction placed on some import items.
The IMF mid December projected that crude oil prices may slump to all-time low of $20 per barrel in 2016, hence the need for the local economy to reposition itself.

But being aware of this, President Muhammadu Buhari before the December holidays rolled out the proposed Budget of Change’ of about N6.08 trillion. He had the over 30 per cent of that would go for capital projects which would help to create jobs for the teeming unemployed.

Experts have seen raised fears over the deficit financing of N2.22trillion which is around 2.16 per cent of the Gross Domestic Project (GDP). The Trade Union Congress (TUC) of Rivers state said if the oil price continues to plunge, it may be difficult to achieve the plans of the budget.

While the Minister of Solid Minerals, Kayode Fayemi is upbeat that the non oil sector could hugely finance the 2016 budget, Buhari hopes to borrow N1.84trillion in addition to other domestic borrowing of N984bn and a foreign borrowing of N900bn. This would bring the country’s debt profile to 14 per cent of the GDP.

Source: Daily Trust

AXA Mansard Insurance plc. in partnership with online retail store Jumia, will offer customers the opportunity to insure mobile devices purchased during the 2016 Jumia Mobile Week – a week where mobile devices will be sold at significant discounts. With mobile device insurance, customers are assured of insurance cover on their mobile devices covering screen and liquid damage.

The 2016 mobile week tagged “The Jumia Mobile Week Reloaded” will take place from May 31st to June 6th, 2016. For one week, popular smartphones and devices from major Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) will be on sale on Jumia’s website. Customers can take advantage of this opportunity to purchase mobile devices and these devices can be insured upon purchase.

Jumia Mobile Week is an annual online shopping event hosted by Jumia (Nigeria’s biggest online retailer), in partnership with some of Nigeria’s top OEM brands to host the biggest mobile device sales. The 2015 event saw Nigerian consumers get good deals on mobile phones and tablets from OEM brands such as Apple, Samsung, BlackBerry, Tecno, Innjoo, Infinix etc. Each participating brand had a special day to grant its customers deals on the sale of mobile devices, with brands giving up to 50% discount in certain cases.

Commenting on the upcoming event, Bertille Guitton, Head of Communications at Jumia said, "It is a true pleasure to partner with AXA Mansard for Jumia Mobile Week. The strong support and enthusiasm AXA Mansard received on device insurance during the pre-event tech bloggers roundtable is a proof of how needed the service is to the Nigerian mobile user.”

Commenting on AXA Mansard partnership with Jumia, Mr. Yomi Onifade, Divisional Director Retail at AXA Mansard, said “Through this partnership, customers can insure mobile devices bought during the Jumia mobile week, thus hedging the risk of possible screen and liquid damage. The importance of our mobile devices to our everyday lives cannot be overstated. Mobile devices have become part of our everyday lives as they keep us connected to friends and family via social media platforms and business associates via emails. When our devices get damaged, so much is lost in terms of productivity and the cost of repairs can be a burden. This underscores the importance of insuring mobile devices.”

The National Assembly may reverse the $38 per barrel benchmark approved for the 2016 budget, following the crash in the price of the commodity in the international market, our correspondents have  learnt.

Both chambers of the National Assembly had weeks ago approved the $38 per barrel proposed by President Muhammadu Buhari in the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) for the 2016 budget.

Our correspondents report that the price of the commodity has been fluctuating between $36 and $37 per barrel in recent days. Yesterday, it was $37.7.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) executives last week projected that the price of the commodity could drop to as low as $20 per barrel in 2016.

Reacting to the crash in the price of the commodity, the Senate leader Ali Ndume said the assembly  would consult widely on it before approving the 2016 budget.

“The tumbling of the oil price is not anybody’s making, it is not the executive problem. It is a worldwide problem. All countries that are involved in crude oil business are affected. So, we are monitoring and observing the reactions of the oil producers’ countries as you know we cannot act in isolation.

“Secondly, this is not the first time that the price of crude will be dwindling, although we have not experience this magnitude in the last 11 years. Therefore, it is not an issue that we will take a decision in isolation, it must be in consultation with other stakeholders,” he said by telephone.

He said they would take final decision on the benchmark after consultation, pledging that their decision would be in the best interest of the country.

He said immediately on resumption on January 12h, they will commence debate on the 2016 budget with debate with experts on various issues in the budget.

“Therefore we will consult widely and response appropriately, whatever we will do we the legislators will be in consultation with the executive and not in divergent. Reviewing the benchmark is part of it but that is not the ultimate because the price can go up anytime. Reviewing the benchmark is one of the options because the situation can change anytime,” he said.

Also speaking on the price crash, the spokesperson of the House of Representatives, Abdulrazak Sa’ad Namdas said based on recent statement by minister of state for petroleum Ibe Kachikwu that US would resume buying Nigeria’s crude, all hope was not lost.

He said they could not  be certain about what to do for now but that they would give the trend sometime to see how it would go before they reconvene on January 12.

“All hope is not lost about crude price. The prices may not be as bad as people think since the US will now be buying our crude based on what the minister of state for petroleum said, but notwithstanding, we’ll give it some time to observe what happens,” he said.

Source: Daily Trust

The Federal Government has plans to extend the pension scheme for artisans, lawyers, accountants among others. The plan is to extend beyond the formal public and private sectors. The National Bureau of Statistics underscores the government’s conviction that the informal sector remains a critical part of the economy. The sector which accounts for over 70% of the working population has been uncovered by structured pension managers, according to statistics.


Through the National Pension Commission, the Federal Government, with the planned introduction of a micro pension scheme, will bring more Nigerians under the pension’s umbrella, thus ensuring that save for the rainy day. The micro pension scheme is expected to kick off by the second quarter of next year as a pilot phase.


Going by Section 2(3) of the Pension Reform Act 2014 which extended coverage of the Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS) to self-employed persons, the Pension Reform Act 2014 established the legal framework for micro pension.


37.6 million of Nigeria’s 93.5 million adult population, operate within the informal sector of the economy, according to the National Bureau of Statistics demographic. A further breakdown shows that 8.6 million of the adult population earn their income from the formal sector, 49.4 million are under 33 years, 58.7 million own a mobile phones and 21.5 million have no education.


In a paper titled: “Understanding Micro Pension Scheme: Features, Prospects And Expectations”, presented at workshop organised for finance, insurance, labour and business editors in Calabar, Cross River State. PenCom Head, Micro Pensions Department, Polycarp C.N. Anyanwu, described micro pension as an initiative that exists for the provision of pension coverage to self-employed individuals.


Anyanwu, commented “to commence the pilot phase, we are targeting 250,000 contributors to enrol within 6 months, test ICT technology to ensure adequacy, test run the guidelines and framework, test the ease of operations, registration, contribution, withdrawal of savings portion and embark on capacity building for staff and operators. The possible challenges from the scheme however are socio-cultural inclinations, documentation challenges, low level of financial literacy, lack of confidence in government, irregular income inflow, low level of ICT literacy, associated transaction costs and low level of education.”


The micro pensions in Nigeria cover three strata – the lowest, middle and high income earners. The micro pension scheme is an offshoot of the pension industry five-year strategic plan to expand the CPS coverage to 20 million contributors by 2019, adding that the pilot phase of the scheme would be targeting 250,000 enrolments within six months. The trade unions and associations are expected to assist by introducing the scheme to their members ahead of the kick-off of the pilot phase.


In early August, the Board of Directors of AXA Mansard Insurance PLC unanimously approved the appointment of Mr. Ohis Ohiwerei as an Independent Non-Executive Director of the Company subject to regulatory approvals from the National Insurance Commission. 


With over 23 years cognate experience in banking, Mr Ohiwerei is an experienced professional. Mr Ohiwerei’s experience began in 1992 in Guaranty Trust Bank PLC (GTBank), where he worked in various capacities within the bank until 1998. His experience continued when he joined Ecobank PLC as Country Treasurer for Nigeria and a member of the regional treasury audit team in 1998 till 2000 when he joined Diamond Bank PLC.


At Diamond Bank, Mr Ohiwerei served as Chief Financial Officer until 2005, and then became Executive Director (Corporate Banking) till his retirement in 2010. Mr Ohiwerei also served as the Chief Financial Officer and (Non-Executive) Director of ADIC Insurance Limited, while at Diamond Bank Plc.


Mr. Ohis Ohiwerei was appointed as an Executive Director of GTBank in October 2011, where he was responsible for Commercial Banking, Lagos Division and Public Sector of the Bank for four years, until he retired in October 2015 from the Bank.
In his 23 year career, Mr Ohiwerei served in various Boards and acquired strong financial/ currency analysis and risk management skills. This was gained from being exposed to multicurrency and multicultural institutions through international trade and finance, asset and liability management, currency trading and money market operations.


Mr. Ohis Ohiwerei holds a Bachelor of Engineering degree and a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Benin. He has also attended various courses and seminars locally and abroad including:
•    Advanced Strategic Management program at the prestigious IMD, Switzerland 
•    Advanced Management Program at Harvard Business School


The Board and Management of AXA Mansard Insurance are confident that Mr. Ohis Ohiwerei will be a great addition to the existing mix on the Board with his years of professional experience.