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Domestic flights resume at Lagos, Abuja airports

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Some domestic airlines on Wednesday resumed operations after three months of COVID-19 lockdown.

Reports have it that few passengers were seen boarding at both GAT Alpha and MM2 terminals in Lagos, while social distancing and other precautionary measures were observed.

The Federal Government had directed the resumption of domestic flights on July 8, after the March 30 lockdown of the airlines.

As at 6.30 a.m. on Wednesday, Arik Air passengers had started boarding for the first flight from Lagos to Abuja, scheduled to depart at 7 a.m.

It was also observed that passengers complied with the COVID-19 preventive screening measures before boarding, but stores within the airport were all locked.

A check revealed that there had been a significant increase in airfares, as some airlines resumed operations (today) Wednesday.

The airlines raised their fares in all classes of tickets for one-hour flights from Lagos to Abuja.

Air Peace sold its Economy-Flexi Domestic plan for N33,001 for a one way Lagos-Abuja trip, while the business class ticket was sold for N80,000.

Arik Air’s economy plan was sold for N29,189, while the business class was N78,532 for a one-way Lagos to Abuja trip.

However, one of the airline official, who preferred anonymity, revealed that prices of the tickets were driven by extra costs factored into the base fare.

The source said that taxes and other fares increased by the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) was also responsible for the hike in fares.

Mr Adebanji Ola, the Public Relations and Communications Manager of Arik Air, commended government agencies for putting adequate measures in place for airlines to commence operations.

Ola said that Arik Air commenced three daily flight operations from Lagos to Abuja, in the first phase of the aviation restart.

According to him, it is a new beginning in the aviation sector and prays that the COVID-19 pandemic will be fully addressed in Nigeria.

He said that “for us in Arik Air, protection of passengers and cabin crew remain paramount and we have put effective measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“We commend government at all levels in ensuring effective synergy and support for the aviation sector toward combating the pandemic.”

Some of the passengers commended the measures put in place by government at the airport to prevent the infection of COVID-19.

Mr Kola Balogun, the Chairman of Momas Electricity Meters Manufacturing Company Limited, who was boarding to fly with Arik Air, commended the managment of FAAN on the preventive measures put in place at the airport.

He said “I am highly impressed with the level of compliance and processes I am seeing here today.

“I commend FAAN for making lives more comfortable and sticking to the social distancing methodology.

“I urge the Federal Government to support the airlines’ operations through interventions for them to bounce back in business.”

Mr Tayo Ojulari, an aviation stakeholder, said that he did not subscribe to leaving the centre seats in the aircraft as directed by government.

“The cost of operations and FOREX is affecting airlines, reducing passengers capacity to 50 per cent, which is another economic implication for the airlines,” he said.

The Director of Aviation Security of the Federal Airports Authority of a Nigeria (FAAN), Retired Group Capt. Usman Sadiq, said that adequte security measures had been put in place at the airport.

Sadiq said government had also increased the security manpower at the airport for effective measures.

“There is effective synergy between the various security agencies across airports in the country to tackle the numerous security breach incidents.

“All security agencies are on ground to ensure law and order at the airports, and today, we can see that Nigerians are well behaved from what was demonstrated,” he said.

He also expressed gratitude to the management team of FAAN for their support in carrying out their responsibilities.

He added that “I am excited to add that the highest level of the authority’s management, an enviable leadership, commitment and support, has been displayed again and again in an unequivocal manner.

“For this, we are grateful and rededicated to achieving the core mission of developing and profitably managing customer-oriented airport facilities for safe, secure and efficient carriage of passengers and goods at world- class standards of quality,” Sadiq said.

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Business

How to access N75 billion Nigerian Youth Investment Fund

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When the Federal Government approved the establishment of the N75 billion Nigerian Youth Investment Fund (NYIF), hundreds of thousands young Nigerians were excited about the innovation. They believe it could reduce the increasing unemployment rate, which has been worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic, in the country.

However, most of them are ignorant of how to access the investment fund and the purpose the fund was actually designed to address. Below are steps to access the facility and all you need to know about the scheme.

How to access loan

* Potential beneficiaries are expected to have a fundable business idea.

* Registered business

* Must be a citizen  of Nigeria

* Present recognised means of identification and guarantors.

* Also, the Ministry of Youth and Sports claim that the safeguards built around some specifics being crafted around the fund will ensure that potential beneficiaries do not need to know anyone or be “connected” to access the fund.

Note: All processes are handled by the Ministry of Youth and Sports Development.

Who qualifies?

It is meant to cater to the investment needs of those 18-35. An individual and group can apply for the loan.

Who provides fund:

The Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning (MFBNP) and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) will provide the financing to kick-start the Nigeria Youth Investment Fund (NYIF).

Loan range

The Loan, whose aim is to meet 500, 000 youths from 2020-2023, ranges approval will range from N250, 000 to N50million with a spread across group applications, individual applications, working capital loan set as one year and term loan set at three years with a single-digit interest rate of 5%.

A minimum of N25 billion each year in the next 3 years, totalling N75billion will be required to ring-fence the NYIF. For the remaining parts of 2020, N12.5 billion will be needed to kick start the NYIF. It is expected that successive governments will keep the fund alive.

Disbursement

It would be disbursed through various channels like Micro Credit Organisations across the country under the Central Bank of Nigeria supported by BOI, Fintech Organisations and Venture Capital Organisations registered with the CBN.

Why it is different

NYIF provides a single-window of Investment Fund for the youth thereby creating a common bucket for all Nigerian youth to access Government support. Providing less cumbersome access to credit and finance for the average Nigerian youth and help lift thousands of the youth out of poverty and birth a whole generation of entrepreneurs.

Click here for further details

Last Wednesday, Nairametrics reported that the Federal Executive Council approved the establishment of a N75 billion NYIF to support enterprise among 68 million Nigerian youths between ages 18 and 35.

The Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare, explained that the funds will not just be randomly distributed among youths, but will be used to assist the most qualified ones with genuine business ideas.

“For the first time in the history of Nigeria, the Federal Executive Council today approved the establishment of the Nigerian Youth Investment Fund (NYIF) to the tune of N75 billion,” he said.

He explained that qualified youths who fall within the stipulated age bracket and have genuine business ideas “can approach any of the 125 micro-credit banks across the country to access it.

“This fund is meant to create a special window for accessing credit facilities and financing on the part of our youths that will help to fund their ideas, innovations and also support their enterprise.”

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How to curb corruption at the port

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Former President, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Mr Babatunde Ruwase, says the issues of corruption at the nation’s ports can be checked by automation.

Ruwase made his view known at a webinar organised by the Maritime Anti-Corruption Network (MACN), with support from Siemens AG and in partnership with the Convention on Business Integrity (CBI) on Thursday.

The topic of the webinar was,’Corruption in the Cargo Clearance Process at the Nigerian Port’.

He said that what should be done to address the problem was to automate the system, have a single window that would ensure checks on what one was doing.

“Presently in the port, the system is so structured that you cannot do something without paying your way out and the various reforms put in place have not gotten the required impact.

“We need to get out of this manual inspection, have timelines, an ombudsman system, and ground rules that are clear to eliminate corruption in the port,” he said.

In his contribution, Dr Kayode Opeifa, Vice-Chairman, Presidential Task Force on Restoration of Law and Order in Apapa, said there was a need to know those involved in cargo clearance at the ports.

“There are people called ‘Movers’ in the port and also some calling themselves stakeholders who do not have business at the port, but their activities have led to corruption and this needs to be checked.

“All stakeholders must show interest if we want to remove corruption at the ports, we should not allow touts to take over,” he said.

He said that the standard operating procedure of all involved in cargo clearance should be looked into, as some organisations have the policy, but on paper and not implemented.

Mr Olayiwola Shittu, former president, Association of Licensed Customs Agent (ANLCA) said discretionary powers of officials who run cargo processes and unwillingness to tackle issues fuel corruption at the nation’s ports.

Shittu, also the Managing Director, Borderless Alliance, said that the unwillingness to tackle issues arising from cargo clearance and the delay which led to extra cost made some people to cut corners.

“I have been in the port business since 1969 and there have been issues of corruption in the port, it is a very difficult issue that has been tackled by various stakeholders, all to no avail.

“It is so unfortunate because there are so many determinants to corruption in the port, such as the shippers and their agents, terminal operators, security agencies, transport and haulage companies and government agencies.

“All these determinants have their various functions and powers, and as long as they have discretionary powers and no way of being challenged, it becomes a problem and leads to facilitating of corruption in the port,” he said.

Shittu said that there was need for a Central Ministerial Intervention Agency to harmonise decisions in the port, as time wasted in the supply of cargo was the fertile ground that created and facilitated corruption.

Mr Muda Yusuf, Director General, LCCI, said that service system and systemic issues made it difficult to tame corruption in the ports.

According to him, there is problem of impunity and there are no structured, reliable and dependable processes of redress.

He said that in the chamber of commerce, it had been a very frustrating experience trying to intervene in some matters, and they had approached the authorities most times without making headway.

Yusuf said that trade facilitation with a form of measurement should be the Key Performance Index (KPI) for all involved in cargo clearance, rather than revenue.

Mr Vivek Menon of the MACN said that they had embarked on a project with the Federal Government to achieve port efficiency and address challenges.

“We did a Corruption Risk Assessment and came out with a Standard Operating Procedure of the various agencies such as the Customs, Port Health that come on board for inspection and decided on best way to harmonise them to reduce time.

“Also, there is a Grievance Report Mechanism whereby one can lay complaints to be addressed and we have been able to successfully tackle eight cases last year,” he said.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that MACN is a global business network working towards the vision of a maritime industry free of corruption that enables fair trade to the benefit of society at large.

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How to access CBN’s new Non-oil export fund

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Emefiele

The Central Bank of Nigeria has issued a guideline to access its Non-Oil Export Stimulation Facility (NESF). The fund was introduced to diversify the revenue base of the economy and to expedite the growth and development of the nation’s non-oil export sector.

This was disclosed in a document published on the apex bank’s website. The facility, according to the document, will help redress the declining export financing and reposition the sector to increase its contribution to economic
development.

Objectives of the Facility

*  Improve access of exporters to concessionary finance to expand and diversify the non-oil export baskets;

* Attract new investments and encourage re-investments in value-added non-oil exports production and non traditional exports;

* Shore up non-oil export sector productivity and create more jobs;

*Support export-oriented companies to upscale and expand their export operations as well as capabilities; and
* Broaden the scope of export financing instruments.

Who qualifies for the fund

* Firms that are duly incorporated in Nigeria under the Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA) and have verifiable export off-take contract(s).

* Satisfactory credit reports from at least two Credit Bureaux in line with the provisions of CBN Circular BSD/DIR/GEN/CIR/04/014 dated April 30, 2010.

* All applications shall be in compliance with CBN circulars BSD/DIR/GEN/LAB/07/015 and
BSD/DIR/GENLAB/07/034 on “Prohibition of Loan Defaulters from Further Access to Credit Facilities in the Nigerian banking System” and “Guidelines for Processing Requests from DMBs to Extend New/Additional Credit Facilities to Loan Defaulters and AMCON Obligors” dated June 30, 2014 and October 10, 2014, respectively.

Eligible Transactions

* Export of goods processed or manufactured in Nigeria;

* Export of commodities and services, which are allowed under the laws of Nigeria and do not violate the principles of non-interest banking and finance;

* Imports of plant & machinery, spare parts and packaging materials, required for export-oriented production that cannot be sourced locally;

* Resuscitation, expansion, modernization and technology upgrade of non-oil export industries;

* Export value chain support services such as transportation, warehousing and
quality assurance infrastructure;

* Working capital/stocking facility; and

Participating Financial Institutions (PFIs)

* Non-Interest Banks (NIBs).
* Non-Interest Development Finance Institutions (NI-DFIs).

Features of the NESF

* Financing Limit Term financings under the Facility shall not exceed 70% of verifiable total cost of the project subject to a maximum of ₦5,000,000,000.00.

Tenor

The NESF shall have a tenor of up to 10 years and shall not exceed the 31st December, 2027.

Working capital/stocking facility shall be for one year. Where applicable, the facility can be rolled-over twice on a reducing balance basis of 33.3% of the original amount.

Repayment

Repayments of principal and return shall be quarterly and in accordance with the agreed repayment schedule.

Moratorium

* Moratorium shall be project-specific and shall not exceed two (2) years.

* In case of construction, additional moratorium of up to one (1) year may be allowed, subject to approval by the CBN.

* Rates of Return: The Facility shall be granted at an all-inclusive rate of return of 9% per annum.

Application Procedures

A PFI shall submit application to CBN on behalf of its customer in the prescribed format.

In the case of financing syndication, the lead bank shall submit application on behalf of other banks. All correspondence with respect to the application shall be with the lead
bank.

Each request for a facility is to be accompanied by the following documents:
a) Written request from the project promoter to a PFI seeking financing under the NESF.

b) Completed application form.

c) Certified true copies of documents on business incorporation.

d) Three (3) years tax clearance certificate.

e) Audited statement of accounts for the last three (3) years (where applicable) or the most recent management account for companies less than three (3) years in
operations.

f) Feasibility study/ business plan of the project.

g) Relevant permits/ licenses/ approvals (where applicable).

h) Verifiable export orders/ contracts or other export agreement and arrangements/ commitments.

See details of the guidelines here

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