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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 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 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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Port Harcourt Int airport resumes operations

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The Federal Airport Authority (FAAN) has restated commitment towards ensuring a zero Coronavirus (COVID-19) transmission as Port Harcourt International Airport resumes operations.

Mr Abayomi Akinbinu, the Regional Manager, South-South and South-East, FAAN, said this on Saturday at the airport during the arrival of the first flight after three months of COVID-19 shutdown.

The first flight conducted by Air Peace 5N EUV from Lagos arrived Port Harcourt International Airport terminal at 7.50 a.m.

Abayomi said that the Port Harcourt airport management was poised at ensuring zero chances of COVID 19 transmission as flight operations kick-starts at the airport

According to him, compliance with the COVID 19 safety guidelines by regulatory bodies in the sector has been well upheld, adding that management will give no room for default.

While commending safety compliance level by service providers and passengers at the airport, he however decried poor adherence to the physical distancing rule.

“To the best of my understanding, I think I’m satisfied with our adherence to safety tips but there could be a few protocols that we need to adjust especially in the area of adherence to physical distancing rule.

“Our markings of 1.5 metres apart are visibly on the floor, but may be because of excitement it’s not being properly followed; so we need to make quick enforcement in that regard,” he said.

On passenger turnout, Abayomi said that being the first COVID-19 flight, low passenger turnout was expected with a gradual increase in the coming days.

“On the departure section, we are gradually getting more passengers and I believe that going forward passengers’ turnout is going to increase.

“My message to prospective passengers is that the Port Harcourt International Airport terminal is safe,” he added.

Dr Nuhu Mwabi, Head of Aviation Medical Clinic of the airport also said that the Port Health is fully on ground conducting mandatory temperature checks on both service providers and passengers before allowing them into the terminal building.

“This is because we want to fish out persons with a temperature of 38 degrees Celsius and above, so that we can isolate such individual.

“Our cardinal objective is to ensure that we contain the spread of COVID-19 as well as other communicable diseases within the airport,” he said.

Mwabi also said that various medical teams and the WHO are also fully ready to professionally handle any suspected case where the need arises.

“We have an isolation centre right here for any person with a high temperature to be examined and if need be, we would then call for further assistance from the State Epidemiological unit,” Mwabi said.

Meanwhile, some passengers have also commended FAAN on its innovations in the COVID-19 era.

Mr Ralph Akinyemi, one of the first passengers who arrived Port Harcourt from Lagos, urged management of the airport and other regulatory bodies to maintain the tempo, which he described as commendable.

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