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CBN grants IMTOs access to trade on official market

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The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) says measures have been implemented to allow eligible international money transfer operators (IMTOs) access naira liquidity at the official window.

The CBN, in a circular on Monday, said the new measures will enhance local currency liquidity for the settlement of diaspora remittances.

They are also part of the regulator’s commitment to the smooth functioning of the foreign exchange (FX) markets and enabling greater remittance flows through formal channels, according to the circular.

“…the Bank has implemented measures that will enable eligible International Money Transfer Operators (IMTOS) access NGN liquidity at the CBN window. These measures are aimed at widening access to local currency liquidity for the settlement of diaspora remittances,” the CBN said.

“Therefore, eligible IMTO operators will be able to access the CBN window directly or through their Authorized Dealer Banks (ADBs) to execute transactions for the sale of foreign exchange in the market.”

The IMTOs are companies that provide cross-border money transfer services.

According to the CBN, they facilitate the transfer of funds from individuals or entities residing abroad to recipients in Nigeria and the payment of a corresponding sum to a beneficiary through a clearing network to which the IMTO belongs.

According to the FMDQ Group, key participants in the Nigerian FX market include the CBN, authorised dealers (financial institutions licensed by the CBN to trade FX and make markets in the Nigerian FX market), and clients (retail or corporate financial market participants who buy or sell FX to meet their day-to-day personal or business needs).

This means the IMTOs were not active players in Nigeria’s FX market — but the latest CBN policy now allows them to do so.

RULES FOR COMPLIANCE

Stipulating rules to guide the process and enable compliance, the CBN said “same day settlement” will be available for transactions executed “before 12 noon on a trading date”.

The bank said pricing on the CBN portal will be reflective of NAFEX traded rates “observable on an acceptable market benchmark”.

“The operation of this market segment follows the existing arrangement in place for authorized dealers with Foreign Portfolio Investment participating in the primary market securities auctions,” the regulator added.

“Regulatory returns to be submitted to the CBN by all participants on a daily basis, are mandatory and this is expected to contain all the relevant information on the sources of funds.

“Participants in this segment are the IMTOS, Authorized Dealer Banks and CBN. This circular is with immediate effect.”

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Nigerians can now obtain UAE visas, says FG

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Mohammed Idris, minister of information and national orientation, says Nigerians can now apply for and obtain visas to the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Idris said the federal government has reached an agreement with the UAE to allow Nigerian passport holders to obtain visas for travel to the Arab nation starting today, July 15.

The minister spoke with the State House correspondents in Abuja on Monday, shortly after the weekly federal executive council (FEC) meeting.

He said the agreement includes updated controls and conditions to be fulfilled before the issuance of a UAE visa.

On December 13, 2021, the UAE issued a travel restriction on passengers from Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, citing a surge in the countries’ COVID-19 cases among passengers from the two African nations.

However, TheCable reported the travel ban might not be unconnected with the diplomatic row between Nigeria and the UAE over Air Peace’s flight frequency to the Arab country.

Air Peace had requested a slot of three weekly flights from Nigeria to Sharjah Airport in the UAE, but only one was granted by the country’s General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA).

GCAA said Air Peace should not expect to retain its flight frequency after pulling out of Sharjah Airport; the Nigerian airline, however, denied the claim.

In retaliation for Air Peace’s treatment in the UAE, the federal government dropped Emirate’s slots from 21 to one, leading to the Dubai-based airline suspending all its flights to Nigeria.

In September 2023, the federal government said the airline would resume services in Nigeria, signaling a resolution of the dispute.

The assurance followed a meeting between President Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Mohamed bin Zayed, president of the United Arab Emirates.

But since the meeting and the federal government’s announcement, Emirates has yet to begin scheduled flight operations.

In April, Festus Keyamo, minister of aviation and aerospace development, said Emirates Airlines is prepared to resume flight operations to Nigeria.

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Lagos state government designates 5 operational parks for trucks in Lekki-Epe corridor ahead of e-call up system launch

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The Lagos State Government has designated five operational parks for trucks in the Lekki-Epe corridor in anticipation of the e-call-up system’s launch on August 1, 2024.

This strategic initiative aims to regulate truck movements and prevent the traffic congestion previously seen at Apapa and Tin Can Ports.

According to Lagos State Commissioner for Transportation Oluwaseun Osiyemi, the designated parks for articulated trucks in the Lekki-Epe corridor are Hog Marketing Limited in Okorisan, Epe; Nilmage Two4Seven in Poka, Epe; Goldspeed Freight Agency Ltd. opposite Dangote Refinery on Lekki Coastal Road; Diamond Star Ports and Terminal Ltd. in Abule Panu, Lekki-Epe; and Tal Concept Ltd. at HFP Brick Industry on Lekki-Epe Expressway.

“Five operational parks for trucks: Hog Marketing Limited (Okorisan, Epe), Nilmage two4seven (Poka, Epe), Goldspeed Freight Agency Ltd (Opp. Dangote Refinery, Lekki Coastal Road), Diamond Star Ports and Terminal Ltd. (Abule Panu, Lekki-Epe), Tal Concept Ltd (HFP Brick Industry, Lekki-Epe Expressway),” the statement read in part.

Furthermore, the Lagos State Government has mandated that all articulated trucks operating in the corridor must be equipped with Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags. This requirement aims to streamline and automate the management and tracking of truck movements once the system goes live next month.

Additional initiatives in the implementation plan include the separation of wet and dry cargo and the deployment of vehicle inspection services at parks for vehicle certification.

These measures are designed to eliminate traffic congestion, address environmental concerns, and reduce accidents caused by trucks along the corridor. They will also help manage the increased activity expected from the Dangote Refinery, Lekki Port, and other entities.

The Lagos State Government provided additional details on the e-call up system, clarifying that it will officially launch on August 1, 2024, through the platform mycallup.com, with full enforcement beginning on August 7, 2024.

Compliance with this system is mandatory, and trucks that fail to comply will be impounded to ensure strict adherence to the new regulations.

The government emphasized the necessity of cooperation from all stakeholders for the success of this initiative. This includes truckers, organizations, security agents, and local communities, all of whom must work together to prevent a recurrence of the severe traffic congestion and logistical issues previously experienced at Apapa and Tin Can Ports.

The active participation and commitment of these groups will be instrumental in ensuring a smoother and more efficient transportation process along the Lekki-Epe corridor.

The state government emphasizes that by adhering to these regulations and fully cooperating, stakeholders can contribute to a more organized, safer, and environmentally friendly transport environment in Lagos.

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Nigeria’s inflation rate increases to 34.19% amid rising food prices

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Nigeria’s inflation rate rose to 34.19 percent in June 2024 — up from 33.95 percent in May.

The data is captured in the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) in its consumer price index (CPI) report for June, released on Monday.

The CPI measures the rate of change in prices of goods and services.

According to the bureau, food inflation also surged to 40.87 percent in the month under review as prices of food and non-alcoholic beverages continued to surge.

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