Press spotlights increase in interest rate to 13% by apex bank, others

APA – Lagos (Nigeria)

The increase in interest rate to 13 percent by the Central Bank of Nigeria and the seven days ultimatum given to the Nigerian government by the terrorists to enter into meaningful dialogue over the kidnapped victims of the Abuja-Kaduna train attack, otherwise, they would be killed dominate the headlines of Nigerian newspapers on Wednesday.

The Guardian reports that a 150bps increase in MPR is a rare decision, perhaps not taken by the Monetary Policy Committee in recent years. With the decision, CBN is compelled to jump on the bandwagon of hawks as speculated by a recent report by The Guardian.

The United States Federal Reserve System had recently increased its benchmark interest rate by 50bps, a decision it had not taken in over two decades, to check inflation at check.

The Bank of England, the Reserve Bank of India and several other central banks have also adopted the contractionary monetary option to deal with inflationary pressure.

African countries such as South Africa, Egypt, Ghana and many others have followed the hawkish wave. Ghana had opted for what many have seen as an extremely radical position, increasing its interest by 200bps to 19 per cent in the week, two months after it similarly raised the rate by 250bps.

The CBN’s ‘bold’ decision came at a time when economists across the world raised a red flag on a possible recession with utmost certainty that European countries’ economies will not escape a slump.

In its communiqué yesterday, CBN said the MPC members “expressed deep concern about the continued uptrend of inflationary pressure” and that despite the gradual improvement in output growth, the current rise in inflation could undermine growth and hinder the full recovery of the economy.

“While the MPC identified several supply-side factors which may be contributing to inflationary pressure, emerging evidence shows that money demand pressure is on the rise and is unlikely to abate until the 2023 general elections are concluded. The dilemma confronting the Committee at this meeting, therefore, is how best to drive down domestic prices while continuing to support the fragile recovery,” it stated.

The newspaper says that two months after their abduction, the Federal Government has been given an ultimatum of seven days by terrorists to enter into meaningful dialogue over the kidnapped victims of the Abuja-Kaduna train attack, otherwise, they would be killed.

However, the terrorists said negotiation with the government would not be centered on money.

The terrorists, who contacted the spokesman of Sheikh Ahmed Mahmud Gumi, Malam Tukur Mamu, on phone, said Mamu is the only person they can trust in the media and urged him to convey their message, exactly as stated, to the Federal Government, families of the victims and Nigerians in general.

In telephone conversations with Mamu, the abductors said the Federal Government has contacted them on how to secure the release of the abducted passengers but there seems to be insincerity on the part of the government putting their lives at risk.

The terrorists added that the Federal Government suspended the resumption of the train service because of their threats. “We don’t need money. We have a good reason for doing what we did. Until our demands are met, none of the victims will come out alive even if it means we will all die with them. They are well taken care of as you can see from the pictures we sent to you via WhatsApp but we assure you that this will not continue.”

Besides, the leader of the team, who simply gave his name to Mamu as Abu Barra, stated that “it’s been two months since the abduction and anything can happen to the abducted passengers henceforth.”

The Punch reports that the Community Court of Justice of the Economic Community of West African States has found the Federal Government liable for the death of a businessman, Desmond Nunugwo, in the custody of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission in April 2016.

The court, therefore, directed the FG to pay N20m compensation to the deceased’s family.

The 29-page judgment made available to PUNCH Metro on Tuesday was handed down by Justice Edward Asante, who presided over the case and was assisted by Justices Dupe Atoki and Januaria Costa, on March 21, 2022.

By a 2005 ECOWAS Supplemental Protocol, the CCJ has jurisdiction to hear human rights cases and disputes between individuals and their own member states.

Nunugwo was taken into custody by EFCC operatives in Abuja on April 16, 2016, on allegations of defrauding a complainant of N91m.

Barely 24 hours later, he was said to have taken ill and rushed to a hospital, where he died.

The deceased’s family had accused the anti-graft agency then headed by Ibrahim Magu, a retired Assistant Inspector-General of Police, of killing Nunugwo, who was reportedly healthy before his arrest.

But the commission failed to respond to the allegations, prompting the deceased’s siblings, Rose Breivigel and Elizabeth Baumerich, to file an action against the EFCC in March 2019.

Based on the reports of extra-judicial killings in the country, the applicants claimed their brother, who was survived by a wife and four children, was tortured to death.

The newspaper says that the demand for Liquefied Natural Gas (LPG) popularly known as cooking has dropped to a record low across the country, The PUNCH findings have shown.

Market report gathered on Tuesday showed that consumers had lately either reduced consumption or ditched the commodity for cheaper alternatives such as coal and firewood.

President, Nigerian Gas Association, Ed Ubong, said during a downstream event in Lagos that national annual consumption was currently between 1.3mn and 1.5mn metric tons from the Federal Government’s annual target of 5mn metric tons.

This brings to fore, the achievement of President Buhari’s National Gas Expansion Programme which seeks to deepen local gas usage within the next decade.

Executive Secretary, Nigerian Association of Liquefied Petroleum Gas Marketers, NALPGAM, Bassey Essien, confirmed to The PUNCH during a phone interview that the drop in consumption rate was due to increasing prices.

According to him, price of 20 metric tons of cooking gas as of Tuesday shot up from N12mn to N12.8mn.

The Sun reports that in compliance with the Finance Act 2022, Amazon, Facebook, and other non-resident foreign companies providing digital services to Nigerians, have now registered in the country for tax payment.

According to Mr Taiwo Okunade, a partner, Deloite & Touche, Lagos, who disclosed this Tuesday at a Tax Practice Management Workshop, organised by the Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria (CITN) in Lagos, tax is the solution that government is using at the moment.  to reduce its dependence on borrowing in order to bridge infrastructure deficit in the country.

In his paper, Finance Act 2019: Amendments and Implementation Guides, which delved on the theme of the workshop: An Evolution of Finance Acts 2019 to 2021 and Practical Steps to Implementation by Practitioners, Okunade said “what the government is trying to do is to use the Finance Act to shift focus on the fiscal aspect of revenue generation”.

He added: “What the Finance Act does is to help amend some legislations, not necessarily tax but they are very important in shaping the fiscal direction of the country.

“We have infrastructure deficit and the government is borrowing a lot to bridge the gap in the infrastructure deficit. And, in order to bridge that gap, and in order to reduce government’s dependence on borrowing, they keep the focus on tax

“The main stay or main forex earners in Nigeria is oil. The only way to tap or generate revenue from other sectors of the economy is through taxation. Tax is the only solution that government is using at the moment.

“Amazon has registered in Nigeria, Facebook has also registered for taxation in Nigeria. We have all these companies that are providing market place, tools, platforms, apps in Nigeria that are now registered for tax in Nigeria.”


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