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Heritage Bank restates commitment to agric development

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Heritage Bank Plc, has restated its commitment to the sustenance, growth and development of Nigeria’s agricultural sector.

Divisional Head of Corporate Communications, of the bank, Mr. Fela Ibidapo, who disclosed this in a statement yesterday, said the bank is committed to leading the way in agricultural financing in the country.

According to him, towards achieving this, the bank is currently funding various agricultural projects in several states of the country, especially in Oyo, Kaduna and Zamfara states.

He said Heritage Bank has entered into a partnership with the Oyo State Government to support the multi-billion naira Oyo State Agricultural Initiative (OYSAI), a programme designed to revive agriculture, boost agro-allied businesses and empower the youth and women across the state through the creation of thousands of jobs in the sector.

According to him, Heritage Bank is also supporting an agro-investor, Triton Aqua Africa Limited (TAAL), with a N2 billion facility in collaboration with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) under the Commercial Agriculture Credit Scheme (CACS). The facility will enable TAAL to set up a fishery production chain in Lagos, Oyo and Osun states.

Ibidapo said this support to the agro-investor became imperative after research showed that Nigerians consume about 2.7 million metric tonnes of fish yearly compared to the paltry 800,000 metric tonnes of fish that is produced locally every year.

Consequently, the country has had to rely on importation to augment the shortfall with an estimated cost implication of about $700 million yearly in foreign exchange.

He said the partnership between Heritage Bank and TAAL would help reverse the trend, adding that the firm will use the facility to expand its aquaculture businesses by setting up a nursery/hatchery for the production of fingerlings and brood stock as well as earthen ponds for catfish and tilapia in the three states.

Under the arrangement, TAAL is expected to assist small-scale farms in the three states to increase their fish production by making fingerlings available to them.

In the short term, the loan is expected to help the group double its current production capacity of 25,000 metric tonnes with a projection to scale it up to 100,000 metric tonnes in five years.

Ultimately, the partnership between Heritage Bank and TAAL will help to boost local production, conserve scarce foreign exchange and enhance food security, and ultimately result in the creation of hundreds of new jobs.
Heritage Bank is also supporting thousands of smallholder farms in Kaduna and Zamfara states.

The smallholder farmers stand to benefit from the bank’s financial support for rice and soya beans production under the CBN’s Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP).

Ibidapo said the bank’s drive to support the agriculture sector is an act of patriotism aimed at helping the government’s desire to achieve food security and sufficiency in the country. It is also based on the conviction that agribusiness can be profitable, he said.

He noted that there are myriads of constraints facing the agriculture sector such as poor road network and electricity supply to farmlands that are mostly located in the rural areas while majority of the smallholder farms are financially excluded with no access to banking services.

He said the bank is taking steps to clear the bottlenecks for smallholder farmers who wish to gain access to banking services.

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BUSINESS

Fidelity Bank doles out N16m to 13 customers

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L-R: Divisional Head, Operations, Fidelity Bank Plc., Martins Izuogbe; Baale of Dankaka and N1 Million GAIM 3 Promo Winner, Alhaji Oluwa Kareem Amodu; his wife, Alhaja Amodu; Regional Bank Head, Apapa, Fidelity Bank Plc, Jude Monye at the 3rd Monthly Prize presentation ceremony of the Fidelity Get Alert in Millions Promo Season 3 (GAIM 3) held at the Fidelity Bank Trinity, Apapa Branch. Lagos ….yesterday.

Fidelity Bank Plc on Tuesday splashed 13 customers with N16 million under the Get Alert in Millions Savings (GAIM) season three initiative.

Mrs Chijioke Ugochukwu, the bank’s Executive Director, Shared Services and Product, stated this at the third monthly prize presentation in Lagos that the promo was an initiated aimed at boosting financial inclusion and saving culture.

Ugochukwu said that the bank, through the GAIM, had made significant impact on its customers.

She said that the monthly draw produced 13 cash winners and 18 consolation prizes, comprising refrigerators, generators and television sets.

Ugochukwu said that the bank had also given out N50 million and 54 consolation prizes under the GAIM season three initiative.

According to her, N60 million remains outstanding for grab by lucky customers in the course of the promo, adding that the bank has also earmarked N110 million to be won by customers for the GAIM season three initiative.

Ugochukwu further disclosed that the bank had given N2.67 million worth of airtime to about 1,964 customers, comprising of first 100 accounts opened weekly.

She said that the savings promo allowed the bank to go into nooks and crannies of the country to enlighten people on financial inclusion.

Mr Richard Madiebo, the bank’s Divisional Head, Retail Banking, said that the bank had made banking easy through the promotion.

Madiebo called on Nigerians to take advantage of the initiative to open account with Fidelity Bank, assuring customers that they had the chance of winning N1 million, N 2 million and more.

Alhaji Oluwakareem Amodu, the Bale of Dankaka, Ajeromi Ifelodun Local Government Area of Lagos State, who won N1 million lauded the bank for the initiative, saying that he opened the account with N1, 000, describing he promo as genuine.

Mr Rahman Yusuf, a star prize winner of N 2, appreciated the bank for its kind gesture of instituting the promo.

“I want to say a very big thank you to Fidelity Bank for this opportunity. I did not believe in it until I got here and confirmed that I won,” Yusuf said.

Yusuf said he opened the account with zero balance..(NAN)

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AMCON seeks buyers for Polaris Bank

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The Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON)  is  seeking new investors to take over nationalised lender, Polaris Bank after elections next month. It is also taking stock of the bank’s assets ahead of the sale, its spokesman, Jude Nwauzor, said yesterday.

“The election season has slowed down things,” Nwauzor, said.

Nigerians will vote on February 16 in a presidential election where incumbent Muhammadu Buhari is seeking a second term.

“We would advertise for Expressions of Interest from investors after elections and commence the sale process,” Nwauzor said.

Some of Nigeria’s banks have faced tough times since low oil prices put pressure on their business of lending to the oil and gas industry. The country emerged from a recession in 2017 but economic growth remains sluggish and this has weighed on credit growth.

Polaris Bank was set up last year to take over the assets of Skye Bank which collapsed and had its operating licence revoked by Nigeria’s central bank.

Polaris was then transferred to the state-owned bad bank for sale to investors. AMCON has previously sold three other nationalised banks.

The AMCON spokesman said the bad bank was seeking to recover debts owed to Polaris that were non-performing and had asked for proposals on repayment.

AMCON was set up in 2010 to take on non-performing loans from banks as part of the country’s efforts to resolve a financial crisis at that time.

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CBN warns against rising debt, retains rate at 14%

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All 11 members of the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) yesterday, voted to retain the Monetary Policy Rate (MPR) at 14 percent and other key economic parameters in its first meeting in 2019.

The Governor of CBN, Godwin Emefiele, who made this disclosure in a communique read at the end of the meeting in Abuja, warned against the nation’s rising debt profile, even as he revealed that the nation’s foreign reserves now stand at $43.28 billion.

According to Emefiele, the Committee deliberated on external borrowing, where it noted the increase in debt level and thus called  for caution.

He said the debt level, if not checked, could rapidly hit the pre-2005 Paris Club level. The Governor said that Committee recommended the Federal Government to sustain the pace towards addressing infrastructure deficit in Nigeria.

On monies being paid by the Finance Ministry in collaboration with the Debt Management Office (DMO) to the oil and petroleum marketers, Emefiele said there was an agreement that the banks would halt interest charges from July 2017 to date on loans they gave oil marketers.

“So, its an agreement we have and any bank who refuses to do so, the petroleum marketer through his association should please inform the Central Bank”, he said.

On output, the CBN Governor said the real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew by 1.81 per cent during the third quarter of 2018 from 1.5 per cent during the second quarter of 2018.

“The services and agricultural sector continued to drive output growth. However, the persistence of herdsmen attacks on farmers, cattle rustling and flooding in parts of the country affected agricultural and livestock output.

“The output for growth however remains fragile as the late implementation of the 2018 budget and the residual impact of flooding and security challenges constituted headwinds to growth.

“The committee therefore believes that effective implementation of the 2018 capital budget and the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan and improvements in the security situation and continued stability in the foreign exchange market will enhance aggregate demand and growth”, he added. 

The communique further noted that the committee observed that the near-term risk to inflation remains the impact of flooding on agricultural output, insecurity on food producing belts of the country, exchange rate pass through to inflation due to weakening of oil price and campaign related spending towards the 2019 general election.

On the MTN penalty, he said: “I am glad to tell you in November we held a round of meetings with MTN officials even from South-Africa and by December we concluded those engagements and the matters were resolved. It resulted in notional I repeat it is not a fine, not a penalty,  reversal of $53million amounting to about N19.5billion and this amount has since been paid by the MTN and terms of settlement of the matters have already been lodged at the Nigerian court”.

On the 41 items restricted from foreign exchange, he said the economic department of the CBN together with Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) would investigate any company or any individual suspected of bringing these items either through any border or through smuggling of any means for money laundering and economic sabotage.

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