…Sets to increase its shares in Afreximbank
The Federal Government has disclosed that it has released N460billion from the N2.1 trillion capital expenditure for 2018 budget implementation.
The Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma, stated this on Wednesday in Bali, Indonesia, after meetigng with a delegation of Afreximbank officials on the sidelines of the Annual Meetings of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank.
Udoma said that more money will be released if the National Assembly approves the executive’s request.
He said, “The amount of capital releases as of today is N460 billion. We just need a resolution of the National Assembly on the Borrowing Plan then we can fund it even more.
We are spending money on N-Power, School feeding, Trader Moni. We are conscious to meet the needs of the vulnerable.”
Meanwhile, Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, also revealed that after her meeting with Afreximbank team, there was an understanding that Nigeria may likely increase its shareholding in the bank because of the value such increased shareholding holds for Nigeria.
The minister said: “Part of what we discussed is the possibility of increasing our shareholding and we discussed some of the projects and programmes that Afrexim is supporting in Nigeria. Afrexim has an extensive portfolio in Nigeria.
About 40 percent of the bank’s portfolio is in Nigeria with support to the government but largely to the private sector. We need to increase our shareholding in the bank because there is a lot of value that we are getting from Afreximbank”.
The Finance minister said that they also discussed the setting up of a medical park in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) “which is a discussion that has been going on for quite a long time.
There was also a discussion on the establishment of Quality Assurance Centres in Ogun and other parts of the country.
“We also discussed the setting up of Industrial Parks in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment in three Centres- Lekki, Kano and one in Kaduna” Zainab added.
Asked to comment on Nigeria’s delay in signing the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), Zainab Ahmed maintained that “Trade Agreements are not things that the government will just enter into without due consultations with stakeholders in the private sector.
We need to discuss with the private sector and agree with operators in that sector before we join. The discussions have been going on but we have not reached a consensus. We need to reach a consensus before we agree to sign.”
On his part, President of the Afreximbank, Prof Benedict Oramah, said “Nigeria is still a major shareholder in the bank, although, of recent, it has fallen back regarding its relative position.
That is why we have had this discussion with the Minister of Finance to see how Nigeria could return to the position it was.”
Asked to give details of Nigerian government’s current holding, Oramah said, “the equity holding of Nigeria is a Nigerian affair. Concerning the Nigerian government, it is number three today.
But they have always been number one or number two in the past. Egypt and Zimbabwe are now number one and two respectively.”
He said Afreximbank has “gotten assurances that the government would look at it and we hope that Nigeria’s holdings would come to the levels that would reflect the size of the Nigerian economy.”
Regarding the bank’s business in Nigeria, Oramah said Afreximbank has an exposure of more than $3. 2 billion.
“We are supporting virtually all the banks in Nigeria regarding lines of credit to be able to do export and import as well as concerning supporting SMEs.
We are also supporting many private businesses. We are into manufacturing and other activities. Beyond that we are also pursuing what I would call impacting initiatives”, he added.