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BUSINESS 115

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'Sleeping on duty' and aviation industry's safety

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Nigerian banks foresee rise in credit availability By Toyoon Y1ahood Usamah, with Agency report ANKERS h ave expressed optimism that the sector would be better disposed to the creation of new assets through increase in loan facilities to intending applicants this year. The tendency, they said, wo uld place them in a better position to create new asse ts, a respons ibility they have been shying away from since the industry's crisis started abou t two years ago. Many of the banks, in their 201O-yea r e nd books, sa id t hat with the intervention of t he Asset Management Compa ny (AMCON), they have been able to clear their non-performing loans [rom thei r books. Investigation also revealed that though the banks .were liquid in 2010, they were hesitant in creating new assets by granting loan facilities. Better days a head. Fo r instance, Stanbic IBTC in its 201O-year end results presentation recently said, "there was significa nt market liquidity, with resultant reduction in interest rate." It, how¡ ever, added that there was "limited investment outlets to ehannel excess liquidity." First City Monument Bank (FCMB), in its \,resentation of 2010 financia performance, said it was optim istic that "asset quality, sh ou ld improve further reta il lending, commercial banking , project and structured finance to drive loan gro.wth in 2011." .• The bank said retail business .cou ld achieve fully loaded profitability, driven by deposit growth, loan growth, a nd rmproved interest rate environment. One of the major factors that contributed to unusually low yields of banks was the pervading risk adverse attitude, such that instead of making loans available to the real eco no my, banks invested in governm ent debt market. Adesoji Solanke, banking a nalys t at the Renaissance Capital, an investment bank, is, however, optimistic that the "i mplementation of AMCON activities in 2011 will increase the ability of banks to provide cred it to their customers a nd promises to red uce volatility in the market." . Re naissance Capita l, in a research note on the industry, said "there is a gradua l dissipation of banks' asset ~"Q\fa li ty concerns." According to it, "our Nigeria n banks' analyst expects an uptick in lending activity to impact positively on banks' income in 201l."

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Group Managing Director and Chief Exec utive Officer, Access Bank PIc, Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede (left); and Chairman, Gbenga Oyebode, at the bank's 22nd yearly general meeting, In lagos, yesterday.

IMF, World Banl<worl<

to taclde fluctuating food'prices AST week, the two leading 'nternational banking U institutions- International

Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank, met in Washington DC to discuss the precarious status of global food security Though the conversations were fraught witll deeply disturbing hypoth etica ls a nd harrowing production projections, immediate mitigation strategies were decidecf upon and set into motion. Executing these plans quickly enough to alleviate some of the poorest nations' growing pressure is the chaUenge that the International Monetary Fund and World Bank now face. These fluctuating food prices make the world's poor astoundingly vulnerable. The

The World Bank's latest Food Price Watch has shown double-digit food price inflation in Egypt and Syria ...By June last year, 44 million additional people were living below the World Bank's poverty line. increasing global dependency on large-scale agribusiness made last year's natural disasters-such as droughts in Europe and flooding in Africa-all the more devastating. So much so that World Bank President, Robert Zoellick is worried, "we risk losing a generation" if food prices continue to increase. At a time whe n many poor countries are already grappling with lower wages and unemployment, higher hunger contin ues to be pervasive in Northern Africa, SubSaharan Africa, and the

Middle East. Though food prices are not the cause of recent political unrest in these regions, they serve to facilitate,-enflame, and sustain the turmoil, Zoellick refers to it as an "aggravating factor." For example, the World Bank's latest Food Price Watch has shown doublffiigit food price inflation in Egypt and Syria. By June last year, 44 million additional people were living below the World Bank's poverCONTINUED ON PAGE 16


IMF, World Bani< in talks over

food prices CONTINUED FROM PAGE 15 ty line. If prices climb by another 10 per cent (which projections show is very possible over the next few months), another \0 million people will be added to that group, and if prices increase by 30 per cent ove r 34 million add itional people will be not be able to make enough income to feed themselves. Already this year, staple crop prices have surged- wheat has risen by 69 per cent, com by 74 per cent, and soy by 36 per cent according to World Bank statistics. The effects of these flu ctuations disproportio nately hits developing countries, the Kyrgyz Republic has seen prices jump by 27 percent and Georgia has seen a ptice hike of 23 per cent, among many examples. "With food prices, we are at a real tipl?,ing point," said Zoellicl<. 'We are concerned about high and volatile international Tood prices and their impact on vulnerable populations, as well as the longer term risks they pose to growth and poverty reduction." To counteract these trends, tile IMF and World Bank plan to greatly expand development in the agricultural sector and hope to aggreSSively encourage private sector investment in these struggling regions. Also meeting last week were top G20 Finance chiefs, who pledged fi nancial support to assist the new governments in the Middle East and No rth Africa. Zoellick said the G20 can playa leading role to all.,. viate tile world's food productio n problems, add ing that the group of nations was working closely with the World BanI<. A strategy to remove eXpOlt restrictions for food-producing countries was announced, as well as ideas about how to create social sa fety nets. Zpellick claims support for the..'."orld路s poor will be more sustained "through effective, targeted nutrition and safety net programs rather than mistaken price con trols or broad-based ihcreases in wages."

ATCON tasl<s Jonathan on ICf By Adeyemi Adepelun

LE COMMUNI CATIONS Service Providers: under the aegis of the Association of Te 1e com m u n i c a ti 0 n s of Nigeria Companies (ATCON), have asked President Goodluck Jonathan to further unlock the potentials in the Information and Communications Technology (Ia) sector of the country, for it to remain the fulcrum upon which other sectors of the economy could tilrive. The President of the Association, Titi Omo-Ettu said in Lagos over the weekend that the Jonathan led government wo uld need to give priority attention to la sector for the

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country to witness further development According to him, with more government attention on la sector, tirrough proper legislation, monitoring and more investment, the over depend路 ence on the oil and gas would reduce drastically and would encourage local content development of the sector, which has long been canvassed by various stake holders in the sector. . Omo-Ettu, an engineer, also asked the Federal Government to taclde the country's energy problem with all sincerity. 'The second is the manner of addressing the energy sector solutions and I suggest, he should learn from the modest

progress we made in the telecommunjcations sector. That Is to say government should begin to realise that not all problems have exclusive requirement of money and we should stop 'throwing money' at the energy problem. I am saying, in other words, tilat what we did in the telecommunications sector was invariably to stop throwing money at the probleIjl, but to 'allow sincere Iiberalisation to take place. "So far there has been insincere implementation ofliberalisation programme, in the ener路 gy sector and a change of emphaSiS is suggested. It requires true liberalisation, not mega billions of dollars of Nigeria's money. Our reading is

that the energy sector is just enriching a few people and that precisely was what we stopped doing in telecommunications sector. It was not a smooth sail to get the current status and I do not expect such solution to also be smooth sailing for energy. If this government confronts it, it will be confronti ng powerful moneybags. In the dawn of telecom liberalisation, we confronted an unwilling military oligarchy. Which is more dangerous to confront?" According to him, the presi路 dent would need to restructure the entire la industry for the country to ta ke advantage of emergi ng technologies and modem management, besides

making more people to have access to communications at

affordable price. To make remarkable ach ievement in this, he said that, there was need for Nigerians to have access to broadband, need for government to issue the first National Operators License, improve on quality of service and the availability of Ihurnan capacity development, The ATCON preSident stressed that government attention to la sector was low in the last few years and the"" fore, urged the new Jonathan government that would be inaugurated on May 29, to put all efforts in motion to ensure the sector becomes more competitive globally.

Bank for Africa Pic (U BA), Feyi Ogoji; and Oep uty Chief Credit Officer/Head financed by USA, in Edo Stale.

Brent crude rises above $125 a barrel RUDE oil prices were on C t he upbeat, yes terday, as Brent crude rose above $125 a barrel, ahead of growth data in the United States- the big~est crudeconsumIng nation. Brent North Sea crude for delivery in June gai ned 10 cents to $125.23 a barrel in Lo ndon deals. New York's main futures contract, West Texas ' lnte rmed iate (WII) or lig ht sweet crude for June, dipped fi ve cents $112.69 a qarrel, after sealing a 2.5yea r high of $113.70. "Brent crude has risen to just sh ort of $126 a barrel... bringing it closer to t he 32m o nth hig h of early April ," said Commerzbank a nalys t Carsten Fritsch . "WIl crude has meanwhile reached almost $114 a barrel, a price level last see n in September 2008." Traders were awaiting the publication on Thursday of first-quarter US growth

data. Crud e oil pnces had n sen on Wednesday on the back of the Federal Reserve's decision to co ntinue pursuing an exceptionally.supportive monetary policy. The Fed an no unced that it wo uld maintain its key interest rate at an ultralow zero to 0.25 percent t o s upport econom ic growth. Citing the economy's only "moderate" recovery, the central bank also kept the door open for more economic stimulus, wh ile saying its curren t $600 billion program wou ld be allowed to run its forecast course through June. Th e Fed's easy monetary policy weighed o n the dollar, helping to support oil prices. A weake r US unit makes oil and other dollar-pri ced commodities more attractive to buyers usi ng s tronge r currencies.


THE GUARDIAN, 29 APRIL, 2011  

IMF, World Bank Work to tackle fluctuating food prices

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