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  MONDAY 21/6/2021 – CONSUMERS PAID MORE FOR PETROL, OTHERS IN MAY — NBS   The prices  consumers paid for purchase of  Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), commonly called petrol, National Household Kerosene and Automotive Gas Oil (diesel) increased in May, while the prices paid for Liquefied Petroleum Gas (Cooking Gas) were mixed, depending on the volume of the cylinders. The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS)  disclosed these in its Petrol, Cooking Gas, Kerosene and Diesel Watch Reports for May 2021. According to the bureau, the price paid by consumers for premium motor spirit (petrol) increased MoM by1.01 per cent to N168 in May from N166 in April. The price consumers paid for refilling 5kg cylinder of  Cooking Gas increased by  0.12 percent month-on-month, MoM, to N2,071 in May from N2,069 in April. However, the price consumers paid for refilling  a 12.5kg cylinder for Cooking Gas  decreased by 0.66 percent MoM to N4,288 in May from N4,317 in April 2021. The report stated further:” States with the highest average price of premium motor spirit (petrol) were Lagos (N186.26), Benue  (N180.83) and Ebonyi (N177.40). “States with the lowest average price of premium motor spirit (petrol) were Gombe (N161.33), Borno (N162.27) and Zamfara (N162.31). The price per litre paid by consumers for Kerosene increased by 0.23 per cent MoM to N363 in May from N362 in April.  Similarly, the price per gallon paid by consumers for Kerosene increased by  3.34 percent MoM to N1,266 in May from N1,226 in April. The report noted that states with the highest average price per litre of kerosene were Ebonyi (N477.08), Enugu (N464.44) and Taraba (N437.04). While states with the lowest average price per litre of kerosene were Bayelsa (N251.11), Yobe (N298.15) and  Abuja (N305.33). The bureau also said that the price paid by consumers for diesel increased by 0.69 per cent MoM to N238in May from N237 in April.     TUESDAY 22/6/2021 – CBN DIGITAL CURRENCY WILL DEEPEN FINANCIAL INCLUSION, SAYS FDC   Analysts at Financial Derivatives Company Limited, led by financial expert Bismarck Rewane, have said the planned introduction of a digital currency will deepen financial inclusion in the country. They said most central banks had indicated keen interests in developing their digital currencies in response to the threats and limitations of cryptocurrency including poor regulation, price volatility and facilitating illicit financial transactions. FDC, in a new report, said, “Nigeria is set to follow the global trend as it plans to launch its digital currency by year end. Unlike crypto, digital currencies are regulated by central banks, thus giving them some level of control on the financial system. “On a positive note, virtual currencies would facilitate smooth financial transactions and eliminate bottlenecks associated with the use of cash (mutilated notes, forgery, cash handling charges, shortages). It will also deepen financial inclusion and increase the velocity of circulation.” The analysts, however, highlighted rising concerns of distrust in the government and its policies, cyber security and inadequate digital infrastructure. “All these could limit the launch and widespread use of the digital currency in the country,” it said. According to the report, the drop-in inflation rate in May for the second straight month contradicts market reality.     WEDNESDAY 23/6/2021 – STOCK INVESTORS LOSE N360BN, MARKET CAP FALLS BELOW N20TN   Investors lost N360bn on Tuesday at the end of trading on the floor of the Nigerian Exchange Limited as the stock market extended its decline. The NGX All-Share Index fell by 1.81 per cent to close at 37,847.07 basis points from 38,545.3bps on Monday, while the market capitalisation dropped to N19.73tn from N20.09tn. A total of 218.27 million shares valued at N2.73bn were traded by investors in 3,524 deals, compared to 209.21 million valued at N1.76bn in 3,390 deals on Monday. Twenty-three companies, led by Airtel Africa Plc, recorded losses at the end of trading on Tuesday. Airtel Africa saw its share price fall by 10 per cent to N678. It was followed by Mutual Benefits Assurance Plc, which dropped by 7.32 per cent to close at N0.38 per shared. Cornerstone Insurance Plc declined by 7.27 per cent to N0.51 per share; Learn Africa Plc lost 6.48 per cent to close at N1.01 per share; while Ikeja Hotel Plc shed 6.19 per cent to close at N0.91 per share. Nineteen companies saw their share prices rise on Tuesday, with Fidson Healthcare Plc leading the pack with a gain of 10 per cent to close at N5.06 per share.     THURSDAY 24/6/2021 – SMES, POWER, ENVIRONMENTAL SUSTAINABILITY AND ECONOMIC GROWTH IN NIGERIA   Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs) are the backbone of any country’s economic development as it is almost impossible to achieve sustained economic growth which would reflect in the overall wellbeing of the populace without the existence of thriving SMEs. It is therefore important that we formulate policies which take this key economic constituency into consideration when planning for economic growth and development. This fact has not been lost on the current Federal Administration which has over the last eighteen (18 ) months made significant fiscal and regulatory changes to incentivisze the SME sector. Exemption of income from Company Income Tax (CIT) provided that relevant returns are filed which show that the revenue earned in the preceding financial year was less than NGN25 million.  Exemption of SME income from minimum CIT provided that the gross turnover earned in the relevant year of assessment is less than NGN25 million. Reduced CIT rate of 20 per cent% for a medium-sized company which earns gross turnover greater than NGN25 million but less than NGN100 million, as opposed to the CIT rate of 30 per cent% for bigger companies. Exemption from the obligation to file, charge and pay Value Added Tax (VAT) in any year where revenue does not exceed NGN25 million. Naira. Exemptions from the requirements to undergo a statutory audit and appoint a company secretary if the company’s turnover and net assets do not exceed NGN120 million and NGN60 million, respectively. The above incentives are extremely commendable and are a step in the right direction if Nigeria wants to develop a formidable SME sector.     FRIDAY 25/6/2021 – INFLATION, FOREX SCARCITY HITTING BUSINESSES HARD, SAYS LCCI   Inflationary pressures and foreign exchange scarcity has significantly impacted the operating costs of businesses in Nigeria, the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry has said. The President, LCCI, Mrs Toki Mabogunje, said this on Thursday in Lagos at a roundtable on the ease of doing business. “The quality of the investment climate is critical for productivity and competitiveness in an economy,” she said. She noted the efforts by the Federal Government, through the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council, towards eliminating constraints and bottlenecks to doing business in the country, as well as the implementation of some regulatory reforms. Mabogunje said, “We commend the PEBEC Secretariat for this accomplishment. We appreciate that matters relating to the business environment is work in progress. “Meanwhile, businesses and investors are still grappling with several structural, policy and regulatory challenges, which have kept the cost of doing business elevated.” According to her, access to domestic and international financing opportunities, particularly among Small and Medium Enterprise, is still limited, despite the accommodative policy stance of the Central Bank of Nigeria.