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By Adedapo Adesanya

Standard Chartered Bank (SCB) Nigeria, through its forum, has said that Nigeria needs to balance effective fiscal and monetary policies to awaken its ailing economy.

This was the crux of the matter at the company’s recently hosted Global Research Briefing which sought to identify the key concerns for the Nigerian financial market, pool solutions from a cross-section of financial and oil sector experts, and chart a course in a bid to reverse the negative situation.

This is coming as the world continues to contend with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Held in Lagos, the event provided a conducive environment for market leaders to dialogue on an array of key economic issues ranging from the expected implementation of foreign exchange and monetary policy reforms to interventions needed to address the challenges in the oil and gas sector.

In his welcome remarks, the CEO of Standard Chartered Bank Nigeria, Mr Lamin Manjang, noted that the session came at a time of great uncertainty and volatility both globally and locally, marked by the spectre of high inflation and slow growth.

“We have seen a very aggressive tightening of monetary policy across almost all central banks in the world. In Nigeria, we have seen the same phenomenon of high inflation. But it’s not all doom and gloom. We have been through similar challenges in the past, and we eventually came out of it,” he stated.

During her keynote presentation, SCB’s Regional Head of Research, Africa and the Middle East, Ms Razia Kahn, highlighted the need for greater reassurance on FX and other policy reforms for Nigeria to attract foreign investor participation.

“In terms of the policy response, Nigeria has perhaps been more tested than many other economies. A lot of the transmission of the different pressures into the great slowdown has been exacerbated by the policy decisions in Nigeria. Still, Nigeria stands apart from many of its African counterparts simply because it is seen as an economy that has scale,” she explained.

Addressing the challenges within the petroleum industry, Ms Khan moderated an Oil and Gas panel session which included Mr Leke Ogunlewe, former Head of Global Banking/Corporate and Institutional Banking, SCB; Mr Chikezie Nwosu, MD/CEO, Waltersmith Petroman Oil Limited; and Mr Femi Ogunbi, Treasurer, ExxonMobil.

Speaking on challenges brought on by the implementation of the Petroleum Industry Act, Mr Ogunlewe noted that there were concerns regarding the regulation of the significant investments of oil & gas companies in social initiatives, particularly as they relate to their host communities.

“We now have a regulator that monitors these organizations in a way that is unfavourable to the communities. I’m curious to see how that will work out because I know from experience that several oil & gas companies spend much more than the PIA stipulates,” he stated.

In his remarks, Mr Ogunbi underscored the need for the market forces of demand and supply to play a greater role in Nigeria’s oil & gas policies. According to him, Nigeria needs more enablers and respect for market forces in virtually every sector.

Discussing the need to attract Foreign Direct Investment, the Financial Markets panel included Mr Ayodeji Adelagun, Head, Financial Markets, Standard Chartered Bank Nigeria; Ms Elizabeth Oguegbu, Head of Financial Markets Sales, Standard Chartered Bank Nigeria; Mr David Alao, CEO, Leadway Asset Management Company; and Ms Tumi Sekoni, MD, FMDQ Exchange.

During the discussion, Mr Alao noted that serious FX reforms are necessary for the international investing public to regain confidence in Nigeria, just as Ms Sekoni called attention to the likelihood of FX reforms being deferred till after the coming elections.

Speaking at the session, Mr Olukorede Adenowo, Executive Director, Corporate Commercial and Institutional Banking, said, “As a global bank with a rich network of experience and expertise in Africa and the Middle East, we are in a unique position to support the massive shift of capital towards sustainable finance, which has become a priority for stakeholders, investors and clients, alike. The people and businesses we serve are the engines of trade and innovation and are central to the transition to a fair, sustainable future.

“The Global Research Briefing provided an opportunity for us to share insights into the challenges within the country and, more so, the tremendous opportunities that exist as well as providing solutions that governments can take to make their markets more attractive for investment.

“We are determined to support our clients with identifying such opportunities and developing significant sustainable finance solutions to grow their businesses. This will ensure that we can deliver on our aspiration to be the Bank that’s continuously driving commerce and prosperity for our clients and the economies we operate in.’’

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