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Gtbank, Zenith, Fidelity, Unity Bank Under Investigation For Data Breach: NDPC

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The Nigeria Data Protection Commission (NDPC) says it is investigating three banks, a university and other suspects over alleged data breach.

A data breach is an unauthorised access to confidential information.

The commission listed Zenith, Fidelity, Guarantee Trust Banks, Babcock University, Leadway Insurance, etc., for the interaction.

NDPC national commissioner Vincent Olatunji disclosed this in a statement on Thursday.

Mr Olatunji said the investigation came following complaints from data subjects. He explained that with the new Nigerian Data Protection Act (NDPA), the commission had been empowered with a legal framework to address issues of citizens’ data breaches.

“In the last few weeks, the NDPC has received complaints bordering on unlawful data processing, unauthorised access to personal data and violation of data subjects’ rights,” stated the NDPC chief. “Under Part 10 of the newly signed NDPA 2023, a data controller with a turnover of N200 billion yearly may pay as high as N2 billion, which represents two per cent of the gross revenue.”

He added, “Not only that, offenders also risk up to one-year jail term. We are currently investigating Guarantee Trust Bank, Fidelity, Unity, Zenith banks, Leadway Insurance and Babcock University, among others, for data breach.”

According to him, many micro-finance banks have yet to align their operations with data privacy and protection requirements.

He further revealed that loaning organisations would face the law with the new mandate of the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission.

Mr Olatunji said the mandate required loan organisations to seek compliance and clearance from NDPC before approving online lenders.

“The commission is investigating over 400 complaints in the online lending sector. Soko Loan is already working on a comeback to the digital lending market, but yet to be approved,” said the commissioner.

He, however, said that the commission was engaging in sensitisation exercises to ensure that data controllers understood the implications of a data breach.

According to the national commissioner, the NDPC prioritises awareness more than the scorched earth enforcement process. (NAN)

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Inflation To Fall In 2024 — CBN

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The Central Bank of Nigeria’s governor Yemi Cardoso expects headline inflation to fall to 21.4 per cent in 2024.

The apex bank’s governor disclosed this during his keynote speech at the launching of the Nigerian Economic Summit Group macroeconomic outlook report for 2024.

He said, “Inflationary pressures are expected to decline in 2024 due to the CBN’s inflation-targeting policy, which aims to rein in inflation to 21.4 per cent.”

According to him, the inflation targeting will help the government in its battle against inflation which hit 28.9 per cent in December. Lower rates will ultimately affect businesses, he alluded.

“The outlook for decreasing inflation in 2024 will have a profound impact on businesses, providing a more predictable cost environment and potentially leading to lower policy rates, stimulating investment, fueling growth, and creating job opportunities,” Cardoso said.

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Petrol Prices To Fall Over Refineries’ Take Off, Says Cardoso

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The pump prices of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) petrol will moderate this year as government and private-owned refineries begin operation, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor, Olayemi Cardoso has said.

He spoke on Wednesday, January 24, at the launch of the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG) 2024 Macroeconomic Outlook Report in Lagos.

Cardoso said the expected stabilisation or reduction in fuel costs is poised to have far-reaching implications across various sectors, contributing significantly to overall economic efficiency and resilience.

While Dangote Refinery has already commenced production, the Port Harcourt Refinery is expected to begin production anytime from now.

Cardoso said the apex bank, the Ministry of Finance and the NNPCL have collaborated to ensure that all FX inflows are returned to the Central Bank to boost reserves accretion.

He described the naira, which exchanges around N1,370 to the dollar at the parallel market as undervalued.

“We believe that the naira is currently undervalued and, coupled with coordinated measures on the fiscal side, we will expedite genuine price discovery in the near term,” he said.

In summary of the NESG 2024 Macroeconomic Outlook Report in Lagos, the Chief Economist at NESG, Dr. Olusegun Omisakin, listed some economic outcomes of achieving a stable and appropriate pricing of the exchange rate in Nigeria.

The NESG report advised that stabilising the exchange rate through a functional and transparent foreign exchange market entails enhancing market liquidity through regular auctions, reducing administrative restrictions, and ensuring efficient allocation of FX reserves.

“Adopting a managed float system, regulating speculative activities, and encouraging foreign investments would bolster market confidence. Besides, access to FX needs to be realigned to facilitate international trade and transactions – as such, local access needs to be to the limit of the Naira equivalent. Reinforcing monetary policies for inflation control and export diversification would promote currency stability,” the report advised.

Cardoso acknowledged the challenges facing the economy and the resistance to proposed solutions by various stakeholders, assuring that the economy is now at a turning point, and the bold reforms being undertaken across different segments of the economy, while initially challenging, are ultimately directed towards addressing these challenges in a sustainable manner.

“I am confident that we are already witnessing positive outcomes, and these will undoubtedly become more apparent in the near future. The dedicated and relentless efforts being made are certain to bring about significant and positive changes for our economy.”

“Indeed, recent reports from international rating agencies such as Fitch, Moody’s, and commendations from multilateral banks like 3 Classified as Confidential the World Bank reflect this, with upgrades to Nigeria’s ratings from stable to positive. These reports acknowledge the possible reversal of the deterioration in the country’s fiscal and external position due to the authorities’ reform efforts,” Cardoso said.

“While noting the painful adjustments, they all identify a direction of travel that will unlock the much needed growth and development for our economy in the medium to long term.”

He said the rising costs of food prices and volatility in the forex market will soon be addressed.

On economic growth, he said the global economy is currently grappling with persistent challenges, including inflation and subdued growth prospects.

Despite Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth outperforming expectations in 2023, it is projected to further moderate in 2024 due to tightened financial conditions, sluggish trade expansion, and reduced business and consumer confidence. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) anticipates a mild slowdown in global economic growth to 2.9 percent in 2024, down from the 3.0 percent growth observed in 2023, with Asia driving the majority of the projected global growth in 2024, similar to the previous year.

He said the projections for the nation’s economy paint an optimistic trajectory as the Federal Government of Nigeria anticipates real GDP growth of 3.76 percent in 2024, slightly surpassing the estimated 3.75 percent for 2023.

The optimism, he said, was underpinned by the implementation of key government reforms set to shape the economic landscape. Foremost among the factors contributing to this positive outlook is the expectation of improved crude oil prices and production, highlighting the crucial role the oil industry is expected to play in driving economic growth.

Cardoso said the positive outlook for Industry, Services, Agriculture, and Mining, Electricity, Gas & Water Supply sub-sectors reflects the potential effect of market-based reforms through private investment and SMEs-led growth that would contribute to business improvement and confidence.

“Government reforms in the mining and energy sub-sectors are expected to serve as a catalyst for growth and development. 3. While the potential for growth exists in 2024, each sector may encounter unique challenges and opportunities,” he said.

He said that inflationary pressures are expected to decline in 2024 due to the CBN’s inflation-targeting policy, which aims to rein in inflation to 21.4 percent.

This will be aided by improved agricultural productivity and the easing of global supply chain pressures, benefiting businesses by boosting consumer confidence and purchasing power.

He explained that the CBN’s adoption of the inflation-targeting framework involves clear communication, use of monetary policy instruments, and collaboration with fiscal authorities to achieve price stability, fostering market confidence and positively influencing consumer behaviour.

“The outlook for decreasing inflation in 2024 will have a profound impact on businesses, providing a more predictable cost environment and potentially leading to lowered policy rates, stimulating investment, fueling growth, and creating job opportunities,” he said.

Cardoso said the expected stability in the foreign exchange market for 2024 can be attributed to the reduction in petroleum product imports and the recent implementation of a market-determined exchange rate policy by the CBN.

“This reform is designed to streamline and unify multiple exchange rates, fostering transparency and reducing opportunities for arbitrage. The resulting consistent and stable exchange rate will not only boost investor confidence but also attract foreign investment, elevating Nigeria’s appeal to global investors,” he said.

Cardoso said the NESG’s Macroeconomic Outlook Report for 2024 emphasises the necessity of economic transformation under the central theme, “Economic Transformation Roadmap: Medium-Term Policy Priorities.”

“This theme underscores the requirement for a clearly outlined roadmap comprising distinct yet interconnected phases and essential policy recommendations. This resonates with me as we have just last week, launched a new 5-year Strategy for the Central Bank of Nigeria for the period 2024-2028 that provides a clear roadmap for achieving our mandates,” he said.

The NESG report explained that when exchange rates are stable, everyone is better off. Price stability supports economic growth and employment. It allows people to make more reliable plans for borrowing, saving, and expanding businesses.

“Decreased volatility of the exchange rate helps to support stability in inflation, which mainly affects low-income households because they have fewer resources to protect themselves. In the situation of price stability, it helps to maintain social cohesion and stability. History has shown that episodes of high inflation tend to be associated with social unrest,” the report.

According to the report, increased capital inflows will fortify the nation’s external reserves, establishing a robust defence against external shocks.

“This can only happen with the stability of the exchange rate. Capital inflows, comprising foreign investment, loans and remittances, elevate the reserve levels, bolstering Nigeria’s financial stability and economic resilience,” it said.

The NESG report advised that in addition to nominal enhancements in revenue, the country’s revenue-to-GDP ratio must reach a minimum threshold of 15 percent to substantiate the processes of economic growth and stabilisation.

“The country must significantly decrease its current public debt service-to revenue ratio, aiming for a reduction to less than 22 percent from the current high of 80.2 percent as of 2022. This reduction is crucial to create fiscal space, enabling the government to reallocate funds toward economic development and stability initiatives.

“A moderate fiscal deficit can be a useful tool for financing essential investments and stimulating economic activity. Hence, the optimal level of fiscal deficit that supports economic growth and stability in Nigeria requires a careful balance. A fiscal deficit of less than three per cent as stipulated in the FRA 2007 is considered appropriate for the economy,” it said.

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