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Slash in bank charges excite Nigerians

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Banks customers on Monday commended the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for its move in slashing various banks charges.

A cross section of customers who spoke with News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Monday described the development as the right step in the right direction.

The apex bank in new guidelines on Sunday announced the downward review of most charges and fees for banking services, other financial, and non-bank financial institutions, with effect from Jan. 1, 2020.

CBN Slashes Bank Charges; Cuts ATM fee to N35

Among the charges, CBN said bank customers would now pay N10 for electronic transfers below N5,000, and N25 for electronic transfer between N5,000 and N50,000. Only electronic transfer above N50,000 will attract N50 charge.

Previously, bank customers pay N50 charge for electronic transfers below N500,000.

The guide also slashed charges for cash withdrawal via Other bank’s ATM to “maximum of N35 after the third withdrawal within the same month” from “N65 after the third withdrawal within the same month”.

A bank customer, Mr James Onumah told NAN that the CBN’s directive was a new year gift to the all bank customers.

Onumah said most Nigerian banks were still characterised with some inefficiencies yet they charge customers for services they didn’t provide.

He explained that withdrawal charges of about N65 being taken from bank users by banks was exploitative and uncalled for.

Mrs Hadiza Maikarfi said the announcement was cheering news for her at the weekend.

Maikarfi said various bank charges before the reduction were too high for customers like her could bear urging the apex bank to still review them downward.

According to her, these charges can discourage people from getting involved in financial services thereby affecting financial inclusion being promoted by the bank.

Sani Nura, another bank customer urged CBN to supervise banks to ensure the directive was carried out and implemented fully.

Nura added that the bank’s charges reduction by the apex bank was timely due to the current hardship being experienced by the citizens.

Funke Akin told NAN that she had been celebrating over the reduction as anounced by CBN.

Akin said she was particularly happy over the removal of card maintenance charges adding that she never understood the essence of such charges by banks.

Mr Isaac Okorafor, the CBN Director, Corporate Communications Department, on Sunday said the guidelines would take effect from Jan. 1, 2020.

Okorafor, while briefing newsmen said the step was in furtherance of the bank’s quest to make financial services more accessible and affordable to various stakeholders in the economy.

He explained that some major highlights of the new guidelines included the removal of Card Maintenance Fee (CAMF) on all cards linked to current accounts.

He said there would be a maximum of one Naira per mille for customer induced debit transactions to third parties and transfers or lodgements to the customers’ account in other banks on current accounts only.

Okorafor explained that it all involved reduction in the amount payable for cash withdrawals from other banks’ Automated Teller Machines as Remote-on-Us transactions.

The director said the reduction was from N65 to N35 after the third withdrawal within one month.

According to him, other reductions include Advance Payment Guarantee (APG), now pegged at maximum of one per cent of the APG value in the first year and 0.5 per cent for subsequent years on contingent liabilities.

On debit card charges, Okorafor said that the new guide stipulated that a one-off charge of N1,000 applied to the issuance of cards, irrespective of card type regular or premium.

He noted that the same one-off charge of N1,000 applied for the replacement of debit cards at the customer’s instance for lost or damaged cards.

According to Okorafor, upon expiry of existing cards, customers are to pay the same one-off charge of N1,000 irrespective of card type and no charge should be required for pre-paid card loading or unloading.

He explained that the current NIBSS Instant Payments (NIP) charges applied to use of Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD), purchase with cash-back would attract a charge of N100 per N20,000 subject to cumulative N60,000 daily withdrawal.

The CBN spokesman noted that for cards linked to savings account, the maintenance fee had been reduced to a maximum of N50 per quarter from N50 per month amounting to only N200 per annum instead of N600.

The director hinted that there would be no more charges for reactivation or closure of accounts such as savings, current and domiciliary accounts while status enquiry at the request of the customer like confirmation letter, letter of non-indebtedness and reference letter would now attract a fee of N500 per request.

“On Card Maintenance Fee (CAMF), the guide expressly stated that this would be applicable only to current accounts in respect of customer-induced debit transactions to third parties and debit transfers and lodgments to the customer’s account in another bank.

“It emphasised that CAMF is not applicable to Savings Accounts.

“CBN carried out the review of the guide, which also prescribes charges permissible for Other Financial Institutions and non-bank financial institutions, in order to align with market developments.

“To guard against excess, unapproved or arbitrary charges by banks and other financial institutions, the guide stipulates a penalty of N2,000,000 per infraction or as may be determined by the CBN from time to time for financial institutions that breach any provision of the guide.

“The guide also emphasised that failure by any bank to comply with CBN’s directive in respect of any infraction shall attract a further penalty of N2,000,000 daily until the directive is complied with or as may be determined by the CBN from time to time. ”

He said that the CBN, has directed banks to log every complaint received from their customers into the Consumer Complaints Management System (CCMS) in addition to generating a unique reference code for each complaint lodged, which must be given to the customer.

According to him, failure to log and provide the code to the customer will amount to a breach and is sanctionable with a penalty of N1,000,000 per breach.

NAN

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Lagos set to restart economy with now ‘Register-to-open’ guidelines

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‘We’ve Sacrificed Our IGR To Prevent Job Loss’ – Sanwo-Olu
 
Lagos State Government has set the process of re-opening its economy in motion, with the rollout of Register-to-Open guidelines. Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu said the State Government daily battles the reality of balancing reactivation of economic activities and the continuation of the State’s response to contain the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
 
The Governor said the battle to stop the ravaging virus in Lagos had subjected the State to a delicate situation of having to manage hunger resulting from weeks of slowdown in economic activities and also the movement of consumer goods to keep the economy afloat.
 
He said the four-page Register-to-Open guidelines were the major part of the measures initiated to achieve phased re-opening of the State economy, adding that Government had offered incentives that will affect its Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) in order to prevent job loss in critical industries that provide employment for a large number of labour.
 
Sanwo-Olu disclosed this development while speaking at a webinar organised by First Securities Discount House (FSDH) Group, with the theme: “A Global Pandemic: Local Realities and Peculiarities – A View from the Frontlines”. The Governor was a panelist in the online discussion that also featured Governors of Kaduna and Edo states, Mallam Nasir el-Rufa’i and Godwin Obaseki.
 
The webinar had about 1,200 people who participated from across the globe. 
 
Sanwo-Olu said the State Government remained committed to tackling COVID-19 and breaking the cycle of its transmission, but added that there was need to address hunger and job loss that could arise from prolonged lockdown of the economy.
 
He said: “We have been caught in a very delicate situation between managing COVID-19 on one hand and managing hunger and sustaining an economy that is not only depended on commercial activities in Lagos alone, but also other States across the federation. We have had weeks of engagement with players in fast-moving consumer goods sector and part of the measures we are taking is that, we are giving them additional clearance to work for longer hours.
 
“Besides, we initiated what we called Register-to-Open, which is a thorough guideline to help the residents ahead of the full re-opening. Some of the things we will be seeing in the four-page guideline is, how we want to manage space at various places of business and what numbers of personnel and clients we expect at a given period, which must be based on the sizes of the facilities. As we prepared for this phased re-opening, we are giving priority to sectors that have higher number of labour.”
 
The Governor, however, maintained that the re-opening would not be done in haste, but said construction and manufacturing sectors would be accorded high priority for full re-opening, given the large number of employment they generate. He added that entertainment, hospitality and aviation industries would be considered in the second phase of intervention.
 
Sanwo-Olu said the weeks of inertia in the economy also had significant impact on Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), stressing that millions of small-scale businesses operating in the State could completely fold up if the economy is not fully reactivated. 
 
In addition to granting three-month moratorium to MSMEs that applied for loan facilities at the Lagos State Employment Trust Funds (LSETF), Sanwo-Olu said the State Government had started to compile data of registered MSMEs in the State for operational support that would cushion the effect of economic slowdown on their businesses.
 
He said: “The other part of our intervention is our conversation with big corporations in various sectors on the requirements they may want from us to ensure that they do not retrench their staff in this emergency period. This conversation is very important. The companies have given us a retinue of incentives they want us to give and these are the things that will affect the State’s Internally Generated Revenue (IGR). We are willing to make this sacrifice to prevent loss of livelihood for millions of our citizens.” 
 
In the course of the lockdown, Sanwo-Olu said the State Government provided palliatives for over 800,000 households, pointing out that there was need to bring succour to residents that live on daily wage. 
 
The Governor said people must trust the Government on the management of the coronavirus and data being churned out.
 
Answering a question on the biggest consequence which COVID-19 had on State economy, Sanwo-Olu said: “Lagos has been affected both on the healthcare and economy sides. We have had to take a deep dive into our budget and have about 25 per cent cut, which is not very good number for us. This is the time we need to continue to spend to stave off pressure on our citizens. However, we need to be prudent at this time and cut unimportant expenditures. Salary is one thing we cannot even touch.
 
“In terms of direct economy, entertainment industry, hospitality, land transportation and aviation businesses have been affected significantly. These sectors are large employers of labour. We are thinking through on how to reset these sectors in a graduated manner and bring back the economy on the full swing.”

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See why twitter may consider permanent work-from-home model for employees

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The microblogging site, Twitter, announced on Tuesday that it could allow employees to continue to work from home indefinitely even after the end of the coronavirus crisis.

Twitter said it is one of the first companies to actualize the stay-at-home model toward the beginning of March and the choice to permit workers to proceed with telecommute much after the COVID-19 pandemic follows the way that its work-from-home measures during the lockdown had been a triumph.

Human resource personnel for the tech giant, Jennifer Christie, disclosed this in a Twitter blog post.

She said if employees were in a position to work from home and they wanted to continue to do so forever, Twitter would make it possible.

Twitter’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Jack Dorsey, also confirmed this in an email sent to the employees, on Tuesday.

“Twitter was one of the first companies to go to a work from home model in the face of COVID-19, but we don’t anticipate being one of the first to return to offices.

“We were uniquely positioned to respond quickly and allow folks to work from home given our emphasis on decentralization and supporting a distributed workforce capable of working from anywhere.

“The past few months have proven we can make that work. So if our employees are in a role and situation that enables them to work from home and they want to continue to do so forever, we will make that happen,” Christie’s posted.

She also noted that in the next few months, opening offices will be the decision of the tech company, when and if the employees come back, will also be theirs.

“With very few exceptions, offices won’t open before September. When we do decide to open offices, it also won’t be a snap back to the way it was before. It will be careful, intentional, office by office and gradual.

“There will also be no business travel before September, with very few exceptions, and no in-person company events for the rest of 2020. We will assess 2021 events later this year,” Christie added.

According to media reports, several other tech companies, including Google, Microsoft, and Amazon, have adopted the work from home model.
The company said offices would remain closed until at least September, “with very few exceptions.”

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CBN removes temporary suspension On Cheques Clearing

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The Central Bank of Nigeria(CBN) on Monday lifted the suspension placed on cheque clearing by the Deposit Money Banks.

This was disclosed in a circular to all the DMBs and Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System issued on Monday, titled, ‘Temporary suspension of cheque clearing in the Nigerian clearing system’, which was signed by its Director, Banking Services Department, Sam Okojere.

The circular in part read, “In furtherance of its efforts in the development of a safe and efficient payment system in Nigeria, the bank in collaboration with relevant stakeholders has reviewed the need for cheque clearing to accommodate users of cheque as one of the payment instruments in Nigeria, despite the lockdown of some states and the Federal Capital Territory.

“In view of this development, the bank hereby lifts the temporary suspension of cheque clearing in Nigeria. Consequently, cheque instruments will be allowed to pass through the clearing system, with effect from April 28, 2020.”

The CBN had earlier suspended the clearing of cheque instruments in the Nigerian clearing system with effect from March 31, due to the lockdown mandated by the Federal Government in Lagos, Ogun and the Federal Capital Territory.

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