The Minister of Finance, Mrs Zainab Ahmed has said Nigeria is discussing the possibility of increasing its shareholding with AFREXIM Bank.
Mrs Ahmed made this known in a statement signed by the special adviser on media and communications, Paul Ella Abechi.
The statement, which quoted the minister during a meeting with the President, African Export-Import Bank, Prof Okey Oramah on the sidelines of the IMF/World Bank Annual Meeting 2018 said, Nigeria currently owns 40 per cent shares in the bank.
She said, “We have met with a delegation of Afrexim Bank from Cairo. Nigeria is a major shareholder in the bank. Part of what we have discussed is the possibility of increasing our shareholding and we discussed some of the projects and programmes that Afrexim is supporting in Nigeria.
“Afrexim has a very large portfolio in Nigeria. About 40 percent of the bank’s portfolio is in Nigeria – support to the government but largely to the private sector. We have the need to increase our shareholding in the bank because there is a lot of value that we are getting from Afrexim Bank.”
According to her, “We discussed the setting up a medical park in the FCT which is a discussion that has been going on for quite a long time. There was also a discussion on the establishment of Quality Assurance Centres in Ogun and other parts of the country.
“We also discussed the setting up of Industrial Parks in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment in three Centres- Lekki, Kano and one in Kaduna.
Speaking further on trade agreements, the finance minister said, “Trade Agreements are not things that the government will just enter into without due consultations with stakeholders in the private sector. We need to discuss with the private sector and agree with operators in that sector before we join. The discussions have been going on but we have not reached a consensus. We need to reach a consensus before we agree, that discussion is being driven by the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment.”
Also speaking on the high-level discussion between Nigerian officials and the Afrexim Bank delegation, the President of the Bank, Dr Oranma said, “Nigeria is still a major shareholder in the bank, although of recent, it has fallen back in terms of its relative position. That is why we have had this discussion with the Minister of Finance to see how Nigeria could return the position it was.
“We have gotten assurances that the government would look at it and we hope that Nigeria’s holdings would come to the levels that would reflect the size of the Nigerian economy.”
Asked to give details of Nigeria’s government current holding, the President said, “the equity holding of Nigeria is a Nigerian affair. In terms of the Nigerian government, it is number three, today. But they have always been number one or number two in the past. Egypt and Zimbabwe are now number one and two respectively.
“In terms of business in Nigeria, we have exposure of more than $3. 2 billion. We are supporting virtually all the banks in Nigeria in terms of lines of credit to be able to do export and import as well as in terms of supporting SMEs.
“We are also supporting many private businesses. We are into manufacturing and other activities. Beyond that, we are also pursuing what I would call impacting initiatives. We have finalised arrangements to begin the development of a centre of excellence for healthcare because we want to see how we can begin to promote medical tourism in Nigeria.
“We want to develop a centre that will make it possible for Nigeria to have facilities to take care of complex diseases oncology, Hematology, cardiovascular and other complex diseases. That is a major project that we are working on.”
Also on the sideline of the IMF/World Bank meeting, Mrs Zainab met with the managing director, Sovereign Risk Group Marie Diron and Moody’s Investors Services, where the investor’s service affirmed the rating of the President Muhammadu Buhari’s government with a stable outlook.
Furthermore, the Minister of Finance on the sideline of the ongoing IMF/World Bank meeting met with the Head of the Middle East & Africa Sovereign Ratings, Jan Frederick and well as Fitch Ratings on Nigeria’s fiscal performance and discussed the administration’s three years outlook.
On his part, the Minister of National Planning, Sen Udo Udoma revealed that the federal government has so far made capital releases to the tune of N460 billion.
He said, “The amount of capital releases as of today is N460 billion. We just need a resolution of the National Assembly on the Borrowing Plan then we can fund it even more. We are spending money on N-Power, School feeding, Trader Moni. We are conscious to meet the needs of the vulnerable.”