Despite efforts to address bribery and corruption across Europe, the Middle East, India and Africa (EMEIA), 77 per cent of board members or senior managers still say they could justify unethical behaviour to help a business survive, the latest EY EMEIA Fraud Survey has found.
The study – “Human instinct or machine logic – which do you trust most in the fight against fraud and corruption?” which was released yesterday, surveyed 4,100 employees from large businesses in 41 countries, including Nigeria.
The report stated that 51per cent of respondents to the biennial EY EMEIA Fraud Survey still perceive the problem to be widespread in their country; 27 per cent of all respondents state that it is common practice in their business sector to use bribery to win contracts while only 21per cent of respondents say they are aware their company has a whistleblowing hotline. According to the survey, senior management are failing to foster a culture of ethical behaviour, with one in three of board members and senior managers saying they are willing to offer cash payments to win or retain business.
However, the study stated that 28 per cent of respondents believe that regulation has had a positive impact on deterring unethical behaviour, an increase of four percentage points from the 2015 survey, with 77 per cent of respondents agreeing that the prosecution of individuals would help deter fraud, bribery and corruption by executives. Interestingly, 74 per cent of respondents from Nigeria agreed to this view.
Specifically, the report stated: “The Generation Y cohort (25 to 34-year-olds), who constitute 32 per cent of respondents, demonstrate more relaxed attitudes toward unethical behaviour, according to the survey findings.
“73per cent state that such behaviour is justified to help a business survive, compared with 49 per cent of 45 to 54-year-olds (Generation X) surveyed who hold this view. Furthermore, 68 per cent of Generation Y respondents believe their management would engage in unethical behaviour to help a business survive and 25per cent of this age group would offer cash payments to win or retain business.”
The study stated: “Generation Y also show a heightened distrust of their co-workers, with 49 per cent believing that their colleagues would be prepared to act unethically to improve their own career progression, compared with 40 per cent across all age groups.”
Commenting on the findings, EY EMEIA Fraud Investigation & Dispute Services Leader, Jim Mc- Curry, said: “Despite positive signs of improvement in some emerging economies, over half (51per cent) of respondents across EMEIA still perceive bribery and corruption as a major challenge. Furthermore, there is worrying evidence of a lack of leadership from senior executives to tackle these issues, which may be negatively influencing the younger generation workforce.
“Companies need to take steps to create a culture in which it is in employees’ interests to do the right thing.
Training and awareness programmes can play a big role in helping individuals understand the consequences of fraud and corruption and encourage them to come forward if they have concerns over unethical conduct.”
Also, EY West Africa Forensic/ Fraud Investigation & Dispute Services Leader, Linus Osita Okeke, said: “The importance of tone at the top and tone from the top cannot be over-emphasized. Such tone certainly drives the tone at the middle and the top at the bottom.
Board members and senior managers must have to walk the talk if they desire to foster an ethical environment. “Business leaders should constantly question themselves on what they are doing to build a better working world.” The survey’s findings on whistleblowing are especially significant.
It noted: “Despite the fact that whistleblowing hotlines are now considered an important part of a company’s compliance programme, only 21per cent of respondents were aware of such a channel in their company, while 73 per cent would consider providing information directly to a third party such as a law enforcement agency or regulator.
Moreover, 52 per cent of respondents had concerns about misconduct within their organisation. “Of those respondents, 48 per cent felt pressure to withhold information, leading to 56 per cent of this group choosing not to report.
Respondents in emerging markets such as India (27 per cent) and Nigeria (24 per cent) agreed that they are now offered more protection to blow the whistle in comparison to three years ago. However, more limited improvement has been seen in developed markets such as Italy (11 per cent) and France (four per cent),” the report added.
2018: Experts predict vibrant real estate
As oil prices stabilise at 17 per cent higher than 2017 average and direct foreign investment increases, experts see surge in real estate activities in 2018. DAYO AYEYEMI reports
Following improvement in the economy, things are beginning to look up in Nigeria’s real estate sector with market operators getting set to tap into the opportunities, which exist in various segments of the market.
They were, however, particular about the low and middle income residential, millennial and student accommodation sections. Apparently equipped with the dynamism of happenings in the economy, they stated that investors (both local and foreign) were prepared to launch into pockets of opportunities in real estate market. Investors’ hope has been further boosted by the latest Bismack Rewane-led Financial Derivative Company (FDC)’s report on review of third quarter of 2017, which showed that Foreign Capital Inflows (FCI) to Nigeria increased by 148 per cent to $4.15 billion.
This positive trend, analysts said, happened as a result of renewed investor confidence in the economy. Also, the experts noted that oil prices had climbed to 17 per cent higher than 2017 average, expressing confidence that if the situation persists, oil revenues might help mitigate consequences of capital flight.
This newspaper gathered that while some developers are entering into Joint Ventures (JV) with the government to provide affordable housing units for citizens, others are currently repackaging their products to attract financiers and buyers.
In exclusive neighbourhoods such as Ikoyi, Victoria Island and Lekki, where landlords can no longer wait without getting tenants and buyers for their dormant properties, they have been converting their vacant houses to smaller apartments such as one-bedroom, studio and condos to attract people in need of smaller accommodation. This innovation by landlords, according to experts, has caught the attention of working-class singles who want to live very close to their workplaces.
Taking a look at what 2018 holds for the sector, experts, which comprised developers, institutional investors, mortgage providers, media practitioners, property consultants and brokers at Fine and Country West Africa’s investors series, agreed that the outlook was bright and promising for real estate, hinging their prediction on improved economic climate. According to them, the economy has started looking up with pockets of opportunities emerging in the residential segment of the market.
They observed that low to middle income market remained strong all through the recession period while the upper market struggled. “But developers are adopting creative ways of dealing with the persisting challenge with a view to stimulating demand and sustaining their business,” they said.
Setting the pace, Sales Consultant, Fine and Country in Lagos, Mr. David Mba, said that he saw a more vibrant residential market coming as a result of an improved economy in 2018, adding that what were considered challenges in the past have become opportunities. According to him, developers in their bid to share risk and also raise more capital were going into joint ventures, citing Brains and Hammers Limited’s example.
“Only recently, Brains and Hammers Limited, one of Nigeria’s leading real estate and infrastructure development companies, entered into a joint venture agreement with Lagos State Government,” he said. This move, he explained, is believed to be the company’s response to pressing demands from its clients who wanted to acquire property in Lagos.
He said: “The move will see the company developing 750 housing units, comprising 132-tower units and 618 units that will be part of the Jubilee Estate development in Iganmu area of Lagos.
“The Phase 1 of the project comprises 129 units made up of 12 units of 2-bedrooms, 24 units of 4-bedrooms terrace and 93 other units. There are also twin towers made up of 132 units, comprising 60 units of one bedroom, 24 units of two bedroom, and 24 units of 3-bedroom maisonette.”
Other market trends, Mba said, included increase in demand for good value three or four bedroom apartments in Ikoyi precincts, selling within the range of N120 million to N150 million; increase in demand for houses including terraces, semi and fully detached units. Publisher/CEO, BusinessDay, Frank Aigbogun, is of the view that improvement in the economy means increased business activities that will in turn trigger more demand for real estate products such as commercial office, retail and residential buildings.
Fine & Country’s CEO/Vice Chair, Udo Okonjo, stated that the sector’s positive outlook would come with opportunities for only investors who are ready to understand that the market had changed.
From market survey, she stated that there would be opportunities across various segments of the real estate’s market including residential, commercial office and retail. “Lifestyle communities are the new face of residential real estate.
These communities have the advantages of economies of scale and security,” the Fine and Country’s CEO said. She hinted that opportunity currently existed in millennial and student housing, adding that many investors were tapping into these areas.
Dean, Faculty of Environmental Sciences, University of Lagos, Professor Timothy Nubi, confirmed that many investors had already taken position around the university campus and were delivering one-bedroom self-contained apartments for N500,000 per annum.
In a bid to maximise the value of their property, a recent Northcourt Real Estate report 2018 outlook, noted that land owners looked more favourable to joint ventures with developers.
This newspaper also discovered that many developers and investors have been taking advantage of the ongoing construction of Dangote Refinery in Ibeju-Lekki, Lagos to acquire more lands in the axis for housing estate development.
As the business investment climate gets betters, necessary actions must be taken by the government to improve ease of doing business in the country.
Burden of politics on Nigeria’s power business
Unlike in electricity sufficient countries, business of power generation, transmission and distribution in Nigeria is enmeshed in politics. ADEOLA YUSUF reports
Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, shocked many observers of events in Nigeria’s power sector last Monday, September 11, 2017. That day, he took to the podium of the 19th monthly meeting with operators in the electricity industry in Lagos to publicly ask the Nigeria Immigration Service to investigate the Managing Director of Egbin Power Plc, Mr. Dallas Peavey Jnr., an American, over his visa and work permit status in Nigeria.
Mr. Peavey had earlier told a delegation of American lawmakers that his company was constrained by a number challenges including stranded power due to weak grid, debts by government’s Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), among others. Accusing the American of working against Nigeria’s interest, Fashola alleged that Peavey had lied about the quantity of power being produced by the company, the capacity of the country’s transmission system and the amount of debt owed electricity companies by government’s MDAs.
Though nothing has been heard about the issue again, it was among other issues, seen as a reflection of the politics that has permeated the business of power in Nigeria.
Privatisation on the edge
About five years after the November 1, 2013 handover of assets belonging to Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) to private investors, Nigeria is still entangled in acute shortage of electricity for its teeming population.
The last time, Minister Fashola, reacted, for the umpteenth time, to growing concerns raised by Nigerians. He resorted to the blame game – the same line towed by all his predecessors. “Distribution of power but not power generation is the problem,” he was reported to have said at the last power stakeholders’ meeting in Abuja penultimate Monday.
Although the Association of Nigeria Electricity Distributors (ANED), an umbrella body for investors in distribution companies, has yet to react to Fashola’s claim as it usually does, investigations by New Telegraph showed that the sheer inability of government to ensure strict distinction between politics and the power business is coming out to be its greatest undoing in the sector.
In government’s armpit
The gale of privatization, which blew across the entire value chain in the power sector, missed the transmission stratum. In what was described as grand politics that is still hurting the sector, the government held on firmly to the funding and control of the transmission, whereas, it gave out the generation and distribution strata to the control and funding of the private sector. Described as the weakest link, the transmission has not fared well and its shortcoming is rubbing on the entire value chain.
The ‘weakest’ link
Although Fashola has not hidden his disagreement for anyone describing the grid as the weakest link, the transmission has kept suffering collapses that has put the entire value chain chaos. Nigeria’s electricity transmission grid, as at mid 2017, suffered 39 cases of major partial collapse in the last 30 months. The incident, which climaxed with four partial collapses in the last eight weeks, is already fueling fear of imminent total system collapse.
Although the Federal Government has privatised the generation and distribution strata of electricity and handed their assets over to new owners, the grid is still under government’s control due to its ownership of the transmission system.
The Federal Government is still engaged mainly in maintenance of the national grid, which is due for overhaul. Nigeria’s power supply dropped last July, by 14 per cent as the nation’s national grid experienced its latest systems collapse.
Before this, another system collapse occurred on May 8, 2017, culminating into a significant drop in generation, transmission and distribution of electricity to many parts of the nation. The nation, investigations showed, also recorded two system collapse incidents last April, which also affected supply to consumers.
The grid, which was built with capacity to retain about 4,000 Mega Watt (MW), an engineer with the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) told this newspaper, was “currently over-laboured” by the new peaks in power transmission. “One of the measures put in place to shift the doomsday for the national power grid is the advice given to power generation firms to reduce generation anytime they attain their peak production,” he said.
Covert embargoes on ‘costreflective’ tariff
One of the parts of Nigeria’s power sector that had been grossly affected by politics is the fixing of tariff considered appropriate for the sector. Unless a miracle happens, there will not be announcement and implementation of latest reviewws Multi-Year Tariff Order (MYTO) otherwise referred to as ‘cost reflective tariff ’ by Discos until after the next general elections.
The Presidency, this newspaper gathered, is pitching the idea of slamming an embargo covertly on the implementation of the MYTO Review, which had just been concluded by Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC). Despite protest by many consumer groups led by the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) and Network of Electricity Consumers Advocacy of Nigeria (NECAN), a source at the Presidency told this newspaper, NERC has completed the review, which it started last year.
“NERC has, through the minister of Power Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, briefed the President on the completion of the MYTO review. However, implementation of the order is not likely until after the general elections,” added the source.
“The Presidency considers this tariff issue to be one of the major elements that could shift peoples’ decisions before and during the polls, hence, the embargo of the implementation is on the card as we speak,” adding that this “will be done covertly.”
Resistance to review
The MAN and NECAN had earlier spat fire as the Federal Government moved for major review of MYTO process. The Federal Government had, checks by this newspaper earlier showed, already yielded to pressure from power investors to begin a major tariff review, which reflects the “current economic realities.”
A correspondence exchanged between NERC and DISCOs, sighted by this newspaper, showed that the commission had dumped the biannual template used in tariff review for a monthly review as earlier demanded by those who, through $2.525 billion investments, bought over the defunct PHCN on November 1, 2013.
The government had, through its agency, the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), on June 7, given a one-month notice for major stakeholders to feed it with their positions on the plan to change the period of tariff review from every five years to monthly or quarterly “in order to reflect current economic realities.”
President of MAN, Dr. Frank Jacobs, said on the sidelines of a stakeholders’ meeting in Lagos, that any move to review the tariff would worsen the woes of Nigeria’s economy, which is already suf-fering from 95 per cent tariff increase in 13 months.
Speaking through Chairman, Economic policy of MAN, Engr. Reginald Odiah, Jacobs told this new that his group, which forms the larger chunk of the Maximum Demand Customers, was contacted by NERC and they completely objected to any review of MYTO.
He said: “What we know, which we want them to know is that our budget is done yearly and any attempt to change the tariff of electricity to monthly or quarterly period, will affect our budget and worsen the harsh economic situation being faced by our members and the generality of Nigerians.”
MAN, which has membership strength of 3,500, he explained, is yet to recover from the last tariff hike and the planned review would chase out more manufacturers and drastically reduce their number in the country. Stating that cost of power for manufacturing is exorbitant in Nigeria, the MAN boss said that China spends less than 10 per cent of its production cost on electricity, while its members spend 40 per cent of their production on electricity.
He said: “Utilities supply is very weak, there is unstable power. Most factories and in fact, all factories in Nigeria use alternative source as the main source of power supply, but use the grid power as backup.
“We as consumers have lost total confidence in NERC. What we pay as electricity bills is outrageous, it doesn’t make any sense! The electricity reforms that we clamour for has failed. We think that the government is not doing enough.
There is a need for NERC to get all stakeholders in the electricity value chain. “We will jump at any efforts to improve electricity in Nigeria. This present state of supply is killing our businesses.
” Chairman, NECAN, Chief Tomi Akogun, corroborated MAN’s view. Akogun, who alleged foul play in the perceived foot-dragging by Distribution Companies (DISCOs) to meter all their customers, maintained that the hike in tariff, if allowed to sail through, would worsen the hash economic situation facing Nigerians.
He said: “Now NERC is planning MYTO 2017 to introduce monthly review. This will have negative impact on our economy. This means the producers cannot even know their cost. It will further worsen Nigeria’s status as a terrible country for investments. “We have about 40 per cent consumers metered. Over 60 per cent consumers, who are not metered based on faults that are not from them, will suffer this great injustice.”
Clamour for higher tariff
The DISCOs, however, disagreed with MAN and NECAN, insisting that the country deserves “cost reflective tariff,” which is not yet in place, to get the power sector working. Chief Executive Officer, ANED, an umbrella body for DISCOs, Mr. Azu Obiaya, said: “Unlike the MAN and NECAN, ours is not the bashing of NERC.” He said regulation in a private sector-driven industry is different from public-sector driven industry.
The ANED boss said: “Our sector has been moribund for close to 60 years and now, we have the duty to turn this around in very few years. It will require huge investments and you cannot get this huge investment if the tariff is not cost-reflective.”
The power sector’s investment, he explained, is two times bigger than what is needed for road and transport infrastructure. Faulting what transpired during the last review of tariff, the ANED boss said: “In the cost reflective tariff rolled out in January of 2016, DISCOs were expected to have recovered money in six months.
The government later came out to say we do not recognise part of the agreement and this led DISCOs to declare force majeure. This issue lingered till February 2016 when the fixed charges were removed.” NERC, however, said that it would begin the assessment of views expressed by the stakeholders on the planned review immediately today as the one-month time frame given to shareholders lapses.
The government has no business in business and until it focuses on strong regulation, monitoring and execution of policies, it cannot separate politics from its activities.
Its active participation in power sector will keep wearing toga of politics or its semblance. Therefore, the government should get rid of politics in the business of all-important power sector for the citizens, whose lives and business are in perpetual suffering from gross insufficiency of power, to enjoy adequate power supply as a dividend of democracy.
IPMAN to NNPC: 60% fuel supply or nothing
The Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) has reiterated its demand for 60 per cent petroleum products’ sharing formula, maintaining that only this could avert looming fuel scarcity by all its members in Lagos. The Ejigbo satellite depot branch of the association disclosed this through its Chairman, Alhaji Ayo Alanamu.
He declared that the current long queues and poor fuel distribution to filling stations were caused by the reduction in distribution sharing formula to IPMAN members. “Fuel scarcity within Lagos metropolis is imminent if NNPC fails to reverse to our agreed formula as IPMAN members plan to stage a protest that would disrupt the operations of the depot,” he said in an interview last weekend.
NNPC, Alanamu said, had, in its initial petroleum distributions sharing formula among marketers, gave 60 per cent to IPMAN; 20 per cent to Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN) and 20 per cent to NNPC retails outlets.
“This has now been reduced to 30 per cent for IPMAN; 20 per cent for MOMAN and 50 per cent for NNPC retail outlets,” he said. Stating that IPMAN has over 2,500 member-stations, the marketers association’s chief declared that his group could “not be sharing 13 trucks between its members, while an NNPC retail outlet that only has 25-stations gets over 100 trucks.
“We urged NNPC to follow the agreement we had on 60 per cent for IPMAN, 20 per cent for MOMAN and 20 per cent for NNPC retails. The arrangement is unfair, unjust, provocative and contrary to what existed at the depot petroleum sharing formula arrangement,” he said.
“If the imposed sharing formula was not reversed, IPMAN members would not hesitate to embark on strike that could disrupt the depot operations,” he threatened. No independent marketer, he continued, would buy petrol at N 165 per litre and sell at regulated price of N145 per litre, adding that strike by his marketers was inevitable if the practice continued.
He noted that fuel scarcity is beginning to resurface in most filling stations in Lagos due to the inability of IPMAN members to get the product from western zone depots.
“This has also contributed to the scarcity of petrol and the long queues of trucks awaiting loading at the depots. IPMAN marketers hardly load 13 trucks from the depots due to changing in product distribution sharing formula.”
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