Inside Business Africa INSIDE BUSINESS AFRICA APRIL 2019 - Page 9

Strategy & Leadership fast and break things", to use Facebook's unofficial slogan. But three forces have long constrained corporate conduct: regulation, litigation and competition. The aftermath of the financial crisis saw a storm of lawsuits and fines on banks. But since then each of the three forces may have weakened, increasing the incentive for firms to take risks. Take regulation first. The system is a strange blend: there are pockets of laissez-faire attitudes here, thickets of rules there and lobbying everywhere. It is variously prone to laxity, capture and incompetence. The Federal Drug Administration allowed opioids to be sold to the masses. The Federal Aviation Administration delegated part of its inspection process to Boeing employees. The Federal Trade Commission has struggled to police Fa c e b o o k . T h e fines imposed by some regulators can be small relative to market values of giant firms. Second, litigation may no longer be quite the deterrent it once was. Criminal cases leading to jail terms for top executives are as rare as socialists at Goldman Sachs. And civil law has lost its bite. America has long used class-action suits to punish f i r m s a n d compensate consumers. Tort costs born by firms are equivalent to about 2% of gdp a year, higher than in other countries. Nonetheless, life has got easier for firms. Arbitration clauses, in which customers and staff forfeit the INSIDE BUSINESS AFRICA right to pursue class actions, have become more common. Firms are more likely to extend cases to appeal, which can take up to a decade. One veteran class-action lawyer says that financial penalties have shrunk relative to the value of many firms, which in turn have risen as a result of a takeover wave. She complains that for the top 50 firms, the threat of a multi-billion-dollar legal settlement "doesn't move the needle any more". The final constraint is competition. It can drive firms to cut corners but in the long run should act to discipline careless or badly behaved firms, because customers shun them. Kraft and Heinz boomed in the 20th century, thanks in part to a reputation for safety. Japanese THE MAGAZINE OF THE CORPORATE WORLD car firms forced Detroit to raise its game in the 1980s. And today Netflix trounces the traditional cable tv firms which love to bamboozle customers. But across the economy incumbent firms have got more powerful over the past 20 years, making it harder for customers to switch. There is one alternative to Boeing, Airbus, but it lacks spare capacity. Users find it hard to leave Facebook. Pesticides and herbicides, credit-checking, drug distribution and drug retailing have grown more concentrated, too. Perhaps the rash of crises will prompt corporate soul- searching. If not, public confidence in capitalism may suffer another blow. INSIDE BUSINESS AFRICA THE MAGAZINE OF THE CORPORATE WORLD Empowering the people FG spends N300 billion on social investment programmes, to expand the scheme to accommodate more Nigerian SOURCE: ECONOMIST T he federal government has spent about N300 billion on the National Social Investment Programmes in the last three years. The Special Adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari on National Social Welfare Programme, Maryam Uwais said this on Tuesday in Abuja during a joint oversight visit by Senate and House Committees on Poverty Alleviation. The delegation was led by the Chairmen of the committee in the two chambers, Lawal Gumau (Senate) and M o h a m m e d Wu d i l ( H o u s e o f Representatives). Mrs Uwais said the social investment programmes since inception in 2016, aimed to improve the living conditions of Nigerians through capacity building, investment and direct support. "So far we have over 11.5 million direct beneficiaries on all our programmes. We also have about nine million indirect beneficiaries. "Right now we have over 700,000 people on the National Social Register but the people we are paying under the Conditional Cash Transfer Scheme are about 300,000. "This is because we select only the poorest of the poor in every community and every payment is done through their 44 u t APRIL1 4 - 28, 2019 bank account, so we are able to track every kobo spent,'' she said. On the school feeding programme, Mrs Uwais said the programme was currently feeding over 9.5 million pupils in 30 states and has empowered 101,000 cooks. "We are feeding over 9.5 million children in about 56,000 schools around the country. The value chain in the school feeding programme is just amazing. "Not only are the children coming back to school, we are seeing that they are more alert in class and absolutely happy to come to school. "We are also seeing that farmers are smiling to the banks. This is because we need at least seven million eggs every week, over 600 cattle, 83 metric tonnes of fish and lots of fruits and vegetables,'' she said. Mrs Uwais said through the Government Enterprise and Empowerment Programme (GEEP) the federal government was providing financial support to businesses at the bottom of the financial pyramid. She mentioned Tradermoni, Farmermoni, and Marketmoni as the programmes being executed under GEEP. "Tradermoni was created specifically for petty traders and artisans across Nigeria. t 9 u APRIL1 4 - 28, 2019 Developing Stiory "With Tradermoni, you can receive interest-free loan starting from N10,000 and growing all the way to N100,000 as you pay back,'' she said. On the challenges in the delivery of social benefits, Mrs Uwais said adequate funding remained a major setback. "We don't get our full funding. Only about 25 per cent of our funds have been released, so we have to find ways and means to be cost effective about our spending,'' she said. Mrs Uwais said the National Social Investment Office was currently leveraging on other agencies like the Central Bank of Nigeria, Nigeria Inter- Bank Settlement System, and the National Bureau of Statistics to carry out its mandate. She commended the World Bank for the grant given to the office for Conditional Cash Transfers, and also ActionAid for its role in monitoring and evaluation of all the social investment programmes. Earlier, Mr Wudil said the visit would help the committees in making informed d eci si o n s co n cer n i n g b ud g eta r y allocations to the programmes as proposed in the 2019 budget. Meanwhile, VICE President, Yemi Osinbajo. has announced that N-Power scheme will accommodate one million beneficiaries in the next phase as the Federal Government intend to expand the N-Power scheme to accommodate one million beneficiaries in the next phase. He said this followed the successes recorded in the programme and the growing need for government's direct intervention in job creation. The Vice President who stated this while responding to a variety of questions from Nigerians across different professions and persuasions, at a town hall meeting in Abuja on Monday, said the programme would become the largest post-tertiary job scheme in Africa. A statement issued by Laolu Akande, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media & Publicity Office of the Vice President, quoted him as saying: "The idea of N-Power is supposed to be government's own programme of direct employment and training. At the moment, we have taken up to 500,000 and in the next phase we are looking at another 200,000 and closely followed by another 300,000.