In March 2019, Nigeria held her general elections. President Muhammadu Buhari's victory came with an assurance of the fulfilment of his economic policies which includes diversifying the economy, improved security, and infrastructural development. Nonetheless, the country's economy experienced a marginal increase in the Gross Domestic Product from 1.93% in 2018 to 2.3% at the end of 2019.
In July 2019, Nigeria signed the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA). The agreement had come into effect in May 2019 and was already signed by several African countries. AfCTA aims to reduce barriers to trade and commercial activities across the continent.
The price of bonny light crude oil declined from US$69.89 per barrel in 2018 to US$64.87 per barrel by theendof2019. Thisreducedthecountry'sexternalreservesby10.5%. InAugust2019,allofNigeria's land borders were closed to all imports and exports. The administration of President Buhari had planned the move to prevent smuggling and boost up food self-sufficiency.
Nigeria's border lockdown came with mixed reactions from economic observers. Customs revenue at Nigeria's ports were driven up, as they remained open to trading. Nigeria as a result experienced growth in local food production, while receiving accusations of protectionism by the international community.
The Naira exchange rate was relatively stable against major currencies at the inter-bank foreign exchange market. The exchange rate experienced a slight appreciation at the Investors' & Exporters' (I&E) segment of the market. The Naira averaged NGN306.92/$1 on the interbank and NGN361.79/$1 at the I&E market in the 2019 financial year.
The exchange rate was supported by sustained intervention in the foreign exchange market by the CBN, as well as improved foreign exchange inflow into the import and export window, which continued to attract foreign portfolio investment inflow into the economy.
The Nigerian National Assembly passed the Finance Bill 2019. The bill which had been signed into law in January 2020 has given a tremendous boost to the Nigerian insurance sector. Insurance companies can now carry forward their losses indefinitely, compared to the previous four-year restriction on the sector. The basis for computing minimum tax payable by insurance companies has been simplified. No further tax will be payable on undistributed profits already taxed, which was the practice in the past.
Barely six months after the suspension of the Tier Based Minimum Solvency Capital (TBMSC) regime, the industry's regulator, the National Insurance Commission (NAICOM) in May 2019, took operators by surprise with an announcement of a fresh capital threshold for Insurance operators. General Insurance threshold increased by over 300% to N10 billion. The recapitalisation exercise is expected to take effect from September 2021 with a proviso of 50% realisation by 31st December 2020. The new capital threshold for each class of insurance operator are stated as follows:
The regulator is following up on operators' plans to ensure a seamless process.
As an operator, we are currently reviewing our recapitalisation efforts to ensure a smooth completion of the capital increment process. We are at the tail end of a merger discussion with another insurance operator, which we anticipate should be completed before the end of 2020. We are confident that we would achieve NAICOM's recapitalisation exercise before the deadline.
RESULT FOR THE YEAR
The Company has once again proved its ability to consistently present positive financial results. I am delightedtopresentourfullyear2019resultstoyou. Thecompanyexperienceda3.11%improvementin GrossPremiumwrittenfromN3,768,341,000in2018toN3,885,447,000in2019. TheGrossPremium Earned increased from N3,569,061,000 in 2018 to N3,945,341,000 giving a positive variance of 10.54%.
The Profit After Tax (PAT) increased from N301,534,000 in 2018 to N505,181,000 with a positive variance of 67.54%.
Existing Capital (N'000,000)
New Capital (N'000,000)
|Capital Life||2, 000||8, 000|
|General||3, 000||10, 000|
|Composite||5, 000||18, 000|
|Reinsurance||10, 000||20, 000|
Our Gross Claim Expenses improved from N1,820,655,000 to N1,425,239,000 with a positive variance of21.72%. However,the Net Claim Expenses in2019ofN991,926,000asagainstN666,278,000in 2018 was due to low claim recovery in 2019 giving a negative variance of 48.87%. The 2018 result experienced a high claim recovery rate in the oil and gas business.
The investment and other incomes improved slightly by 6.24% with a figure of N298,886,000 in 2019 as against N281,340,000 in 2018. The Net Assets also increased from N4,230,175,000 in 2018 to N4,849,891,000 in 2019 with a positive variance of 14.65%.
Globally, the year 2020 was introduced with a pandemic outbreak- the novel strain of coronavirus, also known as “COVID-19”. The outbreak, which was first identified in December 2019 in Wuhan China, brought the world to a temporary halt. Offices, schools and religious centres were compelled to shutdown to contain the pandemic. Governments worldwide enacted emergency measures to combat the spread of the virus. Sterling continues to actively assess and respond where possible to its potential impact on the Company's business.
Our focus would continue to be on the safety of our personnel and ensuring access of our products and services by our clients. As a company, we continue to adopt innovative measures to thrive. Technology would be a centre tool towards reaching out to our customers and personnel. As we continue to adopt remote tools for communication and operations, it is expected that our operations would be more effective, thereby translating to reduced costs.
As a Company, we would continue to monitor and access the risks entailed with COVID-19 and how it affects us and our operating environment, while reorganising our strategies whenever necessary. Notwithstanding the global economy, the Company remains properly positioned in the unprecedented market environment. The Company has adopted policies that would help to grow its profitability and maintain a healthy balance sheet.
I want to use this opportunity to express my sincere appreciation to our Board, Management team and Staff who have continued to dedicate their efforts towards the growth of our company. We also appreciate our partners in business, Brokers, Reinsurers, Agents and numerous customers who have entrusted us with their valued assets. I want to thank my fellow shareholders who have over the years been very supportive and loyal to the company.
I thank you all for your support and co-operation.