Nigeria’s external reserves has so far depreciated by 15 per cent this year at its current value of $29.342 billion, compared with the $34.493 billion it was at the beginning of the year (January 5, 2015).
This, represents a decline by $5.151 billion so far this year. But industry sources told THISDAY that the actual value of the nation’s could be lower than the present value seen on the central bank’s website considering international obligations and bilateral agreements that had been entered by the country whose payments are from the reserves.
The drop in the forex reserves value has been largely attributed to the significant reduction in forex inflow into the country occasioned by the sustained low crude oil prices. Oil prices have been hovering around $37 per barrel in the past few weeks.
The development made the central bank to introduce several measures aimed at preserve the reserves and ensuring exchange rate stability.
For instance, the central bank during the year harmonised the foreign exchange market by closing the official window of the foreign exchange market in order to create transparency and minimise arbitrage opportunities in the foreign exchange market. This was then seen by a lot of commentators as a tacit devaluation of the nation’s currency. All demand for forex was then directed to the interbank market.
Furthermore, to deepen the market and enhance the efficacy of the demand management measures, the central bank gave specific directives on the effective monitoring and repatriation of both oil and non-oil export proceeds. In addition, the utilisation of export proceeds was restricted to eligible transactions only to minimise leakages. Also this year, the CBN officially stopped the sale of dollars for a list of 41 items as it also sought to reduce pressure on the naira as well as preserve the external reserves. However, it stressed that importers desirous of importing them could do so using their own funds without any recourse to the Nigerian forex market.
In response to these, commercial banks in the country recently banned the use of ATM cards abroad. The ban, which has the backing of the CBN, also stemmed from dwindling foreign reserves and banks’ inability to settle dollar transactions arising from the use of naira cards abroad.
A banking industry analyst, who pleaded to remain anonymous, said the situation in the country is not about the central bank, stressing the need for sacrifice on the part of Nigerians in order to rebuild the reserves and restructure the economy.
“It is easy for people to blame the CBN, but the truth is that this has gone beyond the central bank. I am not sure if any other person is there as the CBN governor, the person would have done better or different. Today, we need to move away from rent-seeking because it is hurting our economy. We need to begging to move from doing economics, to being patriotic because that I stge only way we can save this economy,” the industry expert advised.
But the CBN’s Director, Monetary Policy, Mr. Moses Tule, said the restrictions on the use of electronic payment cards abroad would likely to be lifted when reserves increase to between $50 billion and $200 billion, adding that all hands must be on deck to achieve the target. He said the new policy was a healthy development for the ailing economy in spite of the attendant inconvenience to cardholders.
According to Tule, foreign exchange under the condition Nigeria has found itself has become a seasonal commodity. “Seasonal in the sense that it depends on the movement of the price of oil; if oil prices are high then we build reserves, if oil prices are low then we have no reserves then we are in a crisis. But that should not be the case for an economy as big as Nigeria because we should by now have sufficiently diversified the economy to a point where developments in the oil market should no longer matter. Unfortunately, that has not been the case and that is why sometimes these kind of decisions have to be made.
“Our priorities as a nation for the allocation or use of foreign exchange is one, for the settlement of matured letters of credit that have been opened for importation; two, for the importation of petroleum products until such a time either when we have our refineries fully operational and we are not in a position to import fuel again to ensure that the wheels of economic development continue turning and running; and three, for the importation of raw materials,” he explained.
Nigeria’s Real Estate Sector Shrinks by 8.06% in the Third Quarter -NBS
Economic uncertainty plunged Nigeria’s real estate sector by 8.06 percent in the third quarter of the year, according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).
Nigeria’s statistics office said “In nominal terms, real estate services recorded a growth rate of –8.06 per cent in the third quarter of 2020, indicating a decline of –11.78 per cent points compared to the growth rate at the same period in 2019, and by 9.12 per cent points when compared to the preceding quarter.
“Quarter-on-quarter, the sector growth rate was 18.92 per cent.
“Real GDP growth recorded in the sector in Q3 2020 stood at -13.40 per cent, lower than the growth recorded in third quarter of 2019 by –11.09 per cent points, but higher relative to Q2 2020 by 8.59 per cent points.
“Quarter-on-quarter, the sector grew by 17.15 per cent in the third quarter of 2020.
“It contributed 5.58 per cent to real GDP in Q3, 2020, lower than the 6.21 per cent it recorded in the corresponding quarter of 2019.”
Nigeria’s economy contracted by 2.48 percent in the first nine months following a 6.10 percent and 3.62 percent contraction in the second and third quarters respectively.
Nigeria Requires N400 Billion Annually to Maintain Federal Roads -Senator Bassey
The Chairman of the Senate Committee on road maintenance, Senator Gersome Bassey, on Friday said Nigeria requires about N400 billion annually to maintain federal roads across the country.
The Senator, therefore, described the N38 billion budgeted for road repairs in the 2021 proposed Budget as grossly inadequate. According to him, nothing meaningful could be achieved by the Federal Roads Maintenance Agency (FERMA) with such an amount.
He said, “For the 35 kilometres federal roads in the country to be motorable at all times, the sum of N400bn is required on yearly basis for maintenance.”
Bassey “What the committee submitted to the Appropriation Committee in the 2021 fiscal year is the N38bn proposed for it by the executive which cannot cover up to one quarter of the entire length of deplorable roads in the country.
“Unfortunately, despite having the power of appropriation, we cannot as a committee jerk up the sum since we are not in a position to carry out the estimation of work to be done on each of the specific portion of the road.
“Doing that without proposals to that effect from the executive, may lead to project insertion or padding as often alleged in the media.”
Scarcity of Day-Old-Chicks Cripple Poultry Farmers in Akwa Ibom
Despite billions of Naira spent on Akwa Prime Hatchery and Poultry Limited by the Executive Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Udom Emmanuel, poultry farmers in the state said they had to order day-old-chicks from outside the state as the 200,000 capacity poultry farm developed specifically to make day-old-chicks and other poultry products available at affordable prices is almost empty at the moment.
The farmers expressed frustration over many challenges they face in the course of bringing day-old-chicks from outside the state. Usually, Ibadan, Enugu and sometimes as far as Kaduna, while the hatchery built and inaugurated in 2016 remains idle.
Mr Ekot Akpan, one of the poultry farmers who spoke with the pressmen said the state had not had it this bad.
Akpan said: “For the 12 years that I have been in poultry farming, this is the first time that poultry farmers have been so harshly affected by both economic and non-economic factors. And, quite unfortunately, nobody is available to offer any explanation.
“Farmers have been left at the whims and caprice of owners of the means of production.
“There seems to be no government regulation of the poultry industry. How, do you explain a situation where you wake up suddenly and the price of a day old chick is selling for N600, a bag of feed goes as high as N6,000.
“And, in a state that government claims to be pursuing agriculture as one of his cardinal programmes.
“For instance, in 2016, the state government said it has constructed an hatchery, and the intention according the government was to ensure availability of day old chicks at affordable price to farmers, but, quite, unfortunately, that effort has not yielded any tangible result.
“Farmers are still getting their day old chicks from Ibadan, Kaduna, and Enugu. So, the question now is where is the hatchery?
“One would have expected that farmers would be buying old chicks at humane prices, but, from all indications they acclaimed hatchery is a ruse. So, which one is the Akwa Prime Hatchery producing,” he said.
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