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Naira Devaluation Unlikely as MPC Meets Today

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DOLLAR CURRENCY

Although experts have clamoured for the devaluation of the naira in the light of the nation’s depleting foreign exchange reserves, the Central Bank of Nigeria’s Monetary Policy Committee may not do so during its first bi-monthly meeting for this year, it has been learnt.

Sources close to the CBN and members of the committee said the two-day meeting, which commences today (Monday), would only review policy measures taken so far in the past year, adding that key policy issues, especially as regards the need to devalue the naira, might be delayed till the March or May meeting.

It was further learnt that President Muhammadu Buhari’s stance of not devaluing the naira would influence the voting pattern of the 11-member MPC when issues that border on the exchange rate policy are considered.

The CBN has in the last one year adopted a number of administrative forex control measures to safeguard the naira in place of devaluation.

Although the naira has been pegged at between 197 and 199 at the interbank official market against the United States dollar, the local currency has fallen as low as 295 to the greenback at the parallel market.

The immediate past Governor of the CBN, Mallam Lamido Sanusi; Managing Director, Financial Derivatives Limited, Mr. Bismarck Rewane; and other local and foreign economists have called for the devaluation of the naira, insisting that the current forex control measures were counterproductive.

The forex control measures, which have to do with rationing the dollars, have hurt the economy amid slow growth.

But economists said although the way forward was for the MPC to adjust the exchange rate, they said this was unlikely considering the mood of the Federal Government.

“The mood of the Federal Government is that the rates will be kept unchanged. The Cash Reserve Ratio and the Monetary Policy Rate will be left unchanged, while the exchange rate will also be left unchanged,” the Managing Director, Cowry Asset Management Limited, Mr. Johnson CHukwu, said.

The Head, Research and Investment Advisory, Afrinvest West Africa Limited, Mr. Ayodeji Ebo, also predicted that the exchange rate, CRR and MPR would likely be left unchanged.

He, however, said the MPC might choose to adjust some of the forex control measures, saying, “The list of banned items may be reviewed considering the fact that the naira volatility became serious when those 41 items were banned from the official CBN window.”

Currency strategist at Ecobank Nigeria, Mr. Kunle Ezun, said it was unlikely that the MPC would take any major policy decision, adding that the committee might delay major decisions till future meetings within the year.

Analysts at FBN Quest Research in their economic note said, “The next meeting of the MPC takes place in Abuja on Monday and Tuesday. Judging by the intensity of the media commentary, we could be forgiven for thinking that its only decision is whether to adjust its exchange rate policy.

“The depletion of official reserves, the slide in the oil price and the intermittent global market turmoil emanating from China and elsewhere could make a good case for devaluation. We are not so sure. The preference of the CBN and the MPC is to deploy administrative measures.

“We would not be surprised by some new measures. In any event, the committee may well want to assess the impact of its recent steps before announcing a devaluation, or even introducing some new ones.”

Meanwhile, the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry has asked the CBN to urgently articulate a comprehensive framework for the autonomous foreign exchange market.

According to the LCCI, the autonomous market is currently the major forex market and its scope needs to be clearly defined.

In a statement signed by the Director-General of the LCCI, Mr. Muda Yusuf, on Sunday, the chamber noted that the move would ensure a deeper forex market.

It added that sources of foreign exchange such as Diaspora remittances, export proceeds, forex sales by foreign investors and multinational companies as well as forex sales by donor agencies and other non-governmental organisations should be allowed to be freely traded in the autonomous market.

Punch

Is the CEO/Founder of Investors King Limited. A proven foreign exchange research analyst and a published author on Yahoo Finance, Nasdaq, Entrepreneur.com, Investorplace, and many more. He has over two decades of experience in global financial markets.

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Economy

No Plan to Increase Fuel Price; Says FG

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NNPC - Investors King

The Federal Government has stated that it has no plan to increase fuel price during the yuletide period.

This assurance is coming amid the nationwide fuel scarcity which has pushed the price of petrol above N250 in many retail stations.

Investors King learnt that fuel is being held for N250 per litre in Abuja and several other cities across the country while black marketers are charging between N400 and N450 per litre.

The scarcity and the high price of fuel are however becoming unbearable for many Nigerians, especially those who have reasons to embark on business travel for the December festivals.

According to the National Public Relations Officer, Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN), Chief Ukadike Chinedu, most of the association members, who owned the bulk of the filling stations across the country, were now subjected to purchasing PMS at about N220/litre, which was why many outlets currently dispensed at about N250/litre and above.

He noted that the cost of the commodity has been on the rise due to its unavailability and other concerns in the sector. 

He added that the price of fuel could be sold from N350/litre to N400/litre before the end of the year. 

Meanwhile, a number of senior officials at the NNPC had stated that the subsidy was becoming too burdensome on the national oil company, as this was another reason for the scarcity of PMS.

According to a source who is familiar with the development as reported by Punch News, “How can we continue to import 60 million litres of petrol daily and keep subsidising it, while millions of litres are either diverted or cannot be accounted for? The burden is too much, as you rightly captured in that story”. 

Investors King understands that NNPC is the sole importer of petroleum into the country and it pays billions of naira every month to subsidise the product to N147 per litre. 

Reuters News reported that in August 2022, NNPC paid more than $1 billion as fuel subsidy while the federal government earmarked N3.6 trillion as fuel subsidy in the 2023 budget proposal. 

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Economy

Fuel Scarcity: NNPC Declares 2billion Liters in Stock, Blames Scarcity on Road Construction

NNPC Claimed it as 2 billion litres of fuel despite scarcity

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Petrol - Investors King

The Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) has blamed the recent fuel scarcity on road construction around Apapa, noting that the corporation has about 2 billion litres of fuel in stock. 

According to a statement issued by NNPC Executive Vice President, Downstream, Mr Adeyemi Adetunji, the Nigeria National Petroleum Company has about 2 billion litres of fuel which can last the country conveniently for more than 30 days. 

The Executive Vice President further blamed the queues on the road construction around Apapa axis which has slowed down the movement of oil trucks to several parts of the country. 

“The recent queues in Lagos are largely due to ongoing road infrastructure projects around Apapa and access road challenges in Lagos” he said. 

He however noted that more filling stations should have Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) otherwise known as petrol with the ease in gridlock along the apapa axis. 

“The gridlock is easing out and NNPC Ltd has programmed vessels and trucks to unconstrained depots and massive load outs from depots to states are closely monitored,” he said.

Investors King gathered that several states including Abuja have been impacted by the supply chain difficulty caused by the construction around Apapa. 

The scarcity of fuel has therefore led to the hike in price. In most places across the country, fuel is sold as high as N250 per litre. Several fuel stations are already taking advantage of the situation coupled with the increase in the movement of people and goods owing to the December festivals.

Speaking further, Adeyemi noted that the situation will soon be back to normalcy as NNPC is taking measures to address the situation. 

“We want to reassure Nigerians that NNPC has sufficient products and we significantly increased product loading in selected depots and extended hours at strategic stations to ensure sufficiency nationwide.

“We are also working with industry stakeholders to ensure normalcy is returned as soon as possible,” he concluded. 

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Economy

Global Growth to Drop Below 2% in 2023, Says Citi

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GDP Growth- Investors King

Citigroup on Wednesday forecast global growth to slow to below 2% next year, echoing similar projections by major financial institutions such as Goldman Sachs, Barclays, and J.P. Morgan.

Strategists at the brokerage cited continued challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine war — which skyrocketed inflation to decades-high levels and triggered aggressive policy tightening — as reasons behind the outlook.

“We see global performance as likely (being) plagued by ‘rolling’ country-level recessions through the year ahead,” said Citi strategists, led by Nathan Sheets.

While the Wall-Street investment bank expects the U.S. economy to grow 1.9% this year, it is seen more than halving to 0.7% in 2023.

It expects year-on-year U.S. inflation at 4.8% next year, with the U.S. Federal Reserve’s terminal rate seen between 5.25% and 5.5%.

Among other geographies, Citi sees the UK and euro area falling into recession by the end of this year, as both economies face the heat of energy constraints on supply and demand front, along with tighter monetary and fiscal policies.

For 2023, Citi projects UK and euro area to contract 1.5% and 0.4%, respectively.

In China, the brokerage expects the government to soften its zero-COVID policy, which is seen driving a 5.6% growth in gross domestic product next year.

Emerging markets, meanwhile, are seen growing 3.7%, with India’s 5.7% growth — slower than this year’s 6.7% prediction — seen leading among major economies.

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