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Decline in Foreign Reserves May Force CBN to Devalue Naira

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With the continued slide in crude oil prices at the international market, which has translated to perennial decline in the foreign reserves, FBNQuest has said there are indications that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) would opt for devaluation of the naira, sometime this year.

The same position is being held by Dunn Loren Merrifield, which noted that it did not rule the possibility of another devaluation of the naira this year, should the foreign reserves decline beyond acceptable levels, But it was quick to add that “devaluation presents more ‘negatives’ than ‘positives’ for Nigeria.”

According to FBNQuest, these indications emerged as a result of the scenario created in the light of the oil crisis, which will continue in the months ahead.

Even though, the investment banking outfit stated that the CBN had been applying administrative measures to manage forex demand and could intensify the measures, the apex bank would not allow the measures to negatively affect sensitive imports like the petroleum products.

“Our take is that the decline will continue in the months ahead unless there is an unexpected recovery in the oil price. The CBN could intensify its administrative measures but would be unlikely to risk steps which jeopardise sensitive imports such as petroleum products.

“Rather than take such steps, we suspect that the CBN/MPC will opt for a devaluation this year while maintaining a managed exchange-rate regime. This would make life a little easier for the FGN in the sense that it would highlight the direct connection between the slowdown in the economy and the external trigger for the devaluation (the collapse in the oil price),” it stated.

FBNQuest, however, added that “the devaluation would not dramatically increase forex supply, particularly if the adjustment was small (as we would expect). At best, it would bring a modest rise in non-oil export values and portfolio inflows, the drawdown of more domiciliary accounts and the re-entry of some unrecorded capital.”

The company quoted data from the CBN, which showed that official reserves declined by $910million in January on a 30-day moving average basis to $28.2billion. “The decline over 12 months has amounted to $6.1billion despite the CBN’s many administrative measures to contain forex demand and some FGN successes in plugging leakages. Reserves at end of January provided 6.3 months’ cover for annual merchandise imports and 4.6 months when services are included on the basis of CBN data running through to September 2015. This would represent adequate cover in less troubled times but not when the international price of crude oil has fallen by two thirds in just 18 months.

DLM , which made its position known in its Economic Outlook for 2016,expected that “the decline in oil prices will continue to exert pressure on the exchange rate due to the outflow of foreign funds as investors express concern on macro-economic stability due to weakening economic fundamentals.” This, according to the company, was “reflected in the steady decline in external reserves recorded in the previous year which resulted largely from a slowdown in portfolio and foreign direct inflows during the period.”

While noting that “Nigeria remains a largely import-dependent economy which in our view contributes to the high demand for foreign currency”, the company stated that it “will sustain pressure on the naira.”

The investment banking outfit, however, believed “initiatives that support increased domestic productivity and a lower reliance on imports would lower the pressure on the naira in the medium to long term.”

Also, DLM predicted that inflation rate will hover around the lower double digit range in 2016.

Making this prediction, the company noted that “though inflation rate remained within the single-digit band in 2015, we expect that inflationary pressures remain apparent and will subsist in the short-to-medium term with seasonal adjustments, food supply shocks and the risk of higher imported inflation being major concerns. “

DLM explained that it anticipated that the CBN will maintain its expansionary monetary policy stance in the current year.

“This”, according to the company, “is in line with our view that priority should be given to lower interest rate which would place the economy on a path of sustainable growth through provision of appropriately-priced long term financing to the real sector and employment creation.”

“We are not oblivious of the fact that a reduction in interest rate poses some degree of risk to headline inflation, exchange rate and the exit of ‘hot money’ in search of higher yields. However, we believe that the focus should be on long term gains rather than short term.”

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

Economy

The 46th President of the USA, Joe Biden Reversed EX-President Donald Trump Immigrant Visa Ban on Nigeria

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Joe Biden Economic Impliccations on Nigeria

The 46th President of the USA, Joe Biden Reversed EX-President Donald Trump Immigrant Visa Ban on Nigeria

On his first day in office, the 46th President of the United States of America reversed the immigrant visa ban placed on Nigeria and other countries by the former president, Donald Trump.

The executive order, 9983, issued by the former president Donald Trump on January 31st, 2020, unveiled the ban on immigrant visas to six countries; Myanmar, Eritrea, Nigeria, Sudan, Tanzania, and Kyrgyzstan.

Amongst numerous executive orders signed by the new president of the United State, Joe Biden, on January 20th, was the reversal of some of the orders issued by his predecessor, Donald Trump, which bans citizens of certain countries from accessing the immigrant visa.

According to the Trump administration, a system was established to access three important criteria-

“whether a foreign government engages in reliable identity-management practices and shares relevant information; whether a foreign government shares national security and public safety information; and whether a country otherwise poses a national security or public-safety risk.”

The failure of Nigeria and other countries to measure up to this criteria landed them on the ban list.

Biden’s Press secretary, Pen Psaki said additional action which will ensure that the president-elect delivers his promise to the American people will be announced.

“In the coming days and weeks, we will be announcing additional executive actions that confront these challenges and deliver on the president-elect’s promises to the American people,” Pen said.

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Economy

Buhari to Spend N729 Billion on 24.3 Million Poor Nigerians

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Buhari to Spend N729 Billion on 24.3 Million Poor Nigerians

President Buhari is working on spending N729 billion on 24.3 million poor Nigerians despite the present economic recession, weak industries and zero new job creation.

Sadiya Farouq, the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, disclosed this during the inauguration of the Federal Government’s emergency intervention database for the urban poor.

In a statement released by Nneka Anibeze, the Minister’s Aide, the financial intervention would help cushion the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on identified people.

According to the Minister, the Federal Government would disburse N5,000 each to 24.3 million poor and vulnerable Nigerians for a period of six months. A total of N729 billion.

In part, the statement reads, “According to records, about 24.3 million poor and vulnerable individuals were identified at the end of 2020 and registered into the National Social Register.

“Each beneficiary will receive N5,000 for a period of six months.

The government is embarking on handouts despite the nation’s fiscal challenges and economic recession. The N5,000 or N729 billion can help build or support available industries, fast track economic recovery and improve job creation against sharing it with people it will has little to zero impact on their lives.

This is one of the numerous leakages being addressed by the same administration. The database can not be verified neither are the people to be paid.

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Economy

FG Paying N1.1 Billion Per Day as Subsidy

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FG Paying N1.1 Billion Per Day as Subsidy

The recent jumped in crude oil prices means landing cost of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), popularly known as Petrol, has increased but the Federal Government has maintained the old pump price of N161 – N165 per litre.

In a series of reports, the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) open market price, the price fuel marketers are expected to sell, is N183 per litre as of yesterday. A break down showed N160 is the landing cost per litre while the additional N23 is the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) pricing template.

Therefore, with the payment of additional N23 as stipulated in the PPPRA pricing template and the national petrol per day consumption figure at 50 million litres, the Buhari led administration is offsetting about N1.1 billion on petrol consumption daily.

The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has been deducting the amount before remitting balance of oil sales to the Federation Account, according to a Businessday report.

An anonymous person in the oil marketing industry said: “We are back to the era of subsidy and Nigeria is bleeding badly because of this.

With deregulation, the current price of petrol should not be less than N181, so who is funding subsidy of the product for Nigeria to buy at the current fixed price?“.

Another oil marketers said, “the government does not have the boldness to allow full deregulation of petrol because of the spiral effects on Nigerians, and bearing in mind that Nigerians are in very hard times.

Alao Abiodun, the Head of Energy Research, New Nigeria Foundation, explained that “Because of the loans from the IMF and World Bank that they got with the condition that petrol should be deregulated, I believe the government is trying to manage the problem.”

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