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Naira Strengthens to N310 a Dollar

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Foreign currency speculators, who launched an unprecedented attack against the naira in the last two weeks, got their fingers burnt on Tuesday when the nation’s currency staged a major recovery, rising to N310 a dollar at the close of business, compared to N375 at which it sold on Monday.

The naira fell to an all-time low of about N400 to a dollar on the parallel market last week fuelling concerns that it would plummet further to N450-N500/$ this week.

But findings showed that the naira defied expectations, climbing to as high as N305 to the dollar at some parallel market points in Lagos on Tuesday afternoon, before settling at N310.

Forex dealers and currency analysts attributed the significant gain on the parallel market to excess supply of the greenback in the market, even as it looked like a lot of speculators lost the shirts on their back.

According to Thisday reliable source, speculators who thought that by attacking the currency last week, coupled with misplaced concerns that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) was going to stop the allocation of forex for school fees and medical bills abroad, this would compel the central bank and President Muhammadu Buhari to alter their stance against the devaluation of the currency.

But they were disappointed when Buhari, in Egypt at the weekend, adamantly ruled out the devaluation of the naira on the grounds that Nigeria does not have the competitive advantage to benefit from an official currency adjustment.

Reacting to the president’s stance, speculators who had been betting that the naira would depreciate further, started dumping the dollars with reckless abandon, effectively creating excess supply of the greenback in the parallel market.

Commenting on the situation in the secondary forex market, the chairman, Association of Bureau de Change Operators of Nigeria (ABCON), Alhaji Aminu Gwadabe, said: “The market is moving from perception to reality.”

Similarly, an analyst at Ecobank Nigeria, Mr. Kunle Ezun, predicted that the naira would edge higher in the coming days.

“We expect that the naira would appreciate further. We have always said that what happened last week was purely a speculative attack.

Some people felt that if they pushed the naira down to that level, they could force the CBN to devalue, so that when the naira is devalued and the gap widens further, they would now bring out the dollar cash to make a kill,” Ezun said.
He however urged the fiscal authorities to introduce policies that would help stimulate economic activities, saying that the fundamentals of the economy were still weak.

ABCON also aligned with the federal government’s decision not to further devalue the naira.
Gwadabe said this at a media briefing, pointing out that devaluing the naira would create more problems than it would solve.

He said that as a way of enhancing transparency in the BDC sub-sector, his association had decided to introduce a forex rate band weekly.

This rate band is expected to serve as a guide for all BDCs and the public on the prevailing exchange rate across the country, he added.
In addition, it will be operated in line with the regulated forex rate in the economy.

“This is to forestall exploitation of forex end users, and also to ensure that end users are informed to avoid falling victims of exploitation.

“The band will be announced via weekly press releases that will be circulated to the media for publication.

“ABCON will introduce a series of measures aimed at transforming the operations of BDCs in Nigeria to align with global best practices. These include: review and updating of BDC operational manual; introduction of live trading platforms; automation of all transactions and documentation requirements; and increased partnership with the CBN and other relevant agencies.

“Further, as part of its responsibility as a self regulatory organisation (SRO), and also in continuation of its aim to transform its members to compete within the global regulatory currency market, ABCON will seek the approval of relevant monetary and fiscal authorities as well as partnership for effective use of the nation’s external reserves to enhance domestic trade and foreign exchange management.

“To this end, our website and internet platforms will be developed to position BDCs to serve as agents of Western Union and currency auctioneers.

“We would also develop platforms that will allow our members to access sources of autonomous foreign exchange like govt agencies, embassies, IOCs and export proceeds, etc,” he explained.

He also urged the federal government to introduce policies that would diversify the economy to increase non-oil export earnings, and reduce imports.

This, according to him, would lead to increased foreign exchange inflow and a reduction in demand for foreign exchange.

In addition to policies that would diversify the economy, ABCON suggested that the CBN should review the policy of dollar importation into the economy for the purpose of defending the naira.

According to the association, the central bank should introduce a policy whereby the naira is used to intervene in the real sectors of the economy to boost productivity.

Furthermore, Gwadabe said as a way of reducing demand for dollars, the CBN should explore the option of promoting the use and acceptability of naira for transactions within the West African sub-region.

He added: “We observe that this is already happening at the level of informal trading activities within the sub-region, and it is our belief that this can be replicated at the level of formal economic activities.”

Meanwhile, the Chairman of Stanbic IBTC Holdings Plc, Mr. Atedo Peterside, has expressed concern over the uncertainty arising from the federal government’s foreign exchange policy, warning that it is threatening macroeconomic stability in the country and is unsustainable.

He stated this yesterday at the 2016 Standard Bank West Africa Investors’ Conference tagged, “Unlocking Nigeria’s Potential…Growth through Diversification”.

He said the federal government’s foreign exchange policy is the biggest uncertainty facing the country today following the lack of economic policy direction and the likely composition of Buhari’s economic team for much of the third and fourth quarters of last year.

According to him, “The argument at stake is not whether to devalue or not because there has already been an effective devaluation.

“The naira prices of various capital goods are now being ‘correctly’ priced purely on the basis of realistic expected replacement costs and so the economy is sliding towards an unpalatable scenario where the consumer suffers the ‘pains’ of devaluation (rising prices) without witnessing any of the expected ‘gains’ such as enhanced fiscal viability (in local currency terms at least) of the three tiers of government and increased competitiveness of Nigerian businesses.”

Peterside stressed that the much-craved economic diversification could only take place meaningfully if new capital investment activity takes place to take maximum advantage of increased domestic competitiveness.

“Sadly, most investors here – local and foreign – are currently caught up in a frenzied pursuit of the cheapest available dollars and the difference between losing this game and winning it can be as high as a mind-boggling 50 per cent on new transactions.

“The pursuit of scarce forex for today’s needs has understandably become the main game in town and this has exacerbated the pressures on Nigeria’s foreign exchange reserves and the naira via the one-way bet that is currently on against the naira, that is, everybody wants to take foreign exchange out and nobody really wants to bring it in,” he added.

He further stated that the excitement caused by the important development in Nigeria’s political landscape last year, where a change in government occurred at the federal level after a keenly contested election, has given way to some apprehension surrounding whether a populist government can take the necessary tough economic policy actions that are necessary to restore confidence and stimulate badly needed new investment activity.

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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Finance

Remittance to Nigeria, Other African Countries Hits $53bn in 2022

Remittance to Sub-Sahara Africa rose to $53 billion in this year

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Naira Exchange Rates - Investors King

The World Bank report has indicated that remittance to Nigeria and other countries in Sub-Sahara Africa has reached $53 billion in 2022. This represents an increase of 5.2 percent when compared with 2021.

Investors King understands that remittances into Nigeria and Kenya constitute a significant percentage of all the remittances into the African Sub-Sahara region. 

“Remittances to Sub-Saharan Africa, the region most highly exposed to the effects of the global crisis, grew an estimated 5.2 percent to $53 billion in 2022, compared with 16.4 percent last year (due mainly to strong flows to Nigeria and Kenya),” the report stated.

According to the World Bank report on Migration and Development, prepared by the bank’s Migration and Remittances Unit and Development Economy, remittance has constituted an important part of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for a number of African countries. 

For example, Remittances as a share of GDP in the Gambia is 28 percent while it stood at 21 percent in Lesotho, the report noted. 

The report added that remittances are an important source of household income for most Low and Middle-Income Countries (LMICs). Through remittances, most of the households in the LMICSs have been able to survive harsh economic conditions such as the Covid-19 pandemic. 

“Remittances are a vital source of household income for LMICs. They alleviate poverty, improve nutritional outcomes, and are associated with increased birth weight and higher school enrollment rates for children in disadvantaged households”. 

The World Bank noted that although the rising price of goods has adversely affected migrant incomes, the reopening of the economy and international borders has led to the increase of remittance inflow into Sub Sahara Africa.

Meanwhile, the global bank acknowledges that countries that witnessed scarcity of foreign exchange rates or multiple exchange rates officially recorded a decline in remittances inflow as migrants shift to alternative channels which promise better rates. 

The report noted that sending funds back home from some countries in Europe and America could attract a transaction fee that is as high as 7.8 percent on average. 

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Banking Sector

Insider Dealing: Hafiz Mohammed Bashir Acquires 37 Million Shares in Unity Bank

Alhaji Bashir carried out the acquisition in 32 different transactions at an average price of N0.51 a unit between November 8th and 11th 2022

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The management of Unity Bank Plc has announced that a non-Executive Director, Hafiz Mohammed Bashir scooped 37,681,947 shares of the bank.

The transaction was disclosed in a statement signed by the bank’s secretary, Alaba Williams.

Alhaji Bashir carried out the acquisition in 32 different transactions at an average price of N0.51 a unit between November 8th and 11th 2022, according to the disclosure available on the Nigerian Exchange Limited (NGX).

Insider dealing is the buying or selling of a company’s shares by someone with a piece of insider information not available to the public. Insider dealing is illegal in the U.S. but not in Nigeria as long as it’s disclosed.

The Nigerian Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) mandated all listed companies to disclose insider trading to enforce transparency across the nation’s Exchange market.

Also, insider dealings can help stakeholders and retail investors assess the confidence of top company executives in a listed company. While Alhaji Bashir’s acquisition could demonstrate his trust in the future of the company, it could also mean positioning ahead of a major company’s event given his position.

Hafiz Mohammed Bashir Profile

In 2017, Hafiz Mohammed Bashir was appointed as a Non-executive Director following the Central Bank of Nigeria’s approval.

Hafiz Mohammed Bashir is an accomplished professional with vast experience in the public and private sectors. He retired at the apex of Local Government Administration in Katsina State in 1992 and has chaired the Board of many companies – including Fiztom International Ltd, HafadGlobal Resources limited and Fiziks Nigeria limited.

Alh. Hafiz who is currently in private business holds a Post Graduate Diploma in Management from Abubakar Tafawa BalewaUniversity, Bauchi, and an Advance Diploma in Public Administration from the University of Jos, a higher Diploma in Local Government Administration- AhmaduBello University. Zaria and Diploma in Insurance from ABU, Zaria He is also currently undergoing a Master’s programme in Business   Administration at the Business School of the Netherlands.

See the details of the transactions below.

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Loans

Lagos Chamber of Commerce Advised FG on Borrowing, Proffer Solutions to Foreign Exchange Crises

LCCI lamented that additional borrowings will further increase Nigeria’s debt-servicing bill

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The Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry ( LCCI) has advised the Federal Government to explore alternative ways to finance the deficit in the 2023 budget proposal. LCCI lamented that additional borrowings will further increase Nigeria’s debt-servicing bill.

Investors King understands that the 2023 budget proposal as submitted to the National Assembly by the president has a deficit of N10.78 trillion.

Speaking at the organisation’s 134th Annual General Meeting (AGM) held in Lagos, LCCI President, Dr Olawale Cole, stated that although the chamber does not totally frown at the budget deficits, the chamber, however, is not disposed to issuing new commercial loans as well as bilateral and multilateral loans to finance the deficit. 

Dr. Olawale added that while President Buhari alongside other African presidents is seeking debt cancelation from international creditors, the presidents across the African continent keep piling up debts. 

“The world is a bit confused at our president’s well-publicized call for debt cancellation at the last United Nations General Assembly,” he noted.

Speaking further on the danger of the country’s incessant borrowing, Olawale said “the borrowings are significantly increasing, and Nigeria is struggling to service these debts due to revenue mobilisation challenges and an increased fuel subsidy burden”.

“The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has warned that debt servicing may gulp 100 percent of the federal government’s revenue by 2026 if the government fails to implement adequate measures to improve revenue generation,” he lamented. 

Similarly, the LCCI president also spoke on the foreign exchange challenges in Nigeria. He noted that the major cause of the fall in naira is a result of the drop in oil output and weak production amid increased demand for foreign currency. 

“The real solution to our forex scarcity crises is to boost production and expand exports. We must also resolve the crises around oil production, as 80 percent of forex earnings come from oil and gas exports,” he said. 

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