International rating agency, Fitch Ratings Inc., yesterday downgraded Nigeria’s credit ratings, citing the likelihood of the country to miss its debt obligations.
In a statement issued, yesterday, Fitch said: “The outlooks are stable. The issue ratings on Nigeria’s senior unsecured foreign-currency bonds have also been downgraded to ‘B+’ from ‘BB-’. The Country Ceiling has been revised down to ‘B+’ from ‘BB-’ and the Short-Term Foreign-Currency IDR affirmed at ‘B’.”
The new ratings imply that though Nigeria is currently meeting financial commitments, there is a limited margin of safety and capacity for continued timely payments is contingent upon a sustained, favourable business and economic environment.
Explaining the rationale for downgrading the country’s rating, Fitch said: “Nigeria’s fiscal and external vulnerability has worsened due to a sharp fall in oil revenue and fiscal and monetary adjustments that were slow to take shape and insufficient to mitigate the impact of low global oil prices. Renewed insurgency in the Niger Delta in the first half of 2016 has lowered oil production, magnifying pressures on export revenues and limiting the inflow of hard currency.
Fitch forecasts Nigeria’s general government fiscal deficit to grow to 4.2 percent in 2016, after averaging 1.5 percent in 2011-15, before beginning to narrow in 2017.
“Despite expected increases in non-oil revenue, the agency expects overall general government revenue to drop to just 5.5 percent of GDP, from an average of 12 per cent in 2011-15.
“The fall in general government revenue represents a risk to the country’s debt profile. Fitch estimates general government debt/revenue will rise to 259 percent in 2016 from 181 percent in 2015, higher than the 223 percent median for ‘B’ rated peers. Nevertheless, depreciation of the naira will increase the debt and debt service burden.
“On 20 June, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) commenced trading on the inter-bank foreign exchange market under a revised set of guidelines that will result in a more flexible exchange rate. However, the new regime will not be fully flexible as it will still involve a parallel market as importers of 41 items are excluded from the inter-bank market, which will continue to hinder growth, capital inflows and investment, in Fitch’s view.
Furthermore, the delayed change in exchange rate policy casts some uncertainty over the authorities’ commitment to a more flexible system. The CBN’s previous exchange rate policy of managing demand for hard currency and restricting access to dollar auctions at the official FX rate resulted in a significant shortage in dollar liquidity.
“Fitch expects that some continued intervention in the FX market will reduce international reserves, which were below USD27bn before the new market began trading, compared with USD34bn at end-2014. Fitch expects reserves to fall to 3.4 months cover of current external payments by end-2016. Fitch forecasts GDP growth to fall to 1.5 percent in 2016, down from 2.7 percent in the previous year, after GDP contracted by 0.4 percent year-on-year in the first quarter of 2016, stemming partly from low hard currency liquidity. The second quarter is likely to experience a further contraction, as the resurgence of violence in the Niger Delta has brought oil production levels down to around 1.5 million barrels per day (mbpd) in May, from approximately 2.1 mbpd in January.”
The naira yesterday strengthened for the second consecutive day in the interbank foreign exchange market for spot and future transactions, while interest rate fell by more than half to 34 percent.
Data released by Financial Market Dealers Quote (FMDQ) showed that the interbank exchange rate for spot transactions rose to N281.67 per dollar yesterday from N282.8 on Wednesday, indicating N1.1 or 0.3 percent appreciation for the naira. However, the interbank exchange rates for all future transactions remained stable.
On the other hand interest rate in the interbank money market dropped sharply by more than half in response to decision of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to open its discount window for banks to use their treasury bills to fund foreign exchange purchases.
Interest rate on overnight lending fell from average of 68 per cent on Wednesday to 34 percent yesterday while interest rate on securitised lending fell to 30 per cent from 63 per cent.
Meanwhile FMDQ yesterday announced it has revised the methodology and publication standard for Nigeria Interbank Foreign Exchange (NIFEX) in line with the Principles for Financial Benchmarks of the International Organisation of Securities Commissions (IOSCO). The revised standard, the company stated, would take effect from today June 24, 2016.
Communities in Delta State Shut OML30 Operates by Heritage Energy Operational Services Ltd
The OML30 operated by Heritage Energy Operational Services Limited in Delta State has been shut down by the host communities for failing to meet its obligations to the 112 host communities.
The host communities, led by its Management Committee/President Generals, had accused the company of gross indifference and failure in its obligations to the host communities despite several meetings and calls to ensure a peaceful resolution.
The station with a production capacity of 80,000 barrels per day and eight flow stations operates within the Ughelli area of Delta State.
The host communities specifically accused HEOSL of failure to pay the GMOU fund for the last two years despite mediation by the Delta State Government on May 18, 2020.
Also, the host communities accused HEOSL of ‘total stoppage of scholarship award and payment to host communities since 2016’.
The Chairman, Dr Harrison Oboghor and Secretary, Mr Ibuje Joseph that led the OML30 host communities explained to journalists on Monday that the host communities had resolved not to backpedal until all their demands were met.
Crude Oil Recovers from 4 Percent Decline as Joe Biden Wins
Oil Prices Recover from 4 Percent Decline as Joe Biden Wins
Crude oil prices rose with other financial markets on Monday following a 4 percent decline on Friday.
This was after Joe Biden, the former Vice-President and now the President-elect won the race to the White House.
Global benchmark oil, Brent crude oil, gained $1.06 or 2.7 percent to $40.51 per barrel on Monday while the U.S West Texas Intermediate crude oil gained $1.07 or 2.9 percent to $38.21 per barrel.
On Friday, Brent crude oil declined by 4 percent as global uncertainty surged amid unclear US election and a series of negative comments from President Trump. However, on Saturday when it became clear that Joe Biden has won, global financial markets rebounded in anticipation of additional stimulus given Biden’s position on economic growth and recovery.
“Trading this morning has a risk-on flavor, reflecting increasing confidence that Joe Biden will occupy the White House, but the Republican Party will retain control of the Senate,” Michael McCarthy, chief market strategist at CMC Markets in Sydney.
“The outcome is ideal from a market point of view. Neither party controls the Congress, so both trade wars and higher taxes are largely off the agenda.”
The president-elect and his team are now working on mitigating the risk of COVID-19, grow the world’s largest economy by protecting small businesses and the middle class that is the backbone of the American economy.
“There will be some repercussions further down the road,” said OCBC’s economist Howie Lee, raising the possibility of lockdowns in the United States under Biden.
“Either you’re crimping energy demand or consumption behavior.”
Nigeria, Other OPEC Members Oil Revenue to Hit 18 Year Low in 2020
Revenue of OPEC Members to Drop to 18 Year Low in 2020
The United States Energy Information Administration (EIA) has predicted that the oil revenue of members of the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) will decline to 18-year low in 2020.
EIA said their combined oil export revenue will plunge to its lowest level since 2002. It proceeded to put a value to the projection by saying members of the oil cartel would earn around $323 billion in net oil export in 2020.
“If realised, this forecast revenue would be the lowest in 18 years. Lower crude oil prices and lower export volumes drive this expected decrease in export revenues,” it said.
The oil expert based its projection on weak global oil demand and low oil prices because of COVID-19.
It said this coupled with production cuts by OPEC members in recent months will impact net revenue of the cartel in 2020.
It said, “OPEC earned an estimated $595bn in net oil export revenues in 2019, less than half of the estimated record high of $1.2tn, which was earned in 2012.
“Continued declines in revenue in 2020 could be detrimental to member countries’ fiscal budgets, which rely heavily on revenues from oil sales to import goods, fund social programmes, and support public services.”
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