The Central Bank of Nigeria’s Monetary Policy Committee will today (Monday) begin its two-day bi-monthly meeting to review the state of the economy.
It is expected to take key policy decisions that will influence the direction of the economy.
Top on the agenda of the meeting is the need to tackle the biting recession occasioned by slow growth in the economy, rising inflation, and the volatility in the foreign exchange market.
Economic experts expect the 12-member MPC to begin an expansionary monetary policy by reducing the Monetary Policy Rate (the benchmark interest rate), and lower the Cash Reserve Ratio.
According to the economists, the MPC will need to reduce the liquidity ratio and take measures to address the lingering volatility in the foreign exchange market.
The Chief Executive Officer, Financial Derivatives Limited, Mr. Bismarck Rewane, said the MPC might have no other choice than to purse an expansionary monetary policy considering the state of the economy and the recent stimulus package announced by the fiscal authority.
He said, “We expect an accommodative monetary policy as against a contractionary one. The CBN will want to complement the effort of the fiscal authority, especially as regards the stimulus package that was recently announced.”
In an economic bulletin released on Friday, Rewane added, “The divergence between the year-on-year headline inflation and the annualised monthly rate of 6.17 per cent poses a major dilemma to the apex bank. Even though the monthly measure is more relevant to inflation expectations, it may need to maintain consistency with the previous measure.
“The clamour for a stimulus package and lower interest rates by the government and the public will force a more accommodative stance by the committee in spite of other considerations.
“The high inflation environment has reduced consumer spending, real returns and corporate profitability margins. The markets have reacted accordingly.”
The Chief Executive Officer, Cowry Asset Management Limited, Mr. Johnson Chukwu, was also of the view that the MPC would begin an accommodative monetary policy.
He said, “It is clear that we have not been able to control inflation with the tightening policy. If the overriding consideration is to reflate the economy, the MPC will need to reverse the last increase made in the MPR by reducing it from 14 to 12 per cent. The committee may need to cut the Cash Reserve Ratio from 22.5 per cent to 20 per cent and then to 15 per cent later.
A professor of Economics at the Olabisi Onabanjo University, Sheriffdeen Tella, also said he expected the committee to reduce the MPR in order to lower interest rate on bank loans and subsequently boost credit in the economy.
He said, “This is a time to begin an expansionary monetary policy. The MPC must reduce the MPR, reduce the liquidity ratio or maintain the status quo. We have seen that the inflation we are experiencing is cost-push, i.e caused by increase in cost of capital and not by demand pull. So we need to reduce the cost of capital in the economy.
“There is also a need for the committee to tell us how they intend to tackle the volatility in the exchange rate. They need to tell us whether the volatility is being caused by speculators or real demand. If it is caused by real demand, there is nothing they can do about it. However, if it is activities of speculators, then they must state how they intend to deal with it.”
The MPC had during its July meeting hiked the MPR by 200 basis points to 14 per cent.
The 14 per cent MPR announced by the CBN is the highest in over a decade.
However, the committee left the CRR and the liquidity ratio unchanged at 22.5 per cent and 30 per cent, respectively.
The CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, who announced the decision of the committee after a two-day meeting held at the apex bank’s headquarters in Abuja, said eight out of the 12 members of the committee attended the meeting.
Out of the eight, he said five members voted in favour of monetary tightening, while the other three voted to hold the MPR at 12 per cent.
In taking the decision to increase the MPR, the CBN governor said the committee was faced with two policy choices – whether to hold or reduce the rate to stimulate growth, or increase it in order to curb inflation.
Emefiele, however, said when considered from the standpoint that the primary mandate of the CBN was to maintain price stability, the committee decided to focus on its mandate by checking inflationary pressures.
The governor explained that members of the committee agreed that the economy was passing through a difficult phase, adding that the concern was that headline inflation had risen significantly in June.
The committee, he said, noted that inflation had risen significantly, eroding real purchasing power of fixed income earners and dragging down growth.
The CBN governor said the high inflationary trend had culminated in negative real interest rates in the economy, noting that this was discouraging savings.
According to him, members of the committee also noted that the negative real interest rates did not support the recent flexible foreign exchange market as foreign investors’ attitude had remained lukewarm, showing unwillingness to bring in new capital under the circumstance.
He said the decision to raise interest rate would give impetus to improving the liquidity of the foreign exchange market and the urgent need to deepen the market to ensure self-sustainability.
The governor said members were of the opinion that the liquidity of the foreign exchange market would boost manufacturing and industrial output, thereby stimulating the much needed growth.
Ogun Records N13.3B Internally Generated Revenue Monthly in Q1 of 2021
Ogun State Government has recorded an average of N13.3billion monthly as Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) in the first quarter of 2021.
The government said it is also planning to raise its yearly Gross Domestic Product (GDP) rate from the current single digit by 25 percent.
The Commissioner for Finance, Dapo Okubadejo disclosed this to newsmen in Abeokuta ahead of the state’s investment summit tagged: ‘OgunIseya21: Becoming Africa’s Model Industrial and Logistics Hub’, slated for July 13th-14th, 2021.
Okubadejo who doubles as the State’s Chief Economic Adviser noted that the state’s IGR had experienced an upward movement after last year’s shortfall due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the attendant lockdown.
“We had a significant turnaround in the first quarter of this year. In fact, as of April, we have done almost N40bn in the Internally Generated Revenue. Our target this year is to exceed all the previous records we have set in IGR. That’s why we have put in place, all these transformation initiatives, friendly policies and also facilitate this investment summit to further showcase Ogun State as the preferred industrial destination,” he said.
The Finance Commissioner was supported in highlighting the investment potentials of the summit by his counterparts from the Ministries of Industry, Trade and Investment, Mrs. Kikelomo Longe; Works and Infrastructure, Ade Adesanya; Culture and Tourism, Toyin Taiwo; Budget and Planning, Olaolu Olabimtan and the Director-General, Public-Private Partnership, Dapo Oduwole.
Unemployment To Push More Nigerians Into Poverty – NESG
On Friday, The Nigerian Economic Summit Group said that many more Nigerians are expected to fall into the poverty trap amid rising unemployment in the country.
The NESG, a private sector-led think-tank, noted in its economic report for the first quarter of 2021 that the country’s economic growth in the period under review was relatively weak.
It said, “Nigeria’s economic growth trajectory is better described as jobless and less inclusive even in the heydays of high growth regime in the 2000s.
“While the Nigerian economy recovered from the recession in Q4 of 2020, the unemployment rate spiked to its highest level ever at 33.3 percent in the same quarter.
“With the COVID-19 crisis heightening the rate of joblessness, many Nigerians are expected to fall into the poverty trap, going forward.”
The group noted that the World Bank estimated an increase in the number of poor Nigerians to 90 million in 2020 from 83 million in 2019.
“This corresponds to a rise in headcount poverty ratio to 44.1 percent in 2020 from 40.1 percent in 2019. The rising levels of unemployment and poverty are reflected in the persistent insecurity and social vices, with attendant huge economic costs,” it said.
According to the report, huge dependence on proceeds from crude oil, leaving other revenue sources unexplored, indicates that Nigeria is not set to rein in debt accumulation in the short to medium term.
The NESG noted that public debt stock continued to trend upwards, with a jump from N7.6tn ($48.7bn) in 2012 to N32.9tn ($86.8bn) in 2020.
It said public debts grew by 20 percent between 2019 and 2020, adding, “This is partly due to the need for emergency funds to combat the global pandemic and alleviate its adverse economic impacts on households and businesses.”
According to the group, Nigeria needs more than an economic rebound, and there is a need to improve growth inclusiveness.
It said, “Nigeria has struggled to achieve inclusive growth for many decades. Since recovery from the 2016 recession, the economy has been on a fragile growth path until it slipped into another recession in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This suggests that the country needs to attain high and sustainable economic growth to become strong and resilient.
“The relationship between economic growth and unemployment rate in Nigeria suggests that economic growth has not led to a reduction in the unemployment rate – jobless growth.”
The NESG said to reverse this recurring trend, there was an urgent need for collaborative efforts between the government and relevant stakeholders towards addressing the constraints to value chain development in high-growth and employment-elastic sectors, including manufacturing, construction, trade, education, health and professional services, with ICT and renewable energy sectors as growth enablers.
It noted that despite the re-opening of the land borders that the Nigerian government shut since October 2019, inflation reached a four-year high of 18.1 percent in April 2021.
“While we expect improved agricultural production in coming months to partially ease inflationary pressures, this positive impact could be suppressed by recurring key structural bottlenecks including insecurity in the food-producing regions, electricity tariff hike, fuel price increase and hike in transport and logistic costs,” it added.
IMF Queries FG Strategies On Fuel Subsidy, Unemployment, Inflation
The International Monetary Fund has raised the red flag over Nigeria’s resumption of petrol subsidy payments, describing it as injurious to the economy.
It also reiterated the importance of introducing a market-based fuel pricing mechanism and deployment of well-targeted social safety nets to cushion any adverse impact on the poor.
In a report produced after a virtual meeting with Nigerian authorities from June 1 to 8, the IMF also expressed concerns over the rising unemployment and inflation rates, even as it admitted that real Gross Domestic Product was recovering.
The IMF team, led by Jesmin Rahman, further hailed the Central Bank of Nigeria for its efforts at unifying the exchange rate by embracing needed reforms.
The Fund said: “Recent exchange rate measures are encouraging, and further reforms are needed to achieve a fully unified and market-clearing exchange rate.
“The resurfacing of fuel subsidies is concerning, particularly in the context of low revenue mobilisation.
“The Nigerian economy has started to gradually recover from the negative effects of the COVID-19 global pandemic. Following sharp output contractions in the second and third quarters, GDP growth turned positive in Q4 2020 and growth reached 0.5 percent (y/y) in Q1 2021, supported by agriculture and services sectors.
“Nevertheless, the employment level continues to fall dramatically and, together with other socio-economic indicators, is far below pre-pandemic levels. Inflation slightly decelerated in May but remained elevated at 17.9 percent, owing to high food price inflation. With the recovery in oil prices and remittance flows, the strong pressures on the balance of payments have somewhat abated, although imports are rebounding faster than exports and foreign investor appetite remains subdued resulting in continued FX shortage.
“The incipient recovery in economic activity is projected to take root and broaden among sectors, with GDP growth expected to reach 2.5 percent in 2021. Inflation is expected to remain elevated in 2021, but likely to decelerate in the second half of the year to reach about 15.5 percent, following the removal of border controls and the elimination of base effects from elevated food price levels.”
The IMF also recognised that tax revenue collections were gradually recovering but noted that with fuel subsidies resurfacing, additional spending for COVID-19 vaccines and to address security challenges, the fiscal deficit of the Consolidated Government is expected to remain elevated at 5.5 percent of GDP.
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