- Rising Inflation Worsens Nigeria’s Misery Index
The sustained increase in the consumer price index (CPI), which is used to gauge inflation in the country has worsened misery index in Nigeria, a report by the Financial Derivatives Company Limited has stated.
Using the third quarter 2016 unemployment and underemployment rate of 13.9 per cent and 19.7 per cent (the most recent published figures), and December’s inflation of 18.55 per cent, Nigeria’s misery index is 52.15.
Due to nationwide job cuts (in the banking and oil sector especially) unemployment is estimated to have risen to 14.5 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2016. This is expected to bring the misery index of the fourth quarter, 2016, to a record high of 53.35. This would be 21.05 points higher than the fourth quarter 2014 figures.
Misery index is a measure of economic well-being for a specified economy, computed by taking the sum of the unemployment rate and the inflation rate for a given period. An increasing index means a worsening economic climate for the economy, and vice versa.
To this end, the research and investment company in its latest bi-monthly economic report for January 2017, pointed out that Nigeria’s misery index had risen for the last six quarters, stating that if the movement persists, consumers would be hit hard. In addition, it noted that consumer may be faced with deeper dwindling purchasing power, as their incomes would only be able to buy less of their usual consumption basket. Similarly, the poor will become poorer in real terms, and the middle class will thin out.
These factors are important because they pose economic and social costs to the average income earner. An increase in the misery index is triggered by an increase in either variable, and signifies economic discomfort and negative consumer sentiment.
“Additionally, climbing misery index implies declining economic activity and reduced consumption. This is because unemployed people are underutilised and rising prices will discourage rational consumers from spending. This can cause or complicate an economic slowdown or contraction. There will also be increased debt, as the federal government borrows money to increase social support schemes. In the end, the citizens will be left with high uncertainty and low morale.
“Furthermore, it is believed that consecutive rises in the misery index usually lead to a decline in the favourability ratings of the serving administration, and could result in a re-election loss for the incumbent. This was the case for U.S. President Ford and Jimmy carter, whose terms saw the misery index reach all-time highs. Likewise, Nigeria’s 2015 elections reflected this hypothesis,” the FDC report stated.
Leading the pack of high misery indexes in Africa is South Sudan, whose inflation rate of 457.20 per cent in November 2016 had sent its misery index through the roof. Other countries with high misery index include Angola (67.92), Congo (57.3), Libya (46.9), Kenya (46.3). On the other hand, some countries such as Cameroon (4.55), Ivory Coast (5.1) and Uganda (9.5), still maintain low misery indexes. At 52.15, Nigeria’s misery index is among the top in the continent.
Furthermore, the report noted that oil booms in the past engineered the significant increase in the revenues of net oil exporting countries, with dramatic changes felt in countries like Nigeria, where oil revenues per capita in the country increased from $33 in 1965 to $325 in 2000. With this oil windfall however came dramatic appreciations in the currencies of net oil exporters leading to the famous Dutch disease studies on the effects of oil bonanzas on currencies of countries especially but not exclusive to countries with under developed institutions.
“Natural resource curse hypothesis and empirical studies often characterise countries that fall prey to this state of inefficiency with deindustrialisation, bad growth prospects and currency disequilibrium. Our focus will rest mainly on the latter as forex market challenges and currency woes have contributed significantly to the astronomical hike in the price levels of net oil importers, Venezuela and Angola.
“Venezuela and Angola are oil producing countries that pull their weights in their respective continents. Venezuela currently produces 2.02 million barrels per day, 14.85 per cent higher than 1.72 million barrels per day that Angola produces. Oil revenue contributes about 45 per cent to the GDP of Angola and about 95 per cent to its total ex- ports. The same trend is observed in Venezuela where oil production and activities contribute 50 per cent and 95 per cent to its GDP and exports respectively,” 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.
Nigeria-South Africa Trade Hits $2.9bn
The volume of trade between Nigeria and South Africa hit $2.9 billion last year with expectation of it rising further with the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement.
Nigeria’s Consul General, Malik Abdul, in a statement noted that Nigeria accounts for 64 per cent of South Africa’s trade in West Africa and is one of his country’s top three sources of crude oil.
He further added that in 2020, South Africa imported R35 billion ($2.48 billion) worth of goods, predominantly crude oil from Nigeria and exported R6 billion ($425milion) to Nigeria.
He stated: “South Africa is currently among the top 10 per cent of investors in Nigeria, globally and Nigeria is South Africa’s 10th biggest export market in Africa and thirty-second globally. Nigeria accounts for 64 per cent of South Africa’s trade with West Africa and is one of South Africa’s top three sources of crude oil.
“Also, Nigeria in 2020 was South Africa’s top import market in Africa and sixth globally, after China, Germany, USA, India and Saudi Arabia. Over the past year, South Africa imported $2.48 billion worth of goods predominantly crude oil from Nigeria and exported $425 million worth to Nigeria.”
Also, the consulate said his embassy issued a total of 10,341 passports to Nigerian citizens in South Africa between March 2020 and May 2021.
The consul general further said the Mission had 404 unclaimed passports, and advised all those whose passports were processed and pending from August 2020 to come for collection.
Abdul added that the consulate was working to clear all COVID-19 lockdown backlog of applications, urging members of the public to exercise patience while the mission was resolving the backlogs.
On the re-introduction of administrative fees and charges for lost passports, Abdul said that the step was taken to harmonise and standardise consular services following approval from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Abuja.
The Mission had increased the fees for lost passports from R1,500 to R2,000, and admin charges of R120 for data capturing.
“On this issue, the Mission could not unilaterally impose any charges without headquarters’ approval or consent.
“The admin fees of R120 pertains to all services rendered by the two Missions,” he said.
According to the Nigerian envoy, the decision was taken to remove disparities in all consular services, noting that visa fees have also been harmonised.
On penalty for lost passports, Abdul disclosed that 484 Nigerian passports were reported missing at the mission between August 2020 and May 2021 with request for re-issue.
Abdul said it was discovered that there were criminal undertones and immigration rules infractions associated with the ‘so-called’ lost passport declarations.
“In line with practice in other Missions, there was a need to impose fines to deter people from engaging in such infractions.
“At such an astronomical rate of loss declarations, the option will be to refer such losses to Nigeria for processing.
“This will save the booklet for genuine requests of re-issue and thereby reducing the backlog and pressure on the Mission,” the envoy said.
Abdul disclosed that the consulate had received a directive to embargo processing of lost passports pending further instructions from the headquarters.
The consul general then accused some Nigerian groups in South Africa of, “peddling lies and outright falsehoods” against the Mission and his person.
“These disgruntled elements have gone ahead to incite fellow Nigerians with intent to sabotage the Mission.
“Moreover, a lie and falsehoods often repeated amounts to a propaganda which can be misinterpreted by the gullible and undiscerning as truth,” he said.
NNPC Engages Gas Producers to Improve Power Supply
The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has started engaging gas producers across the country in an effort to boost gas supply to power generation companies (Gencos) and subsequently improve electricity supply.
Mr. Yusuf Usman, the Chief Operating Officer, Gas and Power, NNPC, disclosed this in Lagos during his tour of Egbin Power Plc facility on Monday.
Usman, who responded to concerns raised by the Chairman of Egbin Power Plc, Mr. Temitope Shonubi, said the company’s concern on gas supply and transmission restrictions had been noted, adding that the corporation would support it to ensure constant power supply.
“I have listened to all the concerns you raised. An area of concern to me is when you talked about the gas constraints. We are going to support you to make sure that the power supply is steady. We are having a session with gas suppliers in this regard.
“I am aware that works are ongoing in this regard to ensure that all the power we generate is safely evacuated,” Usman said.
Usman, however, said he was impressed by the level of progress being recorded by Egbin, noting that the effort of the company’s management to effect turnaround maintenance at the company through overhaul of the entire system, was commendable.
Usman added: “The visit has been an eye opener for me. We have seen turbines that have been running for over 40 years. We have seen efforts being made by Egbin management to effect a turnaround at the plant through overhaul of the entire system.
“We have also seen the support you have been given to the youths through employment and capacity development opportunities.”
Shonubi, in his remarks, said Egbin Power was planning to increase power generation by 1,900 megawatt.
Shonubi said: “Egbin has 1,320MW capacity. As at the time we took over, the plant was generating 300MW which is abysmal 22 per cent. As at today, our generation capacity has surged and we do 89 per cent.
“We have reached the highest peak of 970MW and we are working hard to ensure sustainability of this feat.
“The 970MW we hit is the highest recorded this year and based on our core value of sustainability, we are working round the clock to make sure that we sustain the gains, which we have made.”
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