- Oil Price, Forex Policy Hamper Economic Recovery
The country’s economy may struggle to rebound from its worst slump in 25 years unless President Muhammadu Buhari ends the Niger Delta militancy and review the nation’s foreign exchange policy that has blocked investment, economic and financial experts have said.
The experts said a more favourable oil and foreign-currency environment could help the economy, Bloomberg reported.
The International Monetary Fund has estimated the nation’s Gross Domestic Product will contract by 1.5 percent for 2016 when the last quarter data is released soon.
“It’s oil prices and production from the delta that will determine growth,” the Chief Executive Officer of Time Economics Limited, Ogho Okiti, said.
“When monetary authorities floated the naira, they expected fiscal policies that attract investment and boost activity. But that didn’t happen, and as a result no one has confidence in the float,” Okito added.
The CBN, battling inflation at an 11-year high, has rebuffed the Ministry of Finance calls to cut record-high interest rates to boost the economy and has pledged to continue measures to manage the currency.
While the central bank scrapped a naira peg of 197 to 199 to the dollar in June, the CBN has intervened to hold the currency at around 315 since August.
That compares with a rate on the parallel market of almost 500 to the dollar. The central bank has also blocked importers of selected items from the interbank foreign-currency market.
“We expect the economy to recover, in part because oil-price falls and oil-production declines are behind us,” the Chief Economist at Exotix Partners LLP in London, Stuart Culverhouse, said.
“The extent of recovery will depend on normalizing the FX situation which is still a constraint on the economy.”
A shortage of dollars needed to repatriate profits forced some airlines to reduce flights to Nigerian destinations, while in manufacturing, investors including Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote, have held back expanding some of their businesses.
“There are no imminent plans for further FX liberalisation,” the Head of Africa Macro Research at Standard Chartered Plc in London, Razia Khan, said.
“FX will continue to be rationed, with key sectors being prioritised,” he stated.
Fitch Ratings downgraded the outlook on Nigeria’s credit assessment to negative because of concerns that foreign currency shortages will constrain the non-oil economy. Fitch puts the nation’s debt is rated B+, four steps below investment grade.
“Access to foreign exchange will remain severely restricted until the Central Bank of Nigeria can establish the credibility of the interbank foreign-exchange market and bring down the spread between the official rate and the parallel market rates,” Fitch said in a statement on Wednesday.
The Federal Government should use policies that attract private capital because increasing public spending alone won’t be sufficient to revive the economy, a senior associate for investment banking at Afrinvest West Africa, Ayodeji Ebo, said.
“Last year, because of the challenge of meeting revenue targets, capital expenditure suffered,” he said. “I see the same pattern this year,” he added.
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.”
Nigeria’s Big Oil-Refining Revamp Gets Off To A Slow Start
A year after shutting down all of its dilapidated refineries to figure out how to fix them, Nigeria still can’t say how much it will cost to do the work or where the money will come from.
Nigerian National Petroleum Corp. said it has finished the appraisal of its largest facility, but hasn’t completed the process at two others. Refining experts said the extended halt means the plants are at risk of rotting away and unlikely to restart on time.
“Things haven’t been looking good lately,” with Nigeria’s plants probably “completely out of action for some 18 months,” said Elitsa Georgieva, Executive Director at Citac, a consultant that specializes in African refining.
The dysfunction of its domestic refineries has long put Africa’s biggest oil producer in an ironic situation. It exports large volumes of crude to plants overseas, then pays a premium to import the fuels its customers produce.
Pledges to fix the facilities have been made and broken again and again over the years. For at least a decade, NNPC’s 445,000 barrels a day of refining capacity barely processed 20% of that amount.
The latest effort to fix the refineries was supposed to be different to the failed attempts that came before. The company had totally shut all three plants down by January 2020 to do a comprehensive appraisal, and set the ambitious target of having them all back up and running at 90% of capacity by 2023.
“The refineries have been deliberately shut down to allow for a thorough diagnosis,” said Kennie Obateru, an Abuja-based NNPC spokesman. “They can be fixed based on what the diagnosis reveals.”
The appraisal of the 210,000-barrel-a day Port Harcourt refinery has been completed and NNPC has called for bids for the necessary repairs, Obateru said. The company hasn’t determined how much the work will cost.
“It is when we close the bids, everything is analyzed and presented that we will know how much we need,” he said.
The diagnosis is underway at the 125,000-barrel-a-day Warri facility and should be complete before the end of the year, he said. After that, the study of the 110,000-barrel-a-day Kaduna plant will commence.
One year into the process, refining analysts are skeptical that all this work can be done by 2023.
“I don’t think anyone has a good understanding technically of what’s wrong with those refineries,” said Alan Gelder, vice president of refining, chemicals and oil markets at Wood Mackenzie Ltd. “They’re probably corroding, which makes it a very difficult proposition.”
NNPC reaffirmed its deadline and said there’s no reason the refineries, which are at least 40 years old, can’t be restored to full operation.
“There are refineries that are over a hundred years old still running, so age is not necessarily an impediment,” Obateru said.
There are parallel efforts backed by private companies to add to Nigeria’s capacity. Aliko Dangote, Africa’s richest person, is building a state-of-the-art 650,000 barrel-a-day refinery, which Citac estimates will start production in 2023.
Bringing NNPC’s Port Harcourt refinery to the same clean-fuel standards as Dangote’s modern plant would cost about $1.3 billion for the equipment, on top of whatever other repairs are required to get the facility running, Georgieva said.
NNPC is talking to oil-trading firms about $1 billion of prepayment deals that could finance the repairs at Port Harcourt, Reuters reported last week. Obateru declined to comment on the report, but said “I don’t envisage that we will have a problem getting people to invest.”
Food Inflation Hits Record High of 19.56 Percent in December 2020
Food Index, which measures prices of food items, grew by 19.56 percent in the month of December 2020 amid herdsmen attacks and flooding.
In the latest report from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), increases were recorded on Bread and cereals, Potatoes, Yam and other
tubers, Meat, Fruits, Vegetable, Fish and Oils and fats.
On month on monthly basis, the food sub-index rose by 2.05 percent in December 2020, 0.01 percent from 2.04 percent recorded in November 2020.
“The average annual rate of change of the Food sub-index for the twelve-month period ending December 2020 over the previous twelve-month average was 16.17 percent, 0.42 percent points from the average annual rate of change recorded in November 2020 (15.75) percent” the report stated.
Headline inflation number increased by 15.75 percent in the month of December 2020, up from 14.89 percent.
The report noted that increases were recorded in all COICOP divisions that yielded the Headline index.
On a month-on-month basis, “the urban index rose by 1.65 percent in December 2020, same as the rate recorded in November 2020, while the rural index also rose by 1.58 percent in December 2020, up by 0.02 percent above the rate that was recorded in November 2020 (1.56 percent).”
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