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Focus on Nigeria’s Non-oil Revenue Potential

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  • Focus on Nigeria’s Non-oil Revenue Potential

The recently released Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) Financial Stability Report for December 2016 had shown that the federal government’s retained revenue for the second half of 2016 increased to N2.558 trillion, above the levels of N1.898 trillion recorded in the first half of 2016 and the half- year budget estimate of N2.025 trillion for 2016. The increase in the retained revenue relative to the first half was mainly attributed to increase in non-oil receipts.

With this, the federal government has signaled its move away from oil as it plans to reduce its stake in its oil assets.

The development is clearly in line with the federal government’s quest for economic diversification from oil to the non-oil sectors, given the volatility of crude oil prices.

The dwindling oil revenue provided the nation a painful but indispensable opportunity to look inwards in a bid to trigger economic growth, just as experts have continued to stress the need for Nigerians to appreciate locally manufactured goods such as fabrics, saying that patronising such goods would make local industries thrive and boost economy.

Nigeria has the potential to become a major player in the global economy by virtue of its human and natural resource endowments. However, this potential has remained relatively untapped over the years.

After a shift from agriculture to crude oil and gas in the late 1960s, Nigeria’s growth has continued to be driven by consumption and high oil prices. Oil accounts for more than 95 per cent of exports and foreign exchange earnings while the manufacturing sector accounts for less than one percent of total exports.

This was one of the reasons that led to the development of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP). The ERGP is also consistent with the aspirations of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), given that the initiatives address its three dimensions of economic, social and environmental sustainability issues.

Nigeria aspires to have a rapidly growing economy with diversified sources of growth, increased opportunities for its people, and a socially inclusive economy that reduces poverty and creates jobs for the millions of young people entering the labour market annually.

To achieve this, the government will increase the tax base. It will also conduct a broad audit campaign to identify under-filing tax payers; improve tax compliance by engaging non-compliant taxpayers and making them comply; and formalise businesses in the informal sector. The government said it will also review key incentives such as the automobile, export expansion grant, mining and hotel incentives.

Nevertheless, it will focus on agriculture as a priority area, which it plans to grow by 6.9 per cent per year, and the non-oil sector. The government plans for Nigeria to become a net exporter of rice, tomatoes, vegetable oil, cashew nuts, groundnuts, cassava, poultry, fish and livestock. It wants the nation to become self-sufficient in tomato paste by 2017, rice by 2018, and wheat by 2020.

The ERGP was developed through a consultative process comprising retreats, seminars and round tables with a cross-section of Nigerians. The plan aims to restore sustained economic growth while promoting social inclusion and laying the foundations for long-term structural change. It will focus on providing macroeconomic stability, stimulating priority sectors and tackling critical constraints to long-term growth.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) which recently endorsed the ERGP 2017- 2020, applauded it as “how fiscal policy should be thought in developing countries.” The Fund’s Director, Fiscal Affairs Department, Mr. Vitor Gaspar said he had the privilege of visiting Nigeria some months ago and was very happy to understand that for the Nigerian government, fiscal policies in general and tax policy in particular were part of the strategy for development.

Also, IMF’s Assistant Director/Head, Fiscal Policy and Surveillance, Catherine Pattillo, welcomed the country’s ERGP, saying its focus on diversification and attention to some of the problems facing the economy were steps in the right direction.

According to Pattillo, “We very much welcome the ERGP. As you are aware, Nigeria went into recession last year, there have been forecasted recovery, but still very fragile this year and the need to address the fiscal situation is urgent. Our recommendation is for the continued fiscal consolidation.

“One striking statistics I think is the fact that over the past years, the ratio of interest payment to tax revenue has doubled to 66 per cent in Nigeria. So, two-thirds of all tax revenue is going into interest payment, illustrating the need to raise tax revenue. That would allow the government to implement the social and growth-friendly policies that are part of the objectives of the ERGP.

The Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun lamented that with a tax to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ratio of six per cent, the country is rated one of the lowest in the world. To this end, Adeosun stressed that in line with the focus on non-oil revenue, the government has a lot of work to do. But the minister pointed out that the government would require the support of all stakeholders to achieve its objective of increasing non-oil revenue.

“We have the tax to GDP ratio of six per cent, one of the lowest in the world. And with all the cooperation of encouraging companies to pay tax, it will support what we are doing to increase our GDP, improve amount of debt to take and improve our ability to fund our projects and get our economy going.

“The money that has left our country either through tax evasion or through money laundering, we need them back in Nigeria and what we are working on is a revenue initiative that would bring a lot of this money back so we can fund our infrastructure,” she explained.

But the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr. Okechukwu Enelamah, pointed out that implementing realistically the ERGP by the federal government would help get the economy on track. He pointed out that the ERGP captures the essence and key priorities of the federal government for the medium term 2017-2020.

“We believe if implemented, it will get the economy on track. Even the greatest critiques of Nigeria agree that what we need to do is to diversify our economy from a mono-product economy that depends on oil for most of its foreign exchange and revenue, to other sources. The key is how do you do that? This ERGP captures in essence how you do that.

“Some of the highlights of the plan include the focus on agriculture, food processing and agro-businesses, which is a key contributor to our Gross Domestic Product, but one that requires more investments; focus on infrastructure, particularly energy and focus on industrialisation. We think that by implementing the strategies in that plan, we would definitely get the economy to where it ought to be.

“First there is a plan and then there is execution. But I think it is important to point to the fact that the plan is reasonably clear. There has to be focus on some key areas which include agriculture, infrastructure, transportation and industrialisation. The country has to get it right over the long run. What we are trying to do is to build on the fundamentals so that the growth can continue,” he explained.

Also, the Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Dr. Kayode Fayemi noted that: “There have been a lot of talks in the past about diversifying away from oil. Basically, a fall in the oil price is what becames the wake-up call for the areas the country has neglected for a long time such as agriculture, mining industry and are now getting the attention of the government.

“Yes, that has always been the trigger. When oil falls, what sector offers an opportunity for substitution? Mineral resources. Look at what we have done with cement. The limestone has helped us to produce the largest cement industry in Africa to the extent we are now a net exporter of cement.”

The foregoing clearly shows that there is need for the federal government to aggressively drive the implementation of the ERGP which among other things, aims to reduce unemployment and underemployment, especially among the youth. The ERGP accordingly prioritises job creation through the adoption of a jobs and skills programme for Nigeria including deepening existing N-Power programmes, and launching other public works programmes. The partnership with the private sector and sub-national governments for job creation will also focus on the policies required to support growth and diversification of the economy by placing emphasis on Made-in-Nigeria, public procurement which takes account of local content and labour intensive production processes.

Is the CEO/Founder of Investors King Limited. A proven foreign exchange research analyst and a published author on Yahoo Finance, Businessinsider, Nasdaq, Entrepreneur.com, Investorplace, and many more. He has over two decades of experience in global financial markets.

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African Economy Set for Steady Growth: 4% Projected for 2025

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Experts are forecasting a robust growth trajectory of 4% for the continent in 2025.

This optimistic projection was highlighted during the ongoing Afreximbank annual meetings, incorporating the Africaribbean Trade and Investment Forum, held recently in Nassau, The Bahamas.

Yemi Kale, Group Chief Economist and Managing Director of Research and International Cooperation at Afreximbank, presented the 2024 African Trade Report and Economic Outlook, saying the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) is significant in driving economic integration and growth.

The projected growth rate of 4% for 2025 reflects a steady recovery path for Africa, building on the expected 3.5% growth anticipated for 2024.

This positive outlook comes at a crucial time when African economies are navigating challenges posed by global economic dynamics, including inflationary pressures and supply chain disruptions.

Kale underscored the resilience of intra-African trade, which expanded by 3.2% in 2023 despite a 6.3% overall contraction in Africa’s trade volumes.

This resilience is a testament to the AfCFTA’s potential to bolster regional trade ties and reduce dependency on external markets.

The Afreximbank report also delved into macroeconomic environments, trade patterns, and sovereign debt sustainability dynamics, providing policymakers and business leaders with actionable insights to navigate complexities in global markets effectively.

Nomusa Dube-Ncube, Premier of Kwazulu-Natal, highlighted Africa’s modest share of global GDP and manufacturing output, emphasizing the untapped potential within intra-African trade.

She noted that while Africa currently accounts for only 3% of world trade, intra-regional trade is steadily increasing, indicating a growing economic ecosystem within the continent.

Pamela Coke-Hamilton, Executive Director of the International Trade Centre (ITC), echoed the sentiment, advocating for enhanced trade between Africa and the Caribbean.

The ITC projects trade in goods and services between these regions to reach $1 billion by 2028, underscoring the mutually beneficial opportunities for economic expansion.

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Nigeria Sees 95% Surge in Food Imports Despite Emergency on Food Production

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Nigeria’s food import bill has surged to a five-year high in the first quarter of 2024, despite the federal government declaring a state of emergency on food production.

Data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) reveals a 95.28 percent increase in food imports to N920.54 billion from January to March, compared to N471.39 billion in the same period last year.

This alarming rise comes amid soaring food inflation, which hit a record 40.5 percent in April, reflecting a 15.92 percent year-on-year increase.

The sharp inflation has left many Nigerians struggling to afford a balanced diet, exacerbating the food security crisis in Africa’s most populous nation.

In March, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu emphasized the government’s commitment to self-sufficiency in food production, stating that Nigeria would not rely on imports to stabilize prices.

“We will not allow the importation of food but rather turn the lack in the country into abundance,” Tinubu declared. However, the latest import figures suggest that this goal remains elusive.

The NBS Foreign Trade Statistics report highlights that the value of food imports via maritime, air, and land routes surged 29.4 percent from N711.4 billion in the fourth quarter of 2023.

Major agricultural goods imported included durum wheat from Canada and Lithuania, valued at N130.26 billion and N98.63 billion, respectively. Frozen blue whitings from the Netherlands accounted for N16.67 billion.

Wheat imports alone constituted N519.75 billion of the total food import bill. The average cost of wheat imports, a significant driver of the food import value, increased by 33 percent compared to the previous quarter’s value of N391.01 billion.

The rising importation of wheat reflects its popularity among Nigerian consumers amid skyrocketing prices of close substitutes like garri and rice.

Overall, Nigeria’s total imports for Q1 2024 amounted to N12.64 trillion, representing a 39.65 percent increase from N9.05 trillion in Q4 2023 and a 95.53 percent rise from N6.47 trillion in Q1 2023. Food imports accounted for 7.3 percent of total imports during the period under review.

The bulk of Nigeria’s imports came from Asia, China, Europe, America, and Africa. Mineral fuels topped the import category with N4.44 trillion, representing 35.09 percent of total imports.

Machinery and transport equipment followed with N3.17 trillion, contributing 25.08 percent, and chemicals and related products at N1.79 trillion, making up 14.13 percent of total imports.

Despite the federal government’s initiatives to boost local food production and reduce dependency on imports, the latest data underscores the persistent challenges facing Nigeria’s agricultural sector.

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Ethiopia Boosts Spending by 21%, Eyes IMF Program for Economic Relief

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Ethiopia has announced a 21% increase in its 2025 budget, marking the first budget since defaulting on a Eurobond payment and committing to economic reform discussions with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The nation’s Finance Minister, Ahmed Shide, revealed the new budget details to lawmakers on Tuesday, outlining plans to spend 971.2 billion birr ($16.9 billion) in the fiscal year starting July 2024.

The increased budget reflects Ethiopia’s commitment to addressing its economic challenges head-on. Despite the heightened expenditure, the fiscal deficit is projected to remain stable at 2.1% of gross domestic product (GDP), unchanged from the current fiscal year.

Financing the Deficit

Minister Shide outlined a plan to cover the 358.5 billion-birr deficit through a combination of local and foreign borrowing.

The domestic borrowing component will be managed via government treasury bills and medium-term bonds. Shide emphasized that until substantial external donor support is secured, Ethiopia will continue to rely heavily on its domestic markets to finance budget deficits.

“While the government has secured some external financing from the World Bank and the European Union, negotiating an IMF program will be crucial to alleviate pressure on local banks and secure overall debt relief,” said Giulia Filocca, a senior analyst at Standard & Poor’s for sovereign and international public finance ratings.

IMF Program and Economic Reforms

An agreement with the IMF is seen as a pivotal step for Ethiopia. The nation failed to remit a $33 million coupon payment for its $1 billion bond in December 2023, leading to agreements with some creditors, including the Paris Club, to suspend debt repayments.

In exchange, Ethiopia is expected to reach a staff-level agreement with the IMF, which will likely include economic reforms such as devaluing the birr currency.

“Our expectation is that an IMF program will be signed this year, but the timeline remains unclear due to ongoing political developments and challenges over foreign-exchange reforms,” added Filocca.

Budget Highlights

The new budget includes 451.3 billion birr for recurrent spending, 283.2 billion birr for capital expenditure, and 236.7 billion birr allocated for regional subsidies.

The government projects income of 612.7 billion birr, with tax revenue expected to contribute 502 billion birr and non-tax income 61.6 billion birr. Sector budget support is anticipated to bring in 7.3 billion birr, with aid and grants expected to add 41.8 billion birr.

Economic Outlook

Ethiopia’s economy is forecasted to expand by 8.4% in the coming fiscal year, up from an expected 7.9% growth rate in the current period. The budget increase is designed to support this growth trajectory by enhancing public investment and stimulating economic activity.

“Our partnership with the IMF and other international financial institutions will be key to ensuring Ethiopia’s economic resilience and sustainable growth,” Minister Shide concluded. “We are committed to implementing the necessary reforms to secure a brighter economic future for our country.”

As Ethiopia navigates its economic challenges, the government’s proactive approach to increasing spending and engaging with the IMF reflects a strategic effort to restore fiscal stability and drive long-term economic development.

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