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We Must Borrow More to Deliver Infrastructure —Adeosun

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  • We Must Borrow More to Deliver Infrastructure —Adeosun

The Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, on Sunday, said the nation must borrow more in the short term to deliver critical infrastructural projects such as roads, rail and power.

According to her, Nigeria currently has one of the lowest debt-to-Gross Domestic Product figures in the world and the administration has no plan to go into massive borrowing that it cannot sustain.

Adeosun spoke at a press conference marking the conclusion of the 2017 World Bank/International Monetary Fund Annual Meetings in Washington DC, United States.

She said, “Nigeria’s debt-to-Gross Domestic Product ratio is one of the lowest actually. It is about 19 per cent. Most advanced countries have over 100 per cent. I am not saying we want to move to 100 per cent. But I’m saying we need to tolerate a little bit more debt in the short term to deliver roads, rail, and power.

“That, in itself, will generate economic activities and jobs, which will then generate revenue which will be used to pay back (the loans). It is a strategic decision that as a country we have to make.”

She added, “What I will assure you is that this government is very prudent around debt. We don’t borrow recklessly. We have no intention of bequeathing unserviceable debts to Nigerians. What we are simply trying to do is to ensure that we create enough headroom to invest in the capital projects that the country desperately needs.

“I don’t think any Nigerian will argue with us that we don’t need to invest in power. There is no Nigerian who will argue that we don’t need to do the roads. There is no Nigerian who is honest who will tell us that we don’t have 17 million units housing deficit. So, our vision for Nigeria is not for us to continue hobbling as a poor nation. That is the message I took to the meetings yesterday. We are a middle-income country. By classification, Nigeria, Angola and South Africa are middle-income countries. So, we have to benchmark ourselves against those who wish to join and to do that, we have to fix our infrastructure. We will do it jointly and as efficiently as possible. But the key is revenue.”

However, the minister said that the Ministry of Finance had rejected loan requests by some state governments to ensure the country had good debt sustainability figure.

She also said the Federal Government had a strategic plan to reduce borrowing and this was why the government had embarked on various tax mobilisation initiatives including the Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration, which she noted was gaining traction.

She also noted that plans were underway to get the National Assembly’s approval to refinance some of the naira debts into external borrowing.

On why the country had to borrow, Adeosun said, “If we think back at the problem that we faced, it will be very important to put this in context. Our principal source of revenue plummeted by up to 85 per cent. So, we had two choices: You either reduce public services massively, which would have meant massive job losses or you borrow in the short term until you can begin to generate revenue.

“As the All Progressives Congress (the ruling party), we felt laying off thousands of people was not the way to stimulate the economy. Also, when we came into office, about 27 state governments could not pay salaries. If we had allowed that situation to persist, we would have been in depression now.

“So, we took the view that as a government the best for us to do was to stimulate the demand and spend our way out of trouble. Let the state government pay salaries, make sure the Federal Government can pay salary and invest in capital projects to get people back to work. Once growth is restored, you can now begin to systematically reduce short dependence on borrowing and increase revenue.”

Also speaking at the press briefing, the Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, said the CBN was paying close attention to the banks in order to ensure that no bank would fail.

He said if any bank should fail, the economy would be drastically affected and as such, the CBN was putting measures in place to ensure the banks were healthy.

Emefiele said, “Central banks have been advised to focus on their banking system very effectively to ensure that there is no significant destabilisation because anything that destabilises the banking system adversely impacts on the economy. This is what we are doing. We are keeping an eye on the banking system to ensure there are no significant threats that will alter the strategic health of the banking industry.”

According to him, the fundamentals of the foreign exchange market show that there is a lot of stability in the forex market, having come down from the high level to the current exchange rate.

“It is now fluctuating between N359 and N365. It is a good level compared to where we were coming from. But we think it is important to know that as reserves get stronger and the economic fundamentals get stronger, there is no doubt that the naira will get stronger and we will see more appreciation in the currency,” the CBN governor added.

Experts are divided on the issue. For instance, a professor of Economics at the Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago Iwoye, Sheriffdeen Tella, said there was a need to take stock of the borrowings the current government had done and their impact rather borrowing more.

“I have always been against this huge borrowing; let us see the outcome of the ones that you have borrowed before. The government should be telling us the outcome of the borrowings they have been engaging in since the last two years. I know that there is a need for us to borrow but we have to borrow with caution, and that is what even international organisations are telling us.

“We have to stop this borrowing for now and let’s take stock of the actual borrowing level now and the expected returns in other two to three years.”

But a currency expert at Ecobank Nigeria, Mr. Kunle Ezun, said it had become necessary to borrow to fund the budget in order to reinforce the nation’s economic recovery.

He said, “If they do more of external borrowing, it will come at a cheaper rate. Yes, we need to borrow; all over the world, there is no law against borrowing. What is important is that the borrowings are tied to infrastructural development.”

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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Economy

Nigeria’s Growth Forecast Lowered to 3% for 2025, Higher than Most Emerging Markets

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The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has projected a 3% growth rate for Nigeria in 2025, slightly down from the 3.1% forecasted for 2024.

Despite this slight decline, Nigeria’s projected growth remains higher than that of many emerging markets as detailed in the IMF’s latest World Economic Outlook released on Tuesday.

In comparison, South Africa’s economy is expected to grow by 1.2% in 2025, up from 0.9% this year. Brazil’s growth is projected at 2.4% from 2.1% in 2024, and Mexico’s growth forecast stands at 1.6% for 2025, down from 2.2% in 2024.

However, India is anticipated to see a robust growth of 6.5% in 2025, although this is slightly lower than the 7% forecast for 2024.

The IMF’s projections come as Nigeria undertakes significant monetary reforms. The Central Bank of Nigeria has been working on clearing the foreign exchange backlog, and the federal government recently removed petrol subsidies.

These reforms aim to stabilize the economy, but the country continues to grapple with high inflation and increasing poverty levels, which pose challenges to sustained economic growth.

Sub-Saharan Africa as a whole is expected to see an improvement in growth, with projections of 4.1% in 2025, up from 3.7% in 2024. This regional outlook indicates a modest recovery as economies adjust to global economic conditions.

The IMF report underscores the need for cautious monetary policy. It recommends that central banks in emerging markets avoid easing their monetary stances too early to manage inflation risks and sustain economic growth.

In cases where inflation risks have materialized, central banks are advised to remain open to further tightening of monetary policy.

“Central banks should refrain from easing too early and should be prepared for further tightening if necessary,” the report stated. “Where inflation data encouragingly signal a durable return to price stability, monetary policy easing should proceed gradually to allow for necessary fiscal consolidation.”

The IMF also highlighted the importance of avoiding fiscal slippages, noting that fiscal policies may need to be significantly tighter than previously anticipated in some countries to ensure economic stability.

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Nigeria’s Inflation Rises to 34.19% in June Amid Rising Costs

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Nigeria’s headline inflation rate surged to 34.19% in June 2024, a significant increase from the 33.95% recorded in May.

This rise highlights the continuing pressures on the nation’s economy as the cost of living continues to climb.

On a year-on-year basis, the June 2024 inflation rate was 11.40 percentage points higher than the 22.79% recorded in June 2023.

This substantial increase shows the persistent challenges faced by consumers and businesses alike in coping with escalating prices.

The month-on-month inflation rate for June 2024 was 2.31%, slightly up from 2.14% in May 2024. This indicates that the pace at which prices are rising continues to accelerate, compounding the economic strain on households and enterprises.

A closer examination of the divisional contributions to the inflation index reveals that food and non-alcoholic beverages were the primary drivers, contributing 17.71% to the year-on-year increase.

Housing, water, electricity, gas, and other fuels followed, adding 5.72% to the inflationary pressures.

Other significant contributors included clothing and footwear (2.62%), transport (2.23%), and furnishings, household equipment, and maintenance (1.72%).

Sectors such as education, health, and miscellaneous goods and services also played notable roles, contributing 1.35%, 1.03%, and 0.57% respectively.

The rural and urban inflation rates also exhibited marked increases. Urban inflation reached 36.55% in June 2024, a rise of 12.23 percentage points from the 24.33% recorded in June 2023.

On a month-on-month basis, urban inflation was 2.46% in June, slightly higher than the 2.35% in May 2024. The twelve-month average for urban inflation stood at 32.08%, up 9.70 percentage points from June 2023’s 22.38%.

Rural inflation was similarly impacted, with a year-on-year rate of 32.09% in June 2024, an increase of 10.71 percentage points from June 2023’s 21.37%.

The month-on-month rural inflation rate rose to 2.17% in June, up from 1.94% in May 2024. The twelve-month average for rural inflation reached 28.15%, compared to 20.76% in June 2023.

The rising inflation rates pose significant challenges for the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) as it grapples with balancing monetary policy to rein in inflation while supporting economic growth.

The ongoing pressures from high food prices and energy costs necessitate urgent policy interventions to stabilize the economy and protect the purchasing power of Nigerians.

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Economy

Inflation to Climb Again in June, but at a Reduced Pace, Predicts Meristem

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Nigeria's Inflation Rate - Investors King

As Nigeria awaits the release of the National Bureau of Statistics’ report on June 2024 inflation, economic analysts project that while inflation will continue its upward trajectory, the pace of increase will moderate.

This comes after inflation rose to a 28-year high of 33.95% in May, up from 33.69% in April.

Meristem, a leading financial services company, has forecasted that June’s headline inflation will rise to 34.01%, a slight increase from May’s figure.

The firm attributes this persistent inflationary pressure to ongoing structural challenges in agriculture, high transportation costs, and the continuous depreciation of the naira.

Experts have highlighted several factors contributing to the inflationary trend. Insecurity in food-producing regions and high transportation costs have disrupted supply chains, while the depreciation of the naira has increased importation costs.

In May, food inflation grew at a slower pace, reaching 40.66%, but challenges in the agricultural sector, such as the infestation of tomato leaves, have led to higher prices for staples like tomatoes and yams.

Meristem predicts that food inflation will persist in June, driven by these lingering challenges. Increased demand during the Eid-el-Kabir celebration and rising importation costs are also expected to keep food prices elevated.

Core inflation, which excludes volatile items like food and energy, was at 27.04% in May. Meristem projects it to rise to 27.30% in June.

The firm notes that higher transportation costs and the depreciation of the naira will continue to push core inflation up.

However, they also anticipate a month-on-month moderation in the core index due to a relatively stable naira exchange rate during June, compared to a more significant depreciation in May.

Cowry Assets Management Limited has projected an even higher headline inflation figure of 34.25% for June, citing similar concerns.

The firm notes that over the past year, food prices in Nigeria have soared due to supply chain disruptions, currency depreciation, and climate change impacts on agriculture.

This has made basic staples increasingly unaffordable for many Nigerians, stretching household budgets.

As inflation continues to rise, analysts believe the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) will likely hike the benchmark lending rate again.

The CBN’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) has raised the Monetary Policy Rate (MPR) by 650 basis points this year, bringing it to 26.25% as of May 2024.

At a recent BusinessDay CEO Forum, CBN Governor Dr. Olayemi Cardoso emphasized the MPC’s commitment to tackling inflation, stating that while the country needs growth, controlling inflation is paramount.

“The MPC is not oblivious to the fact that the country does need growth. If these hikes hadn’t been done at the time, the naira would have almost tipped over, so it helped to stabilize the naira. Interest rates are not set by the CBN governor but by the MPC committee composed of independent-minded people. These are people not given to emotion but to data. The MPC clarified that the major issue is taming inflation, and they would do what is necessary to tame it,” Cardoso said.

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