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Kenya Growth Outlook Cut by World Bank Over Credit, Spending

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  • Kenya Growth Outlook Cut by World Bank Over Credit, Spending

The World Bank lowered its economic growth forecasts for Kenya as delays in spending cuts, weak credit extension and political uncertainty curb expansion prospects.

East Africa’s biggest economy may grow 4.9 percent this year, the slowest pace since 2011, the Washington-based lender said in a report released Thursday. That compares with an April forecast of 5.5 percent, slower than last year’s gross domestic product expansion of 5.8 percent.

A government-imposed cap on commercial lending rates, a drought and two disputed elections have weighed on growth this year in the world’s largest black-tea exporter. The Treasury had to increase its budget-deficit forecast for the year through June and is looking to return to international debt markets for a possible $2 billion Eurobond sale to try to plug the fiscal gap.

“There is a need to consolidate the fiscal stance in order not to jeopardize Kenya’s hard-earned macroeconomic stability,” the World Bank said. Kenya must also “jump-start the recovery of credit growth to the private sector” and should “mitigate weather-related risks by climate-proofing agriculture” to support growth, it said.

The bank reduced the 2018 growth forecast to 5.5 percent from 5.8 percent in April, and cut the estimate for 2019 to 5.9 percent from 6.1 percent, it said.

‘Downside Risks’

Despite the downgraded forecasts, the World Bank’s forecasts may still be too bullish given the series of obstacles the economy faces including the rate caps and new accounting rules for banks, said Jared Osoro, director of research at the Kenya Bankers Association.

“There are a number of downside risks that have been identified, which if taken into consideration will put into question the bullish outlook,” he said.

Public debt has burgeoned to about 57 percent of GDP, from about 45 percent eight years earlier. The Treasury sees the budget deficit at 8.5 percent of GDP by June 30, unchanged from a year earlier. It previously said the gap would narrow to 6.8 percent.

In September, the nation amended its 2.6 trillion-shilling ($25.3 billion) budget to include “austerity measures” for the current fiscal year to accommodate unplanned spending such as the Oct. 27 election rerun, Treasury Secretary Henry Rotich said.

Austerity Needed

Austerity is “precisely what we want to see,” Allen Dennis, the World Bank’s chief economist for Kenya, told reporters before the report’s release. That would reduce the borrowing requirement, and move credit to the private sector, spurring growth, job creation and consumption, he said.

Kenya needs to lower the public-sector wage bill, which accounts for about 49 percent of tax income, and must improve revenue collections to help trim the deficit, the World Bank said. The country has a tax gap of about 5 percent of GDP arising from exemptions that it should eliminate, the lender said.

The nation should also remove a cap on bank-lending rates that has exacerbated dwindling private-sector credit, which was already slowing because of tighter industry regulations and the collapse of three lenders in eight months, the lender said.

The ceiling limits charges on loans to 400 basis points above the central bank’s rate and was started by President Uhuru Kenyatta in August 2016 to spur credit access. Instead, banks have been investing in safer government securities.

It’s “clearly not helped to instill a sense of confidence in the economy and has not had the intended consequence of making credit more affordable,” said Rajiv Daya, a consultant at the World Bank.

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

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Communities in Delta State Shut OML30 Operates by Heritage Energy Operational Services Ltd

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The OML30 operated by Heritage Energy Operational Services Limited in Delta State has been shut down by the host communities for failing to meet its obligations to the 112 host communities.

The host communities, led by its Management Committee/President Generals, had accused the company of gross indifference and failure in its obligations to the host communities despite several meetings and calls to ensure a peaceful resolution.

The station with a production capacity of 80,000 barrels per day and eight flow stations operates within the Ughelli area of Delta State.

The host communities specifically accused HEOSL of failure to pay the GMOU fund for the last two years despite mediation by the Delta State Government on May 18, 2020.

Also, the host communities accused HEOSL of ‘total stoppage of scholarship award and payment to host communities since 2016’.

The Chairman, Dr Harrison Oboghor and Secretary, Mr Ibuje Joseph that led the OML30 host communities explained to journalists on Monday that the host communities had resolved not to backpedal until all their demands were met.

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Crude Oil Recovers from 4 Percent Decline as Joe Biden Wins

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Oil Prices Recover from 4 Percent Decline as Joe Biden Wins

Crude oil prices rose with other financial markets on Monday following a 4 percent decline on Friday.

This was after Joe Biden, the former Vice-President and now the President-elect won the race to the White House.

Global benchmark oil, Brent crude oil, gained $1.06 or 2.7 percent to $40.51 per barrel on Monday while the U.S West Texas Intermediate crude oil gained $1.07 or 2.9 percent to $38.21 per barrel.

On Friday, Brent crude oil declined by 4 percent as global uncertainty surged amid unclear US election and a series of negative comments from President Trump. However, on Saturday when it became clear that Joe Biden has won, global financial markets rebounded in anticipation of additional stimulus given Biden’s position on economic growth and recovery.

Trading this morning has a risk-on flavor, reflecting increasing confidence that Joe Biden will occupy the White House, but the Republican Party will retain control of the Senate,” Michael McCarthy, chief market strategist at CMC Markets in Sydney.

“The outcome is ideal from a market point of view. Neither party controls the Congress, so both trade wars and higher taxes are largely off the agenda.”

The president-elect and his team are now working on mitigating the risk of COVID-19, grow the world’s largest economy by protecting small businesses and the middle class that is the backbone of the American economy.

There will be some repercussions further down the road,” said OCBC’s economist Howie Lee, raising the possibility of lockdowns in the United States under Biden.

“Either you’re crimping energy demand or consumption behavior.”

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Nigeria, Other OPEC Members Oil Revenue to Hit 18 Year Low in 2020

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Revenue of OPEC Members to Drop to 18 Year Low in 2020

The United States Energy Information Administration (EIA) has predicted that the oil revenue of members of the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) will decline to 18-year low in 2020.

EIA said their combined oil export revenue will plunge to its lowest level since 2002. It proceeded to put a value to the projection by saying members of the oil cartel would earn around $323 billion in net oil export in 2020.

If realised, this forecast revenue would be the lowest in 18 years. Lower crude oil prices and lower export volumes drive this expected decrease in export revenues,” it said.

The oil expert based its projection on weak global oil demand and low oil prices because of COVID-19.

It said this coupled with production cuts by OPEC members in recent months will impact net revenue of the cartel in 2020.

It said, “OPEC earned an estimated $595bn in net oil export revenues in 2019, less than half of the estimated record high of $1.2tn, which was earned in 2012.

“Continued declines in revenue in 2020 could be detrimental to member countries’ fiscal budgets, which rely heavily on revenues from oil sales to import goods, fund social programmes, and support public services.”

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