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Nigeria’s Foreign Reserves Drop to $35.63 Billion, CBN Predicts Further Decline

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Dollar

Weak oil prices amid falling global demand plunged Nigeria’s foreign exchange reserves to $35.63 billion, the lowest in two months, the Central Bank of Nigeria’s latest data has shown.

After reaching as high as $45 billion in June 2019, the reserves has been on a downward trajectory since then. Declining to $38 billion earlier this year before plunging to $35.69 billion on October 28 from $35.74 billion on September 30, 2020.

The reserves had picked up slightly after the International Monetary Fund borrowed Nigeria $3.4 billion under the Rapid Financing Instrument to mitigate the negative impact of COVID-19 on the economy.

But persistent spending amid weak foreign revenue generation and low foreign direct investment weighed on the nation’s reserves.

In a recent report, the central bank said the reserves could decline to $29.9 billion by the end of December 2020 given the current global oil prices.

It said, “external reserves are expected to lie between $29.9bn and $34.3bn at end-December 2020 (predicated on current declining oil price between $20 and $40).”

“Sequel to the COVID-19 pandemic, the viability of the external sector in 2020 is expected to deteriorate, given the present worsening current account balance and depletion of external reserves driven, largely, by decelerating export receipts, particularly oil.

“Specifically, the degree of external reserves accumulation is expected to decelerate, as outflows are expected to outweigh inflows.”

Last week, Mr. Bismarck Rewane, the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Financial Derivatives Company Limited, said the Naira exchange rate could hit N475 by the end of December because of the weak oil prices and low demand for the commodity. He went on to predict that foreign reserves could drop to $34 billion, better than the central bank projection for the same month.

The CBN will maintain its forex rationing stance and intensify efforts to keep the naira stable. External reserves to likely fall towards $34bn in the coming months.

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.

Forex

Nigeria’s Diaspora Remittances Decline by 28 Percent to $16.8 Billion in 2020

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US dollar - Investors King

Nigeria’s diaspora remittances declined by 27.7 percent or $4.65 billion from $21.45 billion in 2019 to $16.8 billion in 2020, according to the World Bank Migration and Development report.

A critical look into the report shows remittances to sub-Saharan Africa declined by 12.5 percent in 2020 to $42 billion. This was largely due to the 27.7 percent recorded by Africa’s largest economy, Nigeria, which accounted for over 40 percent of the total remittance inflows into the region.

The report noted that once Nigeria’s remittance inflows into the region are excluded, remittances grew by 2.3 percent in 2020 with Zambia recording 37 per cent.

Followed by 16 percent from Mozambique, 9 percent from Kenya and 5 percent from Ghana.

The decline was a result of the global lockdown that dragged on the livelihood of most diaspora and unclear economic policies.

In an effort to change the tide, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) introduced a Naira 4 Dollar Scheme to reverse the downward trend and boost diaspora inflows into the economy.

However, the reports revealed that other external factors like insecurities, global slow down, weak macroeconomic fundamentals, etc continue to discourage capital inflows.

On Tuesday, the CBN, in a new directive, announced it has halved dollar cash deposit from $10,000 to $5000 per month.

The move is geared towards discouraging overreliance on the United States Dollar and encourage local patronage and production.

Mr. Guy Czartoryski, Head of Research at Coronation Asset Management, had said in the report, “We looked at the top 10 banks and the breakdown of their deposits showed that 40 per cent of their deposits are in dollars and it is quite astonishing.”

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Forex

Deposit Money Banks Reduce Dollar-Cash Deposits by 50 Percent to $5000/Month

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United States Dollar - Investors King Ltd

Nigeria’s Deposit Money Banks (DMBs) have reduced the amount of United States Dollars that customers can deposit into their domiciliary accounts by 50 percent from $10,000 to $5,000 per month.

A bank official who preferred not to be mentioned confirmed the new policy to Investors King.

He, however, stated that the new policy does not apply to customers making electronic transfers as well as oil and gas companies and dollar payments into government accounts.

Checks revealed that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) introduced the new policy to discourage the strong appetite for the United States Dollar, which has continued to rise.

A recent report has shown that despite persistent dollar scarcity, around 40 percent of bank deposits in the nation’s top ten banks were in dollars.

Mr. Guy Czartoryski, Head of Research at Coronation Asset Management, had said in the report, “We looked at the top 10 banks and the breakdown of their deposits showed that 40 per cent of their deposits are in dollars and it is quite astonishing.”

According to an analyst at ARM Securities Limited, Mr. Olamofe Olayemi, “this has to do with how much confidence the people have in the naira. Over time, we have seen significant depreciation in the naira.

“If you look at what happened in 2020, no one expected that the naira would be devalued twice in that year and even the outlook, this year is suggesting further depreciation in the naira.

“So, it makes sense to a lot of people to store their money in dollars. But, from the CBN standpoint, you agree with me that there is dollar scarcity.”

He, therefore, argued that the new policy might discourage financial inclusion and encourage cash outside the banking system.

Again, it is important for the flow of money to be captured in the system,” he said.

The CBN had extended its Naira 4 Dollar Scheme last week to further encourage dollar inflow into the Nigerian economy.

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Naira

Naira Closed at N411.25 to US Dollar at NAFEX Window

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Naira Dollar Exchange Rate - Investors King

The Nigerian Naira declined further against the U.S Dollar on Tuesday ahead of the Ramadan holiday to trade at N411.25 to a single U.S Dollar at the Nigerian Autonomous Foreign Exchange (NAFEX) window.

The local currency plunged as low as N420.23 per dollar during the trading hours of Tuesday despite opening the day at N410.33/US$ before settling at N411.25 to a US dollar.

Investors on the window exchanged $98.33 million on Tuesday.

At the parallel section of the foreign exchange, Naira traded at N483 to a United States Dollar; N673 to a British Pound and N580 to a Euro.

Foreign exchange rates remained largely unchanged at the bureau de change section, with the Naira trading at N482 to a U.S Dollar; N674 to a British Pound and N584 to a Euro.

Several factors continue to weigh on the Nigerian Naira, especially with the foreign reserves hovering around record low and crude oil output not at an optimal level.

Other factors like rising inflation rate and drop in economic activity due to COVID-19 effect on the economy and lack of enough fiscal buffer to cushion the economy.

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