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Experts Rate Economy as Weak Despite Exit from Recession

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Experts Rate Economy as Weak Despite Exit from Recession

Nigeria exited recession after the country’s Gross Domestic Product recorded a slight growth of 0.11 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2020, the latest figures from the National Bureau of Statistics revealed on Thursday.

The NBS also stated in its report on ‘Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product for Q4 and full-year 2020’ that the GDP contracted by 1.92 per cent in 2020.

However, experts have said that despite the fact that the Q4 result presented a positive figure, Nigerians were still grappling with the challenges that were prevalent in the economy during the recession period.

Part of the NBS report read, “Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product grew by 0.11 per cent (year-on-year) in real terms in the fourth quarter of 2020, representing the first positive quarterly growth in the last three quarters.

“Though weak, the positive growth reflects the gradual return of economic activities following the easing of restricted movements and limited local and international commercial activities in the preceding quarters.

“As a result, while the Q4 2020 growth rate was lower than growth rate recorded the previous year by 2.44 per cent points, it was higher by 3.74 per cent points compared to Q3 2020.

“On a quarter on quarter basis, real GDP growth was 9.68 per cent indicating a second positive consecutive quarter on quarter real growth rate in 2020 after two negative quarters.

“Overall, in 2020, the annual growth of real GDP was estimated at -1.92 per cent, a decline of 4.2 per cent points when compared to the 2.27 per cent recorded in 2019.”

The Director-General, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Dr Muda Yusuf, said, “Despite improved output performance in Q4-2020, we note that the economy faced multitude of challenges in the final quarter including subdued business activities across various sectors (evident in PMI data trend), foreign exchange pressures (evident in widened parallel market-NAFEX premium).

“Relatively lower oil prices and production, subdued global demand, spiralling consumer prices, repressed purchasing power, heightened unemployment levels, weak investor confidence, worsened insecurity and social tensions (EndSARS protest).”

He said output contraction recorded in 2020 further highlighted the country’s weak macroeconomic fundamentals and the persistent, structural, policy and regulatory issues in the economy.

He said, “Apart from declining growth, the economy is currently confronted with several challenges, including rising consumer prices (inflation now at 45-month high of 16.47 per cent in January 2021), weak employment level, persisting liquidity concerns in the foreign exchange market, high poverty incidence, weak investor confidence and insecurity, among others.

“These challenges which had been part of the country’s economic narrative prior to the pandemic were amplified by the COVID-19 induced disruptions.”

A professor of Economics at the Olabisi Onabanjo University, Sherrifdeen Tella, said, “I don’t think NBS is right because you don’t judge ending of recession based on one economic factor or variable.

“Other factors like inflation must be coming down, exchange rates must be improving and then unemployment should also be going down. The country is still in recession.”

He added, “So the economy is still in recession up till now because we still have high level of unemployment, inflation is still rising, exchange rate is still depreciating and even the GDP that they said has gone up just did after the report of this month when the price of oil has gone up. That’s not the actual growth that’s even required.”

The Fiscal Policy Partner and West Africa Tax Leader at PricewaterhouseCoopers, Mr Taiwo Oyedele, said nobody saw the positive growth of the GDP coming but the impact was yet to be felt by ordinary Nigerians.

He said, “On one hand, the GDP figures for the fourth quarter of 2020 turned out better than anybody had predicted including the Ministry of Finance and International Monetary Fund. Nobody saw a positive GDP for Q4 of last year.

“It turned out to be positive at 0.11 per cent. It is positive technically and therefore we are out of recession. But if we consider that and how it translates to Nigerians and business, Nigerians still think we are in a recession.”

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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Economy

Stop Maize, Soybean Export to Reduce Scarcity – NIAL

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Stop Maize, Soybean Export to Reduce Scarcity – NIAL

The Nigerian Institute of Animal Science on Tuesday called on the Federal Government to halt the continued export of maize and soybean to reduce the scarcity of the commodities as well curb their price hike in Nigeria.

Registrar and Chief Executive Officer, NIAL, Prof. Eustance Iyayi, told journalists in Abuja that the poultry sector was currently hit by the severe scarcity of maize and soybean.

This, he said, was due to the continued export of the commodities, the COVID-19 pandemic, which had disorganised the international supply chain, lingering insecurity in the North-East, farmers/herders conflict and flooding in some parts of the country.

“Maize and soybean are being exported and this has exacerbated the situation leading to local scarcity and price escalation of the commodities in poultry production,” Iyayi stated.

He added, “The increasing prices of the essential commodities has resulted in the increase in price of finished feeds by about 75 per cent.

“This has led to the closure of small and medium sized poultry farms thereby threatening about 10 million jobs as a result of this scarcity.

“To set the poultry industry from total collapse, the institute urges the government to immediately halt the exportation of soybean and maize and grant import permit to importers at the official foreign exchange rate.”

Iyayi said there was shortage of soybean in Nigeria and other countries, stressing that the little amount being produced across the country should not be exported.

He said the current maize yield of about one to two tonnes per hectare being produced in Nigeria would not be enough to sustain the country.

The NIAL helmsman stated that the country should be producing between seven and 10 tonnes per hectare in order to meet the requirements for humans and animals.

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Petrol Landing Cost Jumps to N186, Oil Hits $64

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Petrol Landing Cost Jumps to N186, Oil Hits $64

Against the backdrop of the rising price of oil prices, the landing cost of Premium Motor Spirit (petrol) imported into Nigeria has increased to N186.33 per litre.

Investors King had exclusively reported on February 9 that the landing cost of PMS rose to about N180 per litre on February 5 from N158.53 per litre on January 7.

Crude oil price accounts for a large chunk of the final cost of petrol, and the deregulation of petrol price by the Federal Government last year means that the pump price of the product will reflect changes in the international oil market.

Going by the petrol pricing template of the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency, the landing cost of petrol rose to N186.33 per litre on February 16, with the pump price of the product expected to be N209.33 per litre.

The international oil benchmark, Brent crude, closed at $63.96 per barrel on February 16, up from $59.34 per barrel on February 5.

The rising price of crude oil pushed the cost of petrol quoted on Platts to $560.75 per metric tonne (N163.08 per litre, using N390/$1) on February 16 from $543.25 per metric tonne (N157.99 per litre) on February 5.

Other cost elements that make up the landing cost include freight (N10.29), lightering expenses (N4.57), insurance cost (N0.25), Nigerian Ports Authority charge (N2.38), Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency charge (N0.23), jetty throughput charge (N1.61), storage charge (N2.58), and financing (N1.33).

The freight cost increased to $35.41 per MT (N10.29 per litre) last Wednesday from $30.04 per MT (N8.74 per litre) on February 5.

The pump price is the sum of the landing cost, wholesale margin and the distribution margins. The wholesale margin is N4.03 while the distribution margins comprise transporters allowance (N3.89), retailer (N6.19), bridging fund (N7.51), marine transport average (N0.15), and admin charge (N1.23).

Apart from the changes in global crude oil prices, the exchange rate of naira to the dollar also affects the cost of imported petrol.

The cost of petrol would be higher if the 410/$1 rate at which the naira closed on Monday at the Investors’ and Exporters’ Foreign Exchange Window was used. The naira closed at 480/$1 at the parallel market.

The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, which has been the sole importer of petrol into the country in recent years, is still being relied upon by marketers for the supply of the product despite the deregulation of the downstream petroleum sector.

Oil marketers said recently that they were ready to resume importation of petrol if the foreign exchange was made available to them at a competitive rate.

“The discussion we should be having today is how best to maximise the benefits of the removal of price controls and subsidies while minimising the adverse effects of this action on our citizens,” the Chairman, Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria, Mr Adetunji Oyebanji, said at a virtual press briefing.

Brent crude, against which Nigeria’s oil is priced, rose by $1.67 to $64.58 per barrel as of 6:08pm Nigerian time on Monday.

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FG to Lift 100 Million People Out of Poverty With Gas Expansion Project

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FG to Lift 100 Million People Out of Poverty With Gas Expansion Project

The Federal Government has said about 100 million Nigerians will be lifted out of poverty through the National Gas Expansion Programme (NGEP).

The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva, disclosed this on Monday during the inauguration of the NGEP in Ado Ekiti, Southwest.

Sylva said the project was “a practical demonstration of President Muhammadu Buhari’s commitment to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty by using gas value chain as catalyst for social and economic development in Nigeria”.

The minister said, “The programme has its main objective to reinforce and expand gas supply as well as stimulate demand in Nigeria through effective and efficient mobilisation and utilisation of all available assets, resources and infrastructure in the country.

“The programme is geared towards the implementation of Mr President June 12, 2019 promise to take hundred million Nigerians out of poverty within the current decade by ensuring that locally produced, available, accessible and affordable fuel is sufficiently supplied across the country”.

Sylva added that Nigeria was richly endowed with mineral resources, specifically, hydrocarbons, crude oil and natural gas with proven gas reserves of over 200 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, which he said had presented the country with opportunity to use gas as a catalyst for social economy renaissance.

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