In a surprising turn of events, revised data released today has revealed that inflation in the Eurozone moderated slightly in August, offering fresh fodder for the ongoing debate within the European Central Bank (ECB) on the necessity of further interest-rate hikes.
The latest figures show that consumer prices increased by 5.2% in August, down marginally from the initial reading of 5.3% while core inflation, excluding volatile elements like food and energy remained stable at 5.3%.
While the ECB recently raised the borrowing costs for the tenth consecutive time to 4%, the new data is reigniting discussions on whether this tightening cycle has concluded.
ECB Vice President Luis de Guindos, along with Madis Muller of Estonia and Peter Kazimir of Slovakia, have expressed their belief that the latest data supports the idea that no more interest-rate hikes are needed.
However, President Christine Lagarde has pushed back against such assumptions, and other hawkish officials from Austria, Latvia, and Slovenia argue that further moves may still be required to combat inflation effectively.
Economists, including Maeva Cousin of Bloomberg Economics, anticipate a marked deceleration in both headline and core inflation for September, potentially offering the ECB’s Governing Council the reassurance needed to assess whether the hiking cycle should indeed come to an end.
As Bank of France Governor Francois Villeroy de Galhau noted, the current rate is a “plateau,” and decisions will hinge on how inflation evolves as the economic “illness” diminishes.
In the face of these ongoing debates, patience remains key, with the ECB closely monitoring economic developments to determine the appropriate course of action for monetary policy.
Nigeria Customs Service Collaborates with Key Agencies to Boost Non-Oil Exports
The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has joined forces with the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) to establish five Export Processing Terminals (EPTs).
The initiative was unveiled during an enlightening workshop organized by the Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC) in collaboration with the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC) in Lagos.
Speaking at the event, Mohammed Babadende, the Customs Area Controller (CAC) of Lilypond Export Command, shed light on the objectives and operations of these newly established terminals.
The five EPTs—Diamond Star, Esslibra, Bellington Cargo, Tenzik Energy, and Sundail Terminal—have been tasked with the crucial mandate of overseeing the stuffing, examination, and documentation processes for export cargo.
This consolidated approach aims to streamline and expedite the export process, reducing delays and enhancing efficiency.
Mr. Babadende emphasized the transformative impact of this collaboration on Nigeria’s non-oil export sector.
He stated, “Customs, in its efforts to enhance trade facilitation in non-oil export, has collaborated with the Nigerian Ports Authority and Nigerian Export Promotion Council in the establishment of Export Processing Terminals (EPTs).”
One of the key achievements highlighted by Mr. Babadende is the significant reduction in export processing time.
He stated, “Export cargoes can now access the ports within 48 hours for loading onto awaiting vessels.”
This improvement is expected to not only expedite the export process but also reduce shipping costs, contributing to the overall competitiveness of Nigerian exports in international markets.
Furthermore, this initiative addresses common challenges faced by exporters, such as delays and the lack of requisite phytosanitary certificates. By housing multiple agencies involved in the export process in one location, these challenges are minimized, and the risk of goods being rejected or returned due to delays is significantly reduced.
Also, the establishment of the EPTs has had a positive impact on security. Mr. Babadende pointed out, “It has eliminated the issue of pilfering of export boxes along the port corridors,” thus ensuring the safe transit of export cargo.
The collaborative effort between the Nigeria Customs Service, Nigerian Ports Authority, and Nigerian Export Promotion Council represents a significant step toward revitalizing Nigeria’s non-oil export sector.
As these Export Processing Terminals become fully operational, they are expected to play a pivotal role in boosting the country’s export capacity, fostering economic growth, and strengthening its position in the global market. Exporters and industry stakeholders are eagerly anticipating the positive outcomes of this partnership as it unfolds.
Nigeria’s Per Capita Debt Skyrockets: Each Nigerian Now Owes N396,376.19
The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) has released a sobering report on the country’s public debt, revealing that each Nigerian citizen now carries a heavy financial burden of N396,376.19 in terms of debt per capita.
The NBS’s report paints a grim picture of Nigeria’s fiscal landscape, showing that the nation’s total public debt has surged by 75.27 percent from N49.85 trillion in the first quarter of 2023 to N87.38 trillion at the close of the second quarter of 2023.
In plain monetary terms, this represents an alarming increase of N37.53 trillion in a mere three months.
To calculate the debt per capita, the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICIR) divided the total public debt by Nigeria’s estimated population, which stands at approximately 220.4 million, according to the World Poverty Clock.
Breaking down the debt by categories, it was revealed that the federal government’s total external debts amounted to a substantial N29.9 trillion, with the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory collectively carrying N3.35 trillion in external debt.
On the domestic front, the federal government’s debt reached a staggering N48.31 trillion, while the states and the Federal Capital Territory collectively owed N5.82 trillion.
A notable portion of this debt comprises the N22.71 trillion in Ways and Means Advances extended by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to the federal government.
It’s worth noting that these figures also encompass new borrowings made by both the federal government and sub-national entities from local and external sources.
The Ways and Means Advances, a financial mechanism employed by the federal government in times of emergencies, allows for short-term loans from the CBN.
However, these loans are restricted by Section 38 of the CBN Act which stipulates that the loan should not exceed five percent of the country’s previous year’s actual revenue.
It has been reported that CBN’s lending in this regard exceeded the Act’s limits, extending loans of $49.2 billion to the previous government.
According to the NBS, as of the end of June 2023, the domestic debt stood at an alarming N54.13 trillion (equivalent to $70,264.58 million), while the external debt reached N33.25 trillion (equivalent to $43,159.19 million).
A closer look at the regional debt distribution reveals that Lagos State carries the heaviest domestic debt burden in Q2 2023, with an eye-watering N996.44 billion.
Delta State follows closely behind with N465.40 billion, while Jigawa State finds itself at the other end of the spectrum with the lowest domestic debt of N43.13 billion, just ahead of Kebbi State with N60.94 billion.
The alarming debt per capita figure underscores the urgent need for Nigeria’s policymakers to address the nation’s fiscal challenges and implement prudent financial management strategies. As the nation grapples with this daunting burden, the path to economic stability and prosperity appears more challenging than ever.
Dollar Shortage Sparks Concerns Among Oil Marketers Over Fuel Importation
Expectations soared when oil marketers championed the removal of fuel subsidies and deregulation of Nigeria’s downstream sector.
However, months after the removal of subsidies and deregulation, concerns are growing about the potential resurgence of the country’s perennial fuel scarcity.
While President Bola Tinubu’s pronouncement in May marked the end of fuel subsidies, the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL) still monopolizes petrol importation despite the anticipated influx of independent oil marketers.
Emadeb Energy imported 27 million liters of petrol in July, but since then, independent marketers have struggled to secure imports, leaving NNPCL as the sole importer.
This monopoly undermines the sector’s deregulation, enabling NNPCL to set prices, raising concerns of renewed fuel scarcity.
Marketers attribute their hesitance to forex scarcity and rising international crude oil prices. The challenge deepens as oil prices surge to $94.95 per barrel, and the exchange rate reaches N770/$.
With Nigeria’s fuel prices skyrocketing from N180-200 per liter to N614-700 per liter after subsidy removal, many worry they might breach N720 per liter due to currency devaluation and global oil price hikes.
Dangote’s long-anticipated 650,000 barrels per day refinery, initially set for August, now promises hope to ease the crisis.
Experts advise diversifying focus to existing refineries, particularly Port Harcourt, rather than relying solely on Dangote’s private venture. This would curtail importation costs and reduce vulnerability to market volatility.
While Nigeria navigates these challenges, it remains crucial to bolster domestic refining capacities and ensure energy security, shifting from dependence on imports to sustainable local production.
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