- DMO and Strategy for Economic Recovery
Perhaps at no time in the history of Nigeria has the federal government come under such intense pressure to deliver on the economy as now, and this is understandable. 2016 closed with Nigeria recording its worst GDP figure in 25 years as low oil prices, tight monetary liquidity and militant attacks on oil infrastructure rocked the economy.
The Consumer Price Index, which measures inflation also increased by 18.72 January this year. National budgets have continued to run into deficits as oil revenue dwindles. The federal government and many state governments find it increasingly tough paying salaries of their workers.
The private sector has not fared better. Since the government is the biggest spender in the economy, a drastic cut in revenue means less money in the system. Many companies that depend hugely on government patronage are bearing the brunt of the recession and laying off staff to reduce overhead. The result is that more Nigerians are finding themselves in the unemployment market with no hope of immediate engagement.
President Buhari came to power on the promise of change, and he is under an unprecedented pressure to deliver economic change at a time the country faces its worse economic challenges. In economic matters, there are no miracles, but conscious, calculated and strategic intervention through policies and measures that can bring the economy out of recession.
All eyes are on the government to stimulate the economy by doing whatever is needed to bring it quickly out of a debilitating recession. That is why institutions such as the Debt Management Office, DMO, the Security and Exchange Commission, SEC, and the Nigerian Economic Summit Group, NESG, among others, are increasingly in the headline news.
The DMO is a government agency established to coordinate the management of Nigeria’s debts in such that is healthy for the economy. Anyone who has followed developments in that office will readily admit the DMO has been a work horse for this admiration. Watching Dr. Abraham Nwankwo, Director General of the DMO talk on Nigeria’s debt management is like listening to a lecture in an ivory tower.
The man seems to be at his best when defending some of the interventions of this administration, especially when talking about the government’s borrowing plan to finance the growing budget deficit. But this is to be expected from the head of the debt management office since he is also an important part of the equation. It is like a man defending his own actions before a sceptic audience.
What has fascinated me about this man is how he breaks complex economic issues down into bits and pieces that can be easily digested by the lay man. For instance, the Buhari administration’s plan to seek loan to finance development projects in the country as a result of shortfall in government revenue. Nwankwo has tried to convince Nigerians on why borrowing is good for the economy; why loan properly utilised is a sort of investment that is capable of reflating the economy of any country.
A three year Debt Management Strategy (2016-2019) initiated by the DMO better illustrates how debt management has become a key component of Nigeria’s economic recovery effort. It is a broad-based strategy that inspires confidence in the economy and in the managers of the economy. One major aspect of the strategy is that over the medium term, Nigeria will strive to remix the public debt portfolio from 84% domestic and 16% external to 60% domestic and 40% external. And the reason, which may not be obvious to many, is that external loans seem to come cheaper than domestic borrowing.
The DMO DG said during one of his interviews that for Nigeria to pull the economy out of recession, government must embrace what he called a “conventional public borrowing” to fund critical infrastructures. This is not a loan to be disbursed at the whims and caprices of the presidency; it is loan tied to specific and strategic projects to give the economy a rebound. This he said could easily be tracked by the public and the legislature.
This thinking informed the decision by the Buhari administration to decide on a three-year borrowing plan to fund deficits in the budget from 2016-2019. In the words of President Buhari, it is a “prudent” borrowing plan to bridge the financial gap created in the budgets, stressing that the funds would largely be applied to key infrastructure projects namely power, railway and road project amongst others.
The DMO recently facilitated the approval of the issuance of $1 billion Eurobond and appointment of six transaction parties for the bond by the Federal Government. The bond is part of the country’s plans to borrow a total of N1.8 trillion ($5.8 billion) from abroad and locally to fund an estimated 2016 budget deficit of N2.2 trillion. Apart from the fact that it is a good deal for the country, it will also prevent the emasculation of local investors.
Now, the DMO is in the news again. This time it is promoting a novel product and one that benefits majority of Nigerians. This is the newly floated Federal Government Savings Bond, (FGSB). This is the first time one has heard about this type of bond. Of course bonds are debt instruments in which an investor loans money to an entity (typically corporate or governmental) which borrows the funds for a defined period of time at a variable or fixed interest rate. The owners of such a bond are creditors or debt- holders.
Although the federal government regularly churns out bonds to raise fund from the capital market, this one is different. The FGSB is a retail savings product accessible to all income groups, and it will enable all citizens participate in and benefit from the favourable returns available in the capital market which had hitherto been an exclusive preserve of big players. Every Nigerian who has N5,000 can subscribe to this bond that will be issued monthly for a tenure of two to three years.
The minimum subscription amount is N5,000.00 with additions in multiples of N1,000.00, subject to a maximum ofN50,000,000.00. And there is no fee or charges for subscription. No matter the tenure of the bond, interest will be paid quarterly to holders. The payment will go to the Central Securities Clearing System (CSCS) Accounts of investors and text alerts will be sent to investors on Settlement Day.
The purpose of this bond, aside being a source of diversified funding for government, is to also help deepen the national savings culture. Anyone who earns income is able to participate in this unique investment opportunity.
This is an alternative for many Nigerians who have taken to the Ponzi schemes as investment option. The FGSB, like all government bonds, is backed by the full faith and credit of the Federal Government of Nigeria. It is a scheme Nigerians must take advantage of to help themselves and their country. It is another innovation from the rich bag of the country’s economic managers.
Isaac wrote in from Ilorin
Oil Rises to $43.76 Despite Falling Oil Demand
Brent Crude Rises to $43.76 Per Barrel on Friday
Oil price extended its gain on Friday despite OPEC and other experts predicting a further decline in demand for the commodity.
The Brent crude oil, against which Nigerian oil is priced, rose from $39.44 per barrel on Tuesday to $43.76 per barrel on Friday before pulling back to $43.42 per barrel.
The oil surged after reports showed that US oil producers were shutting down due to hurricanes and also that crude oil inventories dropped by over 9 million barrels in the week ended September 11, 2020.
The commodity started its bullish run a day after OPEC lowered its demand outlook for the year through the first half of 2021, saying recovery without COVID-19 remained slow.
“Once again, OPEC+ meets against a worrying backdrop of soft global oil prices and an uncertain demand outlook,” Cailin Birch from The Economist Intelligence Unit told CNBC via email on Thursday.
“We maintain our view that Brent crude prices will average just over $42 a barrel in 2020, assuming that OPEC+ partners reconfirm their commitment to output cuts at their September meeting,” Birch said.
Another expert, Tim Bray, a senior portfolio manager at GuideStone Capital Management, through an email said “I do not believe we should expect any material change of course out of the OPEC meeting this week when they review market fundamentals, in part because compliance with previously agreed production cuts has been high,” Tim Bray, senior portfolio manager at GuideStone Capital Management, told CNBC via email.
“It might set the stage for action at future meetings, however,” Bray said.
Coronavirus: European Investment Bank (EIB) Approves € 12.6bn Financing for Transport, Clean Energy, Urban Development and COVID-19 Resilience
€ 3.1 billion for COVID-19 public health and business financing; € 3.5 billion for private sector investment and working capital schemes; € 3 billon for clean energy and energy efficiency investment around the world; € 2 billion for Naples-Bari high speed train link largest loan in EIB history.
The European Investment Bank (EIB) today approved € 12.6 billion of new financing for projects across Europe and around the world.
New financing agreed today includes more than € 3.1 billion of COVID-19-related investment to improve public health, strengthen public services and back investment by companies in sectors hit by the pandemic.
Since the start of the COVID-19 crisis, the EIB has approved € 20.1 billion to enable public and private partners around the world to better tackle health, social and economic challenges.
The EIB Board, meeting by video conference, also backed investment in agriculture, water, housing, telecommunications and urban development across Europe, as well as in Africa, Asia and Latin America.
“Fighting climate change and tackling the COVID-19 pandemic must go hand in hand to achieve a green recovery. The EU Bank is working around the world to help mitigate the impact of the pandemic on lives, jobs and businesses; and to ensure that investment focuses on sustainability, innovation, and on reducing the devastating impact of climate change. The 12.6 billion Euros of new EIB financing approved today show how we are working with thousands of local partners to make a long-term difference to people’s lives during these challenging times”, said Werner Hoyer, President of the European Investment Bank.
Largest ever EIB loan to transform travel in southern Italy
Passengers travelling between Rome, Naples and Bari will from 2027 benefit from reduced journey times, a quicker and environmentally friendly alternative to car transport, and improved connections thanks to the largest loan the EIB ever approved.
The EIB board gave the green light for a EUR 2 billion loan to support the construction of the new high-speed train link that will cut journey times by 1 hour and forty minutes between Naples and Bari. More than 2000 jobs will be created during construction and 200 once construction of the high speed line across a European cohesion region is complete.
The new green transport link, part of the Italian government’s “Unlock Italy” decree, will increase the competitiveness of raid transport, reduce carbon emissions and support social and economic development in southern Italy. It is part of the Scandinavia-Mediterranean Trans-European Network (TEN).
€ 3.6 billion to help businesses to better withstand COVID-19 challenges
Ensuring that entrepreneurs and employers can continue to invest and adapt to new challenges posed by COVID-19 is crucial.
Companies in the Baltics, Benelux, Cyprus, France, Italy, Spain, Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia as well as East Africa, Morocco, the Middle East and the Pacific will benefit from new targeted COVID-19 financing initiatives approved by the EIB today.
The new schemes, managed by local financial partners and banking intermediaries, will help reduce economic shocks, unlock new investment and enable targeted financing for sectors most vulnerable to COVID-19 uncertainties.
€ 3 billion for renewable energy and energy transition
Today’s board meeting agreed to support energy investment that will reduce energy use and increase generation of clean energy across Europe and around the world.
€ 1.6 billion will be used to finance small-scale local climate action projects in France, Italy and across the EU, managed by experienced financing partners.
Financing to support construction of new windfarms off the Dutch coast and in Bosnia, improve energy efficiency in Austria and Ukraine, renovate hydropower in Georgia, roll out smart meters in Lithuania and modernise electricity networks in Madeira and Hungary was also approved.
Millions of people across Africa and Latin America will be able to access reliable clean energy for the first time following EIB support for new off-grid solar schemes and energy transition.
€ 2.9 billion to improve urban and national sustainable transport
Rail transport in Italy is set to be transformed by EIB backed investment to upgrade rolling stock on the national network, alongside today’s approval of EUR 2 billion financing for the new high-speed line between Naples and Bari.
The EIB Board also agreed to support new investment to upgrade public transport in Sarajevo and Krakow, and to help improve a key motorway link in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Improving urban development and social housing
Thousands of families will benefit from new large-scale social housing investment across France and in Germany under new financing programs approved today.
The EIB Board also agreed to support the New Slussen urban development project that will transform of the heart of the Swedish capital Stockholm.
Hospital patients will benefit from EIB support for construction of a new regional hospital in Tournai and approval of a national scheme to improve mental health facilities across Belgium.
A new scheme to support long-term healthcare investment in French regions underserved by medical services was also agreed.
Crude Oil Rises Despite Demand Concerns as Hurricane Sally Disrupts Further Production
Oil Prices Surge as Hurricane Sally Disrupts Oil Production
Oil prices rose on Wednesday despite weak demand after strong hurricane sally threatens to disrupted operations of US oil producers amid a big drop in oil inventories.
Brent crude oil, against which Nigerian crude oil is measured, rose from $39.34 barrel on Tuesday to $41.58 per barrel on Wednesday.
Accordingly, the US West Texas Intermediate crude oil gained 1.8 percent to $38.96 per barrel.
American Petroleum Institute (API), a weekly oil projection report, on Tuesday reported that US crude oil inventories declined by 9.5 million barrels in the week ended September 11, 2020. This, experts at ING Research said if close to the real number due later today, could provide support for global oil prices.
The experts said, “If we see a number similar to the drawdown the API reported overnight, it would likely provide some immediate support to the market.”
This coupled with the fact that with reports that 25 percent of US offshore oil and gas output was halted and export ports were shut as the storm crawled offshore along the US Gulf Coast bolstered oil prices on Wednesday.
Oil prices gained despite OPEC lowering demand for the year, saying weak global recovery amid rising cases of COVID-19 will impact demand for the commodity through the first half of 2021.
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