Foreign currency speculators, who launched an unprecedented attack against the naira in the last two weeks, got their fingers burnt on Tuesday when the nation’s currency staged a major recovery, rising to N310 a dollar at the close of business, compared to N375 at which it sold on Monday.
The naira fell to an all-time low of about N400 to a dollar on the parallel market last week fuelling concerns that it would plummet further to N450-N500/$ this week.
But findings showed that the naira defied expectations, climbing to as high as N305 to the dollar at some parallel market points in Lagos on Tuesday afternoon, before settling at N310.
Forex dealers and currency analysts attributed the significant gain on the parallel market to excess supply of the greenback in the market, even as it looked like a lot of speculators lost the shirts on their back.
According to Thisday reliable source, speculators who thought that by attacking the currency last week, coupled with misplaced concerns that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) was going to stop the allocation of forex for school fees and medical bills abroad, this would compel the central bank and President Muhammadu Buhari to alter their stance against the devaluation of the currency.
But they were disappointed when Buhari, in Egypt at the weekend, adamantly ruled out the devaluation of the naira on the grounds that Nigeria does not have the competitive advantage to benefit from an official currency adjustment.
Reacting to the president’s stance, speculators who had been betting that the naira would depreciate further, started dumping the dollars with reckless abandon, effectively creating excess supply of the greenback in the parallel market.
Commenting on the situation in the secondary forex market, the chairman, Association of Bureau de Change Operators of Nigeria (ABCON), Alhaji Aminu Gwadabe, said: “The market is moving from perception to reality.”
Similarly, an analyst at Ecobank Nigeria, Mr. Kunle Ezun, predicted that the naira would edge higher in the coming days.
“We expect that the naira would appreciate further. We have always said that what happened last week was purely a speculative attack.
Some people felt that if they pushed the naira down to that level, they could force the CBN to devalue, so that when the naira is devalued and the gap widens further, they would now bring out the dollar cash to make a kill,” Ezun said.
He however urged the fiscal authorities to introduce policies that would help stimulate economic activities, saying that the fundamentals of the economy were still weak.
ABCON also aligned with the federal government’s decision not to further devalue the naira.
Gwadabe said this at a media briefing, pointing out that devaluing the naira would create more problems than it would solve.
He said that as a way of enhancing transparency in the BDC sub-sector, his association had decided to introduce a forex rate band weekly.
This rate band is expected to serve as a guide for all BDCs and the public on the prevailing exchange rate across the country, he added.
In addition, it will be operated in line with the regulated forex rate in the economy.
“This is to forestall exploitation of forex end users, and also to ensure that end users are informed to avoid falling victims of exploitation.
“The band will be announced via weekly press releases that will be circulated to the media for publication.
“ABCON will introduce a series of measures aimed at transforming the operations of BDCs in Nigeria to align with global best practices. These include: review and updating of BDC operational manual; introduction of live trading platforms; automation of all transactions and documentation requirements; and increased partnership with the CBN and other relevant agencies.
“Further, as part of its responsibility as a self regulatory organisation (SRO), and also in continuation of its aim to transform its members to compete within the global regulatory currency market, ABCON will seek the approval of relevant monetary and fiscal authorities as well as partnership for effective use of the nation’s external reserves to enhance domestic trade and foreign exchange management.
“To this end, our website and internet platforms will be developed to position BDCs to serve as agents of Western Union and currency auctioneers.
“We would also develop platforms that will allow our members to access sources of autonomous foreign exchange like govt agencies, embassies, IOCs and export proceeds, etc,” he explained.
He also urged the federal government to introduce policies that would diversify the economy to increase non-oil export earnings, and reduce imports.
This, according to him, would lead to increased foreign exchange inflow and a reduction in demand for foreign exchange.
In addition to policies that would diversify the economy, ABCON suggested that the CBN should review the policy of dollar importation into the economy for the purpose of defending the naira.
According to the association, the central bank should introduce a policy whereby the naira is used to intervene in the real sectors of the economy to boost productivity.
Furthermore, Gwadabe said as a way of reducing demand for dollars, the CBN should explore the option of promoting the use and acceptability of naira for transactions within the West African sub-region.
He added: “We observe that this is already happening at the level of informal trading activities within the sub-region, and it is our belief that this can be replicated at the level of formal economic activities.”
Meanwhile, the Chairman of Stanbic IBTC Holdings Plc, Mr. Atedo Peterside, has expressed concern over the uncertainty arising from the federal government’s foreign exchange policy, warning that it is threatening macroeconomic stability in the country and is unsustainable.
He stated this yesterday at the 2016 Standard Bank West Africa Investors’ Conference tagged, “Unlocking Nigeria’s Potential…Growth through Diversification”.
He said the federal government’s foreign exchange policy is the biggest uncertainty facing the country today following the lack of economic policy direction and the likely composition of Buhari’s economic team for much of the third and fourth quarters of last year.
According to him, “The argument at stake is not whether to devalue or not because there has already been an effective devaluation.
“The naira prices of various capital goods are now being ‘correctly’ priced purely on the basis of realistic expected replacement costs and so the economy is sliding towards an unpalatable scenario where the consumer suffers the ‘pains’ of devaluation (rising prices) without witnessing any of the expected ‘gains’ such as enhanced fiscal viability (in local currency terms at least) of the three tiers of government and increased competitiveness of Nigerian businesses.”
Peterside stressed that the much-craved economic diversification could only take place meaningfully if new capital investment activity takes place to take maximum advantage of increased domestic competitiveness.
“Sadly, most investors here – local and foreign – are currently caught up in a frenzied pursuit of the cheapest available dollars and the difference between losing this game and winning it can be as high as a mind-boggling 50 per cent on new transactions.
“The pursuit of scarce forex for today’s needs has understandably become the main game in town and this has exacerbated the pressures on Nigeria’s foreign exchange reserves and the naira via the one-way bet that is currently on against the naira, that is, everybody wants to take foreign exchange out and nobody really wants to bring it in,” he added.
He further stated that the excitement caused by the important development in Nigeria’s political landscape last year, where a change in government occurred at the federal level after a keenly contested election, has given way to some apprehension surrounding whether a populist government can take the necessary tough economic policy actions that are necessary to restore confidence and stimulate badly needed new investment activity.
States Debt Rises by 163 Percent -BudgIT
Debts of All 36 States Rise by 163 Percent or N3.34 Trillion to N5.39 trillion Between 2014 and 2019
Debts continue to rise across the 36 states of the Federation, according to a recent report by BudgIT, a public sector-focused financial information house.
In the just released 2020 edition of its annual state of states report titled, “Fiscal Sustainability and Epidemic Preparedness Financing at the State Level”, BudgIT said debts rose by 162.87 percent or N3.34 trillion from N2.05 trillion in 2014 to N5.39 trillion in 2019 across the 36 states.
The report stated that 10 of the states incurred half or N1.68 trillion of the entire debt, adding that seven of the 10 states are from the South while three are from the North.
Speaking on how states can attain fiscal sustainability, Damilola Ogundipe, BudgIT’s Communications Lead, said: “States need to grow their Internally Generated Revenue, IGR, as options for borrowing are reduced due to debt ceilings put in place by the Federal Government to prevent states from slipping into debt crisis. There has to be a shift from the culture of states’ overdependence on Federation Account Allocation Commission, FAAC.”
The report further stated that 13 states, including Lagos, Oyo, Kogi and others, were unable to fund their recurrent expenditure together with debt repayments due in 2019.
It stated: “From our 2020 State of States analysis, 13 states were unable to fund their recurrent expenditure obligations together with their loan repayment schedules due in 2019 with their respective total revenues.
“The worst hit of these 13 states are – Lagos, Oyo, Kogi, Osun and Ekiti states while the other states on this pendulum are Plateau, Adamawa, Bauchi, Gombe, Cross River, Benue, Taraba and Abia.
“Furthermore, of the remaining 23 states that can meet recurrent expenditure and loan repayment schedules with their total revenue, eight of those states had really low (less than N6 billion) excess revenue, that they had to borrow heavily to fund their capital projects.
“The worst hit are Zamfara, Ondo and Kwara who had N782.45 million, N788.22 million and N1.48 billion left, respectively.
“Based on their fiscal analysis, only five states – Rivers, Kaduna, Akwa Ibom, Ebonyi and Kebbi states – prioritised capital expenditure over recurrent obligations, while 31 states prioritised recurrent expenditure according to their 2019 financial statements.”
Oil Marketers Says No to Labour Strike, Decries Over N320bn Losses
Oil Marketers Reject Labour Strike, Decries Over N320bn Losses
Oil marketers across the country have rejected labour’s planned strike over N320 billion worth of investment losses.
The marketers under the aegis of the Natural Oil and Gas Suppliers Association of Nigeria also kicked against the proposed industrial action by the Nigeria Labour Congress and other civil right groups, pleading with the union and allies to have a rethink and look into the situation from a bigger picture.
This was after labour and other civil right groups announced they would be embarking on a nationwide strike starting from September 28, 2020 to force the government to reverse the increase in pump price and electricity tariffs.
Labour had said the government remained insensitive to the plight of Nigerians despite the negative impacts of COVID-19 on the economy and Nigerians.
However, Ukadike Chinedu, the association spokesperson of Natural Oil and Gas Suppliers Association of Nigeria, who was quoted in a statement issued in Abuja, said members of the association may be forced to cut staff in an effort to reduce operating costs given current economic realities.
He said, “Some of our concerns are heavy losses of over N320bn investments from product purchases at government specified prices and sales at compelled price reductions, which could not be justified by the costs of transaction.”
Ukadike added that several oil businesses were no longer trading because of heavy losses and several others were dying in silence.
Banks’ Credit to Economy Hits N19.33 Trillion in August
Deposit Money Banks Credit to Economy Rose to N19.33 Trillion in August
The total credit facility to the economy rose to N19.33 trillion in the month of August.
The Central Bank of Nigeria-led monetary committee disclosed on Tuesday after the nation’s monetary policy committee meeting.
The committee attributed the improvement to the 65 percent loan-to-deposit ratio policy implemented to compel the nation’s deposit money banks to join central bank efforts at growing the real sector of the economy.
Godwin Emefiele, the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, who spoke during the meeting said “The bank’s policy on Loan to Deposit ratio also resulted in a significant growth in credit to various sectors from N15.57tn to N19.33tn between end-May 2019 and end-August 2020, an increase of N3.77tn.
“This growth in credit was mainly to manufacturing (N866.27bn), consumer credit (N527.65bn), oil and gas (N477.65bn), agriculture (N287.11bn) and construction (N270.97bn).”
On monetary aggregates, broad money supply (M3) rose to 6.93 per cent (year-to-date) in August 2020 from 5.23 per cent in July 2020, reflecting the increase in both Net Foreign Assets and Net Domestic Assets.
He said total domestic credit grew by 6.94 percent in August 2020, lower than the 9.43 percent recorded in July 2020.
The committee reduced the nation’s benchmark interest rate by 100 basis points to 11.5 percent, down from the previous 12.5 percent.
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