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Low Interest Rate Could Lead to Inflation—CBN

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Low Interest Rate Could Lead to Inflation—CBN

By Dipo Olowookere

Though some have called for the lowering of the nation’s benchmark interest rate presently at 14 percent, others feel making such move at the moment could be counter-productive.

One of such people is the Director in charge of Policy at the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr Moses Tule, who is of the view that a lower interest rate could bring about inflation crisis in the country.

Nigeria went into a recession in the second quarter of 2016 as a result of very low price of crude oil at the international market. The commodity remains Nigeria’s major export and the drop in the price affected the nation’s economy, resulting in sharp fall in revenue.

But in the second quarter of 2017, the Africa’s largest market exited recession as a result of efforts made by government to diversify the economy.

When the country was battling with the economic crisis, many analysts, including the Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun, called for downward review of the interest rate, but the CBN Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele, had maintained then that lowering the rate could spell doom for the country.

Speaking with newsmen in Abuja on Friday at the Maiden Colloquium of Prof Uche Uwaleke, Mr Tule noted that the downward review of the benchmark rate could lead to higher demand, leading to inflation which would bring about calls for wage increase in both public and private sectors, with various consequences for the economy.

The CBN Director argued that, “When you reduce MPR, of course, the way the fundamentals are today, you are going to have the impact of that in other ways; which means the demand is going to be higher on the government to increase wages because inflation will erode the living wage.”

According to him, “There will be demand on the government, and every other person in the private sector will demand for wage increase.

“That’s the choice. We have to choose between having to improve infrastructure and interest rate will come down overtime and the whole economy will benefit or reduce interest rate now and then worsen inflation.”

Dipo Olowookere is a journalist based in Nigeria that has passion for reporting business news stories. At his leisure time, he watches football and supports 3SC of Ibadan. Mr Olowookere can be reached via dipo.olowookere@businesspost.ng

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Economy

All-Share Index Rises 0.09% as Guinness Nigeria Stocks Show Resilience

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NSE All-Share Index

By Dipo Olowookere

The stock market gained 0.09 per cent on Wednesday, raising the All-Share Index (ASI) of the Nigerian Exchange higher by 34.32 points to 38,636.15 points from 38,601.83 points.

Business Post observed that the renewed buying pressure on stocks like Guinness Nigeria, MTN Nigeria, Zenith Bank and 11 others contributed to the return of the bulls to the market.

This increased the market capitalisation of the exchange yesterday by N18 billion to N20.219 trillion from N20.201 trillion it ended on Tuesday.

A look at how the sectors performed yesterday showed that only the consumer goods space closed positive with a 0.20 per cent growth.

The insurance counter depreciated by 2.20 per cent, the banking index lost 0.20 per cent, the oil/gas sector declined by 0.02 per cent, while the industrial goods counter went down by 0.01 per cent.

On the price movement chart, Guinness Nigeria topped the gainers’ log with a price appreciation of 9.96 per cent to trade at N26.50. A day earlier, the stock contributed to the downfall of the market but it showed resilience yesterday to lift the bourse.

Meyer grew by 8.16 per cent to 53 kobo, Wema Bank appreciated by 5.26 per cent to trade at 60 kobo, Chams rose by 4.76 per cent to 22 kobo, while Caverton went up by 2.56 per cent to N2.00.

At the other end, Northern Nigerian Flour Mills topped the losers’ table as a result of the 10.00 per cent decline it suffered to close at N5.40.

Fidson depreciated by 9.89 per cent to N4.28, Cutix fell by 9.78 per cent to N2.03, Sterling Bank dropped 8.33 per cent to N1.65, while Coronation Insurance (Wapic) declined by 8.00 per cent to 46 kobo.

On the activity chart, the trading volume rose by 33.16 per cent to 278.0 million units from 208.8 million units, while the trading value went down by 21.91 per cent to N2.3 billion from N2.9 billion, with the number of deals going down by 0.60 per cent to 3,987 deals from 4,011 deals.

Japaul was the most traded stock yesterday with the sale of 46.2 million units valued at N34.6 million, followed by UAC Nigeria, which traded 32.6 million units worth N311.5 million.

Fidelity Bank exchanged 28.5 million equities worth N70.7 million, Access Bank transacted 22.7 million stocks for N183.2 million, while Zenith Bank traded 19.6 million shares valued at N431.4 million.

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Economy

Brent Jumps 4% as US Stockpiles Shrink

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brent crude oil

By Adedapo Adesanya

The price of the Brent crude oil appreciated by more than 4 per cent or $2.61 on Wednesday as more positive news led by a drop in United States inventory and fresh positive expectation over oil demand boosted optimism about returning demand for crude.

During the trading day, the value of the commodity increased to $66.28 per barrel, while the price of its counterpart, the West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude, rose by 4.9 per cent or $2.97 to $63.15 per barrel.

According to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), the US crude inventories fell by 5.9 million barrels last week, exceeding analysts’ forecasts of a 2.9 million barrels drop. In the preceding week, the agency reported an inventory draw of 3.5 million barrels.

The EIA’s inventory estimate comes a day after the American Petroleum Institute (API) reported a 3.6 million barrels inventory draw in crude oil for the same period.

Oil also found support based on a report from the International Energy Agency (IEA) that predicted global oil demand and supply were set to rebalance in the second half of the year. It added that producers may then need to pump an additional 2 million barrels per day to meet the expected demand.

The Paris-based agency noted that the global oil demand will grow 230,000 barrels per day faster than previously forecast.

World oil demand is now expected to expand by 5.7 million barrels per day in 2021 to 96.7 million barrels per day following a collapse of 8.7 million barrels per day last year, the IEA said.

This is coming a day after the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) on Tuesday raised its global demand forecast by 70,000 barrels per day from last month’s forecast and now expects global demand to rise by 5.95 million barrels per day in 2021.

Despite the stronger global economic indicators, the IEA said the recovery remains fragile given rising COVID-19 cases in some key countries and regions including Europe, India and Brazil.

Even with a wave of new lockdowns in Europe, the agency said it remains confident that the region’s vaccination program will accelerate in the coming months allowing for a boost in mobility in the second half of the year

The market is still concerned over near-term fuel demand as a result of surging COVID-19 cases in some major consuming countries, and now the news that vaccinations with Johnson & Johnson may be suspended temporarily because of rare blood clotting problems in several patients are also weighing on oil prices.

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Economy

DPR Mulls Alternative Dispute Resolution Centre in Lagos

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DPR Abuja headquarters

By Adedapo Adesanya

The Department of Petroleum Resources (DPR) has concluded plans to inaugurate the Advisory Council and Body of Neutrals of the oil and gas industry’s Alternative Dispute Resolution Centre (ADRC) in Lagos.

Mr Paul Osu, Head, Public Affairs, DPR, made this known in a statement issued in Lagos.

Mr Osu said that the centre would be inaugurated on April 15, pointing out that the ADRC was one of the centres in the DPR National Oil and Gas Excellence Centre inaugurated by President Muhammadu Buhari recently.

According to him, the centre will offer arbitration, mediation and conciliation services for the industry.

“The centre will leverage industry technical experts, Alternative Dispute Resolution Practitioners and resources of the National Data Repository to provide fair and balanced resolutions of industry-related disputes from an informed position.

”The ADRC is structured to adequately resolve disputes in a manner consistent with regulatory and commercial interests of the industry.

“This will address suboptimal development of oil and gas assets associated with lingering disputes,” he said.

Mr Osu added that this would eliminate the attendant consequences of value erosion in terms of national resource growth, global competitiveness, investment attractiveness and investor’s profitability.

The Department of Petroleum Resource (DPR) is a department under the Nigerian Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources, DPR has the statutory responsibility of ensuring compliance with petroleum laws, regulations and guidelines in the Oil and Gas Industry.

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Economy

NGX Group Stocks Gain 2.31% on NASD Exchange

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NGX

By Dipo Olowookere

Equities of Nigerian Exchange (NGX) Group on the NASD over-the-counter (OTC) Securities Exchange closed positive on its first trading session.

The NGX Group stocks formally joined the unlisted securities market in Nigeria on Tuesday and started their first full trading day today.

The demand for the equities of the demutualised exchange, which is running as a non-operating holding company, surged on Wednesday, causing its value to rise by 2.31 per cent.

Business Post reports that NGX Group stocks were listed on the NASD Exchange yesterday at a unit price of N25 and at the market today, they rose to N25.59.

According to data obtained by this newspaper, the firm listed a total of 1,900,000,000 units of its securities on the alternative bourse, boosting the market capitalisation by N48.6 billion.

The exchange used to be known as the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) but after its conversion, it became NGX Group Plc with three subsidiaries: Nigerian Exchange (NGX) Limited, the operating exchange; NGX Regulation (NGX RegCo) Limited, the independent regulatory arm of the exchange; and NGX Real Estate (NGX RelCo) Limited, the real estate company.

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Economy

Our Worry Not Current Debt Levels—FG

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Zainab Ahmed Debt Levels

By Dipo Olowookere

The federal government has described the current debt levels of Nigeria as comparatively good, noting that the major worry, for now, is how to diversify the economy to increase the revenue sources.

Last week, the Governor of Edo State, Mr Godwin Emefiele, shocked many Nigerians when he said the nation was currently undergoing a huge fiscal crisis.

He said the federal government printed N60 billion to share to the state governments in March 2021 when the revenue generated in February was not enough to meet the demands of the other tiers of government. This sparked reactions from Nigerians.

The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, while speaking with the Africa Department Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Mr Abebe Selassie, blamed COVID-19 for the challenges the nation was passing through at the moment, saying that the country was gradually getting back on its feet when the global health pandemic struck in 2020 and reversed the gains achieved so far.

However, she said the careful implementation of some policies of the government ensured that Nigeria exited recession it slipped into last year with the 0.11 per cent growth in the gross domestic product (GDP) in the fourth quarter of 2020.

“Although the GDP recorded a growth rate of 0.11 per cent (year-on-year) in the fourth quarter of 2020, in contrast to -3.62 per cent in Q3 2020 and 2.55 per cent in the corresponding period of 2019 (NBS), and inflation creeping through 17.33 per cent, we are a bit encouraged by the recent IMF forecast of 2.5 per cent,” she said.

The Minister praised the effectiveness of the Economic Sustainability Plan (ESP) with the support of development partners, including the World Bank Group (WBG) last year.

According to her, the policy trade-offs of the government quickly filled the deepening gaps created by the COVID-19 crisis as “it did not only push us back to a recession but also reversed most of the development gains recorded in the past decade.”

Debt levels sustainability

While commenting on the nation’s debt sustainability, Mrs Ahmed said that the government was committed to addressing the issue as the administration was “mindful of our experiences in this regard and the credibility and commitment of President Buhari to transparency and accountability in public expenditure.”

“We take note that our current debt levels are comparatively good, but we are aware of the pressures on debt services and commend the WBG and The Group of Twenty (G20) for the debt service suspension initiative (DSSI).

“However, with current obvious limitations of the DSSI, we may not embrace it, and would prefer to focus on diversifying our economies and enhance efforts at revenues mobilisation and other best practices and would appreciate the understanding and strong support of the IMF in expanding the monitoring and reporting of all public spending, as well as ensuring easy public access to spending data.

“We commend the extension of the DSSI to 2021 as a positive step, but there is a need to address the apparent reluctance of the private creditors to participate in the initiative as their participation will ensure a meaningful treatment of debt challenges of countries requesting support under this framework,” she said.

COVID-19 vaccine supply

The Minister said discussions with multilateral institutions such as the IMF could not be thorough without discussing the ongoing COVID-19 vaccination.

“The vaccination programme for Nigeria has been progressive and is gradually yielding needed results.  As at the time of this meeting, slightly less than a million doses of the vaccine have been administered, representing less than 0.5 per cent of the population of the country.

“We are working assiduously to cover much ground by ensuring that as many as are willing to be vaccinated are promptly attended to,” she said.

She further said, “However, Nigeria like many countries in Africa, is concerned about adequate supply. The proper thing maybe for producer countries to release their excess stock of vaccines to developing countries that currently have limited or no access.

“We would appreciate your assistance in that regard. Similarly, multilateral institutions such as the IMF/World Bank are encouraged to continue to pool resources together, particularly the COVAX facility and the African Union (AU) initiative to support local manufacturers in the production of vaccine in Africa.  “

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Economy

Nigeria Begs France for Additional Loan

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quick loan

By Aduragbemi Omiyale

The federal government of Nigeria has appealed to France to grant it an additional loan aimed to develop the country and provide the dividends of democracy to the citizens.

The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, made his plea when she received the French Foreign Trade Minister, Mr Frank Reister, at her office in Abuja recently.

Mrs Ahmed described the credit facility of the European country as “highly concessional” and that it would support the government’s development agenda.

The Minister said the government was happy to have the French government as a partner, reiterating the commitment of the administration of President Muhamadu Buhari to a stronger bilateral tie with France

She also expressed the commitment of the nation to accelerating the preparation of the health project in Oyo State to ensure the effectiveness of the project.

In his remarks, Mr Reister commended the government for its different development strides, explaining that he was in Nigeria to “strengthen the Nigeria/French bilateral relations and to strategise with the government and other stakeholders on how to improve the present relationship.

“We want to strengthen the links between the French and Nigerian private sectors,” the French Minister declared.

“We want to look at our long-term investments, fight against climate change, explore financing options for different projects in Nigeria and support Nigeria in its gas project,” he said.

The visit is coming on the heels of the summit of African economies in Paris in May 2021, where President Muhammadu Buhari will be attending with others to deliberate on the objectives to help boost a strong inclusive recovery in Africa and accelerate the green and digital transition in line with the sustainable development goals (SDGs) and Paris Agreement on climate change.

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