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Malawi’s Real GDP May Hit 5% in 2017—IMF

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Malawi’s Real GDP May Hit 5% in 2017—IMF

Malawi’s Real GDP May Hit 5% in 2017—IMF

By Dipo Olowookere

A team from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), led by Mr Oral Williams, visited Lilongwe from March 8–23, 2017, to conduct discussions on the ninth and final review under the Extended Credit Facility (ECF) arrangement.

At the end of the visit, Mr Williams said, “Malawi, with the help of development partners, effectively addressed the worst humanitarian crisis in the country’s history.”

He pointed out that the crisis was caused by the second consecutive year of the El Niño-induced drought that placed an estimated 6.7 million people—or 40 percent of the population—at risk of food insecurity.

The intervention helped stabilize maize prices, as evident in recent weeks, and alleviated the adverse impact of the drought on the vulnerable population. The authorities have expressed gratitude for the support of the IMF and development partners for their sizable contributions in addressing the humanitarian crisis, he said.

According to him, “Malawi’s economy was hit hard by the negative impacts of the drought, but the economic outlook is improving with better prospects of agricultural output including the maize harvest.”

“Real GDP growth after two consecutive years of drought, fell below 3 percent in 2016 but is expected to pick up in the range of 4 to 5 percent in 2017.

“The consumption-led recovery is expected to be driven mainly by a rebound in the agriculture, wholesale and retail, and telecommunications sectors.

“Annual inflation has now fallen to 16.1 percent (year-on-year) in February 2017—its lowest level in recent years.

“Both food and non-food inflation rates have contributed to the downward trend, reflecting prudent monetary and fiscal policies and the stabilization of food prices on account of humanitarian response,” Mr Williams said.

He said further that, “Tight monetary policy, which kept short-term money market rates positive in real terms and stronger fiscal management, was key to restoring confidence in the exchange rate that has remained stable. Commitment to the flexible exchange rate regime and the automatic fuel pricing mechanism continued to help Malawi to respond to external shocks as evidenced by the foreign exchange reserve cover that stabilized at about three months of imports.

“The team reached staff level understandings with the authorities to ensure that recent improvements in macroeconomic policy and outcomes are sustained. Solidifying the gains in macroeconomic stability by limiting spending to available resources and safeguarding external and financial sector stability will continue to be the key policy objectives in the near term. Prudent fiscal policy, when combined with monetary policy geared toward maintaining positive real interest rates, should facilitate the achievement of the program’s objective of single digit inflation. Discussions also focused on measures to ensure that progress in public financial management reforms is sustained.

“Discussions also focused on the broad parameters of the FY17/18 budget. In so doing, the team emphasized the need consolidate recent improvements in revenue mobilization to contain current expenditures and reorient the budget toward development spending in order to improve resilience and to address critical infrastructure gaps. The team also underscored the need to clear past arrears, implement expenditure commitment controls to prevent their re-emergence and to safeguard debt sustainability in light of the increase in the level of domestic debt.

“Completing bank reconciliations for FY15/16 is critical for presenting the review to the IMF Executive Board. Based on progress to date, it is anticipated that a request to complete the ninth review under the ECF-supported program could be submitted for consideration by the Executive Board in June 2017. The team would like to thank the authorities for their hospitality and constructive cooperation.

“The team met with President Arthur Peter Mutharika, Minister of Finance Goodall Gondwe, Governor of the Reserve Bank of Malawi (RBM) Charles Chuka, other senior government and RBM officials, a broad range of national stakeholders outside government, as well as representatives of Malawi’s development partners.”

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

Economy

Demand Pressure Jerks NGX All-Share Index to 54,213.09 points

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All-Share Index NGX

By Dipo Olowookere

The sustained demand for domestic stocks further raised the Nigerian Exchange (NGX) Limited by 0.40 per cent on Friday, with the All-Share Index (ASI) crossing the 54,000-point threshold at the close of business.

The index, which measures the general performance of the bourse, appreciated by 214.97 points to settle at 54,213.09 points compared with the preceding day’s 53,998.12 points, as the market capitalisation expanded by N117 billion to close at N29.528 trillion as against Thursday’s closing value of N29.411 trillion.

The growth reported yesterday was supported by buying pressure across sectors of the market, though the consumer goods space came under selling pressure, losing 0.39 per cent.

However, this did not affect the outcome of the bourse due to the 1.06 per cent recorded by the banking counter, the 0.31 per cent expansion posted by the insurance sector, the 0.17 per cent growth printed by the energy counter, and the 0.04 per cent improvement reported by the industrial goods space.

Business Post reports that the market breadth remained positive on Friday, with 35 price gainers and 10 price losers, indicating a very strong investor sentiment.

Red Star Express, International Energy Insurance, and FTN Cocoa gained 10.00 per cent each yesterday to finish at N2.53, 99 Kobo, and 33 Kobo, respectively. MRS Oil gained 9.94 per cent to end at N19.35, and Northern Nigerian Flour Mills rose by 9.55 per cent to N9.75.

Conversely, Ikeja Hotel was the worst-performing stock after it dropped 10.00 per cent to 99 Kobo, Lasaco Assurance fell by 5.88 per cent to 96 Kobo, ABC Transport declined by 5.41 per cent to 35 Kobo, Universal Insurance went down by 4.76 per cent to 20 Kobo, and May & Baker shed 2.89 per cent to N4.71.

At the market yesterday, investors traded 268.02 million stocks worth N2.4 billion in 4,017 deals compared with the 2.9 billion stocks worth N8.1 billion traded in 3,940 deals on Thursday, indicating an increase in the number of deals by 1.95 per cent and a decline in the trading volume and value by 90.66 per cent and 70.37 per cent apiece.

Universal Insurance topped the activity chart after it sold 63.4 million shares, GTCO traded 20.8 million equities, Transcorp exchanged 19.5 million stocks, International Energy Insurance transacted 12.8 million equities, and Access Holdings traded 12.5 million shares.

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Economy

Naira Shortage: President Buhari Calls for Calm

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President Buhari

By Modupe Gbadeyanka

President Muhammadu Buhari has urged Nigerians to remain calm as they express their anger over the shortage of Naira in the financial system.

Since last week, many citizens of the country have been unable to access their funds in the banks because of a shortage in the supply of the redesigned Naira notes.

This has resulted in a huge crowd at banking premises across the nation, with several persons queuing at Automated Teller Machine (ATM) terminals waiting to withdraw their money with success.

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) redesigned the N200, N500, and N1,000 denominations last year and said the old notes would no longer be legal tender from January 31, 2023.

However, while many Nigerians approached their banks last Sunday to quickly deposit their funds to beat the deadline, the CBN announced that the deadline had been moved to February 10, 2023.

The next day, while customers attempted to withdraw their funds over the counter, they were informed that the apex bank had directed them (commercial banks) not to honour cash withdrawal requests.

Also, cash withdrawal from ATMs was limited, making it very difficult for businesses to operate, triggering a protest in Ibadan on Friday.

When the demonstration was going on, Governors of the All Progressives Congress (APC) were meeting with President Buhari to persuade him to do something about the Naira scarcity.

After the gathering, he said in a social media post that, “I am aware of the cash shortages and hardship being faced by people and businesses on account of the Naira redesign.

“I want to assure you that we are doing everything to resolve these issues. Nigerians should expect significant improvements between now and the February 10 deadline.

“I met with a delegation of Governors today on the matter. All the complaints about the execution of the currency change are being seriously looked into.

“I will ensure that everything is resolved in a lasting manner, and we will all enjoy the long-term benefits of the decision.”

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Economy

Local Currency Appreciates at P2P, I&E, Depreciates at Black Market

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local currency nigeria

By Adedapo Adesanya

The local currency appreciated by N2 on the United States Dollar at the Peer-2-Peer (P2P) foreign exchange (FX) window, closing at N760/$1 on Friday, February 3, compared with the previous day’s N762/$1, indicating a form of ease as tensions rose across the country following a cash crunch that has triggered anger and aggression in some states.

President Muhammadu Buhari stepped in on Friday and pleaded with Nigerians to give him seven days to resolve the crisis caused by the scarcity of new Naira notes.

The President said he had seen reports about cash shortages and the effect on local businesses and ordinary people.

In the Investors and Exporters (I&E) segment, the Naira recorded a 50 Kobo or 0.11 per cent upward movement against the US Dollar to trade at N461.50/$1 compared with the preceding day’s N462.00/$1.

The day’s trading data showed that the value of forex transactions during the official market slightly increased by 3.54 per cent or $4.08 million to $119.43 million from the $115.35 million recorded a day before.

But in the black market, the Nigerian currency depreciated against the Dollar by N1 to close at N753/$1, in contrast to Thursday’s exchange rate of N752/$1.

In the interbank window, the domestic currency closed flat against the British Pound Sterling and the Euro on Friday at N568.32/£1 and N507.14/€1, respectively.

At the cryptocurrency market, there was a mixed outcome across the tokens tracked by Business Post as moves by the US Federal Reserve to raise rates by 25 basis points continued to send jittery signals.

Binance Coin (BNB) recorded a 2.8 per cent rise to sell at $329.32, Dogecoin (DOGE) grew by 2.4 per cent to trade at $0.0935, Solana (SOL) appreciated by 1.1 per cent to $24.49, Ethereum (ETH) improved by 0.9 per cent to $1,654.18, Cardano (ADA) recorded a 0.6 per cent addition to quote at $0.4006, while Litecoin (LTC) rose by 0.4 per cent to $99.15.

However, Bitcoin (BTC) declined by 0.7 per cent to trade at $23,356.32, and Ripple (XRP) recorded a 0.2 per cent slump to trade at $0.4092, while Binance USD (BUSD) and the US Dollar Tether (USDT) closed flat at $1.00 each.

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