By Adedapo Adesanya
The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has advised President Muhammadu Buhari to suspend fresh borrowing for now for the sake of Nigerians.
The group, in an open letter, said the immediate moratorium on borrowing should be obeyed by the federal government and the 36 states to address a systemic debt crisis, prevent retrogressive economic measures, and the disproportionately negative impact of unsustainable debt on Nigerians.
In the open letter dated December 18, 2021, and signed by SERAP deputy director, Mr Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation explained that, “A moratorium on borrowing would create a temporary debt standstill, and free up fiscal space for investment in Nigerians’ needs, as well as ensure sustainable economic and social recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The request followed the recent approval by the National Assembly of President Buhari’s request for a $5.8 billion loan and grant of $10 million.
Previous approvals in 2021 alone included $8.3 billion; €490 million, and $6.1 billion. The foreign debt stock of the federal government, 36 states, and Federal Capital Territory reportedly stands at $38 billion.
SERAP warned that, “Without a moratorium on borrowing, your government and many of the 36 states may be caught in a process-driven mostly by creditors’ needs. This will result in an exorbitant social cost for the marginalized and vulnerable sectors of the population.”
“Long-term unsustainable debt can be a barrier to the government’s ability to mobilize resources for human rights and may lead to taxes and user fees that impact negatively on vulnerable and marginalised Nigerians,” pointed out.
The group expressed concerns that “the lack of transparency and accountability in the spending of the loans so far obtained, and opacity around the terms and conditions, including repayment details of these loans” could plunge the nation into crisis.
“While the National Assembly has asked for these details in future loan requests, it ought to have seen and assessed the terms and conditions of these loans before approving them, in line with its oversight responsibility under the Nigerian Constitution of 1999 [as amended].
“If not urgently addressed, the escalating borrowing and looming debt crisis would cripple the ability of both the federal government and the 36 states to deliver essential public services such as quality healthcare, education, and clean water to the most vulnerable and marginalised sectors of the population,” it added.
“Several of the 36 states are also facing a debt crisis and vicious debt cycles. According to the Debt Management Office, the foreign debt stock of the Federal Government, 36 state governments and the Federal Capital Territory presently stands at $37.9 billion.
“The loans from China alone amount to $3.59 billion. According to the UN Independent Expert on foreign debt and human rights, Nigeria faces debt service relative to tax revenues that exceed 20 per cent, with escalating social tensions linked to poverty and inequality.
“The growing level of borrowing by your government and the 36 states is clearly a human rights issue because when the entire country is burdened by unsustainable debts, there will be little money left to ensure access of poor and vulnerable Nigerians to basic public services,” it added.
SERAP advised the government “to conduct a human rights assessment of the borrowing by governments since 1999 to address the dire consequences of unsustainable debts on people and communities across the country and to ensure that borrowing at all levels of government considers the human rights impacts.
“Any such assessment should be conducted in harmony with existing safeguards and mechanisms in order to contribute to informed decision-making and to complement findings from a human rights perspective.”
It explained that, “A human rights impact analysis should serve to ascertain the debts that can be repaid, and the resources necessary to ensure compliance with the obligation of using the maximum available resources for the protection and fulfilment of human rights.”
NGX Rises 0.02% as Interim Dividend Hunters Return
By Dipo Olowookere
The return of interim dividend hunters to the market further pushed the Nigerian Exchange (NGX) Limited higher by 0.02 per cent at the close of transactions on Friday.
It was the first trading session of the new month of July 2022 and investors are expecting half-year results of companies on the exchange, especially those in the banking space, the tier-1 specifically, which usually declare interim dividends.
Business Post observed that there were buying interests in Access Holdings and Zenith Bank, though GTCO and UBA came under selling pressure, which depleted their share prices.
But when the market closed for the session, the All-Share Index (ASI) was higher by 12.08 points as it ended at 51,829.67 points compared with the previous day’s 51,817.59 points.
In the same vein, the total value of equities on the platform increased by N7 billion to N27.942 trillion from the N27.935 trillion it closed a day earlier.
The investor sentiment remained positive as there were 16 depreciating stocks and 20 appreciating stocks led by The Initiates, which rose by 10.00 per cent to 44 Kobo. Cutix expanded by 9.78 per cent to N2.47, Linkage Assurance moved higher by 9.62 per cent to 57 Kobo, John Holt grew by 9.33 per cent to 82 Kobo, while Caverton chalked up 8.82 per cent to sell for N1.11.
On the flip side, Courteville lost 7.84 per cent to trade at 47 Kobo, NAHCO fell by 5.88 per cent to N8.00, Cadbury Nigeria went down by 5.51 per cent to N16.30, Neimeth declined by 3.87 per cent to N1.49, while UPDC went down by 3.74 per cent to N1.03.
The market was relatively quiet yesterday as investors only transacted 127.0 million shares worth N1.7 billion in 3,718 deals as against the 223.1 million shares worth N3.9 billion transacted in 4,213 deals on Thursday, indicating a decline in the trading volume, value and number of deals by 43.06 per cent, 55.93 per cent and 11.75 per cent respectively.
GTCO was the busiest stock as it traded 23.5 million units valued at N480.3 million, UBA sold 22.2 million units for N165.6 million, Sterling Bank exchanged 7.4 million units worth N11.1 million, Oando transacted 7.3 million units worth N40.1 million, while FBN Holdings traded 6.0 million units valued at N67.5 million.
During the session, the insurance space grew by 1.23 per cent, the banking ecosystem expanded by 0.36 per cent, the industrial goods sector appreciated by 0.04 per cent, while the energy and the consumer goods counters depreciated by 0.39 per cent and 0.01 per cent.
Supply Disruptions from Libya, Norway Lift Oil by 2%
By Adedapo Adesanya
Supply disruptions from Libya and Norway pushed the prices of crude oil higher by about 2 per cent on Friday, with the Brent rising by $2.71 or 2.5 per cent to $111.74 a barrel and the United States West Texas Intermediate growing by $2.81 or 2.7 per cent to $108.57 a barrel.
Libya’s National Oil Corporation (NOC) declared force majeure on crude exports from its oil terminals amid continued blockades of production and ports, which have severely crippled the country’s exports.
The force majeure comes after weeks of protests and closures amid the new rift in Libya’s political class over who should be governing the country.
Earlier in the week, NOC said it was considering declaring force majeure within 72 hours unless production and shipment of oil resume in the Gulf of Sirte, which hosts the oil export terminals of Zueitina, Brega, Ras Lanuf, and Es Sider.
The state oil body said that production has seen a sharp decline, with daily exports ranging between 365,000 and 409,000 barrels per day, a decrease of 865,000 barrels per day compared with production in normal circumstances.
In Norway, a planned strike among oil and gas workers on July 5 could cut the country’s overall petroleum output by around 8 per cent or around 320,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day unless a last-minute agreement is found over wage demands.
Also, low crude and fuel supplies supported the oil market even as the US Dollar, which typically has an inverse relationship with crude, rose.
Meanwhile, Ecuador’s government and indigenous groups’ leaders have reached an agreement to end more than two weeks of protests which had led to the shut-in of more than half of the country’s pre-crisis 500,000 barrels per day oil output.
On Thursday, the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and allies (OPEC+) agreed to stick to its output strategy after two days of meetings. However, the producer club avoided discussing policy from September onwards.
Previously, OPEC+ decided to increase output each month by 648,000 barrels per day in July and August, up from a previous plan to add 432,000 barrels per day every month.
The Importance of Financing a Sustainable Future
By Sunil Kaushal
While climate change may have taken a back seat in a news cycle dominated by COVID-19, war and the cost-of-living crisis, the risks and threats associated with our warming planet remain the biggest long-term threat to our combined economic future.
Banks and financial institutions will be critical to managing that risk this includes financing of sustainable infrastructure, supporting transition and investing in green innovation. In fact, the banking industry has a responsibility to bridge top-down and bottom-up approaches to net-zero and help the public and private sectors realise the vast opportunities the energy transition and the move to sustainable infrastructure promises.
We can do that by providing capital to finance the investment in renewables, climate adaptation technologies and the transition to a ‘circular economy’ which encourages sustainable use of resources.
According to EY, financial institutions recognise that the transition to net zero will involve more than investments and underwriting for “green” assets and businesses such as renewables and electric vehicles. To achieve net zero across the whole economy, legacy carbon-intensive assets and companies will require financing to help them transition to a cleaner future.
For businesses, this means a fundamental change to operations, and that, in turn, requires capital. Insurers, lenders and investors will play a crucial role in making that capital available and in incentivising and supporting their clients and investees as they make their transitions.1
While stimulating growth through investment in roads, buildings and power supplies isn’t a new strategy, now it offers an opportunity to redefine the traditional playbook and focus on investing and financing sustainability for the longer term.
Creating sustainable and climate-friendly infrastructure will, however, require finance that is fit for the future. There is a growing concern, for example, around stranded asset risk – particularly for long-term investments such as infrastructure. Infrastructure projects need to consider risks 10 years and beyond into the future, many of which may not be immediately apparent. These risks include rising sea levels, increasing temperatures, drought, and coastal erosion. There are also financial and economic risks associated with making investments outside an ESG framework, this includes changes to regulatory settings that may disadvantage or penalise these investments.
Projects that are climate adapted from the outset reduce some of these risks and are more likely to stand the test of time, so banks will need to take into account the potential climate risks over the lifespan of the project to ensure resilience and protect investments.
Sustainable infrastructure projects, however, are traditionally more difficult to make bankable. With a bit of thinking, though, there are usually profitable solutions. For example, in a renewable energy plant, you have clear cash flows linked to the price of generated energy or for an energy efficiency improvement project, you have energy savings which can be translated into cost savings, and they can repay the financing.
At Standard Chartered, we are committed to playing our part in supporting sustainable projects in the region. We take a firm stand in accelerating to net zero by helping emerging markets in our footprint reduce carbon emissions as fast as possible and without slowing development, putting the world on a sustainable path to net zero by 2050.
Sustainability has long been a core part of our strategy, and we have committed USD40 billion of project financing services for sustainable infrastructure and USD35 billion of services to renewables and clean-tech projects by the end of 2024. We have also committed to catalysing $300 billion in sustainable investments by 2030. The projects we finance will trade and growth and contribute to a better quality of life through sustainable development.
The need for action from finance providers is to not only decarbonise their own balance sheets but also to help businesses in the real economy move towards a sustainable future. A successful net-zero transition must be just, leaving no nation, region or community behind and, despite the hurdles, action needs to be swift. To meet the 2050 goal, we must act now, and we must act together: companies, consumers, governments, regulators and the finance industry must collaborate to develop sustainable solutions, technologies and infrastructure.
Sunil Kaushal is the CEO of Standard Chartered Africa and Middle East (AME)
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