Shops owned by Nigerians in five markets located in Kumasi, Ghana, have been shut by the Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA) two weeks after the regional secretary of the union, David Amoateng urged Ghanaians to boycott Nigerian goods over the border closure by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The Nigerian traders, who own the shops, were alledgely forced out of their businesses before their shops were shut in Kejetia, Suame Magazine, Adum and Asafo markets, all located at Kumasi, the Ashanti Region capital. This is the second time such action will be taken this year.
While speaking on the crackdown of Nigerian shops, GUTA Public Relations Officer, Albert Offei, said more shops will be closed across the country as the action will soon extend to other parts of Ghana. The next location or city was not disclosed.
Why the shutdown: According to the association, the Nigerian traders and shop owners flouted the Ghana constitution by operating businesses like taxis, beauty salons, selling medicine, production and sale of sachet water, among other petty trades.
It was disclosed that the Ghanaian constitution reserved such level of business for Ghanaians and not foreigners. A report stated that section 27 of the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC) Act 865, bars foreigners from sale of goods, provision of services in a market, petty trading or hawking or selling goods in a shop.
Other activities not permitted for non-citizens include:
- Operation of taxi or car hire service in an enterprise that has a fleet of less than twenty-five vehicles.
- Operation of a beauty salon or a barber’s shop.
- Printing of recharge scratch cards for the use of subscribers of telecommunication services.
- Production of exercise books and other basic stationery.
- Retail of finished pharmaceutical products.
- Production and retail of sachet water.
Why Nigerian traders flouted the law: According to GUTA, Nigerian traders are claiming the ECOWAS protocol on free movement of goods and persons across the sub-region allows them to trade and do any kind of business in Ghana.
Retaliation for border closure: While the Ghanaian traders’ union defended its action with the constitution, there are claims that the shutdown of the shops was provoked by the border closure because the association specifically targeted shops owned by Nigerians.
Also, the regional secretary of the union, David Kwadwo Amoateng, has threatened retaliation against President Buhari’s border decision two weeks ago, urging Ghanaians to boycott Nigerian goods because the border closure was affecting the West African country. Ghana’s Alomo Bitters lost about $2 million in revenue as a result of the closure of Nigerian borders.
Nairametrics had also reported the plea by the Ghanaian government to President Buhari to open the border but President Buhari is not willing to yield. Ghana has now banned importation of rice for three years.
Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi tests positive for COVID-19
Umahi has directed those who worked in the budget review for 2020 to immediately test for COVID-19.
The Governor of Ebonyi State, David Umahi has tested positive for COVID-19, reported on Saturday afternoon.
Umahi’s Special Assistant on Media, Mr. Francis Nwaze, confirmed the news and also revealed that some associates of the governor also tested positive.
He also said that the Governor is not showing any symptoms of the disease, though he has isolated himself in line with the NCDC protocols.
“The governor has directed his Deputy, Dr Kelechi, to coordinate the state’s fight against the disease and appealed to the citizens to take the NCDC protocols seriously.
“He will currently be working from ‘home’ and will be conducting all meetings virtually,” Nwaze added.
David Umahi becomes the sixth Nigerian governor to test positive for the disease, Governors of Kaduna, El- Rufai, Bauchi, Bala Mohammed and Oyo, Seyi Makinde have fully recovered while the recent cases have been the Governors of Ondo, Rotimi Akeredolu and Delta, Ifeanyi Okowa.
On Thursday, Governor Umahi announced that the state’s Executive Council was finalizing the budget review required by World Bank and said “most us broke down and are being treated of malaria.”
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He also directed those who worked in the budget review for 2020 to immediately test for COVID-19 and admitted he is expecting a second test result after he initially tested negative in March.
Nigeria’s debt rises to $79.5 billion, as debt to revenue ratio worsens
According to data obtained from DMO, $27.66 billion (N9.9 trillion) is the total external debt.
Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy’s total public debt rose to $79.5 billion (N28.63 trillion) as of the first quarter of 2020, which is March 31, 2020. This represents a 15% increase from the figure that was recorded for the corresponding period in 2019, which was about $69.09 billion (N24.94 trillion).
This was disclosed in a latest publication by the Debt Management Office (DMO) on Friday June 3, 2020.
Nigeria has seen its debt stock rise sharply in recent years as the country tries to fund infrastructural and developmental projects and boost its fragile economy, which has been in and out of recession. The country’s economy has been projected to fall into recession again, due to the adverse impact of COVID-19 that has seen oil prices crash globally.
According to data obtained from DMO, $27.66 billion (N9.9 trillion) is the total external debt. This represents 34.89% of the total public debt stock. Whereas, $51.64 billion (N18.64 trillion) is the total domestic debt, which represents 65.11% of the total public debt.
The Federal Government accounts for 50.77% of the total domestic debt, which is $40.26 billion (N14.53 trillion), whereas the State Governments and Federal Capital Territory account for 14.34% of the total domestic borrowing which is $11.37 billion (N4.11 trillion).
Nigeria has been under a lot of fiscal crisis following the crash of oil prices triggered by the coronavirus pandemic. The oil sector accounts for about 90% of the country’s foreign exchange earnings and about 60% of its total revenue.
The country, which had lined up a series of debt issue this year, had to halt the external commercial borrowing due to oil price collapse. The Minister for Finance, Zainab Ahmed, had last week disclosed that the country would no longer go ahead with its Eurobond debt issue.
The Nigerian government, for now, is focusing on the domestic markets and concessionary loans to help fund the 2020 budget deficit which is made worse by drop in revenue. In the recently approved 2020 revised budget, the federal government is expected to borrow N850 billion from the domestic market.
This rising debt has put a lot of pressure on the government’s resources as it spent $1.69 billion (N609,13 billion) to service its domestic debt in the first quarter of 2020 alone.
Nairametrics had reported that Nigeria’s global rating is at risk due to the sharp rise in the country’s sovereign debt and a growing finance gap. According to a report from the global rating agency, Fitch Ratings, this could trigger a rating downgrade as policymakers struggle to stimulate growth and deal with the impact of low oil prices and sharp drop in revenue.
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According to Fitch, the country’s debt to revenue ration is set to deteriorate further to 538% by the end of 2020, from the 348% that it was a year earlier.
CBN imposes fresh CRR debits on banks to the tune of N118 billion
These debits have inevitably tightened liquidity in the banking system and bankers are complaining.
On July 3rd, 2020, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) once again debited many banks in Nigeria in line with its Cash Reserve Ratio (CRR) compliance requirement. This time around, about 14 banks were debited to the tune of N118 billion.
These banks are:
- Access Bank Plc: N3 billion
- Guaranty Trust Bank Plc: N15 billion
- First Bank of Nigeria Ltd: N12.4 billion
- Ecobank Nigeria: N7 billion
- Sterling Bank Plc: N5 billion
- Fidelity Bank Plc: N11 billion
- Union Bank of Nigeria Plc: N12.5 billion
- First City Monument Bank Ltd: N10 billion
- CitiBank Nigeria Ltd: N10.2 billion
- Stanbic IBTC Bank: N15 billion
- Zenith Bank Plc: N7 billion
- Wema Bank Plc: N3 billion
- Titan Trust Bank: N2.5 billion
- Rand Merchant Bank Nigeria Ltd: N4 billion
More details on these debits
These constant CRR debits, which typically herald the apex bank’s FX auctions as Nairametrics was made to understand, have served to significantly reduce liquidity in the system. An insider who informed Nairametrics about the latest debit said “the liquidity within the system is now very tight”. As a matter of fact, liquidity is now reportedly below N100 billion.
Apparently, the CBN is using these weekly CRR debits to mop up liquidity in the system. In other words, these debits help to prevent banks from coming to the FX auctions with lots of cash. Too much FX demands tend to put the apex bank under pressure.
Note that inasmuch as the CBN is trying hard to stabilise the FX markets, these constant debits have inevitably affected banks negatively by leaving them cash-strapped. Our source, who was quoted above, earlier complained about these ‘indiscriminate debits’ when he said:
“These are huge amounts that are leaving the banking sector. It’s a squeeze on the banks. A bank like First Bank, for instance, has about N1.4 trillion in CRR with the Central Bank. And there is Zenith Bank with equally as much as N1.5 trillion. These are monies that banks can potentially put in loans at 52% at 30%, or even put in money market instruments at maybe 10%. So, for a shareholder of these banks, this CRR debits are impairing the banks’ ability to increase their earnings because now are not able to use the funds that are legitimately theirs to create money for their shareholders. And the question is that under what framework is the Central Bank choosing to take people’s money?”
Banks’ stakeholders have also collectively complained
Meanwhile, bank stakeholders have also collectively complained about these incessant CRR debits by the Central Bank of Nigeria. As Nairametrics reported yesterday, the negative impacts of CBN’s constant CRR debits were among some of the issues raised by banks’ stakeholders during Standard Chartered Bank’s 2020 Africa Investor’s Conference.
It is important to point out that many banks in the country, including the likes of First Bank, now have billions of their customers’ debits sterilised for the sake of CRR compliance.
The cash reserve requirement is the minimum amount banks are expected to leave retained with the Central Bank of Nigeria from customer deposits. In January, the CRR was increased by 5% to 27.5% by the CBN Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) who explained that the decision was intended to address monetary-induced inflation whilst retaining the benefits from the CBN’s LDR policy.