The Nigerian Government has released its Economic Sustainability Plan which it hopes will address the economic challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. The plan was put together by the Economic Sustainability Committee (ESC) assembled by President Muhammadu Buhari. Members of the committee included the Vice President, CBN Governor, 15 Ministers, GMD NNPC, and the Permanent Secretary.
In the report seen by Nairametrics Research, the teams were expected to deliver the following;
- Develop a clear Economic Sustainability Plan in response to challenges posed by the COVID-19 Pandemic;
- Identify fiscal measures for enhancing distributable oil and gas revenue, increasing non-oil revenues and reducing non-essential spending, towards securing sufficient resources to fund the plan;
- Propose monetary policy measures in support of the Plan;
- Provide a Fiscal/Monetary Stimulus Package, including support to private businesses (with emphasis on strategic sectors most affected by the pandemic) and vulnerable segments of the population;
- Articulate specific measures to support the States and FCT;
- Propose a clear-cut strategy to keep existing jobs and create opportunities for new ones; and
- Identify measures that may require legislative support to deliver the Plan.
The 76-page report contained recommendations from the committee on what the government should do to bring the economy back on track. Reading through the report, we observe several assumptions made by the committee on the possible effect of COVID-19 oil revenues and the exchange rate. Here are a few;
- The government opines that if oil revenues averages $30 for the rest of the year, Nigeria will probably earn N88.4b monthly from oil or N1 trillion when annualized.
- Here is a direct quote from the report: “It is expected that if oil prices average $30 over the rest of the year, oil revenues (assuming Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation reduces Joint Venture operating costs by 20%), would amount to about N88.4 billion monthly. Assuming that non-oil revenues are sustained at the lower level projected in the revised budget estimates, the total allocations to FAAC for the rest of the year would then be around N485 billion a month. This time last year total allocations to FAAC was N669.9 bn monthly. The very steep decline in revenues available for sharing among governments of the federation will have serious implications for wages, overheads, and capital expenditures at Federal, State, and Local Government levels.”
- The Government budgeted N7.6 trillion from oil revenue for the year while the FG’s portion of the amount is N3.6 trillion.
- The government in its report also projects Nigeria’s unemployment rate to rise to 33.6% from 23.1% as of September 2018. The Bureau of Statistics is yet to publish unemployment figures since then.
- Direct quote “Unemployment rate which was 23.1% (or 20.9m people) at the end of 2018 is expected to rise to 33.6% (or 39.4 million people) at the end of 2020 if urgent steps are not taken.”
- The report also projects Nigeria’s economic growth rate to contract between 4.4% and 8.91% “depending on the length of the lockdown period, the potency of the economic plans that are put in place, and, in particular, the amount of stimulus spending.”
The one year plan basically focuses on achieving mass employment and mass domestic production, which it claims “are not dependent on importation or foreign exchange expenditure.”
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The ESC, therefore, decided to adopt the use of a stimulus package which it referred to as a “time tested approach to fighting a recession” even though a stimulus was not used the last time Nigeria experienced a recession in 2016.
In proposing a package the committee claimed it explored 4 scenarios based on an average oil price of $30 for the rest of the year.
- Scenario 1: With no stimulus, i.e., if we simply stick to our budget the economy will decline by minus 4.40% at best.
- Scenario 2: With a stimulus of just N500 billion, the economy will decline by minus 1.94%.
- Scenario 3: With a stimulus of N2.3 trillion, the economic decline will be lower at minus 0.59%.
- Scenario 4. With a stimulus of N3.6 trillion, there will still be negative growth but only of -0.42%
The committee eventually settled for a variant of scenario 3 which requires a stimulus package of N2.3 trillion. The government explained that the reason for settling for Scenario 3, citing “the low level of revenues and the importance of monetary stability” as reasons.
How will the stimulus be funded? According to the government it plans to fund the stimulus from three major sources;
Firstly, it claims it will raise N500 billion from Special Accounts. Special Accounts are government accounts approved by the National Assembly where monies are accrued from tax deductions, oil proceeds, or any other source as provided in the law. Examples are the Ecological Funds, Education Trust Fund, Universal Basic Education Fund, etc.
Secondly, it proposes to raise about N1.1 trillion from what it termed “CBN Structured Lending” which suggests more intervention loans from the CBN. It could also include restructuring existing intervention loans by offering moratorium and lower interest rates which were also captured in the report.
The balance of N334 billion and N302.9 billion respectively will come from “external bilateral/multilateral sources – N334billion and other funding sources – N302.9bn.” These are basically loans and grants from monetary development institutions and rich donor countries.
The government has not confirmed if the recommendations included in this report will be adopted. However, several pronouncements from the government indicate this is the direction they plan to follow.
WTO: Okonjo-Iweala still in contention as 3 candidates depart race for DG
Okonjo-Iweala and the remaining 4 other candidates hope to succeed the current DG, Mr Roberto Azevêdo.
Three candidates running for the post of the Director-General of the World Trade Organisation have fallen out of the race after failing to secure enough votes in the first rounds of voting, leaving only 5 candidates left, including Nigeria’s Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.
This was disclosed by Bloomberg on Thursday, before the meeting on Friday. The Candidates that are out of the race are Jesus Seade (Mexico), Tudor Ulianovschi (Moldova), and Hamid Mamdouh (Egypt). The candidates were not able to secure the support needed for the first round of 3 rounds of voting.
Dr. Ngozi Okonjo Iweal joins 4 other candidates for the next round of voting. The candidates are; Liam Fox (UK), Amina Chawahir Mohamed Jibril (Kenya), Yoo Myung-hee ( South Korea), and Mohammad Maziad Al-Tuwaijri ( Saudi Arabia).
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala disclosed last month some of her plans for the Organization if made President. Nairametrics reported she noted that part of her vision is to build a trade institution where there is greater trust among its members. She also stressed that the WTO, at this critical time, is needed to ensure that trade and global markets remain open.
On healing the rift between the US and China, Okonjo-Iweala admitted that it is going to be challenging and not be easy. She said:
“Well, this is not going to be easy, if it was easy, it could have been done a long time since. So it would be very challenging but it is not an impossible job. It is very clear that both the US and China have been helped and benefitted from the multilateral trading system in the past. Hundreds of millions have been lifted out of poverty. They have experienced shared prosperity in the economies and their countries.’’
She added she would listen to both countries to find out what really are the issues causing distrust among them. She said that she will not want to be involved in the larger political problems, but will rather separate the trade issues and focus on them and build this trust.
“You need to begin to find areas where there can be confidence-building and trade. Building trust is not talking about it, you have to have areas where both can work together and agree and we have a golden opportunity in the fisheries subsidies negotiations that are going on now because the US is a party to it, China is a party, the EU, all other members,’’ she said.
Okonjo-Iweala and the 4 other candidates will present themselves to the members of the global trade body for the later stages of voting in the hopes of securing the highest number of votes to succeed the current DG, Mr. Roberto Azevêdo.
FG to establish a new anti-corruption agency
Malami disclosed that the new anti-corruption agency would be called Proceeds of Crime Recovery and Management Agency.
The Federal Government has approved the establishment of a new anti-corruption agency that will have the responsibility of properly managing and coordinating all assets seized domestically or returned from abroad, following anti-corruption probes.
The disclosure was made by the Attorney General and Minister for Justice, Abubakar Malami, while briefing state house correspondents after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting on Wednesday, September 16, 2020.
Malami explained that the recovered assets had been scattered across several agencies and that better coordination would encourage international/overall coordination in recovering more looted assets.
Nigeria has repatriated well over $300 million of looted funds this year alone and seized about $40 million worth of jewellery belonging to the former Minister for Petroleum, Diezani Allison-Madueke. This is in addition to the seized ill-gotten properties and real estate.
The Attorney General said that this new initiative would create a one-stop-shop for managing seized assets in an open and accountable way. He called the plan the next level of transparency and said the agency could also give the Ministry of Finance, Budget, and National Planning a budget for recovered assets.
He disclosed that the new anti-corruption agency, which would be called Proceeds of Crime Recovery and Management Agency, is to be saddled with the responsibility of managing the assets that constitute the proceeds of crime in the country. He said that the FEC had approved the transmission of a bill, ‘Proceeds of Crime Recovery and Management Agency Bill,’ to the National Assembly.
Malami noted that setting up an agency like this had become quite imperative in a bid to consolidate on the gains achieved so far in the government’s war against corruption.
The fight against corruption in the country has not been an easy one, as even a US senator, Chuck Grassley, earlier this year, raised concerns about the return of money due to worries over whether there were proper safeguards to prevent further misappropriation or relooting of those recovered funds.
The Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC), which currently has the responsibility of managing its recovered or seized assets, has been bedevilled by a lot of controversies recently, following the accusation and subsequent suspension of its Ag. Chairman, Ibrahim Magu.
This follows the Minister of Justice’s accusation of the agency for diversion of funds that had been recovered during corruption investigations.
OECD reduces global economic decline to 4.5% from earlier forecast of 6%
The organisation also forecasts that the global economy will grow by 5% in 2021.
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development says the global economic outlook for the year is less than earlier feared, as the body reduces the global economic decline for the year at 4.5%, compared to previous estimates of 6%.
This was disclosed in the OECD Interim Economic Outlook published on Wednesday. They also forecast that the global economy will grow by 5% in 2021.
“The Interim Economic Outlook projects global GDP to fall by 4½ per cent this year, before growing by 5% in 2021. The forecasts are less negative than those in OECD’s June Economic Outlook, due primarily to better than expected outcomes for China and the United States in the first half of this year and a response by governments on a massive scale,” the OECD said.
The group says economic output for most of the world by 2021 will still be bellow pre-COVID-19 levels and “well below what was projected prior to the pandemic”.
OECD says economic output recovered fast after the collapse in the first half of the year, due to the easing of containment measures and the initial re-opening of businesses. They warn that the pace of economic recovery is dying out due to second outbreaks of the virus leading to newer lockdown restrictions.
“Uncertainty remains high and the strength of the recovery varies markedly between countries and between business sectors. Prospects for an inclusive, resilient and sustainable economic growth will depend on a range of factors including the likelihood of new outbreaks of the virus, how well individuals observe health measures and restrictions, consumer and business confidence, and the extent to which government support to maintain jobs and help businesses succeeds in boosting demand.”
OECD Chief Economist Laurence Boone said: “The world is facing an acute health crisis and the most dramatic economic slowdown since the Second World War. The end is not yet in sight but there is still much policymakers can do to help build confidence.”
She urged that governments must avoid mistakes like tightening fiscal policy too quickly, citing that without government support, “bankruptcies and unemployment could rise faster than warranted and take a toll on people’s livelihoods for years to come.”
“Policymakers have the opportunity of a lifetime to implement truly sustainable recovery plans that reboot the economy and generate investment in the digital upgrades much needed by small and medium-sized companies, as well as in green infrastructure, transport and housing to build back a better and greener economy,” she added.