The Group Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Pan African Banking Group, Ecobank Transnational Incorporated, Ade Ayeyemi, has warned against the idea of African countries seeking debt cancellation from multilateral institutions, bilateral lenders, and international financial organizations.
Ade Ayeyemi stated this during an interview at the Bloomberg Invest Global virtual conference on Monday, July 22, 2020.
The Ecobank CEO stated that canceling the debt of heavily indebted African countries would only come back to haunt them.
According to Ayeyemi, “Forgiveness is not helpful because your debt is somebody else’s savings. When you go to the market to borrow money, the market is looking at your current and past behavior.”
This view was also corroborated by the Chief Executive Officer of Kenya’s largest bank, Equity Group Holdings, James Mwangi, when he said that forgiveness was a form of default, which distorted markets. He pointed out that the call for debt forgiveness was one area where the continent should be conscious of the unintended consequences.
It can be recalled that in April, African Finance ministers asked for debt relief from multilateral Institutions like the International Monetary Fund, World Bank and the European Union amid the coronavirus crisis.
The African countries who asked for immediate relief from debt service obligations from these multilateral institutions including the G20, canvassed for a portion of their debt to be forgiven or converted into long term, low interest loans. This is to help free up funds for the more than 50 poor African countries to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.
Nairametrics had reported last week, the plans by China, to exempt some African countries from repaying their interest-free loans that are due at the end of 2020. It also expressed its willingness to provide further support, including loan maturing extensions, to free up funds needed to deal with the pandemic.
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.