The Nigerian economy is expected to plunge into severe economic recession, the worst in almost 4o years due to the collapse of oil prices and the outbreak of the coronavirus disease, according to the latest World Bank Nigeria Development Update (NDU).
This was disclosed in a report released by the World Bank, titled, “Nigeria in Times of COVID-19: Laying Foundations for a Strong Recovery.” The report estimates that Nigeria’s economy would likely contract by 3.2% in 2020, with the assumption that the spread of COVID-19 in Nigeria is contained by the third quarter of 2020. However, if the spread of the virus becomes more severe, the economy could contract further.
It should be noted that the Nigerian economy was expected to grow by 2.1% in 2020 before the COVID-19 pandemic, which means that the pandemic has led to a reduction in growth by more than 5%.
According to the report, “The macroeconomic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic will likely be significant, even if Nigeria manages to contain the spread of the virus. Oil represents more than 80% of Nigeria’s exports, 30% of its banking-sector credit, and 50% of the overall government revenue. With the drop in oil prices, government revenues are expected to fall from an already low 8% of GDP in 2019 to a projected 5% in 2020.’’
The drop in government revenue is coming at a time when financial resources are urgently needed to contain the COVID-19 outbreak and stimulate the economy. The pandemic has also led to a drop in private investment due to greater uncertainty, and is expected to reduce remittances to Nigerian households, which in recent years have been larger than the combined amount of foreign direct investment and overseas development assistance.
In his contribution, the World Bank Country Director for Nigeria, Shubham Chaudhuri said, “While the long-term economic impact of the global pandemic is uncertain, the effectiveness of the government’s response is important to determine the speed, quality, and sustainability of Nigeria’s economic recovery. Besides immediate efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19 and stimulate the economy, it will be even more urgent to address bottlenecks that hinder the productivity of the economy and job creation,”
The pandemic is projected to push about 5 million more Nigerians into poverty in 2020. When this is added to the number of poor Nigerians who are expected to increase by about 2 million largely due to population growth, the number would now increase by 7 million – with a poverty rate projected to rise from 40.1% in 2019 to 42.5% in 2020.
The World Bank Lead Economist for Nigeria, Marco Hernandez said, “The unprecedented crisis requires an equally unprecedented policy response from the entire Nigerian public sector, in collaboration with the private sector, to save lives, protect livelihoods, and lay the foundations for a strong economic recovery.”
The Federal Government has already taken some important health, fiscal and monetary measures to contain the outbreak, moderate the recessionary pressures and start mitigating the effects of the economic shock. Looking ahead, the report discusses policy options in five critical areas that can help Nigeria recover from the COVID-19 crisis:
(1) containing the outbreak and preparing for a more severe outbreak;
(2) enhancing macroeconomic management to boost investor confidence;
(3) safeguarding and mobilizing revenues;
(4) reprioritizing public spending to protect critical development expenditures and stimulate economic activity; and
(5) protecting poor and vulnerable communities.
Over 20% of N-Power beneficiaries are now business owners – FG
The Minister emphasized the President’s vision of lifting 100 million Nigerians out of poverty.
The Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, Sadiya Umar Farouq, has said that about 109,823 beneficiaries of the N-Power programme now have their own businesses.
This represents about 22% of the 500,000 Nigerians that have benefited from this programme since its inception.
This was disclosed in a statement by the Minister’s Special Assistant on Strategic Communications, Mrs Halima Oyelade on Saturday, July 4, 2020. She said that the beneficiaries of Batch A and B of N-Power have established businesses in their communities.
The Minister in the statement said, “Statistics like this gives me joy and once again, I want to say congratulations; I look forward to hearing amazing testimonies and meeting beneficiaries of this programme who will be doing great things in the future”.
She emphasized President Muhammadu Buhari’s vision of lifting 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in the next 10 years by creating opportunities that would improve the productivity of Nigerian youths for entrepreneurship or employment.
Going further the minister said, “Thus, the need to find ways to engage them is of utmost importance. However, the commencement of the enrolment of Batch C was predicated on the need to give more Nigerian youths the opportunity to benefit. This is because, keeping only 500,000 beneficiaries for four years defeats the purpose of Mr President’s vision, hence the need to scale up and was in no way meant to be punitive.”
While acknowledging the beneficiaries’ contributions, Farouq said, ‘’You are our model N-Power beneficiaries. Please avail yourselves of all opportunities provided by government like interest-free loans and leverage on those opportunities while using N-Power as a stepping stone”.
The minister said the ministry is working at resolving some of the challenges facing the programme which include delays in the payment of stipends, beneficiaries not showing up at their places of primary assignments and people accessing the programme while gainfully employed elsewhere.
The minister also assured beneficiaries that outstanding payments would be made and transition plans were ongoing and would be duly communicated to them on their platform.
Some of the beneficiaries of the programme gave good testimonies about the impact of the programme in their lives and all expressed their gratitude to the Federal Government for the opportunity.
Nairametrics has reported the opening of application portal for batch C of the programme with effect from 11.45 pm on June 26, 2020. There have been over 3 million applicants that have shown interest in batch C of the programme in about a week.
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.
Nigeria and US Authorities battle former Enron Nigerian Subsidiary over $80 million Yacht
Both Nigerian and American governments have opposed Enron Nigeria’s appeal.
19 years after the bankruptcy of Enron Corporation, one of the biggest corporate bankruptcies in American history, a former subsidiary of the company is battling Nigerian and American Authorities over the sale of a yacht valued at over $80 million acquired by Nigerian businessman Kolawole Aluko.
The yacht was seized by the US Government in 2018 after prosecutors say it was bought with the proceeds of bribes paid to Nigeria’s former Minister of Petroleum, Diezani Alison–Madueke.
The yacht was later auctioned for $37 million in 2019. The Nigerian government also dropped claims to the proceeds of the sale recently and a Texas Court ordered all proceeds should be retained by the US Government.
However, a former unit of the Bankrupt Enron, Enron Nigeria Power Holdings claims it’s entitled to the proceeds and demands $22 million in a bid to get an arbitration awarded to them against the Nigerian government for suspending a contract signed with Enron in 1999 to build and operate a Power plant.
Enron Nigeria claims the Nigerian government dropped claims to the proceeds of the yacht’s auction in an attempt to fraudulently transfer assets to stop creditors from accessing them. Saying Nigeria dropping its claims was “a recognition of the factual and legal basis” in a DOJ court filing.
Both Nigerian and American governments have opposed Enron Nigeria’s appeal.
Enron Nigeria Power Holdings Ltd is owned by ex-Enron staff involved in the negotiations for the Power Plant contract in Nigeria and was bought out of bankruptcy for $750,000 in 2004 by a Cayman Islands registered company.
An arbitration ruling in 2012 awarded Enron Nigeria Power Holdings $11.2 million including interest in damages against the Nigerian government.
The DOJ says Mr. Aluko bought the yacht for $82 million in 2013 and funded a lavish lifestyle for Alison Madueke in exchange for NNPC contracts valued at over $1.5 billion.
Aluko and his business partner, Olajide Omokore are also accused of laundering illicit revenues into and through the United States