Nigeria’s Excess Crude Account (ECA) now stands at $72 million as the country continues to grapple with an unprecedented revenue crisis not seen since the early eighties. The ECA account has now fallen by about 98% within the last 5 years.
The information on the excess crude account was revealed by the Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed in a National Economic Council Meeting during the week. The ECA is a savings account retained by the Federal Government and is funded by the difference between the market price of crude oil and the budgeted price of crude oil as contained in the appropriation bill.
There were major concerns last November when it was reported that the ECA balances held just $324.5 million one of the lowest balances recorded at the time. At $72 million the ECA is in low territory highlighting the effect of the fall in crude oil prices this year. Crude oil prices have crashed to sub-zero in March and have risen back o just over $40/barrel in recent weeks. However, it still remains low from Nigeria’s previous budget benchmark.
ECA in the news
About a year ago Nairametrics reported Nigeria’s Excess Crude Account has dropped to $480 million. This is as controversy continues to trail the $1 billion military spendings which were withdrawn from Nigeria’s Excess Crude. According to the Central Bank of Nigeria’s annual report for 2018, Nigeria’s crude excess account fell from $2.45 billion in 2017 to $480 million as of December 2018.
Just 5 years ago (August 2015) the ECA stood at $2.2 billion. This was the early days of the Buhari administration. It was $3.6 billion in February 2014, one of the highest balances on record. That same month, at its monthly FAAC, the government agreed to remove fuel subsidy from its books. Fuel subsidy is currently being borne by the NNPC.
The Controversies: Last year, the federal government under President Muhammadu Buhari was accused of mismanaging the country’s Excess Crude Account especially the $1 billion reportedly spent on military equipment.
- The National Security Adviser (NSA) retired Major General Babagana Monguno Gen. Babagana was quoted to have disclosed that he was not aware of the whereabouts or disbursement of the $1billion drawn from the ECA by the Buhari presidency in 2017 for security purposes.
- While controversies trail the statement credited to the NSA, with many describing it as diversion of public funds, the Presidency provided some explanations.
- Responding to the allegations, Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, disclosed that various procurements had been made for the purchase of critical equipment for the Nigerian Army, the Nigerian Navy, and the Air Force, contrary to the allegations.
Nigeria’s ECA in retrospect: In Nigeria, there are two Sovereign Wealth Funds: the Excess Crude Account and the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA). Note that these two are funded by the savings earned when oil prices are at peak.
- Hence, as a larger chunk of revenue is appropriated for ECA and NSIA, the country’s external reserves are likely to fall.
- Note that the sovereign wealth fund was established to address the controversies surrounding the Excess Crude Account.
- The fund is usually expected to generate revenue to meet budget shortfalls in the future, provide dedicated funding for the development of infrastructure and saves for future generations.
ECA depleted by 98% in 5 years: A closer look at the various annual reports of the Central Bank of Nigeria shows that Nigeria’s excess crude account has now fallen by a whopping 98% in just 5 years.
Brent Crude price trades at $45 per barrel, as fuel demand picks up
Brent crude held most of it gains from the previous trading session.
Brent Crude oil prices dropped slightly at Asia’s trading session.
Brent crude prices held most of it gains from the previous trading session after U.S. government data showed a fall in U.S Crude Stockpiles supporting the view that fuel demand is picking up despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
Brent crude was slightly down by 0.07% to trade at $45.40 a barrel by 04.32 GMT, after a gain of around 2% in the previous session.
Quick fact: Brent crude is the leading global benchmark for Atlantic basin crude oil. The international benchmark is used to set the price of crude oil of about two-thirds of the world’s traded crude oil including Nigeria’s crude.
However, Stephen Innes, Chief Global Market Strategist at AxiCorp in a note to Nairametrics, revealed vital macros, that could keep crude oil relatively stable in the coming days. He said;
“But even worries around stalled US fiscal talks are partly offset by the US administration’s conciliatory tone on China’s compliance with the ‘Phase One’ trade deal.
“The upcoming six-month assessment seems unlikely to prompt any significant fireworks. Also, investor’s optimism remains high on a vaccine cure that is no longer being viewed as a pie in the sky.
“Finally, the US dollar’s weakness helps Oil prices in general, but even more so in this environment, as the weaker US dollar reflects a global “risk-on” environment, not a flagging US economy. “
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Global COVID-19 cases now exceed 20 million, so in the absence of meaningful progress on a COVID-19 vaccine, traders are still looking over their shoulders to where new lockdowns might be necessary.
Gold prices drop below $1,900 after U.S dollar strengthens
The plunge came as appetite for risk assets recovered thanks to a stronger greenback and real rates.
Gold prices dropped sharply on Wednesday at London’s trading session. Gold futures were down 2.69% to trade at about $1,893.20 as at the time this report was drafted.
The plunge came as appetite for risk assets recovered, thanks to a stronger greenback and real rates. The U.S dollar is up on Wednesday, continuing to rise from its two-year lows.
The present huge sell-offs recorded in the precious metal market astonished many gold traders after the per-ounce price of the yellow metal plunged below $1,900.
Here’s an Insight: Stephen Innes, Chief Global Market Strategist at AxiCorp, in a note to Nairametrics, explained the macros, giving Gold bears such strength, as the precious metal continues its sudden downward trend. He said;
“The real pain trade gold as swollen positions got hit with the truncheon, and gold plunged the most in seven years as the bottom fell out of the markets with US Treasuries and bunds bear-steepening and real yields higher.
“Gold markets sold off picking speed exponentially as freshly minted gold longs ran for the exit.
“And in typical low liquidity August fashion, market makers were merciless pounding gold to within a hair’s breadth of $1900 as the steam roller got heading downhill when the afternoon Shanghai session saw waves of Asia banks selling en masse.”
Whether or not gold can regain its previous highs will depend on whether there is more room for downside in real yields or more dovish policies by the US Federal Reserve. Still, the possibility of squeezy price action remains in play after the US Bond market sent out the most explicit warning last week.
Gold price loses $80 following Russia’s COVID-19 vaccine approval
This marks gold’s steepest daily decline in nearly five months.
Gold futures have lost about 5% or $80 in less than four hours, at the London trading session this afternoon.
Gold futures fell as low as $1,950 per ounce, $80 differential from its opening price of $2,030
This marks gold’s steepest daily decline in nearly five months, even as global stocks went bullish following news that Russia’s COVID-19 vaccine has obtained regulatory approval.
The COVID-19 vaccine approval by Russia was met with some skepticism by experts.
Russian President Vladimir Putin announced on Tuesday that a locally developed vaccine for COVID-19, Sputnik-V, has been given regulatory approval and is ready for use.
Russian Health Minister Mikhail Murashko said that the vaccine had “proven to be highly effective and safe”, with mass vaccination planned to start in October.
But health regulators elsewhere have cast doubts on the vaccine, as it has not yet gone through safety trials and Russia did not offer any scientific evidence of the vaccine’s effectiveness and safety.