Nigeria’s food inflation has more than doubled since August 2015, exactly 5 years after the Buhari Administration took charge of the Nigerian economy.
This was determined by comparing the composite index for food inflation rate in August 2020 versus same period in 2015. The difference is a whopping 108% increase in inflation rate, in just 5 years. Within this period, Nigeria’s exchange rate has been devalued by 49%.
Whilst the Nigerian economy has been ravaged by a very low oil price environment, since it fell from over $100 per barrel in 2014, most of the reasons for the increase in cost of living are partly attributed to some of the policies of the government.
Since 2015, the government has focused on a ‘grow-what-you-can-eat’ policy, pouring billions of naira into the agricultural sector. Since its inception in 2015, the Anchor Borrowers Programme (ABP), has received about N190billion disbursement from the CBN.
Another N622billion was lent through banks under the Commercial Agriculture Credit Scheme. Add the various grants, tax incentives, and concessions, that’s almost N2 trillion spent in the last 5 years on helping Nigeria to achieve food self-sufficiency.
Whilst modest successes have been recorded, the cost of staple food items remain high – galloping in each passing month. Since the border closure was announced in August 2019, the food inflation rate has risen every month, from 13.17% in August of 2019 to 16% last month. It is projected to hit 20% by the first quarter of 2021, when the effects of the increase in petrol and electricity prices are accounted for.
Nigerians have never had it this bad. Despite the good intentions of the government, things have not particularly turned out well. A common challenge in trying to solve a problem is not being able to manage what is outside of your control. In agriculture, a lot seem to be outside of the control of this government.
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Yield per hectare for most farming is well below global standards, driving up the cost of whatever is left to be sold to Nigerians. Farmers also face insecurity, flooding, and sometimes famine affecting their ability to plant and harvest. Even after harvesting, supply chain challenges still persist, leaving farmers to contend with middlemen, transportation, and storage. The result is far less farm produce reaching the final consumer.
For items under its control, it still cannot determine the outcomes, and the causes and effects. Just last week, it announced the banning of maize, only to flip-flop after learning that poultry farmers lacked maize feeds to grow their chickens. It quickly granted licenses to four companies to import maize.
Thus, while the government attempts to manage what it can control such as banning of imports, denying access to forex, and of course border closure, it cannot solve all these problems with CBN funding and banning. They are structural, and require a better approach that is private sector driven, yet pragmatic. The government also needs to tell itself the truth; Nigeria cannot be self-sufficient by banning.
So long as we continue to avoid relying on data and objective reasoning, to balance the need for local agro-processing and imports to meet demand, food inflation will remain high and galloping. Who knows, by the time this administration’s tenure is up, we could be looking at a state of emergency driven by a full blown food crisis.
Nigeria’s inflation rate hits 13.22% in August 2020, highest in 29 months
Highest increases were recorded in prices of Passenger transport by air, Hospital services, Medical services, Pharmaceutical products and others.
Nigeria’s inflation rate rose to 13.22% in August 2020, highest recorded in 29 months, since March 2018 (13.24%). This was contained in the recent Consumer Price Index (CPI) report, released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).
The latest figure is 0.40% points higher than the rate recorded in July 2020 (12.82%). while on a month-on-month basis, the Headline index increased by 1.34% in August 2020.
Food inflation: A closely watched component of the inflation index, stood at 16% in August compared to 15.48% recorded in July 2020. On month-on-month basis, the food sub-index increased by 1.67% in August 2020, up by 0.15% points from 1.52% recorded in July 2020.
This rise in the food index was attributed to increases in prices of Bread and cereals, Potatoes, Yam and other tubers, Meat, Fish, Fruits, Oils and fats, and Vegetables.
Core inflation: This excludes the prices of volatile agricultural produce, also rose to 10.52% in August 2020. It is up by 0.42% points when compared with 10.1% recorded in July 2020. On month-on-month basis, the core sub-index increased by 1.05% in August 2020. This was up by 0.30% points when compared with 0.75% recorded in July 2020.
What drove inflation: Inflation for the month of August was driven by recorded increase in prices of Passenger transport by air, Hospital services, Medical services, Pharmaceutical products, Maintenance, and Repair of personal transport equipment.
Others are Vehicle spare parts, Motor cars, Passenger transport by road, Repair of furniture, and Paramedical services.
Upshot: As Nigerians continue to grapple with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the reopening of the economy, prices of commodities such as air transport, and medical services seems to have been affected due to policies implemented, with the aim of curbing the spread of COVID-19 in the country.
It is therefore evident that Nigerians are spending more, despite fixed income, contraction of economic activities, and dwindling rate of investment returns.
Demand for credit by household increases in Q2 2020 – CBN
For Q2 2020, households’ demand for all lending types increased.
The request for secured lending of credit by households for House purchase have increased from 0.0 to 3.0 by second quarter of 2020 (Q2). Lenders expect demand for such lending to decrease in Q3 2020.
This was disclosed in the recently published Central Bank of Nigeria’s Credit Conditions Survey Report for Q2. The proportion of secured loan applications approved decreased as lenders tightened the credit scoring criteria.
For Q2 2020, households’ demand for all lending types increased, but in Q3 2020, only prime and other lendings to households were expected to increase while buy to let lending would decrease. Household demand for consumer loans rose in Q2 2020 and it is expected to rise in Q3 2020. However, demand for mortgage/remortgaging from households fell in Q2 2020 and expected to further decline in Q3 2020.
Demand for Unsecured Credit
Demand for unsecured credit card lending from households increased in Q2 2020 from 4.9 recorded in Q1, 2020 to 7.6 in Q2, 2020, and a further increase is expected in Q3 2020. Similarly, demand for unsecured overdraft/personal loans from households increased in Q2 2020 and is expected to further increase in Q3 2020.
Demand for total unsecured lending from households increased in Q2 2020 and is expected to increase in the Q3 2020. Lenders’ resolve to tighten the credit scoring criterion decreased the proportion of approved unsecured loan applications in Q2 2020.
Demand for Corporate Credit
Lenders reported increased demand for corporate credit from all firm sizes in Q2 2020 and expect demand to rise further in Q3 2020.
Demand for corporate lending increased for all business sizes in Q2 2020 and would further increase in Q3 2020. The increase in the demand for corporate credit in Q2, 2020 is attributable to increase in inventory finance. Similarly, inventory finance and capital investment were expected to drive demand in Q3 2020.
READ: What is Credit Rating?
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Report accuses World Bank of ‘toying’ with Nigeria over $1.5 billion loan
Is the World Bank loan to Nigeria for Nigeria or for Foreign Investors?
The World Bank is reportedly toying with Nigeria over the proposed $1.5 billion dollars put forward since February 2020 but yet to be disbursed 6 months after.
Information from Fayer and Fraser an exclusive newsletter edited by Feyi Fawehinmi, a respected Financial analyst, indicates the loan from the World Bank has remained elusive as the multilateral institution has continued to move the “goalposts” through stringent conditions that are unprecedented.
According to Feyi, It is difficult to understand why the World Bank appears to be leading Nigeria on a merry dance over a relatively small loan amount that is less than half of what the IMF already approved and disbursed. One can consider a scenario where the funds were actually to help with Nigeria’s response to the pandemic and it had not yet been released by the end of August.
The World Bank approached Nigeria in February 2020 for a possible loan disbursement as the world envisioned the economic impact of COVID-19 on the global economy particularly emerging markets in sub-Saharan Africa like Nigeria. Yet after several presentations that lasted between March and April, the loan remains un-disbursed. The loan was meant to be disbursed in June 2020.
Several reports at the time indicated that the World Bank had laid out conditions upon which the Apex bank was to lend money to Nigeria among which are a unification of the exchange rate, removal of fuel subsidy, and introduction of a cost-reflective tariff. This is despite being a loan tied to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Rather than approve the loan, the World Bank then came up with a new demand – the CBN had to clear the backlog of foreign exchange demand which it calculated at US$6 billion. The CBN’s own calculations put the backlog at US$2 billion while in a separate calculation, the IMF put the figure at US$2.5 billion. To be clear, the backlog from foreign dividends, such as the one that recently embarrassed Nigeria’s largest bank, as well as those from correspondent banks is not included in CBN’s calculations. Still, it will be a stretch to imagine that even with those numbers included the number would reach the World Bank’s US$6 billion figure.” Faye and Fraser
What is the World Bank’s intention?
According to Faye and Fraser “One speculation is that the World Bank is unhappy that foreign portfolio investors are now stuck in the country unable to get the dollars they need to exit their positions and leave the country.”
As Nairametrics has often reported, Nigeria has a foreign exchange pent-up demand between $2-3 billion from both foreign and local portfolio investors. Nevertheless, Faye and Fraser wonders why this is a condition precedent to disbursement of the loan
“But this is also not the first time the World Bank will lead Nigeria on such a dance that ultimately ends in disappointment. In 2016 there were extensive talks about a loan which went on and on and ended with no funds being disbursed. Most disturbing is that the World Bank now seems to be using the media to selectively leak information to the public designed to paint a picture of the country’s resistance to reforms as the sole reason for the delay,” Fayer and Fraser stated.
A top-level government official who spoke to Nairametrics on condition of anonymity also wondered why the World Bank was placing so much emphasis on conditionalities that do not relate to the essence of the loan. “They have not asked for things like how many COVID-19 centers have we built? How well are we containing the spread of the virus and what palliatives has the government put in place to alleviate the poor? Have we properly deployed some of the funds and grants already raised by the government” the source asks?
Why this matters: The government, particularly the central bank has been chastised for months for taking too long to meet the conditions of the World Bank. However, with the prolonged delays to disbursement and spurious conditions, it appears there is more than meets the eye. Nigeria is significantly under pressure for a loan and has ruled out on any Eurobond this year. It could reconsider this move if the World Bank continues to delay.
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Article contribution: Abiola Odutola, Chike Olisah