I applaud President Muhammadu Buhari’s very early release of budget 2021 as it signals concern to reflate the economy.
I note that fiscal and monetary policy is broadly harmonized but I wish fiscal policy was more expansionary. Nonetheless, there is a budget deficit of about N7 trillion so the big challenge is how to raise revenue.
Strategic Revenue Growth Initiative of Government is very timely. There are 5 critical elements of the initiative namely: Revenue Generation, Job Creation, Economic Growth, Ease of Process and Reducing Cost of Governance and Leakages. This is necessary as Nigeria is faced with an unprecedented revenue challenge exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic and the crash in oil price. I understand the SRGI is targeted at the Department of Petroleum Resources, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Office of the Accountant General of the Federation, Federal Inland Revenue Service, Nigerian Customs Service and Nigerian Ports Authority.
There are many opportunities to realize enormous revenue and Jobs from the services sector otherwise known as the soft economy. This is the basis of the upcoming National webinar which our firm, Olisa Agbakoba Legal is hosting on the 22nd and 23rd of October 2020 to be opened by the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo and Chaired by Chairman of Fidelity Bank, Mr Mustapha Chike-Obi.
The theme of the webinar is: “How Law can be a tool for Revenue Generation and Jobs Creation”. Some of the areas we are reviewing include the Maritime Industry which is the second-largest contributor of revenue other than oil. One area of great interest that can generate revenue is the Apapa port city. A recent report by a Dutch consultancy firm, Dynanmar shows that Nigeria loses N20 billion daily at the ports, which is 7.2 trillion yearly.
The second area that can also generate substantial income has to do with trade facilitation. Trade is Nigeria’s second-largest contributor to GDP but it is shocking that Nigeria lacks the critical and essential tools of trade facilitation which are vessels and airlines. So legislation is proposed to introduce the Nigerian National Shipping Line (NNSL) and Air Nigeria. If our local content policy and laws are implemented in terms of trade facilitation, Nigeria can generate over N20 trillion and 10 million jobs in 5 years. The third area concerns land administration.
A recent study shows that the housing inventory of Nigerian property probably exceeds $7 trillion but most of this is dead capital that cannot be used as collateral for financial transactions because they are not properly titled. Creating an efficient titling system by introducing a Land Use Administration Act will release a lot of revenue into the system. If it is properly done, estimates suggest it can generate N30 trillion over 5 years.
Looking at all these areas and without any serious study it shows that we are almost at N100 trillion. But with concerted deep study, it is possible to hit the N100 trillion mark. Government should explore new sources of revenue to close the budget deficit and grow the economy by enacting the Strategic Revenue Growth and Recovery Act.
Dr. Olisa Agbakoba SAN. Agbakoba is a Nigerian human rights activist, maritime lawyer and former President of Nigerian Bar Association.
Why Treasury Bills at 2% is actually a good thing
While the current prevailing rate of 2% might not be good news for investors, the low rates could be better for the Nigerian economy.
Latest stop rates from the Nigerian Treasury Bill auction held last week revealed some of the lowest rates for the nation’s T-Bills market in recent times. The 91-day bills had stop rates of 1% and the 182-day bills was also 1%. For the full year, the 364-day bills had an equally low rate of 2%. This is actually a good thing, as investors will become more creative, amongst other benefits.
If you were a frequent Treasury bills investor in the pre-COVID-19 era, you will most likely agree that one of the favorite markets for risk-averse investors, has taken a major dip over the past year. In 2019, the rate was as high as 13.029% – enough to give you a fighting chance with the equally high rate of inflation, as opposed to a savings account offering around 4%.
However, while the current prevailing rate of 2% might not be good news for investors; theoretically, the low rates could be better for the Nigerian economy.
Double digits risk-free rates impede development
At the very basic level, having a risk-free investment that yields a guaranteed interest rate of about 15%, means that investors can put in their funds and fold their hands. Therefore, the option of making less risky investments become less alluring, as the lower rates can easily be mitigated by the relative safety of the principal (and return!) – something many businesses cannot boast of today.
Put simply, why should business owners risk employing people and possibly make losses, when they can invest in Treasury bills? After all, they too are exposed to the same inflation rate.
Unsurprisingly, this has contributed its own fair share in impeding the growth of the nation. Think about the percentage of the income of Nigerian financial institutions like banks that are from Treasury Bills. Conservatively, Nigerian PFA’s also have a significant percentage of their funds in Treasury bills – doing little and gaining little. It is always about the “cheapest to deliver.”
No society can effectively spur development with only safe investments, as it comes with its own benefits like creating more jobs, building the stock market, and ultimately strengthening the industries in the country.
‘Model’ economies have really low risk-free interest rates
Some of the largest economies like the US, Japan, and Germany are known to have some of the lowest rates for risk-free assets. Whilst their rates cannot also be isolated from their equally low borrowing costs, the facts are crystal clear.
From a demand and supply standpoint, at 15%, it means that what the government is willing to pay to get capital is high. This makes it even more expensive for the government to fund infrastructural development.
From a private sector standpoint, it is by taking risks that angel investors emerge, companies get seed funding, and further development is enhanced. Without this development, very few jobs will be created. Interestingly, most of the countries with the highest amount of venture capitalist investments have some of the lowest rates for risk-free assets.
How investments should be done
There is an old investment strategy known as “Carry Trade.” The way it works is simple – you borrow at a low-interest rate, convert the borrowed amount into another currency, and invest in assets that provide higher rates of return in that currency. If Treasury Bills offer such high rates, “foreign investments” of this nature will not aid in the overall development of the economy. As long as the exchange rate is stable, investors get to make a killing with no value-added. This is just one of the many lapses of investing in high risk-free assets.
With the rates low, people can now invest the way investment should be done. Investors will now be forced to be creative. Consequently, this will birth even further infrastructural developments. For example, with this rate sustained, mortgage-backed securities and other forms of infrastructural funding can now take place.
Though, it is not without its own limitations, keeping the free money low is always a better option.
World Bank: Lower oil demand may persist till 2021
Energy price remain well below pre-pandemic levels and is expected to stabilise below pre-pandemic levels in 2021.
According to the World Bank’s semi-annual commodity outlook, the organisation anticipates demand for oil will remain below pre-pandemic levels beyond 2021. In the statement credited to the multi-lateral body, it tried to juxtapose the performance of energy commodities with agriculture and metal commodities. According to the World Bank, metal and agricultural commodities have recouped losses posted due to the impact of the pandemic and are even expected to post some modest gains in 2021. However, energy price, despite some decent recovery, remain well below pre-pandemic levels and is expected to stabilise below pre-pandemic levels in 2021.
We recall in February/March 2020, oil price began to dip on the back of fears of price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia as well as demand concerns stemming from lockdown measures (which restricted movements) implemented to control the spread of covid-19. As a result, oil prices dipped close to the US$22/bbl support level. However, an OPEC+ meeting in April which led to historical cuts in crude oil supply lent some support to oil price as Brent rallied to a c.US$40/bbl. resistance.
While compliance to cuts have been impressive (underproduction in some countries compensated for overproduction in non-complying countries), production is gradually climbing as the cuts are being relaxed in phases in line with the April agreement. Despite this, the same cannot be said of demand which has recovered decently but remains well below pre-pandemic levels. According to the World Bank, tourism and travel continues to be held back by health challenges, thus, demand for jet fuel and other energy products
We agree with the World Bank’s prognosis on outlook for energy commodities. We recall highlighting new cases of new covid-19 cases in many European countries that had previously brought the pandemic under control which implies a second wave may be in swing as we enter the winter months. This may to lead to renewed lockdown measures in different regions as countries try to limit the spread. In addition, we expect it to weigh on the minds
of travellers & tourists who may be reluctant to travel as health concerns remain elevated.
Examining the impact on the Nigerian economy, we think an above US$40/bbl Brent price remains healthy for the 2021 budget revenue projections which is critical to achieving the historic revenue numbers projected in an ambitious budget. However, we retain grave concerns on the countries external conditions and consequently exchange rate. We think the prolonged weakness in oil prices would drag on export receipts and thus FX earnings.
That said, we reiterate our agelong clamour for economic managers to adequately diversify the country’s export earnings particularly exploring opportunities in mining and agriculture. Furthermore, investments and business regulations to accelerate local industrialisation which would foster local production of many imported products would significantly help to reduce dependence on imported products and thus conserve scarce FX.
Explore Data on the Nairametrics Research Website
How Cash flow, Liquidity, and Leverage impacts your financial plans
Aja discusses how Cash flow, Liquidity, and Leverage impacts your financial plans.
It is key to discuss cash under the three themes of Liquidity, Leverage, and Cashflow. These concepts are interrelated, but each has different impacts on your financial plan.
It captures only cash transactions and is simply the amount of cash flowing in and out of your business or person. Hence, if you buy an asset and issue a Purchase Order to pay a supplier in 90 days, that transaction will not show up on your cash flow.
As an illustration, if Emeka buys a TV with N200,000 but issued a cheque for N100,000 cashable in 90 days; only N100,000 will be captured leaving his cash position. Thus, Emeka has positive cash flow and negative leverage, because his debt has gone up.
For Okafor, the seller who received half of the proceeds in cash, he may be liquid but cannot replace his stock due to lack of enough cash flow. He may have to leverage to generate cash. Should he need cash, he can create liquidity from his paper check of N100,000 by discounting to cash before 90 days, but at a cost.
You must be aware of negative and positive cash flow and avoid as much as possible, generating cash from financing activities i.e. borrowing to fund non-income generating assets or activities.
It is determined by how fast an asset can be converted into cash. If Okafor gets a cheque offer from Dangote Cement and another from Emeka to pay for a TV, which do you think he will accept all things being equal? Most likely the Corporate cheque, because he perceives that it is easier to discount to cash; thus, more liquid than the individual cheque.
Federally issued bonds are said to be less risky than State or Corporate bonds of similar tenor because the issuer (the FGN) is more liquid than the States or even Corporates.
The same can be said of Equities. Stocks that are traded more often and held by more investors are more liquid and commands a better premium to the bonds of a similar company. This is one reason large blue-chip stocks command higher market prices, the investors are also paying for the ease of liquidity.
A good metric for measuring liquidity has to be the Acid Test liquidity ratio that determines how easy it is for you to generate cash in an emergency. It is calculated by dividing your assets by your liabilities, but the key is that the assets are stripped off all hard assets and will include only cash and easily marketable securities and commodities like gold that can be sold. The higher the ratio the better.
Simply put, leverage is borrowing. You can borrow to increase potential profits or to meet an obligation that is due. When cash is borrowed, it must be paid back with a cost called interest. Leverage can produce cash flow and liquidity, but no firm or household can remain a going concern solely on cashflow financed by leverage.
Eventually, the interest cost will swell and more of future operating cash generated by the firm or household will be earmarked to pay off interest, leaving the principal to remain and generate more interest cost.
In the earlier example, Emeka used leverage to buy the TV and gave Okafor a cheque, who will in turn generate cash flow by liquidating the instrument from Emeka.
A good leverage analysis is to calculate your Leverage Ratio. To determine your leverage ratio, list out all your liabilities, divide by your total assets, and multiply by 100. The answer tells you how much of your assets are financed by debt i.e. leverage ratio.
Hence, you can have positive cash flow, be liquid but be highly leveraged, which is not ideal. The rule of thumb says the lower the leverage ratio, the better.
Summarily, with cash, you must be aware of the implication in terms of cash flow, liquidity, and leverage.