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Economy & Politics

Covid-19: No more lockdown, CBN advises government

Despite rising Covid-19 cases, the CBN MPC encourages government to avoid locking down the economy again.

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Banks' stakeholders express 4 main concerns bothering the sector right now, CBN, MARKET UPDATE: CBN’s historic agriculture lending; Is it yielding the desired results? 

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) encouraged the Federal Government of Nigeria to avoid locking down the economy again as the second wave of Covid-19 causes an increase in confirmed cases and more deaths.

The apex bank cited the negative impact of another lockdown on the economy as a major concern suggesting that sustaining the tepid economic recovery was perhaps a higher priority than curtailing the fast-spreading variant of the second wave virus via another lockdown.

The remarks were contained in the monetary policy communique read out by the central bank governor Godwin Emefiele following the end of the bank’s monetary policy committee meeting, the first for the year.

READ: CBN retains MPR at 11.5%, holds other parameters constant

“While expressing understanding of the public health dilemma of the recent spike in infections, MPC encouraged Government not to consider a wholesome lockdown of the economy so as not to reverse the current gains of the stimulus earlier provided in 2020.” Emefiele

As of  January 26, 2020, Nigeria had a total number of Covid-19 cases of about 124, 299, and 1,522 deaths as the second wave continue to spread rapidly across the country. Since December 1st, Nigeria’s positive cases have risen by about 56, 742 cases (83% ) from about 67,557 on the last day of November 2021.

READ: CBN issues modalities for payout of diaspora remittances in dollars

However, the central bank’s recommendations are hinged on the precarious state of the economy which is highlighted throughout a rather sobering MPC communique. In one statement the apex bank admitted that the rise in covid-19 cases was dragging economic recovery backward as more Nigerians become wary of socializing but the spate of economic recovery cannot be jeopardized.

According to the CBN “the outlook for the recovery, however, appears to be dampened by the second wave of the pandemic considering its intensity” yet it still maintained that the previous lockdown was the trigger for another recession.

“In the Committee’s consideration, it noted that the COVID-19 pandemic and the necessary measures put in place by the Government to forestall its public health impact, such as the lockdown and other associated restrictions, contributed to the Nigerian economy going into recession, much like almost every other country in the world.”

READ: CBN says 22 banks to restructure over 35,000 loans due to COVID-19

CBN Paints a gloomy picture of the economic recovery

The members of the monetary policy committee also detailed challenges to economic recovery being experienced by the country such as higher inflationary rates, weak PMI numbers, and an increase in non-performing loan ratios of commercial banks.

On increase in non-performing loans

“The Monetary Policy Committee (MPC), however, noted the marginal increase in the Non-Performing Loans (NPLs) ratio which rose to 6.01 percent at end-December 2020 from 5.88 percent at end-November 2020 and above the prudential maximum threshold of 5.0 percent. While noting that this development is not unexpected under the prevailing circumstances, it urged the Bank to strengthen its macroprudential framework to bring NPLs below the prescribed benchmark.”

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READ: FG to create “Special Instruments” as part of plans to formalize its borrowing from CBN

On PMI numbers

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The MPC noted with concern the continuing sluggish recovery in the Manufacturing and Non-Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’
Indices (PMIs), which remained below the 50-index point benchmark in December 2020, at 49.6 and 45.7 index points, respectively, compared with 50.2 and 47.6 index points during the previous month. This weak performance was attributed to the resurgence of the pandemic, foreign exchange pressures, increased costs of production, general increase in prices and decline in economic activities.

READ: CBN Cashless Policy: Emiefele regrets decision, insists on the policy 

On Inflation

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This uptick was attributed to the increase in both the food and core components of inflation, which rose to 19.56 and 11.37 percent in December 2020, respectively, from 18.30 and 11.01 percent in November 2020. This continued upsurge in food inflation was attributed to the logistical bottlenecks, spurred by the increasing security challenges in many parts of the country, which disrupted food production and supply to the market. Other factors driving the core inflation, include the recent deregulation of the downstream sector of the oil industry, which led to hikes in the price of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) and the upward adjustment in electricity tariff.

READ: CBN lends DisCos N18.5 billion to procure meters

What this means

As the economy slowly recovers from the Covid-19 induced lockdown, several of our major indicators still show there is trouble ahead. These 3 indicators are some of the most telling.

  • Higher non-performing loans, though expected are symptomatic of what businesses are currently going through as they strive to improve their balance sheet. With weaker sales and piling inventory most businesses will continue to struggle to meet up with their debt obligations increasing the number of non-performing loans in the country.
  • The Purchasing Managers Index is a critical bellwether for predicting when Nigeria gets out of the recession. As a compilation of how businesses are fairing, an index below 50 suggests we are far from a V-shaped recovery and could face a longer wait to get out of the current recession.
  • Nigeria’s galloping inflation rate and economic contraction have created stagflation that puts the economy in a rather precarious situation. Much of the causative factors for the rising inflation are outside of the control of the CBN suggesting a higher inflation rate could persist in the coming months.
  • The CBN indicates we could get out of higher inflation rates later this year, but not before it hit its peak as we expect the cost of goods and services to keep rising.

READ: Agro processors appeal to CBN to provide easy Forex access for SMEs

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CBN Outlook

Despite the gloomy picture, the CBN expects the economy to recover this year provided the country continues with its economic stimulus.

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Available data and forecasts for key macroeconomic variables for the Nigerian economy suggest further improvement in output
growth in the first quarter of 2021. This would be supported by the coordinated and sustained interventions of the monetary and fiscal authorities, including the broad-based stimulus and liquidity injections.

READ: New CBN guidelines ban MMOs, PSPs, Operators from receiving diaspora remittances

But to ensure its optimistic outlook for the economy comes through, the CBN is recommending that more efforts should be geared towards acquiring and distributing vaccines rather than shutting down the economy.

“Members thus agreed that the Committee’s current priority remains to quicken the pace of the recovery through sustained and targeted spending by the fiscal authority supported by the Bank’s interventions. In this light, it was thought necessary to increase collaboration with the fiscal authority by providing complementary spending to finance productive ventures in a bid to improve aggregate supply and reduce prices. This is in addition to effectively collaborating with the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 through the existing private sector Coalition against COVID-19 (CACOVID) to procure and distribute vaccines to fast-track the pick-up of business activities and economic recovery.”

Nairametrics Research team tracks, collates, maintains and manages a rich database of macro-economic and micro-economic data from Nigeria and Africa. Our analysts share some of the data collated on Nairametrics, using formats such as docs, tables and charts etc. The team also publishes research based analysis as articles on a regular basis.

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Economy & Politics

CBN extends Covid-19 forbearance for intervention loans by another 12 months

CBN will continue to charge an interest rate of 5% for its intervention loans for another 1 year.

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New CBN guidelines ban MMOs, PSPs, Operators from receiving diaspora remittances

The Central Bank of Nigeria has announced an extension of its regulatory forbearance for the restructuring of its intervention facilities by another 12 months.

In a circular signed by Dr. Kevin Amugo, the Director of Financial Policy and Regulatory. the apex bank said it will continue to charge its borrowers an interest rate of 5% per annum as against the 9% originally offered. The CBN had on March 20th reduced the interest rates on its intervention loans from 9% to 5% as part of its response to the economic crunch brought on by Covid-19 induced lockdowns.

The CBN also offered to rollover moratorium granted on all principal payments on a case by case basis. All credit facilities had been granted a one-year moratorium starting from march 1, 2020 when the pandemic first gripped Nigeria.

READ: Analysing the Central Bank of Nigeria’s Dollar Remittance Policy

See excerpt from Circular

“The Central Bank of Nigeria reduced the interest rates on the CBN intervention facilities from 9% to 5% per annum for one-year effective March 1, 2020, as part of measures to mitigate the negative impact of COVID-19 Pandemic on the Nigerian economy.”

Credit facilities, availed through participating banks and OFIs, were also granted a one-year moratorium on all principal payments with effect from March 1, 2020.

Following the expiration of the above timelines, the CBN hereby approves as follows:
1) The extension by another twelve (12) months to February 28, 2022 of the discounted interest rate for the CBN intervention facilities;

2) The roll-over of the moratorium on the above facilities shall be considered on a case by case basis.

READ: Nigeria attracts more FDI than FPI for the first time in 4 years

What this means

Companies who secured intervention funds from the CBN or through any of its on-lending banks will continue to service the loans at an interest rate of 5% per annum instead of 9%.

  • They can also get another year of not needing to pay back the principal sum collection. However, they will need to apply.
  • Whilst this move helps the small businesses continue to manage their cash flow, it means the CBN will record a reduction in its income extended under such facility.
  • Regulatory forbearance is a widely adopted concept during an economic crunch and it is meant to help stimulate businesses. These pronouncements if implemented will only affect those who borrow from the CBN or BOI but those who do not will miss out.
  • Download the circular here.

READ: CBN discloses conditions for assessing N100 billion credit facility, addresses ‘process problems’

 

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Economy & Politics

Senate endorses ex-Service Chiefs as Non-career Ambassadors

The Senate has confirmed President Buhari’s nomination of the immediate past service chiefs as non-career ambassadors.

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The Nigerian Senate has endorsed the nomination of the past serving Military Service Chiefs as Non-career Ambassadors.

This was confirmed during Tuesday’s plenary session and announced in a social media statement by the Nigerian Senate.

Their confirmation follows the consideration of the report of the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs, Chaired by Senator Adamu Bulkachuwa.

According to reports, the Senate Minority Leader Enyinaya Abaribe, however, questioned the nomination and confirmation of the ex-service chiefs when the Senate had on 3 different occasions called for their sack.

Senator Abaribe also raised issues on the petitions against the former service chiefs and questioned why they were dismissed without explanations.

But Senate President Ahmad Lawan dismissed Senator Abaribe’s concerns, ruling that the nomination of the former service chiefs cannot be nullified simply because the upper chamber had called for their sack, noting that this is totally a different assignment.

In his concluding statement, the Senate President, Senator Lawan added that these nominees that have just been confirmed have served this country to the best of their abilities. He appealed to the executive to make sure they use their experience as military men to the best.

“These nominees that we have just confirmed are nominees that have served this country to the best of their ability. Our appeal to the Executive is to make sure they use their experiences as military men to the best,” Lawan said.

Lawan, on behalf of the senate, wished them a very successful career in their capacity as Non-Career Ambassadors.

What you should know 

  • Recall Nairametrics reported earlier this month that President Muhammadu Buhari nominated ex-Service Chiefs for Senate approval as non-career Ambassadors-Designate.
  • Their appointment came barely a week after their retirement as service chiefs and their replacement with new ones.
  • This led to a spate of criticisms from some Nigerians who felt that the nation’s security situation got worse under their watch.
  • They were reported to have tendered their resignation from their positions amid heightened calls that they should be sacked due to the increasing rate of insecurity across the country.

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