– Forecasts another positive year for equities
After slipping into its second recession in 5 years, Nigeria’s economy is projected to expand by 2.0% in 2021 on the back of a modest fiscal stimulus and targeted private investment. This is the view of the Research team at FBNQuest and was a key talking point during the Leading Conversations with FBNQuest webinar hosted by the firm to elaborate on its 2021 Outlook report published earlier this month.
With the theme “Tentative emergence from the shadow of COVID-19”, the outlook report captured the firm’s view on the Nigerian economy, socio-political environment and traditional asset classes (fixed income and equities) against the backdrop of the economic contraction that followed the COVID-19 pandemic which started last year.
The report notes that the second term of Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari, has been “hijacked” by COVID-19, with a sharp decline in oil prices and unprecedented lockdowns spurring a recession in 2020. However, Nigeria’s government, unlike its counterparts in many advanced economies, has limited ammunition to catalyse a robust recovery in 2021. The report also highlights that the combined monetary and fiscal stimulus amounts to just 4% of GDP, compared to over 10% of GDP in large economies such as Brazil, Turkey, the United States, Canada, and Japan.
As Nigeria comes to grips with the challenges brought about by COVID-19, the report cites the speedy passage of the federal budget for the second year in a row and the end of fuel subsidy payments as positive reforms. However, the insecurity in many parts of the country and the slow pace of oil sector legislative reforms were recognised as negatives for an economy desperate for strong and inclusive growth.
Nevertheless, FBNQuest expects low-interest rates in the United States and an average Bonny Light Crude price of US$56 per barrel to support Nigeria’s economic recovery in 2021. In addition to fiscal stimulus and private-sector investment, the report identifies financial technology, agriculture, and ICT as primary drivers of growth in 2021.
With regards to asset prices, FBNQuest projects another positive year for equities in 2021. The research team notes that lower yields and the elevated liquidity available to domestic institutions buoyed stocks in 2020. The impact of lower rates is expected to carry over into 2021, albeit with less dramatic impact, as domestic institutions are swayed by dividend yield offered by bank stocks. A number of non-financial stocks such as Seplat, Flour Mills, Nestle Nigeria and UAC of Nigeria are also expected to outperform in 2021.
FBNQuest projects that the NSE All-Share Index will rise 20% in 2021, while in the fixed income market, yields are projected to rise by 3 percentage points to 10% to 11% on most bonds by the end of the year. According to the firm, however, these comments are not a recommendation to buy, sell or hold any stocks, as the report only seeks to present projections based on analyses.
On the exchange rate, the FBNQuest view is that a combination of higher oil revenue, multilateral loans and Eurobond sales should underpin reserves this year and allow the CBN to contain NGN exchange-rate depreciation.
The forecast for average I&E/NAFEX rate is NGN419 per USD at end-2021.
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.
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.
2020 budget performance: FG achieves 89% capital release in December 2020
The Minister of Finance has revealed that the FG achieved 89% release of the capital component of the 2020 budget to MDAs as of December 2020.
The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, has revealed that the Federal Government achieved 89% release of the capital component of the 2020 budget to Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) as of December 2020.
She said that the 89% capital funding for MDAs was achieved with the release of N1.74 trillion.
According to a report by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), this disclosure was made by Ahmed at an interactive session with the leadership of the National Assembly on Monday, February 22, 2021.
She also revealed that the government had disbursed N118.37 billion for Covid-19 capital expenditure from the fund.
What the Minister for Finance is saying
Ahmed said the Nigerian economy faced serious challenges in 2020, with the macroeconomic environment significantly disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic.
She said this led to a 65% drop in projected net 2020 government revenues from the oil and gas sector, which adversely affected foreign exchange inflows into the economy.
On the delayed release of funds to implement the 2020 capital budget until March 31, the Minister said the complaint had decreased.
She said, “I think the complaint was earlier in the year when we were trying to transfer the balances. As far as I know, in the past three weeks, I haven’t heard any such complaints and we have been able to address them.
“But when we started the transfers, we couldn’t transfer to some agencies because of some limitations in the system, but we have since been able to transfer the capital component that is being utilised by the agencies budget to the system.”
While pointing out that the implementation of the MDAs projects was tied to procurement processes and capacity of the MDA, Ahmed also said the extension of the 2020 capital budget implementation to March 31 had recorded 30% performance as at January.
However, Ahmed said that she expected that the extension would record 100% performance in March.
Speaking during the interaction, the Senate’s Chief Whip, Senator Orji-Uzor Kalu, commended the Minister on the capital performance of the 2020 budget.
He said, “I want to commend the minister and her team because this is the first time in the history of Nigeria that by December 31, we are having 89% performance expenditure of the budget. It has never happened before; Last year was the very first.
“The budget had been going 49%, 27%; this means from what the Senate President was asking, it means by March, we should be looking at implementing the budget 100%.’’
Earlier, President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan said the meeting was to get an update on the capital implementation of the 2020 budget given its extension for implementation by the national assembly to March 31.
What this means
- The 89% capital release for the 2020 budget as of December 2020 is quite encouraging as it occurred despite the economic challenges and disruption caused by the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.
- There seems to be an improved effort by the Federal Government at the budgeting process with the early passage of the 2021 budget and the implementation of the capital component of the 2020 budget.
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