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Nigeria’s External Reserves Drop By $1bn In 13 Days |The Republican News

                                                           Naira and dollars

’Femi Asu

The nation’s foreign exchange reserves have dropped to a seven-month low, losing $1.02bn in the 13 days to Monday, latest data from the Central Bank of Nigeria showed on Wednesday.

The external reserves, which stood at $44.30bn on September 28, fell from $44.02bn on October 2 to $43bn on October 15.

The reserves, which rose to a high of $47.865bn on May 10, have dropped by $4.86bn in five months.

As of March 5, the reserves stood at $43.12bn, up from $42.75bn on March 2, according to the CBN data.

Last week, the International Monetary Fund said Nigeria needed to be cautious about the use of its foreign exchange reserves, saying oil prices could decline at any time.

The IMF, in its latest Regional Economic Outlook said tighter global financial conditions resulting from faster-than-envisaged monetary policy normalisation in advanced economies, or a sudden shift in investors’ sentiment could constrain financing and growth for many sub-Saharan African countries.

“Higher US interest rates and a stronger dollar also heighten risks, as observed historically in emerging and developing economies. In particular, the probability of a large reversal in foreign flows in sub-Saharan Africa is significantly higher the US interest rates go up,” the fund added.

The Director, Corporate Communications, CBN, Mr Isaac Okorafor, explained early this month that the external reserves had been going down recently because of higher yields in the United States.

Okorafor, however, gave an assurance that at the current level of $44bn, the reserves were sufficient to take care of the nation’s import bill for 17 to 20 months, much more than the three-month standard recommendation.

According to him, some foreign investors who have gone to emerging markets to take advantage of the high yields have had to go back to the US because of better opportunities there at the moment.

“The drop in our forex reserves is basically as a result of the capital flow reversals arising from rising interest rates in the United States. You will recall that the Federal Reserve has been raising rates and has even given guidance that this would continue in the near term,” he added.   (Punch)

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Nigeria’s External Debt Rises By $11.77bn In 3 Years |The Republican News

         Director-General, Debt Management Office, Patience Oniha

Everest Amaefule, Abuja

 

Nigeria’s external debt commitment rose by $11.77bn in the last three years, investigation has shown.

According to debt statistics obtained from the Debt Management Office, the country’s external debt rose from $10.32bn in June 30, 2015 to $22.08bn as of June 30 this year.

This means that the country’s external debt commitment has grown by 114.05 per cent in the last three years.

Although multilateral debt made up $10.88bn or 49.28 per cent of the country’s external debt profile, most of the increases in the last three years occurred in the area of commercial loans.

According to the DMO, commercial foreign loans, which stood at $1.5bn as of June 30, 2015, had risen to $8.8bn as of June 30 2018.

This means that in the last three years, the country’s exposure to commercial foreign loans has risen by $7.3bn or 486.67 per cent.

With a commitment of $8.47bn, the World Bank is responsible for 38.36 per cent of the country’s foreign portfolio.

Apart from the World Bank Group, Nigeria is also exposed to some other multilateral organisations such as the African Development Bank with a portfolio of $1.32bn and the African Development Fund with a portfolio of $843.47m.

Others are the International Fund for Agricultural Development with a portfolio of $159.44m; the Arab Bank for Economic Development with a portfolio of $5.88m; the EDF Energy (France) with a portfolio of $64.96m and the Islamic Development Bank with a portfolio of $16.92m.

On the other hand, bilateral debts make up $2.39bn or 10.87 per cent of the country’s external debt exposure.

The bilateral agencies to which the country is indebted are the Export-Import Bank of China with a portfolio of $1.91bn; the Agence Francaise de Development with a portfolio of $274.98m; the Japan International Cooperation Agency with a portfolio of $74.69m; the EXIM Bank of India with a portfolio of $4.76m; and Germany (KFW) with a portfolio of $132.24m.

Unlike the foreign debt, the domestic component of the country’s total public debt decreased marginally recently as a result of moves to rebalance the local/foreign debt ratio.

According to the DMO, a major highlight in the latest public debt data was the decrease in the Federal Government’s domestic debt, which declined from N12.59tn in December 2017 to N12.58tn in March 2017 and N12.15tn in June 2018.

The DMO said the reduction in the FGN’s Domestic Debt Stock arose from the redemption of N198bn Nigerian Treasury Bills in December 2017 and another N639bn between January and June 2018.

A total of $3bn was raised through Eurobonds to refinance maturing domestic debt as part of the implementation of the debt management strategy for the purpose of substituting high cost domestic debt with lower cost external debt to reduce debt service costs for the government, the DMO said.

It also explained that the implementation of the Public Debt Management Strategy, whose overall objective was to ensure that Nigeria’s debt is sustainable, was already yielding positive results.  (Punch)

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Nigeria’s Economy Growing Steadily – Presidency |The Republican News

By Anule Emmanuel

Muhammadu-Buhari6

…releases 41-page documents on Buhari’s achievements

 

The Presidency yesterday said Nigeria’s economy has bounced back and is heading on a steady growth path. The Senior Special Assistant on Media on Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, in a statement issued a 41- page document outlining some of the major achievements of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration in the last three years. Garba the 41-page document explained that it highlights the administration’s successes in the economy, security and the fight against corruption, “which are the three priorities of the government’s change agenda.”

The complete document according to the presidential aide has been uploaded to the State House website. He said the document is arranged into several sections including, Resetting the Economy; Restoring Growth, Growing What We Eat; Making Business Work; Doing More With Less; Investing In People; New Vision for the Niger Delta; Plugging Leakages; and Justice Reforms. The presidential spokesman explained that the Federal Government will be updating the document regularly.

He said it provides details with the improving economic indices, rising investment in agriculture and infrastructure, successes in the fight against terrorism, and on-going efforts to improve security in the North Central.

“In addition, it lists the several measures taken to promote transparency and accountability in government finances,” the statement read in part. According to the highlights of the statement, Nigeria’s economy is back on the path of growth under Buhari, after the recession of 2016-17 (1.95 percent growth in Q1 2018), Garba noted. (New Telegraph)

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Nigeria Cannot Repay Loans – IMF |The Republican News

IMF

International Monetary Fund

Isaac Anumihe

Apparently worried by the Federal Government’s refusal to heed its advice on loan sustainability, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), yesterday doubted Nigeria’s capacity to repay its rising debt stock.

The Fund’s anxiety over Nigeria’s loan repayment ability may have been triggered by President Muhammadu Buhari’s recent approvals to his ministers to go all out to borrow from international lenders to fix rail and road infrastructure.
It was against this backdrop that the Minister of Transportation, Mr Rotimi Amaechi, opened negotiations with India and Russian Exim Bank to borrow $46 billion for the projects.

But speaking at the public presentation of Spring 2018 Regional Economic Outlook for Sub-Saharan Africa, IMF said the country has to increase domestic revenue. “The number of countries in debt distress has increased. From six countries in 2014 to eight in 2015; to 10 in 2016, and today 15 countries. These are low-income economies,” IMF senior resident representative and mission chief to Nigeria, Amine Mati, said.

“Now, I know the question that is going to come from here is: Where is Nigeria? Nigeria is not considered a low-income economy. Nigeria’s debt stock figure, which is 20 to 23 percent of the gross domestic product, is still quite low by any standard. The issue is capacity to repay the debts. So, interest payment to revenue is an issue. “There is a lot that can be done to increase revenue very quickly. If you look at all the various forms of taxation, you can take another look at property tax, then you can have tax administration and improving compliance. You know, in Nigeria, complying with many of the taxes is still very low.

“We think that for the region, there needs to be three to five percent Gross Domestic Products (GDP) growth is needed. How do you get there? In Nigeria, you can remove a lot of exemptions and expand income taxes.
“Those are the types of measures that, as part of a comprehensive package, can make the difference in increasing revenue mobilisation,” she said.  (The Sun)

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Buhari Brags: Nigeria’s Foreign Reserve Hits $47.5bn In 3 Years Under Me |RN

Muhammadu-Buhari3

President Muhammadu Buhari

…Says TSA saved N200bn, economy growing

Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja

President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday boasted his economic policies have moved Nigeria forward, with foreign reserves rising from $30 billion in 2015 to $47.5 billion in the first three years of his administration. He stated that the nation’s economy has remained in a growth trajectory despite experiencing the worst recession in a quarter of a century.

The President also noted that the Treasury Single Account (TSA) policy has brought about greater accountability having saved the country over N200 billion, an amount that would have been frittered away paying ghost workers.
This was even as he has warned that he would not tolerate mediocrity from any public or private citizen, promising he would go out of his way to reward excellence.

Buhari said this at the 17th National Productivity Order of Merit (NPOM) Awards held in Abuja, where he presented awards to the Head of Civil Service of the Federation, Winifred Oyo-Ita, and other distinguished Nigerians drawn from the corporate and public sectors.
Speaking on the theme, “Productivity for Economic Recovery and Sustainable Growth”, Buhari said no nation can attain prosperity without vibrant and productive citizens.

For the umpteenth time, the president condemned the effect of corruption on the nation’s economy, warning that his government would not compromise on policies that would ultimately help to sustain the productive capacity of the country.

According to the President, Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew by 1.95 percent at the end of the first quarter of 2018, a feat he said his predecessors could hardly boast of even with a buoyant economy and huge capital inflow from oil resources.

He said: “The goal of this administration is to move Nigeria forward to become a strong, strategic and proactive state through a deliberate, pragmatic and productivity conscious programme of action. We want to build Nigeria into a competitive, virile, strong and productive economy; a state whose citizens are creative, innovative, responsive, accountable, incorruptible, patriotic and diligent.”
While underscoring the importance of the public service, he noted that “it is the vehicle through which government policies are transmitted,” adding, “it is my intention to hold the public servants collectively and individually responsible for the planning and implementation of the programmes of this administration.

“From now on, it will no longer be business as usual. Excellence will be rewarded and mediocrity will not be tolerated. In this regard, I am directing all Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to drive the Change Agenda in the public sector,” he added.

He said the National Productivity Centre should be encouraged to carry out its mandate so as to ensure a productive nation. According to him, corruption is an anathema to productivity growth of any economy.

He said, “we must leave no stone unturned in tackling the monster. Corruption is dangerous and cancerous to the nation; we are therefore resolute in our commitment to fight it in all facets of our national life.”

Buhari stated that his administration was committed to rewarding hard work and excellence, saying it was in line with this that his administration had placed a great premium on the National Productivity Order of Merit Award as an award of honour and dignity.
“We have therefore been consistent in the yearly conferment of the award on deserving Nigerians and organisations,” he said.
Buhari maintained that the government had approved the conferment of the National Productivity Order of Merit Award for 2018 on few individuals and organisations who had been adjudged to have performed exceedingly well in their various endeavours.
He congratulated the awardees for their remarkable feats and expressed the hope that the awards would propel and motivate them for greater achievements.

In his remarks, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, revealed that 327 Nigerians and 800 organisations had so far benefited from the award.

According to him, the National Productivity Order of Merit Award is not a “cash and carry” award as only deserving citizens and productive organisations with track records benefit from it.

Ngige also seized the occasion to take a swipe at former President Olusegun Obasanjo. He said the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) government can never be perturbed with letters of criticism coming from the former president.
The Chairperson, Board of Directors, First Bank of Nigeria, Mrs Ibukun Awosika, delivered the award lecture at the event, where 15 persons and five organisations received the NPOM award.
She identified gaps in Nigeria’s bilateral policies, which are militating against the nation’s growth, saying more often than not, Nigeria signs bilateral deals with foreign multinational firms but feign ignorance of the need to leverage on such deals to provide jobs for its teeming population.

Awosika also noted that the nation’s leadership ought to device means of harnessing the potential in the youth population, adding that ideas that boost productivity should be made to trickle down from the central government to the federating states.
Meanwhile, President Buhari in a surprise twist bestowed the prestigious National Productivity Order of Merit award on Head of the Civil Service of the Federation (HoCSF), Ms Winifred Oyo-Ita, whom he called “one of the most patriotic Nigerians.”
She was recognised for her productivity and commitment towards nation building, and for the growth and development of the country.

“I am totally taken unawares. To God alone be all the glory,” Oyo-Ita said on receiving the award.
Since her appointment as the HoCSF in January 2016, she has pushed to refocus the civil service, enthroning an Efficient, Productive, Incorruptible and Citizen-centred (EPIC) culture. (The Sun)

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Our Economic Diversification Programme Is Working – Buhari |RN

By Anule Emmanuel

 

Muhammadu-Buhari5

President Muhammadu Buhari

 

President Muhammadu Buhari has declared that his administration’s economic programme tailored towards boosting the agricultural sector was fast yielding positive results.

The President stated this yesterday while speaking at an event in Auyo, Jigawa State. The President, who is in Jigawa State for a two-day working visit, expressed delight that the Federal Government’s economic diversification and inclusive growth programmes were yielding positive results, particularly in key food-producing states. He explained that Nigeria’s agricultural revolution was real and on the course.

The President had participated at an event to mark the commencement of the rehabilitation and expansion of the 6,000-hectare Hadejia Valley irrigation project. Buhari assured Nigerians that his administration would sustain the positive momentum in the sector by implementing the right policies and providing the needed financial resources for people-oriented projects.

He also applauded the World Bank’s assistance to the project, which when completed, would increase water availability for all-season farming in the state and beyond. Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to the President, Garba Shehu, in a statement, said that the Minister of Water Resources, Alhaji Suleiman Adamu, explained that works on the Phase One of the projects, which started in the early eighties during the administration of President Shehu Shagari and received some funding under the Petroleum Special Trust Fund had suffered frequent abandonment due to lack of funds. Adamu said with N9.6 billion allocated under the 495 million World Bank-assisted Transforming Irrigation Management in Nigeria (TRIMING) project in five different irrigation locations in Nigeria, the project would be completed by 2021.

‘‘By the time the project is finished in three years, there would be about 6,000 hectares of farmland and the Jigawa State Government also plans to key into the project that will benefit over 25,000 farmers,’’ the Minister said.

In Jigawa, the President commissioned the 42-kilometre Tasheguwa-Guri Road and the 32-kilometre Abunabo-Kadira-Guri road constructed by the state government to facilitate easier movement and evacuation of farm produce. Buhari also commissioned the 250,000 solar-powered water supply scheme. The project is one out of nine of such projects, which will add nine million litres to daily water supply in Dutse and environs. (New Telegraph)

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Bill Gates Faults Buhari’s Economic Plan |The Republican News

By Anule Emmanuel

Bill Gates addresses National Governors Association in Washington

…insists Nigeria worst place to give birth

 

Co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Mr Bill Gates, has faulted the focus of the Federal Government’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP). Speaking at the special session of the National Economic Council (NEC) meeting presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo at the presidential villa, Abuja, Gates said there was an urgent need for the Federal Government to take a second look at the National Economic Plan in terms of its priorities for human capacity development.

The philanthropist said the ERGP, which must reflect the people’s needs, should also prioritize human capital development over the physical capital as it is designed currently. He told the Nigerian government that “to anchor the economy over the long term, investment in infrastructure and competitiveness must go hand in hand with investments in people. “People without roads, ports and factories can’t flourish. And roads, ports and factories without skilled workers to build and manage them can’t sustain an economy,” Gates added.

He said that if the current education and health trends continue and the government spends the same amount with same results, there will be per capita Gross Domestic Product (GDP) flat lines with economic growth just barely keeping up with population growth. Gates disclosed that his organisation’s total financial interventions in Nigeria have risen to $1.6 billion.

The funds are committed to addressing issues of improved primary healthcare systems, agriculture, financial inclusion and routine immunization, among others. Gates noted that the foundation was eager to support Nigeria further in assisting the country to become a global economic powerhouse that will provide the opportunity for all citizens. According to him, although Nigeria was approaching an upper middle-income status like Brazil, China and Mexico, there was the need for all its citizens to thrive in maximizing the huge potentials of the country.

He lamented that it was unfortunate that Nigeria is one of the most dangerous places in the world to give birth and has the fourth-worst maternal mortality rate ahead of Sierra Leone, Central Africa and Chad. Osinbajo, in his response, reiterated that high oil prices and economic growth of previous years did not translate into a better life for most Nigerians because grand corruption prevented investments in healthcare, education and infrastructure. “We have to put Nigeria’s money to work for Nigerians, doing the most with the least.

And we have stayed true to that vision, even as oil prices went into free fall, we ramped up investments in infrastructure, as well as our social spending,” he said. The vice-president said that the administration was prepared to take the challenges which Dangote Foundation, as well as Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, had outlined head-on. He noted that Nigeria has strong economic growth and development ambitions, encapsulated in her ERGP, launched in 2017 but all of those lofty ambitions can only be achieved through the determined application of human skill and effort.

“And for that effort to be meaningful and productive, it has to come from people who are healthy, educated, and who are, and feel empowered. “It is this realisation that has helped ensure that one of the primary planks of the ERGP is ‘Investing in our people’. And it is for this reason that we are expanding the reach and quality of our healthcare, through the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS); and working to guarantee basic education for all persons, whilst also upgrading and modernising the quality of secondary and post-secondary education.

“And because this is the 21st century, we know that is also important to ensure that our young people are being prepared for the economies of the future, not the past. This means that STEM education is critical and that technology must lie at the heart of our educational offerings,” Osinbajo said. In an interview with State House Correspondents, Governor Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna State insisted that it was not the question of adjusting the ERGP, but the budgeting system with priorities set our clearly to address human capital development issues.

He explained what Bill Gates and Dangote told NEC members was that government at all levels also need to do more. El-Rufai said that yesterday’s NEC meeting was the most import since the government of President Muhammadu Buhari came into power.

NEC, he said, has been focusing on the provision of electricity, roads and others without priority for human capital development. “There is something more important than physical infrastructure like roads, water, electricity which is investing in the people,” he added. According to El-Rufai, Nigeria’s investment in education is far below which is not appropriate.

Chairman of Dangote Group, Aliko Dangote, told the NEC that there was the need for the private sector companies in Nigeria to set aside one percent of their annual profit to support primary healthcare development and other critical projects that will grow the economy.

He said: “Since the rebasing of the economy, Nigeria is no longer seen as a highly poor country. “Nigeria is going to be 411 million people by 2050. Today, more than half of our population is very young and we try to educate them by ensuring that they are healthy,” he added.  (New Telegraph)

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