IMF Chief Christine Largarde's devaluation proposal flawed but Nigeria's economy could be in serious trouble
PARIS, DECEMBER 9, 2015: Reports reaching us Wednesday say Naira, the Nigerian domestic currency hit another record low against the US dollar. Naira traded N250 to $1 at the parallel market.
Financial experts attribute this to steep drop in Nigeria's foreign reserve probably caused by the dwindling oil prices. The British pound traded at N400 at the parallel market.
Nigeria's Central Banks says the Naira crash has nothing to do with the dwindling foreign reserves insisting that the bank refused to make the dollar available to Bureau de Change operators, a source told our reporter in Lagos.
However, the IMF and Nigerian financial experts have been mounting pressure on the Buhari administration to further devalue the Naira in order to achieve equilibrum price against the dollar, but the president has consistently refused this.
PARIS, DECEMBER 9, 2016: (DGW) The Nigerian Naira , according to reports, remains stable on the parallel market on Friday exchanging for much as N485 to the US dollar.
The Pound Sterling and the Euro closed at N602 and N515, respectively.
At the interbank market, the Naira also remained stable at N305.50 to a dollar.
Trading at the Bureau De Change (BDC) window saw the Naira sold at N399 to a dollar, CBN controlled rate, while the Pound Sterling and the Euro exchanged at N606 and N515, respectively.
Traders at the market said that the scarcity of dollar persisted, leading to slow activities.
The nation’s external reserves closed last year with a total balance of $25.84 billion - 30 December - showing a decline of $3.22 billion compared with $29.06 billion it stood as at December 31, 2015.
The figure from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) indicates a 12.7 per cent decline year on year (y/y), but increased by 4.2 per cent month-on-month, up from $24.69 billion on November 28 to $25.781, due to a slight recovery in global oil prices.
Despite demand pressure, the nation’s external reserves and the volume of money or other assets held by the apex bank recorded an increase of $642 million in one month, after weeks of consistent and gradual gains.
These are in spite of a US$2.3 billion decline in average inflows of foreign exchange into the CBN every month over the last 26 months as revealed by the apex bank governor, Dr Godwin Emefiele.
CBN had disclosed in its data on foreign exchange utilisation for October 2016, that it granted access to about 7,792 requests for foreign exchange, valued at over $867 million through the inter-bank window to enable them source vital raw materials and spare parts for their respective industries.
The accretion of Nigeria’s foreign exchange (forex) reserves, which started about two months ago, continued in the new year, as the data by the apex bank showed that reserves had grown to $26.094 billion, signifying a slow but steady improvement in the country’s current account balance.
The present value of the reserves, derived mostly from the proceeds of crude oil sale, represents an appreciation by $2.137 billion or nine per cent, compared with $23.957 billion as of November 2016.
By Femi Fabiyi
The buzz “Globalization” has redefined socio economic affairs in many developing and underdeveloped countries. Many countries are relishing robust trade deals in lieu of more liberal international economic laws, promoting less barriers and reduced tariffs in an effort to create real and valuable assets-based-opportunities, tailored towards growing economic and social wealth, particularly in the emerging markets. Many emerging market economies, including Nigeria have struggled to simulate the dynamics of the global concept, resulting in some cases - repressive and damaging socio economic policies. Below expectation economic performances from the BRIC countries, per their last 5years economic metrics, have provided deep insight into two different economic models that may have been employed by many other emerging markets – Nigeria, a case study.
On one part is the economy system driven solely on natural resources. And the other is the economy structure that is aligned with human capital.
On a consistent note, Nigeria has been measured by experts as a country with enormous potentials, similar to some of the BRICs. But Nigeria economic growth deterrence lies in her inability to align its powerful human capital with its massive natural resources.
The crash in the oil market becomes a wrench in many oil producing nation’s policies and economic strategies, making a long term fiscal and economic projections a notoriously delicate endeavor. The unprecedented situation complicates economic trajectory for emerging economies that rely heavily on petrodollar, creating a sense of urgency for oil nation managers to exert their leadership skills in resource management.
At the height of commodities boom, the emerging market economies ushered in various power brokers or political juggernauts, and they were, and still very close to the helms of their respective government affairs. They have steadily upended their influence in channeling state resources to meeting unguarded goals and objectives. In Nigeria, mafia-like groups took over key institutions, and run the systems with little or zero ethics. The Oligarchies are the gun powders of day to day business activities in Russia’s most lucrative markets, and the Odebrecht and Petrobras decides what goes into Brazil fiscal policies. Just as the promising emerging markets got clobbered with market uncertainties, the power brokers in Indian and China pulled together their think-tanks and unconventionally began to develop a workforce that is turning Asia market a force to reckon with. The Chinese stake holders spread their risks across all economic sectors – strong manufacturing sector, promotes financial prudency, introduce competitive educational systems, reinvigorate its service industry, and spend years constructing roads, bridges and residential houses for their middle class. Strategically, it also encourages disruptive technology in the area of Intellectual Property, and has maintained an era of trade surplus, helping its economy to continue to build a middle class workforce. Over the years, the smartest of the Indians have come together to reinvent India’s education system, building a competitive high-tech workforce and a branded medical service. India professionals in IT have reshaped global service industries, attracting more than 500 US off shore corporations. The West corporate inversions to China and India have helped both nations’ major stock indexes in positive territory. And both countries have performed far better than Brazil and Russia, whose economic growth model relied heavily on natural resources just like Nigeria.
Assessing the efforts of Nigeria think-tanks or the smartest guys that found themselves at the corridor of affairs, it is appalling what seems to be on Nigerians score sheet. My research found that, unlike the Oligarchies, the Odebrecht and Petrobras who to some extent invested in other sectors of their respective local economies, Nigerian smartest politicians are predominantly found in off shore business activities, siphoning the little earned petrodollar premium back to the Western economy.
Many of Nigeria mafias have invested their stolen monies in personal homes abroad (USA, Britain, Dubai, South Africa and a host of other countries). Why should a Nigerian based politician maintain a residential home in the USA? I honestly cannot find a reasonable answer to this question. For my readers who do not understand USA real estate market, here is a hypothetical case – A Nigerian based politician who owns a $1,000,000 house in America is expected to pay at least 2% of $1,000,000 in property taxes and between 1.5% and 2% of $1,000,000 for maintenance on a yearly bases. So, what sense does it make for a Nigeria politician to pull an average of $35,000 from the local economy every year and send it to America to help develop America cities and counties?
Unlike the Chinese and Indian stake holders, Nigeria mafias are notorious of importing high end luxury cars and even private jets for recreational purposes. A personal friend calls his luxurious car “my toy”. Again, the question is, does this toy fit an environment where roads are very bad and unsafe? Remember, they will need hard earned community dollars to fix the slightest hiccup in the engineering of the car or private jet.
I personally expected Nigerian high rollers to be loyal to their economy where returns on equity could be higher. But Nigeria mafias favors stocking their monies in the Western economies where equity returns has been very low. Investment in Bonds and Treasury instruments performed even worse in the West.
Understandably, celebration of life and occasions are part of Nigerian culture, but the culture may be at stretch when our smart leaders are seen throwing scarce $$ bills in the air at parties. Interestingly, the new trend is even more worrisome - the urge for privately brewed imported drinks at ceremonies. This indicates another way of redefining the class structure in Nigeria society. It is imperative to note that this is happening in a country where unemployment has ballooned through the roof and middle class is pretty much on its knees.
In consideration of Nigeria numerous challenges and the enormous opportunities within reach, I was hoping the smart politicians will show some sense of creativity by recycling the stolen money in Nigeria emerging economy such that, it at least add values to the system they have looted. May be a good way to begin to seek forgiveness for their deeds!
It cost China 4years and a sum of $1.5b to build a 26 mile bridge that is warranted for 100 years by Chinese workers. How about Nigeria politicians emulating such a fit by using the stolen monies to construct a toll-based highway from Lagos to Port Harcourt or from Port Harcourt to Kano? Not only will the concept provide them and their families a stream of perpetual income, it will also give an average motorist on these roads some sense of traffic relief.
Recently, a group of international investors submitted a proposal for a massive solar energy power base in the desert of North Africa - an area that covers the borders of Algeria and Egypt. The financial outlay has not been officially finalized but I don’t think the project is beyond what our smart looters can join hands and execute in the interest of Nigeria economy. Nigerians will skip meals to pay for electricity – it will result in a win win endeavor.
Nigerian mafias will rather travel to India or the West for medical issues than to find solutions to our hospital problems in Nigeria. They prefer to rush their children to universities abroad than to upgrade our educational systems. They will rather look for ways to weaken naira than to give the Nigeria economy a boost. In spite of these anomalies, we still treat them like semi-god.
Recent shortages in petroleum products and nation-wide electricity blackout have proven to the investment world that Nigeria is not ready to be a formidable player in the emerging economies. This is particularly sad because the economy situation in the country now is dire, and there is urgent need for a turn around. The government seems to show some calmness at time of desperation, where life of an average Nigerian is getting eroded by the day. Business is stagnant; manufacturers are either relocating outside the country or closing shops. The naira is losing value, inflation is off chat and the government is yet to demonstrate a path to resurrection. Nigerians home and abroad have banked a little hope on the news of recovered looted money, but what is been done with the money can only be imagined. According to JP Morgan, more than $1billion has been moved from Nigeria equity market in 12 months to other emerging economies including Mexico, Indonesia and Turkey.
The world has become so small and every country is looking for a piece of the pie. The challenges are real and its time for our big guys to measure up. A focused based emerging economy should be directing its resources to creating opportunities for its people, especially where the demographic is favorable and the people are determined.
The last time I sighted a cross-over carrier politician in his egoistic opulence, and his wife well decorated with a leash-like necklace, I questioned his smartness and why the political class have no respect for Nigerian lives, his answers were resentful – Nigerians don’t complain. He may be right; otherwise we will not have some of the governors out there running shows for their states.
It is important to note that, the West cares and love Nigeria. They will never desert us, knowing a failed Nigeria is their headache. They will however continue to allow our corrupt politicians to launder petrol money into their systems. They will target, and attract our young and the brightest if we choose to ignore them. They will equip them and embrace their knowledge. They will listen to their plights and suave them into changing allegiance. They will stay afar and watch as we continue to write and rewrite our depressing history. They will remain peace keepers through their numerous charity organizations and ensure no dissidents are allowed to disrupt the fragile tact between all the different ethnic groups. They pray one day, we learn from our mistakes and begin to explore our potentials. As the hope and aspiration lingers in the land of milk and honey, so is suffering and smiling.
*Femi Fabiyi is based in Connecticut, USA
*Under Jonathan, the volume of trade recorded a steady growth from N488 billion (20.6 billion Rand) in 2010 to N1.5 trillion (62 billion Rand) in 2015
South African Ambassador to Nigeria, Lulu Aaron-Mnguni, says trade volume between the two countries has dropped to about N1.3 trillion (55 billion Rand) in 2016.
The trade volume decreased by 11.29 per cent from N1.5 trillion (62 billion Rand) in 2015.
Aaron-Mnguni told News Agency of Nigeria in Abuja on Thursday that bilateral relations between the two countries were excellent but could be improved upon.
The trade between the two countries increased steadily from N488 billion (20.6 billion Rand) in 2010 to N1.5 trillion (62 billion Rand) in 2015.
He said that the gradual movement was attributed to Nigeria’s demand for automotive parts, South Africa’s export cars, vehicles, structures and parts of structure, uncoated paper and paperboard.
Aaron-Mnguni said: “The volume of trade is 55 billion Rands; that is what I can say now. It is growing, of course there are challenges at this moment but it is growing and we want it to grow more.
“That is why we are working together in the field of diversification of the economy; we currently have South Africans that are working in some parts of Nigeria like in Jos and Kaduna.
“We are trying to make sure that we help in the field of mines and steel, of course we work together in the field of energy.
“We are learning from Nigeria in the field of oil and gas, we want to learn because in the future we will want to be experts in that area.”
The envoy said that the relationship between the two countries was encouraging, adding that there was nothing negative about Nigeria in South Africa.
Aaron-Mnguni said that the two countries needed to work together to leverage on their advantages in the continent.
According to him, there is need to address the issue of poverty in both countries so that desperation among the people which ends up in mistrust and suspicion can be removed.
He said: “Nigerians are very good in business and this is the area we need to work together and that is what can help us, so that South Africa can learn more about doing business.
“It is through this working together that people can learn that they are one people. There are lots that we can do together for the sake of our people.”
He, therefore, called on Nigeria to lend a helping hand in developing SMEs Sector of the South Africa. - (NAN)
AFP / DPA / Kay Nietfeld | Protesters rally against the proposed US-EU free trade pact, the anti-Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) in Berlin on October 10, 2015
Hundreds of thousands of people rallied Saturday in the German capital against the massive free-trade accord being negotiated by the European Union and the United States.
Responding to a call by a group of political parties, trade unions and environmental and anti-globalisation groups, the demonstrators gathered at Berlin's main train station for a march through the city.
Organisers said 250,000 people showed up to the protest, much more than the 50,000 to 100,000 expected to take part.
Police said around 100,000 participated in the protest against the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) under negotiation between Washington and Brussels, as well as a similar deal with Canada.
"Never before have we seen so many people take to the streets for this issue," the German trade union confederation DGB, which helped organise the protest, said on Saturday.
Several trains and more than 600 buses had been chartered to transport protesters to the capital, who marched carrying sigs that read "Stop TTIP" and "TTIP signals climatic shipwreck".
Opponents say the deal would lead to widespread deregulation and reduce the scope of government.
"We are here because we do not want to leave the future to markets, but on the contrary to save democracy," said Michael Mueller, president of the ecological organisation German Friends of Nature.
Talks on the pact between the US and 28-nation EU -- which would be the world's biggest trade deal if completed -- began in 2013 and the two sides aim to conclude them by 2016.
Campaigners are particularly angered over Washington's insistence that as part of the pact, private companies be allowed to sue governments before special tribunals.