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Nigeria’s external reserve fall by $2.9bn in H1 2023

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By Sodiq Adelakun

Nigeria’s external reserves have declined by about $2.8 billion in the first half of 2023, reaching around $34.1 billion in June, due to weak crude oil output and a lack of foreign investor participation in the capital market.

The decline in reserves continued since the new administration came into power in May 2023, despite the unification of the naira and the introduction of a managed exchange rate float.

Experts attribute the decrease in reserves to costly projects, such as election expenses and currency redesign, as well as the uncertainty surrounding election years and recent policy changes.

The external reserves opened the year at about $37 billion but have now dropped to about $34.1 billion as of June 2023. Nigeria’s external reserve is an important barometer for valuing the country’s currency. It is also used to estimate how many months of imports it can finance.

The external reserve has also dropped by almost one billion dollars since the Tinubu administration came into power on May 29th, 2023. The external reserve has gone from $35 billion as of May 30th to $34.1 billion. This is despite the unification of the naira and the introduction of a managed exchange rate float.

The country’s external reserves have been on a downward trajectory since this year due to a lack of foreign investor inflows, lower crude oil outputs, and a fragmented forex market. The external reserve is typically funded from a combination of the sale of crude oil proceeds, external debts, and foreign investor inflows.

Nigeria’s central bank has also blamed the decline in reserves lack of external debt financing. Nigeria is unlikely to tap the foreign debt market this year due to higher global interest rates, especially for emerging market Eurobonds.

“The MPC observed that the economy continued to be weighed down by high import bills, leading to pressure on foreign exchange and resultant increase in the general price level. The Committee noted that the economy needs to build up the stock of foreign reserves to act as buffers against shocks.

“In addition, the current trend in price development would continue to be monitored by the Bank with greater collaboration with the fiscal authority, to address the drivers of inflation.”

It also blamed the drop on transactions in the forex market.

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CBN expresses commitment to harnessing digital technologies

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The Central Bank of Nigeria says it is committed to harnessing the power of digital technologies to enhance financial inclusion.

CBN Governor, Mr Yemi Cardoso said this on Tuesday in Abuja, during a strategic institutions tour by participants of Senior Executive Course 46 of the National Institute of Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS).

Cardoso, who was represented by Dr Bala Bello, Deputy Governor, Corporate Services, said that digital technologies would also boost productivity and create an enabling environment for innovation and entrepreneurship to thrive.

According to him, the apex bank has already deployed robust digital technologies in driving most of its processes towards achieving optimal performance.

He said that NIPSS, as a foremost national policy think-tank, had made invaluable contributions to the socio-political and macroeconomic development of Nigeria.

“We are, therefore, not surprised at the apt and relevant choice of your research theme.

“The CBN and NIPSS have had a long-standing and robust working relationship since the establishment of the institute. This has culminated into positive mutual benefits for the two institutions.

“The CBN, on the one hand, has provided infrastructural support to the institute through construction of an auditorium and a hostel, in addition to the provision of technical support.

“On the other hand, NIPSS has supported the technical capacity of the CBN through the training of some personnel both at senior executive course level and intermediate course cadre,” he said.

The Director-General of NIPSS, Prof. Ayo Omotayo, said that the study visiting would be representing the institute in getting information from operators of the apex bank on the relevance of digital technology to developing jobs for Nigerian youths.

According to Omotayo, a lot of progress has been made globally in using digital systems to run the economy.

“The more of our activities that we can put in digital format, the more we get the opportunity of providing employment access to a whole lot of the 120 million active Nigerians.

“We at NIPSS always knock at the frontiers of knowledge, checking what is going to happen in the immediate future.

“We are working towards a system where we believe that almost every service can be delivered digitally,” he said.

The Acting Director, Monetary Policy Department of the CBN, Dr Lafi Bala Keffi, commended the NIPSS study group for its interest in the apex bank.

She urged the participants to explore the time-tested culture of NIPSS, which is to diagnose national, profer practical solutions and recommend ways of making such solutions realisable.

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FG urges NIPSS members on creative solutions to national challenge

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The Minister of Budget and Economic Planning, Atiku Bagudu, has urged members of the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS), to devise creative solutions to Nigeria’s social and economic challenges.

Bagudu received  participants of the Senior Executive Course 46 of the institute in his office on Monday in Abuja.

According to him, some of the issues confronting Nigeria  as a nation might require out of the box solutions.

“The NIPSS was created in the wisdom of our forefathers, to train senior management personnel that can bring unusual solutions to problems confronting us,” he said.

He urged the participants to eschew self-interest and make decisions that can assist the nation to make better choices.

Bagudu  said that the national planning function of the ministry comes from the National Planning Commission.

He said that the digital economy is one area that the ministry was looking at for mass youth engagement and economic prosperity.

“Digital economy is an evolving process.which the country will have to leverage digital for overall growth and development.

“It is a new reality. Today trading platforms are closing shop and increasingly going digital.

“Nigeria needs to respond positively and reap benefits from the digital economy. But we have to make the space safe through effective regulation.

“Some countries have data protection laws which enable them to check and regulate excesses in the digital space,” he said.

The Minister commended the law enforcement agencies for promptly going after digital platforms like Binance, which was used to disrupt the foreign exchange market and to weaken the Naira.

He also commended the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Yemi Cardoso, for his various monetary policy decisions that restored confidence in the Nigerian economy.

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Cardoso to speaks at IMF meeting on FX reforms

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The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Olayemi Cardoso will speak on foreign exchange (FX) market reforms at the ongoing International Monetary Fund (IMF) Spring Meetings on Wednesday in Washington D.C.

The meetings of the Boards of Governors of the IMF and the World Bank Group (WBG) bring together central bankers, ministers of finance and development, parliamentarians, private sector executives, representatives from civil society organisations and academics to discuss issues of global concern, including the world economic outlook, poverty eradication, economic development, and aid effectiveness.

Also featured are seminars, regional briefings, press conferences, and many other events focused on the global economy, international development, and the world’s financial system

Cardoso assumed office as the Governor of the CBN in September 2023. Since then he has introduced some new FX policies and adjusted some existing ones to ensure the stability of the naira.

According to Cardoso, the exchange rate in Nigeria has increased/depreciated due to the simultaneous occurrence of two factors: a decline in the supply of US Dollars coinciding with a surge in the demand for US dollars.

He said in February 2023 that the foreign exchange market is currently facing increased demand pressures, causing a continuous decline in the value of the naira. Factors contributing to this situation include speculative forex demand, inadequate forex supply due to non-remittance of crude oil earnings to the CBN, increased capital outflows, and excess liquidity from fiscal activities.

To address exchange rate volatility, he said a comprehensive strategy has been initiated to enhance liquidity in the FX markets.

This includes unifying FX market segments, clearing outstanding FX obligations, introducing new operational mechanisms for BDCs, enforcing the Net Open Position limit, and adjusting the remunerable Standing Deposit Facility cap.

As part of measures to control inflation and stabilise the naira, the CBN last month raised its benchmark interest rate, known as the Monetary Policy Rate (MPR) by 200 basis points to 24.75 percent from 22.75 percent in February 2024.

In her second term message, Kristalina Georgieva, IMF managing director, who was recently reappointed by the executive board of the IMF, said, “I am deeply grateful for the trust and support of the Fund’s Executive Board, representing our 190 members, and honoured to continue to lead the IMF as managing director for a second five-year term.”

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