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Nigeria’s inflation to drop to 21.5% by 2024 — Report 

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Nigeria’s inflation is projected to drop to 21.5 percent in 2024, from the 24.5 percent recorded in 2023. This is according to the 2024 Macroeconomic Outlook produced by the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG).

According to the report, launched on January 24, 2024, the decline in inflationary pressures is anticipated to result from reduced reliance on Ways & Mean financing for the budget deficit, a stable structural exchange rate, and additional proactive monetary measures implemented by the Central Bank.

The report also noted that food inflation is poised to persist as a primary contributor to overall inflation, propelled by increased credit costs, security concerns, and internal displacement issues.

The report noted, “The removal of fuel subsidies will continue to increase core inflation, primarily through high transport and energy costs.”

NESG also made projections about the different possible inflation behaviours in 2024. The report noted that in the occasion of “stagnation,” the rate could hit 25.1 percent. Stagnation implies a situation where there is a prolonged period of economic slowdown, low or no growth, high unemployment, and overall economic inertia.

In the case of “obsolescence,” inflation could hit 28.5 percent. Obsolescence implies a situation where existing economic structures, policies, or practices have become obsolete, leading to potential challenges or disruptions in the economy.

And in the case of a “comprehensive overhaul,” inflation could hit 21.5 percent.

The report notes that risk factors for inflation in Nigeria in 2024 include:

Continued climate-induced disruptions, such as flooding, coupled with widespread insecurity, may lead to a decrease in crop production and an upward pressure on food prices.

The persistent weakness of the Naira due to the illiquidity of the Forex market.

It was recommended that setting a cap on petrol pump prices has the potential to mitigate the extent of the pass-through impact resulting from the removal of fuel subsidies on both food and non-food item prices.

In 2023, Nigeria recorded an inflation of 24.5%, which was 5.7 percentage points higher than the 18.8 percent posted in 2022. Despite the CBN’s hawkish stance on the monetary policy rate, with the MPR fixed at 18.75 percent, and the Cash Reserve Ratio being 32.5 percent, inflationary pressures did not cool off.

According to the NESG’s 2024 Macroeconomic Outlook, inflationary pressure primarily stemmed from limitations in productivity rather than monetary factors, which has posed challenges for the CBN’s monetary interventions to control inflation.

As the CBN’s Monetary Policy Committee is set to meet on February 26 and 27, it is anticipated that the CBN will stick to its hawkish stance on the monetary rates.

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Naira will continue to appreciate against dollar – Shettima

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Vice President Kashim Shettima has expressed optimism that the Naira would continue to appreciate against the dollar at the forex market.

Spokesperson of the Vice-President, Mr Stanley Nkwocha, in a statement on Saturday, said Shettima stated this at a meeting with officials of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), at the President Villa, Abuja.

He said President Bola Tinubu ended the fuel subsidy and ensured the unification of the multiple exchange rate because the former arrangement was producing billionaires overnight.

“Naira went haywire and some people were celebrating but inwardly we were laughing at them because we knew that we have the leadership to reverse the trend.

“Asiwaju knows the game, and truly the Naira is gaining and the difference will drop further.”

He recalled that the quality of leadership provided by President Tinubu as governor of Lagos laid the foundation for the massive development witnessed in the state.

Shettima assured that the Tinubu administration is doing its best to address challenges in the power sector.

According to him, Tinubu’s administration is aware that power is absolutely essential for development.

“We are determined to ensure that we generate jobs for our youths. Honestly, the President’s obsession is to live in a place of glory, to transform this country to a higher pedestal.

“He wants to leave a legacy, one of qualitative leadership because the hope of the black man, the hope of Africa rests with Nigeria.

“I want to assure you that President Bola Ahmed Tinubu is one of you. He understands your ecosystem. In this government, you have an ally and a friend.”

Earlier, the President of LCCI, Gabriel Idahosa, emphasised the need for the Federal Government to consider more innovations to address the insecurity challenge in the country.

He also urged the Tinubu administration to ensure a significant upswing in the pace and scale of alternative policy measures that promote credit access, stimulate investment, and support entrepreneurship.

“This could include targeted interventions such as concessional lending facilities, loan guarantees, and interest rate subsidies tailored to the needs of SMEs and key sectors of the economy like agriculture, manufacturing and power technology.”

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LCCI advocates discipline, export to sustain Naira appreciation

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LCCI advocates discipline, export to sustain Naira appreciationThe Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) has emphasised the importance of maintaining discipline in the foreign exchange market to sustain the steady appreciation of the Naira.

The President and Chairman of the Council of LCCI, Mr Gabriel Idahosa, made the call in an interview with newsmen on Wednesday in Lagos.

Idahosa praised the efforts of the Central Bank of Nigeria in imposing discipline, attributing the recent Naira appreciation to curbing speculative activities.

“On the monetary side, the CBN is doing it. The primary efforts should continue to impose discipline in the foreign currency market.

“The abuses in the foreign currency market were prevalent and most of the fall in the value of the Naira in the last six months is not because there was any sudden calamity in the Nigerian economy.

“It was primarily because of very reckless speculations, that people were just speculating in the dollar, they had nothing to export, nothing to import, they were just buying the dollar for speculative reasons.

“And once the Central Bank started to impose discipline in the foreign currency market, we saw the value of the Naira rising very quickly by stopping speculation,” he said.

According to him, the strategies of the Central Bank, now, are designed to achieve a sustained discipline in the foreign currency market.

Idahosa highlighted the need to continue reducing the number of Bureau de Change operators, stressing that many operated without contributing to international trade.

He applauded the Central Bank’s move to enforce documentation and identification of buyers and sellers at BDCs, aiming to deter reckless speculation and curb illicit financial flows.

On the fiscal side, Idahosa urged President Bola Tinubu to prioritise a nationwide export drive, citing it as the key to bolstering the Naira and providing essential foreign exchange.

He emphasised the importance of fostering a culture of export among Nigerians across all scales of enterprise to reduce reliance on imports and strengthen the country’s economic resilience.

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Foreign reserves decline to $32.29bn

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The foreign reserve has depleted to $32.29 billion, which is a six-year low in the Central Bank’s course to save the naira.

This is the lowest level the reserves have been since September 25, 2017, when it was $32.28 billion.

The country’s foreign reserves declined by 6.2 percent, losing $2.6 billion since March 18, when the naira started its rebound from record-low levels against the dollar to $32.29 billion as of Monday, based on the latest available data from the CBN.

At the beginning of the month, the reserve was at $33.57 billion, then further dipped to $32.6 billion by April 12.

This comes as the CBN has attempted to save the naira through various interventions such as raising interest rates to 24.75 percent and managing foreign exchange trades.

It stepped up its intervention in the FX market with sales at both the official market and to BDC operators who sell dollars on the streets.

The apex bank, which sells $10,000 to each BDC every week, mandated them to only sell at a spread of 1.5 percent, which comes to N1,117 per US dollar.

The rate sold by the BDCs has set a defacto floor for the naira in the black market since the apex bank resumed sales to them in February.

Also, last month the CBN said it had cleared a backlog of $7 billion since the beginning of the year. That was built over the years as the central bank pegged its currency against the dollar, leading to a scarcity of foreign currency that deterred foreign portfolio investment. However, it’s unclear how much dollar debt the CBN retains on its books.

Akpan Ekpo, a professor of economics and public policy, said the CBN’s managed float system in which it is trying to ensure supply and curtail demand is not sustainable in the long term.

He said the CBN needs to be careful with how it depletes the foreign reserves as its main source is oil revenue.

“We need to manufacture non-oil goods and services, export them, and get foreign exchange and not depend on oil income,” he said.

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