2023 GOVERNORSHIP AND
STATE HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY ELECTIONS
In meeting with Reps, CBN Gov says stabilising naira is a task for all Nigerians
He spoke in Abuja while addressing the lawmakers to explain issues responsible for the foreign exchange challenges facing the nation.
Cardoso’s presentation came as the Minister of Finance & Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Wale Edun, said the country was on the road to economic disaster before May 29, 2023, enthusing, however, that the economy was finally taking shape.
This is even as the Executive Chairman of Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS, Zacch Adedeji, assured Nigerians that the Federal Government had no plans to increase tax to avoid putting more burden on the people.
Meanwhile, renowned economist, Bismarck Rewane, has declared that the naira, is undergoing transition and not jinxed as being speculated in some quarters, noting that low foreign exchange inflow and lack of confidence in the local currency was responsible for naira’s free fall.
The CBN boss told the legislators that although the apex bank had the official mandate to ensure a stable value of the naira, the dwindling foreign exchange earnings by the nation and the increasing demand for foreign exchange by Nigerians for imports, school fees, foreign travel must be addressed to have a stable foreign exchange market.
His words: “Permit me to say that the exchange rate is determined by the dynamics of supply and demand for a product or service. In essence, similar to the pricing of cows or cars, the value of the US Dollar in Nigeria is determined by the balance of US Dollars entering the country and the demand for US Dollars among Nigerians.
“Applying this demand and supply principle, let’s examine how the exchange rate has performed in recent years. 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.’’.
Cardoso revealed that imports requiring dollars amounted to $16.65 billion in 1980 but noted that “by 2014, the annual import expenditure had significantly surged to $67.05 billion, although it gradually decreased to $54.71 billion as of last year.
“Similarly, food imports escalated from $2.63 billion in 1980 to $14.84 billion in 2019.”
The CBN governor, who noted that the number of Nigerian students abroad had grown astronomically, said: “In the 1980s and 1990s, the need for US Dollars for their living expenses was minimal. However, recent data shows a significant change.
“According to UNESCO’s Institute of Statistics, the number of Nigerian students abroad increased from less than 15,000 in 1998 to over 71,000 in 2015. By 2018, this figure had reached 96,702 students, as per the World Bank.
“Another report projects the number of Nigerian students studying abroad to exceed 100,000 by 2022.
“Continuing on the topic of the demand for US Dollars, Nigeria’s annual imports, which require dollars for payment, amounted to US$16.65 billion in 1980.
“From the aforementioned points, we can infer that the genuine issue impacting the exchange rate is the simultaneous decrease in the supply of, and increase in the demand for, US Dollars.
“It also seems that the task of stabilizing the exchange rate, while an official mandate of the CBN, would necessitate efforts beyond the bank itself and, indeed, to an attitudinal change of all our citizens.
Focus on price stability
Cardoso said his team remained committed to price stability and was determined to achieve that objective.
“My team and I are dedicated to refocusing the bank by giving primacy to price stability. We also aim to build confidence in the Nigerian economy through the maintenance of stability in consumer prices and the foreign exchange market.
“We are aware that the twin challenges of inflation and exchange rate depreciation on our economy are daunting. However, they are not insurmountable.
“Monetary policy actions are sometimes inhibited by transmission lags, nonetheless, it is expected that the policy measures implemented by the bank will permeate the economy in the short-to-medium term.
“We are committed to implementing policies that will ensure a stable macroeconomic environment and guarantee improved livelihoods for all Nigerians.”
On the domestic outlook, Cardoso said the federal government anticipated a 3.76 per cent real GDP growth in 2024, slightly surpassing the estimated 3.75 per cent for 2023.
According to him, this optimism is backed by key government reforms and the expectation of improved crude oil prices and production, which are set to drive economic growth.
“Each sector may face unique challenges and opportunities in 2024. The services sector is expected to thrive due to increased digital lending offerings, while the agriculture sector is projected to grow faster with improved productivity. Anticipated growth in the industry sector is linked to increased crude oil production.
“Inflationary pressures are expected to decline in 2024 due to the CBN’s inflation-targeting policy, aiming to rein in inflation to 21.4 per cent, aided by improved agricultural productivity and easing global supply chain pressures.
‘’The CBN’s inflation-targeting framework involves clear communication and collaboration with fiscal authorities to achieve price stability, potentially leading to lowered policy rates, stimulating investment, and creating job opportunities.
“The Nigerian 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.
“The shift to a market-driven exchange rate was intended to create a stable macroeconomic environment and discourage currency hoarding. However, short-term volatilities are attributed to arbitrage and speculation.
“To address exchange rate volatility, 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.
‘’Positive outcomes are emerging, recent reports from international rating agencies such as Moody, etc rate us from stable to positive. This is due to the reform efforts.
‘’For instance, the volume of transactions done at the stock exchange on Monday, February 5, 2023, is $ 844 million. This was at the close of work yesterday (Monday).
‘’NNPC has commenced the process of opening an account with CBN, in line with Mr President’s directive that the NNPC move crude oil sale proceeds to CBN.
‘’There is harmonisation between the Ministry of Finance and CBN. We have joint committees that meet regularly that look at issues and harmonise them. On the board of CBN, we have representatives from the fiscal side. ‘’The main problem with the exchange rate is liquidity. The distortion over time has created the problem and the distortion is being corrected. Those who left because of that situation are coming back. Portfolio investors are returning.’’
On the relocation of CBN departments to Lagos
Speaking on the relocation of some departments of the CBN to Lagos, the governor said it was not political but noted that the apex bank only implemented what had been done before now.
He said: “We did not change anything, we have always done this to get closer to the banks for the best results.’’
‘No plans to increase taxes’
Also speaking at the sectoral debate, the Executive Chairman, of Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS, Zacch Adedeji, said the Federal Government has no plans to increase tax but to re-strategize and come up with ways that would yield positive and more results.
“We plan to collect N19.2 trillion. We are not going to increase any tax but to re-strategize to bring more people into the tax net and that has led to restructuring. The focus of Mr. President is not to tax but tax return on investment,’’ he said.
On his part, the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Atiku Bagudu, said the current economic challenges facing the country were being looked into with a strategic plan to resolve them.
He said: “We will overcome the challenges of the moment. People will be inconvenienced, but things will get better as the government implements its reforms.’’
Minister of Finance, Wale Edun, in his presentation, said the country was where it was at the moment due to a series of bad economic policies over the years, noting that the cost of living had spiked as a result of inflation.
“We are where we are today as a result of a series of economic policies over the years. Before the implementation of the 8-point agenda of the President began, we were in an unsustainable place in terms of the fiscal situation of Nigeria. ‘’We were on the road to economic disaster. We had expenditure which was wasteful and unsustainable by way of subsidy not just on fuel but the subsidy on foreign exchange which confused the incentive framework and people were chasing cheap dollars in other to make an instant profit,” he said. He, however, said, the president has promised to take measures to address major stumbling blocks to the nation’s economic growth.
Finance Minister Olawale Edun
On his part, the Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Mr. Olawale Edun, said: ‘’Where Nigeria is economically is far much better than where it was on May 29, 2023. The country at that time had expenditures that were wasteful and unsustainable. In turning back from that road, there will be dust.
‘’Bold measures have been taken by President Tinubu and the gains will soon manifest. There is now a reduction in the consumption of petrol by about 20 million litres. The government is confronting pipeline vandalism and oil production is rising. We now do 1.65 million barrels per day.
‘’More palliatives and more succour are coming to augment the rising cost of living. We are looking inward and focusing on domestic resource mobilization. The government has also brought the budget deficit down. We are turning the corner.’’
Minister of Budget, Senator Atiku Bagudu
In his presentation before the lawmakers, the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Atiku Bagudu said: ‘’The ministry has a mandate for budget and national planning. We are tasked with ensuring how best the fundamental objective of state policy can target and achieve the goal of optimal development.
‘’FG delivered a budget that now has capital expenditure that outweighs recurrent expenditure. We have a capital expenditure of 39% of the budget. There is also a marked increase in budgets for infrastructure, health and education which are the enablers of growth.
‘’There are many provisions in the budget to support agriculture. Agric funding has increased. More funding for small-scale farmers so they can do better as individuals and also contribute better to national productivity.
‘’The coordinating mechanism put in place under the Minister of Finance gives confidence that we will deliver on the 2024 budget. -’’ We will overcome the challenges of the moment and come up with economic growth that will carry everyone along.’’
Naira in transition, not jinxed — Bismarck Rewane
Similarly, renowned economist, Bismarck Rewane, has declared that the country’s official currency, the naira, was undergoing transition and not cursed as being speculated in some quarters.
Rewane, who is the Managing Director of Financial Derivatives Company Limited, stated this when he featured as a guest on Channels Television’s late-night programme, Politics Today monitored in Lagos. He spoke against the backdrop of the rebuttal by CBN that it had no plan to convert $30 billion deposits in domiciliary account holdings into naira.
While admitting that tough days laid ahead for Nigerians, Rewane said the free fall of the naira was not a problem that could not be solved by one silver bullet.
He said: “No, I don’t think the naira is jinxed, it is just a currency in transition. And you can see that in 2016, it was N499 per dollar. As of this afternoon (Monday), it was N1,468. It had dropped to N1,531 per dollar sometime last week and started finding its way back.
“So, we have tough days ahead but the point is that you have to look at it in the context of the currency in transition to weigh its fair value.
“Some of the problems are structural, some are transit. So we have to understand it in that context. But you know that the fundamental problem with the naira is that any country that has high inflation and a cost of living crisis will always have a weak currency. “To address that, you have to look at it from a broad perspective. It is not one silver bullet that can solve all problems.
“For instance, in 2004, it was $1.70 that will give you one pound. Today, it is about $1.27 which gives one pound. We have three types of systems.
“We have the fixed, floating and management exchange rates. In the world, 38 per cent of the currencies are called flexible exchange rates. Another 35 per cent is what you call the floating rate.”
Contents provided and/or opinions expressed here do not reflect the opinions of The Pacesetter Frontier Magazine or any employee thereof.
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