The $42.5 billion foreign reserves as at December last year is enough to guarantee 13-month import cover for the country, a report by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has shown.
The stock of external reserves as at end-December 2018 stood at $42.5 billion, indicating a depletion of 0.03 percent when compared with the level in the preceding quarter. However, when compared with the corresponding period of 2017, it indicated an accretion of 8.2 percent.
According to the CBN, the level of external reserves could finance approximately 13 months of imports, compared with 10.3 and 15.6 months of imports cover recorded in the preceding quarter and the corresponding period of 2017, respectively. These were, however, above the West African Monetary Zone (WAMZ) and global benchmarks of six and three months, respectively.
It said portfolio investments inflow to the economy decreased significantly to $1.38 billion in the fourth quarter of 2018 from $1.79 trillion and $3.78 trillion in the preceding quarter and the corresponding period of 2017, respectively. However, other investment liabilities increased to $1.42 trillion when compared with a reversal of $3.07 trillion recorded in the preceding quarter.
Direct Investments inflow decreased by 28.3 percent to $314.44 million when compared with the preceding quarter of 2018. It however, indicated a decline of 67.2 per cent when compared to the corresponding period of 2017.
Provisional fourth quarter 2018 Balance of Payment estimates for the Financial Ac- count showed a overturn from a net incurrence of financial liabilities of $4,615.17 million recorded in third quarter 2018 to a net acquisition of financial assets of $2327.91 million in the review period. This is also significantly lower than the net acquisition of financial assets of $3,528.62 million recorded in the corresponding period of 2017.
Net out-payments for services during the review period increased by 16.5 percent to a deficit of $8,287.57 million when compared with the level recorded in third quarter 2018. When compared with the corresponding period of 2017, it indicated a much higher increase of about 76.9 per cent.
However, the deficit in the income account (net) decreased by 10.8 per cent to $3,713.84 million in the review period from a deficit of $4,161.76 million recorded in the preceding quarter. When compared with the level in the corresponding period of 2017 it indicated an increase of about 24.5 percent.
Fed Govt lost N4.6tr to import waivers
About N4.6 trillion was lost by the Federal Government to the waivers that were granted to importers in 2017 and last year. The loss was incurred through the Finance Ministry due to non-implementation of the Import Duty Exemption Certificate (IDEC) project.
To stop the trend, the ministry approached the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC) for assistance.
The ICRC yesterday issued the Full Business Case Certificate of Compliance for the Import Duty Exemption Certificate (IDEC) waiver to check further revenue loss.
In a statement by her Special Adviser on Media & Communications, Paul Ella Abechi, Finance Minister Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, commended the ICRC Director-General for expediting action on the project.
She urged officials of her ministry staff to “take full advantage of the IDEC portal and put it into full use to enable the Federal Government to get full value for its revenues.”
The Full Business Case Compliance Certificate is for the Development, Deployment, and Management of Automated Customs Gateway Portal for IDEC under a Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement with Forecore Technology Solution Limited, as the preferred partner to Develop, Deploy, Manage and Transfer for a 10-year concession period.
Mrs. Ahmed lamented that the government has “been experiencing significant drain in revenues due to the inability to adequately control the IDEC processes. It is really a good time for me that this project that I was really particular about since I came is coming to operation.”
Crude oil prices drop to $67
Crude oil prices plunged to $67 per barrel Thursday, losing about five percent as trade tensions dampened the demand outlook, putting the crude benchmarks on course for their biggest daily and weekly falls in six months.
Reuters reported that oil coursed downward with other global markets as concerns grew that the trade conflict between China and the United States was fast turning into a technology cold war between the world’s two largest economies.
While the trade war is the main cloud over economic growth and demand predictions, market participants also pointed to weakening United States data and overfull US crude stockpiles.
Brent crude futures,
Consequently, the international benchmark, Brent settled down $3.23, or 4.6 percent, at $67.76 a barrel.
The United States West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude also dropped $3.51, or 5.7 percent, to $57.91 per barrel. Earlier, the contract touched $57.33 a barrel, the lowest since March 13.
That was a second consecutive daily decline for the benchmarks. WTI fell 2.5 percent on Wednesday after government data showed US crude inventories rose last week, hitting their highest levels since July 2017.
Fears of supply disruption amid heightened tensions in the Middle East had earlier overshadowed swelling United States crude inventories and raised crude price above $76.
Crude price was then drawing support from the risk of conflict in the Middle East, with helicopters carrying US staff from the US embassy in Baghdad last week out of apparent concern over perceived threats from Iran.
Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Defence Minister, Prince Khalid bin Salman, a son of King Salman, had also accused Iran of ordering an attack on Saudi oil pumping stations that Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi militia had claimed responsibility for the attack.
Tehran had also reportedly denied providing arms to the Houthis.
The drone attack reportedly happened two days after four vessels, including two Saudi oil tankers, were damaged by sabotage off the coast of the United Arab Emirates.
The other ships were a Norwegian-registered oil products tanker and a UAE-flagged bunker barge.
All these attacks took place against a backdrop of United States-Iranian tension following Washington’s decision this month to try to cut Tehran’s oil exports to zero and beef up its military presence in the Gulf in response to what it called Iranian threats.
Though the tensions have pushed up oil prices, a rise in US crude oil inventories to their highest since 2017 helped to cap prices.
Intel denies owing Ports authority
Intels Nigeria Limited has denied that it is indebted to the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) to the tune of $145.8 million, insisting that NPA owes it over $750 million.
The company, which issued a statement yesterday in response to the termination of its boat pilotage monitoring and supervision agreement by NPA, said it was open to an amicable resolution of the contract dispute with NPA.
It added that it was willing to proceed in all appropriate directions to protect its interests and its 5,000 employees.
The statement added that the company had not breached or violated the agreement with NPA.
“Intels further confirms the correctness of its actions, in line with the agreement signed on August 24, 2018, according to the terms and timing established therein, in compliance with the principle of reciprocity of rights and obligations thereby provided for.
“The same agreement supplements the original agreement and reinforced the understanding of the parties that the agency service was entrusted to Intels, in order to guarantee a repayment plan for the significant investments made.
“Intels reiterates that, overall, it is not in any way indebted to NPA, but it is instead a creditor of NPA for an amount exceeding $750 million against the financing granted by Intels and associated entities to NPA over time.
“Intels hopes that the undergoing amicable procedure with NPA may result in clarifications between the parties and a return to normal operations, but it also reaffirms its willingness to proceed in all appropriate directions to protect its own interests, in line with the contractual agreement, and all valid receivable claims against NPA, for the protection of its corporate interests, its 5,000 Nigerian employees and shareholders and those who have been operating in the Country for over 40 years.”
CBN issues new directives to banks on Treasury bills
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) is to limit Deposit Money Banks (DMBs) access to government securities to redirect their lending focus to the private sector. CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, said yesterday in Abuja that the intention was to stimulate growth in the economy.
The CBN unfolded its new policy direction on banks’ access to investing in treasury bills and bonds just as the apex bank further resolved to hold all parameters of monetary policy constant by retaining the Monetary Policy Rate (MPR), otherwise known as interest rate, at 13.5 percent.
The MPR is the rate at which the CBN lends to commercial banks and often determines the cost of borrowing in the economy.
It also retained the asymmetric corridor of +200/-500 basis points around the MPR; left both the Cash Reserve Ratio (CRR) at 22.5 percent and Liquidity Ratio at 30 percent.
Emefiele, who read the committee’s communiqué at the end of the two-day Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) meeting in Abuja, said in arriving at the decision to hold all rates at current levels, nine members out of 11, voted to hold all parameters of monetary policy constant. Two members voted, however, to reduce the MPR by 25 basis points.
He said: “As in the past, the committee considered the options of whether to be more accommodative, tighten or hold its position. The committee felt that although the slight inflation uptick should result in tightening, it felt that doing this will limit the ability of DMBs to increase credit at this time, given the need to support or redirect the focus of DMBs to new credit in support of consumer, mortgage and other priority sectors of the economy, including, SMEs, agriculture and manufacturing.
“It also felt that given the fragile state of the economy, increasing the cost of credit would further diminish investment flow and impact negatively on output growth.
“As regards loosening, some members felt that it was desirable to aggressively stimulate growth, restart the capital market activities and increase lending at lower rates; which would ultimately stimulate domestic aggregate demand.
“Those against loosening felt that given that there was a marginal increase in headline inflation for April 2019, there is a need to restrain from loosening in order not to exacerbate inflationary pressures.
“They also felt the economy would experience liquidity surfeit and without a corresponding increase in real sector output, inflationary pressures could be elevated; resulting in likely exchange rate pressures.
“As for members who favored a hold position, maintaining the monetary policy rate at its present level was essential for better understanding of the momentum of growth before determining any possible modifications.
“They also felt that retaining the current policy stance provides an avenue for evaluating the impact of the Bank’s intervention policies to support lending to the priority sectors of the economy.”
The CBN urged the government to ensure an increase in tax revenue to enable it to fund its budget adequately.