HIGH INFLATION: 5.6 Million Nigerians to Fall into Poverty – World Bank

 

Alt: = "photo showing poor market women in Nigeria"

World Bank  report says high inflation may drive 5.6 million Nigerians into poverty. The report identified the inflation indices as being peculiar to Nigeria, and are not obtainable in other countries. 

“Admittedly, higher inflation reduces purchasing power, translating into higher levels of poverty and, ultimately, insecurity. The IMF estimates that between 2020 and 2021, high inflation may drive 5.6 million Nigerians into poverty.”

In a recent Annual World Bank Group/IMF Meetings hosted by the Standard Bank Research Group, the World Bank Group’s Lead Economist for Nigeria and IMF’s mission team made the remark explaining that “Nigeria has one of the highest levels of inflation — but the drivers here differ from across the globe,” the report published by Standard Chartered Group said.

Nigeria is currently the poverty capital of the world with about 82 million people out of which 40 live below poverty line according to Global Poverty Index 

The report blamed the border closure and food inflation as the main drivers of the rising inflationary trend recorded this year.

“Closed borders on Aug 19 caused inflation to shoot up, mainly driven by food inflation and, while inflation has been trending lower since Mar 21, it remains high due to FX liquidity difficulties, supply chain disruptions, and insecurity.”

The IMF has acknowledged as a positive move the unification of the official exchange rate with the rate at the investors and exporters window. Nevertheless, the Fund believes that making the NAFEX rate more flexible would boost Nigeria’s competitiveness and serve as an incentive to FPIs as well as reduce the premium between the parallel market and official market, thereby softening inflation.

FX supply too needs to improve. In the 2020 article IV staff report, the IMF established that the country’s FX liquidity challenge is unlikely to be resolved by administrative measures aimed at managing demand. Importantly, the FX regime would need to be both consistent and clear.

The IMF projects the 2021 fiscal deficit at 6% of GDP, inclusive of the supplementary budget. Concerning is the implicit return of PMS subsidies since Jan 21, projected to add a deficit of 1% of GDP in 2021. The subsidy, which serves as a fiscal drain, is projected to reach NGN 2.6tr, higher than the budgeted expenditure for either education or health.

The PMS subsidy is seen as one of the incentives for petrol smuggling to neighbouring countries as smugglers take advantage of arbitrage.

The government aims to cease the subsidy as of H2:22. Following the oil price rally, the landing cost for PMS has considerably risen to NGN 279 per litre as at September, from NGN 216.31 per litre in Apr ’21, albeit the PMS price remains steady at NGN 162-165.

As at September ’21, over NGN 800bn (USD 1.95bn) had been spent on petrol subsidy, that was not included in the 2021 budget. Consequently, oil revenue reached only 56.3% of the prorated budget as at August, putting upside risk on the 2021 fiscal deficit.

On public debt, IMP predicts that Nigeria’s Public debt to GDP (including CBN’s overdraft) may reach 40% of GDP,  in the short- to medium term, from an estimated 35% in 2020; this is still below the average in SSA.

Additionally, Nigeria’s debt is mostly domestic and long-term. However, the debt service to revenue ratio is projected at a staggering 70% of federal government revenue and 33% of consolidated revenue.

On the positive side, World Bank/IMF team also projected Nigeria’s annual growth at 2.6% for 2021 and 2.7% for 2022 citing that “Oil production should improve, with the oil sector expected to recover in the medium term.

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