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2024 Budget: What Average Nigerian Wants?

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By Richard Asoge

In line with one of his statutory obligations, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu on Wednesday, 30th November 2023, laid before the joint session of National Assembly the budget for year 2024, indicating his intention to spend N27.5 trillion, given priorities to defence & security, education and infrastructure. From the receipt side, N18.3 trillion is expected from oil, non-oil, tax and other revenue creating a deficit gap of N9.18 trillion which is to be financed by new borrowing and drawdown on multilateral and bilateral loans.

For a very long time, the gap between recurrent expenditure and capital expenditure was always far apart. Sometimes, allocation to the recurrent expenditure will double that of capital. This accounts for a serious and accumulated deficit of basic infrastructures over the years. So, having more in the side of capital expenditure will bring a relative relief if the budget is faithfully implemented without given excuse for non-performance.

FROM THE AUTHOR: Subsidy Removal: A Measure To Re-Jig The Economy [OPINION]

Reflecting on 2023 budget of 24.8 trillion (including supplementary), only 13.7trillion (55.2%) had been spent so far as at September ending, leaving only 3 months for the implementation to be over. The performance was not all that cheering. Various sources of borrowing had been implored and becoming uncertain to get more loans. This is unconnected to the attention given to taxes in 2024 budget as a prominent source of revenue. Agreed that tax is a good source of revenue anchored on production. Tax itself is derived from production. Given so much attention on tax rather than production first may not give desire result at long run. The desire of every serious economy is to keep inflation rate at single digit, unemployment at barest minimum, embarking on policies that would positively influence macroeconomic variables. Most of the advance economies of the world which we copy have robust production system which makes it easy for them to generate much revenue via taxation. Out there, sizeable number of people were engaged in one activity or the other that adds values to the GDP.

Current inflation rate of 27.3% is more of cost push than demand pull. Cost of operation to the businesses and surviving manufacturing firms had gone up exponentially, which made the outputs extremely expensive for a common man to afford. Cost of transportation of items or persons from one point to the other, cost of energy, cost of credit and others drive the inflation. Plans to moderate inflation rate to 21.4% as planned in 2024 budget is attainable, and even surpass it if structural factors that brought about the challenges are holistically tackled. Given domestic refineries and modular refineries the necessary support for production without further delay to meet local demand substantially will bring succor to the citizens and as well beneficial to the nation’s economy. Even if the price of petroleum motor spirit is not all that reduced significantly as being expected by some, whatever reduction will have, will be beneficial and as well add value to us as a nation. Employment generation along the chain of production and the bye products will be an advantage.

Waiting till the third quarter of the year before evaluating the performance of the budget to see if it is tilting toward desire result seems not the best approach but time to time check to deal with any challenge in early stage.

FROM THE AUTHOR: OPINION: The Alarming Naira Depreciation And Way Forward

Allocation of 8% (N2.18 trillion) to education may not up to the recommendation of UNESCO, but there is significant improvement compared to what obtained in the time past. N50 billion student loan is a good move to assist indigent ones but government should not see it as an opportunity to take its hands off subvention or reduce subvention to various institutions of learning. Otherwise, schools will load various charges under school fees to keep their heads above the sea level thereby defeating the principal purpose behind the establishment of such loan.

If data released by NBS is anything to go by, GDP was observed to move up to 2.54% (year on year) in real terms in the third quarter of 2023 from 2.25% in 2022. The growth was driven by service sector. Contribution from agriculture and industry sectors is less which is why agricultural outputs are becoming scarce in the market. Of course, any item short of supply to the demand, price will dictate who get such item. Making agriculture at the forefront of economic drivers toward achieving the 3.75% economic growth in 2024 will not only put an end to hunger but ensures food security. Security of lives and properties propels economic growth. When people can sleep with both eyes closed, economic growth is assured. So, allocation of N3.25trillion to defence and security, making it the sector that got most in the budget seems justified considering the period we are as a nation. However, all those that are concerned in the defence and security of the country must all strive to ensure total security on the land, on the sea and on the air.

An average man on the street is no longer interested in mathematics of budget or various statistics been churned out. He is after a bag of rice coming down to N30,000 from the current suicidal price of N60,000. An average housewife wants N5,000 in her purse to be enough for a pot of soup for a family of four for at least two days. Everyone is not just interested in the price of basic items to come down but stability in prices. In the past six months or thereabout, nothing harms the economy like price instability. Prices of goods and services were ticking upward every minute as if it were clock causing naira to lose its worth.

Richard Asoge
Clappahouse Analytics
chards001@gmail.com
08081492614

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JUST IN: CBN May Increase Bureau De Change’s Share Capital To N2bn

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The Central Bank of Nigeria is considering plans to increase the share capital of Bureau De Change operators to N2bn and N500m for Tier 1 and Tier 2 licenses.

The currency operators were previously charged N35m for a general license.

This was contained in the draft paper of a “Revised Regulatory And Supervisory Guidelines For Bureau De Change Operations In Nigeria” published by the apex bank on Friday.

The new guidelines contain several new changes to the guidelines for BDC operations in the country and if endorsed will be effective at a date decided by the CBN.

READ ALSO: CJN To Swear In New Supreme Court Justices Monday

Recently, operations of the currency operators have suffered heavy backlash following the free fall of the naira against the dollar.

Government officials have severely blamed the black market operators for this fall though liquidity remains a huge challenge.

This week, operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commision arrested over 250 BDC operators in Abuja and many more in other states of the federation.

Under the minimum capital requirements, the central bank is introducing a two-tier license for BDC operators in the country.

A Tier 1 BDC is authorised to operate on a national basis can open branches and may appoint franchisees, subject to the approval of the CBN.

READ ALSO: Economic Hardship: Delta Protest Canceled As Soldiers Arrest Journalist

A Tier 1 BDC (which is the franchisor) shall exercise supervisory oversight over its franchisees. All franchisees shall adopt their franchisor’s name, branding, technology platform, and rendition requirements.

Also, a Tier 2 BDC is authorised to operate only in one state or the FCT. It may have up to three locations – a head office and two branches, subject to approval of the CBN. It is not permitted to appoint franchisees.”

Under Tier 1 operators are expected to have N2bn as minimum share capital while also depositing a Mandatory Caution Deposit of N200m.

The application and license fee is also N1 million and N5 million respectively.

“Under Tier 2 operators are expected to have N500 million as minimum share capital while depositing a Mandatory Caution Deposit of N50 million. The application and license fee are also N250,000 and N2 million respectively.”

The apex bank also stated that the prescribed minimum capital of BDCs and any subsequent capital injection shall be subject to verification by the CBN.

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MPC Nominees Promise To End Forex, Food Crises

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The Senate on Wednesday grilled nominees for membership of the Central Bank of Nigeria’s Monetary Policy Committee over the forex crisis and unending food crisis.

President Bola Tinubu had, last week, forwarded to the Senate for confirmation, the names of nominees for the committee of the CBN.

In giving the request expeditious consideration ahead of the MPC meeting slated for next Monday, February 26, the Senate, through its Committee on Banking, Insurance, and Other Financial Institutions, grilled six out of the nominees with questions on required urgent solutions to forex volatility and food crisis.

READ ALSO: EFCC Grills Former Kwara Gov AbdulFatah Ahmed For Second Day Over ₦10bn

The first to be grilled was the Director-General of the Securities and Exchange Commission, Lamido Yuguda, who informed the committee that his nomination into MPC would give the SEC the needed voice in monetary policy.

Yuguda lamented that the value of the Naira as it is today, is not real, having lost its intrinsic value but that the MPC, when inaugurated on Monday, would join other stakeholders to stabilise the national currency.

He said, “The value of any currency is measured by the goods and services that it can buy. The Naira, as it is today, does not possess that value sufficiently which is being critically looked into.”

READ ALSO: Nigerians Knock Seyi Tinubu For Preaching Endurance Over Economic Hardship

In his submission, the nominee from Lagos State, Dr. Mustapha Akinkunmi, said the way out now is to target the exchange rate and not inflation as currently being tackled which hasn’t yielded so much result.

He saod, “A more proactive way of addressing the Naira volatility problem at hand is for the CBN to target the exchange rate itself and not inflation.

“The inflation the country is facing now is largely that of food inflation, which is beyond CBN but for the entire country.

“Production and distribution of food commodities across the country would help to reduce the food inflation, while the aggressive target of the exchange rate, would help to stabilise the Naira with the required increase in productivity.”

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In a similar submission, the nominee from Imo State, Mrs Aku Odinkemelu, said productivity is the key to arresting the volatility of the Naira and food inflation.

Other nominees grilled at the session by the committee were Prof. Murtala Sagagi, Kano State; Bamidele Amoo, Kwara State; and Aloysius Ordu, who worked with the World Bank and the African Development Bank for 30 years at different times.

In his closing remarks, the committee’s chairman, Senator Tokunbo Abiru (APC, Lagos East), told the nominees that their screening was done ahead of the MPC meeting slated for next Monday by the CBN.

Abiru said what Nigerians expect to come after the meeting are solutions to the rising inflation rate, worsening Naira volatility in the forex market and the general rejuvenation of the economy.

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MTN, Dangote Cement, Others Drag Equity Market To N1.8tn Loss

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The equity market opened in the reds on Monday as investors lost about N1.82tn.

Substantial depreciations were observed in bellwether stocks, fuelled by strong sell interest in the market. Specifically, securities such as Dangote Cement, MTN Nigeria, NGX Group, NEM Insurance, and Tantalizer dipped by 10 percent, 10 percent, -9.76 percent, -9.74 percent, and -9.52 percent, respectively.

Both the All-Share Index and the market capitalisation of the local bourse depreciated by 3.15 percent to close at 102,393.23 points and N56.03tn due to waning market sentiment. Hence, the year-to-date return of the index dipped to 36.94 percent from 41.39 percent in the previous trading session.

Trading activities remained subdued into the new week with notable decreases in the total traded volume and value by 17.60 percent and 5.59 percent to 273.85 million units and N7.44bn, respectively. However, the total deals for the day bucked the trend, advancing by 17.60 percent to 9,688 trades.

In eight months of Tinubu administration, Nigeria’s stock market leads the world
Despite the market sentiments, buy pressure was observed in Juli Plc, Daar Communications, Sunu Assurances, ABC Transport, and NAHCO, as their share prices rose by 9.52 percent, 8.64 percent, 6.74 percent, 6.67 percent, and 5.86 percent.

READ ALSO: NAFDAC, PCN Raid, Seal 1,321 Patent Medicine Outlets In Kano

On the sectoral front, tracked sub-sector indices closed in red territory. The Industrial Goods sector topped the chart for the most losers with a massive 6.02 percent decline, primarily driven by sell-pressure in Dangote Cement. This was followed by the Insurance sector with a loss of 2.49 percent, attributable majorly, to share price declines in NEM Insurance, Linkage Assurance, and VeritasKap.

Sectors such as Banking, Consumer Goods, and Oil/Gas declined by 0.24 percent, 0.77 percent, and 0.28 percent, respectively.

Guaranty Trust Holding Company Plc was the most traded security by volume with 28.85 million units, while Geregu led in value at N1.74bn.

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