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File: Buhari during the 2016 budget presentation to the National Assembly.

Is N6trn “ghost budget” still defensible?

It is regrettable, that the absence of a more salutary impact from partial implementation of earlier budgets, has seriously eroded public expectation to make Nigerians, nonchalant about this annual constitutional requirement. Unfortunately, the unfolding drama surrounding the 2016 version of this critical annual event, may not also inspire public confidence that this year’s plan will positively touch our lives.

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Indeed, Naira devaluation is probably the most potent weapon against the prosperity of Nigerians. Nigeria’s migration from a potential industrial power house with bustling social affluence, to a subdued and stumbling economy clearly began with the adoption of IMF’s Structural Adjustment Programme during Babangida’s regime: the chorus from International Agencies, at that time, was also that falling oil prices with an unserviced debt burden and the consequent restriction of trade credit to Nigeria, were the products of an allegedly overvalued Naira exchange rate.

$20bn idle deposits: Burden or opportunity?

As I’m talking to you, $20bn is in various domiciliary accounts of individuals. Naira is our currency, why are they keeping the foreign currency? From my experience in international finance, I have never seen a country where its nationals speculate on its currency”. The preceeding is an excerpt from the presentation of Dr. Joseph Nnana, CBN Deputy Governor (Financial Systems Surveillance) at a recent meeting with the Joint Appropriation Committee of the National Assembly.

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Long queue of jerry cans at a petrol station as fuel scarcity bites harder, yesterday.

Will agonising fuel queues ever end?

It is, inexplicable, that despite Nigeria’s ranking as a major oil producer, our economy is still literally in shambles with a tattered currency and a crushing unemployment rate above 25%; we still unfortunately presently expend almost 50% of our total export revenue on fuel imported from some of those refineries which buy our crude oil. Regrettably, despite the regular recurrence of fuel scarcity, with its severe public discomfort, and ravaging economic dislocation, there is still no assurance that this tortuous cycle will ever end. However, if the inefficient, and wasteful sporadic operation of existing government refineries is anything to go by, any serious proposal for government to build and operate more refineries may just be a death wish.

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Counterfeit naira

Latent wealth with debt seeking mindset

The 2016 Appropriation Bill, has probably generated wider public interest and debate than any other annual budget in recent memory. The projected spending of over N6Tn is by far the highest ever, but will also require an exceptionally heavy loan of almost N2Tn to fund this budget, in which capital expenditure is allocated an unusually high, though still modest provision, of 30% of government’s total spending this year.

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Naira-Dollar

Dollar racketeering and enemies from within

‘’There is nowhere in the world where Monetary Authorities fund Bureaus De Change (BDCs) directly with foreign exchange. The predominant patrons of Nigeria’s BDCs are predominantly, smugglers of unauthorised items, treasury looters, and others who cannot process formal documentation to access official foreign exchange. Curiously, the CBN’s formal policy to sell $400,000 weekly to each BDC translates to $1.6bn, for 1000 BDCs monthly.

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President Muhammadu Buhari

To borrow or not to borrow

President Muhammed Buhari’s is proposing to spend over N6trillion in the 2016 Appropriation bill, even though government ‘reasonably’ expects to earn about N3.8trillion as revenue. Indeed, according to the budget proposals, N984bn will be borrowed in Naira from personal and corporate holders of surplus cash to fund the shortfall, while $4.5b (N900bn) will also be borrowed from the international market at the current exchange rate of about N200= $1 and prevailing commercial interest rates will apply.

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naira sign

Sensible path to stronger Naira, economic prosperity

Hereafter, we will discuss the related ADVERSE consequences of the Current Payments Model (CPM) against the positive attributes of the Advocated Payments Model (APM) for the allocation, for example, of $1bn export revenue in the following explanatory steps. Thus, in CPM: -1 The CBN unilaterally determines the naira exchange rate and thereafter unconstitutionally captures the distributable $1bn revenue and prints/creates in replacement (read as monetizes) N200bn as statutory allocations, which are then domiciled in the bank accounts of beneficiaries.

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CBN Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele

Can CBN save the Naira and Nigerians?

Historically, the CBN has compulsively devalued the Naira to bridge increasingly widening gaps between official and parallel exchange rates, even when these gaps were caused by the obtusely contrived monopolistic market dynamics of demand and supply. It would undoubtedly create much discomfort for CBN Management if unrestrained dollar demand further pushes parallel market rates well above N300=$1; in such event, CBN may again unwittingly, jerk up the official rate above N300 and remove the embedded ‘subsidy’ from the official Naira exchange rate so as to raise the dollar price and discourage demand and hopefully also minimise the inherent rent seeking market opportunities.

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fuel-pump

Wobbling, fumbling with fuel prices

The PPPRA Executive Secretary, Farouk Ahmed reportedly announced, at a press briefing on December 29th 2015 in Abuja, that a revised template for fuel pricing had been approved by the Agency; the announcement was evidently the formal manifestation of the ‘modulated pricing’ model earlier canvassed by Ibe Kachikwu, the NNPC CEO and current Minister of State for Petroleum. Thus, with the application of the new template, petrol price will be reduced from N87 to N86 in NNPC filling stations, while other marketers would sell at a pump price of N86.50/litre.

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President Muhammadu Buhari receiving IMF Managing Director, Christine Lagarde in Abuja.

Is lagarde a fairy godmother or economic imperialist?

Christine Lagarde, the Managing Director of IMF, held strategic meetings last week with President Muhammad Buhari and some key members of Parliament and the federal executive. Godwin Emefiele the CBN Governor, also joined in the consultations with the IMF boss, who quickly dispelled the trending perception that her visit was programmed to initiate discussions on an imminent IMF Loan.

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Buhari presents N6.08trn 2016 budget to NASS

An unusual austerity budget for 2016

Ironically, despite his well attested frugal administrative style, President Buhari has unexpectedly, pumped up recurrent budget from N3.97Tn in 2015 to N4.28Tn in 2016. The downside of this expansion is that the additional borrowing will certainly increase government activity in the capital market, so that government will invariably continue to outbid and crowd out the real sector from access to cheap loans.

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buhari-Naira

Can Buhari make Naira equal to Dollar?

Buhari made this statement during the South East Presidential campaign rally of his party at the Dan Anyiam stadium in Owerri on Monday, 23rd March 2015. The APC candidate apparently lamented that “it is sad that the value of the Naira has dropped to more than N230 to $1” and he therefore cautioned that “this does not speak well for the Nation’s economy”. Furthermore, Buhari also assured his vibrant, traditionally mercantilist audience, that ‘corruption would be tackled headlong” if he became President and therefore urged the large crowd of supporters from Abia, Ebonyi, Anambra, Enugu and Imo states, who attended the rally to vote for APC.

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Naira-Dollar

Naira exchange rate, CBN “don” miss road

The Central Bank of Nigeria is obviously, currently losing the battle to arrest inflation and the unyielding slide in the Naira’s exchange rate. Regrettably, with inflation persistently closer to 10%, all static incomes have lost over 40% of purchasing values since 2010; thus, the laborer’s N18,000 minimum wage may just be worth less than N10,800 today. Instructively, however, spiraling inflation is, usually, primarily triggered by uncontrolled and liberal money supply. Consequently, monetary authorities in successful economies everywhere, endeavor to keep inflation below 2% by managing money supply!

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CBN Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele

Is the economy poisoned by CBN $ hoarding?

The crash in crude oil prices from over $145 in 2008 to below $40/barrel presently, has invariably reduced Nigeria’s export earnings by over 50%; consequently, the significant deflation in dollar income is commonly blamed for the persistent intense market pressure on the Naira exchange rate. Interestingly, this perception is, ironically, against, the actual reality that the Naira exchange rate remained static between N152-N160/$1, even when the foreign reserves in CBN’s custody exceeded $60bn.

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