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Is CBN’s MPC stronger than Buhari?

CBN Headquarters

By Henry Boyo

THE APC Presidential Candidate, Muhammed Buhari, clearly raised public expectation when he promised, at a campaign rally on Monday, March 23, 2015, at Dan Anyiam Stadium, Owerri, that he would “ensure that Naira was equal to dollar value,” if he became President. The News Agency of Nigeria and several Newspapers published this report.

The Central Bank of Nigeria head office in Abuja.

Nevertheless, PMB’s expressed resolve to reengineer a stronger Naira rate, quickly dissolved, inexplicably, after he became President, when his advisers and experts, according to him, talked above his head, and convinced him on their perceived inevitably of a much weaker Naira rate. Ultimately, Naira rate has plummeted from N197=$1 to official present rate of N305=$1, with a parallel market rate of N360=$1.

Regrettably, corruption also remains untamed, while the economy is savagely ravaged by inflation and heavy unemployment, with rapidly increasing government debt and high cost of borrowing, and an oppressive fuel subsidy tradition. Ultimately, the per-capita income of Nigerians has been adjudged as one of the world’s poorest. Invariably, PMB has become an unwilling scapegoat for our present economic predicament, while the real agent of our degenerate economy, has cleverly deflected the butt of public criticism.

This writer has consistently maintained that the economy cannot depend on relatively paltry, annual Federal Government budgets below $30bn, when infact, experts have suggested that the very critical power sector alone, presently requires over $100bn investment to create stable power supply.

Conversely, the amount available from banks (local and foreign) for investment lending is probably limitless for sound business propositions. Notably, however, these loanable funds will remain locked up, if monetary policy triggers managed by CBN, continue to remain widely off gear, with double-digit inflation, while lending rates horrifyingly exceed 20%, with CBN itself, paying as high as 17% for funds that will not be applied to any socially useful purpose.

Thus, if PMB, fails to recognize monetary indices as the main drivers of our economic challenges, his experts will invariably, continue to talk above his head, and the plight of Nigerians will become increasingly precarious. However, last week, (July 27, 2018) CBN’s Monetary Policy Committee, again maintained key Monetary Rates that are injurious to the economy.

Although inflation lately has climbed down from over 16%, however, by July 2018, IMF also predicted that the present rate of 11.6% will probably be breached by prevailing headwinds before December 2018. Invariably, the political drivers of inflation and high lending cost will clearly include the nominally, largest ever fiscal plan of N9.12tn for 2018, extra budgetary liquidity injections of over N348bn for fuel subsidy, and the projected N242bn required to conduct 2019 elections; additionally, supplementary appropriations, will be required according to PMB to compensate for deductions made from the 2018 budget by the National Assembly. Furthermore, the adoption of N65,000 Minimum Wage would also compound the systemic Naira surplus.

Clearly, higher inflation and interest rates would invariably be the product of increasing Naira liquidity surfeit, and will expectedly fuel inflation, and also precipitate reduced consumer demand, higher cost of funds and lower investment, with the collateral of higher unemployment rates.

The above title “Is CBN’s MPC Stronger Than Buhari?” was first published in November 2015, excerpts from that article follows hereafter. Please read on.

“In the event of the serial failures of fiscal management, Buhari must, appropriately, rely primarily on the efficacy of monetary strategies to resuscitate the economy. Curiously, however, the responsibility for designing and implementing sensible and appropriate monetary policies, constitutionally resides with Central Bank of Nigeria and its Monetary Policy Committee, rather than Mr. President.

Instructively, ‘if CBN and the MPC manage money supply successfully, inflation rate will fall to best practice levels below 2%; notably, with such outcome, purchasing power of all income values will increase and sustain healthy consumer demand, which will in turn stimulate further investment and also increase job opportunities. Conversely, consistently faulty management of money supply will trigger unrestrained inflation which will distort governments’ budget projections, and impoverish our people, particularly pensioners, and also make the implementation of annual budgets a major challenge.”

“Additionally, best practice management of money supply will similarly facilitate single-digit interest rates that would be less oppressive and less restraining to investments in all sectors of the economy; indeed, critical sectors, such as agriculture, food processing and education could attract 0-2% interest rates, as applicable, for example, in Japan, to encourage active private sector participation.”

“Incidentally, the CBN’s MPC decided at its 104th meeting in Abuja in November 2015 to reduce its Benchmark interest rate (which sets the pace for domestic bank lending rates) from 13 to 11%. Regrettably, if the erstwhile 13% policy rate already induces commercial lending rates between 23-27%, then the new 11% benchmark may only marginally bring down market rates to about 20%, instead of the more appropriate and supportive single-digit rates, required to truly encourage new investments, economic diversification and job creation.”

“Furthermore, in a bizarre attempt to inject additional liquidity into the banking system, CBN’s MPC lately also decided to reduce the cash reserve commercial banks must hold from 25% to 20%. Evidently, even though this decision may appear progressive, it is clearly misguided and counterproductive, in a money market which is perennially burdened by excess Naira supply, which has to be constantly mopped up by CBN by borrowing and farcically keeping idle the proceeds of such loans, despite the payment of high interest rates which are discordant with such sovereign risk free borrowings.”

“Additionally, appropriate management of Naira supply, vis-a-vis other foreign currencies, would also inevitably guarantee a stronger Naira market value, to make the local currency more attractive as a store of value, rather than suffer rejection like a street urchin. Instructively, unrestrained Naira liquidity has continued to pummel Naira exchange rate, paradoxically, even when CBN’s forex reserves steadily climbed as high as $60bn.”

“Thus, Buhari must feel helpless, like earlier Presidents before him, that the enshrined autonomy of the CBN and its MPC for ensuring price stability, clearly restricts him from breaching CBN’s territory on monetary policy management.”

“Indeed, in recognition of the enormous powers and pervasive influence of a Central Bank, in every economy, one of the illustrious Pioneers of the template for modern banking, a certain Mayer Rothschild, insightfully observed as follows in 1790:

“Give me control of a nation’s money supply, and I care not who makes its laws.”

“Thus, inspite of Buhari’s undeniable passion for positive economic and social change, not even his best efforts and commitments nor the additional capacity of any cabinet will unseal the failure of this administration, if the CBN and MPC continue to fumble with the management of money supply.”

 

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