‘Inflation will remain below 20 per cent by year end’
A frontline economist and Chief Executive of B. Adedipe Associates Limited, Dr. ‘Biodun Adedipe, says Nigeria’s inflation rates will remain below 20 per cent by the end of the year despite the pressure on prices and other headwinds.
He gave the projection at the mid-year review of the economic outlook, a joint think-tank event of the consulting firm and the Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria (CIBN).
Concern over fast-rising prices has taken a new turn in the past few months with the consumer price index (CPI) hitting 18.6 per cent in June. Domestic inflation, which predates the recent global crisis, now mimics the general trend.
Adedipe admits that there are enormous local and international challenges most of which are positively correlated, but he is confident that the country will end the year with less than a 20 per cent inflation rate.
He also expects the price pressure to compel the monetary authority to sustain its aggressive liquidity tightening and devalue the naira. Its projection came shortly before last week’s renewed crisis that saw the local currency breaking the N700/$ mark resistance.
“Positive impact of infrastructure improvement will be obviated by the cost of doing business. Intensified digitalisation and ascendancy of the digital economy, making Nigerian tech-savvy youth more attractive offshore,” Adedipe notes.
According to his presentation, money market rates will remain low, keeping domestic investors in the stock market just as foreign investors “are likely to be still tentative until COVID-19 and Ukrainian war concerns subside”.
He believes the local investment is gloomy but sees a silver lining in the country’s fintech startups, saying they will continue to attract attention from investors across the globe. He says there is huge potential for the country in the fintech ecosystem.
President/ Chairman of the Council of CIBN, Dr. Ken Opara, said the review was important considering the changes the economy has undergone since the institute’s yearly review six months ago.
He acknowledged the impacts of insecurity, political uncertainty and cultural disparities on the economic outlook, lamenting that Nigeria ranks 131st among 190 economies in the ease of doing business rating.
“Lately, we contend with scarcity and skyrocketing prices of fuel and an incessant collapse on the national electricity grid, resulting in frequent blackouts. These challenges have affected businesses and livelihoods across the nation, leading to the demise of several business outfits specifically, micro small and medium-scale enterprises (MSME) and the relocation of larger companies to other countries,” he noted.
Amid economic challenges, Opara said the financial sector has continued to weather the storm, posting impressive earnings, stressing that “13 commercial banks increased their earnings by 25 per cent in the first quarter of 2022 recording a total of N1.54 trillion”.
In his keynote, Director, Research Department of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Dr. Michael Adebiyi, noted a moderate improvement in the country’s external sector position despite the limited fiscal space.
“On the external front, emerging developments have improved the performance of Nigeria’s trade balance, due mainly to rising international crude oil prices. The sector improved with a lower overall balance of payments deficit of $0.88 billion (0.8 per cent of GDP) in the first quarter of 2022 relative to $1.28 billion (1.1 per cent of GDP) in the preceding quarter. Also, an aggregate capital inflow of $3.33 billion was recorded in the first quarter of 2022, as against a capital reversal of $2.85 billion in the preceding quarter,” he said.
He observed that the gross external reserve declined to $39.22 billion in end-June 2022 compared with $40.23 billion recorded at the end of last year. He attributed the shortfall to interventions by the CBN in the foreign exchange market.