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World Economy To Improve By 2011 – Survey

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Employers will hire more workers this year, and the economy will grow faster than envisioned three months ago, according to an Associated Press survey that found growing optimism among leading economists.

But unemployment will stay chronically high, nearly 9 percent by year’s end, the latest quarterly AP Economy Survey shows.

A majority of economists say it will be 2016 or later before unemployment drops to a historically normal rate of around 5 percent.

Economists have become more confident 19 months after the worst recession since the Great Depression ended. Lower Social Security taxes and higher stock prices will embolden Americans to spend more and help power the economy, they say.

“People will finally recognize that an economic recovery is under way,” said Lynn Reaser, a board member of the National Association for Business Economics. “This won’t be a recovery seen only by economists.”

The gains this year will be enough to withstand the threats still clouding the economy, the AP survey found. A majority of the economists doubt, for example, that falling home prices and higher mortgage rates will pose a major risk to the economy in 2011.

The AP survey collected the views of 42 private, corporate and academic economists on a range of indicators. Among their forecasts:

 The economy will grow 3.2 percent this year, compared with the 2.7 percent they forecast in October. That would top last year’s estimated growth of less than 3 percent.

 Employers will create a net total of 2.2 million jobs. Three months ago, the economists predicted 1.6 million jobs would be added in 2011. Last year, employers added roughly 1.1 million.

 Consumers will spend 3.2 percent more this year than last year. That’s stronger than the 2.5 percent growth the economists had forecast in October. And it’s nearly double the spending growth that’s estimated for 2010.

 Inflation will be 1.8 percent this year, barely more than the 1.7 percent the economists forecast in the previous survey and up only slightly from 1.5 percent last year. The 1.8 percent forecast falls within the range of inflation the Federal Reserve thinks a healthy economy needs.

Among the reasons for the economists’ growing optimism: an extension of income-tax cuts, a cut in Social Security taxes for workers, easier access to loans, higher stock prices and a government that seems more sympathetic to the priorities of businesses.

The brighter outlook is also evident among people responsible for hiring.

Jerry Huddleston, human resources manager of the Ozark Natural Foods grocery store in Fayetteville, Ark., said he plans to hire for busy weekend shifts because sales are improving.

The store is generally slow to add jobs. But Huddleston said business is picking up. Customers seem more willing to pay more for organic milk, vitamin supplements and pre-made vegetarian meals.

“I think people are starting to be more confident that the job they have is the job they will have tomorrow,” he said.

As the economy gradually strengthens, the economists expect interest rates will tick up, as they already have begun to do. They think the yield on the 10-year Treasury note, now at 3.4 percent, will reach 3.6 percent by midyear and 3.9 percent by year’s end. Those higher rates would force up mortgage rates, which tend to track the 10-year Treasury yield.

Yet when asked about a range of threats, from falling home prices and rising energy prices to state budget woes and Europe’s debt crisis, the economists called each a minor risk rather than a major risk to the economy.

In the spring and summer, many analysts had feared the economy might slide back into a “double-dip” recession.

“Consumers and businesses are in a better mood,” said Nariman Behravesh, chief economist at IHS Global Insight. “They are spending a little more freely. Not a lot more freely, but a little more freely.”

That helps explain why Behravesh has lifted his forecast for economic growth in 2011 to 3.2 percent, from 2.2 percent in October.

Still, the Fed said Wednesday that the economy isn’t growing fast enough to lower unemployment and still needs help from the Fed’s $600 billion Treasury bond-purchase program. The bond purchases are intended to lower rates on loans and boost stock prices, spurring more spending and invigorating the economy.

President Barack Obama still faces risks from voters skeptical of his economic stewardship, according to a new Associated Press-GfK poll. More than half disapprove of how he’s handled the economy. Just 35 percent say it’s improved on his watch; 40 percent had said so a year ago.

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NLNG Generates $114bn, Pays $9bn Tax, As Train 7 Kicks Off

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Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) has generated more than $114billion over the years and tax payment of $9billion as the construction of the most expected Train 7 kicks off in earnest. 
Flagging off the construction of the projects last week virtually, President Muhammadu Buhari expressed excitement over the progress made by the country’s NLNG. 
“I am proud that NLNG, as the pioneer LNG Company in Nigeria, has conscientiously proven the viability of the gas sector over the years, currently contributing about one percent to our country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). 
“NLNG has generated $114 billion in revenues over the years, paid $9 billion in taxes; $18 billion in dividends to the Federal Government and $15 billion in feed gas purchase. 
“These are commendable accomplishments by the company’s 100 percent Nigerian Management Team”, he said. 
President Buhari flagged off the construction of the Train 7 project of the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas Limited (NLNG) in Bonny Island, Rivers State during the groundbreaking ceremony at the Company’s plant site, effectively kick-starting the project which is expected to increase NLNG’s current six-train plant capacity by about 35% from an extant 22 Million Tonnes Per Annum (MTPA) to 30 MTPA. 
President Buhari, in his address, said the groundbreaking event was an important milestone in the history of Nigeria’s oil and gas industry, adding that “the story of Nigeria LNG is one that I have been so passionately associated with during the formative years of the NLNG project. It has transformed from a project over the years to a very successful company. 
“This groundbreaking ceremony to herald the Train 7 project construction has afforded me the opportunity to congratulate NLNG and its Company’s shareholders – NNPC, Shell, Total, and Eni – for proving that a Nigerian company can operate a world-class business safely, profitably, and responsibly. Clearly, you have set the stage upon which Nigeria’s vast gas resources will continue to grow well into the future. 
“With this level of performance, I can only hope that the company continues to grow, starting with this Train 7 project, but also positioning Nigeria to thrive through the energy transition. 
“I hereby urge the Board of Directors, Management and Staff of Nigeria LNG, the Host Communities, the Rivers State Government and Agencies of the Federal Government to continue to collaborate to ensure completion and eventual commissioning of the Train 7 project safely and on time, so that Train 8 can then start. 
Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, represented by his Deputy, Dr. Banigo, applauded the shareholders, NLNG’s Board of Directors, and the company’s management for keeping the Train 7 dream alive, saying that the State Government considered the project as a key economic enabler and remains committed to supporting both the project and the Company. 
The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva, stated that Train 7 would contribute to maintaining the country’s status as a gas exporting nation. 
“Nigeria has more gas reserves than crude oil, and we have much to gain from sustaining our LNG exports to a market that has a growing demand for the commodity as the preferred fuel for industrialisation and power generation,” he said. 
The Group Managing Director of NNPC, Mele Kyari, in his welcome remarks, commended the Federal Government for supporting the project and called for stakeholders’ support for the project, adding that support for NLNG will lead to immense benefits to Nigerians. 
Nigeria LNG’s Managing Director, Tony Attah, in his welcome remarks, said the benefits of gas to the country will increase on the back of the Train 7 project, noting that Train 7 will stimulate the inflow of more than $10billion Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) into Nigeria as part of the project scope; create more than 12,000 direct jobs and additional 40,000 indirect construction

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BoI Disburses N969.6bn In Five Years

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The Bank of Industry (BoI) has disbursed loans worth  N969.7 billion to borrowers in five years to support various businesses.
 BoI Deputy Head, Business Development, Mrs Aderonke Akinluyi,  disclosed this at a webinar by the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) in Lagos, yesterday.
 Akinluyi said the funds were disbursed between 2015 and 2020 to over three million Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) and 653 large enterprises.
Speaking on the theme: “Funding Opportunities for Businesses in the Bank of Industry,” Akinluyi said the bank during the period created 6.98 million direct and indirect jobs.
She also disclosed that the bank was currently collaborating with over 330 Business Development Service Providers (BDSPs) to offer advisory and business support services aimed at improving intending MSMEs.
“Our business model reflects our goal to drive development through financial and advisory support to all customer levels, with dedicated teams for MSMEs, youth and women led enterprises.
“Our collaboration with the BDSPs ensures that the MSMEs are almost handheld in structuring, and preparing their business models and plans.
“The collaboration also provides other entrepreneurial training as required and are split across the regional, state and national categories,” she said.
Divisional Head, SME, South, BoI, Mr Obaro Osah,debunked some perceptions associated with accessing funding from the bank.
Some of the perceptions, he said were, the need to know and pay someone at the BoI, the one year wait of processing to access funds and the myth that the bank only supported manufacturing industries.
“The loan application approval processing timeline for loans below N10 million is four weeks, loans between N10 and N100 million is six to eight weeks.
“Loans above N100 million to N500 million is eight to10 weeks,” he said.
Group Head, Engineering and Technology, BoI, Mr Femi Shittu, listed the bank’s selected loan products to include: agro mechanisation, food and agro commodity processing and commercialisation of the solar energy.
“The selected managed intervention fund include the Nigerian Artisanal and Small Scale Miners Finance Support Fund of N2.5 billion with a five per cent per annum interest rate.
“The Nigerian Content Intervention Fund of 350 million dollars to support indigenous oil and gas players is also available,” Shittu said.
In her remarks, President, LCCI, Mrs Toki Mabogunje, said limited access to funding was one of the biggest constraints facing businesses, especially MSMEs.
Mabogunje noted that a report by PriceWaterhouse Coopers, revealed that Nigerian SMEs had a funding gap of about N617 billion as of 2019.
According to her, evidence shows that majority of Nigerian MSMEs have not significantly benefited from available financing opportunities in the country.

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$430m Enugu-Cameroon Highway To Be Completed This Year – AfDB

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The African Development Bank (AfDB) says the 430 million dollars highway project linking Enugu to Bamenda in Cameroon will be completed this year.
The bank, in a statement issued on Monday, said that it was part of its investments in West Africa which currently stood at 16 billion dollars.
The statement quoted the President of AfDB, Dr Akinwunmi Adesina, as disclosing this in a speech at the 59th Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government in Ghana.
According to Adesina, the 430 million dollars highway project will transform trade opportunities between the two countries.
He also disclosed that the bank was working assiduously with the ECOWAS Commission to finalise feasibility studies for the Abidjan-Lagos corridor by the end of 2021.
“We expect construction for the corridor to commence within 24 months,’’ Adesina said.
The bank’s president said that the highway would link 85 per cent of the trade volume in ECOWAS through the corridor.
Adesina, who pointed out that AfDB was investing massively in West Africa, said that the total active portfolio of the bank in West Africa currently stood at 16 billion dollars.
According to him, the bank’s support for infrastructure in the ECOWAS region has doubled over the past five years, increasing from two billion dollars in 2015 to four billion dollars.
“While I can list several projects in every country, let me just mention a few critical regional infrastructure.
“The Senegambia Bridge is rapidly facilitating trade between Senegal and The Gambia.
“Our financing helped to double the capacity of the Lome container port in Togo, which is critical for regional transport and logistics.
“The Bamako to San Pedro corridor has helped to expand trade between Côte d’Ivoire and Mali by 34 per cent, while reducing transit time at the border from 24 hours to just two hours.
“The 303km road linking Ouagadougou and Lome has reduced travel time from six days to just two days.
“Our 650 million dollars financing for the transport corridors linking Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia will impact on economic opportunities for 51 million people.
“I am pleased that this year, the bank will provide 105 million dollars financing for the road linking Guinea-Bissau and Senegal,’’ he said.
Adesina further said that the 20 billion dollar Desert-to-Power programme on energy would develop 10,000 MW of solar power to light up the Sahel and provide access to electricity for 250 million people.
“This project will make the Sahel the largest solar zone in the world.
“Right here in Ghana, the bank’s financing of 120 million dollar for the new terminal at Kokota International Airport is having huge impacts on regional transport and freight movements.
“With the new terminal, freight handling has expanded by 30 per cent,’’ Adesina said.
He added that the bank provided 4.5 million dollars for the establishment of the African Continental Free Trade Area secretariat in Accra, to further support regional trade in the continent.
While recalling the effects of Covid-19 on the continent, the AfDB boss said the bank launched a 10 billion dollars facility to support African countries navigate through the challenging times posed by the pandemic.

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