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Nigeria’s Foreign Reserves Drop By $1.64bn

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Nigeria’s foreign exchange reserves continued its downward trend as it dropped by $1.64bn from $38.34 billion on January 15, 2020 to $36.69 billion on February 20, latest figures from the Central Bank of Nigeria(CBN) has revealed.
The apex bank disclosed that the reserves stood at $38.53 billion on January 2, 2020.
According to the figures, the reserves dropped from $39.8 billion on November 11, 2019 to $39.24 billion on December 13, after falling by $1.26 billion from $41.76 billion on October 2 to $40.5bn as of the end of October.
The reserves dropped by $482.18m from N45.14 billion as of July 8 to $44.65 billion on August 8.
The CBN Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele, said recently that Nigeria’s overdependence on crude oil for over 60 per cent of fiscal revenue and over 90 per cent of forex inflows meant that shocks in the oil market were transmitted entirely to the economy via the forex markets as manufacturers and traders who required forex for input purchases were faced with dwindling supplies.
He said, “Average monthly inflows of forex into the CBN fell from over $3.4 billion in June 2014 to a low of $1.4 billion in September 2016. The decline in forex earnings was further complicated by the foreign capital flow reversals due to rising yields in the USA. The impact on our economy was evident in the rising pressure on the naira-dollar exchange rate.
“With the drop in forex inflows, the exchange rate at the parallel market rose from about N200/$ in August 2015 to N525/$ in February 2017. Inflation also rose from 9.6 per cent in January 2016 to over 18.7 per cent in January 2017.
“Our external reserves fell from about $31billion in April 2015 to $23 billion in October 2016, and activities in the industrial sector witnessed a lull as manufacturers struggled to get access to key inputs needed in the production process.”
He said the CBN introduced a demand management approach in order to conserve the country’s reserves and support domestic production of certain goods in Nigeria.
Emefiele said the impact of a tighter monetary policy regime, attractive yields in the money market, and the bank’s efforts at supporting domestic production in the agriculture and manufacturing sectors, along with improvements in oil production, had supported continued forex inflows into the Nigerian market.
He stated, “In the import and export window, over $60 billion worth of transactions have taken place since the inception of the window in April 2017, and our foreign exchange reserves are above $40 billion as at October 2019, relative to its low point of $23 billion in October 2016.
“We have been able to build our reserves in the midst of lower oil prices, as strong reserves aid the confidence of domestic and external investors. Today, our current stock of external reserves is able to finance 12 months of current import commitments.”

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COVID-19: CBN Grants Two-Week Market Holidays To BDCs

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The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has granted a two- week market holidays to the Bureaux De Change operators.
This followed a request by the Association of Bureaux De Change Operators of Nigeria to the CBN for the regulator to grant it market holidays, given the ongoing challenges faced in local and global economies due to the impact of the Coronavirus (COVID -19) pandemic.
In a notice  to BDC operators and directors,  ABCON President, Alhaji Aminu Gwadabe, said the CBN’s approval meant that sales of foreign exchange to BDCs is now suspended till further notice.
Gwadabe also advised the  public not to go into panic buying, hoarding  and partronasing  the street traders as  the CBN has enough reserves to sustain supplies when the BDCs return to operations.
The CBN had also acknowledged the contributions of BDCs in promoting stable exchange rate in recent months despite challenging circumstances facing the Forex market due to drop in crude oil prices.
Gwadabe advised members to observe strict guidelines on the preventive measures on the dangers of the COVID 19, wear their mask, gloves, and frequent washing of hands.
“We also want to advise members to  strictly  comply with their regulatory obligations on their daily operation. If you are trading, be cautious not to fall under the hand of security agencies. Don’t be involved in giving black market rates,street trading  as doing so might create regulatory breach,” he said.
Gwadabe said that  CBN/NFIU were tracking large movements of funds within the financial sector and noted the need to be cautious.
“Once again, accept our continuous assurances on serving you better as we continue to ponder on lasting solutions to the growing challenges facing our operations amongst them, crowd management, expansion of scope of our buisiness, lesser penalties, automation, among others,” he stated.

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…Suspends Cheque Clearing Amidst Lockdown

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The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has suspended clearing of cheques until further notice following the lockdown in Lagos, Ogun  and FCT to contain the spread of COVID-19 pandemic.
The suspension was announced in a circular to Deposit Money Banks and the Nigeria Interbank Settlement System (NIBSS) by the Director of Banking Services at CBN, Mr Sam Okojere.
President Muhammadu Buhari had, on Sunday ordered a lockdown in Lagos, Ogun and the FCT with effect from 11 p.m. on Monday, March 30 FCT), as a response to contain the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The bank explained that in view of these developments and in furtherance to the Bank’s effort to ensure hitch-free clearing and settlement activities, the CBN had therefore suspended it until further notice.
The apex bank further stated that the clearing of cheques instruments in the Nigerian clearing started from March and for the avoidance of doubt, no fresh cheque instrument would be allowed to pass through March 31.
The CBN noted that only returned cheque would be treated on the said date.
“However, settlement activities for electronic instruments will continue to hold during this period of suspension”, it said.

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Nigeria’s Economy Fragile Before COVID-19 Pandemic –Finance Minister

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The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, has said that prior to the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, the Nigerian economy was already fragile.
She said this in a statement issued by her Special Adviser on Communication, Mr Yunusa Abdullahi, on Monday in Abuja.
Ahmed, according to the statement, said this during her meeting with the leadership of the National Assembly where she spoke on implications of the global economic crisis on Nigeria.
The coronavirus pandemic had led to unprecedented disruptions to global supply chains, a sharp drop in global crude oil prices, turmoil in global stock and financial markets, the lockdown of large swath movements of persons in many countries, among others.
These outcomes have had severe consequences on households’ livelihoods and business activities, resulting from drop in global demand, declined consumer confidence and slowdown in production.
But the finance minister said that prior to the outbreak which had led to decline in crude oil prices, the Nigerian economy was already fragile, vulnerable and deteriorating.
She said the global economic downturn had forced international oil prices to drop to as low as $22 per barrel.
The minister said international travels and trade had been severely disrupted, while demand for goods and services is deteriorating as a result of the social distancing policies.
This, she said had led to financial markets uncertainty which had resulted into capital flows’ reversal from emerging and frontier markets such as Nigeria.
She said, “Increasing pressure on the naira and foreign reserves as the crude oil sales receipts decline and the macroeconomic outlook worsens.
“Central Bank of Nigeria, just as in other countries, has resorted to quantitative easing, by reducing interest rates to support economic activity and governments announcing fiscal stimulus plans for healthcare and social safety nets.”
She said the government was working on a fiscal stimulus package to cushion the impact of the crisis on the most vulnerable individuals and communities.

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