Nigeria’s Apex bank held the first meeting of its reconstituted Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) for the year 2018. Following a detailed review of domestic macroeconomic events, the MPC deemed it fit to retain all rates: MPR at 14% (which has remained at a record high of 14 percent since July 2016), CRR 22.5%, Liquidity Ratio 30% and Asymmetric corridor at +200 and -500 basis points around the MPR1. The unchanged monetary policy can be attributed to the MPC’s satisfaction with the continued moderation in economic indices as well as the gradual return to macroeconomic stability. Going forward, fiscal policy authorities should consolidate these positive outcomes given monetary policy inaction.
Macroeconomic Report & Economic Updates
Recently released Nigerias petroleum imports data, show a significant decline in the quantity and value of petroleum import products (PMS, AGO and NHK) between 2015 and 2016. Specifically, value of imports significantly declined year-on-year (January to April) by 30.4 percent to N571 billion in 2016. The huge decline in the import of (refined) petroleum products likely reflects the lower (unrefined) crude oil production/exports. Furthermore, it is likely that the import of petroleum products could decline in subsequent years; however, this is dependent on the prospects of the three domestic refineriesbeing refurbished.
In the second quarter of 2016, the Nigerian economy witnessed its first recession in twenty years due to the interplay of several external and internal factors. The recession has continued until date and has given rise to relentless unemployment rate and job losses, double digit and soaring inflation, currency depreciation and widening gap between parallel market and official exchange rates, amongst other adverse effect on individuals and firms in the country. Thus, there is a need to take a deeper look into the nature of the present recession as well as the impact of monetary and fiscal policy responses thus far, in order to shed light on the way forward towards tackling the recession and ensuring sustainable economic growth. This paper analyses the ongoing recession in the Nigerian economy to provide insights into the interplay of events and recommendations for policy.
The naira/dollar exchange rate remained largely stable at the parallel market at ?320/$ during the period7, albeit slight fluctuations on February 29, 2016 (?325/$) and March 2, 2016 (?328/$). The decline in the hoarding of foreign currency as well as the substantial reduction in the speculative demand for dollars were the two key factors responsible for the ease of fluctuations in the forex market8. With the slight increase in the price of crude oil, Nigerias foreign reserve slightly grew by $56 million, from 27.81 billion to $27.84 billion9. With the continued increase in the price of crude oil, a modest build-up of foreign reserve to guard against unfavourable commodity price movements is expected in the near term.
Activities in the manufacturing sector remained at levels recorded in 2016Q3. Specifically, manufacturing capacity utilization (a measure of potential manufacturing output that is actually realized) remained at 48.46 percent in 2016Q4 below average. During the quarter, structural bottlenecks such as epileptic power supply (average of 2, 548 Megawatts) in addition to forex constraints, hampered manufacturing activities. As such, high cost of raw materials and cost of production subdued activities in the short term. Recent efforts by the monetary authority to increase forex access to the manufacturing sector as well as improvement in gas supply and electricity generation would help minimize production costs and enhance production process.