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Forex interventions give false hope on naira, says IMF

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REGULAR foreign exchange (forex) interventions in Nigeria and other emerging economies create false sense of security and hope on the local currency, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), has warned.

Nigeria, which operates a flexible exchange rate regime, spends about $16 billion annually to defend the naira.

A large part of the forex interventions are auctions at the inter-bank spot, sale of dollar for invisibles; Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs); Bureaux De Change (BDC); Investors and Exporters (I&E) Forex window and Forwards.

In a joint report released at the weekend by IMF Director, Monetary and Capital Markets Department, Tobias Adrian; Director of the Fund’s Research Department; Gita Gopinath and Director of the Strategy, Policy and Review Department Ceyla Pazarbasioglu, the trio said that while flexible exchange rates can act as a useful shock absorber in the face of capital flow volatility, they do not always offer sufficient insulation.

They said the impact of the interventions is worse when access to global capital markets is interrupted or market depth is limited.

The report quoted Fund as saying “Persistent interventions might feed a (false) sense of security about future exchange rate developments that leads firms or households to take on more foreign currency debt, thus increasing balance sheet vulnerabilities.”

The IMF team said that in a continuous effort to help countries manage volatile cross-border capital flows, it has taken a major step toward a new analytical macroeconomic framework that can guide appropriate policy responses.

IMF analysis suggests that there is no “one-size-fits-all” response to capital flow volatility, nor is it a case of “anything goes” or that all policies are equally effective.

“Optimal policies depend on the nature of shocks and country characteristics. For instance, the appropriate policy response in a country with less developed financial markets and large foreign currency debts may differ from that of a country that does not have foreign currency mismatches on their balance sheets, or those that can rely on more sophisticated (deep and liquid) markets.”

“Generally, in countries with flexible exchange rates, deep markets, and continuous market access, full exchange rate adjustment to shocks remains appropriate.

“However, when a country has certain vulnerabilities, such as shallow markets, dollarization, or poorly anchored inflation expectations, while flexible exchange rates continue to provide significant benefits, other tools can play a useful role as well.

“In particular, macro-prudential measures, foreign exchange intervention, and capital flow management measures can enhance monetary policy autonomy so monetary policy can adequately focus on containing inflation and promoting stable economic growth. The same tools—including precautionary capital flow management measures on capital inflows, applied before shocks hit—can also help lower financial stability risks.”

For them, the work reflects evolving thinking on macroeconomic policy and will feed into the upcoming review of the IMF’s Institutional View on the Liberalization and Management of Capital Flows, which currently guides the Fund’s advice and assessments of members’ policies.

According to the Fund, international capital flows provide significant benefits for economic development but can also generate or amplify shocks. This dilemma has long posed challenges for policymakers in many open economies.

It said that many policymakers reach for a mix of policy tools to complement interest rate policy when dealing with capital flows. These tools include macro-prudential measures, foreign exchange intervention, and capital flow management measures.

Such diverse approaches were also used during the COVID-19 crisis, with significant differences in responses between countries. However, despite the widespread use of the various tools, to date, there has been no clear conceptual framework to guide the integrated usage of these tools.

The new framework represents a significant advance in thinking about when various tools should and should not be used and how these tools can work together to achieve better outcomes.

-The Nation

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Fuel queues return to Abuja over price hike rumour

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Fuel queues have resurfaced in the Federal Capital Territory over speculations of an imminent increase in the pump price of petrol.

This is coming about 24 the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation had said there would be no increase in the ex-depot price of petrol in May and not until the end of negotiations with organised labour.

But reports say remours about a price hike and scarcity have led to the latest long queues that surfaced on Tuesday at petrol stations in the FCT.

Long queues of motorists waiting to buy fuel were seen at retail outlets in Wuse, Gwarimpa, Wuye and Kubwa expressway on Tuesday while other outlets were not selling the product.

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NNPC says no petrol price increase in May, subsidy continues

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The Federal Government will continue to pay fuel subsidy as the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation has said it will not increase the ex-depot price of petrol in May.

Group Managing Director of the NNPC, Mele Kyari, disclosed this on Monday on the company’s social media post during a meeting he held with the National Association of Road Transport Owners/Petroleum Tanker Drivers.

Kyari had last month disclosed that the current market price of petrol had risen to N234 per litre, far above the average pump price of N163 per litre across petrol stations in the country.

Tanker drivers had on March 29 issued notice of industrial action, citing poor remuneration and other hardship as reasons for their action.

Kayri said, “We want to inform oil marketing companies that the NNPC will not increase the pump price of PMS in May. I am giving the assurance and I ask Nigerians to go about their normal businesses; we have over 20 billion litres of petrol in our custody.

“Many of you are aware of this and with the assurance with tanker drivers and NUPENG, there is no need for panic buying of the product. Petrol will be available in all the depots in the country including NNPC dispatched depot across the country, so nobody should panic in buying the product.”

Speaking on the on the strike by the PTD, the NNPC boss said the strike was associated with NARTO’s inability to increase their compensation which was not resolved last week.

He said, “We have given commitment to both NARTO and PTD that we will resolve the issue within a week and come back to the table to have a total closure on the issue.

“We also have a robust engagement with our oil marketing partners in respect of increase in the volume product that is check in the Nigerian market. “We have agreed to work jointly with all the security agencies to contain any possible infractions seen in our borders. We will work as a team to curtail this fraudulent practice with the help of the security agencies.”

He explained that the meeting also discussed issues on payment by Petroleum Equalisation Fund (PEF) to oil marketing companies.

He said that all stakeholders agreed in making the PMS available to marketers.

Speaking at the end of the meeting, NARTO President, Alhaji Yusuf Othman, commended the NNPC for the intervention and assured that within the next seven days, things will normalise in the adjustment of allowances of PTD.

He said, “NARTO requested that they bring three persons so that we discuss the issues but that would not have been possible without this intervention. “We hope that within the next seven days things will normalize and I want to assure Nigerians that we are committed to it.”

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UBA posts 26.8% profit, double-digit growth on income lines

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The United Bank for Africa (UBA) Plc says its profit after tax (PAT) increased by 26.8 per cent in the first quarter (Q1) for the period ended March 31, 2021.

The bank’s PAT jumped to N23.2 billion in Q1 2021 from N30.1 billion in the same period in 2020.

According to a statement from the bank, it also recorded a double-digit growth across most of its major income lines in period under review.

The tier-1 bank said between January and March, it recorded N40.6 billion, representing a 24 percent year-on-year growth in profit before tax compared with N32.7 billion recorded in the first quarter of 2020.

It stated, “Interestingly, UBA again sustained its strong profitability recording an annualised 20.5% Return on Average Equity (RoAE) compared to 19.9% in the same period of 2020.

“Driven by a year-on-year growth in interest income, UBA Group recorded another impressive 5.5% percent year-on-year growth in Gross Earnings to close at N155.4 billion for the three month period ending March 2021, compared to N147.2 billion recorded in the first three months of last year 2020.

“The bank’s total assets also rose by 2.5 per cent to N7.9 trillion in the period under review, compared to N7.7 trillion recorded at the end of the 2020 financial year whilst shareholders’ funds grew to N762.4 billion up by 5.3% from N724.1 billion as at FY 2020.”

Group Managing Director of UBA, Kennedy Uzoka, said the result reflects the bank’s capacity to grow earnings in a highly uncertain macroeconomic environment.

He expressed satisfaction with the bank’s performance, adding that its current capital and liquidity ratio have positioned the bank as it continues to support its customers across diverse sectors and markets, guided by prudent risk management practices.

Uzoka said the bank is committed to sustaining its performance through a customer driven approach for the rest of the year.

“This impressive 2021 Q1 results reflect the capacity of our business to sustainably grow earnings even in a highly uncertain macroeconomic environment,” he said.

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