- Federal lawmakers aim to pass the 2017 budget by the end of March, the Senate president said on Tuesday, following a meeting with President Buhari. The budget lays out plans to pull Africa’s largest economy out of its first recession in 25 years, largely prompted by low global prices for the oil it produces and by attacks on energy facilities in the Niger Delta oil hub last year. Buhari had presented his record ₦7.298 trillion ($23.21 billion) budget to lawmakers in December. “This month is our deadline to finish work on the budget and return it to the executive,” Senate President, Bukola Saraki, said after the meeting with Buhari and the Speaker of the House of Representatives. “We are working very hard to ensure we meet that deadline.” The budget must be agreed by lawmakers before the president can sign it into law. The 2016 budget became law in May last year after being delayed by several weeks of wrangling between the government and the Senate.
- Nigeria’s inflation rate bucked the trend in February to fall to 17.78 percent, its lowest level in 15 months, driven by a slower rise in general price levels, the NBS said on Tuesday. Inflation had risen to 18.72 percent in January, its 12th monthly rise and its highest level in more than 11 years, as Africa’s biggest economy grapples with an economic recession, a currency crisis and dollar shortages, brought on by low oil prices, its mainstay. A separate food index showed inflation at 18.53 percent from 17.82 percent in January, the statistics office said in a report, pushed up by the rise in food staples such as bread, cereal and meat, while drink prices slowed. The government forecasts inflation to be at 15.74 percent at year-end and 12.42 percent in 2018.
- The naira weakened for the second consecutive session on Tuesday after the central bank sold the dollar at its highest level ever on the official interbank market. Traders said the CBN sold $1.5 million at ₦305.75 per dollar. Commercial lenders then resold dollars at a ₦0.50 margin, leaving the currency at ₦306.25 at the close of the session. Nigeria’s government unveiled a sweeping economic recovery plan last week that included a relaxing of foreign exchange restrictions with a view to achieving a market-determined regime. The regulator later told reporters it would not allow the naira to float freely. The currency was quoted at ₦453 on the black market on Tuesday, firmer than ₦455 per dollar its previous close. The regulator said on Tuesday it will sell $150 million in currency forwards on the interbank market through commercial lenders. Tuesday’s sale will be settled within 60 days, the regulator says.
- Access Bank, GTBank and Zenith Bank, the three banks, which have so far released their audited results for the full year ended December 31, 2016, have made higher provisions for loan losses, reflecting the challenging operating environment. The banks recorded total loans and advances of ₦5.687 trillion as at December 31, 2016, showing an increase of 20 percent compared to ₦4.727 trillion in 2015. However, the combined loss provisions jumped by 183 percent from ₦42.297 billion in 2015 to ₦119.59 billion in 2016. GTBank led the pack with the highest impairment charges of ₦65.29 billion in 2016, indicating a surge of 426 percent from ₦12.4 billion recorded in 2015. GTBank’s loans and advances stood at ₦1.589 trillion, implying that the loan provision for loss is 4.1 percent. Zenith Bank followed with impairment charges of ₦32.35 billion, up by 106 percent from ₦15.673 billion in 2015. With a loan book of ₦2.289 trillion, the provision shows 1.4 percent. Access Bank, which ended the year with a loan book of ₦1.809 trillion, made provision of ₦21.952 billion for loan loss, indicating 1.2 percent and 54 percent higher than the ₦14.224 billion impairment charges recorded in 2015. Although the banks ended the year with higher impairment charges, they also closed the year with higher profitability. GTBank grew its profit after tax by 32 percent from ₦99.4 billion in 2015 to ₦132 billion. Zenith Bank’s PAT stood at ₦129.65 billion, indicating a growth of 22.7 percent above ₦105.66 billion in 2015. Access Bank grew its PAT by 8.5 per cent to ₦71.4 billion, from ₦65.9 billion in 2015.
- ContinentalReinsurance yesterday announced its financial results for the year ended December 31, 2016, showing improved performance. The reinsurance firm grew its profit before and after tax by over 40 percent and declared a dividend of 14 kobo per share. However, the bottom line was bolstered by a significant growth in foreign exchange gain. An analysis of the results showed that ContinentalRe recorded gross premium written of ₦22.406 billion, up from ₦19.738 billion, while net insurance premium stood at ₦21.843 billion, compared with ₦18.195 billion in 2015. Net insurance benefits and claims were ₦21.42 billion, up from ₦16.1 billion in 2015. But underwriting profit dipped to ₦414 million, from ₦2 billion in 2015. Interest income rose to ₦1.5 billion, while foreign exchange gain soared from ₦467 million in 2015 to ₦4.1 billion in 2015.Impairment costs equally rose from ₦492 million to ₦1.788 billion in 2016. In all, the company ended with profit before tax of ₦4.652 billion, up from ₦2.916 billion, while profit after tax grew from ₦2.14 billion to ₦3.018 billion in 2016. Following the improved results, the board of the company has recommended for approval and payment to shareholders whose names appear in the register of members on Friday, July 14, 2017, a dividend of 14 kobo per share, higher than the 12 kobo dividend paid in respect of 2015.