10 Jul

Daily Watch – Trump promises aid to starving IDPs, World Bank gets jitters over Nigerian debt

  • U.S. President Donald Trump on Saturday promised $639 million in aid to feed people left starving because of drought and conflict in Somalia, South Sudan, Nigeria and Yemen. Trump’s pledge came during a working session of the G20 summit of world leaders in Hamburg, providing a “godsend” to the United Nations’ World Food Programme, the group’s executive director, David Beasley, told Reuters on the sidelines of the meeting. The new funding brings to over $1.8 billion aid promised by the United States for the 2017 fiscal year for the crises in the four countries, where the United Nations has estimated more than 30 million people need urgent food assistance. “With this new assistance, the United States is providing additional emergency food and nutrition assistance, life-saving medical care, improved sanitation, emergency shelter and protection for those who have been affected by conflict,” USAID said in a statement. Rob Jenkins, acting head of the USAID’s bureau of democracy, conflict and humanitarian assistance, said of the funding, over $191 million would go to Yemen, $199 million to South Sudan, $121 million to Nigeria and almost $126 million for Somalia.
  • The World Bank has expressed concerns about Nigeria’s rising debt servicing costs in relations to the FG’s dwindling revenue. In its newly released Global Economic Prospects report, it noted that the rise in government debt, an exchange rate depreciation and increased recourse to non-concessional borrowing for infrastructure development had resulted in rising debt servicing costs. The report noted in part that “for most countries in the region, the interest-to-revenue ratio remains sustainable, helped by the high share of concessional borrowing. A notable exception is Nigeria, where the FG’s interest-to-revenue ratio rose from 33 percent in 2015 to 59 percent in 2016.” According to the report, the regional outlook is subject to significant external risks, to which Nigeria is exposed. It added that “on the domestic front, in countries where significant fiscal adjustments are needed, failure to implement appropriate policies could weaken macroeconomic stability and slow the recovery. This risk is particularly significant for Angola, CEMAC (Central African Economic and Monetary Community) countries, Mozambique and Nigeria.” Growth in sub-Saharan Africa was projected to recover to 2.6 percent in 2017 from the sharp deceleration to 1.3 percent in 2016 and to strengthen somewhat in 2018.
  • The interbank lending rate rose to around 15 percent on Friday from 5 percent last week after commercial lenders paid for dollar and treasury bill purchases, draining liquidity, traders said. The CBN sold dollars twice last week, culminating in a $254.3 million intervention in the retail market on Friday, thereby tightening naira liquidity, traders said. It also sold ₦25.67 billion in treasury bills on Wednesday, which further pushed up borrowing costs. “The interbank rate traded above the 40 percent level on Wednesday,” the trader said, because of the treasury bill auction. He said rates later dropped sharply after the central bank repaid matured bills worth ₦65 billion. Borrowing costs are expected to rise next week, since the central bank may keep up its forex interventions to stabilise the local currency, traders said.
  • The NSE says it has suspended 17 listed companies from trading their shares in the bourse. Godstime Iwenekhai, acting head, listings regulation department, said the action was taken because the affected companies failed to submit some relevant documents. He said the suspension would be lifted when the documents are submitted. The affected companies include African Alliance Insurance, Fortis Microfinance Bank, Aso Savings & Loans, Ekocorp, Omatek Ventures and Union Homes Savings & Loans. “The suspension of the afore-listed companies will only be lifted upon the submission of the relevant accounts, provided the exchange is satisfied that the accounts comply with all applicable rules,” Iwenekhai said.