11 May

Daily Watch – Multiple naira rates to endure till 2020, Ebola checks return to Nigerian airports

  • The Senate says the report on the 2018 budget will be considered and passed on 16 May — six months after it was presented by President Muhammadu Buhari. Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi, Senate spokesman told a press conference that the committee on appropriation is working to ensure that the budget is laid next Tuesday. “It was supposed to be laid this week, but they are putting finishing touches. They are being careful so as not to make mistakes. The report would be laid Tuesday and by Wednesday, we will approve it,” he said. In 2017, Finance Minister Kemi Adeosun said the FEC would like the country to move to a January-December budget calendar. Senate Majority Leader Ahmad Lawan said in response that it was not compulsory to pass the budget before 31 December.
  • The Nigerian Immigration Service has increased screening tests at airports and other points of entry as a precautionary measure following an outbreak of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the immigration service said on Thursday. The NIS said thermometers had been used to monitor some entrants into the country since the virus last hit the region. Screenings had been stepped up since the latest outbreak, where at least 17 people have died in an area of northwestern DRC, two years after the worst ever outbreak of the virus ended in West Africa after killing more than 11,300 people and infecting some 28,600, mainly in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia. Nigeria was hailed as having contained the virus in 2014, with 8 deaths, following fears that it could spread through Lagos, with some 20 million inhabitants and across Africa’s most populous country of around 180 million people.
  • Nigeria will probably maintain its system of multiple exchange rates, which the IMF has long-urged it to scrap, until at least early 2020, according to Moody’s Investors Service. Merging the naira’s various rates any sooner might force the government to weaken the currency and raise fuel prices, which would accelerate inflation, the ratings company said. Nigerian monetary and fiscal authorities are likely to wait until investments in oil refineries and fertiliser plants, including by billionaire Aliko Dangote, reduce Nigeria’s imports of petroleum products. While that may take another two years, it would put the government in a better position to stabilise fuel prices, which it caps at a level based on the central bank’s official naira rate, Moody’s said. Naira bid-offer spread for investors widened on tight dollar liquidity as offshore funds exit bonds due to a fall in yields and multinational companies repatriate dividends, traders said on Thursday.
  • A Nigerian diplomat was found dead in his home in the Sudanese capital Khartoum on Thursday. The police are investigating the incident, but provided no details on how he died. Officials from the Nigerian Embassy in Khartoum were not immediately available to comment. Dubai-based al-Arabiya television identified the diplomat as the consul general and described his death as an “assassination”. Reports on social media suggested the killers used a knife in the attack. Though intermittent violence is common in the country’s warring southern and western regions, violence in the capital is rare.
  • MTN Nigeria CFO, Ralph Mupita, says the company hopes to raise ₦400 billion from its debt issuance when it gets listed on the NSE later in the year. Speaking in a Bloomberg interview, Mupita said the proceeds will be used to fund local investment and replace existing debt. Getting listed on the stock exchange had been one of the conditions given by the NCC to punish the telco giant for its inability to disconnect improperly registered sim cards. NCC had also fined the telco ₦330 billion, out of which the company has paid ₦165 billion as of 9 April 2018. “We want to gear up our debt on an operational level away from the holding structure. The debt must be where the Ebidta is and we want to raise as much as possible in local currency,” Mupita said. The company says it plans to shift its focus from dollar-denominated debt to debts in local currencies where it operates.