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Nigeria’s Trade Balance Declines By 86%

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Nigeria has recorded a negative trade balance quarter-on-quarter, QoQ, as export declined by 19.8 percent to N5.93 trillion in the third quarter of 2022, Q3’22, from N7.4 trillion in Q2’22, while import bill rose 4.2 percent to N5.66 trillion from N5.43 trillion.

Fidel Info reports that as a result of the negative development in the export sector the total foreign trade recorded a 10 percent decline to N11.59 trillion in Q3’22 from N12.84 trillion in Q2’22, while the trade balance fell quarter-on-quarter (QoQ) by 86 percent to N269.3 billion in the Q3’22 from N1.97 trillion in Q2’22.

These were contained in the National Bureau of Statistics, NBS, Foreign Trade in Goods Statistics report for Q3’22 released yesterday.

The report stated: “In the third quarter of 2022, Nigeria’s total trade stood at ¦ 11.59 trillion, this was lower than the value recorded in Q’22 (¦ 12.84 trillion) but was higher than the value recorded in the corresponding period of 2021 which stood at ¦ 10.47 trillion. Total exports stood at ¦ 5.93 trillion of which re-exports were ¦ 25.04 billion, while total imports stood at ¦ 5.66 trillion.

“In the quarter under review, total exports declined by 19.89 when compared to Q3’22 (¦ 7.4 trillion) but it increased by 15.5 percent of the value recorded n Q3’21 (¦ 5.13 trillion).

“On the other hand, total imports increased by 4.2 percent in Q3’22 when compared to the value recorded in Q2’22 (¦ 5.43 trillion) and also grew by 6.16 percent when compared to the value recorded in the corresponding quarter of 2021 (¦ 5.33 trillion).

“The balance of trade in the period under review stood at ¦ 269.34 billion.

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Economy

CBN Blames Banks For Lack Of New Notes Circulation

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The new N200, N500, and N1,000 notes are available for banks to pick up, according to a statement from the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, made yesterday.

Fidel Info reports that the apex bank also revealed that withdrawals had been halted to prevent fraud and that the only places where the new naira notes could be distributed were ATMs, to ensure that all bank customers could benefit from them.

This was revealed at a sensitization workshop at Computer Village, Ikeja, Lagos, by Mr. Kofo Salam-Alada, Director of the Legal Services Department, CBN.

Speaking in light of the limited supply of new naira notes and the ongoing distribution of old notes via bank ATMs, Salam-Alada stated that the apex bank will sanction banks for failing to collect the new notes as well as for failing to distribute them via their ATMs.

While urging the people to go deposit their old notes, he asserted that there is no plan to postpone the deadline for doing so past January 31st.

He said: “I can tell you today the CBN daily gives out the new notes. As we speak now banks are with the CBN taking money.

“I am reliably told that we are begging commercial banks to come and take money (the new notes)  from the CBN. We have these new naira notes in our vaults and we are waiting for banks to come and collect them.”

“To also let you know the seriousness of CBN for these new naira notes to permeate everywhere, we have found out that a lot of things are happening, and we stopped the across-the-counter withdrawal of new naira notes to ensure that you, you, you can have access to it.”

“Not a situation where, one chief, who is known to the Manager or everyone will cart away all the new naira notes from a particular branch.”

“And that is why we said if you want the new naira notes to walk to the ATM where there is no distinction between myself and the hawker over there.”

“Part of what we are doing is that we have monitors going around banks. I have been to some ATMs this morning and I have logged reports, I have spoken to the management of various banks. When I am in any bank, I speak with the Head Office, I ask them, where are the new naira notes we gave you, you will start hearing an explanation.”

“What you have been experiencing will ease off very soon because the banks now know there will be a penalty for failure to come and pick the new naira notes from the CBN and for failure to load the notes into their branches.”

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Economy

Reverse Electricity Tariff Hike Now- SERAP To FG

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President Muhammadu Buhari has been requested to quickly reverse the allegedly illegal, unfair, and arbitrary increase in the price of electricity that took place in December 2022 by the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, (SERAP).

Fidel Info reports that In order to reverse the tarrif with immediate effect, SERAP requested that Buhari instruct the Minister of Power, Goddy Jedy-Agba, and the Chairman/CEO of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), Professor James Momoh.

“You should ensure the investigation of the spending of public funds as investments and bailouts by successive governments to electricity distribution companies (DisCos) and generating companies (GenCos) since 2005, and prosecution of cases of corruption and mismanagement,” the organization urged.

The proposal came after the Nigerian Energy Regulatory Commission (NERC) reportedly approved an increase in electricity rates for all DisCos in the nation in December 2022.

According to reports, a number of prepaid consumers have confirmed the rise. The rise has not been confirmed or denied by either the NERC or the Minister of Power.

The organization claimed in the letter published over the weekend by SERAP Deputy Director Kolawole Oluwadare that the rise in electricity prices would make the country’s terrible poverty worse and make it harder for millions of Nigerians to meet their most basic necessities.

SERAP said, “the increase in electricity tariff failed to follow due process. It is entirely inconsistent and incompatible with the provisions of the Nigerian Constitution of 1999 [as amended], the Electric Power Sector Reform Act and the country’s international human rights obligations.

According to SERAP, “Millions of Nigerians continue to live in darkness despite the spending by successive governments of trillions of naira as investments and bailouts to electricity companies.

The letter, read in part: “The increase is unjustified, especially given the unreliable, inefficient and poor quality of electricity in the country. Rather than providing electricity discounts to poor Nigerians, successive governments continue to give bailouts to electricity companies.”

“We would be grateful if the recommended measures are taken within 7 days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter. If we have not heard from you by then, SERAP shall consider appropriate legal actions to compel your government to comply with our request in the public interest.”

“Your government should have used the report by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), which shows damning revelations that some 133 million Nigerians are poor as a basis to improve access to regular electricity supply, and extend electricity to remote rural households.”

“The latest increase in electricity tariff is coming on the heels of the NBC report which shows that over half of the population of Nigeria are multidimensionally poor and cook with dung, wood or charcoal, rather than clean energy. High deprivations also apparent nationally in sanitation, time to healthcare, food insecurity, and housing.”

“The hike in tariff would increase financial burdens for socially and economically vulnerable Nigerians and further marginalize and disproportionately affect them, and exacerbate their vulnerability to discrimination.”

“The failure of successive governments and high-ranking government officials to prevent widespread and systematic corruption in the electricity sector and to bring suspected perpetrators to justice is the primary cause of the exploitation of electricity consumers.”

“Investigating the spending of investments and bailouts by successive governments in DISCOS and prosecuting anyone suspected of corruption and mismanagement of public funds, and recovering any proceeds of crime would end a culture of impunity in the power sector, and improve access to and affordability of electricity in Nigeria.”

“Successive governments have failed to increase power generation and provide Nigerians with regular and uninterrupted electricity supply, with many electricity contracts shrouded in secrecy, and trillions of Naira going down the drain.”

“Your government also has legal obligations to ensure that socially and economically vulnerable Nigerians including the 133 million the NBC documents as poor enjoy non-discriminatory access to basic household services including electricity.”

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Business

Benue: Motorists Distressed As Fuel Sells At N380 Per Litre

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In spite of the NNPC Limited’s intervention, commuters and drivers in Benue state are complaining and wailing about the price of Premium Motor Spirit, PMS, popularly known as gasoline, which is still selling for as much as N380 per litre.

Fidel Info reports that the fact that almost no filling stations owned by big marketers in the state have the product has made the problem worse.

Findings showed that black marketers sell for between N360 and N380 per litre, while the few independent marketers who have products sell to desperate motorists for between N270 and N300 per litre.

Vehicle owners struggle frantically to enter the NNPC Mega Station on Otukpo Road in order to purchase the commodity, which is being sold at a price set by the government.

Some drivers who were unable to contain their anger at the ongoing situation pleaded with the authorities to get involved and resolve it.

A commercial motorbike operator named David Okube bemoaned that huge gas stations in the state were purposefully making things difficult for the people by not dispensing products to the general public while he and other riders waited to acquire the product from the mega station.

“Why will it be only the mega station that is selling fuel to the public, why are other major marketers not selling weeks after the government took steps to ensure that there is enough product in the country?”

“Even nearby Abuja that was hard hit by scarcity now has products. But when you come to Benue state they are selling to us at between N270 and N300 per litre while the black marketers are selling for about N380 per litre some even sell for N400 especially at night.”

“We cannot continue like this because the people are suffering. If you come to mega station to buy you will spend the whole day here and if you are unlucky you might not get to buy before they lock up,” he said.

Also, a medical doctor who spoke on condition of anonymity lamented that it was unacceptable for Nigerians to continue to go through pains in order to buy petrol.

“How can a responsible and responsive government allow its citizens go through this kind of pains in order to buy fuel. I am a medical doctor who is supposed to be in the hospital attending to patients but I abandoned that assignment to search for fuel. Why are all the major marketers in Makurdi not selling fuel. Why are we still buying fuel for about N300 per litre in Benue? It is killing to say the least.”

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