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MPC meeting, Nigeria’s public debt… 7 business stories to track this week

MPC meeting, Nigeria’s public debt… 7 business stories to track this week
March 25
08:10 2024

Here are the seven top business stories you need to track this week — March 25 to March 29.

CBN TO HOLD 294TH MPC MEETING MARCH 25

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) says it will hold its 294th monetary policy committee (MPC) meeting this week.

In a statement on Wednesday, the apex bank had said the meeting would be held on March 25 and March 26.

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The CBN had held its last MPC meeting on February 26 and February 27. The 293rd meeting was the first since Olayemi Cardoso became the apex bank’s governor.

At the last MPC meeting, the MPR, which benchmarks interest rates, was raised by 400 basis points from 18.75 percent to 22.75 percent.

NIGERIA’S PUBLIC DEBT ROSE TO N97TRN IN DECEMBER 2023

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The Debt Management Office (DMO) on March 22, said Nigeria’s total public debt rose to N97.34 trillion in the fourth quarter (Q4) of 2023.

The latest figure represents a 10.73 percent or N9.43 trillion increase compared to N87.91 trillion recorded in the third quarter (Q3) last year.

The country’s public debt consists of domestic and external debt stocks of the federal government of Nigeria (FGN) and the subnational governments — the 36 states and the federal capital territory (FCT).

The DMO said the total domestic debt stood at N59.12trn (61 percent), while the external debt stood at N38.22 trillion (39 percent).

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The agency said the increase was primarily due to new domestic borrowing by the federal government to partly fund the deficit in the 2024 budget as well as disbursements by multilateral and bilateral lenders.

FG SUSPENDS 25% PENALTY IMPOSED ON IMPROPERLY IMPORTED VEHICLES

The federal government has suspended the 25 percent penalty imposed on improperly imported vehicles.

The development was announced in a statement by Abdullahi Maiwada, the national public relations officer of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), on Friday.

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Maiwada said the cancellation was approved by Wale Edun, minister of economy and coordinating minister of finance, to ease economic hardship and encourage compliance.

He said the service has also been directed to initiate a 90-day window, effective from March 4, 2024, to July 5, 2024, for the regularisation of import duties on specific categories of vehicles.

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‘ALL VALID FX BACKLOG CLEARED’

The apex bank also said it has successfully settled all outstanding foreign exchange (FX) obligations.

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Hakama Sidi-Ali, acting director of corporate communications at CBN, disclosed this in a statement on March 20.

Ali said the financial regulator recently concluded the payment of $1.5 billion to settle obligations to bank customers, effectively settling the residual balance of the FX backlog.

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SENATE PASSES STUDENT LOAN BILL

The senate and house of representatives have passed the student loan (Access to Higher Education) Act (Repeal and Re-Enactment) bill, 2024.

The bill speedily scaled first, second, and third readings in both houses of parliament.

The bill seeks to enhance the implementation of the higher education student loan scheme by addressing challenges related to the management structure of the Nigerian Education Loan Fund (NELF).

It also seeks to amend applicant eligibility requirements, loan purpose, funding sources, and disbursement, and repayment procedures.

PRICES OF FOOD ITEMS, GAS SKYROCKETED IN FEBRUARY 

The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) says prices of beef, rice, beans, onion, white garri, yam, and bread, increased in February.

The bureau disclosed this in a report, titled, ‘Selected Food Prices Watch (February 2024)’, released on Saturday.

According to the report, the average price of 1kg local rice stood at N1,222.97 last month, signifying a 134.81 percent rise in price on a year-on-year basis — from N520.84 recorded in February 2023.

NBS said it also signifies a 19.69 percent increase in price compared to N1,021.79 recorded in January 2024.

In a separate report, The data bureau also said the price of 12.5kg of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG), better known as cooking gas, has increased by 46.88 percent in one year.

The NBS said the average price for refilling a 12.5kg cylinder of cooking gas in February increased to N15,060.38, compared to N10,253.39 in February 2023 and N11,735.72 in January 2024.

‘NIGERIA NEEDS $15BN IN NEXT 3 YEARS TO BUILD GAS INFRASTRUCTURE’

Mele Kyari, group chief executive officer (GCEO) of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited, says about $15 billion is needed within the next three years to build an in-country gas infrastructure.

Kyari spoke during the CeraWeek Conference in Houston, United States.

He said the country is building several gas trunk lines for supply “within our network”.

According to the GCEO, NNPC is scaling up, looking beyond providing gas in the domestic market, and leveraging the company’s relationships and partnerships to create gas for exports.

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