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MONDAY 24/5/2021 -PROPOSED N385/LITRE PUMP PRICE: MATTERS ARISING –   For all the arguments for deregulation and the need to arrive at an appropriate pricing for fuel, the N385 per litre pump price of fuel approved by the Nigeria Governors’ Forum, if implemented, may have serious implications on the nation, particularly, heighten the tension in the country. Like bullets from an AK 47, this new ‘deregulated’ price or pricing is capable of puncturing more holes in the heart of an already bleeding nation. Chris Paul reports At a virtual meeting that lasted till late night on May 19, 2021, held by the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF), a decision was made to deregulate the downstream end of the Nigeria’s oil and gas industry and increase the pump price of fuel from the current N162 per litre to N385 per litre. The decision was among the resolutions reached by the Governors in a joint communique, which was generated based on a report by the Kaduna State Governor Nasir el-Rufai-led Committee. In the communique, the governors made known their desire for government to privatised three refineries after rehabilitation. They also want the government to purchase 113 buses to cushion effects of the price increase. Held ahead of the Federation Accounts Allocations Committee (FAAC) meeting, scheduled for the next day, the governors fingered el-Rufai as the man, who gave the briefing on the appropriate pricing of petrol in Nigeria, where he called for full deregulation. The el-Rufai-chaired six-man committee was set up early this year by the National Economic Council (NEC), headed by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, to examine causes of the dwindling revenues of states and come up with revenue-generating windows to the council. Members of the committee include Governors of Edo State, Godwin Obaseki; Ekiti State, Kayode Fayemi; and Ebonyi State, David Umahi. The other members of the committee are the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele, and the Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Malam Mele Kyari. According to the el-Rufai committee report, every month government subsidizes fuel price at N162 per litre, between N70 billion and N210 billion bleeds out of nation’s financial veins.Lagos, Oyo, Ogun, Rivers and Abuja were identified by the committee as the top consumers of petrol. To further convince his colleagues the Kaduna State Governor, in his report, stated that one of the benefits derivable from the proposed price increase is that, it will discourage and curb the unceasing smuggling of the product to neighboring countries. The other more juicy benefit is that it will increase FAAC annual income to between N1.3 trillion and N2. 2.3 trillion. Among the committee’s recommendations is that the government should sell the three refineries after rehabilitation. Purchase and distribution of over 113 buses to states and major cities as a palliative was also recommended.   TUESDAY 25/5/2021 –CBN CONFIRMS N410.25/$ AS NEW OFFICIAL EXCHANGE RATE –   The Central Bank of Nigeria has officially made the NAFEX Investor & Exporter forex window rate of N410.25 as its official exchange rate to the dollar. It confirmed this new official rate on its website on Monday night, after it had removed N379/$ earlier in May. Few weeks earlier, the Punch had exclusively reported that the naira officially depreciated to N410/$, quoting the Central Bank Governor, Godwin Emefiele. Emefiele had said that the drop in crude oil earnings and the associated reduction in foreign portfolio inflows significantly affected the supply of foreign exchange into Nigeria. “In order to adjust for the decrease in supply of foreignexchange, the naira depreciated at the official window from N305/$ to N360/$ and now hovers around N410/$,” he said. It would be recalled that in April 2017, the CBN established the I&E forex window as part of efforts to deepen the foreign exchange market and accommodate all forex obligations . The purpose of the window was to boost liquidity in the forex market and ensure timely execution and settlement for eligible transactions.   WEDNESDAY 26/5/2021 –STOCK MARKET EXTENDS LOSING STREAK TO SEVEN DAYS –   The Nigerian stock market closed on a negative note for the seventh consecutive trading session on Tuesday amid investors continued to take profits. The market has been falling since May 14, with the All Share Index of the Nigerian Exchange Limited dropping from 39,481.89 basis points to 38,256.76bps on Tuesday. The market capitalization of equities declined from N20.58tn on May 14 to N19.94tn on Tuesday. A total of 250.20 million shares valued at N1.55 billion were traded by investors in 3,534 deals on Tuesday, compared to 141.15 million shares valued at N1.09bn in 3,566 deals on Monday. Seventeen companies, led by LASACO Assurance Plc, recorded price losses at the end of trading on the floor of the NGX. Other top losers were Champion Breweries Plc, AIICO Insurance Plc, Chams Plc and AXA Mansard Insurance Plc. The share prices of 12 companies appreciated, with C&I Leasing Plc leading the park. Others top gainers were Royal Exchange Plc, Consolidated Hallmark Insurance Plc, Neimeth International Pharmaceuticals Plc and The Initiates Plc. Cordros Capital Limited noted that profit-taking continued on Tuesday in the domestic equities market, with a Tier I banking stock, GUARANTY (-1.2 percent) weighing down the bourse. It said, “Consequently, the NGX ASI ended the session 0.1 per cent lower at 38,256.76 points. Accordingly, month-to-date and year-to-Date losses increased to -4.0 per cent and -5.0 per cent, respectively. “The total volume of trades increased by 77.3 per cent to 250.20 million units, valued at N1.55bn and exchangedin 3,534 deals. COURTVILLE was the most traded stock by volume at 36.85 million units, while ZENITHBANK was the most traded stock by value at N649.41m. “On sectors, the insurance (-1.6 per cent) and banking (-0.5 per cent) indices declined while the consumer goods, oil and gas, and industrial goods indices closed flat.”   THURSDAY 27/5/2021 –EXPERTS FAULT NAIRA DEVALUATION, SAY PRICES WILL RISE, POVERTY DEEPENED –   Against the backdrop of the recent devaluation of the naira by the Central Bank of Nigeria, economic and financial experts have said the poverty level in the country will increase. The PUNCH had reported on Wednesday that the CBN officially devalued the naira as it adopted the NAFEX exchange rate of N410.25 per dollar on Tuesday as its official exchange rate, days after removing the N379/$ rate from its website. The experts, who spoke to our correspondent in separate interviews on Wednesday, said the devaluation would lead to further hike in prices of goods and services as well as reduce the purchasing power of Nigerians. An economist, Amarachukwu Nwosu, said the recent devaluation would have a huge impact on the costs of goods and services to be incurred by businesses and individuals. He said, “Devaluing currency means the naira has a lower value. That is basic economics. The problem now is that Nigeria imports almost everything. For instance, a phone that cost N50,000 may now cost N60,000 because of the devaluation. Eventually, the implication of this devaluation will trickle down to everyone. “The corporate cost of business will be higher with the devaluation of the naira. This is because an item now comes with a higher cost. Therefore, the amount of money businesses will be spending will be higher. “It will also increase poverty rate because if you are earning a particular amount and that amount has lesser value or purchasing power, it means you are likely poorer. The devaluation will lead to the inability to live a decent life, which is poverty. Basically, it will affect everybody.”   FRIDAY 28/5/2021 –NAIRA SLIPS TO 490/$ AT PARALLEL MARKET, CBN PLANS DIGITAL CURRENCY   The naira exchanged to the dollar at N490/$ at the parallel market on Thursday.According to, the official exchange rate website of the Central Bank of Nigeria for the Bureau de Change operators, the country’s currency was bought and sold at N488/490 to the dollar as of Thursday evening.The naira had earlier exchanged to the dollar at N483 in previous week.The CBN recently adopted the the NAFEX Investor & Exporter forex window rate of N410.25 as its official exchange rate to the dollar.It confirmed this new official rate on its website on Monday night, after it had removed N379/$.It would be recalled that in April 2017, the CBN established the I&E forex window as part of efforts to deepen the foreign exchange market and accommodate all forex obligations.The purpose of the window was to boost liquidity in the forex market and ensure timely execution and settlement for eligible transactions.Also, the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, has said that digital currencies have a place in the country.He made this known during the 279th Monetary Policy Committee meeting in Abuja.Emefiele said, “We are committed in the CBN and I can assure everybody that digital currency will come to life even in Nigeria.”This revelation by the CBN aligns with the trend in developed nations in the world. The central banks of China, South Korea, the United States, and a host of other countries are in the process of launching their own digital currencies also.Raising concerns about cryptocurrencies, Emefiele said, “We have carried out our investigation and we found out that a substantial percentage of our people are getting involved in cryptocurrency which is not the best. Don’t get me wrong, some may be legitimate but most are illegitimate.“Under cryptocurrency and Bitcoin, Nigeria comes second while in the global side of the economy, Nigeria comes 27th. We are still conducting our investigation and we will make our data available.”Since the CBN’s ban on cryptocurrencies, peer-to-peer trading has increased greatly. Paxful, crypto trading platform, recently announced that Nigerians had traded $1.5bn to become its biggest market.