THE successful conduct of the general elections is rubbing off positively on investments, with the inflow of over $6 billion into the local bond market.
Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Governor Godwin Emefiele described the foreign capital inflows to the bond market as an indication of the continued investors’ confidence in the strength of the economy.
The CBN boss, who spoke yesterday at the BusinessDay Post-Election Economic Agenda Conference in Lagos, also set a post-election agenda for the nation’s monetary policy. The current policy stance of the bank is expected to continue while inflation is estimated to rise to 12 per cent and moderate thereafter.
Emefiele said the Nigeria bond market remains one of the most attractive investment destinations – In Bloomberg’s Emerging-Market Local-Currency Government Bonds index, which covers major emerging markets, including Nigeria, South Africa and Argentina.
He said Nigeria’s bond continue to top the chart due to the stability of the Investors’ & Exporters’ Forex rate and the yields being high by emerging-market standards.
Investors, Emefiele said, are sure that they can exit their positions if they want, which has been crucial in driving other investors into the market.
Emefiele hinged the monetary policy stance of the bank on rising inflation expectations.
He, however, noted that the bank would adjust the policy rate in line with unfolding conditions and outlooks. Just as in the previous year, he said the Bank would continue in its drive to ensure that the policy interest rate is set to balance the objectives of price stability with output stabilisation.
The CBN boss also explained that since the establishment of the I&E Window in April 2017, the country has recorded about $35 billion in autonomous inflows through the window alone.
He said: “As a result, exchange rate pressures eased considerably across all markets as the rates converged to about N360/$ and the distortive premium almost eliminated. At the Bureau De Change (BDC) segment, we saw a significant appreciation of the naira from over N525/$ in February 2017 to about N360/$ today. Rates at the I&E window also appreciated from nearly N382/$ in May 2017 to just over N360/$.”
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On the exchange rate policy, he said the bank, despite the expected pressures from the volatility in the crude oil markets, will maintain its stable exchange rate over the next year.
“Gross stability is projected in the foreign exchange market, given increased oil production and contained import bill”, he said.
Emefiele expressed optimism that the country’s Balance of Payments would remain positive in the short-term, adding that the current account balance could improve further if oil prices continued to recover. He assured that this would be “supported by improved non-oil performance as diversification efforts begin to yield results to reduce undue imports.”
Warning that the issues that led to the economic crisis between 2015 and 2017 remained visible, Emefiele stressed the need to significantly increase the country’s policy buffers, including fiscal measure, to increase its external reserve. He also reiterated the need to diversify the revenue structure of the Federal Government, in order to reduce dependence on direct proceeds from the sale of crude oil.
He further advised that cheap financing be provided to boost local production of priority goods in critical sectors of the economy in order to reduce reliance on foreign imports.
He also used the platform to highlight the efforts made by the CBN in the past five years in monetary policy and development finance, disclosed that the weakening of the Naira impacted the balance sheets of domestic banks.
However, he said the bank took some measures such as monitoring the financial position and performance of supervised institutions and the assessment of the risk profile and governance management practices of banks, to guarantee financial stability.
He listed other efforts carried out by the Bank to ensure financial system stability and the promotion of sustainable economic development to include the establishment of the investors and exporters’ window; conservation of foreign exchange through the restriction of access to foreign exchange on 43 items; and increased lending to the agricultural and manufacturing sectors.
The governor, while soliciting continued support for the policy measures that restrict import of items that could be produced in Nigeria as well as increased penalty for smuggling of restricted items in Nigeria, expressed optimism that the Nigerian economy in post-May 2019 will witness growth and reduced unemployment.