Despite the seemingly lacklustre attitude of the fiscal authorities to creating a stronger Nigerian economy, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) last week celebrated Nigeria’s Balance of Payment improvement by a surplus of $2.80 million in the fourth quarter of 2018, from $4.54 million recorded in the third quarter of same year.
In the report titled: “Brief on Balance of Payments Statistics Q4’18” posted on its website, the CBN said : “The provisional Balance of Payments (BOP) estimates for Q4 2018 showed a significant improvement in the BOP outcome.
“The overall balance of payments recorded a surplus of $2.80 million compared to a huge deficit of $4,542.08 million and a surplus of $6,180.40 million recorded in the preceding quarter and corresponding period of 2017, respectively.
“The current account balance (CAB) improved from a deficit of $1,544.41 million in Q3 2018 to a surplus of $1,104.57 million in Q4 2018.
“The financial account balance indicated a net acquisition of financial assets of $2,327.91 million in the review period as against a net incurrence of financial liabilities of $4,615.17 million recorded in the preceding period.”
The bank also said that the current account indicated a positive outcome during the period under review. according to the apex bank, the country recorded a surplus of $1,104.57 million as against a deficit of $1,544.41 million and a surplus of US$3,657.18 million in the previous quarter and corresponding period of 2017, respectively.
“This development was largely attributable to the decrease in imports and payments on income.
“On goods account, the CBN said the surplus increased significantly to $6,793.60 million in fourth quarter 2018 from surpluses of $3,759.88 million in the preceding quarter and $5,472.74 million recorded in the corresponding period.
“Export earnings rose by 2.8 per cent to $16,655.49 million in Q4 2018 when compared with Q3 2018. It also indicated an increase of about 27.6 per cent when compared to corresponding Period of 2017.
“Earnings from crude oil and gas, which accounted for 93.8 per cent of total export earnings during the review period, increased by 2.1 per cent to $15,620.90 million in Q4 2018 when compared with the preceding quarter.
“Earnings from non-oil and electricity exports increased by 15.0 per cent to $1034.59 million in Q4 2018 when compared with the preceding quarter.”
With a dismal growth of 1.9 per cent in 2018, the Nigerian economy unimpressively lost out on meeting the set target of about 3 per cent. In a mono-economy that is substantially dependent on the vagaries of the price of crude oil for revenues, not much has been put in place to galvanise productivity in other sectors for significant growth.
Sadly, this is even when the country’s population growth rate is put at above 3 per cent annually alongside a corresponding unemployment rate of 23 per cent. These continue then to defy the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) which industry analysts also doubt is not even being implemented even as it betrays no clear vision.
Whereas agriculture, the services and manufacturing sectors inched up in Q4, there are still challenges ahead, said market observers who also noted that even these have hardly eased the continuing threats of the rising unemployment wave among the youths.
Both international and domestic investors have also complained about multiple exchange rates and multiple taxation and even higher taxation on tobacco and alcohol that have bruised firms in that sector among others.
Whereas the government under President Buhari believes it has delivered on its three major promises, namely security, tackling corruption and growing the economy, analysts are quick to point out that there are still mounting incidents of escalating acts of aggression by the Islamist sect, Boko Haram, alongside the menace of the Fulani herdsmen which has barely been tamed. In addition, they observed, the economy still lacks the deserved propulsion to grow evenly while the anti- corruption war is just a surface move.