The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) team just ended a great week on policies. I think they deserve our commendations. I understand that the economy is still hurting. But over the last few days, the CBN is recalibrating. I am reversing my projection on the continuous deterioration of Naira against the US dollars at scale; the marginal loss remains due to our poor productivity quotient and overall poor balance of trade.
The CBN under Governor Emefiele ran a solid good monetary policy under President Jonathan. But at the inception of the President Buhari administration, he cannibalized what was working. It was very strange and I have written here to show my frustration on the evolution of these policies.
But today, they are getting back to the fundamentals. I expect more funding for startups. I also expect more remittance hitting Nigeria. In short, the biggest export Nigeria has run for years now is the human capital. And those citizens reward the nation via remittance. I estimate about $1.8 billion – $2.2 billion monthly remittance into Nigeria. If that happens, that means more foreign currency will be in circulation, giving Naira a breathing space.
Our total remittance as a nation is always at parity with the total executed national budget. In other words, even though we may have a budget of $30 billion, the execution is never 100%, and by the time you look at the percentage of execution, the number is always around the amount remitted into the economy from Nigerians living abroad. That remittance froze because the deal was not there: if you had sent $1,000 via Western Union last week, they would pay your family N384,000!
Hopefully, in two weeks, after they have adjusted to the new policy, Western Union will ask your bank to pay you $1,000 in cash or put the money in your dorm account. With that, more forex enters into Nigeria and more Nigerians in diasporas will have incentives to wire more.
“We are leaving no stone unturned to ensure that our customers instantly receive their transfers as cash (USD) or transfers into their domiciliary accounts. Our customers have the flexibility to choose the mode of receipt that suits them. It is strictly on their terms,” said a leading bank in Nigeria.
This new policy will attain a full steady state in late Q1 2021 as there are many backlogs for foreign currency that any immediate supply would be swallowed up quickly. Also, due to Christmas holiday coming, economic activity will slow down. But from March 2021, Naira will stabilize with the official and black rates fairly closer, provided Covid-19 does not add another shock in the crude oil market which may rattle the world oil demand. As I write, crude oil prices are hitting to close a 5th week of gain; a $50 per barrel on Brent crude is just around the corner.
That it took CBN this long to do this is unfortunate. But we have to be happy because it has been done. Well done CBN.---