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GDP rising, inflation falling, yet poverty worsening – Rewane

CEO, Financial Derivatives Company Limited, Mr Bismarck Rewane

The Chief Executive Officer of Financial Derivatives Company Limited, Mr Bismarck Rewane, has said Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product is rising and inflation rate is falling, but more people are living below the poverty line.

Rewane, a member of the Presidential Economic Advisory Council, said this at this month’s edition of the LBS Breakfast Session in his presentation, a copy of which was obtained by our correspondent on Wednesday.

The economic expert posed what he described as five tough questions for Nigerian policymakers.

He said, “Cheery news and angry people! Why? (Why is GDP up and income levels down?). Beans 122.22 per cent, pepper 100 per cent, flour 61.54 per cent but inflation falling! Wow! What is the truth?

“The best hedge against inflation? Real estate/equities/bitcoin or precious metals? Will the naira crash to N600/$ as BDCs scramble? Is the PIA (Petroleum Industry Act) going to make things better for us? 1. Petrol 2. Insecurity 3. New investments.”

The National Bureau of Statistics said recently that the country’s GDP grew by 5.01 per cent in the second quarter of this year as against 0.51 per cent in Q1 while inflation dropped to 17.38 per cent in July from 17.75 per cent in June.

Rewane noted that in Q2, out of 46 activities, 34 expanded, eight slowed and four contracted.

He said, “Fastest growing sectors were the most impacted by the [COVID-19] shutdown. They are job-elastic and have the potential to boost productivity.

“Real GDP (2.7 per cent) still below potential GDP (8.3 per cent). Economy still in a recessionary gap. Population (3.2 per cent) growing faster than GDP.”

Citing data from the World Bank, Rewane said seven million Nigerians fell into extreme poverty in 2020, adding, “Nigeria still the poverty capital of the world: 93.9 million people now live below the poverty line.”

According to him, people are angry because the socioeconomic conditions have worsened.

He said, “Youth unemployment fast approaching 45 per cent. Misery index, 50.68 per cent. Nigeria [is] a hunger alert hotspot, according FAO and WFP. Over 18,000 Nigerians seeking asylum. Health sector brain drain rising (e.g. about 500 doctors moving to Saudi Arabia).

“Positive GDP growth yet to have a significant impact on socioeconomic conditions. Strategic investment and increased stimulus in job-elastic sectors and elimination of leakages (misaligned exchange rate and subsidies) necessary to achieve sustained economic recovery and inclusive growth.”

Rewane noted that the special drawing rights allocation of $3.35bn to the country from the International Monetary Fund would provide a 10 per cent cushion to external reserves.

He said, “Rising concerns on debt sustainability suggest Nigeria is quickly falling into a debt trap. Weak finance management practices and limited revenue to keep worsening debt problem. Domestic debt also on the rise.”

Rewane also noted that the Federal Government borrowing through Ways & Means advances had climbed by 595.5 per cent to N15.51tn in five years.

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