Unic Press UK: The Nigeria economy is exiting the recession, but the general outlook illustrates an economy that is still vulnerable, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said as its staff completed 2018 Article IV Mission to Nigeria.
In its Press Release NO. 17/521 on 22 December 2017, the Senior Resident Representative and Mission Chief for Nigeria at the IMF, said:
“Overall growth is slowly picking up but recovery remains challenging. Economic activity expanded by 1.4 percent year-on-year in the third quarter of 2017—the second consecutive quarter of positive growth after five quarters of recession—driven by recovering oil production and agriculture. However, growth in the non-oil-non-agricultural sector (representing about 65 percent of the economy), contracted in the first three quarters of 2017 relative to the same period last year. Difficulties in accessing financing and high inflation continued to weigh on companies’ performance and consumer demand. Headline inflation declined to 15.9 percent by end-November, from 18½ percent at end-2016, but remains sticky despite tight liquidity conditions. High fiscal deficits—driven by weak revenue mobilization—generated large financing needs, which, when combined with tight monetary policy necessary to reduce inflationary pressures, increased pressure on bond yields and crowded out private sector credit. These factors contributed to raising the ratio of interest payments to federal government revenue to unsustainable levels. Reflecting the low growth environment and exposure to the oil and gas sector, the banking industry’s solvency ratios have declined from almost 15 to 10½ percent between December 2016 and October 2017, and non-performing loans have increased from 5 percent in June 2015 to 15 percent as of October 2017, although with provisioning coverage of about 82 percent…. Growth is expected to continue to pick up in 2018 to 2.1 percent, helped by the full year impact of greater availability of foreign exchange and higher oil production, but to stay relatively flat in the medium term. Risks to the outlook include lower oil prices, tighter external market conditions, heightened security issues, and delayed policy responses.”