The price of Brent crude, the benchmark on which Nigeria’s crude sales is pegged, dropped more than 10 percent to trade at $29.13 per barrel, for the first time since 2016. Brent fell as emergency rate cuts by the US Federal Reserve and its global counterparts failed to tame markets and China’s factory output plunged at the sharpest pace in 30 years amid the spread of the coronavirus. To combat the economic fallout of the pandemic, the U.S. Federal Reserve on Sunday cut its key rate to near zero, triggering an unscheduled easing by the Reserve Bank of New Zealand to a record low as markets in Asia opened for trading this week. The Bank of Japan later stepped in by easing monetary policy further, and Gulf central banks also cut interest rates. However, the measures failed to calm the investors, and global stock markets weakened again. This month, OPEC and Russia failed to extend production cuts that began in January 2017 aimed at supporting prices and lowering stockpiles. An OPEC and non-OPEC technical meeting planned for Wednesday in Vienna has been called off as attempts to mediate between Saudi Arabia and Russia after the collapse of their supply cut pact made no progress, multiple reports said.
Suspected Boko Haram members killed six Nigerian soldiers on Sunday in an ambush in the Banki area of Borno State. According to an army officer in Borno, the attack on the victims, members of the 151 Task Force battalion including two sergeants, two lance corporals and two privates, occurred close to Banki junction, 130 km southeast of Maiduguri, the Borno state capital. Army spokesperson, Sagir Musa, could not confirm the attack because he was at that moment on a course in London. Similarly, members of the terrorist group killed two people, injured five and destroyed property worth millions on Saturday night in the Ngururi community of Alau village in Jere Local Government Area of Borno state.
The CBN has announced the cut of the interest rate of its intervention programmes to 5% from 9%. This is also as the monetary regulator directed all deposit money banks in the country to restructure loan terms and tenors to households and businesses affected by the coronavirus outbreak. Addressing journalists in Abuja on Monday, Godwin Emefiele, the CBN governor, said the CBN would work closely with DMBs to ensure that the use of this forbearance is targeted, transparent and temporary, whilst maintaining individual DMB’s financial strength and overall financial stability of the system. The regulator also announced six initial policy responses to combat the Covid-19 scourge on the economy; the extension of the moratorium on loans, interest rate reduction, creation of N50 billion fund, credit support for the healthcare sector, regulatory forbearance and a strengthening of the Loan to Deposit Rate policy. The CBN said beneficiaries of its intervention facilities have been granted an additional one-year moratorium on principal repayments effective 1 March 2020, which means, any intervention loan currently under moratorium is hereby granted an additional period of one year, Emefiele said.
The FG has suspended its plan to obtain a $22.7 billion external loan due to current global economic realities, finance minister Zainab Ahmed said at an investment event on Monday. Speaking at the 2020 International Conference on the Nigerian Commodities Market, organised by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the minister explained that the government would not go ahead with the loan even if lawmakers approved it. “The parliament is still doing its work on the borrowing plan. One arm of the parliament has completed theirs and the other arm is still working and it is a process that is controlled by the parliament itself, so we are waiting. However, we are not going out immediately because the market indication is not in favour of external borrowing at this time. Even if we get approvals we will defer it and watch the market and go out only when the timing is right,” she said. Ahmed insisted that the FG was not relenting on its plans to diversify the country’s economy, adding that unfolding events of the past few months, the coronavirus pandemic and the oil price war, had further reinforced the resolve to diversify the national economy.