New data from the Central Bank of Nigeria showed that banks in the country have gradually reduced the bad debts on their books in recent years. According to a report from the monetary regulator, the banks’ non-performing loans was ₦1.2 trillion as of the end of June 2020. This amounted to about 6.4 percent of the gross credit of the banks to the economy, which is at ₦18.9 trillion in the period under review. The CBN linked the development to increased recoveries, write-offs and disposals by the lending institutions. The National Bureau of Statistics on selected banking data, said the lending institutions’ non-performing loans stood at ₦1.67 trillion as of the end of March 2019, from a figure of ₦1.79 trillion as of the end of 2018. This comes as Agusto & Co said 23 percent of banking sector loans pose a threat to the industry’s asset quality and future profitability. According to the rating agency, in its 2020 banking industry report, as at the end of 2019, four out of the twenty-four banks in the country, had Stage-Two loans to gross loans ratios above the 23 percent industry’s average. Agusto & Co. said the volume of Stage-Two loans was problematic because the loans primarily comprise of exposures with an increase in the associated credit risk compared to when the loan was disbursed. The report said COVID-19’s impact on businesses had elicited an increase in the volume of Stage-Two loans. Following the forbearance granted by the CBN in March 2020 permitting banks to restructure loans to businesses that had been adversely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, the industry had restructured over ₦7.8 trillion in credit, almost half of the entire loan portfolio as at June 2020, according to the country’s monetary regulator.

The Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation has signed a $1.5 billion prepayment deal led by Standard Chartered and backed by oil traders Vitol Group and Matrix Energy, Reuters quotes two sources familiar with the matter. The deal is the first of such an agreement since the coronavirus pandemic hit the world economy. This provides Nigeria with much-needed cash after its finances were hit by the oil price crash in April as COVID-19 lockdowns erased nearly one-third of global oil demand. The financing package called Project Eagle was also backed by African Export-Import Bank (Afrexim) and United Bank for Africa. Vitol and Matrix will each get 15,000 barrels per day of crude as repayment over five years, starting in August. Nigeria’s crude production is nearly 2 million bpd. Nigerian trader Matrix confirmed its participation in the deal. According to Reuters, Vitol, the world’s biggest independent oil trader, declined to comment. A spokesman for Standard Chartered declined to comment. Afrexim did not have an immediate comment. UBA and NNPC did not immediately respond to requests for comment. For trading firms such as Vitol, these loans are ideal for securing long-term supplies and boosting razor-thin margins. Nigeria’s state oil firm has been making moves to raise cash through prepayments with traders for years. However, the firm’s opaque finances and costly gasoline subsidies have made it tough for it to secure private financing on attractive terms.

Nigeria’s recruitment platform, Jobberman said it has 10,000 active job-seekers a week. This indicates that the number of people looking for employment in Nigeria, particularly through the biggest recruiting website, jumped five-fold since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, highlighting the struggle faced by many in Africa’s largest economy. According to Jobberman’s CEO, during the pandemic, the firm has been having over 55,000 people seeking jobs through the platform, which means more people are looking for jobs. Nigeria, like many countries, has been hit hard economically after implementing lockdowns to curb the spread of coronavirus. The country was also reeling from a collapse in crude prices earlier in the year and is suffering from rampant dollar shortages. Going by the data from Jobberman, which recruits mainly white-collar employees, the data does not include those looking for non-skilled, blue-collar work, chimes with official estimates that sees unemployment in the nation of more than 200 million soaring to 34% by the end of the year from 23% in 2019. While there was a 40% drop in recruitment in March when the first two weeks after movement restrictions were imposed, applications per vacancy on the online platform has jumped by 183% this year. With Nigeria’s economy set to contract 5.4% this year, according to IMF estimates, IT and telecommunication firms are topping Jobberman’s hiring charts as Nigerian companies, like others worldwide, adapt to an at-home workforce. Likewise, the hospitality, tourism, travel, aviation, entertainment and oil and gas industries have fallen to the bottom. At least 10% of those already offered jobs through the platform have been put on hold by their potential employers.

Revenue generated from value-added tax collections increased by 8.45 percent from the ₦600.9 billion realised in half-year 2019 to ₦651.7 billion in 2020. According to the sectoral distribution on value-added tax report released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) on Monday, the total revenue was generated from 28 sectors of the economy. “Sectoral distribution of value-added tax (VAT) data for H1’2020 reflected that the sum of ₦651.77 billion was generated as VAT in H1’2020 as against ₦600.98 billion generated in the first half of 2019 (H1’2019)” the report read. “This represents an 8.45 percent growth year-on-year (YoY).” Professional services generated the highest with ₦75.92 billion generated, followed by other manufacturing (₦67.63 billion); commercial and trading (₦31.10 billion); breweries, bottling and beverages (₦24.76 billion); and states ministries and parastatals (₦22.50 billion). Mining generated the least amount with ₦127.57 million. Other sectors that were ranked in the nether end were textile and garment industry (₦499.18 million); pharmaceutical, soaps and toiletries (₦648.77 million); local government councils (₦802.38 million); and publishing, printing, paper packaging (₦884.34 million). Nigeria began implementation of the 7.5 percent VAT, which was part of the tax amendments made in the 2019 Finance Act, in February 20209