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Nigeria’s Economic Outlook Uncertain, Welfare Worsening — World Bank

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The World Bank has said that Nigeria’s economic outlook is uncertain and its ability to attract domestic and foreign investments is also crashing.

It also noted that the condition of welfare in Nigeria was worsening despite the economic recovery from the recession.

The Washington-based bank said this in its draft report for State Action on Business Enabling Reforms, which is available on its website.

The bank report read in part, “Although the Nigeria’s economy in 2021-2022 recovered from recession induced by the COVID-19 pandemic and lower oil prices, growing by 3.6 percent in 2021 with an expected growth of 3.2 percent in 2022, welfare has continued to deteriorate.

“The country’s economic outlook remains uncertain and threatened by many issues including the impact of the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine on the global economy, lower-than-expected oil production due to technical inefficiencies; heightened insecurity; higher uncertainty on policy direction arising from the upcoming February 2023 general elections; and worsening fiscal risks related to the PMS subsidy deductions.”

The global lender stressed the need to catalyze private investment in order to boost growth and create jobs, noting that this type of investment was declining in the country.

The bank said, “Besides, Nigeria’s ability to attract domestic and foreign investment is low and declining compared to its peers. Private sector investment’s contribution to growth has declined as a consequence of macroeconomic and financial policies that constrain exports and foreign investment.”

The World Bank further emphasized the need for a more flexible and transparent foreign exchange management regime, accelerated revenue-based fiscal consolidation, strengthened expenditure and debt management, and an improved business-enabling environment.

Earlier report had it that 32 states failed to attract foreign capital in the second quarter of 2022, according to Foreign Direct Investment data released by the National Bureau of Statistics.

Of the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory, only Lagos, Abuja, Anambra, Ekiti, and Kogi witnessed capital inflows.

Cumulative capital inflows totaled $1.54bn. Lagos ($1.05bn) attracted the most capital in the period under review, followed by Abuja at $453.95m, Anambra at $24.71m, Kogi at $2m, and Ekiti at $500,000.

In the first quarter, only six states attracted a total of $1.57bn as capital importation. The states included Abuja, Anambra, Katsina, Lagos, Oyo, and Plateau.

Nigeria’s capital importation has been steadily declining, with investors cautious about releasing their money into the economy.

Reacting to this, an ECOWAS Common Investment Market consultant, Prof. Jonathan Aremu, said Nigeria lacks attractive factors for investors.

“One thing about investment is that it is crisis-shy. Investment doesn’t go to places where there are crises. This is because investors want stability and predictability of their investments, particularly having returns on their investments.

“When an economy is witnessing what we are going through currently, despite the investment potential of that kind of economy, investors will wait and see whether the factors that can guarantee predictable and sustainable investments will finally be available.”

A Professor of Economics at Onabisi Onabanjo University, Prof Sheriffdeen Tella, said that investors had no confidence in the Nigerian economy due to poor economic policies.

He said, “Part of the problem has to do with the exchange rate. The exchange rate is very high. Investors don’t have much confidence in the economy anymore. We have to change policies.”

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JUST IN: 31-Yr-Old Belgium Star, Eden Hazard Quits International Football

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Belgium star Eden Hazard announced his retirement from international football on Wednesday, days after the team crashed out of the World Cup in the group stage.

The Real Madrid forward, 31, made the announcement on social media, saying “a page turns today”.

“Thank you for your unparalleled support,” he posted on Instagram.

“Thank you for all this happiness shared since 2008. I have decided to put an end to my international career.

“The succession is ready. I will miss you.”

Hazard was the standard-bearer of Belgium’s much-vaunted “golden generation”, which reached the semi-finals at the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

The ageing team failed to make it past the first round in Qatar, finishing third in Group F behind Morocco and Croatia.

 

Credit: AFP

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Post-COVID Protest: China Loosens Strict Restrictions 2-Yrs After Pandemic

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China announced Wednesday a nationwide loosening of Covid restrictions following protests against the hardline strategy that grew into calls for greater political freedoms.

Anger over China’s zero-Covid policy, which involved mass lockdowns, constant testing and quarantines even for people who are not infected, stoked unrest not seen since the 1989 pro-democracy protests.

Under the new guidelines announced by the National Health Commission, the frequency and scope of PCR testing — long a tedious mainstay of life in zero-Covid China — will be reduced.

Lockdowns will also be scaled down and people with non-severe Covid cases can isolate at home instead of centralised government facilities.

And people will no longer be required to show a green health code on their phone to enter public buildings and spaces, except for “nursing homes, medical institutions, kindergartens, middle and high schools.”

The new rules scrap the forced quarantines for people with no symptoms or with mild cases.

“Asymptomatic infected persons and mild cases who are eligible for home isolation are generally isolated at home, or they can voluntarily choose centralised isolation for treatment,” the new rules read.

“Mass PCR testing only carried out in schools, hospitals, nursing homes and high-risk work units; scope and frequency of PCR testing to be further reduced,” they added.

“People travelling across provinces do not need to provide a 48h test result and do not need to test upon arrival.”

China will also accelerate the vaccination of the elderly, the NHC said, long seen as a major obstacle to the relaxation of Beijing’s no-tolerance approach to Covid.

Rare demonstrations against the ruling Communist Party’s zero-Covid strategy broke out across China late last month.

They expanded into calls for more political freedoms, with some even calling for President Xi Jinping to resign.

Authorities cracked down on subsequent efforts to protest while easing a number of restrictions, with some Chinese cities tentatively rolling back mass testing and curbs on movement.

The capital Beijing, where many businesses have fully reopened, said this week that commuters were no longer required to show a negative virus test taken within 48 hours to use public transport.

Financial hub Shanghai, which underwent a brutal two-month lockdown this year, announced the same rules, with residents able to enter outdoor venues such as parks and tourist attractions without a recent test.

And once dominated by doom and gloom coverage of the dangers of the virus and scenes of pandemic chaos abroad, China’s tightly controlled media dramatically shifted tone to support a tentative moving away from zero-Covid.

The prevalent Omicron strain is “not at all like last year’s Delta variant,” Guangzhou-based medicine professor Chong Yutian said in an article published by the Communist Party-run China Youth Daily.

“After infection with the Omicron variant, the vast majority will have no or light symptoms, and very few will go on to have severe symptoms, this is already widely known,” he assured readers.

But analysts at Japanese firm Nomura on Monday calculated that 53 cities — home to nearly a third of China’s population — still had some restrictions in place.

Wednesday’s announcement came hours after the government released further data showing the crippling economic impacts of zero-Covid.

Imports and exports plunged in November to levels not seen since early 2020.

Imports in November fell 10.6 percent year-on-year, the biggest drop since May 2020, according to the General Administration of Customs. Exports fell 8.7 percent over the same period.

 

Credit: AFP

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19-Yr-Old Endurance Arrested After Defrauding A British Lady Of £450K And Using The Money To Buy Cars, Gold Chains, Others

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A 19-year-old  man, Iredia Endurance has been arrested by the operatives of Benin Zonal Command of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, for alleged fraud.

According to a statement released by Wilson Uwujaren, spokesperson of the anti-graft agencym says Endurance was recently arrested by the Commission following a petition by one Chrstine Brown, a British citizen, alleging that the suspect defrauded her of £450,000.00.

“Upon arrest, the suspect confessed he received £250,000.00 from the complainant in Bitcoin, FedEx and gift cards. On what he did with the money, the suspect averred that they were expanded on cars, gold chains, and landed properties, among others.

Some of the items recovered from the suspect include mobile  phones, laptops, sim cards and landed property.” He added that the suspect will be charged to court as soon as investigations are concluded.

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