Rising inflation and low economic growth in Nigeria will push a further 2.8 million people into poverty by 2023’s end, the World Bank has disclosed.
This is based on a report titled, ‘Macro Poverty Outlook: Country-by-country Analysis and Projections for the Developing World,’ released recently. The Washington-based bank said, “By the end of 2023, the rise in inflation and low economic growth will have contributed to an increase of 2.8 million people in poverty (y-o-y), a 0.4 percentage points bump to 37.5 per cent of the population.”
It noted that Nigeria’s high inflation reached a17 17-year high of 24.1 percent (y-o-y) in July 2023, partly reflecting surging food prices and the temporary impact of the removal of the fuel subsidy. It stated that a cumulative 725 basis points hike in the monetary policy rate since May 2022 has had little effect on reining in inflation due to clogged transmission channels, also weakened by direct credit allocation by the central bank, and the continued monetization of the fiscal deficit.
The global bank further declared that federal fiscal deficit has risen to 63 per cent higher between January and May 2023 than in the same period in 2022, due to increasing interest payments, higher capital spending ahead of the elections, and the continuous large cost of the fuel subsidy.
The impact of this is set to spike public debt to 45 per cent of GDP and keep debt service above total revenue in 2023. It said. “The fiscal financing need and the devaluation of the naira are expected to push the public debt to 45 per cent of GDP and keep the debt service above total revenues in 2023.
“The current account balance (CAB) recorded a surplus of 2.2 per cent of GDP in Q1 2023, driven by lower imports and income outflows. However, the small CAB surpluses and capital flows since 2022 have been insufficient to increase foreign reserves, as oil export FX flows to CBN contracted, likely as a result of the direct crude sale-direct fuel purchase arrangements.”
The Bretton Woods Institution further predicted that future economic growth in the country will depend on the continued implementation of macro-fiscal and inclusive structural reforms. It stated the current reforms of the government will boost economic growth to an average of 3.4 per cent in 2023-2025.
It also expects inflation to begin to moderate by 2024.
The World Bank added, “The share of Nigerians living below the international poverty line is expected to peak in 2024 at 38.8 per cent before beginning a gradual decline, as inflation cools down and economic growth picks up. Targeted measures, including cash transfers, could mitigate short-term adjustment costs to the poor and vulnerable and mitigate their risk of falling into intergenerational poverty traps.”
Earlier in June, the bank disclosed that inflation pushed an estimated four million people into poverty between January and May 2023. Inflation has since risen to 27.33 per cent as of October 2023.