Nigeria’s former statistician general, Dr Yemi Kale, says the biting cash crunch in the country will lead to a reduction in the country’s nominal gross domestic product (GDP) numbers for the first quarter, Q1 2023 by up to 15 trillion.
In a series of tweets, the new Partner/Chief Economist and Head of Research at KPMG Nigeria said this is because a large chunk of the country’s informal sector is cash dependent just as one-third of the formal sector is.
“I am estimating a reduction in Q1 2023 nominal GDP by between N10-15 trillion due to challenges sourcing cash in Q1 2023.
“This is because about 40% of Nigeria’s N198tn GDP in 2022 is informal of which about 90% is cash-based. Further 30% of formal sector GDP is cash-based. This means N106.9tn of total GDP is cash-based,” he wrote.
He added that “Of the 46 economic activities, agriculture, some manufacturing activities (especially food & beverage, textiles, apparels), trade, arts entertainment & recreation, accommodation & food services, road, and water transport and other services expected to be the most affected.”
Speaking on the currency redesign, he noted that there is nothing new or wrong about currency redesign or cashless policy, “if done for the right reasons [and] at the right time,” putting forth that every policy will have pros and cons while benefiting some but not others.
“There is no policy that won’t affect someone negatively. Or that won’t have costs. The idea is to do a cost-benefit analysis looking at the overall impact of any policy & how and when it is to be implemented across the economy and not just in one or a few areas and deciding if overall, the benefits outweigh the costs.
“If yes, then the costs are acceptable. Then a policy maker can or should introduce palliatives to make the costs bearable to those that will be negatively affected by its implementation,” he advised.
Dr Kale said the government, after its analysis then decides to implement the policy and it turns out to be more detrimental to the entire system than beneficial even if it benefits a particular area or sector,” then it clearly isn’t a good idea to go ahead.”
He also projected a marginal drop in inflation for the month of February from the current 21.82 per cent based lack of cash to chase more of the same amount of goods that contribute to the price rise.
In his words, “Inflation though might slow down not because of an increase in output of goods & services above available cash to spend but because of lack of cash to chase more of the less same amount of goods. The CPI is about 50% food of which several are perishable in the absence of storage.”
“Assuming there is a decline in inflation rate which I anticipate (though marginal) when [NBS] publishes their inflation report, we can then compare if the gains in inflation in Q1 2023 outweighs the expected decline in GDP &possibly other macro & socio-economic variables.”
He also painted a dour picture of the country’s already high unemployment reality.
“Recall employment is also tied to GDP growth- a slowdown in growth will have a negative impact on employment. On the other hand, both a reduction in inflation and growth in GDP can improve poverty rates.
“So it will be interesting to see which dominates overall economic wellbeing,” he concluded.
However, in the inflation data released today, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said the average price of goods and services in Nigeria rose by 21.91 per cent last month.