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IMF: Nigeria’s unemployment, inflation rates remain elevated

Nigeria’s GDP is recovering but unemployment and inflation remains high

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Nigeria’s real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is recovering but unemployment and inflation remain elevated, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has said.

An International Monetary Fund (IMF) team led by Jesmin Rahman made this observation after it held virtual meetings with the Nigerian authorities from June 1 to 8, to discuss recent economic, financial developments and outlook.

The IMF explained further that the recent exchange rate measures are encouraging, and further reforms are needed to achieve a fully unified and market-clearing exchange rate.

“The Nigerian economy has started to gradually recover from the negative effects of the COVID-19 global pandemic,” the IMF said in a statement, adding that “following sharp output contractions in the second and third quarters, GDP growth turned positive in Q4 2020 and growth reached 0.5 percent (y/y) in Q1 2021, supported by agriculture and services sectors.”

Nevertheless, the fund said employment level continues to fall dramatically and, together with other socio-economic indicators, is far below pre-pandemic levels.

“Inflation slightly decelerated in May but remained elevated at 17.9 percent, owing to high food price inflation. With the recovery in oil prices and remittance flows,

the strong pressures on the balance of payments have somewhat abated, although imports are rebounding faster than exports and foreign investor appetite remains subdued resulting in continued FX shortage.

The incipient recovery in economic activity is projected to take root and broaden among sectors, with GDP growth expected to reach 2.5 percent in 2021.

Inflation is expected to remain elevated in 2021, but likely to decelerate in the second half of the year to reach about 15.5 percent,

following the removal of border controls and the elimination of base effects from elevated food price levels.”

Subsidy

The resurfacing of fuel subsidies is concerning, particularly in the context of low revenue mobilization, the IMF said.

The organisation said tax revenue collections are gradually recovering but, with fuel subsidies resurfacing,

additional spending for Covid-19 vaccines, and to address security challenges, the fiscal deficit of the Consolidated Government is expected to remain elevated at 5.5 percent of GDP.

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