Subsidy Removal: 101Million Poor Nigerians Will Plunge into Poverty Without Palliatives, says W’Bank

Subsidy Removal: 101Million Poor Nigerians Will Plunge into Poverty Without Palliatives, says W’Bank

The World Bank has stated that Nigeria has one of the highest inflation rates, which pushed an estimated four million people into poverty between January and May 2023.

Newera News learnt that this was disclosed during the June 2023 edition of the Nigeria Development Update launch on Tuesday in Abuja.

The Washington-based lender also said about 7.1 million poor Nigerians would become poor if the Federal Government failed to compensate or provide palliatives for them, following the removal of fuel subsidies.

According to World Bank data, 89.8 million Nigerian were poor as of the beginning of this year. The lender noted that additional four million Nigerians became poor between January and May this year, raising the figure to 93.8 million.

The latest projection means the number of poor Nigerians will rise to 100.9 million if the government fails to compensate vulnerable citizens for fuel subsidy removal.

The World Bank Nigeria Development Update report noted that Nigeria’s inflation has risen to a 17-year high, and has been driven by a number of factors, such as CBN funding of budget deficit, previous multiple exchange rates, devaluation, and trade restrictions.

The report read, in part, “Consumer price inflation has surged and is currently one of the highest globally, which is related to Nigeria’s fiscal imbalance and points to the urgency of reform efforts. Inflation in Nigeria has been high for many years due to structural factors, but it escalated in 2022, to the point where consumer prices increased at their fastest pace for 17 years.

“The consumer price index further accelerated in 2023 through May, up to 22.4 per cent y-o-y. High inflation has been driven by the monetization of the fiscal deficit by the CBN, multiple exchange rates and exchange rate depreciation in the parallel market, and intensified trade restrictions, exacerbated by the spike in global food and energy prices.

“The CBN implemented measures to control rising inflation, including raising the monetary policy rate by 700 basis points. However, these proved ineffective and monetary policy remained loose overall in the first half of the year. The loss of purchasing power from high inflation has increased poverty in the short-term, pushing an estimated 4 million Nigerians into poverty between January and May 2023.”

The National Bureau of Statistics recently disclosed that inflation in the country rose to 22.41 per cent in May, the highest in about 19 years.

Also, the NBS, in its National Multidimensional Poverty Index report, disclosed that 133 million Nigerians are multi-dimensionally poor.

The NBS said 63 per cent of Nigerians were poor due to a lack of access to health, education, living standards, employment, and security.

The Multidimensional Poverty Index offered a multivariate form of poverty assessment, identifying deprivations across health, education, living standards, work, and shocks.

In its new report, the Washington-based bank noted that the loss of purchasing power increased the poverty headcount rate by an estimated 2 percentage points or 4 million people.

The World Bank added that the number of poor people in rural areas increased by an estimated 4 per cent, while in urban settings, there was an estimated increase of 11 per cent.

The Brenton Woods Institution further noted that with the removal of fuel subsidies, about 7.1 million people are at risk of becoming poor if no form of compensation is provided by the government.

The report read, “In the immediate term, the removal of the petrol subsidy has caused an increase in prices, adversely affect ting poor and economically insecure Nigerian households. Petrol prices appear to have almost tripled following the subsidy removal.

“The poor and economically insecure households, who directly purchase and use petrol as well as those that indirectly consume petrol, are adversely affected by the price increase. Among the poor and economically insecure, 38 per cent own a motorcycle and 23 per cent own a generator that depends on petrol. Much more use petrol-dependent transportation.

“The poor and economically insecure households will face an equivalent income loss of N5,700 per month, and without compensation, an additional 7.1 million people will be pushed into poverty.

The World Bank warned that many newly poor and economically insecure households will likely resort to consequential coping mechanisms, such as “not sending children to school, or not going to the health facilities to seek preventative healthcare or cutting back on nutritious dietary choices.”

The bank stressed the need for adequate compensation, noting that compensating transfers will be essential in helping to shield Nigerian households from the initial price impacts of the subsidy reform.

The lending institution further applauded the removal of the subsidy and FX management reforms, which are crucial measures to begin to rebuild fiscal space and restore macroeconomic stability.

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