Ndubuisi Francis and Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday expressed satisfaction with the state of the economy, saying the main responsibility of the government was to bring succour to citizens in all walks of life.
Buhari gave the verdict after a meeting with the key managers of the economy – the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma, his counterpart in the finance ministry, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, and the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele – at the State House, Abuja.
His first briefing on the economy since his return from a 103-day sojourn in the United Kingdom where he was receiving treatment for an undisclosed ailment, came just as the National Bureau of Statistics (NBC) released its inflation report for the month of July, indicating that the rate of inflation dropped slightly to 16.05 per cent during the month, from 16.10 per cent in June.
The president, according to a terse statement by his Special Adviser, Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, said both the ministers and CBN governor provided updates to Buhari on the economy, implementation of the 2017 budget, preparation for 2018 budget, revenue strategies, combined cost reduction and debt management.
Adesina who said Buhari was glad that “things were looking up after two years of a yeoman’s job”, stressed that “he was pleased with the progress being made on different fronts”.
Adesina said Buhari discussed monetary policy strategies and their economic impact with the ministers and CBN governor, adding that the president reminded them that the country’s economic revival was one of the major campaign policies of his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) and urged them to keep it up.
However, the inflation report released by the NBS yesterday showed that the rate of inflation declined by 0.05 per cent in the month of July to 16.05 per cent, from 16.10 per cent in June.
Although this was the sixth consecutive decline in the inflation rate since January 2017, the food index soared to 20.28 per cent in July, the highest in eight years.
According to the NBS, the July inflation figures showed that increases were recorded in all Classification of Individual Consumption by Purpose (COICOP) divisions that yield the headline index.
On a month-on-month basis, the headline index increased by 1.21 per cent in July, 0.37 percentage points lower than the 1.58 per cent recorded in June.
The percentage change in the average composite CPI for the twelve-month period ending in July over the average of the CPI for the previous twelve-month period was 17.47 per cent, 0.11 percentage points lower than the 17.58 per cent recorded in June.
The urban index rose by 16.04 per cent (year-on-year) in July, down by 0.11 percentage points from 16.15 per cent recorded in June, while the rural index increased by 16.08 per cent in July, from 16.01 per cent in June.
On a month-on-month basis, the urban index rose by 1.25 per cent in July, down by 0.35 percentage points, from 1.60 per cent recorded in June, while the rural index rose by 1.18 per cent in July, down by 0.39 percentage points, from 1.57 per cent in June.
The corresponding twelve-month year-on-year average percentage change for the urban index increased from 18.69 per cent in June to 18.43 percent in July, while the corresponding rural index also increased from 16.56 per cent in June to 16.60 per cent in July.
The NBS report showed that food price pressure continued into July, as all major food sub-indexes increased.
The food index increased by 20.28 per cent (year-on-year) in July, up by 0.37 percentage points, from the rate recorded in June (19.91 percent), representing the highest year-on-year increase in food inflation since the beginning of the new series in 2009, said the NBS.
The rise in the index was caused by increases in the prices of bread and cereals, meat, fish, oils and fats, coffee, tea and cocoa, potatoes, yam and other tubers and vegetables.
On a month-on-month basis, the food sub-index increased by 1.52 percent in July, down by 0.47 percentage points from 1.99 per cent recorded in June.
The average annual rate of change of the food sub-index for the twelve-month period ending in July over the previous twelve-month average was 18.25 per cent, 0.38 percentage points from the average annual rate of change recorded in June of 17.87per cent.
The “All Items less Farm Produce” or core sub-index, which excludes the prices of volatile agriculture produce eased by 0.30 per cent during the month by 12.20 percentage points, from 12.50 percent recorded in June as all key divisions which contribute to the index increased.
On a month-on-month basis, the core sub-index increased by 1.00 per cent in July, 0.32 percentage points lower than the 1.32 per cent recorded in June.
The highest increases were recorded in clothing materials and articles of clothing, furniture and furnishing, books and stationery, medical services, glassware, tableware and household utensils, accommodation services and household textiles.
The average twelve-month annual rate of rising of the index was recorded at 15.80 per cent for the twelve-month period ending in July, 0.42 percentage points lower than the twelve-month rate of change recorded in June.
The NBS report further showed that the average price paid by consumers for petrol increased by 0.3 per cent year-on-year and decreased by -1.4 per cent month-on-month to N148.2 in July, from N150.3 in June.
States with the highest average price of petrol were Yobe (N170), Borno (N160.50) and Adamawa (N160).
States with the lowest average price of petrol were Bauchi (N145.4), Lagos (N145.3), and Abuja, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Edo, Ekiti, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Kebbi, Ogun, Ondo, Osun and Sokoto (N145.0).