The Standard and Poors, an international rating agency, has said that Nigerian economy remains strong with a stable macro-economic outlook. The Minister of Finance, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, disclosed this at a joint press briefing with the Central Bank Governor, Lamido Sanusi.
The briefing was held at the Annual Meeting of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund in Washington DC. Ms. Okonjo-Iweala, the Coordinating Minister for the Economy, said that the rating had also confirmed the Fitch rating in 2012, which put Nigerian economy in the positive light.
"We have the outcome of the 2013 rating which is a very positive one; the rating confirms the ongoing rating stance which is BB minus with a stable outlook. "So, they have confirmed that rating we had last year stands, which means that many positive things are happening in this economy.
"They have also acknowledged the challenges we have of course and they have look at those, but the summary is that in spite of these challenges, they think that the Nigerian economy is strong and the macro-economic indicators strong. "The monetary policy and fiscal stance are strong enough for us to maintain a very good rating we had before," she said.
On the fiscal side, she said that the rating agency said Nigeria's GDP growth remains strong in 2013 through 2016 buoyed by non-oil sector growth. She said the rating agency noted that Nigeria's debt stock remained relatively low while foreign reserves remained strong.
'The agency also views the economy positively in the light of the redeemed N1.7 trillion Non-Performing Loans purchased by the Asset Management Company of Nigeria (AMCON), which will be finally written off its books,' she said. She said Standard and Poor's also considered non-oil sector development, especially growth in agriculture, retail, telecoms and power as positive.
While commenting, Mr. Sanusi said the agency's assessment of the Nigerian economy aligns with the difficult global economic environment, which had seen countries like the United States being downgraded. He said the external factors were almost beyond policy control, but that the current stable rating would be upgraded if the current fiscal and monetary policies were maintained and institutions further strengthened.
Mr. Sanusi said that for Nigeria to have retained its rating of BB, at a time countries such as the United States had its rating downgraded, showed that the Nigerian economy was being managed very well.