Nigeria: World Bank Says Inflation Will Push Additional 1m Nigerians Into Poverty By End of 2022

The World Bank has said that inflation in Nigeria, which it stated was already one of the highest in the world before the war in Ukraine, is likely to push an additional one million Nigerians into poverty by the end of 2022.

This was disclosed by the global financial institution in its latest Nigeria Development Update (NDU) report titled: "The Continuing Urgency of Business Unusual", which was released on Tuesday.

The report noted that the additional one million was different from the six million Nigerians that were already predicted to fall into poverty this year because of the rise in prices, particularly food prices.

Recall that the Nigerian National Bureau of Statistics said in 2020 that 40% or 83 million Nigerians live in poverty.

Although Nigeria's poverty profile for 2021 has not yet been released, it is estimated that the number of poor people will increase to 90 million, or 45% of the population, in 2022

The World Bank said: "Nigeria is in a paradoxical situation: growth prospects have improved compared to six months ago but inflationary and fiscal pressures have increased considerably, leaving the economy much more vulnerable.

"Inflation in Nigeria, already one of the highest in the world before the war in Ukraine, is likely to increase further as a result of the rise in global fuel and food prices caused by the war. And that, the World Bank estimates, is likely to push an additional one million Nigerians into poverty by the end of 2022, on top of the 6 million Nigerians that were already predicted to fall into poverty this year because of the rise in prices, particularly food prices.

"This latest edition of the NDU highlights that the inflationary pressures will be compounded by the fiscal pressures Nigeria will face this year because of the ballooning cost of gasoline subsidies at a time when oil production continues to decline.

"Hence, Nigeria, for the first time since its return to democracy, and alone amongst major oil exporters, is unlikely to benefit fiscally from the windfall opportunity created by higher global oil prices."

Shubham Chaudhuri, World Bank Country Director for Nigeria, said, "When we launched our previous Nigeria Development Update in November 2021, we estimated that Nigeria could stand to lose more than N3 trillion in revenues in 2022 because the proceeds from crude oil sales, instead of going to the federation account, would be used to cover the rising cost of gasoline subsidies that mostly benefit the rich. Sadly, that projection turned out to be optimistic.

"With oil prices going up significantly, and with it, the price of imported gasoline, we now estimate that the foregone revenues as a result of gasoline subsidies will be closer to N5 trillion in 2022. And that 5 trillion is urgently needed to cushion ordinary Nigerians from the crushing effect of double-digit increases in the cost of basic commodities, to invest in Nigeria's children and youth, and in the infrastructure needed for private businesses small and large to flourish, grow and create jobs."

According to the report, Nigeria's growing macroeconomic challenges in 2022 highlights the continuing urgency of a departure from business as usual, and the need for consensus around a package of robust reforms.

The report highlighted three policy priorities to reducing inflation through a sequenced and coordinated mix of exchange rate, trade, monetary, and fiscal policies, including the adoption of a single, market-responsive exchange rate;

Addressing mounting fiscal pressures at the federal and sub-national levels by phasing out the petrol subsidy (estimated to cost up to 5 trillion naira in 2022) and redirecting fiscal resources to investments in infrastructure, education, and health services; increasing "pro-health taxes", and improving tax compliance;

Catalysing private investment to boost job creation by improving the transparency of key government-to-business services and eliminating trade restrictions.

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