Inflation to push 15 million Nigerians into poverty –World Bank

Agency Report
Agency Report

The World Bank has said that inflation shock is projected to push about 15 million more Nigerians into poverty between 2020 and 2022.

The Washington-based bank said this in its latest Nigeria Development Update report, titled, ‘The Continuing Urgency of Business Unusual’.

The report read in part, “Overall, the ‘inflation shock’ is estimated to result in about 15 million more Nigerians living in poverty between 2020 and 2022.”

The lending bank stressed the need for reducing the rising rate of inflation, which is pushing millions of Nigerians into poverty.

Although the World Bank says inflation in 2022 is projected to be 15.5 per cent, Nigeria’s inflation as of May this year is 17.71 per cent, which is higher than the World Bank’s projection.

The lending bank further said that Nigeria has one of the highest inflation rates in the world.

According to the bank, inflationary pressures in the country are driven by certain policy distortions.

The bank said, “Inflationary pressures were compounded by policy distortions, in particular (i) lack of flexible foreign exchange management, (ii) trade restrictions, and (iii) conflicting monetary policy goals.” It further disclosed that global supply shocks exacerbated inflationary pressures and increased the urgency.

Aside from the policy distortions, the COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine have contributed to rising inflation.

It was also stated that the financing of the fiscal deficit and trade restrictions by the Central Bank of Nigeria contributes to fuelling inflationary pressures, and Nigeria will have one of the highest inflation rates in Sub-Saharan Africa in 2022.

The bank also said that poverty might be becoming entrenched in certain Nigerian households, particularly in rural areas in the north.

In combating poverty, certain reforms were recommended, which include fiscal, trade, and exchange-rate policy that could help diversify the economy; invigorating structural transformation; and creating good, productive jobs, especially wage jobs.

World Bank economists, Jonathan Lain and Jakob Engel, have said that rising inflation, persistent population growth, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the war in Ukraine are threatening Nigeria’s poverty reduction aspiration.

In June last year, the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), inaugurated the National Steering Committee of the National Poverty Reduction with Growth Strategy chaired by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.

This, he said, re-echoes his commitment to lifting 100 million Nigerians out of poverty in 10 years, with a well-researched framework for implementation and funding.

Despite this, the rate of poverty in the country seems to be on the rise, driven significantly by inflation.

In its ‘A Better Future for All Nigerians: 2022 Nigeria Poverty Assessment’ report, the World Bank said that poverty reduction stagnated since 2015, with more Nigerians falling below the poverty line over the years.

The Washington-based bank added that the number of poor Nigerians is projected to hit 95.1 million in 2022.

The World Bank also warned that many non-poor Nigerians were only one small shock away from falling into poverty.

According to the lender, such a shock can be induced by the issues of climate or conflict which could further threaten Nigeria’s poverty reduction efforts.

Like the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund has said that the rate of inflation in Nigeria is expected to remain elevated in 2022.

Speaking on the development, an Associate-Professor of Economics at the Pan-Atlantic University, Olalekan Aworinde, said the events of the last few months were apt indicators that the inflation rate would increase further.

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