Remittances from Nigerians abroad hit $17.9 billion

No Comments » August 18th, 2008 posted by // Categories: Nigerians in the Diaspora



 

THE NATION

 

Remittances from Nigerians abroad hit $17.9 billion

August 18, 2008

 

By Chijama Ogbu Business Editor

Remittances from Nigerians abroad almost doubled last year, rising to $17.9 billion from $10.5 billion in 2006, the Minister of Finance, Dr. Shamsuddeen Usman, said in Lagos.

 

This shows a significant growth in the level of the remittances in the past two years in comparison with the 2005 figure, which stood at $6.5 billion.

Usman, who spoke in Lagos last week, said the growth in remittances from abroad underscored the growing confidence in the Nigeria’s economy.

Remittances provide the backbone for the economies of many developing countries, including those of Kenya, Ghana and Philippines, where they account for about 10 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product.

Monies sent home by Nigerians living abroad are spent on food, education and health needs of the senders’ relatives; as well as on investments in real estate, stock exchange and the transport sector.

Analysts predict that slowing global growth may limit jobs abroad as companies lay off workers and freeze expansion, reducing the amount of money expatriates can send home in the coming months. Many Nigerians are living in the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, France and other developed economies.

“This development (the rise in remittances) is attributable to the increased confidence in the economy. The debt profile of Nigeria is sustainable, with a substantial part of it in local currency. Both Fitch and Standard and Poor’s rating agencies have reaffirmed Nigeria’s overall rating BB- and indicated the outlook to be stable,” Usman said. He spoke while reacting to mounting criticisms against the government’s handling of the economy.

Nigerians have been critical of what they perceive as the slow pace of the Yar’Adua administration, accusing it of dissipating energy on probes and witch-hunt of office holders in the immediate past administration while the economy stagnates.

They are particularly concerned that not much has been done by the administration towards addressing the challenges of power, roads and other infrastructure.

But Usman said that Nigerians had not been fair to the administration, arguing that the government appeared slow because it was trying to fix some mistakes made by the previous administration and to avoid fresh ones.

“Nigeria’s economic performance remains buoyant, underpinned by strong performance of the non-oil sector, notwithstanding challenges in the areas of infrastructure, especially power. Growth in agriculture and other parts of the non-oil sector remains robust: estimated to have grown by about 9 per cent, compared with 9.1 per cent in the corresponding period of 2007,” he said.

Usman was, however, not upbeat about the oil sector in the year. He projects a negative 1.81 per cent growth for the sector in the year due to the restiveness in the Niger Delta and consequent supply disruption to oil production.

Other economic indicators, the minister said, showed the economy was strong and growing.

“Real Gross Domestic product growth of 7 – 7.5 per cent is envisaged for 2008 compared with 6.5 per cent in 2007.

“A double digit growth remains feasible in the next one to two years with improvement in infrastructure, especially power supply; enhanced peace and security in the Niger delta; implementation of ongoing and envisaged sector reforms; and continued macroeconomic stability,” he said.

 

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