World Bank reports say rising inflation push 7m Nigerians below poverty line

The World Bank has revealed that rising inflation in the country has pushed about 7 million Nigerians below the poverty line in 2020 alone.

According to a report “Resilience through Reforms” published by the bank on Tuesday, the rise in inflationary pressure has been driven primarily by surging food prices, adding that the country’s rate of inflation rose steadily throughout 2020 to reach a four-year high in March 2021.

The report stated that Nigeria’s inflation rate rose from 11.98% as of December 2019 to 15.75% at the end of 2020, and currently stands at 18.12% as of April 2021, while food inflation stood at 22.72%.

The report however, noted that the Nigerian economy experienced a shallower contraction of 1.8% than the projected contraction of 3.2% at the beginning of the pandemic.

“Notably, food prices accounted for over 60% of the total increase in inflation, as stated in the report. Despite the recovery in the economy from the recession witnessed in 2020, prices are increasing rapidly and this is impacting Nigerian households.” The reports read in part.

The bank’s Country Director for Nigeria, Shubham Chaudhuri said “Nigeria faces interlinked challenges in relation to inflation, limited job opportunities, and insecurity.

“While the government has made efforts to reduce the effect of these by advancing long-delayed policy reforms, it is clear that these reforms will have to be sustained and deepened for Nigeria to realize its development potential.”

Marco Hernandez, the bank’s Lead Economist for Nigeria added that “Given the urgency to reduce inflation amidst the pandemic, a policy consensus and expedited reform implementation on exchange-rate management, monetary policy, trade policy, fiscal policy, and social protection would help save lives, protect livelihoods, and ensure a faster and sustained recovery.”

The report, however, acknowledged notable policy reforms by the government aimed at mitigating the impact of the crisis and supporting the recovery; including steps taken towards reducing gasoline subsidies and adjusting electricity tariffs towards more cost-reflective levels, both aimed at expanding the fiscal space for pro-poor spending.

In addition, the report highlights that both the Federal and State governments cut nonessential spending and redirected resources towards the COVID-19 response. At the same time, public-sector transparency has improved, in particular around the operations of the oil and gas sector.

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