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Explainer: What does GDP actually mean, and how does it affect you?

GDP is not a measure of the overall standard of living or well-being of a country.

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There are several technical jargons and acronyms peculiar to many professions. In economics, one of the most common acronyms used is GDP, which stands for Gross Domestic Product.

It is often cited in business news across newspapers, radio, television news, and in reports by governments, central banks, and the business community.

It is widely used to measure the health of national and global economies. According to Tim Callen, the Divisional Chief in overseeing IMF’s Middle East and Central Asia Department,“When GDP is growing, especially if inflation is not a problem, workers and businesses are generally better off than when it is not.”

Back story: Recall that a source reported, on Monday, that Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in real terms declined by 6.10% (year-on-year) in Q2 2020, thereby ending the 3-year trend of low but positive real growth rates recorded since the 2016/17 recession.

According to the numbers contained in the GDP report, the performance recorded in Q2 2020 represents a drop of 8.22% points when compared to Q2 2019 (2.12%), and 7.97% points decline when compared to Q1 2020 (1.87%).

Apparently, the significant drop reflects the negative impacts of the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and crash in oil price on the Nigerian economy.

What is GDP?

GDP is the monetary value of final goods and services (i.e those that are bought by the final user), produced in a country in a given period of time; per quarter or year. It counts all the output generated within the borders of a country, and is composed of goods and services produced for sale in the market. It is important to note that it also includes some non-market production like defence or education services provided by the government.

Its twin, Gross National Product (GNP), counts all the output of the residents of a country. For instance, if a German-owned company has a factory in Nigeria, the output of this factory would be included in Nigeria’s GDP, but in Germany’s GNP.

However, not all productive activity is included in GDP. Some of such activities are unpaid work (work performed at home or by volunteers) and black-market. They can’t form part of GDP because they are difficult to quantify or value accurately. For instance, a food vendor that cooks for a customer would contribute to GDP but won’t if he cooks at home for the family.

Also, wear and tear of Capital stock like machines, buildings, which are used in producing the output are not inclusive in GDP. If this depletion of the capital stock, called depreciation, is subtracted from GDP, we get the net domestic product.

How GDP is calculated

  • Production approach: This adds the value-added, which is the total sales – the value of intermediate inputs into the production process) at each stage of production. What is an intermediate input? Flour would be an intermediate input and bread the final product, or an architect’s services would be an intermediate input and the building the final product.
  • The expenditure approach adds up the value of purchases made by final users. For example, “The consumption of food, televisions, and medical services by households; the investments in machinery by companies; and the purchases of goods and services by the government and foreigners,” Callen added.
  • The income approach: This sums the incomes generated by production. According to the expert, this is the compensation paid to employees, rent paid to landowners, interest paid on capital, and profit paid to the company owners.

GDP in a country is usually calculated by national statistical agencies, which is the National Bureau of Statistics in the case of Nigeria. The agency compiles the information from a large number of sources.

In making the calculations, however, most countries follow established international standards. The international standard for measuring GDP is contained in the System of National Accounts, 1993, compiled by the International Monetary Fund, the European Commission, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the United Nations, and the World Bank.

Real GDP

Since GDP gives information about the size of the economy and how an economy is performing, one thing people want to know about an economy is whether its total output of goods and services is growing or shrinking.

But because GDP is collected at current, or nominal prices, one cannot compare two periods without making adjustments for inflation.

To determine “real” GDP, its nominal value must be adjusted to take into account price changes to allow us to see whether the value of output has gone up “because more is being produced or simply because prices have increased. A statistical tool called the price deflator is used to adjust GDP from nominal to constant prices.”

The growth rate of real GDP is often used as an indicator of the general health of the economy. In broad terms, an increase in real GDP is interpreted as a sign that the economy is doing well.

Callen said, “When real GDP is growing strongly, employment is likely to be increasing as companies hire more workers for their factories and people have more money in their pockets. But real GDP growth does move in cycles over time.

“Economies are sometimes in periods of boom, and sometimes periods of slow growth or even recession (with the latter sometimes defined as two consecutive quarters in which output declines).

What GDP is not

It is also important to understand what GDP cannot tell us.

GDP is not a measure of the overall standard of living or well-being of a country. Why? Although changes in the output of goods and services per person (GDP per capita) are often used as a measure of whether the average citizen in a country is better or worse off, it does not capture things that may be deemed important to general well-being.

GDP is generally not a good measure of economic development. GDP’s preference for tangible goods also means it is insufficient at capturing the value of technology.

Generally, there are five indicators that GDP doesn’t take into account that could help measure national progress more accurately and these include: job quality (underemployment /unemployment), well-being, carbon emissions, inequality, and human health.

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ECONOMY & POLITICS

Reps say implementation of capital projects must be result-oriented

The House of Reps has called on the FG to ensure the implementation of capital projects contained in the 2020 budget.

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The House of Representatives has called on the Federal Government to ensure that the extension for implementation of capital projects in the 2020 budget is matched by visible and identifiable results.

This was disclosed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, during the visit of the Finance Minister, Zainab Ahmed, to the National Assembly on Monday.

The Speaker described the level of implementation of the 2020 budget as the highest recorded since Nigeria’s return to democracy in 1999.

He said, “The extension for implemntation of capital projects in the 2020 budget must be matched by visible and identifiable results needed to achieve quantifiable development and growth.

“Let me commend the minister and her team for the level of implementation throughout last year. It was really high, probably the highest we have seen in a long time; if not in history, in recent times, but we wanted to achieve a hundred per cent and we are on the same page.”

According to him, “We are basically trying to make sure social development and growth for the country are achieved optimally.

“It’s not a usual thing to extend the life of your budget – a budget is supposed to be for a year. So, if we do that which is not the norm, we expect there’ll be a result, and it will not just be an extension for the sake of it. There’ll be visible, identifiable results,” the Speaker added.

Briefing the lawmakers on the performance of the 2020 budget, the Finance Minister said that the Federal Government retained revenue was N3.94 trillion which represents 73% of the target for the year.

What you should know

  • The Federal Government’s share of the oil revenue was N1.5 trillion which represents 157% performance over and above the prorated target for 2020.
  • This is because the crude oil price performed better than the 28 dollars per barrel that it had projected.
  • The collection was 1.28million barrels per day representing 79 per cent performance of the revised target.
  • Company income tax performed at 82 per cent and 68 per cent respectively of the target for the year.

Customs revenue performance was 79 per cent. Other revenue, which includes Independent Revenue, was budgeted at N993.73 billion. The performance was N519.36 billion.

“Considering the challenges of the year, this is a reasonably good performance, in fact, this performance is higher than several previous years backwards.

“At the close of the year, we had released 89 per cent of the capital budget, and what we rolled over was only the un-utilized portion of the budget and it is that un-utilized portion that we are now tracking the performance and that by the end of January, performance of in-utilized portion is about 30%,” Ahmed stated.

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ECONOMY & POLITICS

2020 budget performance: FG achieves 89% capital release in December 2020

The Minister of Finance has revealed that the FG achieved 89% release of the capital component of the 2020 budget to MDAs as of December 2020.

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The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, has revealed that the Federal Government achieved 89% release of the capital component of the 2020 budget to Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) as of December 2020.

She said that the 89% capital funding for MDAs was achieved with the release of N1.74 trillion.

According to a report by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), this disclosure was made by Ahmed at an interactive session with the leadership of the National Assembly on Monday, February 22, 2021.

She also revealed that the government had disbursed N118.37 billion for Covid-19 capital expenditure from the fund.

What the Minister for Finance is saying

Ahmed said the Nigerian economy faced serious challenges in 2020, with the macroeconomic environment significantly disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

She said this led to a 65% drop in projected net 2020 government revenues from the oil and gas sector, which adversely affected foreign exchange inflows into the economy.

On the delayed release of funds to implement the 2020 capital budget until March 31, the Minister said the complaint had decreased.

She said, “I think the complaint was earlier in the year when we were trying to transfer the balances. As far as I know, in the past three weeks, I haven’t heard any such complaints and we have been able to address them.

“But when we started the transfers, we couldn’t transfer to some agencies because of some limitations in the system, but we have since been able to transfer the capital component that is being utilised by the agencies budget to the system.

While pointing out that the implementation of the MDAs projects was tied to procurement processes and capacity of the MDA, Ahmed also said the extension of the 2020 capital budget implementation to March 31 had recorded 30% performance as at January.

However, Ahmed said that she expected that the extension would record 100% performance in March.

Speaking during the interaction, the Senate’s Chief Whip, Senator Orji-Uzor Kalu, commended the Minister on the capital performance of the 2020 budget.

He said, “I want to commend the minister and her team because this is the first time in the history of Nigeria that by December 31, we are having 89% performance expenditure of the budget. It has never happened before; Last year was the very first.

“The budget had been going 49%, 27%; this means from what the Senate President was asking, it means by March, we should be looking at implementing the budget 100%.’

Earlier, President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan said the meeting was to get an update on the capital implementation of the 2020 budget given its extension for implementation by the national assembly to March 31.

What this means

  • The 89% capital release for the 2020 budget as of December 2020 is quite encouraging as it occurred despite the economic challenges and disruption caused by the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.
  • There seems to be an improved effort by the Federal Government at the budgeting process with the early passage of the 2021 budget and the implementation of the capital component of the 2020 budget.
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ECONOMY & POLITICS

Nigeria’s economy to grow by 1.1% in 2021 – World Bank

The World Bank expects growth in Nigeria to resume at 1.1% in 2021 but fears the rebound could be affected by lower oil production due to quotas.

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The World Bank has forecasted that the global economy is set to rebound by 4% in 2021, while Nigeria’s economy is expected to resume at 1.1%.

The World Bank released this on Monday in its January 2021 Global Economic Prospects. The World Bank said:

  • “The global economy is expected to expand 4% in 2021, assuming an initial COVID-19 vaccine rollout becomes widespread throughout the year. A recovery, however, will likely be subdued, unless policy makers move decisively to tame the pandemic and implement investment-enhancing reforms.”

The World Bank urged that administrators needed to focus on improving business environments, and increase labour and product market as the pandemic had severely affected the global economy.

World Bank Group President, David Malpass, said:

  • “While the global economy appears to have entered a subdued recovery, policymakers face formidable challenges — in public health, debt management, budget policies, central banking and structural reforms — as they try to ensure that this still fragile global recovery gains traction and sets a foundation for robust growth.
  • “To overcome the impacts of the pandemic and counter the investment headwind, there needs to be a major push to improve business environments, increase labour and product market flexibility, and strengthen transparency and governance.”

The World Bank added that the 2020 economic fallout was slightly less severe than previously projected, citing shallower contractions in advanced economies and a more robust recovery in China. However, disruptions to activity in emerging economies were “more acute than expected.”

Sub-Saharan Africa 

The World Bank added that Nigeria’s economy was estimated to have contracted 4.1% in 2020, as the effects of the pandemic impacted economic activities in all sectors, even across the region.

  • “In South Africa, where economic activity was on weak footing before COVID-19, output is estimated to have fallen 7.8% last year. The country suffered the most severe outbreak of the pandemic in the region and underwent strict lockdowns that brought the economy to a standstill.”

The World Bank said oil exporters in the region grappled with sharply lower prices, however, contractions in agricultural commodity exporters were less steep.

  • “Growth in the region is forecast to rebound moderately to 2.7% in 2021.”

The World Bank said it expected growth in Nigeria to resume at 1.1% in 2021, citing that Nigeria’s economic rebound would be affected by lower oil production due to quotas.

  • “Growth in Nigeria is expected to resume at 1.1% in 2021. Activity is nevertheless anticipated to be dampened by low oil prices, OPEC quotas, falling public investment due to weak government revenues, constrained private investment due to firm failures, and subdued foreign investor confidence.
  • “In South Africa, growth is expected to rebound to 3.3% in 2021. An expectation of weak growth momentum reflects the lingering effects of the pandemic and the likelihood that some mitigation measures will need to remain in place.”

What you should know 

  • Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in real terms declined by -3.62% (year-on-year) in Q3 2020, thereby marking a full-blown recession and second consecutive contraction from -6.10% recorded in the previous quarter, Q2 2020.
  • The Federal Government of Nigeria stated that the latest recession in the country would be short-lived, as it expected Nigeria to return to positive growth soon unlike during the 2016 recession.
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