• Monday, March 04, 2024
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Cost of living crisis and inflation, what’s Next?

Four charts show Nigeria is not a rich country

It is no news that many economies including Nigeria are currently experiencing inflation. In reality, the last few months have been eventful, chiefly due to the inflationary pressure. Its impact has continued to have a severe impact on businesses, households, and the cost of living. Even though inflation is a concept that affects all of us; most importantly high inflation could be hostile to the economy and business especially the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs).

With persistent inflation, businesses and households usually perform poorly, and expectedly more money is paid for the same goods and services. This has been the troubling trend in Nigeria in recent times, where high price increases have been recorded in transportation, food costs, household needs, raw materials, pharmaceutical products, health care, motor cars, vehicle spare parts, equipment, and in prices of services amongst others.

Admittedly, inflation erodes our value of money, erodes the purchasing power of all of us and the poor become poorer. Therefore, the nexus of the impact of inflation is the specific focus of this piece. However, it was mainly instigated by the continuous rise in the level of inflation rate in Nigeria in recent times. The consequences and impact of inflation (price instability) in Nigeria cannot be over-emphasized, we can all feel it.

Inflation is simply seen as a persistent rise in the general price level of the broad spectrum of goods and services in a country over a long period. Largely, when prices of energy, food, commodities, goods, and services go up, it hurts all of us and hardship is heightened. A major driver of Nigeria’s headline inflation has been the consistent rise in food costs. In recent times we have noticed a daily rise in the price of commodities and food prices which is already manifesting as a cost of living crisis.

Significantly, history and literature present some other factors adduced to the unsustainable economic growth in Nigeria apart from the high inflation rate, and it includes the incessant insecurity in many parts of the country, rising foreign and domestic debt, currency exchange rate volatility, propensity to consume more and save less, decrepit infrastructure and poor policy implications, among others. Regrettably, these issues can further compound and manifest in areas where we already have a deficit as a nation, staggering unemployment, rising cost of living, bleak business continuity, poverty level increase, illiteracy, crime, and terrorism. Another perennial issue is the country’s over-reliance on crude oil production revenue, which has posed unsustainable due to exposure to global shocks.

Based on the aforementioned and from the inflationary perspective, to achieve adequate price stability in the country, the government needs to reduce the budget deficit and adopt significant structural policy reforms with monetary and fiscal policies. Such as reducing import duties on some essential items and commodities and so on. This will help to control inflation and maintain stronger growth rates in terms of improved Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and to stabilise the tide of inflationary pressures on the economy and in business operations.

It is advocated that political leaders should minimise avoidable public spending, reduce spending on non-development activities, address insufficient infrastructure, and build strong and effective institutions. The massive growth and developmental challenges of the country can improve by also promoting the human and SME ecosystem. The SME sector can play a major role in the economic growth of the country through the distribution of wealth, poverty reduction, and job creation. The sector is labour-intensive and can provide a reasonable reduction in the unemployment rate in the country but the government needs to provide an adequate enabling environment and support for the sector to strive.

Considerably, institutions, businesses, and individuals have the opportunity to beat inflation by accelerating the preservation of capital and strengthening purchasing power with income addition. This can be done by acquiring investments particularly assets such as real estate because they usually keep up with inflation. Remember N1,000,000 today will not acquire the same value of investments, goods and services in 5 years mainly due to inflation. Therefore, investing is key to hedge against a sharp inflation impact because it erodes the value of savings if funds are just left in the bank accounts.

Supportively, it is imperative to consider investing in other currencies, diversify your investment portfolio internationally if you can, and consider inflation-protected securities with potential for higher growth like equities, Gold Shares ETF, or mutual funds. These can earn more interest returns per year than the inflation rate therefore the options are reasonable. It is also possible to start a business, cultivate passive income, and even buy items with a long shelf life today to mitigate the impact of inflation. Good luck!

Dr. Timi Olubiyi, an Entrepreneurship & Business Management expert with a Ph.D. in Business Administration from Babcock University Nigeria. A prolific investment coach, adviser, author, seasoned scholar, Chartered Member of the Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment (CISI), and Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) registered capital market operator. He can be reached on the Twitter handle @drtimiolubiyi and via email: [email protected], for any questions, reactions, and comments.