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World Bank Disagrees With Adeosun on Borrowing … Says Cost of Debts Not Sustainable

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Kemi adeosun
  • World Bank Disagrees With Adeosun on Borrowing … Says Cost of Debts Not Sustainable

The World Bank has disagreed with the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, on the need for the Federal Government to borrow more in order to develop the nation’s infrastructure and stimulate the economy.

The World Bank spoke through its Senior Economist, Gloria Joseph-Raji, on Monday in Abuja, saying that the cost of borrowing or paying interest on Nigeria’s debt was not sustainable as revenues to make such payment had dried up.

She spoke with our correspondent on the sidelines of the lunch of Africa Pulse, a biannual report on Africa.

Adeosun said on Sunday at a press briefing rounding off the World Bank/International Monetary Fund annual meeting in Washington DC, United States that Nigerians would have to tolerate more borrowings in the short term for the government to deliver critical infrastructure.

But Joseph-Raji said that dwindling revenues had raised a concern both at the Federal Government and the World Bank on sustainability of Nigeria’s borrowings as debt-to-revenue ratio had increased by 25 per cent within a period of one year.

She said in 2015, the country’s debt to revenue ratio stood at 35 per cent but rose to 60 per cent by 2016, reflecting a reduction in government revenues and rising debt profile, thereby raising a question about the debt sustainability.

Joseph-Raji said, “Nigeria has a decent debt-to-GDP ratio, currently about 19 per cent. It is the debt to revenue ratio that is of concern and that rate is a sustainable issue. That is of concern to us and that is also of concern to the government.

“The government is aware that the debt is looking more unsustainable from the point of debt service to revenue ratio. The estimate we had for last year at the federal level was about 60 per cent. That is coming from about 35 per cent in 2015.

“That reflects the substantially lower revenues that Nigeria recorded last year. Even among the state governments; we know that a lot of state governments are servicing a lot of debts from their federation account allocation. So, there is really going to be a sustainable issue emerging.”

The World Bank expert said she was concerned about the sustainability of the country’s debt, especially the huge domestic borrowing with high interest rate, which prompted the Debt Management Office to come up with a strategy to rebalance the country’s debt portfolio.

She said, “The DMO released the Debt Management Strategy 2016 to 2019 last year. The strategy was to rebalance the debt portfolio from more of domestic now to more of foreign. That is because of the debt servicing cost.

“Before now we had a debt portfolio of about 80 per cent domestic to 20 per cent external. We know that the debt servicing cost of domestic debt is really high. Treasury bill is an average of 18 per cent; the FGN bonds, from 16 per cent. The government is trying to rebalance its portfolio with foreign debt, which has much lower interest rate than domestic debt. That is why this year you have seen them go for Eurobonds, with a total of $1.5bn in the first quarter of the year. They also did Diaspora bond of $300m. If you look at the yield on those bonds, they are much less than 10 per cent.

“The government is aware that there is a sustainable issue and that is what they are trying to correct by taking more foreign debt.”

Joseph-Raji said in the light of expenditure exceeding revenue, government should borrow, but it should borrow in a manner that was sustainable.

Also speaking on the issue in an interview with our correspondent, the Head of Abuja office of Social Action, a Non-Governmental Organisation active in debt relief advocacy, Mrs. Vivian Bellonwu-Okafor, said the government needed to think about better ways of managing the economy.

She said borrowing $3bn from abroad to refinance local debts was replacing one evil with another evil.

Bellonwu-Okafor said foreign borrowing would invariably lead to annual debt servicing in hard currency to foreign lenders.

She said, “The $3bn debt refinancing arrangement, as proposed by the Federal Government, does not solve the country’s rising debt problem; it merely trades one evil for another.

“Borrowing longer-term foreign loans to pay off maturing short-term domestic debt, instead of taking actual steps to gradually reduce and exit debt overhang, is a demonstration of poor economic management.

“Several developing countries have adopted far-reaching domestic strategies to mitigate the effects of international market shocks and global financial crisis. While countries like Malaysia are increasing internal investments to develop their economies and make them as independent and vibrant as possible, rather than shrink deeper into global financial waters, Nigeria seems to be doing quite the opposite; preparing frameworks and opportunities for more foreign exchange and capital flight from the country in annual debt servicing.”

In another telephone interview with our correspondent, a financial expert and associate professor, and Head of the Department of Banking and Finance, Nasarawa State University, Dr. Uche Uwalaka, said there was no doubt that Nigeria’s debt to revenue ratio was high.

According to him, the use of the index is a better way to measure a country’s capacity to pay debt and interest.

Although he said that the country hardly had any better option than to borrow, he insisted that debts should be tied to projects that were self-liquidating.

He said, “There is no doubt that the country’s debt burden is high going by the debt to revenue ratio. There are other measures of the debt burden such as the debt-to-GDP ratio, which is currently around 18 to 19 per cent.

“External debts are cheaper to service especially when they come from multilateral sources. The attention of government has shifted to foreign debt. I am in support of government’s plan to borrow $3bn to refinance some local debts. What is important is that the National Assembly and other agencies should focus on is the monitoring of what we do with foreign loans. This is because foreign loans also have their own risks such as shock in exchange rates.”

Uwalaka said other options to borrowing such as sale of national assets, increase in taxes and printing of money were not viable in the present circumstances of the country.

Is the CEO/Founder of Investors King Limited. A proven foreign exchange research analyst and a published author on Yahoo Finance, Businessinsider, Nasdaq, Entrepreneur.com, Investorplace, and many more. He has over two decades of experience in global financial markets.

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Economy

Nigeria’s Growth Forecast Lowered to 3% for 2025, Higher than Most Emerging Markets

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IMF global - Investors King

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has projected a 3% growth rate for Nigeria in 2025, slightly down from the 3.1% forecasted for 2024.

Despite this slight decline, Nigeria’s projected growth remains higher than that of many emerging markets as detailed in the IMF’s latest World Economic Outlook released on Tuesday.

In comparison, South Africa’s economy is expected to grow by 1.2% in 2025, up from 0.9% this year. Brazil’s growth is projected at 2.4% from 2.1% in 2024, and Mexico’s growth forecast stands at 1.6% for 2025, down from 2.2% in 2024.

However, India is anticipated to see a robust growth of 6.5% in 2025, although this is slightly lower than the 7% forecast for 2024.

The IMF’s projections come as Nigeria undertakes significant monetary reforms. The Central Bank of Nigeria has been working on clearing the foreign exchange backlog, and the federal government recently removed petrol subsidies.

These reforms aim to stabilize the economy, but the country continues to grapple with high inflation and increasing poverty levels, which pose challenges to sustained economic growth.

Sub-Saharan Africa as a whole is expected to see an improvement in growth, with projections of 4.1% in 2025, up from 3.7% in 2024. This regional outlook indicates a modest recovery as economies adjust to global economic conditions.

The IMF report underscores the need for cautious monetary policy. It recommends that central banks in emerging markets avoid easing their monetary stances too early to manage inflation risks and sustain economic growth.

In cases where inflation risks have materialized, central banks are advised to remain open to further tightening of monetary policy.

“Central banks should refrain from easing too early and should be prepared for further tightening if necessary,” the report stated. “Where inflation data encouragingly signal a durable return to price stability, monetary policy easing should proceed gradually to allow for necessary fiscal consolidation.”

The IMF also highlighted the importance of avoiding fiscal slippages, noting that fiscal policies may need to be significantly tighter than previously anticipated in some countries to ensure economic stability.

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Nigeria’s Inflation Rises to 34.19% in June Amid Rising Costs

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Food Inflation - Investors King

Nigeria’s headline inflation rate surged to 34.19% in June 2024, a significant increase from the 33.95% recorded in May.

This rise highlights the continuing pressures on the nation’s economy as the cost of living continues to climb.

On a year-on-year basis, the June 2024 inflation rate was 11.40 percentage points higher than the 22.79% recorded in June 2023.

This substantial increase shows the persistent challenges faced by consumers and businesses alike in coping with escalating prices.

The month-on-month inflation rate for June 2024 was 2.31%, slightly up from 2.14% in May 2024. This indicates that the pace at which prices are rising continues to accelerate, compounding the economic strain on households and enterprises.

A closer examination of the divisional contributions to the inflation index reveals that food and non-alcoholic beverages were the primary drivers, contributing 17.71% to the year-on-year increase.

Housing, water, electricity, gas, and other fuels followed, adding 5.72% to the inflationary pressures.

Other significant contributors included clothing and footwear (2.62%), transport (2.23%), and furnishings, household equipment, and maintenance (1.72%).

Sectors such as education, health, and miscellaneous goods and services also played notable roles, contributing 1.35%, 1.03%, and 0.57% respectively.

The rural and urban inflation rates also exhibited marked increases. Urban inflation reached 36.55% in June 2024, a rise of 12.23 percentage points from the 24.33% recorded in June 2023.

On a month-on-month basis, urban inflation was 2.46% in June, slightly higher than the 2.35% in May 2024. The twelve-month average for urban inflation stood at 32.08%, up 9.70 percentage points from June 2023’s 22.38%.

Rural inflation was similarly impacted, with a year-on-year rate of 32.09% in June 2024, an increase of 10.71 percentage points from June 2023’s 21.37%.

The month-on-month rural inflation rate rose to 2.17% in June, up from 1.94% in May 2024. The twelve-month average for rural inflation reached 28.15%, compared to 20.76% in June 2023.

The rising inflation rates pose significant challenges for the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) as it grapples with balancing monetary policy to rein in inflation while supporting economic growth.

The ongoing pressures from high food prices and energy costs necessitate urgent policy interventions to stabilize the economy and protect the purchasing power of Nigerians.

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Inflation to Climb Again in June, but at a Reduced Pace, Predicts Meristem

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Nigeria's Inflation Rate - Investors King

As Nigeria awaits the release of the National Bureau of Statistics’ report on June 2024 inflation, economic analysts project that while inflation will continue its upward trajectory, the pace of increase will moderate.

This comes after inflation rose to a 28-year high of 33.95% in May, up from 33.69% in April.

Meristem, a leading financial services company, has forecasted that June’s headline inflation will rise to 34.01%, a slight increase from May’s figure.

The firm attributes this persistent inflationary pressure to ongoing structural challenges in agriculture, high transportation costs, and the continuous depreciation of the naira.

Experts have highlighted several factors contributing to the inflationary trend. Insecurity in food-producing regions and high transportation costs have disrupted supply chains, while the depreciation of the naira has increased importation costs.

In May, food inflation grew at a slower pace, reaching 40.66%, but challenges in the agricultural sector, such as the infestation of tomato leaves, have led to higher prices for staples like tomatoes and yams.

Meristem predicts that food inflation will persist in June, driven by these lingering challenges. Increased demand during the Eid-el-Kabir celebration and rising importation costs are also expected to keep food prices elevated.

Core inflation, which excludes volatile items like food and energy, was at 27.04% in May. Meristem projects it to rise to 27.30% in June.

The firm notes that higher transportation costs and the depreciation of the naira will continue to push core inflation up.

However, they also anticipate a month-on-month moderation in the core index due to a relatively stable naira exchange rate during June, compared to a more significant depreciation in May.

Cowry Assets Management Limited has projected an even higher headline inflation figure of 34.25% for June, citing similar concerns.

The firm notes that over the past year, food prices in Nigeria have soared due to supply chain disruptions, currency depreciation, and climate change impacts on agriculture.

This has made basic staples increasingly unaffordable for many Nigerians, stretching household budgets.

As inflation continues to rise, analysts believe the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) will likely hike the benchmark lending rate again.

The CBN’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) has raised the Monetary Policy Rate (MPR) by 650 basis points this year, bringing it to 26.25% as of May 2024.

At a recent BusinessDay CEO Forum, CBN Governor Dr. Olayemi Cardoso emphasized the MPC’s commitment to tackling inflation, stating that while the country needs growth, controlling inflation is paramount.

“The MPC is not oblivious to the fact that the country does need growth. If these hikes hadn’t been done at the time, the naira would have almost tipped over, so it helped to stabilize the naira. Interest rates are not set by the CBN governor but by the MPC committee composed of independent-minded people. These are people not given to emotion but to data. The MPC clarified that the major issue is taming inflation, and they would do what is necessary to tame it,” Cardoso said.

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