Nigeria’s total indebtedness to the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) stood at $14.99 billion (N6.15trn at the official rate of N410/$1) as at March 31, 2021, according to latest data released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).
The amount represents 84.05 per cent of the country’s multilateral debt stock -$17.83billion- as at the end of March this year.
New Telegraph’s analysis of the NBS data shows that the country’s indebtedness to the World Bank Group, during the period under review, comprises its $11.10billion and $410.23 million debt to the International Development Association (IDA) and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) respectively.
Nigeria applied for a fresh $1.5billion loan from the World Bank last year but the Bretton Woods institution is widely believed to be delaying approval of the request until the country complies with some of the loan conditions, such as exchange rate unification and removal of fuel subsidi
The NBS data also shows that Nigeria owes the IMF $3.48billion.
The Fund had in late April, last year, released $3.4 billion in emergency financial assistance under the Rapid Financing Instrument (RFI) to support the Federal Government’s efforts to mitigate the devastating economic impact of the Covid-19 crisis.
A breakdown of the NBS numbers shows that other multilateral institutions that the country is indebted to include the African Development Bank (AfDB) Group, the Asian Development Bank(ADB), the Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa(BADEA) and the Islamic Development Bank (IDB).
Nigeria also owes the European Development Fund (EDF) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). Specifically, the data indicates that Nigeria owes the African Growing Together Fund (AGTF) and African Development Fund (ADF), which are under AfDB Group, $0.21million and $942.51million respectively.
Also, the country’s indebtedness to the ADB and the EDF during the period under review stood at $1.59billion and $51.33 million respectively. The data further shows that Nigeria’s debt to the BADEA stood at $5.88million, while its indebtedness to the IDB and IFAD stood at $29.72 million and $223.28 million respectively.
This means that the country’s total multilateral debt stock as at the end of March this year stood at $17.83billion, representing 54.26 per cent of the nation’s $32.86billion total external debt stock as at Q1’ 2021, according to the NBS data.
For bilateral debts (debts arising from country-tocountry loans or loans secured by Nigeria from financial institutions belonging to other countries), the NBS numbers show that the nation’s $3.40billion indebtedness to the Exim Bank of China constitute the bulk of its bilateral debt stock- $4.18billion- during the period under the review.
In addition, the NBS data shows that Nigeria’s Eurobond and Diaspora Bond debt stock stood at $10.37billion and $300million respectively as the end of March this year.
The numbers also indicate that the country’s external debt stock with respect to promissory notes, stood at $179.53million during the period under review.
According to the NBS, external debts represent 37.67per cent (N12.47 trillion) of Nigeria’s N33.11trillion total public debt portfolio (Federal and States’ debt stock) as of 31st March 2021 compared with domestic debts which represent N20.64trillion or 62.33per cent.
The surge in Nigeria’s public debt from N12.12tillion as of June 30, 2015 to N33.11trillion at the end of March this year, has raised concerns in some quarters, given that many analysts argue that the debt is not sustainable. However, the Federal Government continues to insist that the country has one of the lowest debt-to- Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ratios in the world.
For instance, the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, said at the opening of the AfDB’s annual meetings last Wednesday that the country’s debt-to- GDP ratio currently stands at 29 per cent, adding that the government planned to borrow more money to fund infrastructure development.
She said: “As of Q1 2021, we have about a 29 per cent debt-to-Gross Domestic Product ratio. In terms of level of debt, we are still very healthy, and sustainable. We are struggling with revenues, which is what we need to pay our debts. We have put in place a number of measures to enhance domestic revenue.
“We are cutting costs; we are improving the ease of doing business, trying to leverage private sector resource capacity to invest in infrastructure to reduce government spending. We are working on increased transparency in public financial management; we are enforcing fiscal discipline to expand our fiscal space so that we can continue to service our debt and borrow more to build our infrastructure capacity.”
Critics, however, point out that the area of concern is Nigeria’s high debt service to revenue ratio. Commenting on the latest official numbers released by the Debt Management Office (DMO), analysts at CSL Research stated: “Government’s interest payments continue to absorb a large share of federal government revenues, making the otherwise low debt-to-GDP ratio highly vulnerable to shocks.
The total debt service to revenue ratio is currently estimated at c.70 per cent. Furthermore, the external debt to export cover at 1.06x is worrisome, as this is lower than the 5-year average of 2.2x.”
Similarly, a Securities & Investment analyst, Mr. Idika Aja, told New Telegraph recently that he was worried that a significant proportion of the country’s external debt is contracted on commercial terms. He said: “Some of these loans should be restructured.
For instance, Eurobonds pose considerable risk. They carry exchange rate and re-pricing risks and so increase debt burden and should be avoided.”