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Nigeria seeks $3.5 bln loans to fill budget gap

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February 1
5:05 AM 2016

Africa's largest economy Nigeria is seeking $3.5 billion emergency loans from the World Bank and African Development Bank. Nigerian government is planning to raise loans to bridge the gap in the budget. The tumbling oil prices hit the Nigeria's economy. Nigeria's revenues fell drastically following the continuous drop in oil prices.

Muhammadu Buhari, President of Nigeria, is exploring ways to fill the gap of $15 billion deficit in the budget. Buhari assumed the charge as President of the West African country eight months ago and started efforts to push the economy growth through public spending. Oil exports contribute about 70 percent of total revenues of Nigerian government.

CNBC reports the lower oil prices are denting the revenues of oil exporting countries such as Nigeria and Azerbaijan. Concerns about economy growth in the wake of tumbling oil prices are growing in Nigeria. Azerbaijan has also imposed capital controls to support its falling currency Naira. Nigerian government is holding discussions with World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) on raising emergency loans.

The budget deficit is at $15 billion or three percent of gross domestic product (GDP) as against the prediction of $11 billion or 2.2 percent of GDP. Nigerian government is planning raise $2.5 billion loan from the World Bank and $1 billion loan from ADB. If sanctioned, Nigeria will get these loans below market rates. However, the loan approval is subject to respective board's decision. 

Nigeria produces 1.8 million barrels of oil per day. The oil and gas sector contribute 35 percent to the GDP. 90 percent of export revenues come from petroleum products for the country. The drop in oil prices is taking a toll on government budgets and corporate firms as well. Adding to this, alarmingly violence is rising within the country disrupting oil production, according to Business Insider

Buhari is keen on recovery in the economy slowing down and overcome the challenge of lower oil revenues. Kemi Adeosun, Finance Minister, said that she was planning Nigeria's first return to bond markets since 2013. But, the borrowing costs are increasing along with budget deficit. Buhari made budget this year with a record level of $30.7 billion (Naira6.1 trillion). 

Nigeria has decided to borrow $5 billion in external debt from several agencies and Eurobond market. Nigerian government is determined to fill the record budget deficit of Naira 3 trillion. Lawmakers will commence discussions on spending plan-2016 this week, according to Bloomberg. Nigeria has already issued dollar-denominated bonds twice. Crude oil prices fell 46 percent since June 2015 and were hovering at $35.14 a barrel in London market.

Gene Leon, the IMF's representative in Nigeria, said: "I think we all agree that Nigeria is facing significant external and fiscal accounts challenges from the sharp fall in oil prices, as of course are all oil exporters. But, Nigeria was not in immediate need of an IMF program. We are not in that space at all."

IMF has to endorse the government's economic policies for getting loan from the World Bank. Nigerian government has to ensure that it's taking structural reforms to make the banks confident about the economy prospects. It's also learnt that IMF is of view that Nigeria doesn't need a full-fledged international bailout at this time.

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