DMO Reacts to Media Publication on the Listing of Nigeria, Nine Others as High-Debt Risk Nations

Debt Management Office Set To Auction N150bn FGB
Debt Management Office Set To Auction N150bn FGB

The attention of the Debt Management Office (DMO) has been drawn to the publication on page 19 of The Punch Newspaper of Wednesday, August 11, 2021, captioned “World Bank lists Nigeria, nine others high-debt risk nations”.

In the publication of The Punch Newspaper, it was stated that the World Bank has classified Nigeria as one of the top ten (10) ‘high-debt risk nations’ in the International Development Association (IDA) Audited Financial Statement for the Fiscal Year 2021 (July 1, 2020 – June 30, 2021) published on Monday, August 9, 2021.

The publication of The Punch Newspaper is not only false and misleading but also suggests an inadequate understanding of the essence of the World Bank’s Report. The World Bank’s report was an assessment of the performance of IDA and not the performance of the IDA Loans nor the debt repayment capacity of the beneficiaries of IDA Loans.

Published Debt Figures Not For FG Only — DMO-Brand Spur Nigeria
Published Debt Figures Not For FG Only — DMOPhoto Source: Debt Management Office

By way of explanation, the World Bank through IDA gives concessional loans to poor and developing countries to help them achieve improvements in growth, job creation, poverty reduction, governance, the environment, climate adaptation and resilience, human Capital, infrastructure, and debt transparency. Nigeria is a beneficiary of IDA Loans.

It is important to re-emphasize that the World Bank’s Report, which was misrepresented by The Punch Newspaper, was focused only on the composition of IDA’s Loan Portfolio and did not make any reference to the debt sustainability of the top ten (10) beneficiary countries of IDA Loans, such as India, Pakistan, Nigeria, Kenya and Ghana that the Newspaper erroneously referred to as ‘high-debt risk nations.

IDA loans are typically for Tenors of 30 – 40 years, Grace Period (moratorium on principal repayment) of 7 – 10 years and Service Fee of only 0.75%.

The highly concessional nature of IDA Loans satisfies the requirements of the provision of Section 41(1)(a) of the Fiscal Responsibility Act, 2007, which states that Government at all tiers shall only borrow on concessional terms with a low-interest rate and with a reasonably long amortization period. The cost of IDA Loans, which is the Service Fee of 0.75%, is considerable low thereby moderating the cost of debt service.

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The DMO wishes to state that Nigeria’s IDA’s Debt Stock as of June 30, 2021, was USD11.7 billion. IDA loans represent one of the most favourable borrowing options for countries like Nigeria and are also consistent with the Medium Term Debt Management Strategy of the Federal Government.