World Bank loan portfolio in Nigeria now stands at $8.67bn, an investigation has shown.
Loans from the International Development Association, one of the three arms of the World Bank, make up $8.55bn of the portfolio.
Loans from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, another arm of the Breton Woods institution, make up $124.18m of the portfolio.
IDA is the concessional arm of the bank through which it grants low interest loans to developing countries while the IBRD is the commercial arm that lends at commercial interest rates.
Statistics obtained from the Debt Management Office showed that the bank’s portfolio in Nigeria rose from $6.67bn as of December 31, 2016, to $8.67bn as of December 31, 2018.
This means that the World Bank portfolio in the country rose by $2bn within a period of two years. This shows an increase of 29.98 per cent within the two-year period under review.
Nigeria’s external debt as of December 31, 2018, stood at $25.27bn. With a portfolio of $8.67bn, the World Bank is the country’s single largest creditor as the bank holds 34.32 per cent of the nation’s external debt commitment.
Although some experts may see the 29.98 per cent growth in bank’s portfolio in Nigeria within a period of two years as high, there was actually more growth in the country’s commitment to Eurobonds within the same period.
In 2016, the nation’s Eurobonds loans stood at $1.5bn. However, by December 2018, the Eurobonds portfolio had reached $10.87bn. This shows that within the period, the country’s Eurobonds debt rose by $9.37bn or 624.67 per cent.
Drying concessional sources of external borrowing had driven the nation to commercial loans which included Eurobonds and Diaspora Bonds issued to Nigerians abroad.
The country also had to take commercial loans from abroad in a bid to retire some domestic debts that were considered to come with very high interest rates.
Speaking at a recent press briefing, the Director-General of DMO, Patience Oniha, said the government had borrowed to fund projects, to finance the budget deficit and to refinance maturing obligations.
Particularly, she said, some foreign debts were used to refinance treasury bills because of the short tenor of the bills, adding that borrowing from abroad had also helped to stabilise the local currency in the last two years.
Oniha said that borrowing for 2019 would be 50-50 split between domestic and external in striving to be consistent with the Debt Management Strategy 2013-2019 aimed at achieving a 60:40 ratio between domestic debt and external debt.
She said, “Relatively low interest rates mean the government can issue longer-dated bonds to continue to fund infrastructure projects.
“Revenue generating initiatives are expected to improve revenues and reduce the debt service to revenue ratio.”
ECO Crisis: Nigeria, Other Countries Demand ECOWAS Meeting
Nigeria and six other members of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) on Thursday demanded a crucial extraordinary meeting to discuss the controversial renaming of the CFA Franc as ECO by eight of their counterparts.
The demand was contained in a communique issued at the end of a meeting by the countries, namely Nigeria, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
On December 21, 2019, the eight French-speaking West African countries announced their decision to dump the French CFA Franc for the ECO single currency scheduled to take off this year.
ECO is the name adopted for the common currency of the ECOWAS by the Authority of the Community’s Heads of State and Government at their 55th Ordinary Session in Abuja.
The announcement was made by the Ivorien President, Alassane Ouattara, on behalf of the eight countries, namely Benin Republic, Burkina Faso, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Niger, Senegal, Côte d’Ivoire and Togo Republic.
The adoption of the common currency, expected to be issued in June 2020, is part of efforts by ECOWAS to realise its over 30 years’ aspiration to establish a single currency among its members and ensure regional economic integration in the region.
Ghana had applauded the decision of its Francophone counterparts to break from the shackles of the French colonialism to team up with their ECOWAS colleagues.
Many analysts described the French President, Emmanuel Macron’s role in the eight former colonial territories as an attempt to hijack the ECO single currency project.
But, at the end of the extra-ordinary meeting, the Ministers of Finance and the Governors of the Central Banks of the West African Monetary Zone ((WAMZ) on the ECOWAS single currency programme condemned the eight countries for taking a unilateral decision over the issue.
The meeting held at the CBN headquarters in Abuja under the chairmanship of the Minister of Finance and Economy of the Republic of Guinea, Mamadi Camara. The six countries frowned at the conduct of their counterparts.
The representatives of the affected countries described the “unilateral renaming of the CFA Franc as ECO by 2020 as inconsistent with the decision of the Authority of the Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS for the adoption of the ECO as the name of an independent ECOWAS single currency.”
“WAMZ Convergence Council would be recommending an extraordinary summit of the Authority of the Heads of State and Government of the WAMZ member states will be convened soon to discuss this matter and other related issues,” the communique read.
The English version of the communique was read by the Nigerian Minister of Finance, Budget and Economic Planning, Zainab Ahmed, while the Minister of Economy and Finance of the Republic of Guinea, Mamadi Camara, read the French version.
Other representatives present at the meeting include the Minister of finance and Economic Affairs of the Republic of Gambia, Mambury Njie; Minister of Finance of Ghana, Ofori Atta; Minister of Finance and Development Planning of Republic of Liberai, Samuel Tweah and Minister of Finance of Sierra Leone, Jacob Saffa.
Also, present were Senior Adviser, Central Bank of Gambia, Buah Saidy; Governor of the Bank of Ghana, Ernest Addison; Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele.
FG Confirms Implementation of 7.5% VAT Begins February 1
The Federal Government will from February 1 begin the implementation of 7.5 per cent Value Added Tax espoused by the finance law.
The law, according to the government, will take effect after all the necessary administrative procedures must have been completed, especially the gazette of the Act by the Federal Ministry of Justice.
The Minister of Finance, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, confirmed the development on Thursday in Abuja at the inauguration of the board of the Federal Inland Revenue Service.
She said the February 1 commencement date had put to rest every speculation regarding the take-off date of the new VAT regime.
The minister said once a bill is signed into law, it takes effect immediately, but noted that there were certain administrative procedures and formalities to be finalised before commencement.
The VAT increase which is meant to help government achieve its revenue projections for the 2020 budget is a part of the tax reforms included in the 2019 Finance Act.
She said with the Act, there would be more revenue to finance key government projects especially in the areas of health, education and critical infrastructure.
She said, “The implementation of the Value Added Tax is to take effect from February 1, 2020, after all the necessary administrative procedures have been completed, especially the gazette of the Act by the Federal Ministry of Justice.”
The minister’s remark contradicts an earlier claim by the Accountant General of the Federal, Ahmed Idris, who said the new VAT increment took effect from January 13 when the 2020 Finance Act was signed.
She told the members of the FIRS board that the responsibility bestowed on them was critical to the smooth operation of the various tiers and arms of government in Nigeria and, by implication, the well-being of the Nigerian people.
The newly appointed Executive Chairman of the FIRS, Mr Muhammad Nami, vowed to reposition the service for improved performance.
Nami said he would implement policies that would ensure maximum increase in tax revenue.
As tax administrators and custodians of the Nigerian tax system, he said the FIRS had a responsibility to the nation to implement all tax policies and laws in a manner that would ensure optimal benefits to the nation.
In achieving these objectives, he said his agenda to reposition the FIRS for better service to taxpayers would be anchored on four cardinal pillars.
They are rebuilding FIRS’ institutional framework by strengthening the capacity of departments and units to deliver on their mandates and robust collaboration with stakeholders to eliminate critical bottlenecks in the tax system.
Others are to build the FIRS into an institution that supports Nigeria’s longing to become an investment destination and to make the FIRS an agency in which its people, processes, and technologies are all geared towards a clear goal.
In order to achieve these agenda, he said within the next three months, a lot of initiatives would be implemented.
Some of these initiatives are to build staff capacities for service delivery; closing of all lien cases in order to build new enforcement strategies; and restructuring and repositioning of audit function.
Others are review of structures for optimal performance; capacity building on the finance law and other tax programmes; review of Tax Clearance Certificate administration process and revamping of the Integrated Tax Administration System.
More Knocks for Buhari as He Signs Finance Bill into Law
The Organised Private Sector on Monday warned the government against fleecing the people and endangering productivity.
They spoke in response to the signing of the Finance Bill into law by the President Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja.
The law heralds a new regime of Value Added Tax rate of 7.5 per cent, up from five per cent.
The Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association warned the government against seeing the private sector as a cash cow in its drive to increase revenue.
On the other hand, the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry expressed worry over the increase in VAT; even it said that it was inappropriate to compel loss-making firms to pay tax, no matter how little.
The Director General, NECA, Dr Timothy Olawale, noted that overburdening the private sector with taxes would further impoverish the citizens Buhari promised to take out of poverty.
He said, “The government should not see the private sector as a ‘cash cow’ in its drive to raise revenue, as it will do more harm to the already burdened private sector and further impoverish citizens that the president promised to take out of poverty.
“The common man will definitely be at the receiving end of the increase in VAT. Even if businesses are taxed more through likely illegal levies and rates outside the provisions of the law, they will naturally pass the cost to the customers whose purchasing power is already at the lowest ebb.
“The government should put mechanisms in place to eliminate leakages as a large chunk of the Internally Generated Revenue realised does not find its way into government coffers.
“They should drastically cut the cost of governance. Several aides kept at prohibitive cost are needless.”
He acknowledged that the government had made provisions in the law that were meant to benefit the masses while reforming the local tax laws in line with global best practices.
The new law amended the Petroleum Profit Tax Act, Customs and Excise Tariff Act, Company Income Tax Act, Personal Income Tax Act, Value Added Tax, Stamp Duties Act and the Capital Gains Tax.
Olawale said, “Apart from the increase in VAT, some other changes would include a situation where Nigerians who want to open or maintain accounts with the deposit money banks will not have to provide their Tax Identification Number to do so, which is commendable.
“Again, the fact that the Federal Government has raised the threshold from which stamp duty will be charged for online transactions from the current N1, 000 to N10,000.”
He recommended aggressive taxpayer enlightenment and expansion of the tax net to capture more citizens as it had been reported that less than 40 per cent of Nigerians were tax compliant.
Director General of the LCCI, Dr Muda Yusuf, said, “The increase in VAT from five per cent to 7.5 per cent amounts to additional burden on investors.
“Already businesses have been grappling with multiple taxation, high import duty, high regulatory charges, exclusion from the official forex market and high energy cost.
“It is also disturbing that in Nigeria, VAT is not treated as consumption tax. Most often it is imposed on the entire value chain of production and investment. This is why investors will worry about the review.”
The LCCI boss urged the government to scale up its commitment to the creation an enabling environment for investment, adding “this should be from the perspective of policy, regulatory and macroeconomic environment.”
Buhari had announced the signing of the bill through his verified personal twitter handle, @MBuhari.
“I am pleased to announce that this morning, I signed into the law the Finance Bill, 2019,” he tweeted.
The finance bill provides several revenue windows for the Federal Government to source funds, especially for the immediate financing of the 2020 budget.
The country’s budget for the year is N10.59tn, with a huge deficit of over N2tn.