IMF warns foreign loans to African nations may decline
The International Monetary Fund has warned that a significant reduction in foreign loans to Nigeria and other African nations is imminent as the global economy continues to experience new shocks and contractions.
The IMF Deputy Divisional Chief, Wenjie Chen, made this known during a keynote presentation at the International Monetary Fund Regional Economic Outlook which was held in Lagos on Tuesday.
According to Chen, borrowing costs, high-interest rates and the increasing value of the dollar have continued to put a strain on Nigeria’s economy and that of its Sub-Saharan African counterparts.
She noted that due to the uncertainties surrounding the global economic environment, loans from China as well as other advanced economies to Africa have been on a decline.
The IMF official also noted that the public debt ratio has doubled in the region in the past decade, adding that debt vulnerabilities of Nigeria and the rest of sub Saharan Africa would continue to increase.
Chen said, “In terms of the funding squeeze, the three main manifestations that many countries are facing are: the rise in borrowing costs.
“You can see that virtually all the frontier markets have been shut out of the Eurobond markets since the spring of 2022. What that means is that they cannot raise financing on these international markets. Eurobond market has been a large component of financing for these countries.
“Lastly, what this has meant in terms of the global economy’s reaction to the Russia-Ukraine war in terms of rises in price and the cost of living crisis has placed very high interest rates.
“Not only were interest rates rising, the value of the dollar rose to a 20-year high last year. For many African countries, the cost of servicing these debts has also gone up.
Also speaking, IMF Representative for Nigeria, Ari Aisen, said that with the funding squeeze, it would be critical for Nigeria to rely on internally-generated funds.
He, however, said that the global lender remains confident of its earlier projection that Nigeria’s economy will grow by 3.2 percent this year.
Ari further stated that for Nigeria’s economy to react positively to this funding squeeze, the private sector needs good macroeconomic policies to thrive.
“In Nigeria, we always believe that growth has the potential to be much higher, but because of the shocks since the pandemic and the food price shock because of the Russia-Ukraine war, the economy managed to grow by three percent. We are forecasting 3.2 (this year).
“It could be higher. It’s helped by services which is the main driver of growth on the supply side of the economy. The oil sector has not also contributed as much as it should have contributed, partly because of investments in the sector and partly because of leakages, particularly oil theft.
“These issues are gradually being addressed and we are hopeful that it will continue, so we are now projecting a 3.2 percent growth.”
Also speaking, the Deputy Director of the IMF’s Africa Division, Catherine Pattillo, advised the Nigerian government to prioritise fundamental issues such as power, logistics and other infrastructural challenges that would help the private sector drive economic growth in the country.
For his part, the Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Economic Summit Group, Laoye Jaiyeola, said Nigeria needs a more transparent tax regime.
According to him, there are too many indirect taxes that do not go into consolidated government accounts, adding that as Nigerians are desirous of paying taxes, they are often discouraged because they are unable to feel the impact of the taxes being paid.
He said, “On growing revenue. We’ve talked about the fact that Nigerians are under-taxed. The figures may say we are doing 5 to 6 per cent, but the reality is that If you look at proxies, in terms of taxes and levies, Nigerians are doing around 16 per cent. We at the NESG have done a better tax promotion. The issue of about growing revenue in Nigeria is very simple — let us plug the leakages,” he said.