Borrowing from IMF Politically Unacceptable to FG—FBNQuest
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
Analysts at FBNQuest have said commented on the recent sale of Nigeria’s first diaspora bond on the international capital market by the Debt Management Office (DMO).
It was learnt that the $300m issue, has a tenor of five years and pays a coupon of 5.625 percent, was oversubscribed by 130 percent.
The bond was approved both by the SEC in the US and the UK Listing Authority, though it has been on the drawing board for a few years.
However, the marketing channels have now been opened and the debt office has a formula that can be repeated.
According to a report by FBNQuest Research, the diaspora bond issue follows sales of Eurobonds this year to raise $1.5 billion.
The 2017 budget has an external financing target of N1.07 trillion or $3.5 billion at the assumed exchange rate of N305 per US dollar.
“It would appear that the DMO has already raised more than half the target for the year. However, the approved 2016 budget projected external financing of N640 billion or $3.2 billion at the assumed rate of N197.
“That rate was, of course, liberalized in June. The only financing secured in 2016 was a disbursement of $600 million by the African Development Bank.
“The authorities may consider the 2016 deficit financing chapter closed since the stock of outstanding FGN bonds last year increased by as much as N2.22 trillion,” the report said.
It added that, “This success in tapping the commercial market does not spare the FGN the ordeal of talks with the multilaterals.
“Borrowing from the IMF is unacceptable politically to a Nigerian government but the FGN needs to persuade the World Bank to disburse a budget loan.
“Whatever the sticking point, the exchange-rate regime perhaps, the authorities need to reach an agreement.”
The report stated that the growth in borrowing at commercial rates obviously brings increased servicing costs.
“However, we are talking of an increase from a low base. Our calculations suggest average FGN borrowing costs in 2016 of 2.1 percent for external obligations and 11.6 percent for domestic. (The latter will have since risen dramatically.)
“Projections by Fitch in its latest full rating report from March this year flag up the strength of Nigeria’s external balance sheet. It sees gross general government debt/GDP rising from 17.4 percent last year to 26.2 percent in 2026.
“Its sensitivity analysis of public debt points to a ratio above a still manageable 30 percent if the FGN is unable to reduce its primary budget deficit or suffers a rise of 250 bps in its servicing costs.
“The DMO has other initiatives in play to diversify funding sources. It is selling FGN savings bonds to retail, albeit with a slow start, and, together with the SEC in Abuja, is preparing for the country’s first sukuk (Islamic bond) in local currency” the report said.