It’ll be Difficult to Sell Proposed FG’s N22.7trn 40-year Bonds at 9%—BudgIT

January 5, 2023
BudgIT 40-year bonds

By Dipo Olowookere

A Nigerian civic company, BudgIT, has said, based on findings, it would be difficult for the federal government to get buyers for the proposed securitisation of the N22.7 trillion overdrafts of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) at 9 per cent per annum coupon rate.

President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday appealed to the National Assembly to reconsider his request to convert the ways and means into securities.

The bonds, to be sold to interested investors in local denomination, would have a maturity of 40 years at a coupon rate of 9 per cent.

Last week, the Senate rejected the proposal, pointing out that it must know what the government spent the money on.

The government violated the CBN act as regards the overdrafts as it was supposed to get 5 per cent of the revenue it generated in the previous fiscal year as ways and means, which must be paid back before another is given.

However, these requirements were not met by the federal government but the central bank, under the leadership of Mr Godwin Emefiele, went ahead to give more loans to the government to fund the budget deficits.

While signing the 2023 budget into law on Tuesday, Mr Buhari begged the parliament to approve the conversion of the loans to bonds to avoid the payment of an extra N1.8 trillion as interest.

“I have no intention to fetter the right of the National Assembly to interrogate the composition of this balance, which can still be done even after granting the requested approval.

“Failure to grant the securitization approval will, however, cost the Nigerian government about N1.8 trillion in additional interest in 2023, given the differential between the applicable interest rates, which is currently MPR plus 3 per cent, and the negotiated interest rate of 9 per cent and a 40-year repayment period on the securitised debt of the Ways and Means,” he had pointed out.

But BudgIT said the claims by Mr Buhari that the 40-year bonds would be sold at 9 per cent may not be totally true.

Business Post reports that the FGN savings bond currently being offered for sale by the Debt Management Office (DMO) has coupon rates higher than what the government is claiming.

The debt office is offering the 2-year FGN savings bond maturing on January 11, 2025, at 9.60 per cent and the 3-year paper maturing on January 11, 2026, at 10.60 per cent.

At the last FGN bonds held in December 2022, the debt office sold a 10-year bond at 14.75 per cent and a 20-year bond at 15.80 per cent. Based on this, it would most likely be difficult to lure investors to purchase 40-year bonds at 9 per cent when a shorter-tenor paper can be bought at almost double the coupon rate.

In a series of tweets via its official Twitter page on Thursday, BudgIT said it would be a herculean task for the government to get buyers for the bonds at the “specified rate.”

“@MBuhari has asked @nassnigeria to approve the securitization of FG’s N22.7tn debt to @cenbank, is it legal for @nassnigeria to approve the request of the FG to securitize the Ways & Means, which goes against the CBN Act?

Since 2015, the FG has asked @cenbank to provide advances to fund its fiscal deficit without any requirement for cost-cutting measures/fiscal control. The law stipulates that such advances should be limited to 5% of the previous year’s revenues. This law has not been followed.

“Also, Section 38 of the CBN Act mandates the FG to repay all advances made by the CBN to it at the end of the financial year in which the advances were received. Failure to repay the advances in full implies that the FG will not be eligible for further advances by the CBN.

“While FG has continuously breached the CBN Act, it now seeks the @nassnigeria’s approval to offload N22.7tn debt for 40 years at a 9% interest rate. Findings have shown that it will be difficult to sell such debt at the specified rate.

“Currently, the FG has been on a borrowing binge as domestic debt increased from N8.3tn in June 2015 to N21.6tn as of June 2022, & foreign debt rose from $10b in 2015 to $39.66b in 2022.

“Similarly, interest paid in Ways and Means (CBN Debt to FG) grew from N9.51b in 2017 to N1.22tn in 2021. In the meantime, the CBN’s new debt adds at least N2.5tn annually to Nigeria’s debt servicing costs.

“According to a recent MTF, Nigeria’s debt servicing cost is projected to reach N10tn in 2025. If National Assembly approves this action, FG’s public debt will rise from its current state by 59% – from $89.5b to $142 billion.

“In 2021, FG used 91% of its N4.64tn revenue to service public debt. Unless something drastic happens with revenue growth, the FG will spend more on servicing debt. This has implications for inflation, economic confidence, higher interest rates & weakened exchange rates.

“Is it legal for the National Assembly to approve the request of the Federal Government to securitise the Ways and Means, which is in clear breach of the CBN Act? More importantly, what were the borrowings used for?” the company asked.

Dipo Olowookere

Dipo Olowookere is a journalist based in Nigeria that has passion for reporting business news stories. At his leisure time, he watches football and supports 3SC of Ibadan.

Mr Olowookere can be reached via [email protected]

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