The total budget deficit under the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), is set to hit N47.43tn, according to an analysis of the Federal Government’s data from the Budget Office of the Federation.
According to investopedia, a budget deficit happens when expenses exceed revenue.
The budget data analysed by The PUNCH cover the actual budget deficits and projections for 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022, and 2023 fiscal years.
According to data, deficit financing has risen by 370.54 per cent from N2.41tn in 2016 to N11.34tn in 2023.
In Q3 and Q4 of 2015, total deficit financing amounted to N841.48bn, it rose to N2.41tn in 2016, N3.81tn in 2017, N3.65tn in 2018, N4.18tn in 2019, N6.59tn in 2020, N6.44tn in 2021.
While the total deficit for 2022 has not been released, the budget office expects deficit to hit N8.17tn (of which N6.37tn had been spent as of November 30, 2022). The office also anticipates a high deficit financing of N8.17tn for the 2023 fiscal year.
Between Q3, Q4 of 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, the first three quarters of 2021, and the first four months of 2022, the Federal Government spent N23.66tn on personnel costs, pensions, overhead costs, presidential amnesty programme, other service-wide votes, and special interventions.
It also spent N14.13tn on servicing domestic and foreign debts, as well as N10.47tn on capital expenditure.
Explaining the government budget deficit, an economic expert, Professor Akpan Ekpo, said, “This shows that expenditure has eclipsed the revenue, because they have to borrow, which is why there is a deficit.
“They can’t raise enough domestic resources to finance spending. That gap is a deficit. Talking about GDP, by the rules, it should not be more than a certain percentage of GDP, but it has exceeded that.”
According to the former Coordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, there is a need to keep the budget deficit under three per cent of GDP because of the Fiscal Responsibility Act, 2007, and in accordance with the international norm.
The country’s budget deficit to the GDP ratio had risen from 1.69 per cent in 2015 to 2.37 per cent in 2016. It increased to 2.85 per cent in 2018, 2.92 per cent of GDP in 2019. The Federal Government expects the deficit to GDP ratio to be 5.03 per cent of the 2023 budget.
The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, had disclosed that the government was struggling to raise revenue for its expenditure.
In a document titled ‘Public Consultation on the Draft 2023 – 2025 MTFF/FSP,’ she said, “Revenue generation remains the major fiscal constraint of the federation. The systemic resource mobilisation problem has been compounded by recent economic recessions.”
While defending the 2022 budget, she stated, “If we just depend on the revenues that we get, even though our revenues have increased, the operational expenditure of the government, including salaries and other overheads, is barely covered or swallowed up by the revenue.
“So, we need to borrow to be able to build these projects that will ensure that we’re able to develop on a sustainable basis. Nigeria’s borrowing has been of great concern and has elicited a lot of discussions. But if you look at the total size of the borrowing, it is still within healthy and sustainable limits.”
The PUNCH recently reported that the Federal Government borrowed N6.31tn from the CBN through Ways and Means Advances in 10 months of 2022. This pushed total borrowing from the CBN from N17.46tn in December 2021 to N23.77tn in October 2022.
World Bank had raised concerns over the financing of budget deficit through the CBN’s Ways and Means.
In its December 2022 update, the global bank said “Moreover, financing of the fiscal deficit through Ways and Means continues to fuel inflation by increasing liquidity in the money market.
“The CBN’s inflation target of six–nine percent, which has not been achieved since 2016, remains unlikely to be met in the near term.”
With deficit financing at estimated at 5.2 percent of GDP for 2022, the bank disclosed that the Federal Government remains in breach of the legally stipulated level set in the Fiscal Responsibility Act (2007).
It further said that Nigeria’s GDP growth rate would continue to be outpaced by other emerging economies, with inflation growing, and fiscal deficits increasing.
The PUNCH report stated that the government could sell or concession the Tafawa Balewa Square in Lagos as well as all the National Integrated Power Projects in Olorunsogo, Calabar II, Benin (located at Ihorbor), Omotosho II, and Geregu II plants, and some other government assets to fund its budgets.
$15.62bn Eurobond repayments
Meanwhile, Buhari may pass on $16.62bn Eurobond loan repayments to the next government, according to government data.
These repayments will be made almost every year until about 2038, according to the public presentation of the approved 2023 budget by the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning.
The document showed that repayment of $500m is expected in 2023 and $1.12bn in 2025.
The other payments include $1.5bn in 2027 and $1.25bn each year from 2028 to 2030.
There is also a $1bn repayment by 2031 and $1.5bn each between 2032 and 2033.
It also noted that $4.75bn would be paid from 2038 onward.
In 2021, The PUNCH reported that commercial loans obtained by Nigeria through Eurobonds rose from $1.50bn as of December 31, 2015, to $10.87bn as of December 31, 2020, indicating a $9.37bn or 625 per cent increase in five years.
The debt stock remained at $1.5bn from 2015 to 2016 but rose to $6bn by 2017, indicating a $4.5bn or 300 per cent rise within a year.
It further rose to $10.87bn in 2018, signifying an increase by $4.87bn or 81 per cent. It remained at this figure till the end of 2020.
However, checks by The PUNCH showed $15.62bn as of September 2022, according to data from the Debt Management Office.
The PUNCH observed that the Eurobond debt rose by 941.33 per cent from $1.5bn as of June 2015 to the current figure released by the DMO.
Also, the repayment amount will rise by 850 per cent from $500m by 2023 to $4.75bn by 2038 upwards.
The PUNCH in October last year said that the amount spent by Nigeria on servicing Eurobonds and Diaspora bonds rose by 85.67 per cent between the first and the second quarter of 2022.
An analysis of data on actual external debt service payments from the DMO showed that Nigeria spent a total of $246.16m on servicing its foreign bonds in the first quarter of 2022.
By the second quarter of the same year, the total debt service cost on these loans rose to $457.01m.
Hence, the debt service rose by 86 per cent between the two periods.
An eurobond is “a debt instrument that’s denominated in a currency other than the home currency of the country or market in which it is issued,” according to Investopedia.
A Eurobond is a bond issued offshore by governments denominated in a currency other than that of the issuer’s country. Eurobonds are usually long-term debt instruments and are typically denominated in US Dollars.
The yield on bonds has risen lately, driven by the increase in interest rates by the United States Federal Reserves. The US Fed commenced rate hikes in response to record-high inflation rate experienced in the world’s largest economy.
In March last year, Nigeria acquired $1.25bn Eurobond from the international capital market, making the country the first African country to access the market in 2022.
This happened a few days after the minister of Finance, Ahmed, had told Reuters that there was no plan to enter the Eurobond market in 2022.
The DMO said the proceeds of the Eurobond would be used to finance critical capital projects in the budget to bridge the deficit in infrastructure and strengthen Nigeria’s economic recovery.
According to the finance minister, the proceeds from the $4bn acquired from the Eurobond market the previous year would be used to fund fuel subsidy.
However, the finance minister, on July 4, 2022, said the government had abandoned plans to raise about $950m selling overseas bonds, owing to unfavourable market conditions during the time frame approved for the fundraising.
A member of the CBN Monetary Policy Committee, Robert Asogwa, while expressing his worry over the rising debt said,“particularly worrisome about the debt structure is the increasing accumulation of Eurobonds in the external debt component while minimising concessionary loans. The unexplained government preference for Eurobonds at high-interest costs, with the associated exchange rate risk, may likely hurt Nigeria sooner than anticipated.
Another member of the MPC, Professor Festus Adenikinju, a member of the MPC, said it was important to curb the appetite of the government for debt.
He said, “I am worried that Nigeria is not able to benefit maximally from the current upsides in the global oil market. We were not only unable to ramp up our production levels to meet the OPEC quota, no accretion to foreign reserves is also taking place, and government deficit and public debts are going north at a time we should be writing down our debt profiles and even building up a buffer for the inevitable raining days ahead.”
Meanwhile, the World Bank has said that high borrowing costs, lower energy prices, slow growth in oil production and subdued oil-sector activity weaken Nigeria’s fiscal position.
This was according to the latest Global Economic Prospects report by the World Bank released on Tuesday.
The bank noted that a number of factors, such as low oil output, insecurity, petrol subsidies, forex scarcity, among others, hamper growth in the country.
The report read, “Policy uncertainty, sustained high inflation, and rising incidence of violence are anticipated to temper growth. Growth in agriculture is expected to soften because of the damage from last year’s floods.
“The fiscal position is expected to remain weak because of high borrowing costs, lower energy prices, a sluggish growth of oil production, and a subdued activity in the non-oil sectors.”
The bank also said that debt sustainability and investor sentiment deteriorated further in many other countries, leading to rising borrowing costs and credit rating downgrades like in the case of Ghana and Nigeria.
It added that increased insecurity has worsened fragility and is expected to reduce access to food for many more people across the region, further weighing on economic recoveries.