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Steer clear of more borrowing – Debt Management Office warns FG

Jun 22, 2023 #National News

The Federal Government has been warned by the Debt Management Office (DMO) against additional borrowing. 

The DMO which noted that 73.5 per cent of revenue generated this year will be used to service debt, added that the Debt Service to Revenue ratio for 2023 is high and cannot support higher levels of borrowing. It is also said to be a threat to debt sustainability.

The FG has been asked to focus on increasing revenue generation as a sustainable Debt Service-to-Revenue ratio will require increasing FGN revenue from N10.49 trillion projected in 2023 budget to about N15.5 trillion.

The DMO in the report of the Annual National Market Access Country (MAC) Debt Sustainability Analysis said; 

“The analysis of the results of 2022 MAC-DSA shows that the Total Public Debt-toGDP ratio is projected to increase to 37.1 per cent in 2023, relative to 23.4 per cent as at September 2022, due to the inclusion of the N8.80 trillion (new borrowings) for the year 2023, the FGN Ways and Means at the CBN of over N23 trillion and estimated Promissory Notes issuance of N2.87 trillion in the debt stock.

“Baseline Scenario: The Country’s Debt stock remains sustainable under these criteria, but the borrowing space has been reduced when compared to Nigeria’s self-imposed debt limit of 40 per cent set in the MTDS, 2020-2023.

“On the other hand, FGN Debt Service-to-Revenue ratio at 73.5 per cent in 2023 exceeds the recommended threshold of 50 per cent due to low revenue, which means that there is need to significantly increase government revenue.

“Under the alternative scenario, the total public debt-to-GDP ratio at 45.4 per cent in 2023 exceeds Nigeria’s self-imposed debt limit of 40 per cent, while the FGN Debt Service-to-Revenue also exceeds the recommended threshold of 50 per cent.

“Based on the analysis of the results of the 2022 MAC-DSA, the DMO recommends the following:

“Although the baseline analysis projects total public debt-to-GDP ratio at 37.1 per cent for 2023, indicating a borrowing space of 2.9 per cent (equivalent of about N14.66 trillion) when compared to the self-imposed limit of 40 per cent, it is recommended that this should not be used as a basis for higher level of borrowing as was the case in the 2023 budget.

“This is because the outcome of the shock scenario, which is more realistic in the circumstances, exceeded the self-imposed limit.

“The projected FGN debt service-to-revenue ratio at 73.5 per cent for 2023 is high and a threat to debt sustainability. It means that the revenue profile cannot support higher levels of borrowing.

“Attaining a sustainable FGN debt service-to-revenue ratio will require an increase of FGN revenue from N10.49 trillion projected in 2023 budget to about N15.5 trillion.

“With respect to expansion in fiscal deficit, there is need to strictly adhere to the provision of extant legislations on government borrowing, especially the Fiscal Responsibility Act 2007 and Central Bank of Nigeria Act, 2007 as it relates to Ways and Means advances, in order to moderate the growth rate of public debt.

“There is urgent need to pay more attention to revenue generation by implementing far reaching revenue mobilization initiatives and reforms, including the Strategic Revenue Growth Initiatives and all its pillars, with a view to raising the country’s tax revenue to GDP ratio from about 7 per cent (one of the lowest in the world) to that of its peer.

“Government should encourage the private sector fund infrastructure projects through the Public-Private Partnership, PPP, schemes and take out capital projects in the budget that are being funded from borrowing, thereby reducing budget deficit and borrowing.

“Government can reduce borrowing through privatization and/or sale of government assets.”

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