The International Monetary Fund (IMF) projects that Nigeria’s fiscal balance is estimated to increase considerably. More specifically, general government deficit is projected to widen from 4.8 to 5.9 percent of GDP between 2019 and 2020.1 Also, public debt is projected to increase substantially to 34 percent of GDP in 2020 from 29.1 percent in 2019. The increase in government general deficit can be attributed to sharp revenue declines occasioned by the pandemic. Although revenue could increase given the increase in the Value Added Tax (VAT) rate from 5 to 7.5 percent in 2020, and expenditure savings from the removal of power sector and fuel subsidies, the concurrent increase in expenditure related to COVID-19 emergency support will drive the widening fiscal deficit. However, as domestic activities recover to pre-COVID levels and spending on household and businesses vulnerable to the pandemic tapers down, the fiscal deficit is projected to narrow in 2021.
February 19, 2021
Nigeria Economic Update (Issue 6)
Recently released data by the Debt Management Office reveals a further increase in Nigerias debt stock as at the end of 2017Q3. Total debt stock stood at N20.37 trillion as at September 20172, increasing by 3.75 percent Quarter-over- Quarter and 20.67 percent Year-on-Year. External debts rose 2 percent to N4.69 trillion, while domestic debts (FGN and States) grew by 4.3 percent to N15.68 trillion both accounting for approximately 23 percent and 77 percent of total debt stock respectively. Obviously, Nigerias increasing debt accumulation at a rate faster than GDP growth rate, clearly exacerbates difficulties in meeting debt repayment and sustainability of debt servicing measures. The recent borrowing surge should be utilized to provide socially viable and profitable infrastructure so as to minimize the future debt burden.
Crude oil prices have sustained upward increases for the past few weeks in October. While upward trajectory of crude oil prices is expected to be sustained in the short term in line with OPECs production cuts deal expected to run until March 2018, it is important to note that crude oil prices would remain volatile. The Nigerian government therefore should take advantage of periods of high revenue from crude oil exports to develop other sectors (such as Agriculture, Manufacturing and Services sectors) of the economy as key exporting and revenue generation sectors, and thus minimize volatility risks