Nigeria’s Budget Deficit Hits N30.58tn In Seven Years
This is according to data from budget implementation reports for the third and fourth quarters of 2015; the four quarters of 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020; the first three quarters of 2021; and the first four months of 2022.
According to Investopedia, a budget deficit occurs when expenses exceed revenue.
An analysis of the reports on the Budget Office of Nigeria’s website revealed that Buhari’s administration had spent at least N54.98tn on budget implementation since its inception but has only financed this spending with N24.39tn, leaving a deficit of N30.58tn.
A breakdown of some of the expenses revealed that the present administration had spent at least N23.66tn on personnel costs, pensions, overhead costs, presidential amnesty programme, other service-wide votes, and special interventions.
A minimum of N14.13tn has been spent servicing domestic and foreign debts, and at least N10.47tn has been spent on capital expenditure.
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According to the reports, this deficit financing has been largely financed by government borrowing. The budget implementation report for Q4, 2015 said, “The FGN has arranged to raise short-term credit from the CBN through the mechanism of Ways and Means subject to a ceiling of 12.5 per cent of FGN’s revenue.
“This amount will be retired and therefore not considered as new borrowing outside the borrowing approved to finance the budget deficit. However, due to current fiscal challenges, the CBN had agreed to increase the Ways and Means advances threshold hence the FGN’s ability to raise N615.96bn from this source.”
Since allowance for raising the ceiling was made, total borrowing from the CBN has hit N19.01tn in April 2022 from N648.26bn as of June 2015.
Also, the nation’s total debt profile hit N41.06tn as of March 2022 from N12.12tn, according to the Debt Management Office.
A document titled ‘Public Consultation on the Draft 2023 – 2025 MTFF/FSP’ presented by the Minister of Finance, Budget & National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, said, “Revenue generation remains the major fiscal constraint of the federation. The systemic resource mobilization problem has been compounded by recent economic recessions.”
Recently, the Monetary Policy Committee of the Central Bank of Nigeria raised concerns over the nation’s debt sustainability. It said the Federal Government’s debt profile was worrying and noted that there was a need for it to urgently diversify its revenue base.
Commenting on the story, economists stated that a high deficit was not good for the economy and might cause inflation, recession, and slow down growth.
Speaking to The PUNCH, an economic expert and seasoned academic at the University of Uyo, 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 deficit. Talking about GDP, by the rules, it should not be more than a certain percentage of GDP, but it has exceeded that. And when you borrow, you have expectations of borrowing because if you are not transparent, we don’t know what you are borrowing for.
“If you are borrowing to finance recurrent and overhead, it is not good for the economy. If you borrow to finance capital projects, in the long run, even if you have a deficit, it will have a positive multiplier effect. The deficit, if it is used to finance recurrent, is problematic to the economy.
“One way of solving that is to raise more of domestic revenue or cut down on expenditure that is not needed, especially, the cost of governance. There is a need to check the expenditure profile and cut down on it. Or we could do expenditure switching, where unimportant items are switched with important items.
“We are spending more than we can raise resources and we are not spending it on hard infrastructure.”
Associate professor of Economics at the Pan-Atlantic University, Lagos, Olalekan Aworinde, added that the deficit was being financed by either government borrowing, sales of government properties, or printing money.
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According to him, any of these options had implications for the economy. He stated, “Loans can be good and can be bad. A loan is good if it is used for productive expenditure, but if it is used for recurrent expenditure or consumption expenditure, this is not bringing back any returns.
“If the component of this deficit is majorly recurrent expenditures, it shows that we are unlikely to have any growth. There isn’t going to be any revenue coming out from there. The implication of this is that we are likely going to have stunted growth. Stunted growth in the sense that we are not likely going to have an increase in the total values of goods and services that are produced in the country.
“If care is not taken, we are likely going to slide into recession.”
He added that financing the deficit through sales of government properties would mean the government was reducing its asset base, which did not speak well for the economy.
Fuel Subsidy Gulped $10bn In 2022 – Shettima
Vice President Kashim Shettima has revealed that $10 billion was spent by the immediate past administration of Muhammadu Buhari subsidizing fuel in 2022.
He said the current administration was bent on exiting fuel subsidy because of its negative implications for the country as a whole.
Shettima reiterated his principal’s position on Tuesday, while reporting for duties on his first day in office at the Presidential Villa Abuja.
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He said the current administration anticipated that there will be fierce opposition to its decision to remove fuel subsidy.
His words, “The President has already made pronouncements yesterday on the issue of the fuel subsidy. The truth of the matter is that, it is either we get rid of the subsidy or the fuel subsidy gets rid of the Nigerian nation.
“In 2022, we spent $10 billion subsidizing the ostentatious lifestyle of the upper class of society because you and I benefit 90% from the oil subsidy. The poor 40% of Nigerians benefit very little and we know the consequences of unveiling a masquerade.
“We will get fierce opposition from those benefiting from the oil subsidy scam, but where there is a will, there is a way. Be rest assured that our president is a man of strong will and conviction.
“In the fullness of time, you will appreciate his noble intentions for the nation. The issue of fuel subsidy will be frontally addressed. The earlier we do so, the better.’’
Economists Hail Tinubu On Fuel Subsidy Removal
Economists and investment analysts have hailed President Bola Ahmed Tinubu for discontinuation of fuel subsidy and planned unification of the exchange rates.
Reacting to the plan, Uche Uwaleke, Professor of Capital Market and President, Capital Market Academics of Nigeria, expressed support for the removal of fuel subsidy and unification of the exchange rate by Tinubu, saying that fuel subsidy comes at a huge cost to the economy.
He maintained that fuel subsidies have proven to be unsustainable over time“I support the removal of the fuel subsidy due to its huge cost on the economy. Fuel subsidies have proven to be unsustainable.
“I equally support the unification of exchange rates because doing so will discourage round tripping, bring more transparency to the foreign exchange (forex) market which supports foreign investments.
READ ALSO: Fuel Subsidy Removal: Labour Leaders React To Tinubu’s Inaugural Speech
“However, in order to minimize negative impact on the livelihoods, issues of fuel subsidy and exchange rates unification which he mentioned in the speech should be handled with care. Stakeholder engagement is required,” he said.
He, therefore, called for an immediate constitution of an “Economic policies’ coordinating committee” made up of Economic and Finance experts to craft policies that would jump start the economy from the doldrum Buhari’s administration left it.
Also commending the plans, Mr. David Adonri, Vice Chairman, Highcap Securities, said the plan if carried out, would repair the damages caused to the economy by the twin problem.
He, however, queried Tinubu’s failure to address the rising debt burden, saying that a continuation of the borrowing spree would be detrimental to real economic growth.
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He said: “President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s inaugural speech addressed three critical pressure points on the Nigerian economy. These are insecurity that has crippled the rural economy, discontinuation of fuel subsidy and unification of the exchange rate.
“His remedial plans against these challenges can repair their damages to the economy. However, he failed to address the crippling debt burden which has fueled inflation and caused a rise in interest rate.
“His GDP growth target of minimum of 6% per annum could be a mirage if he concentrates on secondary infrastructure development at the expense of primary infrastructure like was done under President Muhammadu Buhari.
“If he continues with President Buhari’s excessive borrowing spree, increase in GDP will just remain an inflationary growth or motion without movement,” he said.
CBN Gives Out N8trn In Interventions To Private Sector In Last 5 Years – Emefiele
The governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Godwin Emefiele, has revealed that the CBN had given out about N8 trillion in interventions to the private sector in the last five years.
Emefiele made this revelation while speaking at the end of the 291st Monetary Policy Committee, MPC, meeting in Abuja on Wednesday.
He said, “In the last four to five years, we have done about N8 trillion in interventions to the private sector of the economy. The loans have been granted for 10 years, with a two-year moratorium and at single digit”.
The CBN boss disclosed, however, that going forward, the apex bank would reduce its quasi-fiscal activities.
Meanwhile, as the Dangote Refinery set to deliver its first products in July, Emefiele said that the refinery would be persuaded to sell foreign exchange earnings to banks at a good rate.
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Emefiele said his team would engage the promoter of the refinery, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, to ensure that Nigerians benefitted from the venture, adding that the CBN, the Federal Government and, indeed, the country helped him set up the refinery.
The CBN boss expressed optimism that the refinery would ease the foreign exchange scarcity in the country, noting that with local refining, about 20 per cent cost of the total cost of importing petroleum products could be saved, thereby reducing prices in the long run. He, however, said it was time to exit the fuel subsidy regime.
His words, “By the time the Dangote Refinery comes on stream, the price at which it (fuel) will be dispensed will be lower than what it is when we spend dollars to import because there will be no freight cost, no storage and all other logistics expenses.
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“So we will be lucky to be having about 20 per cent savings from refining locally, rather than importing.
“But the important thing is that we have reached a point, whether we like it or not when we must exit subsidy.
“Dangote Refinery coming at this time gives us the confidence that even if we exit subsidy, the products will be available. And eventually, the interplay of market forces will also moderate the prices to a level that will help the country.
“So we are expecting that, no doubt, by the time he produces for domestic consumption, the excess will be exported by the numbers that he talked about, which we agree with.
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‘’We should be able to save, conservatively, close to about $5 billion to $10 billion in foreign exchange that will come into the country.
“Whether it comes to our reserves or not is not the point, it is the fact that the dollar is available and it will be sold in the domestic market so that customers of banks who need to import do not necessarily resort to CBN for dollars.
“They can go to their banks and Dangote will sell dollars to their banks and we are going to ensure that it is done at a good market rate.
“What I would have loved to say on Monday (at the Dangote Refinery Commissioning) which I didn’t say was that the CBN, the government and the country have helped Dangote to set up that refinery.
“He is a Nigerian; Nigerians must benefit from that venture and we are going to engage him and talk to him and I am sure that being the richest man in Africa, he is going to throw a few crumbs so that the price will be lowered.”
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