Buhari begs China, others to cancel Nigeria’s debts

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President Muhammadu Buhari has called on international financial institutions to cancel Nigeria’s debt obligations and those of members of the Non-Aligned Movement.

The pardon, if granted, will help member states to withstand the fallout of the coronavirus pandemic.

Speaking during a meeting with other Heads of State from the Non-Aligned Movement, the President urged official lenders to help cushion the pandemic fallout with “outright debt cancellation,” according to a report by Bloomberg, quoting a statement from the President’s office.

Nearly half of Nigeria’s outstanding external debt is with multilateral lenders, led by the World Bank Group ($10.1 billion); Beijing-based Export-Import Bank of China as the second-biggest creditor ($3.2 billion) and Eurobonds, which accounts for $10.86 billion (about 39 per cent) of the debt.

Since the outbreak of the pandemic, the Federal Government has engaged in funds sourcing to address the fallout.

Last month, Finance Minister Mrs. Zainab Ahmed said the government was seeking a temporary suspension from multilateral and bilateral creditors to unlock funds to battle the COVID-19 pandemic threatening lives across the country and the world at large.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF), last week approved $3.4 billion for the country, although Nigeria currently holds no outstanding debt with the global lender.

The facilities for which Buhari is asking for relief include; the World Bank Group (IDA) International Development Association loan of $9.692 billion and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) $409.51 million facility.

From the African Development Bank Group there is the: ADB $1.359 billion; ADF $926.14 million; BADEA $5.88 million; EDF $55.17 million; IDB $14.26 million; and IFAD $197.84 million for which Nigeria is seeking cancellation.

Nigeria’s bilateral debt obligations for which President Buhari is seeking debt pardon include the China (Exim Bank of China) facility valued at $3.175 billion; France (AFD) $361.75 million; Japan (JICA) $76.13 million loan; India (Exim Bank of India) $32.14 million loan; and Germany (KFW) $202.27 million loan.

The World Bank is helping to fight poverty and improve living standards for the people of Nigeria with more than 130 IBRD loans and IDA credits.

Some of the projects currently being financed with World Bank loans are: Nigeria Rural Access and Agricultural Marketing Project valued at $575.00 million; Innovation Development and Effectiveness in the Acquisition of Skills (IDEAS) Project US$ 200 million; Nigeria Improved Child Survival Program for Human Capital MPA $650 million and the Sustainable Procurement, Environmental and Social Standards Enhancement Project (SPESSE) for which $80 million is committed.

The Board of Directors of the African Development Bank (AfDB) Group has approved a financing package comprising $150 million ADB loan, $100 ADF loan and the five million Euro RWSSI grant facility, to finance the Inclusive Basic Service Delivery and Livelihood Empowerment Integrated Programme (IBSDLEIP), in support of ope-rationalising the “Buhari Plan” for Emergency Transition, Recovery and Peace-building for North East states in Nigeria.

There is also the $22.7 billion loan from China Exim Bank mostly for infrastructure provision.

At the end of the G20 meeting in Saudi Arabia on the April 16, member countries endorsed a time-bound suspension of debt service payments for the poorest countries (including Nigeria) that requested forbearance.