IMF Asks FG To Finalise Securitisation Of N23.7trln Loans From CBN

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has asked the Federal Government to finalise the securitisation of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)’s existing stock of overdrafts (also known as Ways and Means financing).

IMF stated this in a statement issued on Wednesday after its 2022 Article IV consultation with Nigeria.

The Federal Government has been borrowing from the apex through “Ways and Means”, a loan facility through which the CBN finances the government’s budget shortfalls.

The IMF called for fiscal and monetary tightening to secure macroeconomic stability, combined with structural reforms to improve governance, strengthen the agricultural sector, and boost inclusive, sustainable growth.

It encouraged the apex bank to stand ready to further increase the policy rate if needed.

IMF also recommended the implementation of additional actions, including fully sterilising central bank financing of fiscal deficits and phasing out credit intervention programmes.

It said that despite rising oil prices, the nation’s fiscal deficit was estimated to have widened further in 2022 due to high fuel subsidy costs.

IMF said that while the current account might have improved in 2022, foreign currency reserves declined because of capital outflow pressures.

It advised Nigerian authorities to deliver on their commitment to remove fuel subsidies by mid-2023, and to increase well-targeted social spending.

The IMF further highlighted the importance of improving the performance of the agricultural sector for job creation and food security.

It observed that notwithstanding the authorities’ success in containing and managing the COVID-19 infections, socio-economic conditions remain difficult.

“The spillover effects of the war in Ukraine, which have been transmitted mainly through higher domestic food prices, worsened the scarring effects of the pandemic, particularly on the most vulnerable—with Nigeria being among the countries with the lowest food security,” the IMF said.

IMF warned that higher international food and fertilizer prices and continued widening of the parallel market premium could culminate in the de-anchoring of inflation expectations.

IMF also urged the Nigerian government to implement governance reforms, including delivering on commitments from the 2020 rapid financing instrument.

“Improving transparency and accountability in the oil sector is also key to strengthening governance,” the organisation said.

It said there is a need for bold fiscal reforms to create needed policy space, put public debt on sound footing, and reduce vulnerabilities.

The IMF recommended modernising customs administration, rationalizing tax incentives, and raising tax rates to the levels of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).