Kemi Adeosun. Picture: REUTERS/AFOLABI SOTUNDE
Kemi Adeosun. Picture: REUTERS/AFOLABI SOTUNDE

LAGOS — Nigeria’s government is in talks for concessionary loans worth $3.5bn from the World Bank and African Development Bank (AfDB) to help finance a planned record budget this year, according to Finance Minister Kemi Adeosun.

Discussions were still ongoing and a formal request had not yet been made to the World Bank for $2.5bn and the AfDB for $1bn, Ms Adeosun said on Sunday. The government plans to tie them to specific capital projects, she said.

A request had not been made for assistance from the International Monetary Fund.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari’s government is seeking to spend its way out of an economic crisis triggered by a collapse in oil prices. Nigeria is Africa’s biggest oil producer and relies on crude for almost all its exports and two-thirds of government revenue.

Mr Buhari has proposed boosting this year’s budget to a record 6.1-trillion naira ($30.7bn. Ms Adeosun said at the weekend authorities would borrow about $5bn in external debt from multilateral agencies and the Eurobond market to plug a record budget gap of 3-trillion naira.

Legislators will begin deliberations this week on the 2016 spending plan, Ms Adeosun said on Sunday.

Authorities will begin non-deal roadshow meetings with investors to sound out a potential sale of $1bn of Eurobonds in February, she said.

"A loan from multilateral lenders would be much cheaper than borrowing on the open market," John Ashbourne, an Africa economist at Capital Economics in London, said in a research note on Monday. "Where a World Bank loan would really help Nigeria is by plugging part of its current-account shortfall. The country has traditionally run a current-account surplus, but low oil prices have slashed export earnings and pushed the country into deficit."

Nigeria has issued dollar bonds twice, most recently in 2013. Crude oil prices have dropped about 46% since June last year and were trading as low as $34.97 a barrel in London on Monday.

The West African nation’s economy probably grew 3.2% last year, the slowest pace since 1999, according to a Bloomberg survey of economists.

The "government’s fiscal outlook is indeed bleak," said Ashbourne. "A $3.5bn loan is nowhere near enough to address the imbalances in Nigeria’s troubled economy," with the country needing about $20bn to cover its external funding needs.

Bloomberg