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Finance Minister: Nigeria has met conditions for $1.5bn World Bank loan

Nigeria has fulfilled the conditions for a $1.5 billion loan package from the World Bank and is in the final stages of closing the deal, Bloomberg reported the Finance Minister, Zainab Ahmed, as saying yesterday. According to Ahmed, the World Bank’s board will discuss the loan package at their next meeting and possibly approve the request.

The Senate approved the borrowing plan from the multilateral institution in June. She also said Nigeria was considering joining the G-20 debt-relief initiative and is talking to commercial lenders to secure their backing.

“We will consider joining as long as it is safe for us to do so,” the news agency quoted Ahmed as saying. Nigeria couldn’t participate initially because some of the conditions were unfavorable for existing loan commitments with bilateral lenders and other international borrowings.

She further stated that Nigeria may tap the Eurobond market next year, depending on interest rates, pointing out that the Federal Government has to date taken advantage of good demand and liquidity in the domestic market to raise money. The Finance Minister noted that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has cut interest rates to stimulate activity in the private sector and reduce possible job losses as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Nigeria had in late April this year obtained a $3.4billion loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as emergency support to help it address the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ahmed, who predicted that Nigeria will exit recession by the end of year, said the government is concerned about the widening gap in the naira’s exchange rate on the official and parallel markets. She was quoted as saying that: “We have been taking measures to close the gap. We hope to get to an even level very soon so the impact of the exchange rate will become moderated.” The minister said she expected the administration of U.S. President-elect Joe Biden to support Dr. Ngozi Okonjo- Iweala(Nigeria’s formerFinance Minister), bid to head the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

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