The World Bank/International Monetary Fund (IMF) meetings climaxed on Sunday, with the Nigerian delegation having made useful contributions to economic discourse on the world stage.
At the end of the meetings, Kemi Adeosun, leader of the delegation and the country’s finance minister, alongside Godwin Emefiele, governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), gave an account of the country’s mission to Washington.
As TheCable keenly followed the meetings, observing each assembly and the presentations of the minister and the governor, we are in a position to outline 10 things the Nigerian delegation achieved in Washington.
COMING SOON… DEVELOPMENT BANK OF NIGERIA
The Nigerian team, in collaboration with the necessary multi-laterals at the meetings, took the final steps towards the setting up of the Development Bank of Nigeria (DBN).
“Agreement was reached on the final steps for the take-off of the Development Bank of Nigeria, which had been stopped due to some issues,” Adeosun said.
“We have resolved all those issues; the recruitment process has now been finalized with management team put in place”.
$1.3BN FUNDING FOR NIGERIAN SMEs
Various statistics, including those presented by the World Bank and the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), show that one of the biggest bottlenecks against doing business in Nigeria is the lack of credit facility.
With the new development bank, the World Bank and other multi-laterals have committed to providing $1.3billion for funding SMEs with the country.
According to Adeosun, DBN “will release $1.3billion, which is aimed at supporting our SMEs and SMEs are part of the engine that will spur the growth of our economy.
“SME lending at low rates will now be facilitated through the DBN and we are ready to resolve the outstanding issues.”
JAPAN TO INVEST IN FISHERIES IN NIGERIA
“We also met with JICA, the Japan international cooperation agency and we secured their commitment to facilitate trade and investment in Nigeria,” Adeosun said.
“Specifically, they have agreed to make investments in agriculture, fisheries sector and we have made progress on the Jebba hydro projects, which is also a power project.”
‘UPDATING’ NIGERIA’S CREDIT RATINGS
It’s no news Fitch, Moodys, and S&P, the big three credit rating agencies in the world, have downgraded Nigeria’s credit ratings due to the challenges facing the economy.
In Washington, however, the Nigerian delegation met with the three credit rating agencies to update them on the structural reforms going on in the Nigerian economy.
Nigeria may see an update in its credit ratings, following the success of the meeting to know the true state of the economy, and the short and long-term outlook.
$500M FUNDING FOR IRRIGATION PROJECT IN KANO
The Nigerian team reactivated a $500m irrigation project, covering the Bakalori Kano River and Hadejia Valley irrigation schemes, which were hitherto delayed by lack of $4million counterpart on Nigeria’s side.
Adeosun disclosed that the ministry of water resources had confirmed that the federal government already made the counterpart payment as part of the recent releases of funds.
The project is expected to take off immediately after the meetings.
REPATRIATION, CONTROL OF ILLICIT FINANCIAL FLOWS
Christine Lagarde, managing director of the IMF, and Jim Yong Kim, World Bank president, clearly agreed with Nigeria that the illicit flow of fund was no good for the economy.
Hence, Nigeria and the countries concerned took some steps to reverse the trend of illicit money flow.
“We have reached some high level agreement on a number of initiatives which we believe can bring significant repatriation of money into the Nigerian economy, particularly money that has flown out as a result of tax evasion,” Adeosun said.
“We would be briefing Mr president on specifics and I would be able to provide you with more detailed information when I have Mr President’s final and formal approval.”
$500M RELIEF NET FOR THE NORTH-EAST
Nigeria also met with the concerned multi-laterals to expedite action for the take-off of the $500m north-east social safety net project.
This relief is meant for resettling Boko Haram victims, and the many internally displaced persons in the north east region of the country.
TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE FROM CANADA
Nigeria also secured commitments from the Canadian ministry of finance to support Nigeria on proven public private partnership (PPP) as regards road network development.
The country has a proven track record on implementing PPP for road investment, and after Adeosun’s discussions with Bill Morneau, the country’s finance minister, they have offered to support Nigeria on the technical front in that regard.
NIGERIA GETS ONLY 13% OF ITS WORLD BANK FUND – THAT’S CHANGING
Until now, Nigeria only gets 13 percent of its World Bank funding. In context, if the bank promises $1 billion, Nigeria only gets $130 million.
The delegation for this annual meeting is changing that. Adeosun, who told the World Bank that the disbursement is unacceptably low, says the country would restructure its fund collection models.
“We would consider restructuring, reallocating or even cancelling irredeemable project components.
“We would strengthen our implementation capacity including our capacity for monitoring and evaluation. We would have regular monthly meetings now with the World Bank Group.”
FINE-TUNING OF NIGERIA’S FOREX POLICY
The liberalisation of the Nigerian forex market was commended by the IMF, which also urged Nigeria to keep focus on curbing inflation while attempting to drive growth.
After the high level meeting held by the CBN governor, he told journalists that the country’s forex policy was not “cast in stone”, and could be fine-tuned from time to time.
“The flexible exchange rate regime document that we have in place is a very sound document and truly speaking, I have not seen one person who has criticised the document,” Emefiele said.
“But what we only have to talk about is fine-tuning few aspects of it, in terms of the implementation of the content of that document. That is why I said we will, from time to time, continue to look at it.
“As we are looking at it, I repeat, we will see how we will continue to fine-tune it, to the extent that whatever we are putting in place would be such that would benefit Nigerians, improve their lives as well as the country.”