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Amidst hues and cries, Adeosun insists FG must borrow to deliver on infrastructure

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Despite opposition by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and some other Nigerians over continued borrowing of the Muhammadu Buhari-led administration, the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, has insisted that the country must borrow more in order to deliver critical infrastructural projects.

The PDP had recently accused Buhari of mortgaging the future of the country for seeking to borrow a $5.5 billion foreign loan. It said that the present administration wants to push the nation down into “the black hole of debt.”
PDP and some Nigerians anchored their worries on the recently released figure by the Debt Management Office, which disclosed that Nigeria under Buhari’s government has in the last two borrowed N7.51 trillion.

But speaking on Sunday at a press conference marking the conclusion of the 2017 World Bank/International Monetary Fund Annual Meetings in Washington DC, United States, Adeosun argued that Nigeria must borrow more in the short term to deliver critical infrastructural projects such as roads, rail and power.

She pointed out that Nigeria was at the moment one of the countries with the lowest debt-to-Gross Domestic Product figures in the world.

She also added, that Buhari’s government does not “borrow recklessly,” and “have no intention of bequeathing unserviceable debts to Nigerians.”

She said, “Nigeria’s debt-to-Gross Domestic Product ratio is one of the lowest actually. It is about 19 per cent. Most advanced countries have over 100 per cent. I am not saying we want to move to 100 per cent. But I’m saying we need to tolerate a little bit more debt in the short term to deliver roads, rail, and power.

“That, in itself, will generate economic activities and jobs, which will then generate revenue which will be used to pay back (the loans). It is a strategic decision that as a country we have to make.

“What I will assure you is that this government is very prudent around debt. We don’t borrow recklessly. We have no intention of bequeathing unserviceable debts to Nigerians. What we are simply trying to do is to ensure that we create enough headroom to invest in the capital projects that the country desperately needs.

“I don’t think any Nigerian will argue with us that we don’t need to invest in power. There is no Nigerian who will argue that we don’t need to do the roads. There is no Nigerian who is honest who will tell us that we don’t have 17 million units housing deficit. So, our vision for Nigeria is not for us to continue hobbling as a poor nation. That is the message I took to the meetings yesterday. We are a middle-income country. By classification, Nigeria, Angola and South Africa are middle-income countries. So, we have to benchmark ourselves against those who wish to join and to do that, we have to fix our infrastructure. We will do it jointly and as efficiently as possible. But the key is revenue.”

According to Adeosun, the Ministry of Finance had turned down several loan requests by some state governments to ensure the country had good debt sustainability figure. She added that the Federal Government had a strategic plan to reduce borrowing which was the reason for embarking on various tax mobilisation initiatives including the Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration, which she said has been gaining traction.

Read also: With liabilities deducted, 36 states share N173.8bn in September

On why it is a must for the country to borrow she said that “if we think back at the problem that we faced, it will be very important to put this in context. Our principal source of revenue plummeted by up to 85 per cent. So, we had two choices: You either reduce public services massively, which would have meant massive job losses or you borrow in the short term until you can begin to generate revenue.

“As the All Progressives Congress (the ruling party), we felt laying off thousands of people was not the way to stimulate the economy.. Also, when we came into office, about 27 state governments could not pay salaries. If we had allowed that situation to persist, we would have been in depression now.

“So, we took the view that as a government the best for us to do was to stimulate the demand and spend our way out of trouble. Let the state government pay salaries, make sure the Federal Government can pay salary and invest in capital projects to get people back to work. Once growth is restored, you can now begin to systematically reduce short dependence on borrowing and increase revenue”, Adeosun said.

 

 

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0 Comments

  1. Abeni Adebisi

    October 16, 2017 at 11:56 am

    When a government is too comfortable burrowing from external sources, it will not not see anything wrong in continuous borrowing.

    • JOHNSON PETER

      October 17, 2017 at 5:26 am

      You are right, we have to caution it

  2. Animashaun Ayodeji

    October 16, 2017 at 12:05 pm

    It may appear that Nigeria is borrowing too much, but this isn’t the case, Nigeria’s debt is nothing compared to other developed countries

    • Anita Kingsley

      October 16, 2017 at 12:12 pm

      There no country that can survive on its resources alone, for Nigeria to be developed, we have to seek external aids by borrowing when necessary

  3. Anita Kingsley

    October 16, 2017 at 12:16 pm

    PDP and every individual condemning the government for borrowing too much don’t know what they are saying. Borrowing money is allowed, unnecessarily borrowing is what should not never tolerated, so far Buhari’s government is on good standing.

  4. seyi jelili

    October 17, 2017 at 4:03 am

    There is no big In borrowing to finance a working budget, the borrowing is for our good, no government in the world can survive without borrowing.

    • JOHNSON PETER

      October 17, 2017 at 5:25 am

      We know but Nigeria’s own is getting too much

  5. yanju omotodun

    October 17, 2017 at 5:52 am

    The incoming governments after buhari should be prepared to face servicing of loans more than anything else. This government can borrow from heaven if it were to be possible.

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