Finance Minister Insists Nigeria Does Not Have Debt Problem

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By Modupe Gbadeyanka

The federal government has reiterated its determination to keep the debts of Nigeria within sustainable levels so as not to put the nation into trouble in the short, mid and long term.

This assurance was given by the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs Zainab Ahmed at the International Monetary Fund (IMF)-World Bank Annual Meetings held from October 11 to 17, 2021, in the United States.

The Finance Minister led a delegation from Nigeria to the meetings, including the Permanent Secretary, Finance, Mr Aliyu Ahmed; Director-General of the Budget Office, Mr Ben Akabueze; the Nigerian Deputy Ambassador; Director International Economic Relations Department of the Ministry and others.

According to Mrs Ahmed, Nigeria does not have a debt problem but how to generate revenue, reiterating the commitment of the fiscal authorities towards increasing revenue generation while ensuring sustainable deficit and debt levels.

She stated that to address the revenue issue in the medium term, the central government under the leadership of Mr Muhammadu Buhari launched the Strategic Revenue Growth Initiative (#SRGI).

The Minister disclosed that this and other steps taken by the government has allowed international investors to be optimistic about the country’s credit status and have shown interest in engaging the government, stressing that this was confirmed at the hybrid Eurobond global investors meeting and roadshow organized by the Nigeria Debt Management Office (DMO) in New York.

“Nigeria has demonstrated deep resilience amid the COVID-19 pandemic and commitment to sound policy and improving governance, positioning the continent’s largest economy and the most populous nation at the forefront of the post-pandemic recovery with key structural reforms rolled out that include steps towards cost-reflective tariffs in the power sector, and the recently enacted Petroleum Industry Act,” the Minister said at the investor meeting.

She stated that, “Nigeria has a broad and diversified economy across sectors contributing to macroeconomic resilience, with oil and gas contributing only 8.34 per cent to real GDP (gross domestic product) in the first half of 2021.”

“Post COVID-19 recovery has been aided by the pick-up in non-oil activity in information and communications, mining and quarrying, accommodation and food services, transportation and storage, education and trade,” Mrs Ahmed said.

“Nigeria continues to diversify and grow the non-oil-and-gas sectors of the economy through continued economic reform policies under the Buhari administration,” the Minister added.

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