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FG affirms Nigeria’s revenue challenge compounds debt problem

By Anthony Otaru and Joseph Chibueze, Abuja
15 November 2022   |   3:58 am
President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday, stated that the nation's revenue challenges are heightening the country’s debt problem, necessitating the need to improve earnings as well as the ease of doing business.

Debt. Photo: RTE

President Muhammadu Buhari, yesterday, stated that the nation’s revenue challenges are heightening the country’s debt problem, necessitating the need to improve earnings as well as the ease of doing business.

Buhari equally said it is true that what matters right now is the county’s debt service to revenue ratio which is undoubtedly high but admitted that increasing revenues should henceforth engage most of the government’s attention.

The President however assured that the country is already witnessing real improvements from the non-oil revenues, warning that the government must now focus more on productivity and encourage value addition.

President Muhammadu Buhari stated this yesterday while declaring open the 28th Nigeria Economic Summit Group [NESG] holding in Abuja. He said the theme for the 28th Summit ‘2023 & Beyond: Priorities for Shared Prosperity’ calls on stakeholders to reflect on what the nation’s priorities should be to attain inclusive prosperity from 2023 and beyond., adding that this is an important question given the frightening headwinds of the past three years and the emerging local and global trends that will most certainly define the future.

Represented by Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osibanjo, Buhari said that productivity and value addition means creation of traceable value, jobs, opportunities and it also means more tax revenues.

He stressed that to increase productivity, Nigeria must free up her environment for business, make local and international trade easier by fixing the ports, effecting the national single window, revamping our customs processes and tariff codes to reduce delays and arbitrariness, removing needless restrictions on imports to enable value added processes.

According to the President, ”Our exchange rate regime remains of concern, the discussion that we must have is how best to manage the situation by finding a mechanism for increasing supply and moderating demand which will be transparent and will boost confidence.”

He acknowledged several efforts that have been made by the government in the past such as the Interbank Foreign Exchange Market, Retail Dutch Auction System, Wholesale Dutch Auction System, adding that while such efforts may not have been perfect, the rules were clear and the gap between the official and parallel markets was not so wide.

The thing is that there should be some element of price discovery in our policy regime which will boost confidence and increase inflows of foreign exchange. We will also have to take urgent action to bring inflation down because it is both a tax on the poor and disrupts long term growth.”

According to him, inflation in Nigeria is partly structural arising from infrastructural deficiencies but that there is also an aspect that is caused by increased money supply, imported inflation and depreciation of the naira.

He said in addition to the monetary measures being taken by the Central Bank of Nigeria, the government would need to increase domestic production of food and make sure that it gets to the market.

The Keynote Speaker, Mr. Pascal Dozie listed better ways to set an agenda for leaders in the 2023 and beyond and in the process get the Nigeria of our dreams.

Dozie, who is also a founding member of the NESG, said that the country will do well to accept that democratically established and rule-based governance system are enduring compared to dictatorship, adding that the nation’s founding fathers agreed for an independent Nigeria to be a secular state for good reasons and a true federation.

The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Dr. Zainab Ahmed in her own speech said the federal government is designing a plan that will ensure that the nation’s per capita GDP rises to $33,000 by 2050.

The Minister said the plan which is contained in the Nigeria Agenda 2050, will place Nigeria amongst the rank of Upper Middle Income Countries.

She said the plan will be implemented by successive governments through Six, five-Year Medium-Term National Development Plans and Annual Budgets.

According to her, “The Nigeria Agenda 2050 has a moral imperative to lower the poverty and unemployment rate significantly as this is the only way we can ensure sustainable broad-based growth.”

Earlier in his opening speech, the Chairman of the Board of the NESG, Mr. Asue Ighodalo said Nigeria is in extremely difficult times, and the citizens must push and pull themselves out of the difficulties.

According to him, “We must work harder than ever before, think differently and then, we must agree on creative and practical recommendations which if implemented, will initiate our national revival and pull us out of these difficulties.”