‘Nigeria adopting best practices on sustainable debt management’
The Senior Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on Niger Delta Affairs, Ita Enang, has said that Nigeria was adopting best practices in external borrowing and sustainable debt management.
He said Nigeria had continued to follow the procedures by ensuring the terms and conditions of loan were laid before the National Assembly, and approved in detail before execution.
He maintained that the repayment plan of the debts had always been tied to the projects for which the loan was taken while the details had always been provided in the finance bill and the appropriate bill as to the projects for which the loans were taken.
Enang, who said this at the fellowship award organised by the Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria (CITN), pointed out the concerns by practitioners in the economy and finance space on high level of Nigeria’s external borrowing and debt sustainability, especially in view of President Buhari’s request to the National Assembly recently.
To sustain the country’s national debt, he said Nigerians should support the Federal Government’s policies expected to generate revenue like the increase in electricity tariff.
He maintained that the government had been unveiling new measures to improve its revenue, one of which is the tax reform. Giving instances why the government needed to borrow, he noted that the rising debt was to improve infrastructure and create jobs, where unemployment level had been projected to rise to 33.5 per cent.
According to him, “We borrow to bridge the revenue gap, to finance infrastructure so that jobs can be created and to stimulate growth. It was not ad hoc; it was deliberate.
“Also, when the naira was devalued from N199 to N305, if you convert the external debt we had at that time, without new borrowing, it increased by over a trillion naira. Budget deficits have been dropping since 2017, so also new borrowings.”
Noting that Nigeria would not default on its loans, he cleared the air there had not been any default, whether of local or international debt, adding “Nigeria spent $195.5 million to pay its debt to China in 2020, or about 12.6 per dent of the $1.6 billion it spent servicing all its external debt.”
Earlier in her remarks, President and Chairman of Council, CITN, Gladys Simplice, said the institute had intensified engagements with relevant government institutions on the need to place at the helm of affairs tax professionals at the ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) to enable them demonstrate their professional competencies.
This, according to her, would assist in the realisation of government’s goals and objectives, particularly in the area of revenue generation and to curb revenue leakages. All these, Simplice added, are geared towards improving the standards of professional tax practice in the country.
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