Poor revenue behind govt borrowing, economy facing tough times -FG

The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed finally admitted to Nigeria’s economy undergoing a difficult period, saying states must improve their internally generated revenues.

Ahmed, who stated this in on Monday during an interview on a daily breakfast show on the Nigerian Television Authority, Good Morning Nigeria, stated that the money shared at the March Federation Account Allocation Committee meeting was short of N50bn.

The minister was speaking on a controversy generated by a claim by the Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, that the Central Bank of Nigeria printed N60bn in March to augment the money shared at March FAAC.

In the interview on the NTA on Monday, the finance minister stated the country’s economy was stabilising from the recession, which the country exited a few months ago.

She, however, added, “These are very difficult challenging times because revenues are low and the demand for expenditures are very high understandably because we have to keep intervening to make sure the pandemic is contained as well as the ececonomic impact it has caused.

“In our case in Nigeria, the crash of the crude oil prices really hit us very hard in terms of revenue. We have very low revenues, we have very high expenditures. What we have done so far is just to provide some stability to make sure salaries are paid, pensions are received every month; that we send funds to the judiciary and the legislature; that we meet our debt service obligations.

“That’s what we are doing. It also means we have had to borrow more than we have planned before the COVID-19 started because we need to still continue to invest in infrastructure using our national budget. We borrowed to invest in key projects such as roads, rail, airports, seaports and several other investments that are required in health and in education and upgrading the social standards and quality of life of our people and Nigeria is not unique as several countries of the world went into recession.

“Almost every other country has had to borrow more than it planned. It means we expanded our deficit very fast in 2020. 2021 is a year that we see as the year of recovery.”

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