OPS: N77tn debt not manageable,

The Lagos Chamber of Industry as well as the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines, and Agriculture have expressed dismay at the recent revelation that Nigeria’s debt could hit N77tn if the National Assembly agrees to the Federal Government proposal to restructure its N22.7tn Central Bank of Nigeria loan.

Sunday PUNCH had reported that Nigeria’s public debt burden might hit N77tn if the National Assembly approves the request by the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), to restructure the Ways and Means Advances.

This followed comments by the Director-General of the Debt Management Office, Patience Oniha, who spoke during the public presentation of the 2023 budget organised by the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Dr Zainab Ahmed.

Speaking in an exclusive interview with The PUNCH, the Deputy-President of the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Gabriel Idahosa, said the government ought to find creative solutions to revenue generation beyond its frequent recourse to taking loans.

He also noted that government borrowing, especially when it is as frequent as it has been with the current administration, ends up stifling the private sector’s ability to take loans from the banking system.

He said, “The issue of sustainability is no longer being considered by the government. This government just wants to borrow its way out of the remaining term and then leave the problem for the next government. That’s just to put it mildly. So, the bigger picture of sustainability and structure will have to be addressed by the incoming government because the level of borrowing now is not sustainable by our revenue.

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“As a country we are not generating enough revenue to service our debts and still run a government. Since last year, we have been living on borrowed money because the debt servicing has crossed 100 per cent of our revenue. If you look at our budget every year, when you look at the debt servicing, it is higher than the estimated revenue. So we just borrow on top of all that to run the government. That is what we are doing now. It is not sustainable.”



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