Though Nigeria has one of the world’s lowest Debt to GDP ratio, the government has been careful in its borrowing. The government has used the right tools to manage the economy and has only borrowed at very low concessionary rates to fund important infrastructural initiatives in Agriculture, Power, Roads, Health, Water Resources and Provision of Infrastructure
Paschal Emeka, Abuja
The Co-ordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister for Finance, Dr Ngozi Okonjo- Iweala has in an interview with finance correspondents in Abuja stated that contrary to recent negative statements about the economy, the Jonathan administration “is leaving positive economic legacies behind which nobody can wish away because history cannot be rewritten.
According to her such legacies include; 1.4 million jobs created yearly out of 1.8m jobs required as confirmed by national bureau of statistics; The Development Bank of Nigeria which will make affordable loans of up to 10 years available to Nigerian businesses
The Nigerian Mortgage Refinance Company which is spearheading a range of reforms which will vastly increase the number of mortgages in the country.
She also said that 3600 Nigerians that were given multi million naira grants to finance their business and the 22000 direct jobs created and over 80,000 indirect jobs through YOUWIN. She also informed that N3bn intervention in the entertainment industry is improving capacity and creating jobs
The minister said that Sovereign Wealth Fund now has $1.55bn and making strategic investments and delivering returns to the treasury. On agriculture, she said that agricultural reforms initiated by Jonathan’s administration have increased food production and helped to keep inflation low. She added that thousands of women have been economically empowered through the GWIN programme and those with VVF who are being rehabilitated.
She disclosed that electronic payment platforms have weeded out over 60,000 ghost workers from the payroll and saved the country over N200bn. She added that the administration has clean up the old pension system and creation of Pension Transition Administration Department (PTAD) “It is wrong to characterize the Jonathan administration as leaving N63bn debt because the country’s debt stock was accumulated over a long time by several administrations.”
She said that the country’s current debt goes back as far back as 1960 and that it includes Federal Government Debt as well as states. She also noted that before the oil price drop, the government had reduced the annual rate of borrowing. The minister said that the country’s domestic debt increased by $18 billion between 2010 and now, mainly because of the 53% increase in the pay of civil and public servants. “ It will be recalled that at the time of the wage hike under the Yar’Adua govt, the minister was Managing Director of the World Bank.”
She said that the government has in fact done a good job of managing the debt profile being the first government in the history of the country to set up a sinking fund to retire bonds that had fallen due. N75 billion worth of bonds were disposed of through this strategy.
“Though Nigeria has one of the world’s lowest Debt to GDP ratio, the government has been careful in its borrowing. The government has used the right tools to manage the economy and has only borrowed at very low concessionary rates to fund important infrastructural initiatives in Agriculture, Power, Roads, Health, Water Resources and Provision of Infrastructure,” she said.
She further stated that the year 2015 is difficult largely because of the over 50% fall in global oil prices. According to her ‘Nigerians will remember in history that the difficulty of 2015 is because of the 50% fall in oil prices’. She pointed out that she had told the nation as far back as December 2014 that this year will be difficult and outlined austerity measures.
All possible scenarios had been anticipated in the 2015 budget. “What the world is looking at is how Nigeria has been managing the situation and their assessment is that we have done an excellent job compared to the other seven countries’.