2017 Budget: Nigeria to borrow ₦2 trillion amid foreign debts of ₦19 trillion

Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma, has said that the Federal Government will not jettison its plan to borrow the sum of ₦2 trillion to finance the 2017 Budget despite Nigeria’s local and foreign debt currently standing at ₦19 trillion.

Speaking to newsmen after appearing before the National Working Committee of the All Progressives Congress (APC) at the party’s headquarters in Abuja on Wednesday night, Udoma insisted that government was not committing any economic blunder borrowing to finance this year’s budget.

While explaining the wisdom behind funding the budget with the proposed borrowing plan, the Minister said Nigeria does not have debt problem but revenue challenges, stressing that efforts are in top gear to increase the revenue through taxation.

In his words: “Every country borrows and the level of borrowing in Nigeria is not excessive at all. The Federal Government is going to borrow about ₦2 trillion to finance the 2017 budget.

“Our debt currently is about ₦19 trillion, which is less than 20 per cent of our Gross Domestic Product (GDP). It is quite moderate. So, we don’t have a debt problem, what we have is a revenue challenges and that is why we are taking steps to increase our revenue,” he said.

Udoma said: “One of the things we are doing is the amnesty programme to get people who have not been paying their taxes to do so. Right now, our tax collection to GDP is only about 6 per cent of GDP.

“The target of the recovery and growth planning is only about 15 per cent of GDP and if we achieve that, you will now see that in fact the volume of the debt is not all that high. So, I insist that it is a revenue problem and we are working hard on increasing our revenues,” he assured.

On the allegations that the National Assembly imported certain items into the 2017 Budget, the Minister said: “First, let me say that such issue was not part of the things we discussed during the meeting.

“However, what I can say on that is that we have had continuous engagement with the National Assembly. May be I should also explain that as the Minister of Budget and National Planning, my role is to seek approval of the President’s agenda at the National Assembly.

“We have engaged them to talk on the approval for the President’s agenda and the more the percentage that we can get approved, the more successful has been the efforts. The discussion and engagement with the National Assembly is a continuing one,” he noted.

While commenting on the meeting, the National Publicity Secretary of the ruling party, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, said: “It was a briefing session. You remember that a couple of weeks ago, we had engaged the Minister of Power, Works and Housing who made presentation to us, but today, we had the honour of playing host to the Minister of Budget and National Planning.

“He has equally engaged us for hours, taking us through the national economic recovery plan and the various sectors of the plan over a three-year period.

The key highlight is that we are assured that the economy will come out of recession in 2017.

“The Minister admitted that the process of getting out of recession has been sluggish because of funding issues, but essentially, he assured us that Nigeria will come out of recession this year,” he said.