The President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), on Tuesday, justified the nation’s debt profile, saying his regime needed to borrow to fund critical infrastructure like roads, rail, and power.
According to a statement titled “President Buhari justifies borrowing to fund infrastructure,” by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, the President spoke at a virtual meeting he had with members of the Presidential Economic Advisory Council from the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Buhari spoke at a time stakeholders are expressing concerns over the nation’s rising debt profile and accusing the government of mortgaging the country’s future.
But the President said his regime needed to take loans to address the deficit in the nation’s infrastructure.
He said it was only by doing so that the county could be attractive to investors.
“We have so many challenges with infrastructure.
“We just have to take loans to do roads, rail, and power, so that investors will find us attractive and come here to put their money,’’ Shehu quoted the President as saying after listening to a presentation by PEAC chaired by Prof Ayo Salami.
Buhari was also said to have regretted that failure to provide infrastructure for effective transportation deprived the country of its well-deserved status as the West African hub for air cargo transportation and trans-shipment of goods.
On the economy, the President noted the challenges posed by the “collapse of the oil market” and the decision of the government to abide by the reduced oil production quota allocated by the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries.
He said, “We have to accept that decision; otherwise they (Middle-East producers) can flood the market and make the product unviable.
“So we have cooperated with what we get. With oil, we are in a difficult situation. The politics of oil is that the less you produce, the less you earn.”
Shehu said Salami had, earlier in his presentation, highlighted the council’s recommendations on poverty reduction and stimulation of non-debt investment inflows, as promised at their last meeting.
The statement added, “The council recommended steps for the effective implementation of government’s plan to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty, as well as measures to curb poverty disparity in Nigeria.
“The council promised to set out a full policy paper that would, in the first instance, stop more Nigerians from falling into poverty and thereafter, further plans on reducing the poverty headcount in the country.
“The PEAC also outlined a number of measures aimed at aggressively increasing the country’s non-debt investment inflow, including measures to improve investor perception of the country and the proposed establishment of a $5bn – $10 bn investment and growth fund to invest in.
“The PEAC used the opportunity of the meeting to express support and solidarity with the administration on its recent policies.
“It listed the implementation of reforms encapsulated in the Companies and Allied Matters Act 2020 recently signed into law, the reforms in the energy sector, bringing electricity and fuel prices in line with the market, and the decision of the Central Bank of Nigeria to merge the exchange rate of the naira versus other foreign currencies.”