By Gift Samuel, The Sight News
As Nigeria’s debt shoot up from N12.06 trillion at the end of 1st quarter of 2015 to N19.6 trillion in September of 2017, the Social Development Integrated Centre (Social Action) has said that loans or borrowing is not and would never be a substitute for astute economic management.
Speaking at a press conference in Abuja on Thursday, the Head, National Advocacy, Social Action, Mrs. Vivian Bellonwu-Okafor stated that rather than acquiring more vague loans that does not impact on the lives of the citizens,government should put in place mechanisms to investigate and recover the several past failed loans, plug leakages which still abound in the system and ensure fiscal prudency.
She also urged the Federal government to put in place policies and frameworks to activate the real sectors of the economy that have the capacity to engender growth and development such as Agriculture, Manufacturing and Mining,adding that monies recovered from loots should be efficiently deployed to serve the need of the nation rather than borrowing.
While giving a run down of some of the loans taken by the Country in the past 4 to 5 years; which had the country borrowing to fund education, power, agriculture, health and social welfare with a grand total of $9,166,019,345.91 billion in external Debt Outstanding by Economic sector as of March 2014, she stressed that many loans obtained are simply amorphous with no clear-cut heading, project or purpose.
According to her, “These loans simply flout the Fiscal Responsibility Act. The FRA was abundantly clear when in S.48(1), where it provides that; (1) The Federal Government shall ensure that its fiscal and financial affairs are conducted in a transparent manner and accordingly ensure full and timely disclosure and wide publication of all transactions and decisions involving public revenues and expenditures and their implications for its finances.
“Till date, past and present governments have refused to set borrowing limit (Cap) for loan acquisitions as provided by law or allow popular input into loan acquisition decision-making process”.
Speaking on the loans in relation to Nigeria’s development, she said that while the past administration did not display much responsibility as regards to borrowing, the present administration simply made a bad situation worse.
“Within a space of two years, the Nation’s debt profile shot up by an alarming 58% with no signs of relenting (going by the frequency and volume of loan requests going to the National Assembly”.
Also speaking, the Programme Officer, Social Action, Mr. Botti Isaac stated that borrowing if not properly utilized cannot revamp the economy, adding that the borrowed monies have So far not been channelled to the right direction.
He said; “We have had situations in the last two years where our GDP has been fluctuating between the zero(0), 0.1, 1, 2 back and forth like that, not exceeding 2 as in digits and yet we claimed that we have taken all these money, invested in infrastructure, in capital projects within the country.
“Well we should know that any capital investment has multipler effects, it has the capacity to increase the GDP which in turn will increase the capacity of the country to export which in turn will increase the amount of foreign revenue the country generates which would have been used in solving some of the problems” he added.
Botti further said that it is not imperative for Nigeria to borrow, rather the country should utilize the existing ones to increase capital expenditure, revenue generation and to create multipler effect.
The group however called on the Nigeria’s Parliament to show leadership and place moratorium on further borrowing by the Country; if it becomes absolutely necessary to borrow, details of the project to be executed with the borrowed fund and progress reports of projects be made public and Special audit of project implementations be carried out by the Debt Management Office in conjunction with the Fiscal Responsibility Commission and Civil Societies and findings made known to the Nigerian public who bear the burden of debt.