An economist, Prof. Sheriffdeen Tella, last Monday described the nation’s debt stock of N21.73 trillion as worrisome and urged the Federal Government to stop external borrowing.
Tella, a professor of Economics at Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye, Ogun State, expressed his views in an interview with The Tide source in Lagos, last Monday.
He said that the current size of the country’s external debt was worrisome.
The Debt Management Office (DMO), on March 14, said that Nigeria’s external debt had risen to 18.91 billion dollars (N5.79 trillion) as at December 31, 2017.
The DMO said that domestic debt also rose to N15.94 trillion, bringing the total debt stock to N21.725 trillion (70.92 billion dollars).
According to the economist, the total external debt of 18.91 billion dollars is very high compared to the current Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
He said that the current GDP growth rate was largely due to higher crude oil price than increased output in agriculture.
Tella said that there was no rationale for government to borrow in dollars to offset domestic debts, stressing that part of the earnings from oil should be monetised to offset such debt.
According to him, government is borrowing as if the country is not earning foreign exchange which can be used to meet some of the external needs.
“What is the pride in accumulating external debt when you are at the same time building external reserve?
“The ratio of debt service to the annual budget continues to rise, thereby depriving the nation of funds that should go into project execution and general economic development,” Tella said.
He said that apart from the delay in passing the 2018 budget and attendant delay in budget implementation which were affecting the speed of economic recovery, the huge sums spent on debt servicing also contributed to the slow economic recovery.
“This is the time to put a stop to these orgies of borrowing. How much of the dollar borrowed reach the shores of Nigeria?
“A sizeable proportion is used for agency fees, facilitator fees, technical expertise, purchase of equipment, machinery, and other production inputs that are not produced locally, and payments are made for all these in foreign currency,” the don said.
Tella said that a number of research results had shown that external debts had negative impact on the development of the country.
He said that the earlier the National Assembly stopped approving borrowing, the better it would be for the country.
Tella said that there must be a threshold for external reserve and once the threshold is met, the rest should be for infrastructure development and other items we borrowed money to execute.
Redeployed Customs Officers Assume Office At New Posts
Redeployed Zonal coordinators and controllers affected by the recent swapping exercise in the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) have since taken over their new posts.
Assistant Comptroller General and Comptrollers affected by the change of batons have gone into action in the respective Zones and Area Commands respectively.
As at Press time, ACG Bello Jibo, the new Coordinator, Zone A, has begun to hold forth at the Harvey Road Zonal Headquarters in Yaba, Lagos.
Comptroller Dera Nnadi, Jaiyeoba, and Shuaibu have resumed their duties as Customs Area Controllers of Tincan Island Port, Apapa and Idiroko Commands respectively.
Comptroller Timi Bomodi has also begun overseeing customs activities at Seme-Krake Border Command.
In an exclusive chat with The Tide, Chairman, Seme Chapter of the Association of Nigeria Licensed Clearing Agent (ANLCA), Chief Oyekachukwu Ojinma (aka Sule) described the outgoing Controller of the Command, Comptroller Dera Nnadi, as a very hard-working and dedicated man, while welcoming the new Customs Area Controller to the border post.
The ANLCA Chairman expressed his wish for a successful tenure of office for Compt. Timi Bomodi.
By: Nkpemenyie Mcdominic, Lagos
‘Electricity Act Will Transform Power Sector’
Minister of Power, Adebayo Adelabu, has stated that the recently signed Nigerian Electricity Act, 2023, will play a fundamental role in transforming the power sector.
According to him, it will unlock the potential of the energy mix and promote the integration of renewable energy technologies into the grid system.
Speaking at the ongoing Nigeria Energy Conference and exhibition in Lagos, Adelabu said the Act aims to create an environment that supports sustainable growth and investment in the power industry by focusing on accelerated private investment and the promotion of renewable energy sources.
“As a game-changer that reformed the NESI, the Electricity Act will, undoubtedly, engender increased access to electricity and regulatory oversight, clean energy transition, improved service delivery, and infrastructural developments.
“In particular, the act will stimulate economic growth by creating a conducive environment for investment and competition. It will generate job opportunities, encourage entrepreneurship, and attract foreign direct investments”, he said.
The Minister called on operators in the power sector to intensify their efforts towards improving communication with the general public, emphasising that the Nigerian masses have a lot of roles to play in safeguarding power infrastructure.
He said issues such as vandalism, passing of meters, and damage to TCN and DisCo infrastructure must be addressed holistically to make significant gains in the power sector.
Adelabu emphasised that the power sector is a cornerstone for economic growth in the country and that the gains made over the years in the power sector can only be consolidated by unlocking equity investments and funds for power development.
He said: “Of course, a lot of investment is required in the power sector. In three weeks, I’ve seen humongous investments that have come into this sector.
“But what are the steps that are required for those investment opportunities to reap the benefit of those investments, additional investments in the form of equity and capex need to come into this industry.
“The power sector is not an industry for short-term players to invest in less than two to three years and expect to make maximum benefits.
“The industry requires medium to long-term investments. Investors must understand that the moment we can break even, we will start making profits in the power sector.
Adelabu also urged operators in the NESI value chain to improve their service delivery, adding that Nigeria’s energy expansion plan of 60,000 Megawatts by 2060 is an achievable target.
He, therefore, called on gas companies, GenCos, TCN, and DIScO to showcase their success stories in generating and transmitting power to the last mile that pays for all the segments of operators in the value chain.
‘Nigeria Loses $1.5bn Annually To Malnutrition’
Minister for Budget and Economic Planning, Abubakar Bagudu, has said Nigeria loses $1.5 billion of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) annually due to micronutrient deficiencies.
Bagudu therefore called for coordinated efforts to ensure a swift response with expected positive outcomes.
A statement released by the Ministry said the Minister disclosed this, last Tuesday, while speaking at the 53rd Annual General Meeting and Scientific Conference of the Nutrition Society of Nigeria in Abuja.
In the statement, Bagudu noted that the government was determined to tackle malnutrition through the inclusion of nutrition in the National Development Plan, and the Nigeria Agenda 2050.
“It is also a commitment to achieving optimal nutrition status for all Nigerians with particular attention to the vulnerable group as highlighted in the National Multisectoral Plan of Action for Food and Nutrition”, he said.
Bagudu, who urged experts in nutrition in the country to research and develop innovations that will boost nutrition, explained that doing this “would contribute towards achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), ensuring Universal Health Coverage, and bringing about significant positive changes in the nutrition sector in Nigeria”.
He told members of the Nutrition Society of Nigeria “to prioritise innovation and research in the field of nutrition towards the attainment of Sustainable Development Goals, Universal Health Coverage and transformation of the landscape of nutrition in Nigeria.
“Nigeria currently requires nutrition professionals who have extensive knowledge, good communication skills to address nutrition education, emotional intelligence as well and a good understanding of self-motivation and drive to address nutrition dynamics”.
The Minister urged the NSN to embrace technology, leverage digital solutions, and invest in research and development to find sustainable and scalable solutions to Nigeria’s nutrition challenges.
He assured members of the NSN that his ministry would strengthen coordination and provide the required leadership for the nutrition sector.
The Kwara State Governor, AbdulRahman AbdulRasaq, in his goodwill message, said the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF) had identified areas of key commitments for the realisation of a healthier citizen and country, including increasing budgetary spending on nutrition and strengthening the nutrition profile.
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