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Government mindful of borrowings, nation safe, says minister

Government mindful of borrowings, nation safe, says minister

Finance Minister, Zainab Shamsuna Ahmed

• Customs generated N311 billion in Q1 2019

The Minister of Finance, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, has said the Federal Government is mindful of the nation’s rising debt burden which eats up about 25 per cent of its yearly earnings, adding however, that the borrowings were to deliver on the promises of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration. She spoke to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on the sidelines of the just concluded IMF/World Bank yearly meetings in Washington DC, United States.

Nigeria currently has an external debt stock of about $24.27 billion as at December 31, 2018.Euro bonds, loans from the World Bank Group, China and the African Development Bank Group make up over 80 per cent of the country’s debt stock. Ahmed insisted that in spite of the warnings by the IMF and World Bank, the country was not in any way near a debt crisis. She said: “The World Bank and IMF are cautioning us on the rate at which we are borrowing.

“They are also cautioning us on the need to build fiscal buffers because the global economy is going to be facing some risks and we agree with that.“We are very mindful of the level of our borrowings. Ours is very much within fiscal limits right now.“What we are doing is to increase our revenue-generating capacity to make it easier for us to meet our debt obligations and our routine as well as capital expenditure.”

On concerns for the Chinese infrastructure loans on the health of the economy and the terms of the facilities, the minister stated: “To borrow, we go through several processes of assessments as well as negotiations.”She added: “We make sure we get the best possible terms and whether we are borrowing from financial institutions or in Europe or China or anywhere else, we try to get the best rates. So far, the conditions we have got are very good ones.’’

Besides, the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has generated N311.2 billion for the first quarter of 2019. The information was contained in a document obtained by NAN from the office of the Public Relations Officer, Joseph Attah. Government had set a revenue target of N887 billion for the service this year.

However, the Comptroller-General of Customs, Col. Hameed Ali (rtd), had promised that the figure would be surpassed, as the management had earlier set a higher target for the organisation. The document indicated that the agency got N116.5 billion and N84.9 billion in January and February, while N109.8 billion was generated in March.It showed that the revenue was gotten from the 29 commands of the service across the federation.According to the release, Apapa command posted the highest revenue followed by Tincan.

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