Nigeria is not broke – Ngozi Okonjo Iweala

Minister-of-Finance-Dr.-Ngozi-Okonjo-Iweala30 June 2013, Abuja – The Nigerian Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo Iweala has dismissed reports claiming that Nigeria is broke, noting that it has no basis in reality.

In a statement released by Mr. Paul C. Nwabuikwu, Special Adviser to the Coordinating Minister, disclosed that the statement was necessitated by “several enquiries about a story titled “Nigerian Government broke; targets pension savings”.

“The story, like many other recent articles purporting to be exclusive stories on various aspects of the Nigerian economy, is a complete fabrication.

“As Nigerians know, the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan recently presented its mid-term report which is a forthright account of the achievements as well as challenges facing the economy.

“The country has $48 billion in reserves, including N5 billion in the Excess Crude Account to help shore up the economy. So the idea that the country is broke is alarmist.

“It is true that the country is experiencing some revenue shortfalls that everyone knows about due to oil theft for which the President is taking some serious measures.

“Also, contrary to the claim that the country has borrowed from local and international banks to finance recurrent spending, the Jonathan administration has in fact reversed the tendency of borrowing to finance recurrent as was the practice in the past.

“Also untrue is the claim that the country has been downgraded by international ratings agencies. In fact the truth is the exact opposite; ratings agencies and international investors have consistently stated, through various platforms, that the Nigerian economy is a well-managed one with good prospects in the medium and long term.

Regarding the country’s debt situation, the overall picture is positive as the Coordinating Minister showed clearly in her recent well publicized statement. The multi-dimensional strategy adopted by the Jonathan administration is leading to positive outcomes.

The level of borrowing has been brought down, bonds are being paid off through a sinking fund and the country is not taking the kind of high interest loans that led to the debt burden which existed before the historic Paris Club debt deal. The Borrowing Plan which was approved by State Governors and the National Assembly is focused on financing power transmission projects, inter and intra city rail projects, dams and other key infrastructure.

The notion that the Jonathan government is “eyeing” the N3.4 trillion pension funds to finance deficits underscores the desperation of this “activist” medium and its sponsors. It is a total invention. In fact, the government is currently engaged in strengthening institutions and critical processes in the sector to enhance security and stability of the funds.

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