Wednesday, January 19, 2022

After rubber stamps, Lawan says Buhari’s obsession with foreign loans worrisome

The Senate President said the upper chamber will work with revenue-generating agencies “to have more revenues in order to reduce the level of borrowing.”

• January 12, 2022
President of the Nigerian Senate, Ahmad Lawan
President of the Nigerian Senate, Ahmad Lawan

The President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, on Wednesday, said the upper chamber was worried about the current administration’s reliance on external loans, after repeatedly approving the regime’s mindless borrowings without question.

“Nobody likes taking loans, borrowing, or accumulating debts,” Mr Lawan said at an event to mark his 63rd birthday in Abuja. “But what can you do when you’re not able to generate enough? We are as concerned as anybody else about our level of borrowing,” he said.

Mr Lawan said the upper chamber will work with revenue-generating agencies “to have more revenues in order to reduce the level of borrowing.”

He explained that the Senate will in the first quarter of the year 2022 focus on addressing the challenges of revenue generation, collection as well as remittance to shore up earnings by the Federal Government.

“An improvement to the country’s revenue figures will reduce Nigeria’s dependence on external borrowings for the execution of capital projects captured in the national budget.”

Mr Lawan stressed that the upper chamber had wanted to take the measures last year, but the COVID-19 pandemic was a challenge.

“Our revenue to GDP ratio is very low and the economists will tell you Nigeria’s problem is not debt, but revenue.

“This year, we are going to have engagements with the revenue-generating agencies such as Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Customs, Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) and so on, on a quarterly basis, to have their targets set for them, and we want them to come and brief us on their performance every quarter.

“The government-owned enterprises are supposed to give us more money. In 2022, we are expecting maybe about a trillion, I’m not an economist, but I believe that we should be expecting maybe double or triple from them.”

Lawan further said that the National Assembly this year would also focus on security through oversight of funds appropriated in the budget to the armed forces and security agencies.

He explained that doing so would guarantee transparency in the procurement process and ensure the welfare of military and security personnel tasked with restoring security across the country.

Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari, last week justified his regime’s several borrowings from China, stating that Nigerians may have to walk from Lagos to Ibadan if the loans were not taken.

(NAN)

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