The federal government 2017 budget recorded an 86 per cent implementation, the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Sen. Udoma Udo Udoma, has disclosed.
He told Vanguard in an interview on the sidelines of the just concluded 2018 Annual Meetings of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank, in Bali, Indonesia, that although the performances of the ministries and agencies of the federal government varied, it was generally an impressive record.
According to the minister, “Overall, the 2017 budget implementation was about 86 per cent. Capital releases was at N1.44 trillion, the highest ever, while recurrent was almost 100 percent. All debt service obligations were fully met.”
Good news about Nigeria
On the overall Annual Meetings, Sen. Udoma said that the Nigerian story was good, given the positive results from the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP).
He said, “Basically since this is a forum where all Ministers of Finance, Governors of Central Banks and investors from all over the world meet, it is a good opportunity for us to meet with investors and analysts to speak to them about Nigeria.
“We met investors to give them the good news about developments in Nigeria. We spoke to investors to continue to see Nigeria as a good place to do business.
ERGP yielding results
Sen. Udoma said that the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan was yielding impressive results since its primary objectives were to pull Nigeria out of recession and put the economy on the path of growth.
The two objectives, he said, have been achieved and assured that the implementation of the plan would raise the bar of the nation’s economy, both in the immediate and long-term.
His words, “As you know, we went into a recession in 2016. We developed policies to get us out of recession. Those policies were encapsulated in a single document called the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP). That plan involved investing in both oil and non-oil (sectors). We did both. Part of that plan was that we will engage with the communities in the Niger Delta to get a more favourable environment for oil production and then non-oil: agriculture, solid minerals, manufacturing and son on – to fire on all cylinders.
“Since the plan was launched and we started implementing it, we have got out of recession and we are beginning to grow.
“In 2017, our growth was 0.8 percent. By half year, this year, we were on 1.5 percent. We are hoping that by the end of the year, we will be growing at 2.1 percent. That is our target for this year. For next year, we are hoping that we will be growing at 3 Percent.
“The IMF projection is that Nigeria will grow by 1.9 percent this year, which, coming from 0.8 percent last year, is good progress. Our projection if projection is 2.1 percent. The difference is not great. With our projection, it is clear that the economy is making good progress. So the economy is moving in the right direction.
“I was invited to be a discussant when the World Bank unveiled the Regional Outlook. I was the sole discussant. You know that Nigeria has a very big impact on what happens in Sub-Sahara Africa because we are the largest economy in the region. What happens in Nigeria, South Africa and Angola affects what happens in other countries of Sub-Sahara Africa because these are the largest economies of the region.
“That was one of the reasons why I was invited to discuss Nigeria concerning the various issues that were raised by the World Bank report.”
Debt not our challenge
The minister explained that the nation’s debt was not its major problem. The challenge he said remained with the low level of revenue generation.
“When you look at our situation our debt it is not bad at all. Our debt/GDP is about 19 per cent. The average for Sub-Sahara Africa is about 57 per percent. So ours is quite moderate. Our debt is sustainable. We are concerned about our revenues. So we have been trying to raise our revenues. So far the numbers from the FIRS shows that out tax collection both oil and non-oil is about 30 to 35 percent higher than it was, last year. That is good although we would like to do much better than that.
Our debt sustainable — DMO boss
The nation’s debt is sustainable, the Director–General (D-G) of the Debt Management Office (DMO) Ms. Patience Oniha, has said.
She spoke in an interview on the sidelines of the just-concluded Annual Meetings of the IMF and World in Bali, Indonesia.
“Nigeria’s debt is sustainable. We have done the analysis and continue to do the debt sustainability analysis of the nation’s debt on a regular basis. I can assure you that our level of debt is not a thing to worry about.
“One important thing to know about Nigeria’s debt is that much of the foreign loans are on concessionary terms with very low rates of interests. This type of loan is the best type of facilities that anyone can obtain.
“It is equally important to know that the loans we are obtaining from foreign sources are being utilized for the provision of infrastructure facilities that will equally yield revenue.
“We have a debt strategy which guides us in making sure that our debt portfolio is within limits that remains sustainable and well restructured in such a way to reduce the burden of servicing on a continuous basis.
“Consequently, we are gradually reducing the nature of the debts from short-term loan to long-term loans which are very important for repayment purposes.”