FG shuns debt relief package despite N31 trillion burden

Nigeria will not apply for relief despite its crippling N31 trillion debt burden, and that is official.

The International Monetary Fund is pushing debt relief for low income countries but the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed at the public presentation of the 2021 budget said Nigeria would take the option of the debt relief, emphasising that the government was not considering such at this time.

She said several loan agreements have been entered with various lenders, adding asking for debt relief would portend Nigeria as a country that cannot repay its indebtedness in the eyes of creditors.

The Minister also defended the 2021 budget deficit which has exceeded the Fiscal Responsibility Act threshold of three percent.

President Muhammadu Buhari had presented a budget proposal of ₦13.08trn up by 22.9 per cent from the ₦10.8trn 2020 budget, with revenue projected at ₦7.5trn.

The budget deficit is projected to grow by ₦5.21trn made up of Government Owned Enterprises and project-tied loans thus representing 3.64 percent of the budget size.

The ₦5.21trn budget deficit exceeds the three per cent threshold prescribed by the FRA 2007 for the annual budget.

Ahmed said that although the 2021 budget deficit exceeded the three per cent threshold, the government has not breached the law.

She said that there is a provision in the Fiscal Responsibility Act that allows the government to surpass the threshold during “unusual times.”

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