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CISLAC

Address revenue shortfalls or foreign debt may climb to N107.38trn – CISLAC to NASS

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The Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre, CISLAC has called on the National Assembly, NASS, to genuinely address Nigeria’s revenue shortfalls, saying indicators of foreign and domestic debts portend dangers for the nation.

Speaking at a press briefing with the Senate Press Corps on Friday, the Executive Director, Auwal Rafsanjani decried the growing debt overhang which he said has precipitated economic crisis for the nation.

He expressed concern that a substantial part of foreign debt is owed by private creditors with a loan repayment percentage standing between 6 to 9 percent with a shorter repayment period.

“These revenue shortfalls have created budget deficits that have precipitated our debt crisis and has grown our external debt by 1, 333% from the level it was after the Paris Debt buy-back-deal in 2005/06.

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“As of June 2023, Nigeria’s total debt portfolio stood at N87.9 trillion ($114.3 billion) and will climb to N107.38 trillion in 2024, following recent approvals by the National Assembly.

“Worrisomely, 37% of Nigeria’s total external debt figure is owed to private creditors whose loans attract between 6-9% and shorter repayment period in comparison to loans from multilateral and bilateral sources with interest rates of between 1-3% and longer repayment period of 10-30years.

“The result is that debt servicing will cost 98% of our budget, and the government will spend six times more on servicing debts than on building new schools and hospitals in 2024. This unsustainable level of public debt highlights the need for a reassessment of government spending and revenue generation.

“As advocates of economic justice, the Tax Justice and Governance Platform (TJGP), with subnational platforms across eighteen (18) states in the country and a National Secretariat coordinated by Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre and steered by ActionAid, Christian Aid, Centre for Democracy and Development, International Budget Partnership, the and the Nigeria Labour Congress and Oxfam wishes to lend its voice once again to these growing concerns in demonstration of its civic responsibility.”

He said, the worrisome trend underscores the need for the parliament to churn out sound economic reforms and balancing that would pave way for significant investment in critical sectors that impacts on vulnerable citizens.

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In exercising their oversight and investigative powers, CISLAC urged the legislators to urgently investigate movement and spending of loans received by the past administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.

He said: “We thus request that as a matter of urgency, the National Assembly should commit to investigating the movement and spending of loans received by the Federal Government in the past and present administrations, including but not limited to the $3.4 billion loan obtained from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as reported in the 2020 annual audited report published by the Auditor-General of the Federation.

“Revising legal and institutional frameworks related to debt management, emphasizing transparency and accountability. This includes accelerating the amendment of the Fiscal Responsibility Act (FRA) 2007.

“Redefining the purpose of incurring debts in clear terms of debts being for projects that will promote value chain development, improve the macroeconomic framework, develop infrastructure, and build strategic human capital.”





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