Nigeria Facing Revenue Challenge, Says Budget Office
Ministry of Finance Headquarters, Abuja. Image: Premium Times

The Director of Budget in the Ministry of Budget and National Planning Ben Akabueze has said the country has a revenue challenge.

Akabueze said this on Wednesday in Abuja at the Strategic Dialogues on the Morocco-Nigeria Relations.

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According to him, “For us in Nigeria, lately there has been a lot of talk about [the] government’s borrowings and those who talk about it are justified to express the concern.

“But the truth is that I think we are generally having the wrong discussion. I personally don’t think we have a debt problem, but we have a serious revenue problem, which, if we do not address, will snowball into a debt problem.

“But instead of having a discussion around the revenue issue, we are talking about the debt. Morocco, for instance, has a 63 percent debt to GDP ratio; we have a 20 percent debt to GDP ratio. Morocco has over 3.4 percent deficit to the GDP ratio; we have a statutory cap of three percent.”

In addition, he said “The real issue is that in 2017, for instance, our debt service to revenue ratio crossed 60 percent.

“There are two options of a policy standpoint in trying to address the numerator, which is debt, at a time when you have huge infrastructure deficit that needs to be addressed.

“And this is also at a time when the economy remains pretty fragile and, therefore, government spending is critical to sustain and drive growth.

“Therefore, focusing on the numerator in times like this may not be the solution. This is why revenue is what we need to focus on.”