Zainab Ahmed, Minister of Finance, on Monday, disclosed that the federal government has suspended plan to borrow $22.7 billion, due to current realities in the global economic landscape.
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Ahmed made the disclosure at the 2020 International Conference on the Nigerian Commodities Market, organized by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
According to her, the government will not go ahead with the external borrowing programme, even if it secures the approval of the national assembly.
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The finance minister explained that government’s decision to suspend the borrowing was due to the fact that market indices do not support external borrowings at the moment.
“The parliament is still doing its work on the borrowing plan. One arm of the parliament has completed theirs and the other arm is still working and it is a process that is controlled by the parliament itself, so we are waiting,” she said.
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“However, we are not going out immediately because the market indication is not in favour of external borrowing at this time. Even if we get approvals we will defer it and watch the market and go out only when the timing is right.”
She noted that the federal government is not relenting on its plans to diversify the economy, saying that unfolding events of the past few months, surrounded by the coronavirus pandemic and the oil price war, has further reinforced the resolve to diversify the national economy.
She disclosed that the current challenges in the global economy has brought to the fore, the need for the country to develop a non-oil attitude to everything.
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According to her, the government plans to prioritize expenditure in favour of major capital expenditures that will have greater impact, create job and also enhance ease of doing business in the country.
She noted that expenditures that are not critical must be deferred to a later date, when things become more normal.
“Several national plans, programmes and projects have been directed at diversifying the production and revenue structures of our economy.
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“While some levels of achievements have been recorded in this area, more still needs to be done to ensure that our production and exports base become more robust, less vulnerable to external shocks and provide more opportunities to our teeming population,” she further stated.