The Minister of finance, Zainab Shamshuna Ahmed has disclosed that states will soon receive their outstanding balance of the Paris Club debts refunds based on the verification made on a total sum of N649.434 billion by the Ministry.
The Minister who was unveiling her Ministry’s score card in her opening remarks at the quarterly World Press Conference, held in Abuja as the clock ticks for her exit, revealed that Nigeria’s foreign reserves stood at $44.69 billion as at May 13, 2019.The foreign reserves stood at $28.3 billion in May 2015 when President Muhammadu Buhari took over governance from ex-President Goodluck Jonathan.
She said also that year-on-year inflation rates continued to improve from a high rate of 18.7 per cent in January 2017 to 11.37 per cent in April 2019.
On the Paris club refunds she said
“For the final phase of the Paris Club debts refunds, the total sum of N649.434 billion was verified by the Ministry as the outstanding balance to be refunded to the State Governments.
“The payments made by the CBN as at March 2019, is N691.560 billion.”
Ahmed said revenue generation was her administration’s priority.
“As Minister of Finance, I have taken on the President’s important call to action, by prioritizing revenue generation, and formally launching in January 2019, the Strategic Revenue Growth Initiatives, a suite of comprehensive and cross-cutting interventions aimed at boosting revenue performance.”
” I am pleased to share that we have made significant progress since launching the initiatiand I look forward to providing details later in my remarks.”
She also added that the Ministry has achieved seven consecutive quarters of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth since the country’s exit from recession in Q2, 2017. “As at Q4 2018, the economy grew by 2.38% in real terms (year-on-year), representing an increase of 0.27% compared to qqq1Q3 2018.
Overall, GDP grew at an annual rate of 1.93% in 2018 compared with 0.82% in 2017, representing an overall increase of 1.11% year on year.”
However, the Minister acknowledged that the expenditure performance cannot be in isolation of revenues, which as a result expenditure outturn largely depends on government’s ability to generate budgeted revenues with deficits funded through borrowings.
In 2018 our budgeted revenue was N7.2 trillion this is against the realised figure of N3.96 trillion, signifying a negative variance of 45%.
“Despite this shortfall we have been able to fully pay salaries and service 100% of our debt. We have also released seven months overhead for 2018, two months for 2019, and N2.079 billion capital expenditure as at 14th May 2019.
We have adopted a prudent debt management strategy which ensures that we invest what we borrow in capital projects.
“Although our debt by international standards, at 19.09% Nigeria’s debt to GDP ratio is well below the threshold of 56% for countries similar to Nigeria.
“The government is addressing the issue of reducing the debt service to revenue through a combination of debt substitution strategies.”