Following the alarming rate at which the Federal Government is borrowing to finance the budgets of the country, the Director-General of the Debt Management Office, Patience Oniha, has reportedly stated that borrowings by countries to finance budget deficits and critical infrastructure is not necessarily a bad idea.
According to reports, the DG made this known in an interview on Thursday.
She stated, “The issue of debt has become topical in Nigeria that sometimes it almost looks as if borrowing is an offence or a crime. The first thing we must understand is that countries across the world borrow, be it poor countries, advanced countries, developed countries, emerging markets, they all borrow.”
She noted, “We usually hear complaints that debt levels are rising in Nigeria. Globally, debt levels are rising – not just in Nigeria,” she remarked, stressing that the advent of COVID-19 had also made borrowing imperative for many countries, regardless of size, population, or economic growth.”
She affirmed, “We did as well, but we came out of it after two quarters. Government spending is one of the tools you can use properly to exit a recession.”
She remarked, “We also borrow to finance maturing loan obligations like the Federal Government of Nigeria bonds and Nigeria Treasury Bills,” Oniha said, observing, however, certain statutory norms regulating government’s borrowings at various levels and guarding against fiscal impropriety arising from the process.”
The DG added, “The Fiscal Responsibility Act states that borrowing should be for capital purposes and for human capital development. The DMO Act is also clear, especially on external borrowings. No arm of government can borrow on its own. It has to conform with those provisions and pass through the Federal Executive Council and the National Assembly.”