President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, has explained why it is important for the Nigerian government to continue to borrow responsibly to fund critical projects in the country.
He believes it is not feasible for the government to tax the people further in the face of the present economic situation and the nation’s infrastructure must be developed.
The Senate President made the remarks on Thursday while briefing State House correspondents after a closed-door meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja, the nation’s capital.
“You cannot, in my view and judgement, tax Nigerians further for you to raise the money for infrastructural development; other countries do that, but we have serious situation across the country.
So, you cannot put taxes on the people. The only option left is for use to borrow responsibly, utilise prudently and economically, and ensure that the projects are self-sustaining; that they can pay back the loans,” he said.
Senator Lawan added, “Our options are really very limited as a country. First, we do not have the necessary revenue; Nigeria is poor, we should not deceive ourselves. Nigeria is not rich given the circumstances we live in, given the challenges we have.
“Our resources are so low, our revenues are so low; therefore, the option of not doing anything just to sit (because we have no money, we should not go for infrastructure development) is not an option worthy of consideration. You cannot keep the economy stagnant.”
He gave the assurance that the National Assembly would give legislative approval to the Executive loan request to fund the 2021 Appropriation Act before it embarked on a recess in July.
The lawmaker reiterated that the 2021 Supplementary Bill would also go through final consideration before the recess to fast-track the government’s procurement of COVID-19 vaccines and military hardware to tackle insecurity.
While stressing the need to borrow funds, he stated that the Legislature would not just support or approve loans for the executive.
The Senate President noted that this would be done only after investigating the implementation of such loans through oversight functions to ensure that they were directly deployed for intended projects.
According to him, Nigeria has no other choice than to borrow money and the option of private-public partnerships and Internally Generation Revenue (IGR) was not worthy of consideration.
Senator Lawan said, “What I want to assure Nigerians here is that we are not going to be frivolously supporting or approving loans for the Executive arm of government; whenever we have to approve any loan, we will insist on the details of the funding to look at the conditions that are attached to the loans and they must be favourable conditions before we approve.”
“The other option is probably private partnership – you need to create the environment to attract investors to come into your country. Because of the security challenges we face today, not many investors would like to come to Nigeria.
“In fact, even those inside Nigeria may not like to invest properly in the sector of infrastructure development,” he said.