Labour, LCCI kick as FG takes $2.2bn World Bank loan

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Nigerians yesterday condemned the Federal Government’s defiance to the  people’s will in taking a fresh $2.2 billion loans from the World Bank on Tuesday.

Nigerians professionals from Organised Labour and the Organised Private Sector had kicked against the Muhammadu Buhari administration’s penchant for increasing the nation’s debt profile now standing at over $80billion.

Although the World Bank said the loan was given to the administration for investment in six priority projects, the new addition is said to have pushed Nigeria’s domestic and foreign debts to over $80 billion.

RELATED NEWS: World Bank puts Nigeria’s growth at 2.1 per cent in 2020

The World Bank said money from the new loan would be invested into improving immunisation, enabling a stronger business environment for the private sector, expanding the digital economy to promote job creation, and increasing public and private sector capacity on governance and social and environmental safeguards.

The money for the six projects will come from the International Development Association (IDA), the French Development Agency, the European Investment Bank and the Federal Government of Nigeria.

World Bank Group President, David Malpass, said Nigeria is central to the Group’s mission of tackling extreme poverty.

“The World Bank is carefully targeting its support on high impact projects as the country works to tackle corruption and lift 100 million of its people out of poverty,”  he said.

READ ALSO: World Bank warns of rise in poverty

According to Shubham Chaudhuri, World Bank Country Director for Nigeria, “the projects focus squarely on delivering better services for Nigerians: ensuring that children are immunised and sleep under mosquito nets, building better roads especially in rural areas, and providing Nigeria’s poorest citizens with a unique identification that will make social safety nets and services more effective”.

This also comes barely a year after the global bank disbursed about $2.4 billion to Nigeria.

Nigeria’s reported domestic debt was already put at $55.6 billion while foreign component  at $25.6 billion hitting a total of $80 billion.

But Nigerians who spoke yesterday expressed shock that President Muhammadu Buhari and his Finance Minister, Zainab Ahmed have continued to borrow to finance government spending.

Organised Private Sector (OPS) yesterday warned that the rising debt profile was not consistent with the national aspiration to build infrastructure and a competitive economy.

Reacting to the report of another $2.2 billion loan for Nigeria, the Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA) and the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), in separate interviews expressed concern at the seemingly unquenchable appetite of the government for foreign loans.

The LCCI Director General, Muda Yusuf warned that the growing National debt was a cause for concern as Nigeria’s debt profile has grown from N12.6 trillion in 2015 to N26.2 trillion in third quarter 2019 , an increase of 108 per cent.

He said, “There is also the bigger worry about the capacity to service the debt.  For instance, the debt service provision in the 2019 budget was a whopping N2 trillion; whereas the total capital budget was N2.9 trillion; this implies that the debt service commitment was 70 per cent of capital budget allocation.  Debt to revenue ratio was about 30 per cent, which is also on the high side.

Meanwhile, Issa Aremu, Regional President for IndustriAll Global and the General Secretary of the National Union of Textile Garment and Tailoring Workers (NUTGTWN) warned that accumulation of loans may be detrimental to the future of Nigeria.

He said, “Any country that goes aborrowing may go asorrowing.


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