Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) lashed at President Muhammadu Buhari’s outgoing government over the N77 trillion total public debt of Nigeria.
PENGASSAN said such a figure of debt is unfortunately a ‘calamity of highest proportion’ that reflects the performance and poor economic policies of the outgoing government.
Contained in an address authored and presented at the 7th Triennial National Delegates Conference in Abuja on Thursday, by the National President of PENGASSAN, Comrade Festus Osifo, the Union said; “Poor implementation of both fiscal and monetary policies; policy inconsistencies of the government worked against the economic growth and development of the country.?
In his words; “According to the Debt Management (DMO), the Country’s Total Public Debt profile, representing the Domestic and External Debt Stocks of the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN), the thirty-six (36) State Governments and the Federal capital territory (FCT) currently stand at 77trillion Naira.
“This is quite alarming mostly when you compare the cost of servicing this debt to the revenue generated by the government per annum. In the 2023 budget, for instance, we will be using virtually all the monies generated as a country in servicing our debt.
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“This is a calamity of the highest proportion unless we do all we can to increase the revenue base.”
He went on to say; “While we do not condemn borrowing, we insist that borrowed funds should not be used for consumption but rather channelled into productive ventures and infrastructural development. We, therefore, expect to see a different approach from the incoming administration.”
PENGASSAN further said; ‘The current state of our economy is of great concern to us as we had hoped to see steady growth in our GDP, increase access to employment for our teeming population and diversification of the economy but unfortunately, we are yet to achieve this.
Poor implementation of both fiscal and monetary policies; policy inconsistencies have continued to militate against our projected growth and development as a Nation.
Our current debt profile as of the first quarter of 2023 is mind-blowing and may take several generations to repay them.
The Nation’s economy is confronted with many serious challenges like structural imbalance, corruption, weak human capital development, inequality, security challenges and excessive dependence on oil for revenue.
High youth unemployment, which was recently highlighted by the International Labour Organization (ILO), underemployment and poor infrastructural facilities are some of the key challenges this new Government should tackle with sound and coordinated strategy in consultation with relevant stakeholders and industry experts.
Furthermore, we have talked a lot about diversification of the economy and this is the time for its implementation as a matter of urgency. The hard truth is that revenue from Oil and Gas sector can no longer sustain us as a Nation and this is the most auspicious time to walk our talk.
We commend the ongoing efforts of the Government in the Agricultural sector and expect the tempo to be sustained in the entire value chain and replicate the same in other areas like Solid Minerals, Tourism, Technology, etc.
Efforts must be made by the incoming administration to address the issues of multiple exchange rates as the arbitrage created is negatively affecting our economy.
We must put a stop to the use of ways and means in financing activities of government as this fuels inflation because it is not backed by value creation.
We salute the efforts made in the completion of various gas-related projects like Gas the 614-kilometre-long pipeline from Ajaokuta to Kano popularly called the AKK pipeline, Escravos Gas to Liquids Project in Lagos and the 083 Gas Transmission Pipeline from Delta to Edo states.
When completed, these projects will not only provide employment opportunities but will also help in gas gathering and evacuation across the country for domestic utilization.