Posted by News Express | 23 May 2015 | 3,037 times
The Co-ordinating Minister for the Economy and Minister for Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, has declared that contrary to recent negative statements about the country’s economy, the Goodluck Jonathan administration “is leaving positive economic legacies behind which nobody can wish away because history cannot be rewritten.”
Okonjo-Iweala, who spoke today in Abuja during an interview with finance correspondents, named such legacies to include:
·1.4 million jobs created yearly out of 1.8m jobs required as confirmed by national bureau of statistics;
The Development Bank of Nigeria which will make affordable loans of up to 10 years available to Nigerian businesses
The Nigerian Mortgage Refinance Company which is spearheading a range of reforms which will vastly increase the number of mortgages in the country
•3600 Nigerians that were given multi million naira grants to finance their business and the 22000 jobs direct jobs created and over 80,000 indirect jobs thru YOUWIN
•3bn intervention in the entertainment industry that is improving capacity and creating jobs
•Sovereign Wealth Fund that now has $1.55bn and making strategic investments and delivering returns to the treasury
•Agricultural reforms that have increased food production and helped to keep inflation low
•Thousands of women who have been economically empowered through the GWIN programme and those with VVF who are being rehabilitated
•Electronic payment platforms that have weeded out over 60,000 ghost workers from the payroll and saved the country over N200bn
•Clean up o the old pension system and creation of Pension Transition Administration Department (PTAD)
Okonjo-Iweala insisted that it is wrong “to characterise the Jonathan administration as leaving N63bn debt” because the country’s debt stock was accumulated over a long time by several administrations.
She said that the country’s current debt goes back as far back as 1960 and that it includes Federal Government Debt as well as states’. She also noted that before the oil price drop, the government had reduced the annual rate of borrowing.
The minister said that the country’s domestic debt increased by $18 billion between 2010 and now, mainly because of the 53% increase in the pay of civil and public servants. Okonjo-Iweala was Managing Director of the World Bank at the time of the wage hike under the Yar’Adua administration.
She said that the government has in fact done a good job of managing the debt profile being the first government in the history of the country to set up a sinking fund to retire bonds that had fallen due. N75 billion worth of bonds were disposed of through this strategy.
Though Nigeria has a one of the world’s lowest Debt to GDP ratio, the government has been careful in its borrowing, the minister said. She added that the government has used the right tools to manage the economy and has only borrowed at very low concessionary rates to fund important infrastructural initiatives in agriculture, power, roads, health, water resources and provision of infrastructure.
Okonjo-Iweala further stated that the year 2015 is difficult largely because of the over 50% fall in oil global oil prices. According to her, “Nigerians will remember in history that the difficulty of 2015 is because of the 50% fall in oil prices.” She pointed out that she had told the nation as far back as December 2014 that this year will be difficult and outlined austerity measures.
All possible scenarios had been anticipated in the 2015 budget. “What the world is looking at is how Nigeria has been managing the situation and their assessment is that we have done an excellent job compared the other seven countries,” the minister said.
•Photo shows Okonjo-Iweala.
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