As the debate over the nation’s debt sustainability continues, economic and financial experts have advised the Federal Government to sell some national assets as part of measures to increase its revenue.
The nation’s rising debt profile has raised concerns among experts and other stakeholders in recent times, with the World Bank describing the government’s debt servicing costs as unsustainable.
The Federal Government’s interest-to-revenue ratio rose from 33 per cent in 2015 to 59 per cent in 2016, the World Bank said in a report released earlier this month.
Last week, the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, admitted that the debt burden had escalated when she said the government could not borrow any more and needed to generate funds domestically to fund its budget.
In a contradiction to Adeosun’s statement, the Ministry of Finance on Thursday said the government would continue to borrow from foreign and domestic financial institutions to fund its programmes.
But experts said the government should look more inwards by selling some idle national assets to shore up its revenue.
The Chairman, Nigerian Economic Summit Group, a private sector think-tank and policy advocacy group, Mr. Kyari Bukar, said, “The government should look at the possibility of selling some of its assets. That can generate cash that will then be used to invest properly in infrastructure.”
The Managing Director, Cowry Asset Management Limited, Mr. Johnson Chukwu, said the government could get some quick cash from sale of idle assets with some economic realisable value.
He said, “Today, we have airports that are not being optimised. Take for instance the Lagos international airport; there is no reason why we should not build it into a regional hub so that it will be a transit airport for almost all the countries of West Africa. That way, the government will attract a lot of revenue.”
The Federal Government, in its Economic Recovery and Growth Plan, a Medium Term Plan for 2017 to 2020, said it would reduce its stake in Joint Venture oil assets, refineries and other downstream subsidiaries such as pipelines and depots.
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