Business Hilights

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Udoma, Buhari, Adeosun

Poor financial creativity in managing TSA, N16.29tn local debt fueled recession, squeeze

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There are palpable anxieties that the apparent economic and development standstill in the economy may linger to second quarter of 2017 when the next MPC meeting, where review of the prevailing monetary indices will come up again.

This is coming against the background of the fact that the federal government has not shown any new strategy to ease liquidity squeeze hobbling the entire economy.

It would be recalled that initial signals of recession and galloping inflationary trend started manifesting from, September, exactly one year of Treasury Single Account (TSA) policy of the federal government where every fund of over 700 federal ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) was lumped up in one coffers.

The concept of TSA according to experts were not well designed as there were no windows for faster access to the fund by agencies, thus creating rooms for the frustration of several government’s projects, thereby holding back saturation of liquidity flow in the economy.

As this was ongoing, more local debts continue to grow out of hand.

Business Hilights investigations revealed that whereas debts owed local contractors are still rising, there is no plan yet to pay the debts.

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) had earlier last month advised the federal and states governments to pay contractors some of whom had completed their jobs even before the 2015 election.

By the wisdom of the apex bank, the payments of contractors’ at all levels of government will free up huge capital capable of stabilizing the liquidity contraction shocking the economy now and creating hyper panic that has continued to mount pressure on naira.

Experts say owing contractors contracts the economy faster as liquidity squeeze will create poor capital circulation and drive panic which will even attack the value of naira, thus giving dollar more room to jerk up value.

National debt statistics obtained from the Debt Management Office (DMO) by our correspondent weekend showed that the country’s total debt liability rose to N16.29tn in June 2016 from N12.12tn in June 2015.

Besides, Civil rights groups on Friday berated the Muhammadu Buhari-led administration for incurring a N2.2tn domestic debt in the last one year.

The groups, in separate interviews said that there were no visible impacts of the borrowed money on the country within the period.

Expressing concern about the sharp increase in the country’s debt profile, the Head of Abuja Social Action, Vivian Bellonwu-Okafor, decried federal government’s only response to the economic recession which is “to borrow more money.”

She said that the group was   concerned about the circumvention of the laid down legal provisions for loan acquisitions.

Bellonwu-Okafor stated, “The Fiscal Responsibility Act (FSA), which outlines the democratic steps that should accompany any loan, is not being respected and so in this regard, loans are taken in a most shoddy and blanket manner without any clear purpose or project line tied to such acquisition(s) as well as cost-benefit analysis, as stipulated by the FRA.

“It is thus not surprising that government has not only taken but also advanced loans for recurrent items such as payment of salaries, sponsorship to foreign trips and conferences etc; this is in clear violation of the FRA which states that loans shall only be acquired for capital expenditure(s).”

She said that it appeared that the government was hiding under “a superfluous guide of so-called recession to embark on unrestrained and unmanageable borrowings.”

The head of Social Action stated that such an approach was “a false solution to the economic problems of Nigeria,” adding that the government was simply postponing the evil day.

Bellonwu-Okafor said, “Debt servicing will soon completely wipe out the country’s capital allocation. This free walk into another debt-trap should, with all experiences of hindsight, be avoided.

“The burden of debt falls on the shoulders of innocent citizens. Nigeria has the wherewithal both in human, natural as well as material and intellectual resources to have a thriving and flourishing economy without undue recourse to dependence-borrowing.”

In the sub mission of the President of Campaign for Democracy, mallam Abdul Usman, “the borrowing did not show desirable performances by the administration”.

He argued that the President and his cabinet of ministers should be held accountable not only in matters that have to do with corruption, but also on debts.

“Nigerians have never had it this bad and are losing faith in the change promised by the administration.  There is hunger almost everywhere in the land. Citizens will want to see published documents or Mr. President should address the nation as we have yet to see the positivity on the budgeted N500bn social welfare.

Already, some Economists are of the view that the craze for borrowing had shown that the administration was not creative.

According to the Executive Secretary of the Anti-Corruption Network, Ebenezer Oyetakin, “it was unfortunate that the government, which based its campaign on “change” had reverted to the old practices, which Nigerians voted against”.

 “The thrust of the change is expected to be largely in the way we handle the economy. The craze for borrowing simply shows how uncreative we are and the lack of innovative thinking economically.

“What would have happened if we were Republic of Cuba that was and is still under total economic, commercial and financial blockade by the USA and its allies for 55 Years? What will happen if the entire world refuses to lend us money? I am against our craze for borrowing as a nation,” Oyetakin added.

Responding to enquiries on why government is going borrowing when TSA has much and more was recovered in the anti corruption fight, the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, justified both the increase in the debts and borrowing spree.

When the minister was asked what the money was spent on, she simply said, “I guess it would have been used to fund the budget and whatever government is spending money on.”

To many Nigerians, government has not made the best use of TSA and has not shown any credible serious plans to work towards exiting recession and curtailing inflationary trend.

By the reason of retaining all rates in the last Monetary Policy Committee meeting, analysts are left with no other belief that the CBN and government in particular may have lost creativity in fixing the economy which formed major campaign promise of the administration.


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