LCCI advises FG to use vote to repair damaged infrastructure –


The Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) said it expected the Federal Government FG planned N819.5 billion supplementary budget to be used totally on repairing damaged infrastructure, while it is equally very important to invest more in building infrastructure to prevent future disasters.

LCCI Director-General, Dr. Chinyere Almona, said this in a press statement, stating the Chamber’s position on the proposed move.

Recall that President Muhammadu Buhari recently disclosed FG’s plans to add N819.5 billion supplementary budget for critical infrastructure projects, to be financed from domestic borrowing sources, to the N20.5 trillion initially, to bring the total budget to N21.32 trillion.

Almona stated that a deeper look at the figures showed that the supplementary budget if approved, will raise the budget deficit for 2022 from N10.78 trillion to N11.6 trillion and about 4.43 per cent deficit to GDP ratio.

The most critical issue, though, LCCI DG indicated was not about the level of spending, but the cost of borrowing.

Almona d see 4334The implications of this massive borrowing by the government to the economy are enormous, including crowding out credit to the private sector, increasing the cost of debt servicing, and making the economy more vulnerable to unforeseeable shocks in an election year.

She analysed: “At the end of the first half of 2022, Total Debt Service stood at ₦2.597 trillion, higher than the prorated sum of ₦1.978 trillion .by ₦619.81 billion (31.33 percent). Also, the interest payments on Ways and Means collected from the Central Bank of Nigeria amounted to ₦714.74 billion.”

According to data from the Budget Office of the Federation, the sum of ₦1.333 trillion was used for domestic debt servicing, a difference of ₦52.34 billion (4.09 percent) from the prorated half-year projection. In contrast, ₦549.70 billion was spent on external debt servicing during the period under review. And with the plan of the Federal Government to restructure its Ways and Means loans of N23 trillion, Nigeria’s total debt would effectively be at N67.7 trillion by the end of 2022. We must watch the cost implications of our borrowing and spending”.

On the revenue side, Dr. Almona declared that the economy has not performed to expectation, adding that at the end of the first half of 2022, the Gross Oil Revenue amounted to ₦2.17 trillion against ₦4.7 trillion prorated budget projection for the period.

She affirmed that 777 was  lower by ₦2.5 trillion (about 53.63 percent) compared with the 2022 half-year budget estimate. The government, Almona said⁹¡must arrest the rising costs and dwindling revenue profile of the economy to boost growth and resolve the many economic ills in the country at this time.

“In the face of current realities, we urge the government at all levels to be more proactive rather than reactive to nature-induced casualties, climate change impacts, and damages caused by human activities. In August this year, the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMet) warned of possible flooding in about 20 states, but unfortunately, both citizens and the governments paid no significant attention to it.

“This brings to question what support is given through the utilization of ecological funds shared among the three tiers of government to finance projects aimed at both adaptation and mitigation activities against natural disasters.

“We must also ask the states and local governments to account for the utilization of ecological funds allocated to them. There is an urgent need for a better management and evaluation model to utilize the ecological funds” Almona said.

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