Finance Minister: Nigeria Has Revenue Problem Not Debt Crisis

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Adedayo Akinwale ín Abuja
Minister of Finance, Zainab Ahmed, has said that contrary to speculations,  the country is not in debt crisis, but admitted that it has revenue generation problem.
Ahmed disclosed this Wednesday while speaking on the proposed 2020 budget  at the National Assembly public hearing on the budget.
She said that the federal government had heard repeatedly that Nigeria was hnching towards a debt crisis, but noted  the federal government had also consistently said that Nigeria does not have a debt crisis as the total borrowing rate of the county was  under 50 per cent of the GDP.
Ahmed stated: “What we have is a revenue problem, our revenue performance by half year is 58 per cent. So, we have designed this Strategic Revenue Growth Initiative early this year which has three thematic areas.”
“There is also the need for us to ensure that we have the right legal enablers and other enablers that will enhance revenue performance.
“Nigeria as a country must mobilise significant domestic resources to be able to make necessary investment in human capital as well as in physical infrastructure. Giving the low revenue to GDP ratio currently at 8 per cent, we must optimise revenue generation.”
The minister therefore called on Nigerians to support the present administration in solving Nigeria’s revenue generation problem, adding that though some reforms are tough, some actions must be taken.
Ahmed also restated government’s readiness to engage the public in whatever they do including any changes in tax laws, and rates.
Earlier, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, said that the purpose of the public hearing was to present to the stakeholders the N10.3 trillion budget as presented by the President for the stakeholders to  examine the document.
He said that what the National Assembly seeks is to get a buyi-in from all stakeholders,  stressing that he believed  nobody is a fountain of knowledge, and even though the National Assembly is given full authority by the constitution to appropriate, they  can’t do it alone.
According to him, nation building is a joint task and this is the first exercising that we will be doing because the budget of any country is the blueprint of its economy. It is a basis upon which everything else is built, and for that reason, we thought it proper to hold this joint public hearing, the speaker added.
Gbajabiamila noted that the National Assembly was seeking an outcome that would reflect the true federal character of Nigeria, where there would be no lopsidedness, and to ensure that everybody had an input at the end of the public hearing.
On his part, the Chairman, House Committee on Appropriation, Muktara Aliyu, said that the public hearing was no doubt, an opportunity that allows the citizenry and the Nigerian public to make informed inputs into the budget.
According to him, this is to ensure an 
all-inclusive process in the task of national development.