By Etuka Sunday
When the federal government got approval of the National Assembly to source the $5.5billion Eurobond loan, many Nigerians believed that would rush the country into another debt trap.
But the Director General of Abuja Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI), Mr. Chijioke Ekechukwu has said, hence the borrowing is targeted at infrastructural projects and refinancing of maturing domestic debt with less expensive long-term external debt, there is no cause for alarm.
He stated this while discussing ‘The State of The Economy’ on a Television Programme, ‘Money Line Show’ during which he also maintained that many other countries have borrowed far above what Nigeria is taking from the Eurobond.
“During the last Economic Summit Group gathering, I said that government should stop borrowing locally so as to reduce the pressure on rates. If government can source for funds from outside the system, it will bring the mix that would balance from what we are suffering today.
“We shouldn’t be shy to borrow money to fund the deficit of the budget, infrastructural development and local projects. There is no problem with that and Nigerians should not worry”, he stressed.
On the recent decision by the Federal Government to hire four Malaysians to help in fixing the economy, he stated that, such actions should be discouraged as Nigeria has competent hands that can successfully navigate the country out of the economic quagmire it has found herself in.
He emphasized that such persons does not have full grasp of the political and economic environment prevailing in the country and will at best only succeed in scratching the surface of the problem.
He advocated for the right people who would not be engrossed in partisanship, overriding personal interest and nepotism to be appointed in the economic think tank.
While commenting on the commercial banks and their inability to lend at low rates to investors, the DG noted that sectorial borrowing should be targeted in order to add value to manufacturing, distribution of goods and services pointing out that power and corruption have stubbornly remained some of the challenging problems the private sector investors and businesses are suffering from.
However, he commended the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC) headed by the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo for the quality of ideas and seriousness they are putting into the works in that regard.
Recalling with the benefit of hindsight the negative consequence of the Treasury Single Account (TSA) which he described as ‘controversial’ he said, the initiative by government to mop up her money which was domiciled in commercial banks succeeded in compounding the problem the country’s economy underwent, in the immediate past and still grappling with.
He called for stiffer sanctions against ailing commercial banks as well as policy pronouncements that would have far reaching positive economic indices on businesses in the country.
Ekechukwu also commented on the just released report by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) wherein it was said Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) increased and inflation rate has dropped, where he said the growth was championed by the oil sector which, according to him has placed Nigeria in a vulnerable situation as shocks in the sector would have devastating effect on the economy.
He lamented the poor growth of the manufacturing sector and calls on stakeholders to get to the root of the matter to ensure that Nigeria is truly witnessing economic growth.