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FINANCE MINISTER FAULTS GOVT SPENDING

By NBF News
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Minister of Finance, Dr. Olusegun Aganga
Minister of Finance, Dr. Olusegun Aganga, yesterday decried the patterns of spending by all tiers of government and the high recurrent expenditure in the country, which, he noted, has not translated into improving the quality of life. As one of the world's top 10 economies in terms of growth, the minister said there was no excuse for the high unemployment level and poverty in the country.

He told a public hearing on the justification for bilateral and sovereign loans by the federal and state governments organized by the House of Representatives that though the economy was doing well, the rate of borrowing had not matched growth.

President Goodluck Jonathan had forwarded a request for an approval of the National Assembly to borrow the $3.7 billion from donor agencies, almost with zero interest.

Aganga said: 'Our economy as of now regardless of what anyone says is doing well, this means that the level of growth which we have experienced in this year is much more higher than that of most other countries in the world.

' We are in the top 10 in the world in terms of growth.  But the problem we have which the economic management team is addressing is that 'yes the numbers say we are doing well; GDP growth is high', our level of borrowing is low compared to any other country.

'It is telling that we are introducing strong fiscal framework, but our level of unemployment is high. So we have growth without job creation  and  employment. Therefore, the impact is not felt well enough in the life of the average Nigerians.'

The minister remarked that the focus of government now 'is on measuring our success by measuring the jobs we create; making sure we are focusing on job creation.'

Aganga disclosed that a committee had been set up to look at the issue specifically, so that next year's budget would address job creation.

The minister informed the lawmakers that a Bill for the establishment of the Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF) would soon be submitted to the National Assembly, adding that Nigeria is the only oil bearing state that does not have a SWF.

'So what we are doing is to create a fund that will have three boxes, one is a saving element for the future of Nigeria, your children, great grand children because they have the right to benefit from what we are all benefiting today.

'The second is going to be towards stabilization which is going to help us when we have a sustained fall in oil prices.

'The last part is for infrastructure development to narrow the infrastructure deficit of the country which will make it easier for local and foreign investors to come and invest in the country.'

While lamenting the growing rate of Federal Government's re-current expenditure, he disclosed that 'what we need to do is to restructure our budget.'

Aganga said as a result of the recurrent expenditure, there was not enough money to be invested in capital projects, noting that measures were being taken to improve on the country's quality of spending to ensure that the right value was achieved for the amount of money spent.