By Harry Awurumibe, Editor, Abuja Bureau
The Federal Government has taken a swipe at Edo state Governor, Godwin Obaseki over his recent allegations that it printed N60 billion in March to support federal allocation to states during the weekly Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC).
Expectedly, it described as untrue and sad, the comment by Gov. Obaseki. It also said despite Obaseki’s worry on the rising debt profile of the country, and his argument that Nigeria is in ‘huge financial trouble’, the country’s debt profile is still within sustainable limits.
The government’s response to Obaseki’s allegations came through the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed while briefing State House Correspondents today in Abuja after the weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.
The Edo Governor was quoted as saying at the Edo Transition Committee Stakeholders Engagement last Saturday that, “When we got FAAC for March, the federal government printed additional N50-N60 billion to top-up for us to share.
“This April, we will go to Abuja and share. By the end of this year, our total borrowings are going to be within N15-N16 trillion”, the Governor was quoted to have said.
But the Minister of Finance has explained that what is distributed at the monthly FAAC meetings were generated revenue from government institutions available to the public at the ministry’s website.
Ahmed said: “The issue that was raised by the Edo State Governor for me is very, very sad. Because it is not a fact. What we distribute at FAAC is a revenue that is generated and in fact distribution revenue is a public information.
“We publish revenue generated by FIRS, the customs and the NNPC and we distribute at FAAC. So, it is not true to say we printed money to distribute at FAAC, it is not true.
“On the issue of the borrowing, the Nigerian debt is still within sustainable limit. What we need to do as I have said several times is to improve our revenue to enhance our capacity to service not only our debt but to service the needs of running government on day to day basis.
“So our debt currently at about 23% to GDP is at a very sustainable level. If you look at all the reports that you see from multilateral institutions.”