Finance Minister Declares Positive Shift in Nigeria’s Economy

Finance Minister Declares Positive Shift in Nigeria's Economy
Wale Edun

Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Wale Edun, announced significant improvements in Nigeria’s economic indicators, citing a revitalized economy. He made this declaration while addressing State House correspondents after a Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting led by President Bola Tinubu on Tuesday.

Edun discussed a memorandum presented to the Council aimed at strengthening the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS). He elaborated on the economic challenges and the corrective measures the administration has implemented to alleviate the economy’s burdens.

He mentioned a 15% reduction in Nigeria’s total debt stock in US dollar terms for the first quarter of 2024, describing this as “very positive.” However, due to exchange rate movements and new domestic debt issuance, the total debt stock in naira terms saw a 25% increase.

Edun dwelled on the government’s strong revenue collection, attributing it to technology-driven initiatives, and noted that expenditure controls are also being enforced. He pointed out that the federal government has avoided relying on the Central Bank’s ways and means advances for funding, a departure from past practices.

The Minister revealed that the current administration inherited a substantial N22.7 trillion in outstanding ways and means, which are being audited and securitized. Despite this, the current ways and means deficit stands at N3.4 trillion, offset by operating surpluses from revenue-generating agencies.

“I briefed the Council on the economic figures for the first quarter of this year,” Edun said. “The debt stock in US dollar terms fell by 15%, which is a positive sign for rating agencies, creditors, and investors.”

Edun explained that despite an N8 trillion increase in actual debt issuance, the total debt stock in naira terms increased by 25%, primarily due to foreign exchange fluctuations.

He assured that under President Bola Tinubu, the federal government does not rely on ways and means advances for funding. “We have not sought funding from the Central Bank for any liabilities, including external debt service or capital calls,” Edun stated.

The Minister also discussed the focus on robust revenue collection using technology to avoid manual processing blockages, resulting in improved revenue efforts and expenditure controls.

Edun noted the inherited N22.7 trillion in ways and means advances, which are under forensic audit. He clarified that any deficits seen in the consolidated revenue account are being scrutinized and that the current ways and means deficit is N3.4 trillion.

“We are positive about the finances of Nigeria. The operating surpluses we collect from revenue-generating agencies exceed the N3.4 trillion in ways and means. We do not rely on these advances to pay salaries or service external debt,” Edun concluded, affirming the revamped state of Nigeria’s finances.

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