Buhari justifies borrowing to fund infrastructure

50m Africans may fall below poverty line by year-end
President Muhammadu Buhari has justified his administration’s borrowing to finance infrastructure, asserting that government took loans in the interest of the country.

Speaking yesterday at a virtual meeting with members of the Presidential Economic Advisory Council (PEAC) at the State House, Abuja, President Buhari stated that the country must fix its roads to save lives.

On the economy, he noted the challenges posed by the “collapse of the oil market” and the decision of government to abide by the reduced oil production quota allocated to it by the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).

Buhari stressed the position of agriculture in the government’s scheme to reduce joblessness and poverty.

He also broached the COVID-19 pandemic and how it necessitated the recent policies on energy and fuel.

The Nigerian leader said the Federal Government took the decisions because it places the country above politics.

Commending the chairman and the members of the council for their patriotism, the president pledged to continue to draw from their wisdom, knowledge and experiences as the nation deals with challenging economic times.
Earlier, the chairman, Prof. Doyin Salami, had highlighted the council’s recommendations on poverty reduction and stimulation of non-debt investment inflows, as promised at their last meeting.

It recommended steps for the effective implementation of government’s plan to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty, as well as measures to curb poverty disparity in Nigeria.

The council promised to set out a full policy paper that would, in the first instance, stop more Nigerians from falling into poverty and thereafter, further plans on reducing the headcount in the country.

PEAC also outlined a number of measures aimed at aggressively increasing the country’s non-debt investment inflow, including means to improve investor’s perception of the country and the proposed establishment of a five to 10 billion dollars investment and growth fund to invest in.

It listed the implementation of reforms encapsulated in the Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA) 2020 recently signed into law, the reforms in the energy sector, bringing electricity and fuel prices in line with the market, and the decision of the Central Bank of Nigeria to merge the exchange rate of the naira against other foreign currencies.

IN the meantime, the fourth Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Annual Goalkeepers Report has predicted that some 50 million Africans might fall below the poverty line by the end of this year.

It observed that the novel coronavirus has stalled 20 years of progress towards achieving the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The document, which was released yesterday, said countries would need to work harder and smarter to bridge the gaps.

It stated that virtually every indicator had regressed.

Checks showed that the 17 SDGs were to be achieved in 2030.

But, according to the report, 13 million Africans are to fall below the poverty line in the best-case scenario, and 50 million at the worst setting.

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