Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria, HURIWA, has challenged the Ministry of Finance to make further clarifications on the rationale behind government’s continuous borrowings.
HURIWA also tasked the Ministry to make public projects the revenues generated by the Federal Inland Revenue Services, FIRS, in the last five years were used for.
In a statement to DAILY POST on Tuesday signed by its National Coordinator, Emmanuel Onwubiko, the rights group observed that while there had been noticeable improvements in the Company Income Tax, Value Added Tax, Customs and other revenue lines, the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari has resorted to large borrowings, which has raised the country’s debt profile unimaginably.
The group advised that experts’ point of view, for the country to bridge the wide infrastructure gap, approximately N11.25 trillion ($31 billion) has to be invested annually over a period of 10 years.
It opined that more attention should be paid to sectors such as industry, trade and investment, education, healthcare, labour and employment, power, works and housing and transportation as they are the main catalyst for national development.
“With the budgetary allocation of political officials and some low impact sectors almost four times that of key sectors, is Nigeria growth inclined? Are the budgetary allocations reflective of the description of the 2020 budget by the President? Time will tell.”
HURIWA noted that it was wrong for the country to keep borrowing annually to finance deficit budget when a lot of very valuable national assets are lying fallow and moribund.
It said that assets that are already becoming national liabilities,should be privatized or be sold outrightly and income should be used to fund budget deficit.
It affirmed that at least, 600 state-owned enterprises in the country which gulp not less than $3 billion annually, with little or no returns into the public purpose are scattered across states.
”We are also of the firm belief that we should use the opportunity provided by this crisis to renegotiate our debts. In fact, we should be asking our creditors for outright cancellation and debt forgiveness.
”We are already in a debt crisis and from every indication; we cannot meet our debt obligations and still provide basic resources for our people. We cannot afford to devote close to 60% of our revenue to service debt. There is no better time than now to declare that we cannot pay.
HURIWA demanded that the time for the country to reduce the size and change the structure of government to reflect the current realities has come.
“Most importantly, we demand that the Federal Ministers in charge of Finance should explain the rationale for the continuous borrowings and where these Revenues officially generated by the Federal Inland Revenue Services in the last five years went to and what they were used for? Nigerians need to know,” the rights group said.