Nigeria is having serious money problems and this seems to be obvious because the country continues to borrow.

But a Director of Budget in the Ministry of Budget and National Planning, Ben Akabueze, who declared this on Wednesday, said the government’s revenue problem may be worse than imagined, giving increasing governance cost.

Akabueze hinted that Nigeria’s revenue problem is being compounded by the fuel subsidy being paid by the government.

He revealed that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC was subsidising every litre of petrol, consumed in the country by 53-naira.

He, however, referred to the sum as under-recovery, stressing that it was the term that the NNPC often called it.

He stated these while answering questions from participants at the Strategic Dialogues on the Morocco-Nigeria Relations in Abuja.

Akabueze said: “For us in Nigeria, lately there has been a lot of talk about government’s borrowings and those who talk about it are justified to express the concern.

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“But the truth is that I think we are generally having the wrong discussion. I personally don’t think we have a debt problem, but we have a serious revenue problem, which, if we do not address, will snowball into a debt problem.

“But instead of having a discussion around the revenue issue, we are talking about the debt. Morocco, for instance, has a 63% debt to GDP ratio; we have a 20% debt to GDP ratio. Morocco has over 3.4% deficit to the GDP ratio; we have a statutory cap of 3%.”

He added that “the real issue is that in 2017, for instance, our debt service to revenue ratio crossed 60%. There are two options of a policy standpoint in trying to address the numerator, which is debt, at a time when you have huge infrastructure deficit that needs to be addressed.

“And this is also at a time when the economy remains pretty fragile and, therefore, government spending is critical to sustain and drive growth. Therefore, focusing on the numerator in times like this may not be the solution. This is why revenue is what we need to focus on.”

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