Nigerian NGO seeks moratorium on govt borrowing

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     Nigerian NGO Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has asked the country’s federal government to provide information on how it spent the 700 billion naira it borrowed between 31 Dec. 2012 and 30 April, 2013, and also to introduce a moratorium on borrowing (US$1=155 naira).

    According to a statement issued by the NGO and made available to PANA here Monday, the request, on the strength of the country’s Freedom of Information (FOI) law, was made through a letter it sent to the Accountant-General of the Federation Mr. Jonah Ogunniyi Otunla.

    The organisation threatened to take legal action should the government not provide the information within 14 days.

    “Whereas the government has borrowed over N6.54tn from national sources and its external borrowing is growing, there is no evidence on the ground to show that the huge sums of money have been put to good use to benefit millions of economically and socially vulnerable Nigerians.
    In fact, we fear the money could have been mismanaged, diverted or stolen

    “Despite this huge borrowing, the same period also witnessed decreased spending on basic social services such as roads, electricity, health, education, and thus explaining in part why the government has lagged behind in the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. We are further concerned about the country’s growing debt problem because this will continue to weaken the capacity of this government to fulfil its human rights obligations and commitment, thus throwing millions of Nigerians deeper into poverty,” the organisation wrote in the letter.

    The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Mr. Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, said last week that the government increased its borrowing in securities by 700 billion naira between 31 Dec. 2012 and April 30, 2013, and that the government has spent more than 2 trillion in four months.

    SERAP said it is ”seriously concerned” about this high level of spending by the government within this short period of time, especially given the fact that government borrowed almost the same amount between 2011 and 2012.

    ”Unless a moratorium on debt borrowing and periodic transparent audits of debt are introduced, the current unsustainable debt situation will continue to jeopardise the well-being of not only the present generation but also the future generation,” the organisation also said.

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