Backyard, failed economists criticising Buhari’s borrowings, says Fashola

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The Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, has taken a swipe at those who condemn the rate of borrowing by the Federal Government, describing them as “backyard economists.”

In his keynote address at the Lagos Business School on how government policy affects business and society in national development, Fashola said those finding faults in government’s rate of borrowing were largely unsuccessful individuals.

He said, “Today, the government is constructing roads in every state of Nigeria and while revenues are a challenge to prompt completion, some ‘experts’ who have not successfully shown they can run a small business moan the loudest about Nigeria’s borrowing to fund infrastructure investment.

“A Nigerian has borrowed billions of dollars to build a refinery, petrochemical plant, fertiliser plant and gas processing plant, yet some backyard economists complain that a country whose population is in the hundreds of millions is borrowing too much to fix rail, roads, ports (air and sea) and power.”

The minister added, “They come to the public space to talk about the GDP (Gross Domestic Product and infrastructure of the United States and OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries. But they are ominously silent on America’s public debt that exceeds $21tn.”

Fashola said Nigerians in their hundreds of thousands go on holidays to the US, go for medical treatment there, seek for their citizenship, fly their airplanes and use their airports and unknowingly pay in part for the debt they sensibly incurred.

Nigeria debt stock stood at N24.95tn as of March 31. More than 50 per cent of this had been incurred in the past four years.

Some experts have criticised the level of borrowing given the increasing servicing commitment in the midst of dwindling revenues.

Others have asked the government to borrow for only projects that have the capacity to generate revenues to service and repay the debts.

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