The Federal Government yesterday said that there was no cause for alarm over the country’s rising debt profile.
Nigeria’s total debt profile as of December 31, 2018, stands at N24.387 trillion, showing an increase of 12.25 per cent from N21.725 trillion in 2017.
Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma, while briefing State House Correspondents after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, said the level of debts incurred by Nigeria remained sustainable.
The minister explained that the Federal Government was working tirelessly to improve the country’s revenue sources, including widening the tax base.
He said: “The debts are sustainable, every nation borrows. We are working on increasing our revenues.
“With regards to our debts, our debts are sustainable. We do have a revenue challenge and we are focusing on that. Once the revenues come up, it will be obvious that we don’t have a debt problem at all.
“We are working on a number of initiatives to increase our revenues. We are looking at initiatives to widening the tax basket. We are looking at initiatives to increase efficiency in collections,” he noted.
The minister explained that “We are looking at a single window, which will help to increase efficiency and custom collections. We are looking at many different ways to improve revenues.”
Commenting on the progress made so far by the National Assembly over the 2019 appropriation bill, the Budget Minister said: “With regard to the budget, we are happy to see the focus of the National Assembly on the budget and we look forward to whenever it’s passed and the executive receiving it.”
Meanwhile, FEC has approved a contract worth N2.8 billion for the provision of a Web-Based Automated Inter-Connectivity System across Nigerian prisons.
According to the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), the connectivity system would enable the government to effectively monitor the state of prisons across the country and effect decongestion.
He said the idea is to digitally connect all the prison formations to the office of the Attorney General, the police, the prison service and selected courts across the country.
“The essence is to have an idea on a daily basis what obtains at our prisons across the nation. So, at a glance, at the click of a button, one can access what obtains at the prisons across the country. For instance, who is going to court today? Who is being released today? Those who have been in prison longer than their years of the sentence. Who is in prison that is not meant to be there?
“This will aid stakeholders in decision making on a daily basis through the digital process of inter-networking. This is against an ad-hoc committee moving across the country to have a physical presence in prisons,” he added.
Malami explained that at some point, 70 per cent of prison inmates across the prison formations in the country were awaiting trails.
The minister added that from such concerns, the Federal Government has been working to come up with policies, legislation and associated programmes that are targeted at decongesting the prisons.
In his remarks, the Minister of State for Aviation, Hadi Sirika, disclosed that the council approved a total of N291.731million for the procurement of Memory Access Retrieval System to enhance safety in the aviation sector.
Council also approved the contract for the supply of water and field for the Abuja Water Board at the sum of N368 million, including five per cent Value Added Tax (VAT).
Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Mohammed Bello, also said Council approved a contract for the supply of 500 firemen suits under the FCT Fire Services at the cost of N226 million, including five per cent VAT.
Another decision of the council was approval for a National Council on Skills Acquisition.
According to the Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, the Council will assist in the development of curriculum that will be tailored towards meeting the needs of local industries.
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