|President Muhammadu Buhari receiving IMF Managing Director, Christine Lagarde in Abuja.|
ABUJA — There were indications that the 2016 Appropriation Bill may be subjected to further scrutiny and amendments by the International Monetary Fund, IMF, despite being already presented to the National Assembly for legislative action.
Managing Director of IMF, Ms Christine Lagarde, who is visiting Nigeria, told newsmen in Abuja, yesterday, that the multilateral financial institution would be discussing the budget next week with Nigerian officials.
Lagarde responding to question on the 2016 budget said: “A team of economists is going to come here (Nigeria) next week to review and audit (the bill) and have a good discussion with the government authorities to really assess whether the financing is in place, whether the debt is sustainable, whether the borrowing costs are sensible and what strategy must be put in place in order to address challenges going forward.”
The IMF boss, who held meetings with the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN; Finance Minister, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, as well as a closed door sessions with President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, had refused to comment directly on the content of the 2016 Appropriation Bill because there are procedures at the IMF that must be followed.
She noted that she will continue to have discussions with Nigeria’s Finance Minister and CBN Governor on issues of fiscal discipline, financing, monetary policies and the degree of flexibility, because despite “Nigeria being a vibrant and large economy still has to deal with a lot of poor people with a lot of inequality. Those two components should certainly always be the drivers of reforms, whether it is looking at subsidies, how they are structured and how they can be faced out.”
Don’t strangulate poor Nigerians
Following the dwindling oil prices that have apparently affected the national income of most countries, the IMF boss warned the Federal Government not to strangulate poor Nigerians with rigid economic policies.
She also stated that it was concerned by the condition of teeming population of poor Nigerians who would be affected by the rigidity of policies, stressing the need to inject fiscal discipline in the policy formulations.
According to Lagarde, her mission to Nigeria was not connected to the negotiations of any loan with any kind of conditionalities but to have discussion on the economic reforms and objectives of the present government.
A lot has changed in Nigeria
Recalling the tremendous progress Nigeria has made in its democratic process, Lagarde said a lot had changed in the country since she last visited four years ago.
She said: “I was in Nigeria four years ago and in four years, many things have changed. That has been the topic of our discussions with President Buhari and his team. Looking back four years ago, massive democratic change has occurred in this country peacefully. Nigeria has become the largest economy in Africa, certainly the most populated and with a very attractive market.
“But things have changed in a more complicated way in the sense that the source of revenue to the government of Nigeria which was predominantly oil has seen its price divided by more than half and the financing cost around are beginning to rise if only because the economic situation in the United States has improved and interest rates will begin to rise. Added to which emerging countries economies are decelerating their growth.
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